Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

12/07/2015

The Parallel Universe of Publishing


In the traditional or conventional publishing world, there is more and more ‘dark matter’ flying around that it cannot control or measure. This dark matter is generated by the ever-increasing and evolving digital or ebook side of the publishing universe; AND, since traditional publishing (TP) cannot control or measure all the new digital data with the old paper-related devices such as ‘rights’ management (that’s “precisely what DRM represents: an absurd and pathetic attempt to recreate in the digital realm a command-and-control system that profits off the characteristics of *paper*”) then TP simply makes statements such as “digital or ebooks are down or losing sales.”

Truth is, TP cannot ‘measure’ all this increasing ‘dark matter’ that holds much more favorable digital data. So their statistics are skewed or inaccurate based on incomplete data.

Talk about publishing intrigue!

Len Epp, a contributor to TechCrunch, delves into this dark matter in detail in tonight’s research/resource article:

 

On The Dark Matter Of The Publishing Industry

Key excerpts:

“Recently there were a pair of revealing eruptions in the world of ebooks and the volatile book publishing industry more generally.

The first was the announced demise of Oyster, an ebook subscription startup based in New York and backed by $17 million in VC funding.

While the announcement of Oyster’s shutdown is remarkable for its lack of transparency, apparently after its sun sets, Oyster’s excellent e-book reader expertise will be transferred to Google in the form of its founders and probably some of its tech or even the entire company, but perhaps not its pricey ebook contracts with publishers.”

“Now, there were some very smart people backing Oyster, and I suspect that a) they correctly saw that awesome tech would succeed in driving ebook reading, b) they had some kind of plan to monetize their user base, but ran into the common problem of being unable to finance a longer runway than they hoped for, which happened because c) their West Coast-y VC-style optimism prevented them from fully internalizing the willfully destructive, cynical recalcitrance of the incumbent publishers who, perhaps knowing what they were doing, forced Oyster into senseless, self-sabotaging ebook contracts.”

“There was more bad, meaning good, news to come. The next day, the New York Times gleefully reported that ebook sales were down in general. The surprising news was predictably greeted with what Mathew Ingram memorably called “a whiff of anti-digital Schadenfreude”.

Problem was, the news wasn’t just untrue, it was obviously untrue.”

“Essentially, the numbers the New York Times article was based on were limited to just 1,200 publishers, all of them being what is euphemistically referred to as “traditional” publishers — meaning “doorstopper” paper codex publishers whose business is essentially composed of a highly structured web of legal arrangements that historically evolved to maximize profit from the various physical characteristics of, you guessed it, the paper codex.”

“It was like the “traditional” publishing industry just pretended the ebooks being traded outside its own grumpy universe didn’t exist, because their “traditional” methods of tracking couldn’t see them.”

Open the door into the rest of the dark matter and publishing intrigue in The Parallel Universe of Publishing.

 

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03/02/2014

More on Disrupting the Book Publishing Game


New publisher will do marketing & distribution

Or is ‘improving’ a better word than ‘disrupting’?

The Foundry Group, a venture capital firm located in Boulder, Colorado, is entering the book publishing field with an interesting but not totally new business model.

The purpose of the new Foundry Group Press (FGP) will be to connect authors directly with readers by exterminating the traditional role of publishers. FGP will split book revenue 50 – 50, not as good as Amazon, BUT, FGP will help with marketing and distribution (a big deal if done right) and commit to “uncompromising use of forward-looking technologies and approaches to create the best possible book,” their site said.

FGP will also produce traditional print books as well as digital e-books.

Co-founder and CEO Dane McDonald and especially Foundry Group managing director Brad Feld (a prolific writer in his own right) offer many insightful thoughts in their own published books that show why the relationship between authors, publishers, and readers is broken—and that publishing houses are at fault.

Insightful publishing research links are included in tonight’s source data article written by  in the Xconomy (Boulder/Denver):

 

Foundry Group Looking to Disrupt Book Publishing With New Startup

The Foundry Group is getting into the book publishing game.

The Boulder, CO-based venture capital firm said Wednesday that it has formed FG Press, a startup publishing house.

The purpose of the new press will be to better connect authors and readers by upending the traditional role of publishers, according to the FG Press website.

