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Simon and Schuster

Wednesday News: Amazon in talks with Simon & Schuster, more on Amazon’s possible ambitions, Harlequin as case study, and beachside libraries

Wednesday News: Amazon in talks with Simon & Schuster, more on...

Amazon in Talks with Simon & Schuster – Acquisition? – Several outlets have reported that Amazon is in negotiations with Simon & Schuster, although the content of the talks is currently unknown. Confirmation of the talks came from Les Moonves himself, president of CBS, which owns Simon & Schuster, and Reuters has a link to the talk in which Moonves made the comment. Nate Hoffelder floats the possibility of Amazon attempting to acquire S&S, rather than merely engaging in early contract talks:

That is a crazy idea, yes, but hear me out. Before you send for the trank guns, just remember that in the past 6 months I accurately called the Dropbox-Readmill deal, the Comixology acquisition, and the Nook Media spin off.
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To put it simply, Simon & Schuster is the smallest of the Big 5, and there’s no real connection between it and its parent company – not like there is for the 4 other major US trade publishers.

With $800 million in revenue in 2013, S&S is the smallest of the major US trade publishers (in terms of revenue). It is a wholly owned sub of CBS, a $15 billion a year company with operations mainly in the US. –The Digital Reader

Amazon, a Friendly Giant as Long as It’s Fed – I’m not sure how many more angles there are to the Amazon-Hachette battle to investigate, but you know the media outlets will keep trying. This piece from the New York Times has a couple interesting features, including a discussion of the extent to which Amazon has been working with academic publishers, as well as their push for POD rights when a book is not immediately available for shipment.

Academic houses traditionally sell their books, which are labor-intensive and printed in small quantities, for smaller discounts than general publishers do. Amazon will have none of that. “I offered them a 30 percent discount, and they demanded 40,” said Karen Christensen of Berkshire Publishing, a small academic house in Great Barrington, Mass.

Amazon, as usual, got what it wanted. Then it asked for 45 percent.

“Where do I find that 5 percent?” Ms. Christensen asked. “Amazon may be able to operate at a loss, but I’m not in a position to do that.”

Ms. Christensen, like other publishers, complains that Amazon is very inventive with fees and charges that rapidly add up.

But at the same time, Amazon has made itself essential to Berkshire, which publishes a three-volume dictionary of Chinese biography that sells for $595. Amazon is responsible for about 15 percent of Berkshire’s business. Ms. Christensen feels that she can’t leave Amazon but fears what else it might ask. “I wake up every single day knowing Amazon might make new, impossible demands,” she said.

Amazon has been reported to be seeking a new concession from publishers: If a customer orders a book and it is not immediately available, it wants the right to print the volume itself. An Amazon spokesman said it does not compel publishers to use the technology but offers it as a service. The customer wants the book immediately, so this makes obvious sense. But it chips away yet again at the publisher’s role. –New York Times

The evolution of the Harlequin case: Assessing e-book opportunities – Although not as detailed as I had hoped, this video on Harlequin as a case study project for graduate students at Western University’s Ivey Business School (Canada) is still interesting, in part because of the way Harlequin executives engaged with the students and their ideas about how Harlequin should manage their digital publishing opportunities. It’s a relatively short video, and I haven’t looked to see if some of the projects are available online, but it would be interesting to see what the students came up with in more detail. –Ivey Business School

Beachfront Libraries Are Pretty Much The Best Idea Ever – I don’t know what the weather is like where you live, but here on the West Coast of the US. it’s freaking hot. Which gives way to thoughts of the beach, and of the soothing sound of the ocean (gee, do you think I might need a vacation?!). I have yet to see a beachside library out here, but what a brilliant idea. Check out some of the locations – outside of getting sand in the books, it seems like a pretty ingenuous use for paper books.

