Monthly Archives: February 2013

B&N Third Quarter: Nook Drags Down Results

28 February 2013

From Shelf Awareness:

At Barnes & Noble in the third quarter ended January 26, consolidated revenues fell 8.8%, to $2.2 billion, and the net loss was $6.1 million, compared to net earnings of $52 million a year ago.

. . . .

The company said that results were “adversely impacted” by the Nook, including $59 million in additional inventory charges because of unsold goods, $21 million in returns from partner retailers, $15 million in promotional allowances “to optimize future sales opportunities” and higher advertising charges.

Revenues for Barnes & Noble’s bookstores and BN.com businesses, which chairman Len Riggio said on Monday he wants to buy, fell 10.3%, to $1.5 billion in the quarter. The company attributed the decrease to a 7.3% decline in stores open at least a year, store closures and lower online sales.

Link to the rest at Shelf Awareness

Why B&N Can’t Ever Catch Up to Amazon #2: Usability

28 February 2013

From The Digital Reader:

Today I came across what could be another lesson in why and how Barnes & Noble ran this promising platform into the ground. Not only was B&N incapable of supporting the Nook with decent customer service, according to one librarian the Nook platform is generally difficult to use.

Daniel Messer is the Web Content Manager for the Maricopa County Library District, and for the past month and a half he has been running beginner’s ereader classes at the various branch libraries of the MCLD. He’s been teaching patrons how to get library ebooks on to their new ereader or tablet, and he has special feelings for the Nook. Those feelings would be loathing, disgust, and hatred:

In the last two months, I’ve spent close to 30 hours doing nothing but eReader instruction. I’ve seen them all. I’ve worked on tablets from Apple, Google, Amazon, Polaroid, and some unnamed manufacturer with offices in North Korea. After all, Android runs on everything. I’ve seen eInk devices from Amazon, B&N, Sony, Aluratek, and so on. I’ve helped people install OverDrive Media Console on their phones, computers, and tablets. Pretty soon, I could help people set up library eReading and digital download services on their refrigerators.

In all of that, one set of devices stood above the mad crowds of tech in terms of bad usability, lousy user experience, platform instability, and being generally harder to use than anything else.

Nooks.

. . . .

One of his chief complaints is that the Nook and ADE integration works worse than with any other ereader that uses Adobe DE DRM:

Then there’s the interaction with Adobe Digital Editions. With all the other devices, ADE is handled somewhat gracefully in the background (as is the case with the OverDrive app on iOS or Android) or completely avoided (Kindles don’t use ADE). Meanwhile, over on the Nook side of things Nook arrives home early to find its wife in bed with ADE and, rather than being outraged, tries to make a threesome out of it.

Now, I will point out that he could be blaming the Nook platform for problems caused by Adobe DE, but he still has a point about the issues that B&N introduced when they went with their own mutant form of DRM.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

If my books had been any worse

28 February 2013

If my books had been any worse, I should not have been invited to Hollywood, and if they had been any better, I should not have come.

Raymond Chandler

The best seller who doesn’t write his own books

28 February 2013

From The Express:

As the ex-boss of the world’s best-known advertising agency and now the best-paid novelist on the planet James Patterson is used to being at the pinnacle of whichever profession he joins.

. . . .

At the last count the 65-year-old American has sold 275 million copies of his books. He has published 98 adult and children’s novels and has been the most borrowed author from British libraries for the past six years. This year alone – remember it’s still only February – he has had three number one best-sellers. According to the Forbes Magazine richest authors list he earned £62million last year, more than double his nearest rival Stephen King and five times as much as JK Rowling.

. . . .

In one of his most recent novels, Merry Christmas, Alex Cross, his god-fearing, family-loving African-American detective is called out to deal with two successive but unrelated cases on Christmas Day: one a domestic hostage stand-off, the other a terrorist launching an attack at Washington DC’s main rail station.

These two tales are told in linear order in chapters of two or three pages that don’t correspond to self-contained chunks of story and seem designed to make you feel you’re progressing through the story faster (Patterson’s own slogan, on the back of every book, is “the pages turn themselves”).

There are no subplots and the main story is so uncluttered you could probably turn it into a screenplay without omitting anything. The Arab terrorists are crude racial stereotypes and there is little suspense over the outcome because you know there’s no way the catastrophe they are planning will actually happen. But it does impel you to carry on reading, partly by making everything so easy.

The reason his literary output is so massive, at a rate of about one book a month, is that in most of his novels he doesn’t do the line-byline writing himself. He produces a treatment of 60 to 80 pages, establishing the plot and characters in detail, then hires a writer to turn it into a full-length book. He sees their work every couple of weeks, sending it back with notes to speed it up, make it more real etc, and the co-writer ends up with a decent billing (although not an equal share of the cash). When I ask if he’s a kind editor he says no writer has ever quit.

Link to the rest at The Express and thanks to Mira for the tip.

Ether for Authors: Framing #FutureFoyles in London

28 February 2013

From Publishing Perspectives:

Here is one thing no one will deny about the events hashtagged #FutureFoyles in London: here was unabashed dedication, enthusiasm, love and hope — loud, rackety, even strident love and hope — all transacted in a joyous din under the beams of Foyles’ third-floor gallery.

On the 11th and 15th of February, Philip Jonesand his Bookseller team and Miriam Robinson, marketing director for the hulking, fading landmark Foyles bookstore in Charing Cross Road, held six-hour workshops intended to shake loose the best ideas for the “bookshop of the future.”

Foyles is to move next door into the more capacious former St. Martin’s College of Art space. At first glance, this suggests that the old rooms-and-rooms-of-books-and-books format is yielding no quarter.

