Wednesday Midday Links & Deals: Kobo Has Deep Pockets Too, Nora Roberts Publishes 200th Novel
“Kobo previously announced that it would launch a self-publishing tool, similar to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and Barnes & Noble’s PubIt, but Serbinis said the business had been focused on expanding internationally, launching its tablet device, and closing the sale to Rakuten. But he promised the platform would launch “this quarter” before the summer. “We are currently fine-tuning our offer,” he said. He said the deal with Rakuten, which is a £25bn-a-year business, would help Kobo “mitigate” against those companies with very deep pockets. “We have a nuclear deterrent by having a strong balance sheet.”
“Before we get into the individual items of clothing, it’s important to realize some phrases we use today didn’t mean quite the same thing 200 years ago. For example, when we say “She was in a state of undress.” or “She was caught en dishabille.” The folks of the regency wouldn’t have batted an eye. It was quite common for ladies to entertain guests in their boudoirs while dressed in comfortable, but concealing gowns and robes. The terms “undress”, “half-dress” and “full-dress” were degrees of formality, not coverage.”
News Corp acquired Thomas Nelson for $200 million. Five years earlier the seller had paid $473 million for Thomas Nelson. “This drastic drop in value appears to be due to the fact that as primarily a print product, even with e-book possibilities, Nelson had lost over 50% of its value.” B&N acquired Sterling Publishing in 2003 for $115 million. “Sterling was a significant publisher with revenues close to $100 million. Over the years, Sterling had developed a backlist of more than 5,000 owned and distributed titles. After an intensive search for a buyer, B&N found there were no acceptable bids. Sterling’s CEO and three executives left the company.” In March 2012, John Wiley & Sons offered for sale units like Frommer’s, CliffsNotes, and Webster’s New World Dictionary.
“It’s not like the agency model had to be shoved down the throats of desperate publishers. They wanted to set their own prices. They just needed Apple’s help to create an alternative store and publishing platform and to push the agency model on Amazon.”
“(a) against an Entity that has filed, maintained, threatened, or voluntarily participated in an intellectual property lawsuit against Assignee or any of Assignee’s users, affiliates, customers, suppliers, or distributors. (An assignee would be Twitter. Their employee would be an inventor.) (b) against an Entity that has filed, maintained, or voluntarily participated in a patent infringement lawsuit against another in the past ten years (emphasis added) so long as the Entity has not instituted the patent infringement lawsuit defensively in response to a patent litigation threat against the Entity; or (c) otherwise to deter a patent litigation threat against Assignee or Assignee’s users, affiliates, customers, suppliers, or distributors. Twitter also promises not to threaten inventors to get consent.”
“The country’s largest digital bookseller has acquired the exclusive North American rights to publish all 14 classic James Bond spy titles by the late Ian Fleming in both print and digital form. The 10-year deal, for books such as “Dr. No” and “Casino Royale,” was struck with a company controlled by Mr. Fleming’s heirs.”
“At the C2E2 ComiXology panel it was confirmed that DC graphic novels are no longer being sold through Kindle Fire’s ComiXology app, and CEO David Steinberger said it was intentional. However the reasons are hidden behind many layers of NDAs. This is all odd because you can certainly still buy DC books via Amazon and their Kindle store. You can purchase tons of DC comics from ComiXology, on the web and their IOS app. Apparently, you just can’t buy DC Comics through the Kindle Fire ComiXology app (we don’t have a Kindle Fire handy to check.) The DC/Kindle Fire exclusive GN marriage was announced with great fanfare and promise, but soon resulted in heartache and acrimony when B&N and Books A Million pulled their DC graphic novels off the shelves in spite. While no one is saying anything at all about this glitch, it probably has some weird technical proprietary cause and isn’t very dramatic at all”
“The appeal of Roberts is simple, says Sarah Wendell, co-founder of the romance-review blog Smart B——-, Trashy Books: “She’s consistent. She’s ubiquitous. Readers know that if they take a Nora Roberts on vacation, they won’t be disappointed.” Many critics haven’t been so kind — when they bother to take notice. Like many romance novels, Roberts’s books are typically overlooked in the mainstream media, and the silence is often more complimentary than the reviews. Writing in the New York Times, Janet Maslin dismissed Roberts’s 2001 novel “The Villa” as an example of “feminine wish fulfillment.” Maureen Corrigan wrote in The Washington Post that Roberts’s 2009 novel “Black Hills” “isn’t much of a suspense story, and the romance is so silly that it isn’t even good fantasy fodder.””
- The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt * $3.99 * A | BN | K | S * Recommended*
- The Leopard Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt * $3.99 * A | BN | K | S * Recommended*
- The Serpent Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt * $3.99 * A | BN | K | S * Recommended*
- Once Upon A Wicked Night by Jennifer Haymore * $0.99 * A | BN | K | S
- Daring by Dee Davis * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S
- To Surrender to a Rogue by Cara Elliott * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S
- Love Is in the Heir by Kathryn Caskie * $0.99 * A | BN | K | S
- Pursuit by Elizabeth Jennings * $2.99 * A | BN | K | S * Recommended*
- That’s Amore by Wendy Markham * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S
- Lady’s Choice by Amanda Scott * $3.99 * A | BN | K | S
- Out of Time by Samantha Graves * $2.99 * A | BN | K | S * Recommended*
- Stronger than Sin by Caridad Piñeiro * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S
Wednesday Midday Links: Simon & Schuster Let’s Go Half of its Sales Staff
For fun, someone has crafted a periodic table of fonts.
