Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

06/28/2016

Barnes & Noble’s Nook Press Offers Shelf Space to Self-Publishing Authors


nook press logoSelf-published authors who have obtained a certain level of ebook sales can now print publish their books and sell them in B&N stores and online at BN.com. This means that B&N will offer these authors a coordinated, national distribution, never before available.

My, my – it appears that self-published authors are now being sought after and even accommodated a little. Of course, all things publishing has been changing dramatically over the past few years and self-published authors are now even allowed to use the indoor bathrooms at literary events 🙂

This announcement came from Digital Book World today:

Barnes & Noble announced today the launch of a new self-publishing, print platform called Nook Press, which will allow authors to turn their ebooks into print versions that can be sold in B&N stores and online at BN.com.

The program is self-service and allows authors to create both hardcover and paperback versions.

Through the program, authors who have sold 1,000 copies of a single ebook in the past year will be able to sell their print books on the local, regional or national level through B&N.

Moreover, authors who have sold 500 copies of a single ebook in the past year are eligible to participate in in-store events at B&N, including book-signings and discussions.

If eligible authors want their books to be considered for in-store placement, they can submit their books for review to B&N’s Small Press Department and one of the company’s corporate category buyers. To participate in in-store events, eligible authors can submit for an event review from a B&N store manager.

“Barnes & Noble is proud to be the first to offer coordinated, national distribution for self-published authors who will benefit from in-store placement at Barnes & Noble stores and online at BN.com,” said Fred Argir, B&N’s chief digital officer, in a press release. “No one else can offer self-published authors a retail presence like Barnes & Noble can.”

What do you all think about Barnes & Noble’s Nook Press? At least they are trying – even though the effort is in their interest to save their own ass a little, too.

07/18/2013

Barnes & Noble is Really an Ally of Amazon


Barnes & Noble stores – lands of discovery for ALL readers – Even e-book readers!

B&N an Amazon ally? Many may not realize this fact; but B&N has helped Amazon succeed and Amazon should show a little respect!

B&N has had a recent spate of bad bumps caused by dings to themselves and the book industry in general — like the declining sales of Nook, the resignation of William Lynch as head of their tech side (due to a $177 million Nook loss), the big six downsizing to five with the Penguin/Random House merger and Apple losing it’s agency pricing case in court.

But, believe it or not, B&N STILL has solid business fundamentals as demonstrated by a 16% increase in earnings (EBITDA) even as sales declined by 5% – 6%.

The possible hidden power of B&N lies in the ability of the re-crowned head of the company (and the one who initially built B&N to a major bookseller chain), 72-year-old Mr. Leonard Riggio — who also loves the physical book stores. He also has a genuine respect for the new digital tech. Point is, he knows how to run a store with ambiance and panache!

Mr. Riggio wants to buy back all the B&N stores and take them private again. I think this is a good start as he won’t have to put up with a lot of investors and boards of directors that might not see his particular vision for the physical bookstore plus amenities that creates an intelligent respite from the cold, harsh world — You just can’t get this kind of ‘creation’ from a tablet.

So, just how is B&N an ally of Amazon? People just love to browse physical artifacts in a warm, restful space (Homo sapiens can’t live on-line ALL the time) — they look at books with neat covers, read the cover flaps and decide they want to buy — either in-store OR very often over their devices. B&N has probably acted as the catalyst for numerous digital buys!

Bookstores are ‘lands of discovery’, even for e-book readers.

So, B&N is still earning and publishers’ net revenue grew $1 billion in 2012, upping their take to $15 billion — much of it due to the wide margins provided by e-books (no manufacturing, no shipping and no remaindering) — If only they could get over the fact that Amazon’s concurrent growth makes them secondary characters in a business they used to control.

Really, there is room for everybody.

David Carr writes this for The New York Times:

Why Barnes & Noble Is Good for Amazon

On Thursday night in Clifton, N.J., Barnes & Noble was a way station, a third place between work and home where people sought respite and diversion. With its high ceilings, wide aisles and a large Starbucks, it is the kind of retail outlet that gives big-box stores a good name.

