Things to Read: May 24, 2012


In this issue First up we have Amazon and its future in advertising, as well as a note that Amazon isn’t really the biggest dog in the fight —not reading is. The DOJ gets an open letter from Mike Shatzkin; the death knell of DRM continues being sung; and ebooks become fancy catalogs with excerpts. On the one hand, Amazon wants to be your ebook distributor, but on the other, Ingram is busy sewing up distribution deals with Christian publishing houses as fast as it can. Houghton Mifflin declares bankruptcy. And we read that social sharing around books ought to be focused on common interests, not our contact list. Meanwhile, Hachette dips its toe in the water with a Facebook app for book excerpts.

  1. Amazon
    Why advertising could become Amazon’s knockout punch

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    « It all started harmlessly enough with Amazon’s Kindle with Special Offers. That’s the cheaper Kindle that displays ads when the device is in sleep mode or at the bottom of the screen when paging through the owner’s catalog of books…. Make no mistake about the fact that Amazon would love to see ebook pricing approach zero. That’s right. Zero. That might seem outlandish but isn’t that exactly what they’re doing with their Kindle Owner’s Lending Library program? Now you can read ebooks for free as part of your Prime membership. The cost of Prime didn’t go up, so they’ve essentially made the consumer price of those ebooks zero. Why wouldn’t they take the same approach with in-book advertising?… »

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  2. Amazon
    Booksellers vs libraries? Publishers vs Amazon? This is the wrong fight.

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    « Today the real competition for booksellers, publishers and libraries is NOT READING. • Four months ago, it mattered if libraries were or weren’t a direct threat to booksellers. Today, this question is irrelevant. What matters is that the participants in the industry aren’t innovating at the pace readers are seeking and expecting solutions v. reading’s alternatives.… »

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  3. DOJ
    Letter to the DOJ about the collusion lawsuit and settlement

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    « My first concern is that there is a failure of recognition of the necessity for price-setting of individual titles across the ebook supply chain. Indeed, only by eliminating price as a basis of competition can we have any ultimately have balanced competition in the real world of publishing as digital change has remade it.… »

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  4. DRM
    E-books may take a page out of digital music’s book

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    « On Friday, an association of e-book publishers—including major companies such as Harper Collins, Random House, and Barnes & Noble—issued a statement suggesting an outline for a new “Lightweight DRM.” This proposed Digital Rights Management standard could increase interoperability of books on hardware like e-readers. • Don’t get excited yet—the outline was only an invitation to a conversation that the association, called the International Digital Publishing Forum, wants to have. Still, it suggests the traditionally conservative publishing industry is learning how to do business in the Internet era. Hopefully, publishing is realizing something that the music industry has known for years: DRM is dead.… »

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  5. ebooks
    Free Publishers Lunch e-book offers excerpts from hot fall titles

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    « Book publishing industry newsletter and website Publishers Lunch is previewing hot fall titles — by authors like Junot Diaz, Dennis Lehane and Barbara Kingsolver — in a free e-book, "BEA Buzz Books," ahead of major publishing fair BookExpo America in June in New York.… »

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  6. ebooks
    Disintermediating Amazon

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    « E-books, and the Internet, and with them the prospect of lightning-fast distribution, high efficiency, and minimal, or nonexistent, returns. Perhaps we in the industry are so used to being glum that we refuse to see the thrilling opportunity in front of us. We remain committed to doing business the way it’s always been done. Despite a computer on every desk and exciting new marketing tools online, we perpetuate the same old system, working through retailers and treating the electronic world as simply a tool to augment our presence in the real world. And it means wrestling with Amazon over how to sell. It’s a match that publishers are likely to lose—consumers like getting books for less money—but this is not a battle publishers have to fight, unless they refuse to evolve.… »

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  7. ebooks
    Simon & Schuster offers free ebook sampler

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    « Free Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc., announced today that in celebration of five powerful, original new novels coming this summer, it will release a promotional fiction sampler as both an interactive app and in an ebook edition. The Free Press Summer Fiction Sampler app will include extended excerpts and extra content including videos, photos, and more from The Folded Earth by Anuradha Roy, Shelter by Frances Greenslade, Some Kind of Peace by Camilla Grebe and Åsa Träff, Gone to the Forest by Katie Kitamura, and The Other Half of Me by Morgan McCarthy. The free interactive app is available now for the iPad and will soon be available in editions for other tablet devices.… »

