A couple of weeks ago, the science fiction writer Hugh Howey wrote a pair of pugnacious “Here’s what I would do” posts on how to reform “Big 5″ trade publishing. Most of his suggestions are fist-pumping common sense to industry observers: e.g., release formats as soon as they are ready, don’t window e-books or paperbacks; eliminate the returns system for bookstores; ditch “do not compete” clauses in contracts which hinder adjustment of digital royalty rates; and generally speaking, “GIVE READERS WHAT THEY WANT.”
These blog pieces are terrific reads and highly recommended, though there are impediments to adopting some of these changes. And there’s one presumption that seems like a real doozy: Knowing that a large portion of book sales are still in paper, Howey assumes the continued existence of bookstores. Continue reading
The rapid development of online publishing has been a boon for advancing access to literature and science. At the same time, it portends a dramatic lessening of the currently-legislated ability for national libraries with preservation and access mandates to record and store national and world literatures. There are at least two principal axes to this concern: independently published literature, and the growing wealth of alternative direct-to-web publishing channels. Continue reading
Something about Amazon’s release of the Prime Lending Library for Kindle owners finally made me realize that both e-book retailers and publishers confront vital new struggles. The conflict is immediate for e-book retailers, yet more fundamental for publishers; neither has much to do with publishing, but far more to do with the Internet and technology.
From my perspective, the lesson of Amazon’s lending service is not that publishers might not be getting a fair compensation model. Rather, the problem is that Amazon’s new tablet, the Kindle Fire, combined with the Amazon Prime program, provides access to “18 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines, and books.” And in that, it is not the free books that are a problem for book retailers and publishers: it is the movies and the music. Continue reading
Forty-eight hours after Gov. Jerry Brown signed California’s sales tax fairness provision, which requires out-of-state retailers to collect taxes on sales made to California customers, Barnes & Noble has issued a statement.
“We thank Governor Jerry Brown for demonstrating his commitment to California businesses by signing e-fairness into law. This legislation will directly benefit California businesses by creating a fair marketplace,” said William Lynch, Chief Executive Officer, Barnes & Noble. “We believe that e-fairness will improve the economy, add jobs, and help struggling businesses everywhere in California. By signing this law, the Governor has made clear that his priorities are to help bolster economic recovery. This is a huge win for business in the state of California.”
It’s not hard to sense the glee in B&N’s statement as they watch their biggest competitor take a tumble in another state and cut ties with more affiliates. But it’s also hard not to see a measure of hypocrisy in Barnes & Noble championing a level playing field, when in the not-so-distant past B&N was running independent bookstores to the ground with their discounts.
It’s understandable for people out there to relish the sight of Amazon, in the big faceless corporate sense, squirm around as fairness prevails (and, no matter which way you cut it, the e-fairness legislation is nothing if not fair). But don’t forget all the affiliates that got dumped in the process–they’re the ones who are really losing here, not big, bad Amazon. Hopefully it won’t take another 12 years of legal battling to make things fair for them, too.
Ellsworth Remembered: The NYT obit for the first publisher of the New York Review of Books.
B&N Profit: ZDNet wonders whether the Nook will alter the profit equation when Barnes & Noble reports its earnings today.
Make Borders Stores like Apple Stores: That’s one idea a private equity firm has for the bookseller. From AnnArbor.com.
Whitcoulls Absorbs Borders New Zealand: All Borders in New Zealand will become Whitcoulls stores. From the National Business Review.
European E-Growth: The Bookseller reports good digital growth in Europe despite the threat of encroaching US E-book companies.
Haiku for Keanu: Salon rounds up some hilarious haiku supposedly written by, but also sort of written against, Keanu Reeves (who, it turns out, is a budding author in several genres).
Go the F**k to The Top of the Bestseller List: Meet Adam Mansbach, the dad behind Go the F**k to Sleep. From Salon.
Bizarre Minister: Australian booksellers call their Small Business Minister’s remark about the upcoming death of bookstores “irresponsible” and “bizarre.” From Smart Company.
Apple Bypass: How publishers can get around Apple’s App store with HTML5 Web apps. From Mediashift.
Book Flogger: The Philadelphia Inquirer looks at how an author must flog her book daily to promote it.
Che Diary: An unreleased Che Guevara diary has been released in Cuba. From the Guardian.
Barnes & Slowble: A survey finds that B&N has some of the slowest customer service among e-tailers.
The ‘Waste Land’ Model: Salon looks at how the new T.S. Eliot app is the best example yet of a book app.
Today’s links! And please check out our new Facebook Page.
The Librarians are Coming! PW’s pre-ALA coverage.
Manbooks! More lists of books for men (with a lot more written by women).
Thanks But No Thanks. Want to buy a bookstore?
No More Pencils No More books. A few New Jersey school districts have been transformed by technology.
Not on My Kindle. How to keep your novel off the Kindle.
Have We Got a Book For You! Indy Booksellers work the summer books.
Nothing but Trouble. Borders and Angus and Robertson bookstore chains are on the brink of shutdowns.
Today’s links! And please check out our new Facebook Page!
Don’t Mess with Texas tax revenue. Texas Bookstore owner calls for governor to sign online sales tax bill.
Let’s make a deal. Barnes and Noble caught in a whirlwind of acquisition speculation.
Curtain Call. DC’s Arena Stage Theater adapts John Grisham’s novel A Time to Kill for the stage.
The Big Seven. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos ventures into the wild and risky world of book publishing.
Listen Up! The 2011 Audie Award Winners.
Friday, Barnes & Noble announced an update for its Nook for Android app with specific enhancements for tablet users running the Honeycomb version of Android (which pretty much means owners of the Motorola Xoom, for now). The biggest news about the updated app is it offers access to the periodicals available through the Nook Newsstand, which features over 140 magazines. The most interesting aspect of this announcement is the fact that B&N is making periodicals available to tablet users which were previously only accessible to owners of a Nook Color. This move underscores the idea that e-reading isn’t ultimately about devices so much as it is about platforms.
1984: How has publishing changed since then? The Atlantic investigates.
Obama’s Half Sister, Author: The NYT profiles Maya Soetoro-Ng, Obama’s half-sister, who is about to publish her first book.
Publisher Pulls Vatican Book Due to Condoms: An Italian publisher has yanked copies of a book in which a translation error implies the Vatican approves of contraception. From AP.
Grammar Lover: NPR looks at three books for grammar nuts.
The TIger’s Author: The Millions offers a lengthy review of Tea Obreht’s The Tiger’s WIfe.
Nookstore: CNN Money advocates B&N shift hard toward its e-book business.
E-book Publishing in the UK: Publishing Perspectives takes an in-depth look.