In not so fun news, Simon & Schuster has decimated its sales force, leaving only 7 sales representatives and replacing the void with a team of telemarketers. Shelf Awareness first tweeted this last night and had more details in today’s Shelf Awareness.
Simon & Schuster’s sales and marketing group has created a new telemarketing group that will operate from New York headquarters, serve more than 400 independent booksellers, distributors and educational wholesalers, and be in place by February 15. At the same time, the company is letting go about half of its field sales reps, and remaining reps will focus on regions where sales are strongest, “urban areas with a large base of key independent retail, wholesale and educational accounts.”
This is bad for indies and probably libraries who will now have to suffer telemarketing sales pitches for books. Can’t see how this won’t result in a decline in overall hardcover sales.
George Walkley is collating the 2010 predictions by various publishing consultants, observers and insiders. Most everyone is agreeing that enriched content will be important. (I have yet to see enriched content that I perceive has additional value). A couple of predictions that I agree with is “large publishers will cut back or consolidate” and authors with large platforms will start to resemble publishers ala the James Patterson style of co authoring or more.
Publishing Perspectives analyzes the global rank of publishers with Pearson claiming the top spot. Part of Pearson’s success is in the international education field. Pearson bought Simon & Schuster’s educational publishing arm and it is turning out to be a boon for the penguin. Bertelsmann, parent of Random House, has seen a dramatic decline in revenues from 2007 to 2008.
VJ Chambers, an author of YA thrillers, blogged about her self publishing experience and surprisingly, her lower cost digital offering at Smashwords outsold the Kindle. You can read the details of her costs and profit at her blog and an interview with Smashwords here. Chambers isn’t making a living self publishing but she’s experimenting with marketing her writing.
A much talked about editorial (at least on the loops I read) was the Jonathan Galassi op ed piece in the NYTimes. Galassi is the president of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, a house full of prestige and history. Random House published the print books of William Styron and his heirs have chosen to sell the digital rights to Open Road Media, likely because Open Road offered a better royalty deal. Galassi argues that Open Road Media and Styron’s heirs are benefiting from all the editorial and publishing work Random House put into Styron’s works. In Galassi’s argument is the thread that the publishing house creates a better work than the author alone and therefore deserves some kind of renumeration.
The author’s heirs hold the copyright to his work. But should another company be able to issue e-book versions of Random House’s editions without its involvement? An e-book version of Mr. Styron’s "The Confessions of Nat Turner" will contain more than the author’s original words. It will also comprise Mr. Loomis’s editing, as well as all the labor of copy editing, designing and producing, not to mention marketing and sales, that went into making it a desirable candidate for e-book distribution. Mr. Styron’s books took the form they have, are what they are today, not only because of his remarkable genius but also, as he himself acknowledged, because of the dedicated work of those at Random House.
Galassi’s position that the publisher holds some moral copyright to the published work is fascinating, full of breathtaking chutzpah, not based in any sound legal theory, but fascinating nonetheless. It’s interesting that Galassi positions Random House as the victim in this scenario, used and then discarded.
BusinessWeek and Sarah Weinman for Daily Finance both look at ebooks and how publishers are grappling with the economics of ebooks. The trend for pricing is downward and the message of Amazon is that increase in overall volume and reduction of costs will result in a positive for publishers. Publishers seem very uncertain in this market. Maybe at the end of 2010, they’ll have a better idea of what strategies maximize their profits without pissing off their customers. Maybe.
CNN apparently just discovered that there is ebook piracy. The article is very shallow and the reporter obviously has no real knowledge of the issue. In referencing J. K. Rowling’s decision to forego electronic editions, CNN fails to make it known that the Rowling books are all in digital format, illegally. In essence, J.K. Rowling has abandoned the field to the pirates who have made her works available in digital format within hours of the paper release. One of the best solutions to piracy is to ensure that there is a legitimate path for purchase.
Ana Maria Allessi, publisher for Harper Media at HarperCollins, told CNN, “we have to be vigilant in our punishment … but much more attractive is to simply make the technology better, legally.”
Alicia Condon, former Editorial Director at Dorchester is moving to Kensington to take the job left open by the death of Kate Duffy. Leah Hultenschmidt has been appointed the new ED at Dorchester.
Darlynne pointed me to an interesting fiction series called “History of Publishing 2010-2020.” This is a fictional retrospective look at the future of publishing and will be released in a series of blog posts.
The annual Consumer Electronics Show is going on right now and ebook news is starting to trickle out. Gizmodo is my go to place for all things tech and you can follow the posts about ebooks via the ebook tag: http://gizmodo.com/tag/ebooks/. Kindle Dx has gone international. There are new devices being displayed but I think the winner of the CES for ebooks will be any sub $200 color ebook reader.
Sam’s Club is launching a book club and will feature one book a month. This will likely have an Oprah like effect on that book.