Last year, Sharedbooks did a pilot with Random House's Poky Little Puppy. Parents (or grandparents, uncles/aunts, etc.) could upload a photo and a personalized message, and Sharedbook would, essentially, print that book on demand. Sharedbooks has now taken that model to 5 publishers, offering classics and favorites that gift-givers will remember from their own childhoods.
You can visit the online store here.
Honestly, I think I am in love.You don’t have to read Danielle Steel, but you have to accept this fact: people buy her books and people read her books. There was never a Golden Age of Publishing where people bought only high-brow fiction that elevated the mind. It’s a figment of your imagination. When it comes to fiction, readers flock to books and authors for varying reasons, one being the deep satisfaction that comes from a story that touches them.
Don’t insult the readers, man. It’s just bad form, and you really, really need people to buy your books.
I can't keep ignoring this one.
I was a writing student at Mount Holyoke in the mid-1980s. I took every writing course they offered, went to the Bennington Writing Workshops, and ran out of writing courses by my junior year. I was going to come to New York and Be A Writer. Ambitious as I was, I also wanted to Be An Editor and pretty much run my own publishing house - world domination!
My kids' dad went to Amherst...with David Foster Wallace - an English major, he was a year behind DFW. When "The Broom of the System" came out, I read it (at my ex's behest) and loved it. Loved. It.
Reading these obituaries hurts. DFW was 3 years older than I am. He did things - built up English departments, wrote jaw-dropping works of genius, inspired and motivated hundreds if not thousands of students.
And suffered from debilitating depression. I know a few things about that as well. It runs in my family, and I have had numerous friends who suffer from it also. Depression is not romantic - it is a physical disease. Few who have it actually run out of options, but I found Wallace's father's observations to be most haunting:
He’d been in the hospital a couple of times over the summer and had undergone electro-convulsive therapy. Everything had been tried, and he just couldn’t stand it anymore.
For those of us who are intimate with the ravages of depression, this is terrifying. Because some people do - truly do - run out of options, and find themselves with utterly no relief. And some of these people are extraordinarily gifted and inspirational and shine a beam of light onto life in a way that nobody else possibly could.
I'm fortunate to be part of a project called Start With XML. Conceived of by Mike Shatzkin, sponsored by O'Reilly's Tools of Change, Start With XML aims to help publishers consolidate costs (so that long tail publishing is more profitable) and monetize content in new ways. The Start With XML team consists of Mike, Ted Hill, Brian O'Leary, and myself.
There are four components to the project:
- An online survey
- A research report, which will be made available to all attendees of the forum, and which will be for sale on O'Reilly's site
- The forum itself - which will take place on January 13, 2009 in New York, with dates to be announced soon for other US locations and Europe
- The online community
I'll have more info in this week's The Big Picture - you can sign up to get it free here.
It's inconclusive - only saying what those of us in the business are already saying - things cannot continue as they are:
The kind of targeted, curated lists editors would love to publish will work even better in an electronic, niche-driven world, if only the innovators can get them there. Those owners who are genuinely interested in the industry’s long-term survival would do well to hire scrappy entrepreneurs at every level, people who think like underdogs.
The McCain biography? Well, it's never going to be out in paper if the Republicans lose the election.
Let's save some trees.
With essentially the same dimensions as a notepad, the new gadget offers a letter-sized screen, which may make it more suitable to read newspapers and magazines that are delivered wirelessly....A New York Times article detailing Plastic Logic's device points to the eventual future when E Ink's black-on-white display gets colorized and ads are clickable and multimedia. Cool, right? Just like a high-tech version of those Harry Potter movie newspapers, no?
Psst. We have that already. It's called the Internet. With laptops becoming even more portable, cheaper, and wirelessly accessible, isn't tomorrow already here?
A commenter on our Ravenous Romance post notes that other erotic romance publishers are heavily invested in a digital publishing strategy - Ellora's Cave, for example - and wonders "what new twist is RR bringing to the game?"
