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.

Clay Shirkey

Things to Read: April 12, 2012

  1. In this issue: Clay Shirky, how reading is changing (and increasing!), consumer behavior and persuasion, DRM, Pinterest, social media and leadership, self publishing, email marketing, and earned media.
  2. How we will read: Clay Shirky

    « Publishing is not evolving. Publishing is going away. Because the word “publishing” means a cadre of professionals who are taking on the incredible difficulty and complexity and expense of making something public. That’s not a job anymore. That’s a button. There’s a button that says “publish,” and when you press it, it’s done.… »
  3. iPad Found Accounting for 89% of Mobile Shopping Revenue

    « The iPad accounts for nearly two-thirds of all mobile shopping sessions, and an impressive 89% of all mobile shopping revenue, says RichRelevance in April 2012 study results. With mobile’s share of total retail climbing to 4.6% in March 2012 (from 1.9% in April 2011), this means that the iPad now account for more than 4% of total retail revenue. Meanwhile, other iOS devices make up 4% of the mobile revenue share, with other mobiles holding the remaining 7%. The study found that all mobiles combined now account for 9% of total online shopping sessions.… »
  4. The 6 pillars of social commerce: Understanding the psychology of engagement

    « One of the greatest myths in new media is that social networks facilitate conversations about you that would not otherwise take place if your organization weren’t present. As such, some business leaders believe that creating a presence in social networks eventually erodes the control of the brand, risking the governance they’ve theoretically held onto so triumphantly over the years. So, if that logic holds, by not engaging in social networks or by sharing only one dimension of your business online, you can control what people think and say. Well, this always seems to come as a surprise to those who think otherwise, but the truth is that new media did not “invent” conversations, experiences, or opinions. It seems imprudent and perhaps commonsensical to say, but, the truth is actually the contrary to popular belief.… »
  5. Publisher insistence on DRM harms smaller ebook stores

    « DRM doesn’t really stop piracy, Curry notes, comparing it to “the anti-theft sensors by the doors at the drugstore” that go off all the time but can’t stop the people who know how to remove a magnetic tag. It doesn’t stop dedicated pirates, but does prevent casual sharing—which suggests publishers are feeling pretty desperate if they want to take away such an integral part of the reading experience.… »
  6. The rise of ereading

    « The rise of e-books in American culture is part of a larger story about a shift from printed to digital material. Using a broader definition of e-content in a survey ending in December 2011, some 43% of Americans age 16 and older say they have either read an e-book in the past year or have read other long-form content such as magazines, journals, and news articles in digital format on an e-book reader, tablet computer, regular computer, or cell phone. Those who have taken the plunge into reading e-books stand out in almost every way from other kinds of readers. Foremost, they are relatively avid readers of books in all formats: 88% of those who read e-books in the past 12 months also read printed books.… »
  7. The next time someone says the internet killed reading books, show them this chart

    « Well, that time never existed. Check out these stats from Gallup surveys. In 1957, not even a quarter of Americans were reading a book or novel. By 2005, that number had shot up to 47 percent. I couldn’t find a more recent number, but I think it’s fair to say that reading probably hasn’t declined to the horrific levels of the 1950s.… »
  8. Pinterest drives more traffic than Google+, YouTube & LinkedIn

    « Pinterest is social media’s rising star — and now has the traffic stats to prove it. The darling network of brides-to-be, fashionistas and budding bakers now beats YouTube, Reddit, Google+, LinkedIn and MySpace for percentage of total referral traffic in January, according to a Shareaholic study. Pinterest accounted for 3.6% of referral traffic, while Twitter just barely edged ahead of the newcomer, accounting for 3.61% of referral traffic. In July 2011, Pinterest accounted for just 0.17% of referral traffic, proving the site’s blockbuster growth… »
  9. Royalties & marketing: how publishing houses will compete

    « As competition for top author talent increases (and I believe it will with new digital-first start-ups like one and booksellers like Amazon clamoring for exclusive book content) a publisher’s ability to market books and what kinds of revenues make it back to the author may be the difference between a front-list filled with A-level talent and one populated by the B-team.… »
  10. How to use social media to help your company & not get fired

    « More publishing executives are using social media this year than last year and more of them are being careful about what they say on Twitter and in blogs, according to a recent survey. According to a Digital Book World survey conducted by Forrester Research, nearly half of publishing professionals are using Twitter and are blogging, up from about a third a year ago. More publishing executives are also conscious that they have to be careful about what information they broadcast using social media, 54%, up from 47% last year.… »
  11. What does a writer owe a reader?

    « As readers, do we have a right to act as if a writer owes us something? I think we do, but not in the way that we most often make the claim. As readers we are not owed something we like or with which we agree. But writers do owe us something,a whole combination of somethings, in fact.… »
  12. 6 reasons authors self-publish

    « On the heels of our lively debate the other day on my post “6 Reasons Authors Still Want Publishers,” today let’s look at the other side of the coin. Many of you are still trying to decide which path is right for you — or if maybe some combination of both might work. So hopefully these posts and the discussions in the comments will be helpful. So here are six reasons writers choose self publishing.… »
  13. 8 tips for increasing click-through rates

    « The most important thing to do to increase click-through rates is to be relevant, interesting and useful, said Mike Volpe, CMO at HubSpot, an all-in-one marketing software company, told ZoomInsights. “Your subscribers will click on what they are interested in, so make sure you have really good data about who they are, what they want and how they have interacted with your company.”… »
  14. Global consumers place highest trust in earned media

    « Global online consumers place the most amount of trust in earned media, and the least in ads served on mobile phones, finds Nielsen in an April 2012 report. An impressive 92% of consumers surveyed around the world said they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth or recommendations from friends and family, an 18% increase from 2007.… »
  15. More Things to Read: April 12, 2012

    « 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.… »

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.

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.