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  8. ebooks
    Cadre of Christian publishers do deal with Ingram’s CoreSource for sales & distribution

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    « As Christian publishers develop new business models to succeed in today’s digital market, more, including David C Cook, R.H Boyd Publishing, Our Sunday Visitor, Abingdon Press, and Worthy Publishing are selecting Ingram Content Group’s CoreSource® products for the distribution, sales and management of e-books.… Ingram’s CoreSource is an easy-to-use, online solution for the storage, management, and distribution of digital content. CoreSource delivers a secure, searchable content repository and a high-capacity data distribution network, allowing publishers to move digital content easily and swiftly from their organization to any channel partner globally. Lightning Source, the print-on-demand unit of Ingram Content Group, is the leading provider of comprehensive print-on-demand and distribution services to publishers worldwide.… »

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  9. houghton mifflin
    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt files for bankruptcy

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    « Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the book publishing giant, has filed for bankruptcy protection to eliminate $3.1 billion in debt. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt had been struggling with heavy debt for years. • Houghton Mifflin said its day-to-day operations will continue as normal under bankruptcy protection, and it expects to complete the process by the end of June.… »

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  10. houghton mifflin
    Houghton Mifflin: The dog ate our business

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    « HMH reiterates, as it has said before, that education comprises “approximately 90 percent” of sales, with trade/reference accounting for the rest. By that measure, the HMH trade division had sales of approximately $130 million in 2011. When the parent company considered–and then rejected–selling the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt trade unit in early 2009, those trade sales were roughly estimated as approximately $150 million. At the same time, in March 2009, the WSJ said the parent company was projecting sales of $2.2 billion for the year (bearing in mind that they rarely met any of their own projections.)… »

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  11. Social Media
    Social reading should focus on common interests rather than friend status

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    « Social reading is gaining momentum. There are quite a few startups involved in this space, and most of them simply assume your Facebook friends share the same reading interests you do. ReadSocial is different. In this TOC interview, we hear from ReadSocial co-founder Travis Alber (@screenkapture) on why they’re building their platform without tying it to your social graph. • Publishers play a role, too — Note that Travis talks about publishers as well as readers here. You can’t just have a “build it and they will come” mentality with social reading. Publishers need to take the initiative and add value by inserting comments, managing groups, etc. [Discussed at 2:00.]… »

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  12. Social Media
    Hachette launches ChapterShare Facebook app for book excerpts

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    « Michael Pietsch, Publisher of Little, Brown and Company and Executive Vice President of Hachette Book Group,announces the launch of ChapterShare, a new Facebook application designed to make the sharing of book excerpts a highly social experience. • ChapterShare createsa unique seamless, high-quality reading experience within Facebook. Using it, Hachette’s publishing divisions and authors will be able to post chapters froma forthcoming novel on their Facebook page. In addition to reading the excerpt, readers can then instantly preorder the book and share a link to the sample chapters with all their friends on Facebook.… »

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Note: This resource has been curated for your enjoyment and education. It is intended to reflect what publishers and leaders in the Christian publishing industry are thinking and talking about — it does not reflect the positions or opinions of Zondervan, its authors, agents, employees, or leadership.

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Things to Read: May 10, 2012


Featured in this main issue: Wherein we read about how our technological culture is changing not only the way people read, but how people become readers in the first place. Meanwhile, Pottermore is magically changing the way the Amazon behemoth sells books while Target is transforming Kindles into thin air. Microsoft and Barnes & Noble will start sharing a Nook — perhaps they’ll find a way to let all those penniless iOS developers finally make a buck. Kid’s publishers are taken to task for being too white, DRM is on the ropes, and the Author’s Guild soldiers on in its quest to tilt against the Google windmill.

