Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

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.

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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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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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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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03/18/2012

An Example of the Convergence of the Old and New Publishing Models


One of the main advantages of the new digital age publishing model is being able to streamline your work directly to publication without the months, years and forever waiting periods to even an interest nod from a traditional publisher 😦
 
In good old Downunder Territory, Linda Morris writes this revealing and incisive piece for The Canberra Times that details how the latest romance e-book bestseller, Fifty Shades of Grey, made it big digitally but never would have gotten off the ground under the old TP publishing model: 
 
Steamy yet discreet: an e-book revolution
 
If the future of books looks like a horror story, electronic publishing may help provide a happy ending.
 

There is an internet meme called Rule 34 which states: ”If you can think of it, there is a fetish for it.” Rule 35 follows: ”If no such porn exists, it will be made.”

The publishers of the electronic-book arm of Harlequin, that grand dame of the paperback romance, understand these immutable laws better than most. Carina Press sells e-book romance in 11 categories and 17 spin-off niches – including Amish, dragon, angel and demons, space opera, paranormal, fantasy and time travel – reaching to the edges of cyberspace to corral a readership of the most eclectic kind.

The personal tastes of Carina’s chief executive, Angela James, run to steampunk, cyberpunk and a discreet touch of BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, masochism) and she jokes online she’s still looking for the author who will write her a space cowboy book in the vein of Joss Whedon’s Firefly.

But love stories laced with buffed blokes and sexually game heroines are the genre’s current hot ticket.

Fifty Shades of Grey is an erotic romance novel written by an obscure British author and mother of two, featuring college student Anastasia and her millionaire beau who hides a secret sexual predilection for whips and floggers.

This month the trilogy made the jump from underground fan-based fiction to mass market, landing a seven-figure advance for the US rights from Vintage/Random House, and a six-figure sum for the British and Commonwealth rights.

”I certainly see why readers find it compelling,” James says, ”though it’s certainly not the most well-written or original book, especially given its start as Twilight fan fiction.

“But clearly there’s a perfect storm of story elements that make it attractive to a commercial fiction audience, and anything that increases the profile of romance, books and publishing is a win for all of us.”

While fans argue over the ethics of a storyline spun from the Twilight franchise and critics dispute its literary merit, Fifty Shades stands as a remarkable example of the convergence between old and new publishing models. Its author, E.L. James, started without a major publisher and marketing machine behind her, her re-imagined tale of the Bella and Edward love affair being published by an unknown Sydney amateur fiction publisher.

A US fan base loyal to Twilight promoted the books on Facebook, Twitter and book review sites such as goodreads.com, generating a word-of-mouth buzz that eventually went viral.

Without the changes brought by the digital age, Fifty Shades would probably never have made its way out of a publisher’s pile of rejected manuscripts, a Macquarie University media studies academic, Associate Professor Sherman Young, says.

Digital proved itself the perfect low-cost vehicle for bringing the experimental, risky story to market while social media substituted for the literary critic and the publicist.

It was Young who in 2007 wrote The Book is Dead, Long Live the Book, a prescient prediction of the migration of the physical book from page to screen. Young’s observations were made before the advent of the Kindle and iPad.

Publishing is not dying but it is in the midst of enormous upheaval not seen since the invention of the Gutenberg press.

The arrival of the internet retailer Amazon and its aggressive strategy to sell e-books at a loss to build market share has benefited consumers but undermined the very business model of the big publishers. In some eyes, its platforms for self-publishing have rendered the entire author-agent-publisher relationship obsolete.

Publishers are making e-books available simultaneously with p-books and are converting backlists. Only one big Australian publisher, Pan Macmillan, has established its own straight-to-digital imprint although others are soon to follow.

The agency model, the means by which the six major US publishers have effectively limited Amazon’s deep discounting, is under investigation by the US Justice Department and the European Union.

The effect of publishers setting a cover price for e-books is more expensive books, but authors such as Salman Rushdie argue that to break this system would be to ”destroy the world of books”, denying a fair return to story creators and their editors.

The digital world is a riotous jungle, publisher Henry Rosenbloom of Scribe concedes, posing all sorts of technical and practical challenges for traditional publishers. But the structural changes under way may be the least of the publishers’ problems.

Rosenbloom has warned of a precipitous drop in the value of Australian bookshops’ print-book sales, as measured by BookScan. Down 17.5 per cent in December last year, compared with the same period in 2010, the sales trend is accelerating.

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12/23/2011

The Next Generation Publishing Paradigm?