“We believe there should be no barrier to entry for the creation of long-form content, quality should never be compromised to grow the bottom line, and there should exist a direct and continuous relationship between author and reader,” the site said.

Sounds idealistic, perhaps, but not naïve. Among the innovations the press will offer is a 50-50 split of revenue from book sales, help with marketing and distribution, and a commitment to be “uncompromising in using forward-looking technologies and approaches to create the best possible book,” the site said.

The press will produce traditional print books and digital e-books, and it will experiment with technologies that allow for interaction between authors and readers, according to the site.

Co-founder and CEO Dane McDonald said the company will work with authors from a variety of genres, but at the start it will focus on what its backers know best—books about startups, entrepreneurship, and business management, along with some science fiction.

The press already plans to publish eight books this year. It will be self-funded and is a separate entity from Foundry Group.

Article continues here

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04/27/2013

The Publishing Industry is Just Experiencing Growing Pains – Not Armageddon!


Publishing Business experiencing growing pains

The change washing across the publishing industry has caused some, even some so-called pros within the profession, untold angst and driven them to overdose on Bromo Seltzer, declare an end to ‘literature’ and ALL things cultural, for that matter – It’s no f—ing wonder they haven’t jumped out of 30th floor windows like when the market crashed in ’29!

Just goes to show you that being learned in a profession does not immune you from stupidity when that profession experiences inevitable change/growth. We all enter the food chain at a specific snapshot in time — and having cut our teeth on and learned the ‘procedures-of-the-day’, resulting in income/rewards of varying degrees (depending, perhaps, on our karma), we think what we have mastered will never change and we will live in this snapshot in time forever after.

Bullshit! — Just as we age and change, so does everything else – including publishing.

Please read this post on my Writers Welcome Blog: James Patterson Wants Government to Bail Out Book Industry for a little background.

Relax, folks, the publishing industry is going to be just fine, literature is NOT going to disintegrate – in fact, it’s going to EXPLODE as never before for those that will come after us and books, both digital and print AND future formats, will live and thrive together. Bank on it.

This view by Brandon Barb as reported in The Spencer Daily Reporter:

 

The publishing industry is safe

The publishing industry is in the same boat as the newspaper industry. Both are dealing with digital formats that are quickly changing the way people read and consume content, but neither industry has quite figured out how to utilize that digital aspect to a full extent. When those formats are ironed out the industries will be just fine. Neither books nor newspapers are going to go away.

With that being said, successful author and writer James Patterson is calling for the U.S. government to bail out the publishing industry. For some background, Patterson’s books have sold millions of copies and he is on four New York Times bestseller lists. He isn’t exactly in need of a bailout, nor is the publishing industry.

Patterson called for the bailout in an advertisement placed in the New York Times Book Review and Publishers Weekly. It asks, “If there are no bookstores, no libraries, no serious publishers with passionate, dedicated, idealistic editors, what will happen to our literature?”

The same can be said for the newspaper business. If there are no newspapers or magazines, where will people read news that matters? Where will our news come from if not from editors and writers all over the world?

Read and learn more

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04/23/2013

A Renaissance of Novella-Length Journalism and Fiction – Also Known As E-Shorts


Authors of Kindle Single memoirs, fiction and essays share in the profits for their works.

Within Amazon resides another offshoot, a store within a store you might say, called Kindle Singles (KS). Many have, no doubt, already taken advantage of or have heard about KS.

KS is a publishing niche devoted to works of 5000 to 30,000 words – commonly referred to as novellas. They can be edited, splashed with great cover art and otherwise prepared for publication and sale in record short time frames. KS is also proving to be a great entry point into the literary world and for authors to get published AND rake in a substantial 70% of the profits – and the profits have been great here because of great management that has resulted in outstanding credibility for KS along with a great attached purchasing audience and fanbase (this is key).

KS’s great management is provided by David Blum, who has worked for a range of publications, including The Wall Street Journal (where he met his wife, the television writer Terri Minsky, who created Disney’s “Lizzie McGuire”), Esquire, New York magazine and The New York Times Magazine.

Leslie Kaufman , New York Times, says:

 

Amazon Broadens Its Terrain

David Blum does not have a regular table at the Four Seasons or host celebrity parties at the top of the Standard Hotel.

He does not get a lot of fawning press. After he was fired by The Village Voice and left The New York Press, Gawker Media in 2009 pronounced him “a sad bumbling doctor for dying New York City weeklies.”

