Friday News: Book World closing, pirate TV, publishing comics, and murder at the OED (sort of)
Book World to close, leaving void for many small Wisconsin communities – This U.S. midwestern chain, inclusive of 45 stores and more than 300 employees, is closing all of its stores and has commenced a liquidation sale. There is a lot of blame being directed Amazon’s way, not only for popularizing the online marketplace but also for making it difficult for malls to keep their “anchor” stores from withdrawing or shuttering altogether. At the same time, independent bookstores have seen a resurgence of late, so we are definitely seeing shifts in the book market again.
The announcement of the closing was made Tuesday by Mark Dupont, Book World’s senior vice president, who said in a statement that changing consumer habits led to the decision to shutter the business after 41 years.
“The national shift in the retail marketplace towards e-commerce has triggered the loss of vital mall anchor stores and a downward spiral in customer counts at Book World stores, reducing sales to a level that will no longer sustain the business,” he wrote. – Madison State-Journal
Pirate TV services are taking a bite out of cable company revenue – Anyone in the U.S. and Canada paying multiple fees for different television streaming and cable services may not be surprised by this information, according to a Sanvine study (which I have not read, so if anyone has, and can comment, that would be great). Assuming the methodology and conclusions are sound (which I am not at this point, since I have not read it), one could argue, I suppose, that while streaming services may not be outrageously expensive per service, that many people have more than one service, on top of at least basic cable, representing a substantial financial outlay. And we see these a la carte services continuing to proliferate.
The pirate services attempt to “replicate the live television experience offered by cable and satellite providers,” Sandvine wrote. That includes live sports events, which can often only be viewed legally by purchasing a traditional pay-TV subscription.
Besides live sports, Sandvine found significant usage of pirate TV services to view premium television (like HBO’s Game of Thrones), news channels, and international content.
The number of cable and satellite TV subscriptions has been dropping for years due to rising prices and Internet-based alternatives, both legal and otherwise. While 88 percent of US households subscribed to a pay-TV service in 2010 and 84 percent did so in 2014, just 79 percent subscribe today, Leichtman Research Group recently found.
Pirate TV services can charge much lower prices than cable and satellite companies because they aren’t paying programmers for content, Sandvine noted. – Ars Technica
Book Publishing Reshapes The Comic Book World – Interesting article about how more comics are now being published in book format. Powell’s bookstore, for example, did not stock single-format comics, but they do sell the book-format comics, claiming readers want a “long-form immersive read.” Hmmm. Anyway, publishers are spinning this shift to appear as all risk for publishers and all opportunity (and diversity!!) for readers and creators:
Calvin Reid, a senior news editor at Publishers’ Weekly, and co-editor of PW Comics World, has followed the blossoming graphic novel market for years. He said book publishing business and book publishing practices are having a tremendous impact on the comics business.
For nearly 100 years, Reid explained, periodical comics like Superman and Thor have been made on a work-for-hire basis. . . .
By contrast in book publishing, authors get an advance upfront, plus royalties once the publisher has made its money back. This model means more risk for publishers to start and more decisions about what will sell without the trial balloons of periodical comics to point the way. On the other hand, Reid pointed out, a much greater variety of stories with diverse characters by a wider range of creators are now finding their way to the shelves – KUOW
The Murderer Who Helped Make the Oxford English Dictionary – If you are not familiar with the story, you are in for quite a bittersweet tale. The bitter is that William Charles Minor, a surgeon and Civil War veteran who suffered from PTSD and other (undiagnosed) forms of mental illness, spent much of his life in an institution after mistakenly murdering an innocent man. The sweet is that Minor helped make the OED the fabulous resource it is, and he did all this will still suffering what were nearly debilitating effects of mental illness. An extraordinary man who truly suffered for his art.
William Chester Minor opened his eyes and gazed sleepily at the figure of a man looming over the foot of his bed. The intruder, who had been hiding in Minor’s attic during daylight, had slithered from the rafters, crept into the bedroom, and now, under the dark of night, was watching Minor as he dreamed. In his hands, the faceless man held metal biscuits slathered in poison.
The next morning, Minor woke up unscathed and found no trace of the intruder’s shenanigans. He checked his closet and crawled on his knees to look under his bed. Nobody was there. But that night, the trespasser returned. And the next night. And the next. Each night, Minor laid in his bed frozen with fright.