In one aisle, a father and daughter were having a spirited generational discussion over the side-by-side covers of “The Great Gatsby,” one of which bore an image of Leonardo DiCaprio. For reasons I wasn’t quite clear about but nonetheless found charming, an older couple used a book on vegetarian cooking to cover up a copy of “The Art of Seduction” on the shelf. Nearby, two apparent siblings, one sporting pink hair and the other purple, traded loud opinions over the True Crime display.

Watching the readers lounge in chairs with a view of Route 3, it was hard to reconcile the pageantry of retailing with the brutal recent headlines about the book business.

At the beginning of July, the Big Six publishers became the Big Five with the blending of Penguin and Random House. At the beginning of last week, the chief executive of Barnes & Noble left the company after a grim earnings report that highlighted a failed strategy to have the company’s Nook device compete in the crowded tablet space.

Then on Thursday, Judge Denise L. Cote of United States District Court in Manhattan issued a withering decision against Apple, writing that the company had conspired with the major publishers to fix the price of e-books in an effort to thwart Amazon’s momentum.

So far, what has been bad for the industry has not yet hit consumers directly. If they are among the many millions of people enthralled by CBS’s “Under the Dome,” and decide to read the giant Stephen King novel that inspired it, they can hop on Amazon and buy it with a click for $13.99. Or they could avoid its door-stopping heft and spend just $7.99 for the Kindle version.

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06/07/2012

DOJ’s Proposed Settlement RE publishers’ Alledged Price Fixing — Right or Wrong?


What about this DOJ settlement, anyway?

The legal department of Barnes and Noble, in a complaint filed with the DOJ today, says the proposed settlement with some of the big six publishers “represents an unprecedented effort” to become “a regulator of a nascent technology that it little understands” — and “the national economy, our nation’s culture, and the future of copyrighted expression” are at stake.

B&N’s legal beagles further state “in essence, the proposed settlement substitutes one alleged cartel for a new cartel on the industry, albeit one run by the [DOJ].”  

, reporting for PaidContent (the economics of digital content), discusses the B&N’s complaint with its accompanying charts and figures: 

B&N: DOJ e-book suit endangers consumers, bookstores and copyrighted expression

In a complaint sent to the Department of Justice this morning, Barnes & Noble says that the DOJ’s proposed settlementwith HarperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schuster for allegedly colluding to fix e-book prices “represents an unprecedented effort” to become “a regulator of a nascent technology that it little understands” — and “the national economy, our nation’s culture, and the future of copyrighted expression” are at stake. In fact, B&N argues, e-book and hardcover prices have fallen under agency pricing.”

“You’re going to end up having choice control from a server farm in Washington state,” Barnes & Noble’s general counsel Gene DeFelice told me, referring to Amazon.

“In essence, the proposed settlement substitutes one alleged cartel for a new cartel on the industry, albeit one run by the [DOJ],” B&N says. The bookstore chain’s complaint joins others sent to the DOJ during the settlement commenting period, which ends on June 25.

The proposed settlement, B&N says in a brief filed by its in-house counsel and law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner, “warrants an exacting review because of its potential impact on the national economy and culture, including the future of copyrighted expression and bookselling in general, not only electronic books.” And “many millions of Americans, as well as all levels of the distribution chain for books (from authors to publishers to distributors, and especially brick-and-mortar stores), stand to be affected by this case’s resolution.”

B&N argues that the proposed settlement is a government action “analogous to a cartel imposing a detailed business model on publishers.” It would transform the DOJ “into a regulator” and would “injure innocent third parties, including Barnes & Noble, independent bookstores, authors, and non-defendant publishers; hurt competition in an emerging industry; and ultimately harm consumers.”