I got in touch with Holly Schmidt and Lori Perkins, two of the founders, and they responded that they are still in development, and there will be further press releases that will address RR's market differentiation. Launch, they state, is 3 months away - and invitations for beta testers will be going out soon. Stay tuned!
(Well, the newspaper business model HAS to change anyway, or there won't be any more newspapers.)
The main concern seems to be that if Google is posting contextual ads, that ad revenue will be going to Google and not the newspaper publisher whose content is generating the context for those ads:
But many newspaper publishers view search engines like Google as threats to their own business. Many of them also see their archives as a potential source of revenue, and it is not clear whether they will willingly hand them over to Google.
“The concern is that Google, in making all of the past newspaper content available, can greatly commoditize that content, just like news portals have commoditized current news content,” said Ken Doctor, an analyst with Outsell, a research company.
Google really is taking an extreme library model - using ad dollars instead of tax dollars to subsidize making content available "for free" - and this article notes that they're working with ProQuest in this latest initiative. Of course publishers - of newspapers, magazines and books - are threatened. Find me a publisher who is NOT made uncomfortable with library models.
What a monster.
Yes, we set up filters to catch posts with offensive or hate-based language. But you can't catch everything. And it wasn't long before B&N found itself on the receiving end of letters from various lawyers, citing various posts as defamatory, etc. "So-and-so stole my idea" is not going to trip any filters.
Machines don't catch everything. You need humans to look over your content.
These days, it's tag clouds. Look at any tag cloud and you'll see the results of users managing their own data with little thought as to how other users are managing THEIR data. On Technorati today, for example, there are tags for both "John McCain" and "McCain" - each of which gives you different search results. Shouldn't they be combined into a single tag? The tag cloud on I Can Has Cheezburger is a right royal mess - there are 3 or 4 tags for every concept (something I find particularly irksome because I use them in presentations). The tag cloud on LibraryThing is nearly unusable.
You need human intervention for standardized, meaningful data. And yes, humans are costly. And when you're starting something new, you don't want to shell out for humans when machines are "good enough". But machines will never be entirely good enough. And you will always, always, ALWAYS wind up paying more later - in lost sales/clicks, in frustrated customers, in hiring someone to come in and clean up your data when it finally gets out of control, in hiring someone else to come in and set up a new system that institutes business rules in a data-entry form so that users can't screw up as much.
In other words, the best correction for human error is...other humans.
Publishers who use the new service can provide a single digital book file to Constellation and specify how they would like it to be used. As a result consumers may see more obscure, esoteric books available in digital formats, Perseus said.
My unshakeable conclusions so far:
Epub is a format.
Sony Readers exist.
Romance is the top selling category of all books.
Romance is the top selling category of ebooks.
Kindles are not for people who have large hands.
Ebooks are a growing market.
Sony Readers are less convenient than Kindles to load.
Ebook readers are for business travelers.
There will be color displays on ebook readers eventually.
The devices will go the way of the Rocket Ebook.
The devices will get more refined and more popular.
The iPhone will be the next e-reader.
The iPhone will never be a suitable e-reader.
Printed books will never die.
Global warming will end the book market as we know it, and printed books will become like illuminated manuscripts, a luxury.
The ebook market will turn into something else – digital books are a stopgap form of entertainment.
The ebook market will become absolutely huge, particularly with college students.
It must be 5:00 somewhere....
O'Reilly's Tools of Change blog - I'm supposed to be a contributor there, but I am horrible at it. (Yes, Mac, I promise. Soon. Really soon. As soon as I learn XXE and all that other stuff.) However, those who actually do contribute - as well as Mac Slocum and Andrew Savikas, who run the site - are the best brains in the business.
Persona Non Data - Michael Cairns used to run Bowker and is now a consultant. His blog is really great - frequently updated, with observations on most of the book world news. He gets up earlier in the morning than I do.
Peter Brantley's blog - I frankly don't know how Peter does it. He runs this amazingly erudite listserv, heads the Digital Library Foundation, speaks and writes for other organizations, and posts these very thoughtful, well-considered pieces on digital distribution, rights management, libraries...It's incredible.
