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Tuesday Midday Links: Non traditional sales venues

Lots of stuff going on. First up, Cyberread.com is closing its doors, apparently a victim of Agency pricing. Without the ability to offer discounts and membership deals, cyberread.com can’t compete. Go forth and download your books before Cyberread.com closes. (Don’t forget to strip the DRM). I know, some of you are saying that Agency pricing was supposed to bring more competitors into the field but really, with price parity, why go with a lesser known, retail entity?

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Publishing Perspectives pushes out the idea of the pop up bookstore, like kiosks in the center of a mall that appear during holiday shopping periods. The NYTimes says that publishers are looking beyond bookstores for places to sell books. Publishers have been placing books in non traditional shopping locations for decades, but these non traditional places are selling more books than ever.

A wide range of stores better known for their apparel, food and fishing reels have been adding books. The fashion designer Marc Jacobs opened Bookmarc in Manhattan in the fall. Anthropologie has increased the number of titles it carries to 125, up from 25 in 2003. Coldwater Creek, Lowe's, Bass Pro Shops and even Cracker Barrel are adding new books. Some mass retailers, too, are diversifying -’ Target, for instance, is moving away from male-centered best sellers and adding more women's and children's titles this year.

I’ve always thought this was a great idea and blogged about in January 2009:

Have you ever bought a book at a non traditional book outlet (such as a bookstore or big box store)? I have. I've bought books at Pottery Barn Kids. In fact, one of my daughter's favorite series, Keeker and the Sneaky Pony, we discovered at PBK. I think that there's some idea that the kids books at PBK are the high end of what is out there for kid's books because the selection is so minute. I couldn't help but wonder, the other day as I sat leafing through some of the books while my daughter played with the kitchen set, why more books weren't in these non traditional retail spaces? I.e., why isn't Beth Kery's Wicked Burn at Victoria's Secret? Harlequin once sold books at Nascar races. Books featuring knitters at knitting stores. Books that are hot and sexy at lingerie stores. Why not set up a vending machine at the mall frequented by young shoppers full of Berkley/Jove paranormal books?

Why not set up their own stores and sell books at a discounted rate, undercutting Amazon. After all, if you have to pay 40%-60% of the retail price to the retailer, then there is a clear margin for price reduction sold direct. There's dozens of more ideas that other people will probably come up with as well.

One reason I think this works so well is because the selection is so small that it is easier to convince yourself that this book being sold next to other things you ordinarily buy will be suited to you. It’s a form of curation.   Any place that you can think of that you would want to buy a book?

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Red Riding Hood is a movie that is set to be released on March 11, 2011.   In anticipation of the release, a novelization of the movie was published. The kicker is that the novel doesn’t contain an ending in order to avoid spoiling the movie. After the movie is released, the ending will be posted on the internet on March 14, 2011, after the movie weekend is over. Needless to say, readers aren’t happy about this.

This story is genuinely wonderful and well written, HOWEVER, I highly recommend to everyone out there that you save your money and not purchase this edition of the book. The story is incomplete and its pretty much just a rip off. In this edition the ending is not included, even though there is no waning of that on the front. You have to go on the website and read the end AFTER the movie is released because that`s when the ending will be up. The average price of this book anywhere, is around $10. So you pay ten bucks for an incomplete product? Can you say rip-off? You wouldn’t buy a book in the used bookstore with the end ripped out, would you? So why buy a full priced book with no ending? This is just a jacked up ploy to get people to buy movie tickets. Yeah sure, if you’re thinking of buying this book you could look around on the internet and find out that there was no ending included in this edition, but the average person just going through the bookstore won’t know that. There is no warning that the book is incomplete on the front, thus its set up to take advantage of people and suck them in, to where they’ll be dying for the ending so bad that they will be most likely to just go to the movies when it comes out.

Even the positive reviews are warning people away.

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Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help, is being sued by Ablene Cooper, who has worked as a maid for Stockett’s brother for many years.   Ms. Cooper claims that Stockett asked to write about her but Cooper refused.   One of the major characters in The Help is Abilene Clark.   Currently Ms. Stockett claims that

“The character ‘Aibileen Clark’ in The Help is a fictional character and is not intended to depict Mrs. Cooper. I’ve met Mrs. Cooper only briefly. I used the name ‘Aibileen’ because it resonated with ‘Constantine,’ the beloved woman who took care of the book’s main character in her youth.