  1. The Reader & Technology: How technology is changing readers and writers

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    « I think writers will continue to occur but technology and its trivia will cause us to lose something, just as we lost something when we lost the classical education. We write worse because we cannot write classical prose. Yet classical prose is useless for describing the world of 2012, the world that is there – ready to buzz – in your pocket or bag. • Our perceptions outrun the sedentary sentence by much too much; just as we listen to mp3s to hear what an album would sound like were we actually to sit down and listen to it, so we skim-read the classic books to get a sense of what they would be like were we to sit down and dwell on them.… »

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  2. Pottermore’s Riddikulus spell transformed Amazon from a fierce ebook retailer into a tame ebook shop window

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    « In a similar way, Pottermore transformed Amazon from a fierce ebook retailer into a tame ebook shop window. Pottermore uses Amazon (and all other ebook retailers online) as an affiliate which attracts customers to their ebook store in exchange for a finder’s fee. Thus, Pottermore gains direct access to the end user details (alongside Amazon as both companies know that the user has purchased the ebook). This ‘charm’ is really transformative as it really shifts the power from the retailer to the publisher. The publisher gains are significant…… »

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  3. Target will yank Kindles by Mother’s Day

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    « According to a memo obtained by The Verge, Target will stop carrying Kindles in its stores or on its website after Mother’s Day… the change is due to a “conflict of interest. The memo says “Target has reviewed our product assortment and has made the decision to no longer carry Amazon hardware (i.e., Kindle). … »
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  4. Microsoft to invest in Barnes & Noble’s Nook

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    « Microsoft Corp. is pledging $605 million to help bolster Barnes & Noble Inc.’s Nook digital-book business.… As part of its investment, Microsoft is taking a 17.6% stake in a new subsidiary that will include the e-book division and Barnes & Noble’s college bookstores unit, which operates 641 stores.… Barnes & Noble committed to creating a Nook e-reading app for Windows 8—a forthcoming Microsoft operating system that will be used in tablet-style hardware and PCs—and for smartphones powered by Microsoft software.… The companies also will share revenue from sales of e-books and other content.… »

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  5. Apps usually fail: 60% of iOS developers lose money on apps (infographic)

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    « Nearly 60 percent of iOS developers don’t break even with the apps that they create and market, according to a recent study by App Promo. While we hear a lot about blockbuster hits like Draw Something or Angry Birds Space, it’s all too easy for apps to get lost in the crowd of more than 600,0… only 12 percent of apps earned $50,000 or more and that this “top earner” subset spent an average of 14 percent of their time on marketing. … »

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  6. Mainstream children’s book publishers do a sad, sad job meeting the needs of Latino readers

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    « In 2050, there will be more school-age Latino children than school-age non-Hispanic white children. … Yet, why haven’t these facts resonated with the one industry that is supposed to know children the best but has done the worst job of reflecting today’s playground reality — mainstream children’s book publishers? … There may be a simple reason: About 75% of children’s book buyers are white.… »

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  7. The DOJ’s Publishing Lawsuit May Doom Digital Rights Management

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    « In London this year, says Lorraine Shanley of publishing consultancy Market Partners International, more mainstream publishing executives are talking seriously about ending DRM restrictions. “It would allow individual publishers much more flexibility with their own content and in making it available directly to consumers,” says Shanley. “And it would allow consumers to access content without getting locked into one device—e.g., the Kindle.”… »

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  8. Latest developments from Authors Guild class action suit against Google

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    « From the questions he asked from the bench, it certainly seems like Judge Denny Chin wants to see the Authors Guild lawsuit against Google and its library book-scanning program proceed as a class action. But after a morning of oral arguments in Manhattan, it is unclear if that can happen.… After more than six years, the Authors Guild case against Google could now go to trial as early as September. Even if Judge Chin finds for Google and denies the Authors Guild associational standing, Authors Guild officials have said the case against Google will go on.… »

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  9. May 10, 2012 – More Things to Read

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    « herein we read portents of doom to page-oriented composition and layout due to the rise of reading via display, not paper. And speaking of that, Logos/Vyrso announce adding 1 thousand new titles to it’s reading/ebook platform, plus a new epublisher joins the fray, spun off from well-known agency group, Alive Communications. We read that maybe your next book project will come from the blogosphere, we learn what’s wrong with book reviewers, and what’s up with February’s sales stats. With a very short long tail, WND is appropriately pround of their bestseller titles and open-source textbooks have never really been a threat…until now—a university will be curating a database of peer-reviewed, quality textbooks.… »

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Note: This resource has been curated for your enjoyment and education. It is intended to reflect what publishers and leaders in the Christian publishing industry are thinking and talking about — it does not reflect the positions or opinions of Zondervan, its authors, agents, employees, or leadership.