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books - Because when you finish your meal, you get dessert. Candy and Sarah review...primarily romances, but also some mysteries, SF, and anything else they feel like. What I really like about the site is that (a) Real Romance Authors like it and show up there and comment, so the site has foreals cred (b) Candy and Sarah are very tech-savvy and Sarah in particular has a Kindle and loves it.
The great thing about RavenousRomance is that their titles are available both as e-books and as MP3s - so you can either read or listen to them. Eschewing print entirely, they're satisfying an ever-growing market of women who are tech-savvy and still want their romance/erotica fix.
From the press release (but I've double-checked these figures and they're accurate):
Romance is the most popular genre in modern literature, generating $1.37 billion in net sales annually and accounting for 26.4% of all books sold. Demographically, 56% of romance readers are under age 44, and 74% have college degrees. Overall, these women are computer-literate and comfortable with new technologies. They are also voracious consumers, having read an average of nine romance novels each in 2006. Digital content offers a way for women to keep their interest in erotic romance discreet, portable, and affordable.
Stanley never ceases to amaze me.
While the motive of reducing costs of textbooks to students is laudable, digital is not necessarily the solution at this time. It is important to offer choice, and convenience. And stores should be offering students digital options. If we do not, someone else will and on terms where we may have little input or control relative to the vendor or margins. At the same time, institutions will need to understand that providing students with lower cost textbook options may result in lower revenues from the college store. That in turn means fewer resources coming in to support student activities or other campus functions to which college store revenue contributes.Apparently CourseSmart is making it possible, however, for college bookstores to participate in offering digital textbooks - something many brick and mortar stores have been quite concerned about. If books are available for download, where does that leave the bookstore? For so long, bookstores looked at record stores with a "there but for the grace of God" eye - but now that it's time for books to be distributed over the wires, how can a bookstore play?
Right now, college bookstores are buying packaged bits of paper with key codes on them. A student buys this package, goes to the URL that's printed on the paper, and types in a code that gives the student access to the digital textbook. But this will eventually go away as well - students will be buying their digital textbooks online and receiving an email that contains the same information as the packaged bit of paper.
Digital textbooks, therefore, are only viable to the college bookstore as an "also" purchase - while I'm here in the store buying my humanities textbooks, let me pick up this ebook for my science requirement - but not as the main focus of a bookstore trip.
The purpose of GENERATION WE is to explore the emerging power of the Millennial generation, to describe the positive changes they are ready to drive, and to show how the Millennials (and their supporters from other generations) are poised to change our nation and our world for the better.Shatzkin tells us:
The book -- a 256 page full-color presentation illustrated by award-winning infographics artists -- was co-authored with Karl Weber, whom I first met at Wiley about 20 years ago and who has edited and co-authored a lot of books since he left Random House ten years ago. The book they wrote lays out the description of what Greenberg calls Generation We and issues a call for action.The website for the project is here.
Eric put together a great book with a team of true editorial and design professionals. But he didn't know about ISBNs, ordering paper, reserving press time, or what trim sizes made sense for the presses he'd print on. He sure didn't know that a book needs to be introduced to the supply chain many months before you print it.
So we faced the challenge near the end of July to make months of work happen in a few weeks. With some great help -- particularly from ex-PGW CEO Rich Freese introducing books to accounts, Brian O'Leary of Magellan Media who went back to his roots in print production to arrange the printing, and now from Max Pulsinelli of Maximum Impact PR getting the word out -- we're going to have this book on sale all over the country and all over the Internet by the middle of October. And I think you'll hear a lot about it.
Because of the way we've crashed production, we don't have bound galleys, but we have still gotten a slew of endorsements from a variety of luminaries including Muhammad Yunus, Larry Brilliant, Tom Daschle, Dean Ornish, Norman Lear, and Ron Wyden, with many more to come.
You don't want to mention "Google" and "vetting" in the same sentence. It devalues the vetting process - Googling is what you do when you're interested in fast results that have an okay level of accuracy. Vetting is...not that.“It was obviously something that anybody Googling Sarah Palin knew was in the news and there was a very thorough vetting done on that and also on the daughter,” the [McCain] aide said.