Monthly Archives: November 2012

Revenues and Losses Up for Nook

30 November 2012

From Digital Book World:

Revenues from its Nook device and digital content division increased by nearly $10 million in its second-quarter, but Barnes & Noble couldn’t stop the bleeding for the unit as it continued to pile on the losses.

While revenue increased for Barnes & Noble’s Nook to $160.3 million from $151.8 million in the same period a year prior, losses also increased to $51.4 million from $50.8 million a year ago. At the same time, digital content sales were up 38% versus the same quarter last year.

“We believe we maintained our healthy 25% to 30% share in digital books,” in the quarter, said Barnes & Noble chief executive William Lynch on a conference call discussing the earnings. On a related note, he estimated Amazon’s UK ebook market-share to be above 90%.

. . . .

Matching Amazon’s growth in Kindle unit sales, sales of Nook devices doubled over the “black Friday” holiday shopping weekend, Lynch said. These sales will be reflected in the company’s third-quarter earnings.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

Moral Statistics

30 November 2012

I don’t want any of your statistics; I took your whole batch and lit my pipe with it.

I hate your kind of people. You are always ciphering out how much a man’s health is injured, and how much his intellect is impaired, and how many pitiful dollars and cents he wastes in the course of ninety-two years’ indulgence in the fatal practice of smoking; and in the equally fatal practice of drinking coffee; and in playing billiards occasionally; and in taking a glass of wine at dinner, etc. etc. And you are always figuring out how many women have been burned to death because of the dangerous fashion of wearing expansive hoops, etc. etc. You never see more than one side of the question.

You are blind to the fact that most old men in America smoke and drink coffee, although, according to your theory, they ought to have died young. . . . And you never try to find out how much solid comfort, relaxation, and enjoyment a man derives from smoking in the course of a lifetime (which is worth ten times the money he would save by letting it alone), nor the appalling aggregate of happiness lost in a lifetime by your kind of people from not smoking. Of course you can save money by denying yourself all those little vicious enjoyments for fifty years; but then what can you do with it? What use can you put it to? Money can’t save your infinitesimal soul. All the use that money can be put to is to purchase comfort and enjoyment in this life; therefore, as you are an enemy to comfort and enjoyment where is the use of accumulating cash?

It won’t do for you to say that you can use it to better purpose in furnishing a good table, and in charities, and in supporting tract societies, because you know yourself that you people who have no petty vices are never known to give away a cent, and that you stint yourselves so in the matter of food that you are always feeble and hungry. . . .

What is the use of your saving money that is so utterly worthless to you? In a word, why don’t you go off somewhere and die, and not be always trying to seduce people into becoming as ornery and unlovable as you are yourselves, by your villainous “moral statistics”?

Mark Twain, Moral Statistics, 1893

Pete Townshend: Acquisitions Editor

30 November 2012

Yes, this is the same Pete Townshend who was a 1960′s rock star.

From The New York Times:

You once worked as an acquisitions editor at the British publisher, Faber & Faber. Do you miss anything about that job? 

Are you kidding? That was the best job I ever had. I had lunch with the old chairman, Matthew Evans, this week, and we both went dewy-eyed about the old days. He’s in the House of Lords trying to stay awake, and I’m pounding stages like an aging clown. I loved the way the Faber editorial committee was driven as much by gossip and rumor as ideas. It was fun. Not what you expect in such an esteemed publishing house.

Link to the rest at The New York Times

Does the Genre You’re Reading Change the Medium You Read In?

30 November 2012

From BookRiot:

I realized recently that I read all my YA books on my phone.

YA is usually an impulse buy for me. I decide I want to know who the heck this John Green guy is anyway or want to get my Harry Potter/Hunger Games fix on with one of their many fantasy/dystopian cousins. When I decide I want to read a particular YA book, I want to start reading it in the next, like, minute. I don’t want to wait the better part of an hour to drive back and forth from the bookstore, and I definitely don’t want to wait three weeks to get off the library holds list, so I get on my iPhone and I’m reading about wizard-zombie teens falling in post-apocalyptic love within a minute.

But this isn’t how I read all books! For my adult literary fiction, I have an ever-growing list in my head and every time I go to the bookstore I let myself buy one (okay, sometimes three or four) of the books on the list. I can wait for my Alice Munro and my Louise Erdrich. Part of the fun is in the waiting. And I wouldn’t want to read these books on my phone or even my iPad. I like reading them in hard copy, I like lending the physical copies to my friends, I like seeing them on my shelves for years after.

Link to the rest at BookRiot

Stephen King’s Under The Dome Coming to CBS

30 November 2012

From Galleycat:

CBS has ordered 13 episodes of a serialized television adaptation of  Stephen King‘s Under the Dome. Coming next summer, the series will be produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television and CBS Television studios.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo director Niels Arden Oplev will direct the first episode.

