Friday, April 8, 2011

Time and tide wait for no-one ...

After a solid year, I've decided to put the blog e-publishing, etc. to sleep. No time. Just no time at all. Like so many other dead blogs, it'll stay here, floating in the cloud. Take it easy.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

UK trade bookstore results worst March since 2005

The Bookseller: "Spending in March has hit a six-year low, with sales slumping by 8.7% year on year."

Readum Combines Google, Facebook for Reader Comments

PW: "In an unusual social media venture that brings together Google and Facebook, founder Travis Alber is releasing Readum, a new social media application that allows readers to add comments and notes to books in their Google eBooks library and easily post them on Facebook for the general public or to specific groups. ... "

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Google Books for iDevices gets landscape view for iPad and other features

mobiputing: "There’s a new version of Google Books for iOS, which is optimized for the Apple iPad thanks to a new landscape mode that lets you view two pages at a time and browse through the 2 million books in the Google Books library in landscape. I’m really not sure why it took this long before Google decided to enable this feature. ... "

Fact ...

The more "Big [though shrinking] Six" publishers artificially and absurdly inflate eBook prices, as they've been doing, the more they encourage piracy. And DRM won't save them.

Continuum Opens E-bookstore

PW: "The academic publisher Continuum has launched its own e-bookstore, Continuum eBooks. Continuum expects to have 2,000 titles in the store by the end of April with prices set at that of the lowest print edition. The company hopes to have 3,500 titles by June and while the store will initially be opened to individuals, Continuum expects to offer packages aimed at academic institutions starting at the end of June. ... "

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dumping print, NY publisher bets the ranch on apps

Reuters: "Since 1980, Nicholas Callaway has made the finest of design-driven books, building a publishing house and his fortune on memorable children's stories and on volumes known for the fidelity of their reproductions of great art. But the quality of paper, ink and binding mean nothing to him now. ... "

Digital Reading: On the Way to the Webcast, a Funny Thing Happened

Digital Book World: "Gather a group of digital publishing pros and usability experts in the same (virtual) room, and the discussion gets deep, detailed, and far-seeing. ... "

Monday, April 4, 2011

The end of [paper] books is good for writers and readers

Tom Keane, The Boston Globe:
... There are a great many business ideas where some entrepreneur can strike it rich; [brick-and-mortar] bookselling is no longer one of them. ... 
The book is dead. Books (and by “books’’ I mean words printed on paper with a hard- or softcover binding)" ... 
Two weeks ago, the American Association of Publishers reported that January sales for adult hardcovers were down 11.3 percent, adult paperbacks were down 19.7 percent, and adult mass market books down 30.0 percent. Expect to see those kinds of numbers repeated.
Not all kinds of books will suffer as badly, of course. Children’s books and art books — where layout and graphics are paramount — will persist. Paper is still (for a time) a better medium than digital screens for complex layouts and — especially relevant for kids — far better at absorbing spills and accidental drops. But when it comes to long-form, picture-free books such as novels, paper no longer makes sense. Electronic readers are this year’s hot-selling items because they really are a better way to read. ...

The end of [paper] books may be to the betterment of both writers and readers. The expense of publishing and distribution necessarily meant the imposition of middlemen — agents, editors, printers — who picked and chose what would get published. Now anyone can write a novel, for example, and make it available for sale. The industry seems to be figuring out the issue of digital rights management (something the music industry still hasn’t solved), meaning that authors get paid for their creativity. And even though e-books are less expensive than books, arguably more of that will get back to the people involved in their creation.
Marshall McLuhan famously wrote that “the medium is the message.’’ I’ve never understood why. It is the message — “the information,’’ as journalist James Gleick calls it — that matters. [Paper] Books die. Digital rises. The medium changes; the message remains.

MoMA Launches eBook App for iPad "The Museum of Modern Art has launched a free iPad app that allows users to download and read eBooks published by the museum. The app, called MoMA Books [iTunes link] will include current and out-of-print titles, as well as exhibition catalogs, scholarly texts and anthologies of art-historical texts from around the world, MoMA said in a statement."

Friday, April 1, 2011

Memo from Hachette to brick-and-mortar stores: You ARE the Weakest Link

CS Monitor: "In an Amazon era when many readers browse bookstores at leisure, then log into Amazon to place their order, bricks and mortar booksellers rarely catch a break. Now, with the posthumous release of David Foster Wallace’s 'The Pale King,' it seems the Hachette Book Group has eliminated the initial bookstore browse and buzz, dealing another blow to booksellers. ... "

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Other Press Raises Digital Royalty to 50%

My start-up does the same for both print and digital. Full partnership with authors. PW: "With e-book royalty rates still a contentious, if lately less openly-debated, issue, indie house Other Press has announced it is raising its e-book royalty rate to 50%. (The reigning e-book royalty rate sits at 25%, though major publishers like Random House have adopted a shifting scale-rate, that can go up to 40%.)"