Looking for the new Publishing Paradigm

Are publishers ready for the new and coming digital publishing paradigm? Content creation, management and delivery will be changing even more rapidly in 2012 and there are certain signposts sprouting up that will help guide publishers, especially more unmovable traditional publishers, to better understanding and acceptance.

I don’t feel newer publishers will have as much difficulty with the transition into an expanded and freer publishing universe … simply because they have less baggage and therefore less to unlearn, so to speak 🙂

This from Brian Grey, CEO of Bleacher Report, in Forbes.com:

How Publishers Can Ready Themselves For Digital Media’s Evolution

As the media industry rolls towards 2012, changes to the traditional publishing model will emerge faster than most people realize. Content consumption behaviors are already evolving and in this rapidly changing environment there exists opportunities for publishers to embrace the core tenets of a next generation publishing paradigm that promises to alter the way content is created, distributed and consumed.

And as with every disruptive transitional movement within a major industry, content publishers need to focus primarily on fundamental consumer desires that drive these shifts. Publishers need to truly understand that in the digital-age consumers seek specific elements that can help improve the overall content experience for users, including:

Instant Gratification – Readers crave information “right now”. They want real-time entertainment delivered to them on multiple screens, wherever they may be. People have increasingly become news junkies and we want as much content as we can get about the topics we care about.

Granular Coverage – Consumers are clamoring for content at a highly detailed level. They want access to analysis and opinion on a multitude of topics and storylines, and not just cursory recaps or summaries. There are hundreds of thousands of topics for which users seek a deep content experience that goes way beyond headlines and soundbites.

Comprehensive Experiences – In an ever proliferating digital content world, users seek a single, one-stop shop source that can curate all the content that they care about. No one publishing outlet can satisfy today’s content consumer. Increasingly people will ascribe value to publishers who both create deep, meaningful content while simultaneously pointing these same people to other great content aggregated from around the Web.

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10/15/2011

The Transubstantiation of the Printed Word


Physical bookshelf space was a bottleneck … really an inefficient flaw … under the old printed word publishing model. Not only bookshelf space in the bookstores, but also bookshelf space in the homes of buyers with limited space.

There is a solution, albeit one that will be resisted by some.

This by Mark O’Connell in The New Yorker:

The Book Scrappage Scheme

In a panel discussion on the continued rise of e-books at the Frankfurt Book Fair last week, Evan Schnittman of Bloomsbury Publishing made an obvious but nonetheless important point. “Print has an inherent flaw,” he said. “It needs shelf space.” It’s a truth that most readers bump up against at some point, especially those who live in small apartments and have to undertake periodic culls in order to free up space for new acquisitions. A company called 1Dollarscan, however, has come up with a somewhat radical solution to this problem. To bibliophiles, this particular cure might seem worse than the disease, but there’s no denying that it is a practical solution to a practical problem. Here’s how it works: you ship them your books, and they scan and digitize them into fully searchable PDF files before recycling the hard copies (i.e. pulping them). As the company’s name suggests, they charge a dollar for every 100 pages they digitize. The service’s appeal is obvious. You free up shelf space for new books (or for things other than books) and you get to keep the actual text itself, which you can access on a computer, tablet, e-reader, or smartphone.

1Dollarscan is the American outpost of a service called Bookscan that has been running successfully in Japan since last year. (Here’s a video of the process in action; it’s in Japanese, but you’ll get the idea.) Like most of his compatriots, the company’s founder, Yusuke Ohki, inhabits a very small living space. In 2010, he decided that his two thousand or so books were occupying more of his tiny Tokyo apartment than he was willing to put up with. He was also concerned about the prospect of his two young children being buried under an avalanche of paper and toppling shelves in the event of an earthquake. “There were lots of news in Japan that bookshelves were falling over in bookstores,” as he told Forbes, “and that people died after being stampeded by books after huge earthquakes.” He decided to scan his entire library into his iPad before getting rid of all the hard copies. Within months, he was running a company that did something similar for the paying public, and employing a staff of a hundred and twenty to do the scanning and shredding. The company took off partly on account of the Japanese e-book market lagging far behind that of the English-speaking world—murky copyright laws, higher prices, and the technical trickiness of rendering Japanese characters on e-reader screens have all been contributing factors. The fear of collapsing shelves invoked by Ohki has surely spread and intensified since the massive earthquake earlier this year; this, too, will have added to the success of his company. In a recent article on 1Dollarscan, the Economist pointed out that the reason the pages are discarded after scanning has to do with “the ambiguous borders of American copyright law.” When a book is scanned for the first time, the company does not retain a master copy; for copyright reasons, it must treat each copy as a unique item. In other words, every time they get a paperback of “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” or “The Da Vinci Code,” they have to go through the entire process anew.