Link to the rest at Galleycat

Amazon The Grinch Who Stole Christmas? Amazon Doubles Down on Exclusivity

30 November 2012

From Mark Coker on The Smashwords Blog:

Will Amazon be the grinch who steals Christmas from thousands of indie authors this holiday season?

Last year, a mere three weeks before a record-breaking Christmas for ebook sales at the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Sony and other retailers, Amazon convinced thousands of indie authors to remove their books from the virtual shelves of all Amazon competitors.

The lure:  KDP Select, an opt-in program that requires authors to make their books exclusive to Amazon for a minimum of three months.

. . . .

I contended, and still contend, that exclusivity is a devil’s bargain.  When authors go exclusive with any retailer, they increase their dependence upon that single retailer, limit long-term platform building at other retailers, disappoint fans who shop at other stores, and hobble the development of a thriving and competitive ebook retailing ecosystem.

KDP Select places authors in a difficult position.  They must decide if the short term benefits of KDP Select outweigh the long term harm caused to their writing career.  The potential benefits are uncertain, and the harm is impossible to measure.  How does one measure a missed opportunity?  One thing is for certain:  When I look at the Smashwords bestsellers, they’re authors who maintain non-stop, uninterrupted distribution of all their books.  They’re the authors who are working to build their audiences at each retailer for the long term.

. . . .

Undoubtedly, some indie authors will reach for the carrot and immediately pull their books from distribution, and as a result will never know what they missed out on this holiday season.  It’s somewhat ironic that after decades of writers bowing subservient to traditional publishers who controlled the only path to retail distribution – and after so many traditionally published authors saw their books forced out of print when retailers dropped their books – that so many indie authors will now pull their books from distribution with their own hands.

What affect has KDP Select had on the growth of Smashwords?  Not as much as our detractors might think.  After Amazon announced KDP Select last year, some authors speculated it would put us out of business.  Quite the contrary.  We and our authors have enjoyed another record year this year, thanks to growth across the Smashwords distribution network.

Link to the rest at The Smashwords Blog and thanks to Jeanne for the tip.

Mark Coker makes a lot of his Silicon Valley background. PG has been involved with many tech companies large and small. The good ones never complained about their competition. Instead they focused on building better products and services than their competition offered.

Hatch’s Plot Bank

30 November 2012

From Hatch’s Plot Bank:

This site is designed to help novel, short story, movie, television, play, and video game writers develop new plot ideas. Over 2000 scenarios ranging from the normal to the bizarre are provided as a spark for the imagination. Some plots are sitcom cliches (that might deserve a new twist) while others are unusual happenings gleaned from the world of news and a few odd minds. Other story ideas are subtle suggestions that could be taken several ways – according to your mood or whim at the moment. Some others are everyday situations given an interesting wrinkle. Take a look for yourself.

. . . .

13 ancient oak on family homestead is dying

14 one of the farm kittens is half bobcat!

. . . .

59 geneological study reveals a bad side to Grandpa

Link to the rest at Hatch’s Plot Bank

The Merger Apocalypse

29 November 2012

From The Digital Reader:

Editor’s Note: The following post is by Rich Adin, and it reflects the inside the industry viewpoint of a long-time professional editor.

In the past, consolidation has been very bad for professional editors. Somehow these mergers and purchases needed to be paid for and with supposedly declining sales in bookworld, the way to pay for the merger was to cut expenses. The primary way to cut expenses has been to cut costs in areas that consumers do not see or notice until too late, thus primarily in editorial and book production.

. . . .

The merger of Random House and Penguin, who combined will account for approximately 25% of traditionally published (as opposed to self-published) books, is likely to spur a second merger, that of HarperCollins and Macmillan (or perhaps it will be HarperCollins and Simon and Schuster), who combined will account for at least another 20% of that market. And when pricing for freelancers is set, it will be set companywide – it will make little difference which imprint of the RandomPenguin colossus a freelancer works for, the pricing will be fairly uniform, and increasingly depressed. Or so experience says.

. . . .

What if one or both of these megapublishers – RandomPenguin or HarperMacmillan – decides to combat Amazon and Apple directly? It strikes me that the way to do it would be to buy Barnes & Noble. Buying B&N would give them immediate access directly to consumers. They could set terms for distribution with their captive company (bring back agency pricing) and tell Amazon and Apple they, too, can have access to these books but on the same terms as B&N. It would put the publishers back into control quickly, and B&N could be bought cheaply – a couple of billion dollars ought to do it.

. . . .

It strikes me that if the Justice Department doesn’t think that Amazon dominates the ebook retail market in the United States and that it never did, it would be hard pressed to oppose these consolidations or even the purchase of B&N by a combination of the megapublishers because their market position would be less than that of Amazon.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader and thanks to Ellen for the tip.

