Publishing is burning bright
Some may carp, but Fifty Shades of Grey is a reminder of what makes the books industry important
As EL James’s Fifty Shades of Grey becomes the bestselling title in British history, now is a good moment to pause and reflect on the magnificent achievement that is the “book” in all its formats – hardback, paperback and, of course, ebook.
With 5.3m copies sold since April, it may be too much to say that Fifty Shades alone is dragging the book trade out of the recession, but outside Christmas, this July was the strongest month for physical book sales since 2007.
Some have carped about the literary merit of James’s bonkbusters, but commercially these titles could not have arrived at a better moment. The modern book trade has never felt more existentially challenged. Publishers are being sued in the US, and are under investigation in Europe, over alleged collusion in fixed-pricing; self-publishers (now known as indie authors) are outselling many traditionally published writers; while the ebook is threatening to wash away established players across the book ecosystem as Amazon’s relentless march to the top continues.
But Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, the over-sexed protagonists of James’s trilogy, are spanking the bottom of despair. The books are not only helping to put a smile (as well as a blush) on many readers’ faces, but equally so on that of James’s publisher, Random House, and those booksellers selling copies of the printed books at an unheralded pace. The trilogy has grossed close to £50m in revenue. The number may be small when compared to a movie release, but that is just the beginning, as the books become films, and spark spinoff products
Ingram Makes Color Print-On-Demand More Economical
Ingram Content Group has announced a new “standard color” pricing model for print-on-demand technology that has reduced costs by roughly two-thirds, making color POD an economical publishing option for the first time. Achieved through advancements in inkjet technology, the price drop means that a greater range of book content can be printed in color and done faster around the world.
Depending on the exact dimensions of a book, color POD for a single 120 page trade paperback would previously run in the general range of $12-$13.50, making such books prohibitively expensive. Standard Color reduces the cost of a single book to the general range of $4-$5, with a short run of 500 books pricing out at below $3/copy for a 6”x9” trade paperback.
Phil Ollila, chief content officer, Ingram Content Group, said “high-speed color inkjet printing is poised to be a real opportunity for publishers looking for more efficiency in book manufacturing and the print supply chain overall.” Lightning Source will roll out the new technology immediately at itsTennesseefacility and at itsPennsylvaniaplant by year’s end. Look for the technology to be in use internationally by early 2013.
Amazon Quietly Closes Security Hole After Journalist’s Devastating Hack
Amazon closed a privacy hole on Monday that previously allowed hackers access to Amazon accounts over the phone using just a name, email address and mailing address — three pieces of information easily found for many on the web.
Amazon changed its customer privacy policies on Monday, closing security gaps that were exploited in the identity hacking of Wired reporter Mat Honan on Friday.
Previously, Amazon allowed people to call in and change the email address associated with an Amazon account or add a credit card number to an Amazon account as long as the caller could identify him or herself by name, email address and mailing address — three bits of personal information that are easily found online.
On Tuesday, Amazon handed down to its customer service department a policy change that no longer allows people to call in and change account settings, such as credit cards or email addresses associated with its user accounts.
Amazon officials weren’t available for comment on the security changes, but during phone calls to Amazon customer service on Tuesday, representatives told us that the changes were sent out this morning and put in place for “your security.”
The security gap was used by hackers, one of whom identified himself as a 19-year-old going by the name “Phobia,” to gain access toHonan’s Amazon account on Friday. Once Phobia and another hacker gained access toHonan’s Amazon account, they were able to view the last four digits of a credit card linked to the account.
Amazon Locker Service Is Expanding
Amazon started a locker service about a year ago, and it’s currently be expanded, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, who says lockers are popping up around the Bay Area as of the past few weeks.
Amazon’s help center does not acknowledge the Bay Area, but indicates that lockers are currently in operation inSeattle,New York, theWashington,DC area, andLondon. Amazon isn’t saying where else the offering may be expanded to next, but it does appear to be expanding.
Amazon Locker lets customers receive packages at pick-up stations located in stores that Amazon is renting space in, not entirely unlike a Redbox or Coinstar kiosk. The lockers are currently in grocery stores, drug stores and convenience stores (reportedly, including 7-Elevens) that are open 24 hours.
