Wednesday Midday Links: New Devices on the Horizon
Barnes and Noble is offering a $50 Gift Card with a purchase of a nook. This is a Dad’s day promotion but good if you buy online, at BN or even at Best Buy.
There are reports that a new Kindle will be released in the fall. The new Kindle is supposed to be faster, with sharper resolution and thinner. Thinner? I feel like the existing one might snap in two.
Last week, the Wall Street Journal had an interesting article on the future of brick and mortar bookselling. (Thanks Kay) Essentially digital booksales is decreasing the profitability of physical bookstores and therefore those bookstores that want to be in business in the next ten years will have to reinvent themselves. Chapters, a Canadian bookseller, is focusing on being a “cultural department store.” Barnes & Noble is under inside pressure to evolve.
Ron Burkle has increased his stake in BN to almost 20% and is rattling to gain a greater share of BN so that he can implement his own ideas which involve using the BN brand to sell things other than books, presumably. Riggio says that he won’t sell pots and pans which I took to be a slight stab at Borders who does sell small cookery items in the store.
How does this affect us as readers? Reduced choice in the physical marketplace. I think it also puts pressure on authors to start thinking as business people more than ever. I was told that print runs are decreasing because orders are decreasing. Target and Wal-Mart are ordering only one month at a time instead of two and the big box bookstores are ordering less. Advances are usually based on print runs. Authors will have to decide whether print first makes sense. Alternatively, maybe larger publishers will follow Harlequin’s lead and develop their own in house digital first publishing arm.
Texas is looking into the legality of Apple’s pricing deals with publishers. I would have thought this issue would be ripe for discussion in Maryland because Maryland has an anti retail price maintenance law it enacted after the Supreme Court rendered its Leegin decision. Any citizen can make a complaint to their state’s attorney general’s office.
Last year was the first Australia Romance Readers Convention which saw 25 authors attend with 250 readers. This year, the ARRA Convention is being held in conjunction with Australia Romance Writers Association. Imagine that! A writers’ organization that puts writers in touch with readers. What a novelty. (Actually, I think the International Thriller Writers does just that with Thriller Fest). Booyeah, as my daughter would say.
There are two articles about websites and comments which I think dovetail nicely together. First is the NPR story that Sharon sent me. It is recommended that human interaction from the content owners can help to moderate the tone of blog comments. I admit that curating the blog comments is a tough job. I don’t want to stifle discussion or be unfair, but I also cringe at the personal attacks and tone of the comments. But then, I, too, can fly off the handle and make an unwise comment. I try to compensate for those times too.
Another article is the one in the NYTimes about how companies are suing for comments made on the internet which these companies say are defamatory. I think the towing company in this situation is unlikely to prevail and that suits like these are a real threat to one’s First Amendment rights but I also understand the power of the internet to mobilize people. First Amendment rights are all about balance and it will be interesting to see what this Justice Roberts’ court will do.
Borders will be selling up to 10 digital reading devices and select stores will have a special “Area E” for ereading, I guess. One of the devices they are going to sell is the Aulartek device priced at $119. It’s not eink but a “reflective light LCD”. Is that the cool PixelQi screen?
The Libre utilizes Reflect Light LCD technology, enabling readers to turn pages at lightning-fast speed with no back lighting, so reading on the Libre’s black and white 5-inch screen is as soft on the eyes as reading a book. And because pages don’t need to be lit, the Libre offers unprecedented battery life. Noticeably absent are the flickerings and flashes during page transitions, which some readers report experiencing on eReaders that utilize e-Ink.
These Area E boutiques will launch in August. I am kind of curious about the Libre. It doesn’t have wifi or 3G connectivity and while it has an SD media slot, this site says you will need the Borders app to load books, which, ugh. And it’s a pretty ugly device, kind of a mashed up sony reader + kobo.
Borders needs to do something. Its fiscal Q1 saw a 16% drop in revenue.