More Things to Read: May 10, 2012


In this extra issue: Wherein we read portents of doom to page-oriented composition and layout due to the rise of reading via display, not paper. And speaking of that, Logos/Vyrso announce adding 1 thousand new titles to it’s reading/ebook platform, plus a new epublisher joins the fray, spun off from well-known agency group, Alive Communications. We read that maybe your next book project will come from the blogosphere, we learn what’s wrong with book reviewers, and what’s up with February’s sales stats. With a very short long tail, WND is appropriately pround of their bestseller titles and open-source textbooks have never really been a threat…until now—a university will be curating a database of peer-reviewed, quality textbooks.

  1. Page-oriented authoring and design is about to become obsolete

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    « Matt McInnis asked our audience, “How many here have used Pagemaker? InDesign? Word?” His question targeted a 30-year evolutionary path in software that is about to become obsolete—page-oriented authoring and design. Publishing’s new default is not a page of paper, but a web page, which has dynamic sizes and shapes.… »

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  2. Vyrso makes grand addition to its offerings from major Christian publishers

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    « Vyrso: Christian Ebooks added more than 1,100 new titles from popular Christian publishers, including Tyndale, Barbour, Thomas Nelson & Harvest House. Graham’s The Heaven Answer Book and Dekker’s four-pack including Black, Showdown, Kiss & Heaven’s Wages are a few of these titles that now offer cloud-synced notes and highlighting. New offerings on the advanced Vyrso ereader app that features pull-up Bible verses by tapping references span a variety of topics for everyone to read on their iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Mac, PC or Android-enabled device.… »
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    Vyrso

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  3. Literary agency Alive Communications launches epublishing company: Bondfire

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    « Leading literary agency for Christian and inspirational books Alive Communications has announced a separate “sister” epublishing enterprise, Bondfire Books.… Bondfire is a standalone epublishing company. Following the model of other epublishing start-ups, founder Rick Christian says in the announcement they are paying “a 50% net royalty” & “five-year renewable terms.”… »

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  4. Bloggers land traditional book deals by test marketing book ideas

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    « Writers must prove to publishers their ideas are highly marketable and readers are waiting at the book store doors eager to purchase them. To sell numerous copies of their books, let alone produce a bestseller, they must have a huge author’s platform. "A successful blog represents a successfully test marketed book idea," says Nina Amir, whose book will be released on April 21 by Writer’s Digest Books. "Publishers are looking for popular blogs because they are as close to a sure bet as they’ve ever had before."… »

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  5. The chief problem of book reviews is the humans who write them

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    « But the problem with book reviews is not that they reek of mediocrity, elitism, or nepotism; aren’t smart enough or are too pretentious; or are too negative or too positive. It’s that they come from a source—a human being—and we sometimes fail to take that into account. • The other issue is that these sources aren’t necessarily “experts” in the field of literature. Fiction and poetry reviews usually aren’t written by literature professors or scholars; instead, they’re written by freelance writers or columnists, some who are qualified and some who are not. • But what makes someone qualified to review contemporary poetry and fiction? Contrary to what many people may think, these qualities aren’t elusive or innate.… »

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  6. AAP StatShot report: Total adult sales up 6.9%

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    « Print sales for February continue to hold up with AAP’s Monthly StatShot reporting total adult sales up 6.9% over the same period February 2011 on sales of $437 million. Total Children/YA sales, however, were especially strong showing sales up 73% on sales of $170.9 million. … »

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  7. Controversial Christian publisher, WND Books, has top percentage of bestsellers

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    « Now with nearly 100 titles in print, the company boasts the highest percentage of New York Times bestsellers of any publisher in America. In all that time, Farah says WND Books has maintained a tight focus: To produce the best in current events titles, classic book reprints and edgy Christian works. The secret was “giving it time,” Joseph Farah says.… »

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  8. University of Minnesota compiles database of peer-reviewed, open-source textbooks

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    « Minnesota launched an online catalog of open-source books last month and will pay its professors $500 each time they post an evaluation of one of those books. (Faculty members elsewhere are welcome to post their own reviews, but they won’t be compensated.) Minnesota professors who have already adopted open-source texts will also receive $500, with all of the money coming from donor funds.… • Hildebrand said open-source materials can be acceptable if they rise to the standards of the publishing industry. But “If you don’t get results,” he said, “then you’ve lost your major investment and your goal of getting a quality education.”… »

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Note: This resource has been curated for your enjoyment and education. It is intended to reflect what publishers and leaders in the Christian publishing industry are thinking and talking about — it does not reflect the positions or opinions of Zondervan, its authors, agents, employees, or leadership.