Passive Guy will explain for the billionth time that it is not against the law to be a monopoly. The legal problem that the Price-Fix Six had arose from combining together to fix prices. That is a violation of US antitrust laws and harms consumers because they had to pay higher prices for books than they would have absent the illegal collusion.

Buying Barnes & Noble is an interesting idea. Given the recent bad behavior of publishers, such a purchase would almost certainly be subject to careful scrutiny by the Justice Department and might not be approved.

The other problem with purchasing Barnes & Noble  is that the company tends to lose money and is in long-term decline. The question an intelligent publishing executive might ask is, “Why do we think we can run a chain of bookstores any better than experienced booksellers can?”

Before PG dismounts his high horse, he will also say that the toxic Big Publishing obsession with defeating Amazon is stupid. A far better use of time and talent would be to focus on innovative ways of becoming better publishers, particularly with creating much better ebooks, and figuring out what parts of the organization and infrastructure require radical reinvention to compete in a book world that is forever changed.

Amazon wants to sell lots of books. In particular Amazon wants to sell lots of ebooks. Publishers should want the same thing.

PG sometimes wonders if the hatred of Amazon is really a proxy for the hatred of change.

 

Love is not a state

29 November 2012

Love is not a state, a feeling, a disposition, but an exchange, uneven, fraught with history, with ghosts, with longings that are more or less legible to those who try to see one another with their own faulty vision.

Judith Butler

Simon & Schuster Joins Forces With Author Solutions To Rip Off Writers

29 November 2012

From David Gaughran:

Simon & Schuster has launched a self-publishing operation, Archway Publishing, contracting one of the most disreputable players in the business to run the show: Author Solutions.

. . . .

But what if you need proper editing? Fear not! Simon & Schuster is here to help. For just $0.035 a word, you can have a thorough edit of your book. Which sounds cheap until you realize that a standard 80,000 word novel would cost you $2,800. So, in actual fact, the cheapest package, plus their edit, will set you back $4,799 for a standard length book.

As if that wasn’t enough, Simon & Schuster will also take half of your e-book royalties – after Amazon and the other retailers take their cut – and pay pennies for print sales.

. . . .

Author Solutions is the umbrella for (and owner of) several seriously shady self-publishing service companies (or vanity presses, if you prefer) – such as Author House, Xlibris, iUniverse, and Trafford.

Each of these companies has managed to achieve disreputable status on their own, but together they have screwed over more than 150,000 writers. Going through the full history of their rip-off schemes would require a book, rather than a blog post, so I’ll stick to the highlights.

The formidable Emily Suess has been covering Author Solutions for some time:

The short list of recurring issues includes: making formerly out-of-print works available for sale without the author’s consent, improperly reporting royalty information, non-payment of royalties, breach of contract, predatory and harassing sales calls, excessive markups on review and advertising services, failure to deliver marketing services as promised, telling customers their add-ons will only cost hundreds of dollars and then charging their credit cards thousands of dollars, ignoring customer complaints, shaming and banning customers who go public with their stories . . .

. . . .

At the time of the purchase, some commentators expressed hope that Penguin would clean up this cesspool. Instead, Penguin gave Kevin Weiss – the head of Author Solutions – a seat on the board.

A seat on the board!

And the scammy behavior hasn’t stopped; in fact, some of it is getting worse. I’ve received reports of Author Solutions staff calling prospective customers and asking if they want to be “published by Penguin.” Yes, they went there.

. . . .

Before you say that any writer who gets suckered only has themselves to blame, you must consider that Author Solutions is extremely disingenuous about how they target customers.

They prey on people who don’t understand the industry. Their whole business model is predicated on customer ignorance – and they are relentless at exploiting that, hounding people with incessant calls, pushing every emotional button they can think of, until they crack.

And it works. The average customer spends $5,000 getting their book published – which is crazy money – and Emily Suess has received reports of writers being tricked out of tens of thousands of dollars. After all that, the writers don’t sell anything anyway, and what little they do make is often delayed or unpaid altogether.

I can’t say it any plainer: Author Solutions are in the business of ripping people off.

Link to the rest at Let’s Get Digital

David’s warnings should suffice to steer anyone away from Author Solutions. However, if you need a second source, Victoria Strauss comments on Writer Beware:

It’s not an exaggeration to say that, right now, ASI is the most hated name in the self-publishing services world.

. . . .

ASI is the only self-pub service provider about which we get regular complaints.

. . . .

My problem is with how S&S and others have chosen to dabble in self-publishing–by choosing to work with a company that exploits authors through deceptive PR tacticsmisleading rhetoric, and terrible customer service. ASI’s poor reputation is not a secret–it’s all over the Internet. Could S&S and others not have chosen a more complaint-free service provider–or, even, created the service themselves?

Link to the rest at Writer Beware

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