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Monday, November 28, 2011

Libraries Help Grow the Publishing Industry

My recent posts RE e-lending libraries and some of the intrigue generated due to the still-developing posturing of the peripherals of this new media business ... has brought to life the role that libraries have always played in the publishing industry and will continue to play in the digital lending era.

Here is a librarian's point of view (and a good one it is :)) written by Greg Hill, director of Fairbanks North Star Borough libraries, in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:

Libraries are active partners with the publishing industry

Read more: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner - Libraries are active partners with the publishing industry
FAIRBANKS — Samuel Pepys, the great English diarist who chronicled London life in the 1660s, was a sucker for an interesting book. In Pepys’ day, book buyers purchased the loose pages of manuscripts and had them bound themselves. For example, on July 8, 1664, Pepys wrote that he’d gone “to the binder’s and directed the doing of my Chaucer … and thence to the clasp-maker’s to have it clasped and bossed.”

Librarians love bookstores, of course, and that affection’s largely returned by booksellers, who’ve long known that thriving libraries inspire readers to buy books.

Last month Publisher’s Weekly had an article about a Library Journal survey showing more than “50 percent of all library users report purchasing books by an author they were introduced to in the library. This debunks the myth that when a library buys a book the publisher loses future sales. Instead, it confirms the public library not only incubates and supports literacy, as is well understood in our culture, but it is an active partner with the publishing industry in building the book market, not to mention the burgeoning e-book market.”

Librarians certainly buy a lot of books for themselves. I spend a little extra to buy new books locally and support our local booksellers. When used books are hard to locate, I turn to BookFinder.com. For example, my friend Leon showed me how engaging his 1938 copy of Judge James Wickersham’s “Old Yukon: Tales, Trails, and Trials” was recently, and I craved my own copy. BookFinder.com revealed a bookstore in Massachusetts would part with theirs for $6.99, after I threw in another $3.99 for shipping. Now, it’s mine.

The Judge’s book has the entire May 1903 issue of the Fairbanks Miner, with an exclusive with Felix Pedro and a tall “Tanana Tale,” about a miner who claims to survive falling in the Tanana River at 70 below, getting lost, and staving off starvation by eating the tail of his lead dog.

“I gave Doughnuts the bone out of his tail,” he explained, “and after gnawing it a while he came on into the Fortymile with me.”

Few events are so pleasing as books in the mail. The pleasure’s heightened when they arrive wrapped in tissue paper. My new “Old Yukon” measured up, and was further wrapped in pages from a New York Times several weeks old. Several eye-catching articles popped out, including one by Jess Bidgood about the Occupy Wall Street Library, also known as the “People’s Library.”

Read and learn more

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Penguin - And More E-Lending Library Intrigue

BookshelvesI have been posting lately on the intrigue developing among some major players in the digital book selling and publishing industry since libraries have begun lending digital books (e-books).

And there have been varying and interesting points of view RE rather digital book retailers such as Apple and Amazon (now also a digital publisher with it's Kindle Fire) are positioning themselves in the best interests of the consumers, writers, publishers or gadget sellers :))) ... And at whose expense.

Here is a reaction by one major publishing house detailed in this article by Laura Hazard Owen for mocoNews.net (Mobile News):

Why Might A Publisher Pull Its E-Books From Libraries?

Following yesterday’s news that Penguin, citing security concerns, is pulling its new e-books from libraries—and making none of them available for library lending through Kindle—many are wondering why the publisher would do such a thing. (Penguin and Random House had been the only two “big six” publishers to offer unfettered access to e-books through libraries; now Random House is alone in doing so.)

Here are some possible reasons, none of which are “Penguin is stupid and is trying to make itself obsolete”—but all of which are a response to high demand for e-books in libraries, and I might argue that attempts to curtail or impede that demand are, at a minimum, counterproductive.
» Penguin is mad about Amazon’s deal with OverDrive and is retaliating. If you have a Kindle and have checked out a library book on it, you will notice that clicking “Get for Kindle” sends you to straight to Amazon’s website instead of having you check out the book from within the library’s site. Here’s how it looks:

When I click “Get for Kindle,” I’m directed to this page on Amazon’s site (click to enlarge):

Notice anything? Yeah, it looks an awful lot like an Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) shopping page and I have to be logged into my Amazon account to get the book. Publishers Lunch notes, “Though OverDrive had promised in April that patrons’ ‘confidential information will be protected,’ in implementation their program is an engine for turning library users into Amazon customers.” (Publishers Lunch also notes that, since libraries had already bought the e-books from Penguin, it’s surprising that Penguin is simply allowed to withdraw access to them.)

