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.

"DRM" - photo by Rich Tatum

Things to Read: April 26, 2012


Wherein we encounter: the SciFi division of Macmillan, Tor, is dropping DRM; Dominique Raccah details a data-driven publishing model borrowed from software development; we tour book production timelines and are greeted with the resurrection of the novella. • We also have 3M announcing its ebook lending technology for libraries (in beta), explore ebook pricing, the need for publisher innovation and we explore controversy surrounding the Amazon recommendation engine. • The LA Times Festival of Books was wildly successful, design really matters, authors have a hard time marketing themselves, and self-publishing still hasn’t gone away—in fact, it’s practically democratic. • Brian Solis has a few words about social media engagement, Jeff Goins invites a guest to write about the spiritually transformative power of writing, and India is a fast-growing English market. • Also, Barnes & Nobel got a cash infusion, and, lastly, we learn that there are still fantastic career options for folks in publishing.

Enjoy!

  1. Macmillan imprint abandons DRM—other publishers to follow?

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    « The lure of DRM in the face of the piracy bogeyman has been hard for publishers to resist. But for the legitimate owners of ebooks it is an annoyance, preventing them from using their purchased files in perfectly legal ways. DRM also makes it incredibly difficult for independent retailers to resell ebooks, hampering any potential expansion into digital markets.… »

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  2. Publisher adopts "agile" publishing model
    CEO says, "Data works better than your gut."

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    « At the Digital Book World Conference in January, Raccah announced on stage that Sourcebooks would be engaging in agile publishing for its new book, Entering the Shift Age, by futurist David Houle. This method of publishing—modeled on agile software development where software is built incrementally using collaboration and self-organizing teams—seeks real-time reader feedback before the book is actually published; i.e., data.… »

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  3. An author’s perspective: Why it takes so long to publish a book

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    « Why does it take a year for a book to go from a draft to bookstore shelves? Is it to build anticipation? Because publishers are modern-day Neanderthals, trying to make e-books by rubbing sticks together? Because authors are so precious? The correct answer is: yes! In more detail, it’s because this* (*view of a process he actually knows little about, with gaps in knowledge filled with speculation and lies)… »

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  4. Is the novella staging a comeback…via Melville House Publishing?

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    « Now the beleaguered genre, at long last, has found a worthy and consistent champion: Melville House Publishing, whose "Art of the Novella" series is an ongoing celebration of the form. The Brooklyn-based press offers 47—and counting—novellas from writers like Cervantes, Jane Austen, Anton Chekhov, Joseph Conrad, Mark Twain, and Virginia Woolf.…the series is the first of its kind.… »

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  5. 3M launches a cloud-based ebook lending service for libraries

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    «  The touch-based Discovery Terminals allow catalog browsing for visitors and selections can be checked out—along with 3M’s eReaders—like other library materials. Already have a mobile device? E-books will play nicely with your iPad, Nook or Android device via the Cloud Library app. If you find yourself needing to read a bit on your computer, checked out items are compatible with both PCs and Macs as well.… »

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  6. Consumers don’t understand ebook pricing issues

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    « Publishers are making a killing on e-books because they cost nothing to produce, distribute and sell and are almost 100% pure profit. At least, that’s what many consumers think.… What many people in publishing know that consumers generally don’t is that most of the cost of a book, even an e-book, comes from the cost of acquiring and developing the content—which, if the book is trade fiction, is mostly words.… »

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  7. There’s still some innovation needed before ebooks replace "pbooks"

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    « Now, I understand there are a few advantages to paper. But I see a lot more advantages to digital. The fact that I now carry about a hundred books with me, wherever I go, that I can read whenever I want, outweighs any advantage a paper book could give me. Well, beyond the shallow extremities of the paper book, like its smell. There are however a few technical challenges that could be overcome by Amazon and Apple that would make my digital books even better and would let me forget about paper altogether.… »

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  8. Amazon recommendations:
    Consumers like it—but does the house have the advantage?