Tyndale Publishing 50th Anniversary

Things to Read: May 03, 2012


THIS WEEK: We get to see the Christian Book Award winners, at last! Microsoft made waves with a $300 million investment in B&N. Which is just a little less than the total revenues for the total adult trade in books this past January (see the AAP report). So, there’s plenty of speculation as to what this deal might mean—especially for Apple and Amazon.

Jackie Collins made her own splash by diving into the deep-end of the indie-published ebook pool. (She’s not leaving her publishers, but she practically announced the death of physical book publishing.) Meanwhile, USA Today stands up a new book site, Bowker says the rise of the tablet is eclipsing the ereader, Amazon is “reshaping” publishing, and Huffington Post calls for more innovation.

To close out this week’s roundup we note that we’re wired for story and narrative, provide a fun infographic for story structure, and see that Tyndale House has been telling its story for 50 years.

Enjoy!

  1. Christian Book Award winners for 2012

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    « The 2012 Christian Book of the Year is Nearing Home by Billy Graham (Thomas Nelson). Other winners include: ESV Student Study Bible (Crossway); Dictionary of Christian Spirituality by Glen G. Scorgie (Zondervan); The Story for Children, A Storybook Bible by Max Lucado, Randy Frazee, & Karen Davis Hill (Zonderkidz); The Queen by Steven James (Revell/Baker); Love Amid the Ashes by Mesu Andrews (Revell/Baker); Close Enough to Hear God Breathe by Greg Paul (Thomas Nelson); The Law of Happiness by Henry Cloud (Howard).… »

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  2. Microsoft invests $300 million in new Barnes & Noble ‘strategic partnership’

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    « The strategic partnership—Microsoft loves ’em—would come in the form of a new Barnes and Noble subsidiary that deals with all things Nook, in addition to its education business. The bookseller would hold onto the lion’s share at 82.4%, with the remaining 17.6% in Microsoft’s control. The first benefit posited would be a Nook app for the incoming Windows 8. Barnes and Noble’s Nook Study software would also benefit from a friendly boost on all that Windows hardware. Maybe all those other legal matches will resolve in similar warm-and-fuzzy business hook-ups—but we doubt it.… »

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  3. Soon you’ll be able to use your Nook to buy books in Barnes & Noble stores

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    « B&N CEO William Lynch says that the company plans to embed NFC (near field communication) chips into Nooks. Users could take their Nook into a Barnes & Noble store and wave it near a print book to get info on it or buy it. That could help someone gain quick information on their Nook about a book, making it easy to go from browsing to buying.… »
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  4. Jackie Collins decides to self-publish

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    « Let me say up front that I will personally always love physical books. I love how a new book feels in your hands. I love turning the pages one-by-one as you curl up in a chair and engross yourself in the story. But I also know that to stay successful, you’ve always got to be thinking two steps ahead of the game. And by all counts, the book industry is going the way of the CD industry. Almost nobody buys CDs anymore; we get our music fix on iTunes.… »

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  5. USA Today launches books.usatoday.com to expand coverage of books

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    « Unique to the books.usatoday.com site is the opportunity for consumers to now preview a book from the USA Today Best-Selling Books list and purchase it from a vendor of their choice, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the iBookstore or IndieBound, an association of independent booksellers.… »
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    See Also:
    USA Today Books via USA Today

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  6. The dark side of free

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    « The other negative I’ve seen is that the fringe buyer for indie books, the reader at the margins who might have been willing to give a new author a test drive in exchange for a few bucks, now doesn’t. Instead, they download free books. Their kindles are clogged with books they will never have the time to read, but they can’t help themselves.… »

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  7. Another publisher rejects DRM

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    « Duncan Baird Publishers (& Watkins Publishing) has taken the decision to put our readers at the heart of our digital publishing by removing Digital Rights Management (DRM) from our trade epublishing list.… DBP, and our authors, believe that our readers should be able to read their book in whatever format and on whatever hardware they choose, so we are taking steps to make sure that our ebooks are, as much as humanly possible, not platform-specific.… »