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Amazon's Kindle Library Creates Anger and Intrigue in the Publishing Industry

Through it's Kindle library, Amazon has essentially stolen the rights of writers and publishers to determine usage, pricing and destiny of their creative products.

Please refer to my post on the Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue Blog Publishers Are Going To Loose Not Only Their Retailers But Their Authors In The Future for more background on this Writers Welcome Blog post.

By lending new books for free (one per month for Kindle Prime Service) Amazon is undercutting free and full determination of author's creative capital ... and, I believe, violating copyright intent.

Matt Brownell gives great insight on this issue with this article in MainStreet.com :

Publishers Are Seeing Red Over Amazon’s Kindle Library

NEW YORK (MainStreet) – Earlier this month, Amazon introduced the latest perk for members of its $79-a-year Amazon Prime Service: The Kindle Lending Library, which allows Kindle-owning Prime subscribers to “borrow” one book a month, free of charge. It was a boon to Prime subscribers, and in advance of the launch of the Kindle Fire, another argument for joining the retailer’s rapidly growing content ecosystem.

For some publishers and authors, though, the new service looks like a harbinger of doom.

On Monday the Authors Guild, a writers’ advocacy group, became one the first elements of the publishing industry to officially register its objections to the service, blasting it with an extensive blog post that accuses the retail giant of running roughshod over its contractual agreements with publishers.

According to the post, Amazon approached the six major publishers asking them to include their books in the list of available titles, but all six refused. Amazon then went to the next smallest tier of publishers, but when they likewise refused, Amazon went ahead and included their titles in the library anyway.

Paul Aiken, the Authors Guild’s executive director, explains that the major six publishers have “agency model” contracts with Amazon, allowing them to set the retail prices of books sold on Amazon. By contrast, all smaller publishers have “wholesale” contracts, which allows Amazon to sell the books at any price it chooses so long as it pays the wholesale price to the publisher. According to the Guild, though, such contracts don’t extend to actually giving away the books for free.

Still, Amazon will still be paying the wholesale price on each book that’s borrowed through the library, clearly on each individual transaction will be compensated by Prime memberships.

So if publishers are still getting paid, why are they so upset?

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

'Library Journal' Says E-Book Lending is Exploding

Public libraries initially dipped their toes into digital lending several years ago on PC's and e-readers ... Now they are upping their game and getting into the mobiles: smartphones and tablet computers. Apps are beginning to flow!

The popularity of these devices has created a downpour of new demand for digital lending.

Reporter Roger Yu gets into some interesting growth statistics and projections in this insightful article for USA Today:

Libraries ramp up e-book lending

Libraries nationwide are finding more ways to go mobile.

After a tentative foray into digital lending on PCs and e-readers several years ago, public libraries are opening the next chapter for smartphones and tablet computers.

The movement kicked into high gear in September when Amazon finally turned on its Kindle for 11,000 local libraries, triggering a flood of new users. App developers are also working with libraries to enable book lovers to borrow on their smartphones.

"With more devices for consumers to try, they're going to get better," says Christopher Platt of the New York Public Library. "And the e-reading experience will get better."

The evolution is playing out amid some challenges, including an ongoing squabble between eager-to-grow libraries and publishers that fear copyright infringement and losing money on digital distribution, their fastest-growing segment of business.

Some large publishers — such as Simon & Schuster, Macmillan and Hatchette — refuse to sell to libraries, thus limiting the availability of popular titles.

Still, customers' appetite for e-book lending is growing unabated. According to Library Journal, public libraries increased their offerings by 185% this year. E-books will account for 8% of their materials budget in five years, it says.

The New York Public Library has quadrupled its e-book budget since 2009 and plans to spend $1 million this year, Platt says. The Seattle Public Library's e-book circulation grew by 92% in 2010, says Kirk Blankenship, its electronic resources librarian.