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    « The fidelity of Amazon’s recommendation engine became a topic of conversation in the publishing world last week. PaidContent first reported suggestive remarks that Larry Kirshbaum, the head of Amazon Publishing, made during a public forum at the State University of New York’s Stony Brook Southampton campus. His remarks implied that the Amazon recommendation engine would favor books published by Amazon Publishing.… »

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  9. LA Times Festival of Books wildly successful
    Over 100,000 readers came—were your books there?

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    « If there were any doubts remaining about the Los Angeles Times‘ decision last year to move the Festival of Books to the USC campus from UCLA, where it had been held for 15 years, they were dispelled this weekend by the enormous crowds of readers, booksellers, publishers, and authors that gathered outdoors on the grounds of USC near downtown Los Angeles. Total attendance was estimated at more than 100,000.… »

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  10. Typography matters:
    Good design nourishes, and sells product

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    « Sometimes the most appealing products are not those that are priced the most reasonably, but the ones whose packaging goes beyond functionality and crosses over to the artistic. Alberto Alessi said it best when he described his reason for his own aesthetic designs: “More and more people buy objects for intellectual and spiritual nourishment. People do not buy my coffee makers, kettles and lemon squeezers because they need to make coffee, to boil water, or to squeeze lemons, but for other reasons.”… »

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  11. Self-publishing
    Is it democratizing publishing?

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    « Not a week goes by without a new self-publishing success story being reported. This relatively new form of publishing is exploding in popularity and is fast becoming the avenue of choice for talented authors across the globe. For me, this will have a real impact on one social group in particular—young authors who face an uphill struggle against the traditional industry; an industry that, in my opinion, is in rapid decline. Aside from young authors wanting to find a less tortuous route to a publishing deal, self-publishing platforms are also being identified as an outlet for young people to write about issues that affect them.… »

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  12. Social Media Engagement
    Why 1% isn’t good enough.

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    « Engagement is measured by takeaway value, sentiment or feelings, and resulting actions following the exchange. Redefined engagement opens the door to new strategies and resulting metrics that lend to meaningful experiences and results. By designing more meaningful initiatives, businesses can now focus on causing effect, changing behavior, or reinforcing value where previous engagement metrics can now document the progress of progress.… »

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  13. How writing changed my life

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    « The last time I wrote anything was my freshman year in college for a history class. I was headed to medical school, a life dedicated to science. Writing was of no interest to me. In fact, I hated it. Fourteen years later, I finally put pen to paper again, and it changed my life. (This is a guest post by Jeremy Statton. He is an orthopedic surgeon and a writer. He blogs about Living Better Stories.)… »

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  14. Publishers are flocking to India
    English books published growing by 30% a year

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    « [T]he number of books published in English is growing by 30 percent a year. This growth explains the recent arrival of several international publishing houses. Earlier this year, Bloomsbury announced plans to set up a new publishing business in India, while last May Simon & Schuster announced its plans to open a new division in New Delhi. Hachette Book Publishing India, the Indian branch of Britain’s largest trade publishing company, began operations in 2008, while established houses such as Penguin, HarperCollins, Macmillan and Random House have all been in the country for many years.… »

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  15. Jana Partners hedge fund takes 12% stake in Barnes & Noble

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    « Jana Partners, described in various media reports as a hedge fund known for taking an activist role in companies in which it invests, acquired 6.59 million shares of Barnes & Noble, giving the firm an 11.6% stake in the company. News of the investment, made in a Securities & Exchange Commission filing Monday, resulted in an 18% boost in B&N’s stock price yesterday. Jana has an option to acquire another 250,000 shares.… »

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  16. Career options in book publishing: Top 10 tips

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    « There is so much going on in the digital space, so what skills do aspiring 21st century publishers need? Get inspiration with these top tips from our recent live Q&A about career options in book publishing.… Digital expertise can be learned on the job: At HarperCollins, we would not expect a formal qualification on the technical and digital side of things and particularly if you are looking at entry-level and graduate roles, we would say it’s better just to get a job and learn as you go.… »

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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.