Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Saturday News Roundup: Borders having liquidity issues

Samhain freebies:

  • 1/1/2011 to   1/31/2011 Oleander House by Ally Blue
  • 1/1/2011 to 1/14/2011 Rough Cut by  Mari Carr
  • 1/15/2011 to 1/28/2011 Big Girls Don’t Die by  Crystal Jordan
  • 12/15/2010 to 1/15/2011 Going All In by  Jess Dee
  • 12/15/2010 to 1/15/2011 Make Mine Midnight by Annmarie McKenna
  • 12/15/2010 to 1/15/2011 The Bite of Silence by Mary Hughes
  • 12/15/2010 to 1/15/2011 With this Ring by T.A. Chase

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BestBuy has the nookColor for $199 from January 2nd until January 8th.   This is a pretty good deal if you want a color reader.   I prefer the eink for reading but the lcd is snappy and it’s the right size (although it could be lighter).   This article suggests that it might be BestBuy.com only but you may want to check your stores.   Here’s the review of the nookcolor we posted at Dear Author.

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Publishers Marketplace broke the story on Thursday that Borders sent out a notice that said there would be delays in payments to some publishers due to a liquidity shortfall. Borders needs refinancing in order to meet its credit agreements in 2011. Ironically, this is not a dissimilar story than what appeared in January of 2010 wherein Borders delayed payments to small publishers. The difference is that big publishers are now being jilted. Expect stock to be dramatically reduced at Borders as publishers begin to withhold shipments of books.

There is an interesting post by literary agent Joshua Bilmes on the rise and fall of Borders. The upshot of this is that if you received a Borders gift card for Christmas, you should probably use it now.

Why is this a big deal? Borders is the second largest brick and mortar retailer of books in the U.S.   Hardcover print sales are the core of many publishers’ businesses.   If one of the main retail sources go under, then the overall sales from the publisher to their customer (book sellers) will decline dramatically.

For the author, this means their advances will be reduced even further as print runs will decline.   However, on Twitter, yesterday, Moira Rogers and Melissa Schroeder had a conversation that I “overheard” in which they discussed the fact that the explosion of digital readers had turned their digital writing careers into something very profitable.

Via WSJ (first link).

Twitter conversation between Moira Rogers and Mel Schroeder

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Reviewing can be a tough business.   Recently, a restauranteur outed a food critic who had successfully hid her identity as a reviewer for over fifteen years.   The owner of the restaurant made the food critic’s party wait then snapped her photo and asked her to leave.   After she left, her picture was posted on facebook for every one to see. The LA Times posted about why food critics are anonymous:

This concern with anonymity has been a peculiarly American trait, growing out of restaurant reviews’ roots in consumer reporting. In Britain, restaurant critics tend to be among a newspaper’s celebrities, and photos run alongside their reviews. In France, they’re regarded -‘ at least by themselves -‘ as public intellectuals. And far from being anonymous, they announce their visits days in advance.

But in this country -‘ at least for critics at major newspapers -‘ we recognize that for most of our readers, a big night out at a great restaurant is a major expenditure as well as a celebratory event. That’s also why we base our reviews on multiple visits -‘ to make sure we’re not catching a restaurant on either its best or worst night.

I think this story really goes to   the heart of the reviewing dissonance.   Reviews are for the consumers but are felt deeply and personally by those being reviewed, whether it is restauranteurs or authors.   Thus, the expectations and desires of those being reviewed often aren’t in concert with the expectations and desires of the consumers.   Reviewers have to decide for whom they are reviewing.   In the LA Times case (as in ours), the reviewing is done for the consumer and thus the way in which they conduct their reviews may be at odds with whom they are reviewing.

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Amazon rolled out lending for Kindle. It has the same “features” as the nook.   You can lend one book for 14 days one time.   During that time, the owner of the book has no access to the lent book.   I put features in scare quotes because this type of lending is very limited, very restrictive.   Further, very few books seem to be lendable.   As I perused by Kindle book list the following publishers were allowing lending (or Amazon had allowed lending by default per the contract):

  • Samhain
  • Scholastic
  • Kensington (this was hit or miss for me but mostly hit)

Smaller publishers were more likely to allow sharing as well as publishers who don’t traditionally impose DRM.   Harlequin, Avon, Penguin, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, and Random House books all had the lending feature disabled.   I’ve sent out emails to the various houses to find out what the stance is regarding lending.   Will keep you all posted.

