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Wednesday Deals and News: Apple Has Blowout Quarter & Social Media Out of Control

Wednesday Deals and News: Apple Has Blowout Quarter & Social Media...

News

I think it is hard to say whether Apple can make inroads on textbooks, but schools are already looking for funds to increase iPad and laptop distribution throughout classes.  This infographic suggests that learning can be enhanced by technology but there are other studies that indicate the opposite.  Apple’s success does not depend on the education sector.  It’s 4th quarter financial results were beyond any analysts’ estimations and make Apple one of, if not the most, profitable company in the world.

Apple reported revenue of $46.33 billion and profits of $13.06 billion, or $13.87 per share, for the quarter ended December 31, 2011. That was up from the $26.74 billion, or $6.43 per share, the company saw at the same time last year.

Apple’s gross profit margin is a stunning 44.7 percent.  Are we overpaying for our iThings? I guess so.

Link:  CNET

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At Digital Book World, the early mantra was that publishers need to develop direct relationships with consumers.  Man, how many times are we going to hear that before it actually happens with the mainstream publishers? Also, publishers hate Amazon.  Yet, Penguin and Amazon announced the launch of the 5th Annual Amazon Breakthrough Contest.  That’s a strange relationship for frenemies.

Link: FutureBook

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The downside to social media is that the originators can’t control the message or so learned McDonalds. The fast food king urged users to start tweeting their McDStories and it quickly was picked up and mocked by users.  The most popular McDStories are about fast food eaters having heart attacks or growing weed.  Even the World Heart Federation retweeted this one “My dad’s friend ate a Breakfast Sandwich every day for 2 yrs. He had 3 heart attacks & is now dead.”

Link: Paid Content

Carly Phillips is a victim of social media as well. Someone used her author photo for an internet meme called “Sheltering Suburban Mom“.  The idea is that the suburban mom is a hypocrite, hating gays but loving Ellen Degeneres.  Someone from reddit, a place of knowledge and great misogyny, discovered the other day that the photo is Carly Phillips.  This led to a link to smexybooks.com website  who hosted an interview with Phillips.   My advice would have been for Mandi at Smexy Books and Carly Phillips to do an AMA (ask me anything) thread.

See more suggestions at Smart Bitches.

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Oh dilemma, you guys.  You see, there is this awful post and comments written by some guy out there on the internet on the topic of romances.

What the modern reader needs to understand is that romance novels by their very nature are meant to be inferior.

I think it’s safe to say that no Ivy League school will ever teach out of romance novels as part of the curriculum. No romance novel will ever be thought of as a classic along side Spencer, Bunyan, Swift and Dickens. If a romance story were that good, it would no longer be referred to as romance, but would instead simply be known as drama or literary fiction or a classic love story. If you think about it, there are of course a handful of classic novels that fit the description of the latter: novels that are full of romantic love but which are so well written that they aren’t thought of as romance novels/stories. Romeo and Juliet probably tops the list (though it was a play of course) followed by Jane Eyre. No one would call Jane Eyre a “romance novel.” It would instead be referred to as a “classic love story.” The very thing that separates classic love stories from romance novels is that romance novels must by default be bad, tacky even, or they’ll no longer be classified as romance novels and will get placed in a higher category.

I feel like he is being intentionally degrading in order to get hits. Plus, he is deleting comments according to various individuals who have left comments.  I don’t want to link to him and give him the page hits. On the other hand, per my inbox and twitter feed, many readers already know about it. In sum, Cale McCarthy, possibly gaslighting us romance readers for attention, says that romances are all inferior and his view of us is summed up in one of his comments:

“You might be surprised by this, but well adjusted women do not sit around thinking about romance as though they were still in junior high. Have a nice day. Have it away from me.”

Seriously, why am I writing about this?  The good thing is that Cale McCarthy won’t have any trouble staying single given that he views any woman who reads romance as his intellectual inferior.

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Booklvr Blog has a chart showing the price differences between the Amazon v. Nook bestseller lists.  Amazon average price is almost $2.50 lower than the nook average price.

amazon v nook bestseller list price

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Lyrical Press is looking for submissions. Please do not consider this an endorsement of Lyrical Press. I have no idea whether they are a good publisher and urge you to seek out that information on your own:

How would you like to start your new year with a publishing contract? Lyrical Press (http://www.LyricalPress.com) is now accepting entries for its first annual How Lyrical is Your Romance? Contest . This contest is open to both published and unpublished authors. Entries must be complete works, ranging in word count between 15,000-100,000 words, any heat level, and fit into one of the following subgenre categories:
* Contemporary romance
* Historical romance
* Paranormal or urban fantasy romance
* Romantic steampunk
* Romantic Suspense
Check out the Prizes!

1st Place: $200 advance and digital publishing contract (advance payable as $100 upon finalized contract and $100 upon publication).

2nd Place: $100 advance and digital publishing contract (advance payable as $50 upon finalized contract and $50 upon publication).

3rd Place: Top-scoring contestant in each genre category will receive an acquiring editor’s critique of synopsis and first 50 pages of manuscript.