But four years is an eon in the digital realm, and in that time Mr. Blum has transformed himself from doctor of the dying to midwife of the up-and-coming. As such, he is a man whom authors want to court.

Mr. Blum is the editor of Amazon Kindle Singles, a Web service that is helping to promote a renaissance of novella-length journalism and fiction, known as e-shorts.

Amazon Kindle Singles is a hybrid. First, it is a store within the megastore of Amazon.com, offering a showcase of carefully selected original works of 5,000 to 30,000 words that come from an array of outside publishers as well as from in-house. Most sell for less than $2, and Mr. Blum is the final arbiter of what goes up for sale.

It is also a small, in-house publishing brand — analogous to a grocery store that makes an in-house brand of salsa to compete with other manufacturers. Mr. Blum comes up with his own ideas or cherry-picks pieces from the more than 1,000 unsolicited manuscripts he receives each month. He then edits them and helps pick cover art.

Amazon Singles usually pays nothing upfront to the author (there are rare exceptions) and keeps 30 percent of all sales. Yet it is an enticing deal for some authors, because Singles now delivers a reliable purchasing audience, giving them a chance to earn thousands for their work. (A quick calculation shows that the authors make an average of roughly $22,000, but the amount varies widely by piece.)

“Every day I become more obsessed with how brilliant the concept is,” Mr. Blum, 57, said over coffee at the Lamb’s Club in Manhattan, crediting the idea entirely to Amazon.

For him, the brilliance is that authors can now share in the profits instead of getting a flat fee. “The idea that writers would participate in the publishing model is just very bold,” he said.

Read and learn more

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04/13/2013

Memo To TP’s: Do Not Miss Last Boat To Survival – Salvation Lies in the Same Source as the Challenge


Urgent Memo to Traditional Publishers: Survival

TP’s are going to have to realize: simple ebooks, that may not require publishers, only scratch the surface of a gigantic potential! Let’s call this potential ‘transmedia‘ or ‘multimedia’.

Traditional publishing is under attack from many sides — ‘the rise of ebooks, competition from other media, the growing shadow of Amazon’, etc. — and the best way to defeat these attacks is to discover how their existing talents, experience and expertise can be applied to accomplishing the new transmedia (or multimedia) publishing demands — Then taking a leadership/innovative role.

In the recent past, some traditional publishers did dip their toes in these waters, experimenting with a few innovative projects; but these half-hearted efforts didn’t pay for the start-up costs; this resulted in traditional publishers retreating to straight digitization of standard text projects, occasionally adding a half-hearted “enhanced ebook.”

TP must go beyond just accepting the new publishing media, they must embrace it, thrive in it. Salvation may lie in the same source as the challenge.

cocreators of The Silent History, a serialized, exploratory novel for iPhone and iPad, have written an exceptional article in HuffPost Re this subject. I know you will enjoy and learn mucho:

Publishing Companies Are Technology Companies. Now It’s Time For Them To Act Like It

The death of publishing has been greatly exaggerated.

Though traditional publishers are being threatened from all sides — the rise of ebooks, competition from other media, the growing shadow of Amazon — publishers have learned from the failures of the music industry, the futility of closing one’s eyes and trying to deny an evolving marketplace. They have conformed to many aspects of digitization, hurrying to convert to required formats and bowing to imposed pricing structures, hoping to not miss the last boat provided by the new marketplace.

However, accepting the future is not the same thing as embracing it, thriving in it. Many of publishers’ traditional functions — printing books, storing and shipping them around the country, maintaining a far-flung sales team — are becoming less relevant as content moves to digital. Self-publishing is an increasingly plausible option, with some remarkable success stories. While nervous companies typically fight to preserve and protect what’s left of their industry, the smart ones figure out how their skills might be applicable in the next. In this new world, how do publishers make themselves valuable and even necessary?

Salvation may lie in the same source as the challenge. Ebooks alone may not require a traditional publisher, but simple ebooks only scratch the surface of the potential of this new realm. Whether we call it transmedia storytelling, interactive fiction, or any other semi-depressing buzzword, we are beginning to see the exciting possibilities: Serialization. Collaboration. Interactivity. Communal reading experiences. Location-aware storytelling. New narrative structures, serving classic storytelling values.

