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ePublishing Week in Brief – First week of 2012

ePublishing Week in Brief – First week of 2012

This Month’s Apple Event To Focus On Publishing And iBooks

Apple will be holding a product event later this month in New York, Kara Swisher isreporting, and we’ve confirmed independently with a source.

According to the source the event will not involve any hardware at all and instead will focus on publishing and eBooks (sold through Apple’s iBooks platform) rather than iAds. Attendance will also be more publishing industry-oriented than consumer-focused.

More about Apple, publishing and iBooks

Barnes & Noble Shops Publisher

Barnes & Noble Inc. has put its Sterling Publishing business up for sale, say people familiar with the situation, signaling a likely end to its decades-long involvement in the publishing of its own books.

The book retailer has been in publishing since the 1970s and expanded the effort in 2003, when it acquired Sterling for about $115 million.

Now, however, Barnes & Noble, facing intense competition from Inc., is recasting itself as a technology company with emphasis on its Nook e-reading devices and its Nook tablet. The sale of Sterling would allow Barnes & Noble to focus on its core businesses. A spokeswoman for Barnes & Noble on Wednesday declined to comment.

Sterling publishes mainly nonfiction titles in such categories as puzzles and games, gardening, cooking, and crafts, as well as children’s books.

In July 2009 Barnes & Noble consolidated a separate in-house publishing business into Sterling and laid off a small number of employees, citing a need for greater efficiency. The publishing house boasts an estimated 6,000 plus title base of e-books and print books, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing earlier this year. Its catalog includes more than 500 books in the Barnes & Noble Classics and its Library of Essential Reader series.

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The Future of Publishing?

e-Books Are Bright Spot in Dismal Publishing Industry

 There is no doubt that e-books are a bright spot in the dismal economics of publishing. The current market is strong — according to a recent Harris Interactive poll, one in six Americans now uses an e-reader, and that number will grow as consumers become more comfortable with the technology.

Actually, the potential for growth is astonishing. The Association of American Publishers reports that e-books have risen in 2010 to 6.4% of the trade market, up from 0.6% in 2008. The Institute for Publishing Research predicts that by 2015, e-book sales will increase to $3.6 billion, from $78 million in 2008. In publishing terms, that’s petrodollars.

But the certainty of growth brings confusion. E-books are transforming publishing, but nobody is exactly sure what that means. We all know that Amazon is dominant, and Apple and Google are now players, but the future of e-books is perhaps better divined by looking at the smaller players: the innovative startups and the individuals in the publishing trenches — the editors, agents and writers.

In terms of digital publishing, perhaps the biggest of the smallest is Open Road Integrated Media, founded by Jane Friedman, a former president and CEO of HarperCollins, and Jeffrey Sharp, a film producer. Open Road publishes 12 to 15 new e-books a year, but its bread and butter is digitizing backlist titles by such authors as Michael Chabon, Leon Uris and William Styron — names big enough to shift a few e-units.

More about The Future ofPublishing

New Models for Web Publishing

As we begin a new year, I thought I would take a moment to review where Web publishing has come and where it seems to be going. We certainly stand at a crossroads, as we move from the “golden age of blogging” into whatever we are going to call things this year or this moment. I tend to think of this as the post-blogging era.

That isn’t to say that blogs are over: we at RWW certainly don’t think so. But the very nature of the blog is changing. The days are coming to an end when, as Scott Fulton has said most recently: “You can have freedom from bias or you can have freedom from oversight. You cannot have both.” Jon Mitchell wrote earlier in December about new ways of writing, publishing and advertising online.

And there are other smart folks out there who have figured some of this stuff out already. As a recent example, look at what Jeremiah Owyang wrote on his blog last week that all future blogs will share all of these traits:

  • There will be an opportunity for new stars to emerge,
  • It also will be harder for personal brands to rise,
  • New models to emerge and long form content won’t be the only way, and
  • A new mix of media will emerge.

The culture of celebrity

Let’s look at what he means…

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E-Book Editing Raises Questions for Publishing

E-book editing is leading to questions about the changing nature of electronic works, as digital publishing impacts the literary world creatively and financially.

A recent Wall Street Journal Books blog post by Nicholas Carr raises questions about the malleability of e-books. The author self-published an essay collection on Amazon, decided to make a few sentence-level changes, and was able to do so in just two days, rather than the months it would have taken if those corrections went through a traditional publisher — that is, if the publisher even agreed to make them.

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The Attraction-Repulsion of International Literature

In 2011, Alane Salierno Mason, vice president and senior editor of W.W. Norton & Company, published 17 new titles — Stephen Greenblatt’s bestselling and National Book Award winning The Swerve, Andre Dubus III’s bestselling memoir Townie, Diane Ackerman’s memoir One Hundred Names for Love, and Diana Abu-Jaber’s Birds of Paradise among them — extending an already established list of commended, risk-taking volumes.

Many of the books on Mason’s 2011 list were international in scope, and impact. There was The Enchanter by Lila Azam Zanganeh, for example, along with Odessa by Charles King and Siberian Education by Nicolai Lilin. The Storyteller of Marrakesh by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya was also on Mason’s list, as well as Oil on Water by Helon Habila. France and Italy. The Black Sea. Turin. North Africa. Nigeria. The world at large; the world in miniature.

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Self-publishing vs. working with O’Reilly Media

I met Joe Wikert, GM at O’Reilly Media, in 2008, while negotiating terms for Confessions of a Public Speaker. I’ve talked to many editors and executives at publishing companies, but he quickly charmed me with his genuine intelligence and honest good nature. Like my editor at O’Reilly, Mary Tressler, he’s one of my favorite people at O’Reilly Media.

When I decided to self-publish my newest book, Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds, many people assumed there was some bad blood between O’Reilly Media and myself. It was one of the most common questions I heard, despite it not being the case.

More about self-publishing vs. O’Reilly Media

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