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.
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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.
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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.
Grief Is the New Cool: The Millions looks at the new trend for books on grief.
Fundamental Fail: All government funding for the Reading Is Fundamental organization has been cut.
J.K. Rowling Biopic: They’re making one… from the Times Colonist.
Why Barnes & Noble Survives: Time explains…
The Pressures of Success: The editors of the Mark Twain autobio are feeling it. From the LA Times.
The Armchair Sailor in Newport, RI
Looking Glass Books in Portland, OR
Lit Out Loud: The NYT runs down literary reading series in New York.
Happy National Grammar Day: It’s today. Here are some details from the official Web site.
Price Points: British consumers expect to pay less for e-books than print books, according to Internet Retailing.
Bad Borders: The Consumerist outlines the bad deals that closing Borders have to offer.
New Tenants: Four Michigan cities say their closing Borders will find new tenants.
Advertising Nook: In order to get consumers to associate its e-reader with subway travel, Barnes & Noble will promote the Nook on subway locator app HopStop. From AdWeek.
Visual Writing: The Millions looks at how writers give visual cues to readers.
Printing Press: A story about HP’s new high-volume printing technology being used by book publishers.