. . . .

Foyles is a very big independent store groaning as the marketplace hovers daily higher above the high street, in cyberspace. It has its flagship corner location in Charing Cross and, by my count, five other locations, the farthest afield in Bristol. Exactly as with bookstores in the States, its business isn’t walking away, it’s clicking away. Londoners are shopping in Seattle. Amazonia can outdo even Foyles’ reported stock of some 200,000 physical titles. And Amazon delivers. And Amazon offers great prices. And Amazon has achieved stunning heights of customer service. We all know this story.

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives and thanks to Geoff for the tip.

Publisher As Prestige Brand?

28 February 2013

From agent Wendy Lawton:

I was recently talking to a client about traditionally published books vs. self published books. She worried that with so many under-edited and half-baked books* making their way to the market, readers might get frustrated by the lack of excellence and ultimately give up on books. “How does a reader identify professionally written and professionally edited books so they know what they are getting when they order a book?”

Good question, right?

I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that the publisher’s name on a book is going to become more and more important as a sign of a certain level of quality. I believe it could become as recognizable as Louis Vuitton to handbags, JimmyChoo to shoes, and Harley Davidson to motorcycles. I’m saying that publishers need to start thinking about branding their books more prominently. The way it stands now, I’m guessing the average reader couldn’t tell you who published the last book they read.

. . . .

I think publishers need to start thinking of their brand as an identifier– a mark of distinction. When you see the Bethany logo on the front of an inspirational novel, for instance, you can be sure you’re in for a satisfying read that’s been edited, copyedited and professionally designed. And yes, I said front cover. With all the books sold online, the front cover is often the only cover shown.

Wouldn’t it be fun to begin to recognize the distinctives of each publisher?

Link to the rest at Books & Such Literary Agency and thanks to Mira for the tip.

How to get television stations to notice your book

28 February 2013

From Randy Tatano, freelance network television producer and author on The channeling author:

TV or not TV. That is today’s question.

Ah, the tube. The box. As Jacqueline Susann called it, The Love Machine. Such a part of American life that without it we wouldn’t know where to put the couch.

But you guys wanna know about how television coverage works, and how you might get some for your book, so you’ll need the TV insider’s playbook. It is a bizarre industry with so many quirks and nuances that you really need to know the secret handshakes to get anything decent on the air. One thing to remember is an old newsroom saying that goes back about fifty years. “It’s just TV. It aint brain surgery.” Bottom line, after you do it awhile, it’s pretty simple.

In all my years in the business I’ve done a total of two, count ‘em, two, stories on authors. (I would have done three but one author was so rude we packed up our gear and left.) Bottom line, publishers simply don’t look at television when promoting books. That shouldn’t stop you, the author.

In one case, a local guy who had published a book on baseball called me up, made an appointment, and stopped by with a review copy of his book. It was well done so we booked him on our Saturday morning newscast. In the other, I happened to read in Publisher’s Weekly that author Joe McGinniss would be doing research on a book called “The Big Horse” at the race track in Saratoga, New York. I called the publisher, they gave me the author’s number, and we set up an interview. Mr. McGinniss let us follow him for a couple of hours around the track, and he made an interesting story. But had I not stumbled on that bit of information, I never would have known a major author was in town. So, how do you get coverage?

First, you need to understand three basic principles: reporters love fun stories that aren’t hard to do; newsrooms (all kinds of media) are now staffed by skeleton crews after major cutbacks; a personal touch goes a long way when making contact. With that in mind, the easier you make it for a reporter to gather the facts for a story, the better chance you have of it hitting the air or getting in print. Have something that doesn’t require a reporter to do a lot of work, and you’ll have a better chance of getting it out there.

Link to the rest at The channeling author and thanks to Jennifer for the tip.

Amazon Mobile For Tablets Breaks Into Europe

28 February 2013

From Android Police:

Amazon Mobile for Tablets is now available in Italy, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Spain. This change follows closely behind a pair of updates from Amazon, the first adding support for additional tablets while the second added Canadian availability to the phone version.

Link to the rest at Android Police

Two Years

28 February 2013

Passive Guy missed the two-year anniversary of his first post on The Passive Voice earlier this month. 4,753 posts have appeared here since then.

PG is a little vague about why he started the blog and it took a few months before the Snark Monkey established residence behind PG’s desk and he began to hit his stride.

PG’s labors here would be immensely boring without visitors and, in particular, visitors who leave comments. PG often learns more from the comments than from the original subject of a post. It’s also nice to see that some of the very earliest commenters still return.

So, thanks to visitors and commenters for making this a delightful place for PG. Please keep coming back.

Bug In Kindle Update For iOS Deletes Users’ Entire Library

27 February 2013

From TechCrunch:

Amazon yesterday updated its Kindle for iOS app, which works across iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, to version 3.6.1. The update was meant to fix a few bugs as well as the registration process. Instead, that update seems to be wreaking havoc on bookworm-style iThing owners who watched as their Amazon digital libraries and saved settings were erased before their eyes.

Update: Amazon has responded with the following advice:

We have identified an issue with the app update that may cause your app to become deregistered. To register, enter your Amazon account e-mail address and password and all your Amazon content will be available in the cloud. We have submitted an update fix for this issue and are working with Apple to release.

. . . .

Update 2: It appears that Apple has pushed out Amazon’s update, to fix the deregistration problems with the update which was meant to fix registration problems. The latest version should keep your library safe.

Link to the rest at TechCrunch

Dumb self-inflicted wound by Amazon.

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