By 1871, Minor needed a vacation. He left his lodgings in Connecticut and sailed for London in search of peace of mind and a good night’s sleep.
His harassers followed. – Mental Floss
I’m part of the drop in pay-TV subscribers, and it’s not because I’m pirating. The article says “if all of those people instead purchased a legal TV package for $50 a month”… In what delusional fantasy world is this? If you can even find an offer for $50/month, by the time they’re done adding taxes, fees, surcharges, box rental, and any other made-up costs they please, the actual bill is easily over $100 for basic, non-premium-channel cable. That was the first expense I cut when the belt-tightening began, and I haven’t missed it a bit. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon each offer me free trials once a year — that’s three months of all the TV I can stand for $0. Screw the cable company.
While I’m really sad to see Book World close, I have to say, as someone who shopped at and then worked for *years* at a tiny independent bookstore, it’s not Amazon’s fault for luring customers away. People choose where to spend their money based on a number of factors. We provided personalized recommendations, hard-to-get author signings, and great service, but we couldn’t afford to discount books. I made my choice to support the store and I certainly can’t fault anyone else for making theirs to buy elsewhere. I do like to blame publishers for just about everything wrong with the book world, but that’s just me.
Let’s remember, too, Amazon was small once upon a time. I used to get “thank you” magnets and coffee mugs from them way back when. They took a leap into on-line sales that paid off beyond imagining and changed how we shop.
@Ren Benton: In our area, Charter advertises non-stop that you can get cable TV for $29.99 a month … as part of a $100 monthly bundle with internet and phone. Yeah, no. We pay for their un-bundled internet service because that’s what’s available, unless you want the unreliable and ever-changing service offered by AT&T. Not a fan of cable companies at all.
And every book order (pre-ebooks) came with a book mark. :-) I still have some of them.
@Darlynne: I dropped my cable service 2 years ago and don’t miss it at all.
There’s a book written about the OED/murderer guy – I’m blanking on the name now.
@Jayne: It’s the featured pic for this news post. I think it’s the Professor and the Madman, by Simon Winchester.
@Janet: Well, duh. ;) I went straight to the post from a side bar comment and didn’t see it.
re: bookstores, Book World, and Amazon
I live in a corner of Wisconsin without a Book World. There’s a small combination paperback bookstore & Hallmark shop in town, but that’s it. (ok, a few used bookstores, too)
But Barnes & Noble is in the next town north.
I have a nook (actually have had four, but two died) since I didn’t want to become a slave to Amazon’s ebooks.
I also want to support the actual B&N stores, so I go there & buy gift cards to load on my nook. I may be deluding myself that I’m keeping the store open (along with my coffee fix when I’m there) but it’s my little drop in the bucket.
I used to go to the original Borders Books in Ann Arbor and it was book heaven… they had to move to expand and finally landed in the old Jacobson’s department store building where it stayed until Borders collapsed. (too many reasons for that debacle)
Bookstores? I will support them as much as I can, but carrying around 500+ books in my purse??? priceless.
I worked in a small Mom and Pop used bookstore in my town for years until it closed last year. They really took a beating when the ebook market exploded in popularity, but still eeked out a living.
The real thing that hurt was when all of the bookstores in the surrounding towns closed and the super centers like Walmart and Target drastically cut their book selections to James Patterson and Nora Roberts. People that assumed all the business that was at those stores would magically focus in on ours, but in actuality having less book choices hurt everyone. Even thrift stores were revamping their price models on books, and suddenly no one can afford the thrifts either. I used to buy atleast 5 new books a month and a crap ton of used. Now, I maybe can afford a trip to B&N once a month and rarely find anything new because their selection is crap.
Everytime another bookstore closes, wherever it is my heart breaks a little more. I’m a paper fanatic, and it breaks my heart that ebooks are so popular.
I read the Simon Winchester book years ago under its original title The Surgeon of Crowthorne. It’s a great read, especially for anyone who loves words and who has ever used the OED.
Best decision I made was to drop satellite TV and I negotiated my internet bill down as well. I do subscribe to HBO and Amazon Prime, Netflix. I don’t miss cable at all either. Of course, I tried Playstation Vue for awhile but dropped it because I’ve quit watching cable news as well. Just good ole David Muir and PBS Newshour. Season Pass for my favorite shows which aren’t that many. Not a big sports fan either. Sorry for blabbing.
FYI, the Winchester book is currently $1.99 in Kindle format on Amazon. Not sure about other retailers.