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.

"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.


  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.

panel 6_bottom, By Jan Poynter

More Things to Read: April 19, 2012

  1. In this issue: content creation, writing advice, social media self-promotion, new publishing models, the Blue Like Jazz movie, crowd-funded publishing, top authors to watch, Robin Meyers’ new book, trust and online content, digital content for kids, scratchboard design, a new book from Ross Douthat, and Wiley’s bittorrent piracy trial.
  2. 58 ways to create persuasive content your audience will love

    « Would you like to become a better writer? Would you like to create content that people will remember, tweet, and plus? How about content that inspires your audience to click, subscribe or buy? That’s the Holy Grail, right? It may sound difficult, but it really isn’t. You’re about to become a writer that’s incredibly persuasive and completely unforgettable. Ready? Let’s start with structuring your content so your message becomes irresistible.… »
  3. Free newsletters help aspiring writers and authors to publish

    « Dan Pointer is probably the leading authority in the world on publishing as he has authored 102 books. Among his books are Writing Nonfiction, The Self-Publishing Manual and others. His own personal mission in life is to be sure people don’t die with a book still inside them.… »
  4. Social media self-promotion scheme draws authors—including Margaret Atwood

    « Audible opens $20m fund that will reward authors using social media to help sales… »
  5. Rolling up the rim on new publishing models

    « The increasing popularity of self-funding creative projects raises interesting questions about the future of publishing, especially when someone like McKay—who was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 1995 for his short story collection Like This—is abandoning traditional publishing models for ones like this. "I am one of the first Canadian literary writers with an established record in old-school publishing to make the giant step in the direction of going Indie," McKay writes on his Indiegogo campaign site. "You can help make this happen."… »
  6. Making Blue Like Jazz required faith and a little improvisation

    « It took a miracle, and fans’ financial support, for Donald Miller’s best-selling memoir Blue Like Jazz to reach theaters.… »
  7. World’s only book-centric crowd-funding site helps authors get paid to write their books and raises money to promote their work

    « today announced the official launch of its crowd-funding site for aspiring authors to raise funds to get their books published. With the increased popularity of crowd funding for business ideas and projects, is currently the only site to concentrate entirely on book funding for authors and writers. The fundraising platform differentiates itself from other crowd-funding sites by continuing to support authors beyond fundraising as their book project transitions to pre-orders and sales once their book is published.… »
  8. Time 100: Authors to watch

    « The Time 100 Most Influential People in the World is, by and large, a grab-bag of politicos, entertainers and technology entrepreneurs. But it also gives a nod to the publishing world. Among the Time 100 are…… »
  9. Author Robin Meyers looks for link between liberal, conservative Christians

    « Robin Meyers, author of "Saving Jesus From the Church," grew up the son of a Church of Christ minister who was a Shakespearean scholar with a doctorate in English literature. Like his father, Meyers became intensely interested in the Bible as a work of literature, full of metaphor and deeply symbolic spiritual messages. In his latest book, "The Underground Church," Meyers looks for common ground between liberal and conservative Christians.… »
  10. Consumer Search Insights: Which source do you trust most?

    « People tend to trust friends & family and the mainstream media far more than they trust websites & search engines. Relative to one another, men tend to trust newspapers, search engines & weblogs more; whereas women tend to trust friends & family and social media websites more. The youngest age group tends to trust social media a bit more & newspapers a bit less than other age groups do. Outside of that, it is somewhat hard to see other age-based patterns.… »
  11. Penguin, Macmillan, and Nosy Crow talk digital books for children

    « How publishers can make reading experiences that parents feel ‘more positive about than Angry Birds’. For much of the book publishing world, the move to digital is all about e-books. That brings big challenges (and regulatory scrutiny) around distribution deals and pricing, but less around the actual content and design. For children’s books, it’s a different story. The text-centric e-books market has seen children’s publishers turning their picture-books into apps.… »
  12. Talking to the End-User—A Publishing Paradigm

    « For many publishers of academic and professional literature, focusing on the end-user is something of a dislocating thought process. A good part of the sales of professional publishers tend to be through intermediaries. For example, some portion, in some cases the largest portion, of professional publishing is sold to libraries. It’s hard to be user-focused when the library stands between you and the user. In other instances, you might reach the end-user through channel selling. For example, a book publisher might ship books to Baker & Taylor and not know where those books ultimately end up, whether in a library or in the office of an anesthesiologist. The common theme of all these methods of marketing publishing materials is that little is known about the people who actually read the works.… »
  13. What is Scratchboard Design?

    « Scratchboard was developed in nineteenth century England and France, where printers were looking for new ways to reproduce illustrations. Wood, metal and linoleum engraving all had their faults, and scratchboard seemed to be the perfect solution.… »
  14. Why Ross Douthat thinks we’re a nation of heretics

    « Since the 1960s, Douthat argues, institutional Christianity has suffered a slow-motion collapse, leaving the country without the moral core that carried it through foreign wars, economic depressions and roiling internal debates. In its place heresies have cropped up—from the "God-within" theology of Oprah to the Mammon-obsessed missionaries of the prosperity gospel, says Douthat, a Roman Catholic. … »
  15. Wiley seeks piracy trial

    « John Wiley has filed papers in New York demanding a trial by jury of four defendants accused of copying its books through BitTorrent, according to a BBC report. The publisher said the amount of revenue lost through illegal copying of its For Dummies guides was "enormous", with over 74,000 copies of its Photoshop CS5 All-In-One For Dummies guide pirated.… »

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.