Posts Tagged ‘publishing’

Books Links

February 6, 2014

Well, Haruki Murakami has horribly insulted some town in Japan.  Within his newest short story, a woman tosses a smoke from her car window and the main character makes the comment that all people from this woman’s town must be horrible litterers. I omit the name of the town from my blog in fear of bringing their wrath down upon me.

Amazon is venturing into publishing.  Okay, they’ve been there awhile but the Seattle Times is finally writing about it. Good read.

Alright, so JK Rowling isn’t exactly thrilled with having Hermione and Weasley become an item.  I’ve since seen debates springing up across the web about it. Yes, Harry was perfect for Hermione. Weasley and Hermione had a genuine romantic give and take.  The only one perfect for Harry was Ron. Wait…no, I think that last one was just me.  My only real response at this point  is who cares?  She wishes she had written the books differently. Okay. Most authors probably have similar wishes at some point. She isn’t kicking your dog, she isn’t irrevocably destroying your faith in God. She’s just saying, “hey, maybe I could have done something different.” Big deal.

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Book Links

January 28, 2014

Dean Koontz had a hangout on Google+ the other day. Go here if you’re interested. I’m not a big fan of their video player, it keeps wanting to close when I switch tabs and try to come back to it later, but from what I have listened to in snippets and pieces, it seems like a good one. It’s also a long one (~54 minutes) so you’ll have to set aside a chunk of time to watch it entirely. I sort of wish they would have just an audio version for us folks who maybe don’t h ave a killer internet connection and who don’t want to put up with buffering, lag, and everything else. Or google can get their own high speed installed in more places (preferable).

Have a cup of coffee, chat about Murakami. This is actually one of a serious of articles about Haruki Murakami. This one’s about a jazz cafe turned book cafe where Murakami fans gather and gab. I liked it, but I’m a Murakami fan. So…

And here’s a link I haven’t put up before, but probably should have. It’s an organization for independent book stores. I always have a B&N link with stories I review, because I’m really not a fan of Amazon’s practices related to the book industry,but I should push the independents more, too.  For a vibrant community, and a healthy industry, support your local book stores.

Barnes and Noble Holiday Sales

January 15, 2014

Barnes and Noble’s holiday sales were a mixed bag. The sales at their actual stores were pretty similar to last year (fell .2%), but nook devices fell through the floor. This isn’t surprising since they’ve quit putting out new Nooks. Given the choice between an old Nook or a new whatever, it’s not surprising that people took the whatevers. I thought the meat of the article was the last paragraph, where Huseby (CEO of B&N) made a comment that digital content was the “lifeblood of digital business” and that the company was busy making progress in linking their content through other devices – in other words, apps.  the first quote is obvious, your print content isn’t going to be the lifeblood of digital business, but it seems important that he didn’t say it was the lifeblood of Barnes and Noble. It also seems as if B&N is committing to the push away from the hardware side and pushing harder into the software end. they realized that they don’t need a device of their own, if people with ipads, surfaces, notes, etc. can and do click on their apps to buy their books through their store.

Also, I have to think it’s a helluva lot cheaper to make a really good app and then plough extra money into the company. Also, as I’ve linked to before on here, digital sales of stagnated a bit. They roared up for a few years, eating up a chunk of book purchases, but it hasn’t continued its rapid ascent this year. Is this temporary or is there just that much of a desire for printed copy that we’ll see this hold for several years? I don’t know, but it means B&N can probably do very well if they work on maximizing their profits at their brick and mortar stores, while laying a better infrastructure for a strong digital presence in the future. I think B&N has this distinct advantage over Amazon. There have been countless articles about people wandering through bookstores, browsing at the books, only to leave and buy it cheaper from Amazon once they’ve read a few pages and know they like it. there is no reason this couldn’t work to B&N’s advantage. Make it easy to walk through a store, find a book you like, then purchase the digital edition. People could do it now through their phones or whatever without leaving the store.  Find a way to encourage this and make it easier.

So, the sales numbers were a bit of a mixed bag, depending on how you look at them. While the Nook devices took a beating, in a world where I can go and grab a $50 tablet from Meijer, I think getting out of the hardware side where profit margins are shrinking and competition is growing is a good idea. Put your limited funds to better use elsewhere.