Digital Subscribers Way Up for News Corp. in UK, But Print Readers Steadily Down

Zacks: "News International, a subsidiary of News Corporation, which began charging readers for online content for The Times of London and Sunday Times of London, in early July 2010, witnessed a surge in the number of digital subscribers -- up approximately 60% during a four-month period, Bloomberg reports." BUT: Print subscriber numbers are down, a 12.1% fall in the past year. Digital readers pay considerably less than print readers. Digital subscribers pay 8.67 pounds per month, while newsstand buyers pay 8.70 pounds per week. FURTHER NOTE: The paywall in question is non-porous, as opposed to the one just launched by The New York Times. Very different animal. Much easier for would-be readers to "game" the latter without paying.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Surging eBook Sales Help a Shrinking Random House Find Profit

PW: "Led by a 250% increase in e-book sales, strong lists and favorable exchange rates, total revenue at Random House rose 6.1%, to 1.83 billion euros ($2.57 billion at current exchange rates), while earnings before interest, taxes and special items jumped 26.3% to 173 million euros ($243 million). In addition to top line growth profits benefited from cost controls, parent company Bertelsmann said. Random ended 2010 with 168 fewer employees than in 2009. ... "

Kindle Will Bypass New York Times Paywall

PCWorld: "When there's a paywall, there's a way, and there are no shortages of methods to dodge or dissemble The New York Times' new content subscription paywall. Even as the Old Gray Lady attempts to shut down loophole-exploiters, like the renegade Twitter feeds reposting NYT content so readers don't have to pay, more procedures sprout by the day. ... "

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Diverging Digital Roads: Poetry and E-books

PW: "While digitizing poetry collections wasn't anyone's first priority, the time has come, and, in one way or another, most of the important poetry presses—Graywolf, Copper Canyon, BOA, Coffee House, Wesleyan—will make at least some of their books available as e-books by the fall."

Borders Liquidators Race Clock, Squeeze Cash From Doomed Stores

Businessweek: " ... The liquidators must sell as much as possible before their contract expires in order to maximize profit. Afterwards, their options are limited: They can sell stock to a non-retail customer, hang onto it and attempt to sell it later when liquidating other stores, or abandon it. They can’t sell to wholesalers or bulk purchasers who may return Borders stock to publishers, and thus Borders’s competitors. ... "

Amazon courting Apple's iOS developers to port apps to Kindle

AppleInsider: "Amazon is actively enticing Apple's iOS App Store developers to bring their efforts to the Kindle platform, particularly educational apps, in a strategy that attempts to push ebook readers up into competition with more sophisticated, general purpose tablets. ... "

Monday, March 28, 2011

Lessons for journalism from the Google Books decision, across Europe and here in the US

Nieman: "On Tuesday, US Judge Denny Chin rejected a settlement agreement between Google, the Association of American Publishers, and the Authors Guild for a 2005 lawsuit over the search giant’s full-text scanning and displays of copyrighted books. While Judge Chin’s decision makes the precise future of Google Books unclear for now, the issues it raises are already being felt by journalists, newspapers, and media creators of all stripes who are currently grappling with Google abroad. ... "

Barnes & Noble soon to add more tablet functionality to Nook Color

Chris Meadows, TeleRead:: "Barnes & Noble has announced a big update for the Nook Color e-reader coming in April which will include a number of new functions such as applications and email, essentially bringing the LCD e-reader closer to being a full-fledged Android tablet. ... "

Friday, March 25, 2011

No Buyers for Barnes & Noble at 60 Cents on Dollar

Even with Barnes & Noble Inc. selling for 60 cents on the dollar, the cheapest retailer in America still isn’t cheap enough to entice private-equity buyers looking for cash. 
The bookseller founded by Leonard Riggio has fallen 28 percent since putting itself up for sale seven months ago, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Losses accelerated after the New York-based company eliminated its dividend in February, leaving Barnes & Noble at a 15-year low last week. The chain is the only U.S. retailer with a value of more than $500 million trading at a discount to its net assets, the data show. 
Barnes & Noble destroyed 80 percent of its shareholders’ value since rising to a record five years ago as Riggio, who bought the bookstore in 1971, fell behind Inc. in selling books over the Internet and starting an electronic reader business. Now, with Barnes & Noble piling money into its Nook reader to compete with the Kindle and Apple Inc.’s iPad and analysts projecting its first loss in a decade, the only buyer left may be Riggio himself as private-equity firms back away after the bankruptcy of Borders Group Inc., according to Wall Street Strategies Inc. in New York. 
“There’s not much to like,” said Brian Sozzi, Wall Street Strategies’ retail analyst. “One thing I’ve learned in retail is once the model starts to go against you it’s tough to pull yourself out. Assets on their books are losing value so quickly. Other than Riggio, I don’t know who else would want it.” ...

