Category Archives: book blogs

Why Are We Still Not Bundling E-books?

Alex Crowley -- August 15th, 2013

The e-book vs. physical copy debate in publishing is for the most part, frankly, kind of a boring one. Some people like their e-readers, others—like myself—don’t care about them, and I’m sure there are others who like both for whatever reason(s). So, yes, there are 3 kinds of people in the world. Most talk from the consumer end tends to be about how one format is better/easier/more-papery/more-electrical than the other and that’s fine. Industry conversations seem to be about money, which to me is largely uninteresting, but I suppose if you have a financial stake in this it matters.*

Now I have a musician friend who basically only reads e-books these days. He asked me one day why publishers/presses weren’t offering a bundled physical copy and e-book package. I didn’t have an answer because, well, because it seemed so obvious that I couldn’t figure out why nobody was doing that either. In the music world, or at least in more “underground” scenes, it’s fairly common for bands/artists to offer free album/track downloads when you buy a physical copy, particularly if it’s vinyl. It’s standard practice on sites like Bandcamp, and I’ve even bought band t-shirts that come with an album download code.

So, yes… why aren’t more presses doing this? I get that the big houses probably aren’t going to be trendsetters here, but what about small/indie presses?

I took a cursory look into it and found that only Angry Robot has done something like this (through certain UK bookstores) and, geez, I can see why nobody followed suit, since it only tripled their sales on those bundled titles. That linked piece from TechDirt gets to most, if not all, of the salient points that my friend and I could think up: people like free stuff, you can lend a physical book while retaining an e-copy for future use, and—a big point that larger houses tend to miss—that you can’t monetize everything just because you think you’re leaving money on the table. (As far as that last point in concerned, that’s money you were probably never going to make in the first place since people aren’t generally going to buy both physical and electronic versions of the same book. It’s incredibly easy to pirate electronic versions of anything, whether it be games, music, books, etc.) It seems like an incredibly shortsighted strategy, IMO, but what do I know? This has only been been under discussion for several years now. Hey, even Nicholas Carr gets it.

Mostly right now I’m curious as to why publishers haven’t done this yet (and it’s been three years since B&N apparently tried doing it in their stores). Do the “numbers” just not pan out? Are there structural reasons that bundling doesn’t work?


*Please keep giving Publishers Weekly all your money. Thanks!

Readings: The Dark Side of the Literary World

Gabe Habash -- July 6th, 2011

Yesterday, Michael H. Miller of the New York Observer posted an article on the insufferable nature of readings, and if you’ve ever been to one, you’re probably nodding your head in agreement right now because, with few exceptions, readings are terrible experiences.

Best case scenario, a reading involves listening to a friend read for about fifteen minutes and, depending on how, you know, good this friend is, it’s not so bad. Not that it really matters, because you’re going to fall all over yourself telling your reader friend how incredible he/she was. And, really, the point isn’t how good he/she was, but that you’ve shown your support. Despite all the problems with readings, they do foster friendships, essentially doubling as ceremonial cheer sessions.

Now, if you’re lucky (and also not concerned with propriety) your reader friend will be first in the lineup and you can dash out before the next, unknown reader takes the stage. But, should you choose (or be forced) to stay, you’re more than likely about to enter a zone of impenetrable boredom that will last for an unspecified amount of time. Prepare to turn that wall in front of you into middle distance as a non-fiction MFA from some woodsy upstate school traces his suburban origins through uninteresting anecdotes told uninterestingly. That bit about the neighbor cat eating the family gerbil is so dull it can’t possibly be made up.

Because here’s the thing–listening to someone read is hard. The written word (poetry can be an exception, but too many poets fall into the same auto-deliver as their prose peers) is meant to be read. Not heard. Every time a writer verbally delivers his or her story, let’s face it, he/she is asking a lot of you. Think about it this way: how sharply perceptive can you be expected to be when the situation is a room (probably crowded) and all that is happening is a person is reading. There is no stimulation! Think about similar situations. Do you remember much of your commencement speech? When you were in a class, didn’t you immediately tune down your ears once you realized your teacher was giving a memorized lecture?

But Miller’s article is great because it sheds light on a dark, dark corner of the literary world, not because it gives answers. Perhaps there are no answers. The best part of the article is when Miller gets at the fundamentally contradictory nature of readings, stating: “while these turgid, awkward, too-often sexless events are an evil necessity, not enough people enjoy them to justify their existence.”

So we are stuck with them. But here’s something–because people will never stop pretending they are happy to be at readings, perhaps we should take the only really good thing about readings–supporting one’s friends–and adapt that idea. Perhaps it should become socially acceptable for friends to go out together and cheer for each other and their pursuits, for no particular reason. That would be way more fun, anyway.

The PW Morning Report: Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011

Craig Morgan Teicher -- February 1st, 2011

Welcome to February!

Apple Rejects Sony Reader iOS App And…: CNN / Fortune examines the fallout and implications of Apple’s rejection of Sony’s Reader app.

LibreDigital Raises $4 Million: The digital warehousing company has raised another $4 million in funding, according to the Statesman.

From B&N to Borders: The closing of an Encino, CA B&N has been a boon for a Sherman Oaks Borders, according to EncinoPatch.

The End of Ownership: Are e-books changing how we view book ownership? asks Good E-Reader.

31 Books in 31 Days: The National Book Critics Circle is blogging about each of its finalists between now and its awards ceremony in March.  The series starts today with poetry finalist Terrance Hayes.

Double Fallon: Jimmy Fallon will publish two books based on his Thank You Notes bit.  From WSJ.

Literary Profiling: Here’s a fun story from last week’s NYT about how and why we like the books we like, or why we say we like them on Facebook.

Seeking Salinger: A writer for the Millions goes in search of two lost Salinger stories.

The PW Morning Report: Friday, October 1, 2010

Craig Morgan Teicher -- October 1st, 2010

October showers bring…November flowers?

Granta Names 22 ‘Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelists’: Granta announced the names of the 22 Spanish-language novelists who will be featured in the next issue of the magazine, and PWxyz had ‘em first.

Franzen’s Freedom Recalled In UK: HarperCollins UK is recalling and exchanging 80,000 copies of Freedom due the fact that the novel is simply too incredible.  No, just kidding–it’s being recalled due to typesetting and copyediting errors. From the Bookseller.

Against the Agency Model: This recent article by the Editor-in-Chief of Authorlink argues that the Agency model is hurting authors.

Following Frankfurt: The Frankfurt Book Fair’s annual blog is now up and running, so you can keep up with the fair as if you were there.  Unless you are there, in which case, you can relive your Frankfurt days.

Enter Narnia (Contest): HarperCollins is sponsoring a contest to draw attention to a $100 gift edition of the complete Narnia books; the contest winner wins said fancy edition. From Aslan’s Country.

In Praise of the Paris Review: Blogger Maud Newton loves the new Paris Review, as edited by Lorin Stein.

Booktwo: A Cool Blog About the Future of Books

Craig Morgan Teicher -- September 10th, 2010

Today, the New York Times pointed to a compelling article about how WikiPedia entries are made.  The article, or post, really, came from Booktwo, a blog kept by UK-based publishing vet James Bridle, who describes himself as an enthusiast of “literature, technology and book futurism.”  In his WikiPedia post, Bridle looks closely at the way WikiPedia tracks all change made to every article, and actually bound–in 12 paper volumes!–the full records for the article on the Iraq war.

Other recent posts look at the pricing of the Tony Blair memoir, the past and future of the novel and the ways “technology, literature and sex are all bound up together.”  Bridle is opinionated and often funny.  We thought you might like to know about what he’s up to.