The punishment doesn’t fit the crime

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01/29/2012

Barnes & Noble’s Company Value is $719 million & Amazon’s Value is $88 billion — But …


William J. Lynch Jr., CEO of Barnes & Noble, with a wall full of e-readers at its site in Silicon Valley, where 300 employees are building the company's digital side.

It’s ironic that Barnes & Noble, the bookstore chain that put a lot of indie bookstores out of business (and pissed off many), just may be the new savior of bookstores as we know them from complete annihilation at the hands of the new takeover bully on the block, Amazon!

Read this intrigue by Julie Bosman in The New York Times:

The Bookstore’s Last Stand

IN March 2009, an eternity ago in Silicon Valley, a small team of engineers here was in a big hurry to rethink the future of books. Not the paper-and-ink books that have been around since the days of Gutenberg, the ones that the doomsayers proclaim — with glee or dread — will go the way of vinyl records.

No, the engineers were instead fixated on the forces that are upending the way books are published, sold, bought and read: e-books and e-readers. Working in secret, behind an unmarked door in a former bread bakery, they rushed to build a device that might capture the imagination of readers and maybe even save the book industry.

They had six months to do it.

Running this sprint was, of all companies, Barnes & Noble, the giant that helped put so many independent booksellers out of business and that now finds itself locked in the fight of its life. What its engineers dreamed up was the Nook, a relative e-reader latecomer that has nonetheless become the great e-hope of Barnes & Noble and, in fact, of many in the book business.

Several iterations later, the Nook and, by extension, Barnes & Noble, at times seem the only things standing between traditional book publishers and oblivion.

Inside the great publishing houses — grand names like Macmillan, Penguin and Random House — there is a sense of unease about the long-term fate of Barnes & Noble, the last major bookstore chain standing. First, the megastores squeezed out the small players. (Think of Tom Hanks’s Fox & Sons Books to Meg Ryan’s Shop Around the Corner in the 1998 comedy, “You’ve Got Mail”.) Then the chains themselves were gobbled up or driven under, as consumers turned to the Web. B. Dalton Bookseller and Crown Books are long gone. Borders collapsed last year.

No one expects Barnes & Noble to disappear overnight. The worry is that it might slowly wither as more readers embrace e-books. What if all those store shelves vanished, and Barnes & Noble became little more than a cafe and a digital connection point? Such fears came to the fore in early January, when the company projected that it would lose even more money this year than Wall Street had expected. Its share price promptly tumbled 17 percent that day.

Lurking behind all of this is Amazon.com, the dominant force in books online and the company that sets teeth on edge in publishing. From their perches in Midtown Manhattan, many publishing executives, editors and publicists view Amazon as the enemy — an adversary that, if unchecked, could threaten their industry and their livelihoods.

Like many struggling businesses, book publishers are cutting costs and trimming work forces. Yes, electronic books are booming, sometimes profitably, but not many publishers want e-books to dominate print books. Amazon’s chief executive, Jeffrey P. Bezos, wants to cut out the middleman — that is, traditional publishers — by publishing e-books directly.

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01/07/2012

Barnes and Noble’s Financial Fiasco – Inside the Telltale Numbers


B&N shedding Nook E-Reader and Publishing Arm?

More intrigue in the publishing industry 🙂

Barnes and Noble had great strength. And they had great insight in being one of the first, if not the first, in recognizing the importance and  impending impact of the e-book … BUT, they did not follow through and let others such as Amazon and Apple capture market share and establish first brands! 

Here, then, are the revealing financial numbers inside B&N as reported by JEFFREY A. TRACHTENBERG And MARTIN PEERS in The Wall Street Journal :

Barnes & Noble Seeks Next Chapter

Barnes & Noble Inc. is the latest old-school company to discover how costly it can be to try to reinvent itself for a digital future.

The nation’s largest bookstore chain warned Thursday it would lose twice as much money this fiscal year as it previously expected, and said it is weighing splitting off its growing Nook digital-book business from its aging bookstores.