This isn’t about killing books, or forcing unnecessary flash into the reading experience; it’s about providing new tools to our writers and storytellers, engaging readers in new ways. Some early experiments have been successful, while others have been more possibility than reality — which is to be expected with any new form, a natural part of the process of discovery. The formative years of transmedia fiction are taking place against a backdrop of hyper-accelerated technology and an uncertain traditional-publishing industry — at the intersection of startups and panic.

But the potential is clear. Expecting books to be unaffected by these new reading devices would be like expecting cinema to consist of nothing more than filmed plays. True embrace of the emerging formats requires projects more ambitious than simply digitizing a traditional text.

So far, the growth of these evolving forms has been limited by practical obstacles. Unlike straightforward ebooks, transmedia projects can be very difficult for individual authors to undertake on their own. Platforms must be built from the ground up, new markets must be discovered, audiences educated — all for a single one-off project. These challenges would instantly shrink, however, if many projects were brought under a single umbrella — essentially, a new-media publisher. Much of the labor would transfer smoothly from one project to the next: a growing library of code, discovery of best practices, usage analytics, and a relationship with a new community of readers. Costs would quickly decrease, and production speed and sales would improve.

Read and learn more

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02/23/2013

A Narrow Conception of Literary Purity


Literary Purity. Does it exist?

Oh, what can you do with a title like that? Many thoughts and images may flash through your mind, but one theme triumphs, right?

I think the above title is an example of words painting a pretty accurate picture of the inner essence of what the article/post/prose is going to be about — Something to do with people’s prejudices or restrictive view/s of what true literature really consists of (that alone would fill a dictionary).

But, in what way are we going to be talking about the disintegration of ‘pure lit’ (if, indeed, there is such a thing)?

How about taking A Narrow Conception of Literary Purity and mix in the ingredients:

literature, prose, pictures and aesthetic corruption.

Visual literature.

Music of the language.

Shake well and pour straight up and you have a fine concoction that tastes something like tonight’s post.

Sam Sacks, who writes the Fiction Chronicle for the Wall Street Journal and contributes to The New Yorker, has this insight:

Bring Back the Illustrated Book!

It’s curious how much of literature we are conditioned to consider  unliterary. Few would contest the canonization of “Bleak House,” “Vanity Fair,”  “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” and “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” but these classics have something in common we may be prone to disregard: each  was published with profuse illustrations, and in each case the author relied on  the artwork not only to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the book but to add  meaningfully to the story.

Some of the art from the golden age of the illustrated novel remains a vital  companion to the text. It is nearly impossible to go down Lewis Carroll’s rabbit  hole without envisioning John Tenniel’s drawings of a  ranting, bucktoothed Mad Hatteror of Alice  eerily elongated after eating the currant cake. George Cruikshank was such a  brilliant artist that his emotive  illustrations for “Oliver Twist” retain a tenacious hold on the imagination.  But we almost never find them in contemporary novels (on the rare occasions that  they do appear it’s as ironic anachronism—in Susanna Clarke’s “Jonathan Strange  and Mister Norrell,” for instance, or Umberto Eco’s “The Prague Cemetery,” both  of which are pastiches of nineteenth-century genre fiction). Even as graphic  novels enjoy a surge of newfound critical appreciation, the common consensus  seems to be that pictures no longer belong in literary fiction. It’s reasonable  to ask, Why not? What do we know that Dickens and Twain didn’t?

It may easy to dismiss the tradition of Victorian book art because of its  origins in cartooning. Undoubtedly, many illustrators were caricaturists in the  tradition of William Hogarth, whose raucous urban tableaux used comic  distortions to point up moral lessons. But we need only look at “Vanity Fair,” written and illustrated by William Thackeray, to see how much playful  complexity can exist within the trappings of caricature. Thackeray had aspired  to be a cartoonist before he took up writing (he unsuccessfully applied to  illustrate Dickens’s “The Pickwick Papers”), and his wonderful drawings play a  sneaky, editorializing role throughout the novel. Some are of children playing  with dolls, framing the story as a kind of metafictional puppet play. As the  anti-heroine Becky Sharp progresses in her conquest of the venal English  aristocracy, Thackeray depicts her as a man-eating mermaid, a female Napoleon,  and the  notorious husband-slayer Clytemnestra—this last portrayal was controversial  even in its time because it implicates Becky in a murder that the text leaves  ambiguous. The author is very much toying with us as he stages his  entertainment.