Book Links

January 10, 2014

Frankly, a bunch of numbers too big and too numerous for me to really get into. If you’re curious about how many people are sending their little literary babies into the world, though,  here’s an article you’ll want to read.

Reading is a workout for the brain. Yeah. Not exactly surprising for anyone who reads, but at least now we have some more evidence that reading is literally good for you.

Hey, someone 3D printed a slip cover for a book. Check it out.  It looks pretty cool, not something I’d pay extra for (sorry folks) but if you have the cash and Chang-rae Lee is one of your guys, something like this could be up your alley. Regardless of whether or not you would buy it, still pretty cool.

And The Atlantic has a a great article on Marian Bantjes. She’s a designer who does a lot of great looking stuff with lettering.  Worth the read.
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Book Links

October 23, 2013

9 Books to scare the hell out of you. A good list with some I didn’t expect. I still have a hard time seeing lists like this with an array of newer titles while leaving anything by King, Rice, Matheson, etc. off. I know The Shining can only be on so many lists, and newer works deserve (and need) the exposure, but it’s still a bit weird for me. Nice seeing Shirley Jackson get some much deserved love, though. Despite her greatness, I think she gets overlooked at times.

 

Irma Boom: objectification of the book. I love books as physical objects, and Boom takes this to wonderful places. If you don’t know her work, check it out. You will enjoy it.

 

Libraries of the Rich and Famous.  I love the clutter of Keith Richard’s library, but I think Woody Allen’s tastes would most mirror my own. If I was filthy rich, that is.

 

We don’t read as well as we used to.  A new study from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shows that American adults had a lower reading proficiency than their counterparts from twenty years ago.  It’s a bit of a thing that “young adult” books are becoming increasingly popular with adults, that it is common to see someone with some salt in their beard or grey in their hair lugging around Twilight or The Hunger Games, and it’s always assumed it’s because young adult fiction is becoming so well done. Maybe it’s because more and more people can’t handle more difficult reads.  This isn’t to say young adult novels are bad, but they are not really difficult, either. Anyway. There is my moment of fire in a crowded theater for this post.

Finally, David Bowie has a list of 100 must read books.

Book Links

September 25, 2013

Bookstores…of the future!  Okay, maybe not of the future, but definitely a bit of a shift from what we’re accustomed to outside of a Barnes & Noble (or a Borders *sigh*).  Add a cafe, or a bar, or a children’s play area (maybe a Happy Meal, too, eh?).  A coffee shop I used to hangout at with friends in undergrad was attached to a Christian bookstore, and cafes have long been a staple of the national book chains. It’s also an idea the wife and I have kicked around in our more whimsical moments. “Hey, let’s open a bookstore!” “And then file for bankruptcy!” We even had a grandiose dream at one time of having a restaurant/bookstore/coffeebar. Yeah. I applaud anyone taking the leap of opening a bookstore and attempting to incorporate such things into their plans. I hope it works, and I would try to support your endeavor. That said, I think it’s a long haul through two feet of financial woe. Still, sell a good spice cake and I’m there.

Sticking to the UK, there is a massive piece in The Guardian centered on Stephen King. I’m an unabashed King fan. I have had a more difficult time getting into his newer stuff, which may in part be from my own reading interests shifting over the years, but King is the guy who got me back into reading when I was in middle school and came across Eyes of the Dragon on the school library bookshelves. to be honest, I’m still slogging through this interview, chipping away at it throughout the day when I have the opportunity.

And the BBC caught up with Bill Bryson who wants his cake…and digital books, too! He’s lobbying for publishers to package a digital copy with a normal printed copy, so when people buy an actual book, the digital book is packaged with it in some way. I get what he’s saying, and I’m not against it.  We’ve seen movies package a “digital copy” with their DVDs, and music CDs are so easy to rip that a digital copy isn’t necessary (especially since it seems most music is bought digitally – maybe they should start packaging CDs with each download?). Something I’d be curious about is a digital subscription to my favorite publishers. For ten bucks a month, let me “join” Penguin and be able to read a selection of their library.  Sort of like a Netflix for books.  They could limit what was available, though if it is too limited no one would have any interest, and control the distribution/downloading. Also, they would have an opportunity for a treasure trove of information about their readers likes, dislikes, and habits.  it would almost be enough to get me to buy an ereader.