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  8. Consumers choosing tablets over e-readers, e-book sales to suffer

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    « As tablet popularity rises and e-readers falls, the e-book business could suffer, according to Kelly Gallagher, vice president of publishing services at Bowker Market Research…. &Quot;Tablets will adversely affect the e-book business in that the tablet is a multifunction device and will therefore draw the reader into non-book activities and therefore cause them to consume books slower and therefore buy fewer books versus a single function e-reading device," said Gallagher.… »

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  9. Amazon aren’t destroying publishing, they’re reshaping it

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    « Google, Apple and Amazon are vying to become literature’s new gatekeepers. But good publishing is about more than market share… If Amazon was truly consumer-centric, it would do away with DRM and adopt the ePub format, allowing users to consume their media on any device and through any software they choose, securing them from obsolescence and errors in DRM servers, accidental deletions and the rest. And that it most emphatically does not do. … »

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  10. Publishing industry has strong January revenue growth in print books & ebooks for all audiences

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    « The US publishing industry saw dynamic net sales revenue growth in Adult, Children’s, Young Adult and Religious categories in January 2012 as compared to January 2011, according to the monthly industry snapshot report produced by the Association of American Publishers. These figures are part of a significant expansion of the AAP monthly new sales revenue report also launching this month. The report now has a name — AAP Monthly StatShot — and now includes a considerably larger base of participating publishers (from an average 75-90 in the past to 1149 this month) and additional categories including eBook data for Children/Young Adults and Hardcover, Paperback and eBook data for Religious Presses.… »

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  11. The big six book publishers need to innovate like the good Americans that they are

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    « When creating hardcover books, start with customized end pages that reflect the scenes the author is writing about. Hire some graphics guru to throw together a tasteful color insert that makes readers tear up with their emotional connection to the story. Craft eye-popping flap jackets and cover art that captures the original enthusiasm; make us feel the magic that inspired the author to start writing the book in the first place. Simply, create a product where the book production is integrated with the narrative, and where the product as a whole reflects the spirit of the thing. Amazon’s e-books can never compete with that.… »

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  12. Why storytelling is the ultimate weapon

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    « [H]umans simply aren’t moved to action by "data dumps," dense PowerPoint slides, or spreadsheets packed with figures. People are moved by emotion. The best way to emotionally connect other people to our agenda begins with "Once upon a time…"… Until recently we’ve only been able to speculate about story’s persuasive effects. But over the last several decades psychology has begun a serious study of how story affects the human mind. Results repeatedly show that our attitudes, fears, hopes, and values are strongly influenced by story. In fact, fiction seems to be more effective at changing beliefs than writing that is specifically designed to persuade through argument and evidence.… »

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  13. Infographic: Mapping popular story plot lines

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    « Finally! The secret ingredient to writing a good book has been revealed. Plot Lines, the infographic from Delayed Gratification, the slow journalism magazine, shows the dominant themes in last year’s books nominated for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction.… If you want to write a hit novel, it pays to stick with the tried-and-true plot lines. DEATH of your characters is clearly the overall winning theme, with every one of the novels listed from 2011 including death as a theme. Other classics like WAR, LOVE, BETRAYAL and CORRUPTION followed closely. Obscure plot points like AN ESCAPED TIGER and HOMICIDAL COWBOY BROTHERS are certainly much more of a risk.… »
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    See Also:
    Infographic: Meet the 19% via Media Bistro

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  14. Tyndale House Publishers celebrates 50 years

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    « Tyndale is compiling a commemorative gift book, The Tyndale House 50th Anniversary Reader, as a limited edition for private distribution to employees, key retailers and industry leaders. A special online page—Tyndale.com/50th—affords friends of the company an opportunity to learn about the company’s history and share greetings or upload a picture or video through a virtual birthday card.… The company—a corporation owned by the Tyndale House Foundation—operates under its longtime mission statement: "To minister to the spiritual needs of people, primarily through literature consistent with biblical principles."… »

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Note: This resource has been curated for your enjoyment and education. It is intended to reflect what publishers and leaders in the Christian publishing industry are thinking and talking about — it does not reflect the positions or opinions of Zondervan, its authors, agents, employees, or leadership.