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

Wednesday Midday Links: BN may go private

The big news yesterday (and there does seem to be big news constantly in publishing these days) is that Barnes and Noble is up for sale.   This may mean nothing more than Len Riggio is tired of answering to shareholders.   Riggio has said that he is interested in putting together a private equity bid for the business that is currently valued at over $700 million.   Riggio was paid nearly $600 million by Barnes and Noble for his college stores and that is one argument that Ron Burkle made to show that Riggio isn’t making deals that are good for shareholders, only deals that are good for Riggio.   Sarah Weinman at Daily Finance suggests that this move toward privatization is all about Burkle.   I guess the question is a) whether the board would entertain any offer other than a Riggio offer and b) whether a shareholder lawsuit could force BN to look at other offers.

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Self publishing is hitting the mainstream.   Newsweek has an article about the economics of it, suggesting that self publishing can be a legitimate path to making a living as a writer.   It has worked for a few authors, but it hasn’t allowed for the same earning capacity for a greater percentage of authors as print publishing has. Yet.

Newsweek put together an interesting chart which among other things suggests  the costs of producing a hardcover novel v. a comparable digital edition is $4.05 v. $.50.   I’m not sure that is entirely true, but it really cuts at the publisher argument that publishing digital books costs just as much as publishing print books.

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Amazon is sponsoring a Kindle commercial contest.   Create a commercial for the Kindle or a Kindle App and you may win $15,000.    Amazon says that it has 70-80% of the ebook market and that there has been a consumer shift to avoiding buying books that are over $9.99.

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Overdrive surveyed the digital library lending crowd.   Over 74% of the people who download and use the digital lending library are women and nearly 70% have a college or post doctorate degree.

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It sucks to be a woman in publishing because you are earning far less than the male population of publishing. This could be because the higher earning jobs in publishing are male dominated or it could be that publishing is comprised of a bunch of sexist jerks or both.   There is more detail at PW on the issue of annual earnings of publishing people.

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Ellora’s Cave is putting its authors on the cover. I find this to be a terrible idea.   Talk about blurring the line between fantasy and reality.   No, I don’t really want to think I am reading some   author’s fantasy about hooking up with a cover model or anything else.

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Random House believes that ebooks will be approximately 10% of revenue next year.

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Anne Rice has apparently quit Christianity.   This is only newsworthy because her faith (and lack thereof) has played an important part in her writing.   I actually empathize with Rice because my own experience with Christianity has been very stifling (Fundamentalist upbringing that made the father in Footloose appear lenient).

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Connecticut AG is investigating agency pricing.   Apparently the AG is surprised that Apple and Amazon have nearly identical pricing.   I am sorry but a little investigation would have shown exactly why that is.   But I’m not surprised that agency pricing is being investigated.   I’ve had my doubts about the legality of it since it was announced.

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

22 Comments

  1. Chicklet
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 10:07:13

    Ellora's Cave is putting its authors on the cover.

    DO NOT WANT.

  2. EGS
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 10:37:00

    Ellora's Cave is putting its authors on the cover.

    At first I thought you meant just a regular author photo on the back. But as actual cover models? That’s awkward. E-book covers are amateurish-looking already without doing this.

  3. Mireya
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 10:53:06

    I wonder how many more years are they going to be able to stay afloat relying exclusively on gimmicks and the now rather seriously eroded reputation that they used to have as being the begin all and end all of erotic romance.

    Anne Rice = basket case. I wonder how much of that was motivated by the rather crappy sales of her latest books v. her dislike of organized Christianity. Mind you, I don’t believe in ANY organized religion, and particularly Catholicism. Too many contradictions as it pertains to their own teachings: A Dios rogando y con el mazo dando. Old Spaniard saying that is SO accurate… and only one of many more along the same lines. Jesus is love, meanwhile racism, homophobia, discrimination in all shapes and forms, etc. running rampant among their most zealous followers… No thanks, I’ll pass.

  4. Shiloh Walker
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 10:54:36

    I’m sure this won’t come as a surprise to anybody that knows me… but um… there’s no way in hell I’d ever appear on the cover of any book, much less one of mine. O.o That’s just me, but hey.