Nook Color Android app store coming in April along with Flash support

Crave - CNET: "While plenty of people have "rooted" their Nook Colors with custom firmware that allows them to access the Android Market and download applications, most Nook Color buyers have stuck with the official firmware that came with the device. If you're in the latter group, you'll be happy to note that you'll soon have access to Barnes & Noble's version of an app store, which is due to launch in April, according to the HSN Web Site, where the Nook is being sold for $299.90."

Once again, old-media publisher pays big advance in order to chase "the next big thing" - which is probably already over and done with

MinnPost: "Amanda Hocking, aka the 'Kindle millionaire,' has signed a seven-figure, four-book deal with St. Martins Press ... " Audiobooks Now Available (For Real - aka, via WiFil) On Kindle

CrunchGear: "You can now download more than 50,000 audiobooks on your Kindle via your Wi-Fi connection. You’ve always been able to download Audible audiobooks from the site itself, then transfer them to your Kindle via a USB, but now you can do so wirelessly."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

After Rejection, a Rocky Road For Google Settlement

Insightful analysis from Albanese, PW: "In the hours after Judge Denny Chin rejected the proposed Google Book Settlement, publishers and the Authors Guild said they were open to narrowing the scope of the proposed settlement in order to get a revised deal approved, while Google said it “would consider its options.” But after more than two years debating the settlement pros and cons, one thing is clear: the visionary arrangement once on the table is history. This morning, the parties will confront what comes next, and the rest of us what that might mean for the digitization of books. ... "

Google’s Next Stop May Be in Congress

NY Times: "SAN FRANCISCO — Now that a judge has curtailed Google’s ambitions to create a giant digital bookstore and library, the company is left with few appealing options. Google and groups representing publishers and authors were assessing their options Wednesday, trying to figure out whether they would remain allies or become enemies again. ... "

Major Publisher Investment Advances Inkling as the Future of Digital Textbooks

NY Times: "No matter where you set the target date for that tipping point, digital textbooks certainly just received a strong shove in that direction with a major investment announcement from the iPad textbook maker Inkling. The startup has raised an undisclosed round of funding, with participation from some of its initial investors including Sequoia Capital. More significantly, this financing involves significant minority investments from the two biggest educational content companies in the world, McGraw-Hill and Pearson."

Textbook Renter Chegg Becomes More Social

NYTimes: "Chegg is known as the Netflix of college textbooks. The Silicon Valley start-up, which has raised more than $200 million in debt and equity, allows students to rent costly college textbooks, rather than buy them. When the semester is over, they ship the books back and order new ones. The business, said Dan Rosensweig, the former Yahoo and Activision Blizzard executive who became Chegg’s chief executive 13 months ago, is booming. He said Chegg, which plants a tree for every textbook rented, has planted four million trees."

Portability: Does Apple's iBooks need to go Android?

Carnoy, CNET: "Amazon's app motto is, 'Buy once, read everywhere' and it ran a series of What if you switch?-themed TV ads promoting the concept. Barnes & Noble's app page screams: 'Read what you love. Anywhere you like.' It doesn't have quite as many app choices as Amazon, (B&N is missing Windows iPhone 7 and Amazon has announced a Kindle app for HP's Web OS), but it's pretty close. Kobo, too, has a set of apps for a wide variety of devices. iBooks, however, is relegated to Apple iOS mobile devices (we assume an OS X version is in the works), which is fine for all those people who just own Apple devices, but might seem limiting to those who would consider the possibility of dabbling in other platforms."

Barnes & Noble Struggles to Find a Buyer

Note: Kindle = 67% eReader market. Nook = 22%. BloggingStocks: "The biggest threat to Barnes & Noble emerged over the past few years as the more and more readers made the switch from actual books to digital books. The company's main competitor,, Inc. (AMZN) was quick to capture this market with its e-reader Kindle. Barnes & Noble have come out with their own e-reader, the Nook, but sources close to the company said that one reason buyers are backing away from a potential purchase of the company is due to the length of time it will take for the company to increase its digital sales. ... "