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: April 12, 2012

  1. All the extra stuff we couldn’t cram in the main post this week. Includes email marketing tips, a couple posts from Seth Godin, some stuff from “across the pond,” and an incredible infographic about consumer behavior.
  2. 15 powerful reconversion opportunities for your welcome emails

    « Marketers have a huge opportunity with welcome emails. According to Skyline Technologies, welcome emails have an average open rate of 50-60%. It makes sense; as the double opt-in process has become more commonplace, people expect to return to their inbox and receive one or two emails that confirm their request and welcome them as a new subscriber.… »
  3. Beware literary snobbery: Why we should read bestsellers

    « From the early days of the form in the 18th century, novel reading required no special education beyond simple literacy. All comers were welcome. More offensive still, to elitists like Steele, was the raunchy tabloid sensibility characteristic of those first English narratives. They were fun; they were coarse; they appealed unabashedly to the heart. They were about social mobility, about demystifying the secret worlds of high society. They put their characters in agonizing jeopardy. All things that contemporary popular novels still do.… »
  4. Warning, executives: avoid social media at your peril

    « I’ve noticed that my 18-month-old grand-daughter already knows ‘the swipe.’ If you hand her an iPhone-like object, including her play telephone, she’ll swipe her index finger across it, expecting it to respond. This new technology, which I still find somewhat gee-whiz-ish and amazing, will be as ho-hum to her as television is to me, as radio was to my mom, and – I suspect – as the telegraph was to my grandmother.… »
    Via Forbes
  5. Organized bravery

    « The purpose of the modern organization is to make it easy and natural and expected for people to take risks. To lean out of the boat. To be human. Alas, most organizations do the opposite. They institutionalize organized cowardice. They give their people cover, a place to hide, a chance to say, “that’s not my job.”… »
  6. Google ends ebook agreement with indies

    « On Tuesday representatives of Google contacted the American Booksellers Association and Powell’s Books to announce that it will end its Google eBooks reseller program worldwide. In February, it had seemed as if independent booksellers were getting a reprieve when Google reinstated some affiliate stores that had low sales. But in yet another sign of industry consolidation, Google will start selling e-books solely through its recently launched Google Play beginning January 31, 2013.… »
  7. Indie publishing is getting better

    « First bold statement: The quality of indie books has improved. We’re maturing. Ludicrously, readers expected the indie ebook revolution to produce immediate perfection, some even demanding a higher quality than they get from trad publishing. As soon as I post this, I expect a deluge of naysayers racing to come up with examples to disprove my assertion. That’s a misguided instinct, by the way. Yes, you could come up with lots of examples both tragic and comedic and I’d counter with a plethora of examples in favour of the indies. So let’s skip that and settle on this: I have over 200 books on my Kindle and my impression is that there aren’t nearly so many grammatical errors or typos as one might expect if you believe all those rabid grammarians moaning over on the Kindle boards.… »
  8. Communication: The link between social media and sales

    « Social media has completely revolutionized how products are sold, and yet there are still businesses that only use social media outlets to spam their followers with coupon codes and pointless blog posts about how great their business is. Back in 2010, a WhiteHorse survey found that only 52% of B2C business, and a mere 32% of B2B marketers, are using social marketing despite over 80% of marketers in both sectors using social media. While numbers have likely gotten a bit better over the past two years, that still shows a serious discrepancy between companies that make a Facebook profile or Twitter account and let it stagnate versus companies that actively sell on these mediums. The sales game has changed, and any company looking to increase sales numbers need to change with it. Take a good, hard look at your social media outlets and make sure you are doing the following.…… »
  9. Religion and “christian” suggest shifting vocabulary of faith

    « “Religion” is a loaded word — not just in the minds of people who reject and/or resent religious belief altogether, but increasingly among people of faith. As Christians prepare to celebrate Easter and their belief in the resurrection of Jesus, some of them cringe at the word “religion.” Many go so far as to resist the term “Christian” because, they say, it carries too much baggage. “When some people use the word ‘Christian,’ they mean right wing, Republican, white, judgmental. They don’t mean somebody who sees their life’s goal as carrying on the work of Jesus in the world,” says John Mark Comer, 31, lead pastor of Solid Rock, a growing community of 6,000 adults that meets weekly in three locations in Portland and the suburbs. … »
  10. When execution gets cheaper, so should planning