Dickens was dependent on artists, but when he began working with the  relatively unknown H .K. Browne (who signed his work with the moniker Phiz), he  found an illustrator willing to abide an imperious amount of supervision. Browne  has never been credited with deep artistic gifts, but under Dickens’s  overbearing instruction, his drawings began to subtly communicate the themes and  motifs of Dickens’s mature novels. Their collaboration became an essential  element of Dickens’s preparations for writing. The pair travelled together on  fact-gathering trips. Letters between them show how dictating the contents of  each panel illustration helped Dickens plan out his characters’ physical and  symbolic dimensions. In a letter to the illustrator during the composition of “Martin Chuzzlewit,” for instance, Dickens wrote, “I have a notion of finishing  the book with an apostrophe to Tom Pinch [the book’s quietly good-hearted hero],  playing the organ.” Browne’s lavish frontispiece places at its axis Tom at the  piano, and shows the novel’s other characters in miniature dancing a kind of  roundelay to Tom’s music, stressing his moral centrality.

I suspect that most fiction writers would instinctively agree that  interacting with visual representations of a book in draft can help give shape  to evanescent impressions or inspire new ideas. (In the most famous instance, F.  Scott Fitzgerald “wrote in” the image of T. J. Eckleburg’s haunting optometry  billboard after seeing Francis Cugat’s dust-jacket design for “The Great  Gatsby.”) Nevertheless, a stickier problem lies beneath the writerly distrust of  publishing fiction with illustrations. The real backlash to the universal custom  began around the turn of the century. In his 1909 foreword to a reissue of “The  Golden Bowl,” Henry James sought to explain it (brace yourself, as this is the  most Jamesian of Jamesian sentences). The danger of pictures of people and  scenes, he wrote, is that “anything that relieves responsible prose of the duty  of being, while placed before us, good enough, interesting enough and, if the  question be of picture, pictorial enough, above all in itself, does the  worst of services, and may well inspire in the lover of literature certain  lively questions as to the future of that institution.”

This is one of the earliest articulations of the existential anxiety that  still preys on novelists today. Basically, James was worried about movies. If  prose was going to lean on the crutch of pictures, however charming, it was  going to quickly find itself surpassed by far more dazzling mediums of visual  entertainment. Literature needed to apply itself to doing the things that  photography and film could not—it needed to evoke a scene’s inner workings.

In her 1926 essay, “Cinema,” Virginia Woolf reëmphasized the distinction  between visual stimulation and the ineffable conjurings of prose. When we watch  a film version of “Anna Karenina,” she wrote, “eye and brain are torn asunder  ruthlessly as they try vainly to work in couples.… For the brain knows Anna  almost entirely by the inside of her mind—her charm, her passion, her despair.  All the emphasis is laid by the cinema on her teeth, her pearls, her velvet.”

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01/19/2013

Publishers Outclassed by Digitally Savvy Writers


Digitally S a v v y Writer

Digitally S a v v y Writer

Actually, publishers have ALWAYS been outclassed by writers — who created the very content (product) that made publishers their living in the first place.

Publishers, as discussed in this post, are traditional publishers, OK? I make this clarification because today more and more writers are publishing their own works through self-publishing platforms — and are, therefore, publishers themselves 🙂

Michael Drew writes this nice piece in Huffpost, Books, that further details the slowness of TP’s to take full advantage of the new digital publishing landscape:

As E-Books Rise, Publishing Still Waivers

(John’s Note: I think Michael means publishing TP decision-making waivers – not the publishing business as a whole)

There’s probably no going back: e-books are going to be the dominant form for publishing pretty soon.

Consider that 23 percent of Americans now read e-books, up from 16 percent in 2011, and that the number of people reading “traditional” books is declining. On top of that, according to a study released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, “the number of owners of either a tablet computer or e-book reading device such as a Kindle or Nook grew from 18 percent in late 2011 to 33 percent in late 2012.”

Okay — and tablets are likely even to overtake e-readers, as tablets grow smaller and more comfortable to hold and still more versatile than many models of e-reader.