 

Book Links 8-16-13

August 16, 2013

To visit a much posted topic here, yet more stuff about the Apple vs Government case. Anyone remember how way back at the beginning of the trial the judge commented that Apple was essentially boned? Well, she has a reputation for pre-judging her cases.  If you’ve read pretty much any of my other book links from the past few months, you know where I fall in this argument. I think Apple was entirely in the right, and it’s a joke that Amazon, the company that legitimately worked (works) to corner and monopolize the ebook market was hit with nothing.  I’m looking forward to Apple’s appeal.

Publisher’s Weekly has a blog post about bundling digital copies with damn near everything and wondering why the publishing industry doesn’t do it. My take is that it’s too foreign. Movies and music have always had a certain malleable aspect to their delivery the moment it became possible to be pulled into the home.  Each have went through a variety of formats (8mm, video cassette, DVD, reel-to-reel, audio cassette, CD, etc.) and have been open to being copied, swapped, and manipulated by their consumers in ways that publishing just hasn’t.  Aside from sitting down and either transcribing or xeroxing something, there wasn’t a convenient way of copying something for someone else to read.  You also couldn’t easily manipulate a text outside of a pair of scissors and some scotch tape.  The idea that your product not only can, but needs to, be creatively packaged and sold doesn’t have any real traction for publishing.  Their idea of a bonus feature has been an author interview in the back of the book, or perhaps a chapter or two of the author’s next book. If you wanted something with annotations, something that provided a weighty bonus feature, you were likely looking to pay a few extra books and having to special order a special edition.  What usually happened was that any sort of bonus usually became another book, or a magazine article, something that could be published entirely separately and monetized over again.

Which is awesome for writers and publishers. It’s just not something that has prepared them very well for what they should, and need, to be doing now.

Also, have to say, there are always exceptions to the rule. I don’t have the title off the top of my head, but I know at least one book I have had a music CD packaged with it featuring music created by the writer to go along with the book.  I think I bought it at a Border’s Closing Clearance Sale, and I still haven’t read it, or listened to the CD. So maybe there is also a lack of interest in readers for extra material, though I’m fairly certain that if I got a CD of some bizarre music with a Stephen King novel, I’d have probably listened to it in the car on the way home.

Anyway. The kid just brought me the mail, and it’s sort of thrown my entire thought process out of whack. I have no idea how anyone is productive at all when there is a kid in the house.

Book Links 7-15-13

July 15, 2013

And then there were five.  I’m not a huge fan of consolidation, though I also get that it could all work out. I routinely hate on the consolidation of newspapers, radio,  and all things telecom. It destroys the variety of our windows unto the world, but things like the publishing industry can be different. The different houses coming under ever larger umbrellas can still maintain an identity, which is really how the different imprints  should be defining their necessity. In an ideal world an imprint would justify its existence by being known for something, and consistently delivering it. Whether that will actually happen or not is anybody’s guess. They might also become homogenized, neutered of their individuality to become just a rubber stamp on a cover, promoting some larger vanilla image. For now, though, I have cautious faith.

David Carr has a nice article up about the necessity of Barnes and Noble. It begins promisingly, building a case for the necessity of a physical bookstore as a foundational place of gathering for a community. People go, they look, they talk. It’s healthy and good. He briefly hits on the need for multiple sources of distribution needed for the health of the publishing industry and how Amazon is arguably more of a monopolist and price fixer than Apple could yet dream of being. However,  for me much of the article boils down to the physical bookstore being a necessity because people need to go and browse to discover writers to buy from cheaper online market places.  This ties back into the whole “multiple paths are necessary” thing because ebook sales fell after Borders was shuttered.  I know it’s not the point Carr wanted to drive home, but it’s the one that hung in the air when I was done, and I have to admit it’s at least partly true. While it would be another article entirely, someone other than Nick Harkaway needs to get on a platform and start arguing that the publishing industry needs to do more to take back their industry. Of course, that’s kind of hard when the government then immediately takes them to court to shift business back into Amazon’s hands… .

In case you missed it, JK Rowling released a book under a pen name. I haven’t read the book, I don’t know if I ever will, but I don’t see what the big deal is. And I don’t like the fact that someone cowardly outed her. It wasn’t hurting anyone, and if it gives her the freedom to crank out books that are good, all the power to her.  Now, every “Galbraith” novel she might write will be looked at as a “Rowling” book and carry that baggage with it.