    RE: the newsweek thing-I haven’t read it, but I question their findings, quite a bit actually.

    Granted, another issue I have is how grabby certain e-tailers want to be with taking such huge chunks of the profits with ebooks. They don’t have to do anything once they place the books on their sites yet they want to take the massive end of profits.

    But they do nothing to actually produce the work-they don’t write it, edit, produce the art, etc. Still they want… if I remember right, 60-70% of the price, leaving pubs and authors with only 30-40%, if I understand correctly.

    It’s not like they are storing the books, as they do with print. Nor are they shipping. They want to say ebooks cost less for the publisher to produce, well, they also cost less for them-the bookseller- to store and ship-as in, from how I see it, the cost the bookseller not much at all, once they have the books loaded on their site.

    So if they want to charge less, why they are still wanting to keep the lion’s share of the profit?

    I think the ebook version SHOULD be cheaper, but I disagree with newsweek’s findings.

    And now I need to get to work… O.o sigh.

  5. DS
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 11:20:50

    @Chicklet: Agree. This has been tried before– Sandra Brown and Loveswept in the 80′s and Rebecca Brandywine probably in the 80′s also. The covers were drawn not photoshopped and they still seemed creepy. I’m not sure that Virginia Henley and her husband didn’t pose together for a cover also, which had an extra scoop of creepy.

  6. Lynne Connolly
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 11:28:57

    Ellora’s Cave putting authors on the covers?
    Nope, that was just Cris getting lucky. She was around, they posed for a few shots and the pictures came out well.
    Just a one-off. The rest of us, no. Besides, while I’d pose with the models in a heartbeat, I don’t write comedies, and I’m afraid that’s what the cover would look like.
    My latest EC title is out next month. Not an author in sight on the cover:
    http://lynneconnolly.com/EmotionInMotion.html
    Mireya, there are some very talented authors writing for Ellora’s Cave who work hard to make the books the best they can. Maybe that will help the company survive.

  7. HeatherHolland
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 11:34:51

    I have to agree with Shiloh on the not no way, not no how when it comes to this chick being on a book cover whether it be mine or someone else’s. I despise having my picture taken, not to mention, I look nothing like the heroines in my books so what would be the point? If someone else wants to, more power to them, but definitely not for me.

    Interesting about B&N. We have one locally, and I gotta say, I do love going in there, even if I rarely buy anything. I rather enjoy sitting in their coffee shop, though. There’s just something about being surrounded by books with the smell of coffee filling the air. Not to mention when I had my one, and thus far only, book signing there, they were extremely helpful.

  8. Mireya
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 13:23:13

    @Lynne: Trust me when I tell you, that I know who those authors are, and I do know how much care they put into their craft too. However, EC is not even a shadow of what it used to be. It is not the consistent stable of good erotic romance authors that it used to be. I stopped relying on EC for everything erotic romance a few years back, I have a list of EC authors and I stick to it like dogma because everything new I’ve tried from EC over the past couple of years has been rather disappointing. Granted I don’t know if it is just me being more picky. These same thoughts, I am sad to say, apply to a large number of my online friends as well. They are friends who, like me, discovered erotic romance thanks to EC and trusted EC to provide them consistent good erotic romance reads. Sadly, this is not a new issue and it has been echoed many times over by many readers online. I am not saying EC is doomed, but it has changed, and not for the best.

  9. lucy
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 14:22:24

    @Mireya: That spanish phrase is used more to mean that God helps those that help themselves. But I like your definition better, because its so true.

    About e-books pricing, I don’t understand why its the same price as printed books, when common sense tells me that distributing e-books is cheaper because they are not actually being printed on paper.

    About agency pricing, I don’t know in the USA but in Canada price fixing is illegal. Or maybe books don’t count?

    And about women earning less than men in publishing, is that also true in the romance industry?

  10. Maria
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 17:36:15

    It is possible that an e-book only costs a publisher $.50 but that cannot take into account the salary of a good editor. The talents and skills a good editor brings to the table should not be discounted. In point of fact, I think that the problem with publishing today is not the changing delivery methods of the stories, but the idea that editing can be done by anyone.