Goodreads has a Kindle lending community here and others have formed or are forming.   (Here is a nook lending community).

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Barnes and Noble put out a press release that it now sells more digital books on its online retail site, BN.com, than it does paper books.

the world's largest bookseller, today announced that with millions of NOOK eReading devices sold, the line has become the company's biggest bestseller ever in its nearly 40-year history. The new NOOKcolor Reader's Tablet, introduced just eight weeks before Christmas, is the company's number one selling gift of the holiday season.  Barnes & Noble also announced that it now sells more digital books than its large and growing physical book business on BN.com, the world's second largest online bookstore.

Ironically, BN’s successful selling day wasn’t met with a successful delivery day.   Christmas day was plagued with technical problems on BN’s side as it wasn’t fully prepared to meet demand.   So on Christmas, you could purchase nookbooks but you couldn’t download and read them.   This is the second year in a row in which Barnes and Noble has been unprepared for the internet traffic during the holidays.   Perhaps three times will be the charm?

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Kobo also set ebook sales records over the holidays.

Over a million people connected to Kobo, and hundreds of thousands of devices were activated each day since Christmas Eve, fuelling the highest eBook download rate in the company's history. People around the world chose Kobo this Christmas, with the popular easy-to-use Kobo Wireless eReader, dozens of compatible eReaders, top-rated applications for iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, Android, and one of the largest catalogues in the world with over 2.2 million eBooks, newspapers and magazines.

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Self publishing was a hot topic in 2010 and it will become an even hotter topic in 2011.   Heading up the chorus of self publishing is awesome is new evangelist Joe Konrath.   He posted his story about how he is selling more books published by himself than he ever did with a New York publishing house.   Mike Cane reminds Konrath of how he, Konrath, viewed self publishing as a pathway of the delusional author.   Chuck Wendig posts a “should I self publish” checklist.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

15 Comments

  1. ami
    Jan 01, 2011 @ 11:30:55

    Not surprised about Borders liquidity problems as I just did a financial analysis of their 10-k and without their inventory they only have $1 to pay for every $1.9 they are in debt. Plus their loan agreements are ridiculously restrictive. Chose Borders for the project to see how bad it really was, and I’m sad to hear that the liquidity problems are catching up to them.

  2. Tamara Hogan
    Jan 01, 2011 @ 12:17:48

    Reviews are for the consumers but are felt deeply and personally by those being reviewed, whether it is restauranteurs or authors.

    So true. I think another issue at play here is that, as authors, we sometimes conflate reviews with promo. When we get a good review, we link to it from our website, print it on the inside pages of our books in perpetuity, etc. Negative reviews? Not so much.

    As a reader, I want to read HONEST reviews, written by reviewers who can articulate the reason(s) WHY they liked or disliked a book, and then I can assess my own likes and dislikes against those reasons. (A trope that the reviewer loathes might be one that I know rocks my world. In this case, an intelligently-written ‘negative’ review actually results in a sale.) But as authors, of course we want GOOD reviews. On every book – even though, intellectually, we know that’s impossible. ;-)

  3. Lynne Connolly
    Jan 01, 2011 @ 12:47:06

    Electronic publishing OMG? Oh yes, for sure. I’ve been epublished for 10 years, and in the last 3 years I’ve seen my income go up muchly.
    I used to worry about getting a big publisher interested in my work. Now? I’d still like it, but it would be part of my portfolio.
    I recently parted company with my British agent, but I’m taking my time looking for another, and only querying the ones I’d really, really like.
    Times have changed.

  4. Isobel Carr
    Jan 01, 2011 @ 12:52:22

    Mike Cane is saying what a lot of us have been saying all along. If you already have a name and a platform, you can make a lot of money underselling NY-published eBooks. Several of my NY published friends are also having great success at this.

    We’re living in interesting times, and it’s going to be somewhat painful for a lot of people as the new publishing paradigm works out the kinks . . .

  5. Lisa
    Jan 01, 2011 @ 13:57:33

    As print runs are a topic for me now with my May release I have surmised that last year most publishers stopped allowing a very large inventory with Borders, including the bigger houses. So as for how this impacts authors– there is no doubt, we will be missing those extra locations to get reader attention — especially breakout authors who hope a physical copy of a book and cover might help them get noticed– but I think from the number of overall copies sold — Borders may already be a smaller piece of the pie. This is just what I have surmised from various sources of info so its by far not some solid piece of information. But maybe something someone else can shed light on.