Pop-up libraries are a growing trend at beaches around the world, according to Atlas Obscura. In May, Bulgaria’s Black Sea resort, Albena, reopened its beach library for the second summer in a row. The library houses more than 6,000 books. –Huffington Post

Tuesday News: From digital to print, digital lending with Simon and Schuster, digital libraries in Burma, and Cosmo Sex Tips tested

Tuesday News: From digital to print, digital lending with Simon and...

A Growing Number of E-Commerce Sites Are Moving Into Print – I have to say that one of my guilty pleasures is the Vermont Country Store print catalogue. It’s old-fashioned goodness is so much better in print than digital — at least for me. So I can’t say I’m surprised that a number of online companies are now producing print catalogues, including Birchbox, One Kings Lane, Rent The Runway, and Editorialist. Not only do these companies think they can appeal to those customers who are not purchasing online (especially more expensive items), but they also believe that print is now kind of edgy:

While customers might like the idea of having a physical piece of their favorite online brand, does it actually pay off? “There is a case to be made that print marketing still has a place,” said Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali, a retail analyst at Forrester Research. “As a lot of other marketers cut back on print marketing, there’s an opportunity to stand out more. It’s not perceived as clutter—nobody has a bad impression of magazines—and it can be a very useful way to drive traffic to your core property.” –Ad Week

Check it Out with Michael Kelley: Simon & Schuster’s E-book Lending Pilot – Simon and Schuster has spent a year experimenting in digital lending with 3 (count ‘em THREE) New York public library systems. Now the publisher is expanding its sample to include 15 more systems across the United States. Thus far the company has judged the experiment a success, and their measure of success should not surprise us (and perhaps they’re more honest about it than other publishers?):

So what does success look like? Basically, S&S is hoping to understand how libraries can drive discovery and sales. And the pilot, Stambaugh said, should allow S&S to effectively compare areas where the titles have been made available against those where they are not available, and measure the effect on sales and discovery. “We’ll be able to see over time what the differential impact is,” said Stambaugh, and that will be critical in determining whether the pilot has succeeded.

As far as sales and discovery are concerned, a linchpin of the S&S pilot is a buy-it-now option, which the company would like to see widely adopted in libraries. “We definitely view the buy-it-now option as a very important part of this program for us,” Stambaugh said, and “as a long-term play for us as a publisher.” –Publishers Weekly

Instant e-libraries for Myanmar universities – And speaking of digital libraries, the University of Yangon and University of Mandalay — both in Myanmar (aka Burma), have received instant digital libraries totaling 130,000 digital texts. Under any circumstances this would be an accomplishment, but in this case it’s even more extraordinary, because these Universities did not even have working, accessible libraries, due to censorship and shutdowns. It would have been impractical to update physical copies of materials, and digital access also means that many students can simultaneously access the resources, reconnecting the campuses to the global academic community.

Mouldering books in the library were still stuck with the ideas of 50 or 60 years ago, he says, making it difficult for academics to maintain international standards. They were also constrained by having to comply with a controlling state.

It was symptomatic of a decaying university system.

What made the need for improvement even more urgent was the return of the first undergraduates to the University of Yangon campus for over two decades. –BBC News

We Tested All of Cosmo’s Insane Food-Focused Sex Tips – Somebody had to do it, right? From the Sour Belt BDSM, to The Infamous Doughnut Experience, to Warheads: The Sexplosioning, you have to read it to believe it. The pseudonymous testers created their own rating system, as follows:

Nymphodora and Flex rated everything on a scale of 1 to 5, in the categories of Her Rating, His Rating, Bonertude, Mess Level, and Pain Level, as well as whether they would try this tip again if it were not in service to a dumb internet article. The scale itself breaks down roughly as follows, at least when we’re talking about the first three categories:

0 — I think I’d rather fuck a cactus.
1 — Could you hurry up? There’s laundry to do.
2 — Well, my genitals aren’t exactly unhappy about this experience.
3 — Starting to move the needle, and by needle, I mean my man/ladybusiness.
4 — All aboard the SS HappyFunPantsTimes!