And publishers may be embracing e-books more than they had in the past. They have, for one thing, the ability to change prices. As Dominique Raccah, president of Sourcebooks said in an piece on NPR, “The exciting thing about digital books is that we actually get to test and price differently,” Raccah says. “We can even price on a weekly basis.”

On top of that, too, publishers can release books more quickly. Although in traditional publishing, you still have to wait a good year for a book to appear on shelves once it’s been accepted for publication, with e-publishing, of course, those delays — brought about by distribution, printing schedules, etc. — no longer exist.

Read and learn more

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10/24/2012

Are Self-Published Authors Devaluing the Written Word?


Melissa Foster _ International
Best Selling Author

In my humble opinion, the correct simplistic answer is “Hell No!” — Nothing can devalue quality written work, no matter its source or format.

I suppose an argument can be made that the deluge in less-than-stellar written work, made possible through new and instant technology, has, indeed, diluted quality written and structured words — due mainly to the quantity of its existence.

BUT, poor quality work (or even technically well-written but boring work) has always existed, even in traditional publishing.

So, I say its a quantitative and not qualitative proposition — My opinion, of course 🙂

Anyway, here is an interesting take on this issue by Melissa Foster, award-winning author, community builder for the Alliance of Independent Authors and a touchstone in the indie publishing arena:

Are Self-Publishing Authors Killing the Publishing Industry?

Self-published authors have created a devaluing of the written word, and, some of them are scrambling to see how low they can go to get noticed.

Let us list the ways: 99-cent price point for ebooks. Free ebooks via KDP Select program. Unedited work. Kindle giveaways to get attention and bulk up sales. And lastly, nasty reviews from other authors with the sole purpose of driving down customer ratings.

Why are indie authors selling their work so cheap? In short, mismanaged expectations. Many self-published authors hear about the outliers who earn hundreds of thousands of dollars, and they’ll do anything to try and reach that pinnacle. The plain fact is that most of them never will.

The Guardian recently reported that, “Despite the splash caused by self-publishing superstars such as Amanda Hocking and EL James, the average amount earned by DIY authors last year was just $10,000 (£6,375) – and half made less than $500.” That was backed up by a recent poll of authors who have 2 or less 99-cent ebooks on the market that revealed that 75% of authors are selling less than 100 ebooks per month at that rate, with 46% selling less than 10 ebooks per month.

Yes, there are 99-cent anomalies. A recent headline on GalleyCat reported that, “99-Cent Sale Sweeps Self-published Bestseller List”. Yes, Stephanie Bond did achieve bestseller status with three of her titles, all listed for 99 cents but what most indie authors fail to realize is that Stephanie was previously traditionally published and has a following in place. As a new author, that’s very difficult to match.

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08/29/2012

Bookworld to Compete with Amazon


More intrigue in the publishing kingdom!
 
The company says its new Bookworld.com.au site is aiming to compete with Amazon on price and delivery, offering free shipping with two-to-three day delivery to any capital city on Australian books. Bookworld has about 100,000 e-book customers and a total of 750,000 customers on its database.” — Global publisher Pearson
 
Pearson publishing bought failing Boarders (after Boader’s owner REDGroup’s collapse last year), turned it into ‘Bookworld’, and is taking the first step in providing what they feel will be real competition for Amazon.
 
Many who have visited the Bookworld site feel they still have some hurdles to clear.
 
I believe Bookworld is a good first step in bringing much needed, real competition to the digital book industry — and Bookworld should improve with time. 

Chris Zappone, reporting for Business Day in The Sydney Morning Herald, has this to say: 

Global publisher Pearson has internet giant Amazon in its sights with the launch of an Australian-based online bookseller.

The publisher has rebranded the Borders.com.au site which Pearson bought for less than $5 million after owner REDGroup’s collapse last year. The company says its new Bookworld.com.au site is aiming to compete with Amazon on price and delivery, offering free shipping with two-to-three day delivery to any capital city on Australian books. Bookworld has about 100,000 e-book customers and a total of 750,000 customers on its database.

“You’ve got to have a price that will get you to market and clearly Amazon are the benchmark,” said Bookworld chief James Webber.

“We compete with Amazon very effectively that includes no shipping costs.”

Mr Webber said that 50 per cent of Bookworld’s stock was sourced in Australia.

REDgroup was unable to compete with global retailers like Amazon and Book Depository because of higher book prices in Australia.