    Even print books now have editing issues, and if I had paid for the last book I read I would have returned it to demand my money back. The story was good, but the continuity issues which should have been caught and corrected by an editor took a good story and made it mediocre.

    Editing is more than just correcting misspelled words and run on sentences. This fact seems to have been lost in the latest publishing skerfuffles.

  11. TKF
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 18:05:57

    I gotta say, Anne Rice only went full on “Christian” after her husband died. Stan was the head of my grad program and a wonderful man. He really kept her grounded. She really needed him in her life and I take this as a sign that she’s finally found herself again.

  12. DS
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 19:29:09

    @TKF: Her sister also died in 2007. Shame. Alice Borchardt wrote some entertaining books.

  13. Ridley
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 20:21:31

    “Over 74% of the people who download and use the digital lending library are women and nearly 70% have a college or post doctorate degree.”

    Considering that only 29% of women over 25 have a bachelor’s degree or higher, that’s quite a number. Perhaps it’s because the college graduate is more likely to read for pleasure?

  14. MikiS
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 23:05:31

    I firmly believe that ebooks cost less to make and should therefore cost less to buy.

    However, 50 cents?! I have to think that cost is if the ebook is in addition to the print book.

  15. Lynne Connolly
    Aug 05, 2010 @ 06:09:58

    @MikiS: it’s an accounting trick. They put the editing, cover art etc into the print costs, or call it “fixed costs” and then only put the variable costs into the ebook costing. So it’s misleading.
    Maybe looking at what you save is better. You save the cost of printing and paper and ink. Authors are also asking for more for an ebook, instead of the tiny percentage they get for a print book, and ebooks are subject to a royalty model instead of an advance model. It can be argued that also is to the publisher’s advantage, as they only pay the author for the copies sold, as opposed to an upfront sum based on projected sales.
    Contribution costs are a convenience that many companies use to make their accounts look better or worse.
    you don’t think that the massive losses the banks made recently are down to real losses, and the recent profits a real upturn? Once they knew they were going to do badly, they chucked a load of other stuff in. I mean, if you’re going to make a loss, get rid of all those mistakes and depreciations dragging the accounts down, right? And that makes the subsequent recovery look better.
    Sigh. Truth seems to be so relative.

  16. sao
    Aug 05, 2010 @ 08:08:54

    It seems obvious that e-books are cheaper than print books. All print books start out with a formatted computer file. After that there are printing costs, paper costs, shipping, storage and return costs.

    However, the editing and cover art are fixed costs and therefore, the per book expense is a function of copies sold.

  17. Shahen
    Aug 05, 2010 @ 09:39:34

    @Ridley:

    Perhaps it's because the college graduate is more likely to read for pleasure?

    Perhaps it’s because the college graduate is more likely to have a lifestyle which can support an e-reading device and/or a personal computer. In low income households the likelihood (I speculate here) is of only one computer – if any. Imagine trying to read a book while fighting off your children and husband’s equal claim to the computer. It’s easier and cheaper by far to simply get physical books out of the library (or at least buy them greatly discounted at Walmart!)

  18. Shaheen
    Aug 05, 2010 @ 09:41:48

    And as a college graduate with a personal computer I am proud to note that I cannot even spell my own name correctly!

  19. Shelley
    Aug 05, 2010 @ 14:27:15

    As someone whose work is not yet in B and N, I found myself curious about this post. I’m not sure what it means….

  20. Estara
    Aug 05, 2010 @ 16:28:13

    @Shaheen: rofl

  21. Stumbling Over Chaos :: In which I completely fail to come up with anything remotely clever for a linkity post title
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 01:04:19

    [...] Don’t miss Dear Author’s news posts. [...]

  22. Anne Rice Harping on Facebook
    Aug 08, 2010 @ 14:08:09

    I’m sorry for Anne Rice’s faith problems. I truly am. But the woman’s been harping nonstop about them on facebook since early last week and it’s getting tired. …To the point where I just removed her from my list of friends.

    I was going to stick around just to see how long she could beat that dead horse, but I didn’t have the patience.

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