    That said, I was so very hopeful Border would survive because they were so romance friendly and I like their store experience. I was really sad to see this news.

  6. Pat
    Jan 01, 2011 @ 14:58:36

    I am really very sad about Borders because it is the only convenient bookstore around and hence the only place I am likely to pick up previously unknown-to-me books or authors.

    As for self-published books, I have a warning for authors who are planning to go that route. I picked one up recently because it sounded interesting. However, I was so distracted by the extra spaces between sentences and the bizarre line and page breaks that I couldn’t read it. I had no idea that such things would bother me that much, but they do.

  7. Lauren Lee
    Jan 01, 2011 @ 15:20:59

    The shift in the rise of digital publishing is something that I have actually been factoring into the research I’ve been doing in applying to MFA programs around the country.
    One of my top choices actually has been factoring this into their curriculum, which is something I hope more professional writing programs touch on the future with this shifting trend towards digital.
    As much as I ardently love paper books and am sad to see there is a decline in their sales, I had figured this would be the outcome when e-readers came on the scene.

  8. library addict
    Jan 01, 2011 @ 16:12:47

    I am sad about Borders and hope they manage to stay in business. Though their rewards program isn’t what it was back in the Waldenbooks days, I still use it. Moreso since they rolled out the Borders Plus program with the free shipping. Yes, I have to wait for print books, but it’s so much more convenient to have them sent to me than driving over to the next town to go to the actual store. I haven’t ever really used Amazon for new print books and don’t want to start.

    I think the restaurant was wrong to post the critic’s picture. Their attitude would stop me from eating there (if I lived in LA, which I don’t).

  9. DS
    Jan 02, 2011 @ 14:10:52

    Borders closed down our Waldenbooks and put in one of their bookstore/DVD/music/coffee shop stores. They never really got me back.

    I stopped in before christmas using a 30% off coupon on a book and was pushed pretty hard to buy a loyalty card– $20???. Didn’t this use to be free?

    This made me stop and think that I had not been in Borders more than 3 times the entire year of 2010.

    I’m really sad about the Joseph-Beth Booksellers going into Chapter 11. It looks like the Lexington/Cincinnati stores are going to be kept open though– at least for now.

  10. Lisa
    Jan 02, 2011 @ 14:42:32

    Borders still has a free card and you get free coffee and BORDERS BUCKS really fast. I’ve gotten $10 Borders Bucks coupons for anything, even coffee several times now with spending very little. And Free coffee every so many cups and since DH and I go in together we get the fee cup fast. It’s an awesome card but I can’t imagine it’s helping their bottom line.

    The coupons seem to take books to about the same price as Walmart. So sometimes I buy books there I might get at Walmart and also Walmart’s selection is smaller now, so it opens more doors to a better selection at a good price. But again, how can they afford what Walmart can? I doubt they can long term.

  11. Lisa
    Jan 02, 2011 @ 14:59:41

    Adding about the Borders card — they have free and the $20 one that gives extra discounts like Barnes and Noble is what I understand. I have the free one and get all those benefits I mentioned.

  12. brooksse
    Jan 02, 2011 @ 19:43:14

    I checked BestBuy.com to see if any of the stores near me had the nookcolor in stock, and from what I can tell, the online deal is actually $40.00 off a combination package: nookcolor, case, screen protector, and 1 yr protection plan. The nookcolor by itself was listed at full price.

  13. brooksse
    Jan 02, 2011 @ 19:49:11

    @library addict: I didn’t agree with the posting of the picture, either. I could understand refusing her service and not wanting her to review their restaurant as they felt her reviews were too harsh. But posting the picture was just carrying the revenge thing too far.

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  15. Wynd
    Jan 08, 2011 @ 01:57:52

    @DS: Are you aware that Borders and Waldens were and are owned by the same company. That they had redundant manegment and it was costing too much for the company to keep both running. They had 2 differant computer systems and nothing was uniform. The reason Waldens left was that it was the smaller of the 2 and a restucturing was long in the works. If you look on the back of any Waldens Gift Card you can see that it was also good at Borders…. makes you wonder why.

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