Archive for September, 2011|Monthly archive page

New Kindles

I’ve always maintained that cultural change is often driven by expediency; lower costs and greater convenience. Anything that makes it ebooks cheaper and more accessible than p books will help drive the shift. Today, Amazon announced its new Kindle line-up. The $199 Kindle Fire is a 7″ Colour tablet. Not strictly an iPad competitor, but perfect for those whose main reason for a table is to read books. Potentially more interesting are the new $99 Kindle Touch and the $79 ‘plain’ Kindle. Those are the sorts of prices that make ebooks look like a no-brainer. At current exchange rates, there are some individual print books that cost more than the new kindles… More here, from Ars.

Bloomsbury’s Digital Only Imprint

It’s not the only (see here), but Bloomsbury has announced a digital only imprint, intended to revive out-of-print titles. From Reuters:

The publisher is focusing on books which are out of print and where all English-language rights have reverted back to the author or the author’s estate…

“In my experience, if people read a book by an author and they love that author, they suddenly want to read everything by that author and that’s where this can fit in,” said Stephanie Duncan, digital media director at Bloomsbury Publishing.


BitTorrent as a business model?

Again from the WSJ, the story of an entrepreneurial author using bitTorrent to maximise exposure:

The milestone was getting over 500,000 global downloads (—bittorrent-edition).  400,000 occurred during the initial two-week promotion period with BitTorrent but the downloads continue even though the promotion is no longer active. We also use other social media such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

WSJ on eBook prices…

A WSJ piece on ebook prices:

As physical book sales fall, publishers’ fixed costs are becoming more cumbersome. One area major publishers can cushion the blow is by keeping e-book prices higher. “If e-book prices land at 99 cents in the future we’re not going to be in good shape,” said one New York publishing executive, who asked not to be identified

And now, even Billy’s changing

In my house, we have fourteen Billy bookshelves. Some are waist high, some go floor to ceiling. But they all contain books – mostly double shelved. Now the Economist (in a wide-ranging review of the impact of digital technologies on the book trade) tells is this little gem:

TO SEE how profoundly the book business is changing, watch the shelves. Next month IKEA will introduce a new, deeper version of its ubiquitous “BILLY” bookcase. The flat-pack furniture giant is already promoting glass doors for its bookshelves. The firm reckons customers will increasingly use them for ornaments, tchotchkes and the odd coffee-table tome—anything, that is, except books that are actually read.


Michael Hart

I was doing an event yesterday and a fellow panellist mentioned that despite the prevalence of free ebook titles, sales of classics in the electronic format were strong. Which made the news that Michael Hart  had died a little more poignant. As Project Gutenberg founder (and in some ways, ebook inventor), he really started the electronic reading age. From Engadget:

Hart’s literary journey began in 1971, when he digitized and distributed his first text, after being inspired by a free printed copy of the Declaration of Independence he found at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. That same year, the Tacoma, Washington native founded Project Gutenberg — an online library that aims to “encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks” and to “break down the bars of ignorance and illiteracy.”

RIP Michael Hart

Fourteen percent down

Quick link to a New York Times piece about the state of the paperback market:

A comprehensive survey released last month by the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group revealed that while the publishing industry had expanded over all, publishers’ mass-market paperback sales had fallen 14 percent since 2008.

“Five years ago, it was a robust market,” said David Gernert, a literary agent whose clients include John Grisham, a perennial best seller in mass market. “Now it’s on the wane, and e-books have bitten a big chunk out of it.”

The old staggered release schedule of hardback -> Trade paperback -> paperback is suffering as ebooks make an impact:

Cost-conscious readers who used to wait for the heavily discounted paperback have now realized that the e-book edition, available on the first day the book is published, can be about the same price. For devoted readers of novels, people who sometimes voraciously consume several books in a single week, e-books are a natural fit.

Who would have thought?? 🙂