Over the past 15 years, rapid technological change has transformed the company from a dominant retailing force that left smaller booksellers quaking in fear to a struggling giant grasping for a plan to ensure its long-term relevance to the publishing industry.

Barnes & Noble realized early on that e-books could appeal to consumers, but allowed Amazon.com Inc. to get an early leg up. Now it is locked in a battle with Amazon and another deep-pocketed rival, Apple Inc., to sell both electronic books and the high-tech devices consumers use to read them.

Digital technology continues to roil all manner of once-dominant companies. Former giants such as Blockbuster Inc., Circuit City and Barnes & Noble’s main book-chain rival, Borders Group Inc., have struggled mightily—and in some cases, disappeared altogether—in the face of digital competitors including Netflix Inc. and Amazon. Wednesday’s news that Eastman Kodak Co. was contemplating seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection underscored the severity of the technology threat.

Barnes & Noble’s stock fell 17% on Thursday. The company now may be at its most critical juncture since Leonard Riggio, its chairman and largest shareholder, opened his first store in New York’s Greenwich Village in 1965.

As recently as the 1990s, Barnes & Noble was known as a carnivorous competitor with the power to wipe out independent bookstores with its steeply discounted books and sprawling stores where customers could sip coffee and read in plush chairs. In New York City, the emergence of a Barnes & Noble on the Upper West Side was partly responsible for the mid-1990s closing of the beloved neighborhood bookseller Shakespeare & Company—the kind of narrative arc that cropped up in the movie “You’ve Got Mail.”

Ironically, Barnes & Noble had been one of the first to recognize the potential of digital books. In 1998, it invested in NuvoMedia Inc., maker of the Rocket eBook reader, and the bookseller actively supported digital-book sales. But in 2003, it exited the still-nascent business, saying there wasn’t any profit in it.

It wasn’t until 2009 that Barnes & Noble re-entered the business, introducing its Nook e-reader. By then, Amazon had been selling its Kindle device for about two years, and was offering best sellers for $9.99, a fraction of what hardcover best sellers are priced at.

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11/04/2011

B&N’s Nook Tablet to Compete with Amazon’s Kindle Fire


"Take That, iPad!"The Amazon and Barnes & Noble e-reader market is morphing into the tablet computer market … and bringing with it advances and features that should have Apple iPads shaking in their digital boots! … AND at a lighter weight and cost!

I just love it when the competitive intrigue goes exponential in a new industry market 🙂

This from Crain’s New York Business by Matthew Flamm

Barnes & Noble plays with Amazon’s Fire

The bookstore chain will introduce a new Nook tablet to compete with the e-tailer’s Kindle Fire. The new device will be available on Nov. 15.

The battle for the e-reader market isn’t over yet. Little more than a month after Amazon Inc. announced the launch of the Kindle Fire, its souped-up tablet that becomes available Nov. 15, archrival Barnes & Noble Inc. is getting set to roll out its new Nook.

The Nook Tablet, which will show movies in addition to displaying magazines, newspapers and books, will be introduced to the press on Monday morning at the Barnes & Noble Union Square store. It will be priced at $249, making it $50 more than the Fire, but will offer twice the memory of Amazon’s tablet, according to tech blog Engadget, which posted details about the new device and other updates to the Nook family of e-readers on its site Thursday evening.

In addition to its new tablet, Barnes & Noble has enhanced its Nook Color to include access to the subscription video hub Hulu Plus, and cut its price by $50 to $199. The touch-enabled Nook that launched last May with a price tag of $139 has been renamed the Nook Simple Touch and will be priced at $99. That makes it slightly more expensive than the $79 Kindle, but unlike Amazon’s device, the Nook won’t display ads.

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Related article on Amazon’s Kindle Fire

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09/06/2011

Autharium Publishing – Direct E-Book Publisher and Distributor


How about a new kind of publishing house, one that harnesses and utilizes all the available new tech? A dedicated, direct e-book publisher AND distributor that simplifies and drastically shortens the publishing route to market … AND pays 85% net royalties to boot! 

