Readersforum's Blog

May 8, 2013

E-Books and Democracy


WRESTLING with my newspaper on the subway recently, I noticed the woman next to me reading a book on her smartphone. “That has to hurt your eyes,” I commented.  Not missing a beat, she replied, in true New York style, “My font is bigger than yours.” She was right.

The information revolution raises profound questions about the future of books, reading and libraries. While publishers have been nimble about marketing e-books to consumers, until very recently they’ve been mostly unwilling to sell e-books to libraries to lend, fearful that doing so would hurt their business, which is under considerable pressure.

Negotiations between the nation’s libraries and the Big Six publishers — Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Group, Random House and Simon & Schuster, which publish roughly two-thirds of the books in America — have gone in fits and starts. Today Hachette, which had been a holdout, is joining the others in announcing that it will make e-books available to public libraries. This is a big step, as it represents, for the first time, a consensus among the Big Six, at least in principle, that their e-books should be made available to library users.

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January 17, 2013

How To Buy eBooks at Your Favorite Bookstore

app-300x198By Jason Boog

Are you worried that digital books will ruin your favorite independent bookstore?

Google will end its digital book reseller program for independent bookstores this month, but you can fill up your new tablet or mobile device with eBooks from indie bookshops with a few simple steps.

If you have a Kobo eReading device or a Kobo eReading app for your device, you can buy eBooks through your favorite independent bookstore. Below, we’ve collected steps on how to buy eBooks from an indie bookstore.

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July 18, 2012

eBooks Are Now ‘The Dominant Single Format’ in Adult Fiction Sales

By Jason Boog

Digital books are now “the dominant single format” in the adult fiction category, according to a new BookStats report from the Association of American Publishers. eBooks exploded in the adult fiction category last year, accounting for 30 percent of net publisher sales in 2011–up from 13 percent the year before.

At the same time, net sales revenue from eBooks increased from  from $869 million in 2010 to $2.074 billion in 2011. That’s 15 percent of net revenues for publishers. AppNewser has more about how these numbers have affected the total US book market.

Here’s more about those eye-popping figures, from the report: “Adult Fiction eBooks revenue for 2011 was $1.27 billion, growing by 117% from $585 million in 2010.  This translated to 203 million units, up 238% from 85 million in 2010.

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October 30, 2011

Occupy the Book: Is It Author Spring?

By Brenda Peterson

In the 1970s, when I was an editorial assistant at The New Yorker magazine — and getting many rejections — I used to fanaticize about being my own publisher. “Give yourself ten years to finish a book,” one of the revered New Yorker editors advised me. “Think of it as an author’s apprenticeship.”

After five years, I left the magazine to publish my first novel, River of Light with Knopf. To support my writing, I took a lowly job as a typesetter, so I could complete my working knowledge of books — from creation to production. My second novel, Becoming the Enemy, was even set at a fictional publishing house. I worked for decades as an editor and taught writing.

After publishing 16 books with traditional houses — from Norton to HarperCollins to Penguin — I believed I was finally ready to become my own publisher. But there was still a stigma against the “vanity press” of self-publishing, no distribution, and little consumer demand.

I would have to wait until the 21st century when digital technology, direct distribution channels like Amazon, iBooks, and Nook, plus the popularity of inexpensive e-readers have finally made it possible for authors to become publishers. My first task was to bring my backlist into print as e-books. The journey into self-publishing is like discovering a new territory with evolving rules and a swiftly tilting culture. This is one of the most exciting and innovative times to be an author. Everything is in flux.

An esteemed editor said recently at a national conference of Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), “It’s the Wild West out there for e-books. And publishers should not be afraid to embrace them.”

With the proliferation of e-books and self-publishing will the book business become more sustainable and egalitarian? Will we finally see an end to the bloated advances for celebrity memoirs — those non-books for non-readers written by non-writers? Will we see the re-education of the bottom-liners who turned this once genteel profession of publishing into corporate Raiders of the Lost Authors?

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October 3, 2011

Waterstone’s boss brands Amazon ‘utterly ruthless’

Filed under: Bookshops — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:52 pm

Mr Daunt is implementing a turnaround plan at Waterstone's after it was bought by Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut in the summer. Photo: Clara Molden

The new boss of Waterstone’s has described as a “dispiriting” place to shop and said that the business tactics used by the online retailer are “utterly utterly ruthless”.

By James Hall

James Daunt, the managing director of the country’s biggest high street book chain, said that 13 years after its UK launch Amazon now sells almost exactly the same number of books as Waterstone’s.

“Unless you are offering more to customers and are doing it better than Amazon you are going to lose,” said Mr Daunt in an interview with The Daily Telegraph.

However, the retail executive, who joined Waterstone’s in June, argued that Amazon is a “really dispiriting” place to buy books as people who shop on the website are “denying themselves the pleasure of browsing in a bookshop”.

Amazon launched in the UK in 1998, selling over 1.4 million books and offering prices that were up to 40pc below high street prices. It has since launched the Kindle, an e-reader that allows people to download digital books.

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August 22, 2011

The Future of Printed Literature: A Digital Dilemma

By Mia R. Benenate

On July 18, 2011 came the announcement that Borders, the second largest book retailer in the United States would close its doors for good following a chapter 11 filing and the liquidation of more than 200 stores on American soil. Borders, a favorite store of mine since early childhood, didn’t have the financial leverage to keep up with competitors Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
As a young girl entering a Borders store, I came to associate the brand with learning and escapism, and of course the soft lighting, aroma of coffee, and contented people browsing the shelves that were a staple in my local branch. It was a place I came to think of as “mine,” where I could go to focus intensely or lose myself entirely. Later, it became a place I would associate with music as well as literature, as I entered my teenage years and spent equal time in both sections of the store. Borders became a place that I identified as an extension of the literature I held so close to my heart, and thus, the most influential brand of my early years. 20 years after entering a Borders for the first time, I work with words as an editor, and still remember the chain fondly. And perhaps because of my professional position, it comes as no surprise that the chain is closing.

As of May of this year, Amazon’s book sales are primarily electronic, meaning that the bulk of literature purchases are through the company’s branded e-reader Kindle, versus print. Barnes & Noble recently debuted their own e-reader the Nook, and I wonder if they would have found themselves in a position similar to Borders had they not gone digital as well.

As an executive in the publishing industry, I am well aware of the daunting and often prohibitive costs associated with publishing printed material. Especially in the digital age. What remains a highlight of my reading experience — and a point of professional pride — however, is the feel of a book in my hands and the smell of freshly printed pages as I turn them. As a passionate consumer and publishing insider, I know how much sweat is put into each product that winds up on the shelves; the words and imagery within books are just the starting point.

Reading is a visceral experience, which to me is as important as the story itself. When I purchase a printed book, I own it. When I purchase an e-book, I feel like I’m borrowing someone else’s intellectual property.

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June 16, 2011

“The Waste Land”: T.S. Eliot takes the app store

Filed under: e-tailers — Tags: , , , — Bookblurb @ 7:24 am

A screenshot from "The Wasteland"

Old, difficult and unsexy, a 20th-century masterpiece becomes the best example yet of how to make a digital book.

By Laura Miller

The enhanced e-book — a digital text that comes garnished with multimedia material — is one of those ideas that sound terrific in theory but are rarely satisfying in execution. Economics is largely to blame: Video, audio and animated content can be expensive to produce at a time when many readers consider $15 an outrageous amount to pay for any e-book, no matter what bells and whistles come with it. As a result, a publisher has to charge less than the price of a hardcover for a book that costs more to create. That’s no incentive to devote limited resources to developing new kinds of digital books.

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