Some new developments will accelerate the growth pace. Among them:

Kindle agreement. Unlike the rival Barnes & Noble Nook or Sony Reader, Amazon has refused to play ball with libraries on its Kindle until a few weeks ago.

When Amazon finally did e-book lending on the Kindle and app, the rocket in circulation was quick, says Mary Dempsey of the Chicago Public Library. The New York and Seattle library systems say their e-book lending has risen by more than 30% since Kindle's agreement.

Smartphone options. Reading options for smartphones and tablet computers are emerging quickly. Kindle's app works on both Apple's devices and the Android operating system.

Overdrive, a large e-book distributor for libraries, released its app for e-books. It has seen over 2 million downloads since its release late last year. In a trial, 3M, another e-book distributor, will install a kiosk next month at several libraries for browsing e-books. Customers read using 3M's library app.

Library apps. Some libraries are considering their own apps. Douglas County Libraries in Colorado is on tap to be the first in the country with its own app.

Read and learn more

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hooray for HarperCollins' Employees ... Intro to 'Occupy Lit'

All our country's current unrest and angst RE Wall Street's hypocritical machinations, lying and downright greed has not gone unnoticed by the publishing world ... Especially since the publishing world (at least in part) is knee-deep in that very same greed!

But, here comes the righteous to smite the bad, greedy bastards and put them in their place (actually their place is so very far below this earth they can't be hit hard enough to go there; but, they WILL find their way there eventually).

The gallant, righteous heroes in this case are the employees of News Corp-owned book publishing company HarperCollins ... And you know who owns HarperCollins today: Rupert Murdoch, the poster child for the 1%'s greed.

This by Rosie Gray of 'The Runnin Scared Blog' in The Village Voice

Occupy Lit: Publishing Employees to Rally Against HarperCollins

Spotted at Occupy Wall Street by the Observer: employees of News Corp-owned book publishing company HarperCollins are staging a rally next Wednesday, making this the latest union action to throw its lot in with OWS.

"Employees of HarperCollins have been working without a contract for almost a year," the flier reads. "Management wants to eliminate guaranteed wage increases, double the cost of health benefits and eviscerate layoff and seniority protection."

It continues, "HarperCollins is a highly profitable commercial publisher and is owned by RUPERT MURDOCH, poster child for the 1%'s greed. Please join us for a lunch hour rally in support of the dedicated HarperCollins staff."

Unionized HarperCollins employees are members of UAW Local 2110 [disclosure: Village Voice union members are also represented by that union but have nothing to do with the HarperCollins rally]. According to UAW Local 2110 recording secretary Eden Schulz, the HarperCollins bargaining unit is about 200 people. "I wouldn't say most of the positions are in the bargaining unit, but we represent a huge chunk," she said. She noted that starting salaries at HarperCollins are about $30,000.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Backlit, E-Book Publisher, Creates Shortest Path from Writer to Reader

The absolute warp speed of e-book production has made possible the impossible dream ... Mainly, being able to rapidly test new story ideas (before actually writing the entire story) with digitally-addicted audiences through online trailers or "e-snippits" on social media sites.

Backlit publishing presents the new publishing model that accomplishes this feat starting with incubating teen serials as episodic apps and film/TV properties.

From MarketWatch.com:

Backlit Launches New Publishing Model for Teen Franchises

Backlit ( www.backlitfiction.com ) launched its first series of teen franchise ebooks via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple: Borrowing Abby Grace, The Start-Up and The Dig, followed by Young Americans, Future Perfect and The Defiants early next year. Similar to Young Adult (YA) successes like Gossip Girl and The Hunger Games, Backlit ebooks will create new franchises tailored to and tested with teen audiences.

Backlit has a first look film and television deal with Jack Giarraputo of Happy Madison. Jack is one of Hollywood's most successful producers with films grossing over $2 billion domestically. He is Backlit's strategic partner, creative advisor and lead investor. "Backlit is reinventing publishing by shortening the path from writer to reader," said Giarraputo.

The Backlit model quickly determines audience and franchise value. "The speed of ebook production allows Backlit to test fresh commercial ideas with core audiences," said Backlit Publisher, Panio Gianopoulos. "Working closely with some of Hollywood's best creative minds, Backlit is committed to telling stories that will be loved as books, television and movies."