Autharium Publishing, launching this week, proposes to do just that. Autharium is UK-based but with global outreach. 

In addition to the publishing side of Autharium, authors can use the social marketing tools to promote their work to grow their reader-bases for free.

These details announced in PRWeb.com:

Autharium ebooks are retailed directly through: the Autharium website, Amazon, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble, WHSmith, Foyles, The Book Depository, Blackwells, and many, many others. Autharium ebooks are also distributed to thousands of libraries.

Notting Hill, London, UK (PRWEB UK) 6 September 2011

The UKs first dedicated, direct eBook Publisher and Distributor—Autharium Publishing—launched the first “direct to Author” beta website this week. Autharium.com is undoubtedly the first of a new kind of book publisher who are focused on the rapidly expanding ebook market. Through their innovative proprietary publishing platform an Author can: upload or create a new book from scratch, submit it for publication approval and QC checks, and then have it published and distributed by Autharium in a matter of days.

In addition to the rapid route to market, ease, and convenience, authors will also receive 85% of net royalties! Some 17 times a typical royalty share.

“We felt that—given the wealth of creative writing talent within the UK and the huge growth in the popularity of ebooks—there needed to be a new way to get these and future books to market, not just within the UK but globally. So we created Autharium.com. In addition to the Publishing side of Autharium, Authors can use the social marketing tools to promote their work to grow their reader-bases for free.”
-COO Matt Bradbeer

The Autharium beta version enables authors to become published and have their ebooks distributed and put on sale through the world’s largest ebook retailers, to a global audience – for free whilst in beta. Autharium.com

“We’ve been working on the Autharium digital printing press for the last year and a half. To our surprise and delight authors have already contacted us to publish their ebooks before we’ve even launched. For us this is very exciting as this is what we have been working towards for sometime now. The first of these ‘The Chronicles of Eternity’ series by J.A. Gordon are real page-turners and John Lawrie-Welsh’s spy thriller series ‘Cuelsin’ is gripping. We’re delighted to be publishing and distributing works from these authors.”
-CEO Simon Maylott

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03/21/2011

Is Amazon Becoming Too Amazonian?


Will Amazon slay writers in the future?

There are a lot of signs out in publishing land that indicate Amazon is positioning itself in a pretty complete vertical business structure ( acquiring both print-on-demand Booksurge and e-book tech software company Mobipocket as well as building and selling the e-reader Kindle) to become the dominant player (read that as monopolizer) in the current materializing publishing industry.

That, in and of itself, is not threatening…and they are playing somewhat fair (so far) with the true lifeblood of the industry: the content creators (writers and authors)…

But BEWARE! Do not let Amazon go completely unfettered or unchallenged because human nature and greed, being what they are, will succumb to complete dictatorship and the abuse of the content creators…Mark my words! Remember how out of whack traditional publishing became before being brought down.

There are other online entities and booksellers such as Apple’s iPad, Smashwords, Lulu, Barnes&Noble , etc…but, none have as complete a vertical package to go from publishing to reader as Amazon.

Let’s hope, for the sake of maintaining healthy competition and remuneration for all in what can be a great industry, that some of these other online enterprises (and complete newcomers) build their own self-contained verticals to save Amazon from itself and attract, nurture and grow great writers!

At least that’s the way this humble writer sees it.

Now, this by Anna Richardson from TheBookseller.com

Amazon could phase out publishers

Forbes.com looks at “how Amazon could change publishing”.

The first major technology-enabled change in the books industry came when digital print-on-demand presses started becoming affordable, but for authors looking to gain serious readership, the big question still remains unanswered: How would they market and distribute their books?

“Enter Amazon.com,” writes entrepreneur Sramana Mitra. “Some surveys suggest that online booksellers could become the largest channel for book sales by 2009, and Amazon is certainly the 800-pound gorilla in that market–it’s the largest bookseller in the world” and “what really keeps customers coming back is the outstanding user experience”, in great part due to its recommendation system.