And yet another NYT article about Barnes and Noble and their failing Nook division. I like the Nook tablet, I’ve been considering getting one since they’ve slashed prices, and I think it’s horrible that it’s dying in such a manner. From what I’ve toyed around with, I enjoy it, and I think it’s a quality little piece of hardware. I still support publishing just having a general, all-platform format for ebooks to level the digital playing field a bit, but if you have to support one ecosystem over another, there is no way I could stomach siding with Amazon. Unfortunately, it appears too many people could stomach that particular meal.

Alright, there’s my links for the day. It’s been awhile, but I’ve been busy and I haven’t really been able to find a lot of news I really cared about. But the Apple trial and the health of B&N are two biggies for me and they’ve been in the spotlight recently. Hopefully this is the beginning of getting back on the blogging track.

Book Links 5-20-15

May 20, 2013

Apple is still fighting.  I think the government going after Apple and publishers for the agency pricing model is ridiculous considering how  Amazon was allowed to develop a strangehold on the ebook market before that. It might have forced people to spend a few more bucks in the short term, but I think it was providing for a more robust publishing industry in the long term.  While the publishers have caved, Apple continues to fight, and I applaud them and wish them luck. Also, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this bit about their tax haven practices is coming out now. Considering the big banks were allowed to skate after tanking our economy, politicians complaining about Apple gaming the tax system (legally, as they admit) rings hollow.

On the flip size, Amazon wants to profit by the government going after Apple/publishers, but they don’t want to lose any blood over it. They are fighting to keep their data/info out of the public eye, and out of the courts. I think they are wrong. they are clearly a major player in this, and they deserve  to be pulled into the fight.  They are the only major interest that will greatly benefit by the government winning their case.

Stephen King’s next book, Joyland, won’t be released as an ebook. I like this, except it’s not really his next book. It’s his next book published by the small, independent press Hard Case Crime. I still applaud the move, but it’s not like it’s his next, big publisher release. And you can still buy the physical book off of Amazon.

Not book related, but David Carr’s new article about telecom giants giving us crappy, overpriced cable is a must read.

Book Links 5-6-13

May 6, 2013

A combination of a lack of sleep and illness is doing a number on me today. My throat hurts, I’m running a fever, and I’m lethargic as all hell. And there is a ton of work to be done around the house.  Awesome.

CNet has a quick article up about Tor’s success with digital books with no DRM.  I think the proliferation of DRM has helped give Amazon a leg up on the digital world, and the publishers have been making a huge mistake in not moving away from DRM. They have fears that if their digital books aren’t protected in some way, that there will be rampant piracy of their works. But it hasn’t happened with Tor. And it shouldn’t have been expected to happen.  You just have to look at the music industry to see how successful DRM is. Or the movie industry. With the piracy of media, I think it’s more a question of desirability. I just don’t see a big market for pirated written works. There is something about music and movies that are like the soft drinks of cultural consumption. You get them, you devour them, you move on. now, sometimes you will re-watch a movie, or listen to an album a few times in a row. If you’re dedicated to those forms, maybe you write a blog about them, or you post at a message board dedicated to them, but there isn’t a huge time investment with either of them. It is a bit different with the written word. It takes time to work your way through a novel, or a collection of stories, or even a lit mag. It’s a sort of investment that I think lends more readily to people investing monetarily in it rather than pirating it, because the time/effort investment is higher. Maybe piracy is less of a problem for books because people who are interested enough in books to invest in an ereader, and to find them online, are more okay investing their money into something they feel they get adequate value from.

More international titles are being published in the US. Not surprisingly, the rise of digital media is paired with this. I’m a fan of international literature, I try to read what I can, when I can and what I enjoyed most about attending AWP a couple of years back was buying some international titles I wouldn’t have otherwise seen. And it’s always a good thing to see literature crossing more lines.

Finally, 45 fan designed covers for The Great Gatsby. I liked the novel, I’m not a fan of what I’ve seen of Luhrmann’s upcoming movie (wasn’t a fan of Moulin Rouge or Romeo + Juliet, either, so maybe I’m just not a Luhrmann fan).