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08/17/2011

Amazon Publishing – Print is Thriving – And Other Insider Information


Awesome Amazon ???

Amazon’s business makes publishers nervous because it’s finally allowing the online retailer to cut publishers out of the loop entirely. Amazon is making more of its own books, and it’s got the authors to sell them.”

Amazon is adding more writers and renowned authors to its own company’s publishing imprints to produce new books directly for the reading consumer and bypass other established ‘publishers’ entirely. 

Gaining control of the online digital book retail business just seemed to whet Amazon’s appetite to gobble up more control in the bigger publishing business (in disruption due to the new tech transition) … including print, which is doing just fine right now, thank you very much. 

These interesting details provided by Anthony John Agnello , consumer and technology writer for InvestorPlace:

Amazon Publishing Continues to Boom With New Exclusives

Traditional publishers being pushed out of the picture

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) frightens book publishers. Not because electronic books are going to replace print by September. Far from it. Print is thriving, and while e-book sales have grown 1,300% in the past three years, they still represent only a fraction of overall revenue in the publishing industry. Amazon’s business makes publishers nervous because it’s finally allowing the online retailer to cut publishers out of the loop entirely. Amazon is making more of its own books, and it’s got the authors to sell them.

A Tuesday report in The New York Times said Amazon has made its latest promising acquisition in an ever-growing stable of authors producing original books for the company. Timothy Ferriss, the self-help author behind the bestseller The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich, will release his new book The 4-Hour Chef exclusively through Amazon Publishing imprint.

4-Hour Workweek has spent 84 weeks on the Times‘ Advice bestseller list. That book was published by Crown, an imprint under the Bertelsmann-owned Random House. Ferris never entertained a counteroffer from his previous publisher after talking with Amazon because they would not have been able to match what Amazon was offering as “a technology company embracing new technology.”

This is just the latest major publishing effort from Amazon since editor Laurence Kirshbaum came on as head of Amazon Publishing in May. Imprint Montlake Romance, an all-romance branch of Amazon Publishing, opened for business in May. Connie Brockway’s The Other Guy’s Bride will be the imprint’s first book out this fall. Brockway’s previous books were distributed under the Dell Publishing mass-market imprint, another house under the Random House banner.

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Related post: Is Amazon a Danger Lurking in the Publishing Industry?

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07/24/2011

Books Are Morphing into Fluid Concepts in Cyberspace


Books As Fluid Concepts - The Old Meets The New

“Instead of being a discrete object, the book is becoming much more of a fluid concept, and there is opportunity in that transformation for those who want to discover it.”

This information is presented by Mathew Ingram through gigaom.com. The text sputters mucho links and references to drilled down background info that will bestow a PhD level of knowledge! Enjoy the post: 

What’s a book? It’s whatever you want it to be

As we’ve mentioned a number of times, the evolution of the book-publishing business has been accelerating recently, with more authors doing an end run around the traditional industry by self-publishing — or even setting up their own e-book stores, as Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling has done with her new Pottermore site. Now media companies seem to be showing an increasing interest in publishing their own e-books using content that they have already created, moves that are taking them into the growing market in between full-length books and magazine-style pieces.

The latest move in that direction comes from Ars Technica, which is part of the Conde Nast magazine empire that includes Wired magazine and The New Yorker. The technology blog, which has become well known for its exhaustive reviews of new Apple hardware and software by author and programmer John Siracusa, is offering its latest review — an in-depth look at Apple’s new operating system, code-named OS X “Lion” — as an e-book using the Kindle Single program. The book (which is really just a long magazine article) costs $5, and is more or less identical to the version that is on the Ars website.

Paying for convenience?

So why would someone want to pay $5 to read something that they could read for free on a website, or download via their browser and read offline via Read It Later or some other service? That’s a good question (Fortune tried something similar with a recent feature on Apple, but it wasn’t available online at all). Whatever the answer might be, Ars Technica editor Ken Fisher told the Nieman Journalism Lab on Friday that more than 3,000 people had decided to do just that within 24 hours of the review being available online. Said Fisher:

I was surprised by how many people told us they read the review online and they just wanted their own copy to go back to. Or they just bought it as a tip-jar kind of thing.

It may have helped that Siracusa’s review is a lot closer to being a book than it is just a regular review in an online magazine — it is more than 27,000 words in length, which is split up over 19 pages. That’s a lot of text to read on a website, and some readers said that they downloaded the Kindle single just to save themselves from having to read all those pages on a computer. Fisher said the magazine also saw some new users sign up for its $5-a-month premium subscription plan, which disables advertising and lets users download any of the magazine’s articles as PDFs.

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