In addition, in 2005, Amazon acquired the print-on-demand company BookSurge and Mobipocket.com, an e-book software company, and in November, it launched the e-book reader Kindle. According to Forbes, Amazon is now poised to revolutionise the book printing business through vertical integration.

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03/04/2011

Barnes & Noble Sidesteps Hostile Takeover Bid…Again!


Barnes & Noble has been fighting a hostile takeover bid mounted by Ron Burkle back around the end of 2009. I posted on this intrigue and it’s background twice before (Fight Still on to Control Barnes & Noble and Barnes & Noble’s Fight for Control Moves to Round Two).

Well, the poison pill defense (more details below) put forth by B&N to prevent the takeover was successful in the Delaware lower courts…Mr. Burkle then appealed to the Delaware Supreme Court…and this court has just come down on the side of B&N, also…

Poof! Looks like goodbye to the hostile takeover. I wonder if Ron Burkle has any options left to gain control of our largest ‘brick-and-mortar’ bookseller? 

Besides wanting to post on this seemingly final decision RE this matter, I also wanted to explain a bit of just what a “poison pill” defense is.  

This from Publishers Weekly:

Court Rejects Burkle Appeal 

The Delaware Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by Ron Burkle in a lawsuit challenging a poison pill plan adopted by Barnes & Noble. Burkle filed the original suit this summer after B&N instituted the poison pill provision in response to Burkle significantly increasing his stake in the retailer. A judge last year upheld the provision, prompting Burkle’s appeal.
 
The court did not take long to rule for B&N in the appeal. After hearing arguments Wednesday, on Thursday the court affirmed the judge’s original decision. Friday morning there was no word on whether Burkle will continue to press the issue.
 
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02/26/2011

Booksellers Need to Become ‘Jack-of-All-Trades’ to Flourish


I just love that old term ‘jack-of-all-trades’…It sounds so self relient and totally competent! Outsourcing, a darling concept  in the corporate (and government world), is now OUT in the publishing and bookselling universe…at least the messy business side of that universe.

The new buzz word for a biz model being a more inclusively competent, ‘jack-of-all-trades’ type is to be ‘vertically’ organized as opposed to ‘horizontally’ (outsourcing of some functions) organized. 

As is expressed so succinctly by Michael Wolf in his Crush or Get Crushed: Why B&N Needs to Be a Publisher article on his great blog GigaOM :

Let’s face it, the total pie in books is going to shrink, and the long and unwieldy value-chain from writer to customer is going to collapse. Amazon knew this a long time ago, and that’s why they’ve been moving to disintermediate the publisher and the wholesaler in the e-book world by becoming, essentially, the entire value chain themselves.

One ingredient this new self-sufficient biz side of the publishing and bookselling universe will ALWAYS need, of course, are the writers (creators) of great content! Writers are the really one indispensable part of the equation and they too are now becoming their own publishers (mostly through online publishers/e-retailers like Amazon, etc)…but, watch out…one day we may be able to eliminate the likes of Amazon, too.   

This now from Michael Wolf on GigaOM: 

Talk about frustrating: This week Barnes & Noble announced topline growth year over year and its first profit in four quarters, and how was it rewarded for its hard work?

With a pounding by Wall Street.

The drubbing was due in part to the news the company was eliminating its dividend in order to invest more in its digital business, but there’s no doubt the recent Borders bankruptcy filing weighed on the minds of investors. After all, B&N is the Coke to Borders’ Pepsi, and it’s easy to assume what happens to one will eventually inflict the other.

But as this excellent answer on Quora by former Borders employee Mark Evans points out, Borders failed for numerous reasons, the most important of which was its outsourcing of online to Amazon. What B&N realized — and Borders didn’t — was you don’t become a true online retailer by outsourcing the business, especially to what may be your number one competitor.

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