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Deals

  • My Heart May Be Broken, but My Hair Still Looks Great by Dixie Cash * $0.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Still in My Heart by Kathryn Smith * $0.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • In My Heart by Melody Thomas by Melody Thomas * $0.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Love Story by Erich Segal * $0.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Anne Frank by Francine Prose * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Demi-Monde: Winter by Rod Rees * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Untie My Heart by Judith Ivory * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Red Heart of Jade by Marjorie M. Liu * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Deep in the Heart by Sharon Sala * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Truest Heart by Samantha James * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S
Thursday News: BN Is Selling Off Assets, Trad Regency Book Deals

Thursday News: BN Is Selling Off Assets, Trad Regency Book Deals

I’m not certain what this means, but it is possible that the privately held BN is trying to leverage its different components into another sale.  First, it is actively seeking to sell Sterling, it’s print publishing arm.  Today’s press release also touts some great Nook numbers and the announcement that it will explore the benefits of spinning off the Nook division, the only growth segment of BN.

 During the nine-week holiday period ending December 31, 2011, NOOK unit sales, including NOOK Simple Touch(TM), NOOK Color(TM) and the new NOOK Tablet(TM), increased 70% over the same period last year. Sales of NOOK Tablet exceeded expectations, while sales of NOOK Simple Touch lagged expectations, indicating a stronger customer preference for color devices.

Digital content sales also grew briskly during the same nine-week period, increasing 113% on a comparable basis. Content sales are defined to include digital books, digital newsstand, and the rapidly growing apps business.

…..

In order to capitalize on the rapid growth of the NOOK digital business, and its favorable leadership position in the expanding market for digital content, the Company has decided to pursue strategic exploratory work to separate the NOOK business.

Kobo sold to Ratuken for $315 million on much lower sales:

Kobo’s sales were C$40.9m in the 13 weeks to 1st October, leading to a loss of $10.8m, compared with sales of C$13m and a loss of C$6.8m. In the half-year to 1st October 2011, Kobo had sales of C€58m leading to a loss of C$23.4m.

I’m not sure what the assets are of a physical component of BN.  The leases?   The spin off and ultimate sale may make the most financial sense to the shareholders of BN, primarily the Riggio family.  I thought this article about how BN is the Best Buy of retail book sales was really illuminating.

I’m not convinced that the Barnes & Noble stores are a net asset. They currently operate near breakeven or a little below. Is it going to get any easier to make money in book retail in the next few years in a soft economy? I just don’t see it.

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BN needs to move internationally sooner than later. According to The Gadget Website, over a million ereaders were sold in the UK over the holidays, with 92% of them being Amazon.

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Hachette announced that digital sales for James Patterson grew by 2 million in the past seven months versus 4.7 million for print sales.

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Brilliance Audio, owned by Amazon, is pulling its digital titles out of the library lending market.  Privately, I heard that agents of popular authors are pushing for this (as well as DRM).

ffective January 31, 2012, as instructed by the publisher, BrillianceAudio will suspend the availability of all download audiobook titles for library purchase across all vendors. This change does not affect any titles currently in your library’s catalog. You will not, however, be able to add any additional copies.

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This is a strangely documented account of an interview with Kelly Gallagher of Bowker.  Essentially, Nook is growing in market share over Kindle and print still dominates with over 86% of all sold titles in print. Gallagher said that the publishers hopes are that lower prices equal more purchases but they aren’t seeing it yet (I guess for hardcovers) :

And the bet that retail and publishing are taking is that … people ultimately will buy more. At this point, we see it as more units, but because of (e-books’) lower price point and not significantly more units, we see more cannibalization going on, or substitution purchasing, vs. them suddenly now buying twice as much as they used to buy in print.

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Price is a big deal for readers, both digital and print. As a reader, it’s easier to pay print prices because the print book has utility beyond the read. You can resell, trade it, share it, or even give it away.  It has some shelf value as well.  Digital books with their limitations on sharing, trading, resale, and the like, have much less utility and there is no palpable extra utility thus digital books valued lower by readers.  This lower value expectation has been driving the price of books down.  The question I have (and to which I don’t have the answer to) is whether sub $4 prices (which is where I think consumer expectations will settle) is sustainable. Valve co founder Gabe Newell sat down to talk about Steam, the cloud based video gaming platform.  Newell argues that piracy is not a pricing issue but a service issue:

One thing that we have learned is that piracy is not a pricing issue. It’s a service issue. The easiest way to stop piracy is not by putting antipiracy technology to work. It’s by giving those people a service that’s better than what they’re receiving from the pirates. For example, Russia. You say, oh, we’re going to enter Russia, people say, you’re doomed, they’ll pirate everything in Russia. Russia now outside of Germany is our largest continental European market.

Steam has also done a ton of pricing experiments from which they’ve derived some interesting data (discounted promotions do better than free promotions which I’ve wondered about before).

Promotions on the digital channel increased sales at retail at the same time, and increased sales after the sale was finished, which falsified the temporal shifting and channel cannibalization arguments. Essentially, your audience, the people who bought the game, were more effective than traditional promotional tools.

His conclusion is that they aren’t sure of anything yet but that they will keep experimenting.  This is really a must read article.

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Deals

Nicole from BlogHappy alerted me to the fact that a number of traditional regency authors are republishing their backlists digitally. The following is a small selection of them priced at $.99.

  • A Gamble on Love by Blair Bancroft * 0.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Lady Silence by Blair Bancroft * 0.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Temporary Earl by Blair Bancroft * 0.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Scandalous Virtue by Brenda Hiatt * 0.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Lady Dearing’s Masquerade by Elena Greene * 0.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • A Compromising Situation by Shannon Donnelly * 0.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Barely Proper by Shannon Donnelly * 0.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Proper Conduct by Shannon Donnelly * 0.99 * A | BN | K | S