Under current pricing offers, the cost of Christopher Hitchens’ book Morality is $23.95 from Amazon with delivery taking up to a month. Bookworld offers the same book at $19.99 to its club card holders with three-day delivery.

Bookworld said it has sold more e-books than physical books in the past month in another sign of how quickly the book industry was changing.

Read and learn more

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03/31/2012

Are Book Apps for Enhanced Books Desirable? Authors’ Attitudes


"Who Is John Galt?" Try the App to Find Out

A popular question today “Are apps the future of book publishing?”

There are differing opinions on this subject. It kind of tickles the senses to imagine a book that has everyday sounds, videos, music and databases of related research that flows from the text as you read 🙂 But, will all the added sensory perception enhance the story? Or distract the reader?  

Established authors, both traditional and independent, have some surprising assessments in this insider piece from Alex Knapp of Forbes.com  and also some great examples of books with various kinds of  enhancing apps:

Are Apps The Future of Book Publishing?

We’re at the dawn of the tablet era now. Earlier this month, Apple sold 3 million of its new iPad during the opening weekend, with some analysts expecting over 60 million of the tablets to be sold worldwide. What’s more, e-book readers are selling even more briskly than tablets. People are using those e-readers, too. On Amazon.com, books for its Kindle outsell its paper books.

What’s more, the explosion of e-books is putting pressure on publishers between demands for price cuts on one hand, and competition from independent authors like Amanda Hocking, who earned over $2 million selling e-books on her own before signing with a major publisher.

It’s no surprise, then, that publishers are turning to the app as a possible product for books moving forward.  This has led to another movement towards enhanced books, particularly as apps for iPhone, Android, and other tablets. Are tablet apps the book of the future? In order to find out, I talked to authors, publishers, and app programmers, and read more than a few book apps.

The Varieties of E-Book App Experiences

One of the things about the e-book market right now is that there are a variety of experiences. Perhaps the type of e-book app that will seem most familiar to people would be something along the lines of Penguin’s Amplified Edition of Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged. This edition, which is purchased as an iPad app, features things like actual manuscript pages, the ability to share quotes on social media, and audio clips of Ayn Rand on various topics. These materials function similarly to the extras section on a DVD – they’re not integrated in the story, but they’re something that might be of great interest to people who are or become fans of the book.

Increasingly common, though, is bringing about a more interactive experience. For example, The Gift, which was published earlier this year by Persian Cat Press, is reminiscent of an illustrated children’s book. However, it’s not only narrated, but the reader has to interact with various parts of the book to move the story forward. In this case, the enhanced aspects of the book are an integral part of the story. (This one is a particular favorite of my toddler son.)

Perhaps the most wildly divergent book app I’ve encountered so far is Chopsticks, which is another Penguin book, but one that’s vastly different than their amplified editions. It’s described as a novel, but it’s vastly different than a traditional novel. As you turn the pages, you aren’t confronted with a traditional narrative, but rather interact with different pieces of the lives of Glory, a teen piano player, and the boy who moves in next door. The story’s told through newspaper clippings, pictures, songs, and more.  It’s a rather fascinating way to tell a story.

For those people who still just want to cozy up with words on a page, I think one of my personal favorite e-book enhancements is Booktrack. Booktrack is pretty much exactly what it says on the tin. It provides a soundtrack for the books you’re reading. But it doesn’t only provide music – it also provides sound effects as you’re reading. You can try it yourself by checking out their free adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes story “The Adventure of the Speckled Band.” It’s pretty cool – nice period mood music. As Holmes sits by the fire, you hear the fire. When he and Watson are in a cab, you hear the clip-clop of the hooves.  Even particularly cool is that it’s well-timed. There was a point where the story describes a woman screaming, and I heard the scream as I was reading the words. It made for a really immersive experience.

Another notable book app – and an approach I can see be adopted by others going forward, is The World of Richelle Mead, produced by Razorbill Books. The app itself isn’t a book. Rather, it’s a platform that fans of Richelle Mead, who’s written the hit YA series Vampire Academy, can use to buy enhanced books. Within the app, says Razorbill President Ben Schrank, “fans can interact with the author and each other.” In addition to enhanced content, the app doubles as a social media platform for Mead fans. “It’s more of a community app than a book app,” comments Schrank.

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