    « If you’re going to build a $10 million skyscraper, by all means, plan and prototype and discuss and plan some more. On the other hand, if the cost of finding out is a phone call, make the call. No need to spend a lot of time planning how to call or when to call or which phone to use when execution is fast and cheap.… »
  11. Amazon: £7Bn sales, no UK corporation tax

    « Amazon.co.uk, Britain’s biggest online retailer, generated sales of more than £3.3bn in the country last year but paid no corporation tax on any of the profits from that income – and is under investigation by the UK tax authorities.… »
  12. Waterside literary starts digital publishing division powered by Vook

    « Another literary agency is entering the digital publishing arena. William Gladstone, founder and owner of Waterside Productions in San Diego County, has entered a partnership with Vook and its new e-book program to create Waterfront Press and offer its authors a 75% e-book royalty. “My goal has always been to generate the maximum amount of income for Waterfront’s clients,” said Gladstone, who established his company in 1982 and represents such bestselling authors as Eckhart Tolle and Dr. Bonnie Eaker. “It’s all or nothing in New York, where the big houses either pay advances of a million dollars or ten thousand dollars, and offer e-book royalties as low as 25%. I hope to change that landscape with my own digital publishing division.” … »
  13. You’ve read Cameron’s easter speech, now read President Obama’s

    « Yet again I’m failing to stick to my blogging break, but having posted David Cameron’s Easter Speech yesterday, I thought it would be good for comparative purposes to post the transcript of Barack Obama’s Easter speech he gave today at the White House Easter prayer breakfast for church leaders. If having read David Cameron’s speech you’re left wondering which bits of the Easter story he actually believes, you’ll have no such doubts with President Obama’s blatantly Christian message… »
  14. Christianity isn’t the only thing in crisis: A reply to Andrew Sullivan

    « Andrew Sullivan has written a cover story for Newsweek (disclosure: where I also work) that I think deserves attention and scrutiny. It could not be more timely, and in many ways more needed. But even as it advances some crucial criticisms of the contemporary monstrosity that presents itself as Christianity, I think there is a lot more to be said. Specifically, I’m not sure Andrew’s political framework is up to the task of diagnosing the real crisis we face as inhabitants of Western democracy. If only things were as easy as putting a mutant political Christianity back in its cage. I have read Andrew’s bracingly honest writing about his own faith enough to know that his Christianity is deeply considered and deeply sincere.… »
    Via Patrol
  15. What content marketers can learn from publishers

    « Content marketers can learn a few fine lessons from traditional publishing companies, though they shouldn’t completely emulate them, says the Content Marketing Institute. “The key for both publishers and content marketers is to listen to your audience,” writes Blogger Rob Yoegel. “Look at which sections of your website they spend the most time on and which stories they read, share and comment on, and then write more about these topics and share this information throughout your organization.”… »
  16. Using social media to be a better leader

    « “Join a new online network? I’d love to!” In 15 years of helping business, government and nonprofit leaders make strategic choices about digital technology, I’ve yet to hear an executive utter those words. Sometimes that’s due to the risks of public embarrassment or conflict that come with online engagement. Sometimes it’s painful memories of previous tech projects that ran over budget and behind schedule. And sometimes it’s because executives would rather interact face-to-face than keyboard-to-keyboard.… »
  17. Culture shift: User to client

    « Fifteen years ago, Louis Gallois, the SNCF (French Railways) chairman decided to change the company’s lexicon: passengers were to be referred to as “customers” instead of the old bureaucratese “users” (in French: “clients” vs. “usagers”). The intent was to convey notions of choice and consideration for the rider. This being France, the edict led to convoluted debates. The upper management old guard held the company was on its way to betraying its traditional mission of service public. Unions—notoriously opposed to any forms of competition threatening their fiefdoms—saw the new word as a portent of evil mercantile designs. … »
  18. 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.… »
    Via Forbes
  19. Book marketing & publicity: Advice from three experts

    « A smart marketing consultant can be the secret weapon in an author’s campaign to market and promote a book. That’s according to Adrienne Biggs, one of three experts interviewed for this post…. I surveyed three veteran book marketing pros and here’s what they said about the changing world of promotion and publicity.… »
  20. Social commerce psychology of shopping [infographic]

    « When you combine the power of the mind and the force of social shopping, you have a mighty confabulation of social rules and subconscious needs. Together, these things play into the psychology of social commerce. Psychologists have defined six universal heuristics or learning methods that have been seen in shoppers and are now being seen in social commerce.… »

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 agents, employees, or leadership.