But previously, Stockett has said

In past interviews with the AJC, Stockett has said she wrote "The Help" as part of a writing club. She used names of people she knew simply because they were handy, she said.

"When I was writing this book, I never thought anyone else would read it, so I didn't get real creative with the names," Stockett told us in 2009. "I just used people I knew. Some of them aren't talking to me right now, but I feel like they'll come around."

And there are similarities beyond the name:

Both Cooper and the fictional Clark had adult sons who died just before the birth of their white employer’s first child, and both possess a gold tooth. The lawsuit says the fictional portrait is offensive to Cooper, citing in particular a passage where Aibileen compares her own black skin colour to that of a cockroach.

I’ve read the book (the audio version is particularly remarkable as all three narrators are voiced by different individuals and the two maids’ voices were commanding.   Skeeter (or Kathryn Stockett) is less interesting).   I can certainly see where someone would not want the pain of their lives to be retold for entertainment and profit.   This reminded me quite a bit of the Running with Scissors suit.

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Fast Company reads between the lines and thinks that a low priced iPhone is coming to the market.   (lower priced than the 3G at AT&T for $49?)

But there’s one fascinating little fact among the mass of data from Sacconaghi, and it comes from Tim Cook. Sacconaghi explained that during questioning, Cook seemed to confirm the idea that “Apple is likely to develop lower priced offerings”in its core iPhone lineup. To do so, Apple is planning “clever things” to demonstrate that the iPhone is not “just for the rich.” China in particular is a large growth area and a classic pre-pay cell phone market (pretty much an alien way of running cell phones to most American consumers, although it’s also very common in Europe, where pre-pay iPhones are pretty popular).

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Amazon has struck a deal to bring the Kindle to more consumers by allowing AT&T to sell the Kindle in its stores.   I think this convergence of cell service and media is pretty interesting and makes me wonder if those cloud advocates are right.

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So.   Megan McKinney. God, I have fond memories of Lions and Lace.   Set in New York. Big misunderstanding.   Drama.   Rags to riches hero.   Poor little rich girl. Anyway, now every time I look at that book in my library, I’ll think. Oh, it’s written by the chick who defrauded KATRINA VICTIMS.   She has been sentenced to three years of prison.

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

11 Comments

  1. Brian
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 11:43:32

    Jane, FYI it’s CyberRead.com that’s closing (no S).

  2. Isobel Carr
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 11:48:25

    Keep seeing things on the interweb saying that all indications point to Amazon gearing up to give Kindles to all Prime members . . . that could prove interesting on multiple fronts. If you join for a *free* Kindle and you also get free shipping for the year on everything else, how many people will this bring into the Amazon fold and how much will this increase eBook sales? It could be huge.

  3. Jayne
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 12:00:29

    After reading the article, it sounds like it’s about time Megan McKinney got caught since this is her third scam.

  4. meoskop
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 12:45:41

    I totally loved McKinney. But she deserves everything coming to her and possibly then some.

    Wait – Agency pricing killed another indie? Prove it! (sorry, message board fatigue)

  5. Janine
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 12:51:04

    I enjoyed several of McKinney’s books back in the day, and still love A Man to Slay Dragons. But I really wish I didn’t know what I know about her.

  6. Jane
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 13:01:00

    @Brian Thanks!

  7. DS
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 17:02:52

    I wonder which ad agency came up with the Red Riding Hood idea? I think anyone who paid attention to readers, particularly readers who enjoy romances, would have known that this was a very bad idea. I would be curious to see what the returns look like.

  8. loonigrrk
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 00:49:55

    Megan McKinney… Un-frickin-believable. It’s too bad she only got three years. Wow.

  9. Not Real Books - Olivia Waite
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 14:51:53

    [...] this snippet of news appeared on Dear Author: Red Riding Hood is a movie that is set to be released on March 11, [...]

  10. Stumbling Over Chaos :: Linkity, now with knitting finished object!
    Mar 04, 2011 @ 02:02:14

    [...] news and linkity from Dear Author and [...]

  11. Miki S
    Mar 04, 2011 @ 18:26:39

    Well, they could offer movie tie-in books at movie theatres and (the few remaining) video rental stores.

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