When packages are delivered to the lockers, customers receive emails informing them that they’re ready for pick-up. These emails contain unique pick-up codes, the location/address of the locker, and which one will actually contain the package. The locker system has a touch screen that customers can enter the codes into. Packages are available for pick-up for three days from the delivery date. When a package is not picked up, it will be returned to Amazon for a full refund.
Traditional Publisher Ebook Pricing Harming Authors’ Careers
from the the-industry’s-’get-broke-quick’-scheme dept
We’ve covered a number of stories dealing with ebooks and their disruption of normal publishing. There have been a lot of growing pains in the industry as the ebook market continues to expand, replacing physical sales (and their associated margins and intentional bottlenecks) and knocking down a healthy number of barriers to entry.
Allegations of ebook price fixing are still in the air, pending the Department of Justice’s investigation. No matter the final decision, publishers will still be free to set ebook prices as high or low as they want to. But if they insist on pricing themselves out of the market, they’ll be seeing an increasing number of their authors decide to write their own tickets, as others have done with great success.
Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, breaks down exactly how traditional publishing houses are shooting their own authors in the foot with pricing “strategies” that run in direct opposition to how people purchase ebooks. With ebooks expected to compose nearly 30% of trade book sales (in total dollars) in 2012, authors may be doing serious damage to their careers by selling their ebooks through traditional publishers.
Amazon selling more Kindle ebooks than print books
TheUK’s biggest book retailer Amazon now sells more ebooks than hardbacks and paperbacks combined, the company has said.
For every 100 print books sold through the site, Amazon said it sold 114 titles for its Kindle e-reader device.
It added that the average Kindle owner bought up to four times more books than they did before owning the device.
The strong figures have been boosted by titles such as multi-million selling erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey.
The book has sold more than 31 million copies worldwide, with two million ebooks of the title selling in less than four months.
The figures do not take into account ebook sales on other platforms, such as Apple’s iBooks or the website for bookseller Waterstones.
Amazon’s figures have also been boosted by a surge in popularity for self-publishing.
The company said there had been a 400% increase in authors using Kindle Direct Publishing since summer 2011,
Among them were some of the site’s bestsellers. British author Kerry Wilkinson is one of the world’s most successful self-published authors.
He has sold more than 300,000 copies of his work in the past year.
Ian Clark, blogger and co-founder of a group promoting greater use of libraries, said the figures should not be seen as a sign that ebooks were dominating over physical sales.
For every worrying story I’ve heard about an independent book shop struggling, I’ve heard about a good one flourishing”
He said that as Amazon was the only official vendor of books for Kindle – by far the most popular e-reader on the market – it had very little competition in selling titles for the platform.
Save the Sci-Fi campaign bids to convert rare novels to ebooks
A specialistNew Yorkbookshop is aiming rescue out-of-print books and provide them for free online
Borg again … Singularity&Co’s Save the Sci-Fi campaign will bring one cult SF novel back into print a month, also making it available online. Photo: Rob Whitworth/Alamy
A New Yorkbookshop has launched a campaign to rescue old SF novels. The campaign by Singularity&Co, a new specialist SF bookshop in Brooklyn, comes at the perfect time. Secondhand bookshops – where most fans acquire and develop their habit – are under serious threat, and with them the back catalogue of weird and speculative fiction that they have preserved for so long.
The Save the Sci-Fi campaign aims to bring back in to print one cult SF novel each month and provide it online for free. And if anyone needed proof this is a popular idea, over $52,000 raised through crowdfunding goes some way to providing it.
Save the Sci-Fi isn’t the only project attempting to preserve the heritage of science fiction. The excellent SF Gateway, founded by Gollancz books, Britain’s oldest and most influential publisher of SF, brings some of the genre’s classic texts back in to circulation as ebooks – the covers of which will be familiar to thousands of readers who remember the original Gollancz yellow-jackets. Ebooks and the new Kindle and Apple iBook stores have also provided an opportunity for hundreds of out-of-print authors to find an audience once again. They have also renewed old arguments around creator rights, as writers who signed away ebooks rights for as little as 15% royalties look enviously at indie authors earning 70% on sales through the Kindle platform.