Archive for March, 2009|Monthly archive page

Update on the death of newspapers

Lot’s has been written recently about the impending death of newspapers – something I keep an eye on because there are some parallels with books. Anyhow, Jay Rosen at Pressthink summarises what’s been happening, from Clay Shirky’s mid-March Thinking the Unthinkable onwards. A nice summary of thoughtful links.

SXSW Report

Lot’s of chatter on the net about a disappointing publishing panel at this year’s South by South West event. Apparently, the “New Think for Old Publishers” panel was anything but. Made up of representatives from traditional book publishing companies, with the addition of Clay Shirky, the session was not well received by an audience hungry for new ideas. From Booksquare:

Let me be clear. Absolutely clear. Not one word spoken in that session, either from the panelists or from the audience, was new or innovative. The panel, well, we’ve all heard job descriptions before. The audience? That was one very long line of people saying the same things we’ve been saying to the publishing industry for ten years. And yet the publishing people treated our comments as if they were items to be added to a list.

A list that will be filed in a drawer along with other conference ephemera.

Seems as though – years after napster, and itunes and bit-torrent and the web and everything else that’s been happening, old media types still don’t ‘get it’.

Mixed news from book sales data

Despite the headline of this NYTimes piece, some mixed messages from the latest international book sales data. Up in Europe, down in the UK and the USA:

That resilience has been particularly evident in Continental Europe. After a dip in the fall, the number of books sold in France rose 2 percent in December from a year earlier and 2.4 percent in January, according to Livres Hebdo, a trade publication.The trend has been similar in Germany, where the number of books sold rose 2.3 percent in January, according to the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, a trade organization. In the United States and Britain, book sales have been slightly less robust, falling by a fraction of 1 percent in both countries last year, according to Nielsen BookScan

The flipside reality of the GFC is this:

That is not to say that all is well in publishing. A number of New York publishing houses, including HarperCollins, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Macmillan, have recently announced layoffs or executive shake-ups — or both.

More new devices

It seems as though the floodgates have opened. We know there are a number of no-name Chinese made e-book devices on the market, but now the brand names appear to be sniffing around in the footsteps of Amazon’s Kindle. From engadget:

It’s finally coming true; all those e-ink readers we expected would flood the market after the Kindle’s initial release were apparently just waiting for its successor before jumping into the fray. Joining recent announcements from iriverNeolux, and Plastic Logic is Brother, with the SV-100B. The company is calling it a “Document Viewer,” featuring a 9.7-inch, 1200 x 825 display — larger and stocking twice the pixels of the Kindle 2.

Speaking of Fictionwise

News just in that Barnes and Noble have bought Fictionwise, the company that also trades as ereader. Short faq here from the old owners.

Kindle in Australia?

So I downloaded the kindle app for iphone (using my US account, created from a Gift card long before the Oz store existed – for more current methods, see here) and I managed to download a sample book which was pretty seamless. The app works well enough, and is pretty snappy, but feature-wise it’s not yet a Stanza or eReader app, which are much more mature. Lots of reviews kicking around – see Pogue in the NYT for example. I haven’t yet been able to buy a book from the kindle store though – amazon won’t accept an Australian address. And not yet sure if they check for US only credit cards. Suggestions here that they do. I’ll keep exploring when I have time. Frustrating that you can buy p-books from them but they make you jump through hurdles for e-books. So last century.

I think it just happened…

Amazon has just released a kindle app for the iphone. From All things Digital:

The free Kindle for iPhone App is just what it sounds like: It lets you read e-books that you’ve bought from Amazon (AMZN). It won’t let you actually buy the titles from the online bookseller, though. To do that, you will need to use your Kindle or a Web browser.

But since you can use the iPhone’s built-in Safari browser to buy a Kindle book, that’s a fairly minor distinction. More important: Once you own a Kindle title, you can sync the titles between your iPhone (or iTouch) and your Kindle.

I’m off to check it out now…

Tools of Change 2009

Quick link to a wealth of interesting material from the recent O’Reilly Tools of Change conference in New York. Especially keen on a trip report from Nick Daws April Hamilton:

Even now, with mainstream publishing in crisis and Web 2.0 rapidly becoming a dated term, I met a surprising number of publishing industry professionals who are far more interested in discovering ways to further fortify their strongholds than they are in exploring the opportunities created by branching out into new media and fostering community among their customers.