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Monday News and Deals: Publishers Glum About Digital Future

Monday News and Deals: Publishers Glum About Digital Future

There are two big tech publishing conferences that take place in the spring.  One is Digital Book World and the second is Tools of Change. (The latter is one that I’ve gone to for 3 years).  Different companies collect data and present that data at these conferences.  One such survey conducted by Forrester Research Inc. says that publishers aren’t looking forward to the rise of digital because it doesn’t appear that digital format is bringing about more book purchases.  Indeed, with the adoption of tablets, reading may actually decline.  Anecdotally, when I first got my Kindle Fire, I spent about a week watching video and not reading.

* Readers will be better off, 61% in 2011, down from 74% in 2010
* More people will read books than did before, 60% in 2011, down from 66% in 2010
* Readers will read a greater number of books than before, 47% in 2011, down from 66% in 2010

When asked about their own companies, the pessimism became more pronounced: Only 28% of publishing executives think their company will be better off because of the transition to digital, down from 51% a year ago.

I’m not sure why readers aren’t better off.  I’d be interested in hearing how publishing executives think that readers will be worse off. I suspect it is because they believe that it will reduce the number of options that readers will have in stores? Or possibly reduce the variety or quality of book?

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The Guardian did a nice obituary for Penny Jordan.

Penny Halsall, who has died of cancer aged 65, was a prolific writer of women’s fiction, and one of Mills & Boon‘s most popular authors, under the pen name Penny Jordan. She wrote more than 200 books in a 30-year career and was phenomenally successful, with sales of 100m worldwide. Her work was translated into 25 languages.

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The Guardian also picks up on the flameouts between authors and reviewers arising out of negative reviews on Goodreads (and elsewhere).  I think this falls under the rubric of all publicity is good publicity at this point.

Whose book is it anyway? The hardest thing a writer has to learn is that once you publish a book, it’s no longer truly yours – even though it’s got your name on the front and it lives inside you. It belongs to the readers now. All you can do is steel yourself as you push it out into the world, stay gracious, and get busy with the next one.

And if you can’t stand the heat of the blogosphere – don’t Google yourself.

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The week discusses McDonald’s move toward offering books.  A book with every Happy Meal? I’m totally down with that.

“The latest big name in books isn’t Amazon — it’s McDonald’s,”says Lindsay Goldwert in the New York Daily News. For the next month, the fast-food giant is replacing the plastic toy in every British Happy Meal with a book. The giveaway books — six installments of Michael Morpurgo’s Mudpuddle Farms series — are a tie-in with Steven Spielberg’s new film adaptation of Morpurgo’s War Horse.

As an aside, Ned took the tot to see War Horse and she cried during the entire movie.  Two kids and a few horses are shot. It was pretty traumatic for her.  Getting back on topic, selling books in non traditional places is something about which I am a big fan.  I’m still waiting to see the Berkley Heat + Victoria Secret connection.

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I was somewhat surprised to see an advertorial for BlueInk Review, a company that will sell review services to self published authors. The company says that many of its reviewers also review for respected literary institutions.  I am wondering if the reviewers’ identities will be kept a secret like at Publishers Weekly and Kirkus?

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There don’t appear to be any great new deals.  The discounts I’ve seen are ones that I’ve posted about in the past so I’ll wait until Wednesday or Thursday and do a big post rounding up the sales. Dukes are still on sale!  You can click here to see past deal postings.

Tuesday Midday Links: Non traditional sales venues

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.