Episodic content is previewed via Facebook and Twitter, allowing Backlit to engage teens who routinely find their entertainment online. Immediate audience feedback, interactivity and spin-offs take on a whole new value when stories are created and released quickly. Focused on Millennial readers with episodic attention spans, Backlit ebook downloads will be released exclusively digitally every few weeks, yet offer significant narrative depth.

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

More on Amazon Publishing - The Devil is in the Still Morphing Details

Everything experiences growing pains. Amazon's foray into the publishing world is no exception.

No denying Amazon, coupled with the fast-evolving digital tech, is and will be a real game changer ... But, the pros and cons details are still shaking out.

For more background on Amazon Publishing please refer to these three previous posts.

This from David Streitfeld in the New York Times:

Uncovering Amazon Publishing

The legacy book publishers are pretty much open shops. If you want to know how many titles they are publishing this fall, just get a catalog and add them up. Amazon is taking a different tack, shrouding much of the plans for its publishing venture in the secrecy it extends to most of its business dealings. (Apple, no slouch at being close-mouthed, at least reveals how many iPads it sells. Amazon does not do the same with Kindles.)

Amazon issues a press release when announcing a new imprint — a half-dozen so far, plus a somewhat anomalous operation run by the entrepreneurial thinker Seth Godin — but little more. Since the books are sold almost exclusively on the Amazon site and are usually digital, they do not appear on any of the traditional best-seller lists. What is selling is unclear; how and why is even murkier.

Laura Hazard Owen at Paidcontent.org took a dive this week into the subject with her article “The Truth About Amazon Publishing.” After counting the books one by one, she found 263 current and forthcoming Amazon titles. Just about all are also published in physical form. Readers are enthusiastic about reviewing these efforts and tend to give them high grades (average: 4.09 out of 5).

About a fifth of the titles become digital best sellers, too. But this tended to happen when the titles were sold at promotional prices, which illustrates the power of becoming the Kindle Daily Deal but little else. “Elizabeth Street” by Laurie Fabiano, described as “a novel based on true events” of the Italian immigrant experience, was featured in a late August deal, after which it hit No. 1. It is now 1,542.

Ms. Owen concludes that “Amazon Publishing hasn’t killed print yet.” But is anyone saying it has? The real question is whether it will reshape publishing by dissolving old rules and creating new expectations, the way it has reconfigured bookselling. Will a physical edition become the reward for a successful electronic publication? Will authors enlarge their share of e-book revenues at the expense of traditional publishers? Will independent bookstores carry Amazon books? How will readers on Amazon itself discover these new titles? What sort of cottage industries will grow up to help writers promote their books online?

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Related article on Amazon Publishing Imprints

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Marketplace for Writers and Publishers to Connect

Contently, a new startup company, is a site that allows writers to upload their profile(s) of work or other accomplishments that reflect their brand; AND also allows publishers to join (after vetting) ... in essence establishing an open marketplace that is a great place to manage writing careers and publishing operations (resources and content management).

These details are provided by  on Mashable.com:     

Contently Provides An Open Marketplace for Writers and Publishers To Connect

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here

Name: Contently

Quick Pitch: Contently is an open marketplace for writers and publishers.

Genius Idea: Empowering and connecting quality writers and brands.

It’s not uncommon to hear of writers, journalists and publishers hitting roadblocks in their careers.

There are the writers and journalists who find it nearly impossible to search for, yet alone land exceptional freelance opportunities. Then there are the publishers who are faced with countless requests from writers, making it difficult to select the most experienced or distinguished journalists in the bunch.

That’s why three startup entrepreneurs founded Contently, a website geared toward empowering and connecting quality writers and brands.

“We realized that there is an inefficiency in freelance writing because writers have to spend a lot of time hassling after editors and work,” said Shane Snow, one of the three co-founders of Contently. “As the world moves increasingly towards freelance, we wanted to build a marketplace for freelancers and to allow publishers to become more efficient.”

After starting off as an open marketplace for writers and publishers in 2010, Contently gradually evolved into a platform for journalists to manage their freelance careers and for publishers to obtain access to millions of the world’s top writers in their industry.

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