ePublishing Week in Brief – August 20th to 24th, 2012
Amazon Plans Sept.6 Announcement as New Kindles Awaited
Amazon.com Inc. , the world’s biggest online retailer, will hold a press conference on Sept. 6 in Santa Monica,California.
The Seattle-based company may be preparing to announce upgrades to its Kindle e-reader devices or the Kindle Fire, a tablet that shows movies and other content, said Kerry Rice, an analyst at Needham & Co. Inc.
“I’d assume it’s some more Kindle Fire models,” including at least one with a 10-inch screen, said Rice, who has a hold rating on Amazon. “They’ll be priced very competitively, at lower price points than most, if not all their competitors.”
Amazon sent out invitations today to the event, which will be held at the Barker Hangar. The online retailer gave no details on what the meeting would be about. On Sept. 28 of last year, Chief Executive Office Jeff Bezos unveiled the Kindle Fire and other new devices.
Barnes & Noble Falls After Second Straight Nook Sales Drop
Barnes & Noble Inc. , theU.S.bookstore chain working to navigate a shift to digital content, fell after posting a second straight quarterly sales decline in Nook devices.
The shares declined 3.9 percent to $11.87 at the close inNew York. Barnes & Noble has dropped 18 percent this year.
The company has been losing money as it develops and markets its Nook tablet computers and e-books to take advantage of a growing preference for digital books. Sales in the Nook unit, including tablets, e-books and applications, were little changed at $192 million in the fiscal first-quarter, hurt by a drop in demand for devices, after a 34 percent gain last year.
“This is supposed to be their growth business and growth is decelerating,” Michael Souers, an analyst for Standard & Poor’s inNew York, said in an interview.
Barnes & Noble provided sales of the Nook for the first time with its fiscal fourth-quarter results, when the division’s revenue fell 10 percent amid declining device sales.
A 23 percent drop in average selling prices and production delays with the Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight, a version of its black-and-white e-reader, hurt device sales last quarter. Sales of digital content, including e-books and applications, rose 46 percent after a gain of 65 percent in the previous quarter, New York-based Barnes & Noble said today in a statement.
The net loss in quarter ended July 28 narrowed to $41 million, or 78 cents a share, from a loss of $56.6 million, or 99 cents, a year earlier, Barnes & Noble said today. Analysts projected a loss of 90 cents a share, the average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
Ebooks Follow The Trail Blazed By Paperbacks
Via Teleread I discovered a great piece by Andrew Shaffer of Mental Floss, How Paperbacks Transformed the Way Americans Read. In it, Shaffer traces the history of the paperback, a format that was at first scorned by publishers for being cheap and flimsy.
Shaffer begins his story in 1939 with Robert de Graff, whose imprint Pocket Books reprinted popular hardbacks in paperback form, giving royalties to the original publishers which they then split 50/50 with authors. Publishers were sceptical, believing that the American public weren’t interested in paperbacks, but decided to humour de Graff anyway:
“We feel we ought to give it a chance—to show that it won’t work here,” an anonymous publisher told Time shortly after Pocket Books’ launch.
History shows quite clearly how wrong the sceptics were. De Graff’s reprints sold out rapidly and it wasn’t long before another publisher, Fawcett Publications, considered publishing originals as well as reprints:
Random House of Canada Launches Online Magazine and Digital-only Imprint
Random House of Canada is launching an online magazine, a new program for publishing e-book originals and a newly renovated Web site as a part of an ambitious new three-pronged digitial strategy.
The new magazine, Hazlitt, (named after 19th Century British author and journalist Williams Hazlitt) is intended to be Random House of Canada’s “signature online editorial and digital habitat.” But it aims to goes beyond being a digital showcase for the company’s authors and content, and to be a fully realized online magazine, examining culture and current affairs on a daily basis. Robert Wheaton, v-p and director, strategic digital business development, says: “The mission is to provide a compelling, entertaining, informative online magazine, and the things that online magazines do best, and to publish work at its natural length, whether that is a 500-word blog post or a short online film or a marquee online feature.”
To do that, Random House has hired two prominent journalists: Christopher Frey, as director of digital publishing and Hazlitt editor-in-chief, and Alexandra Molotkow, as Hazlitt senior editor. Frey founded the travel magazine Outpost and was the founding editorial director of the online newspaper Toronto Standard. Molotkow was most recently associate editor at The Walrus magazine and a columnist at Toronto Standard.
Authors and journalists including Lynn Crosbie, Kaitlin Fontana, Billie Livingston, Jason McBride, Drew Nelles, and Carl Wilson, as well as filmmaker Scott Cudmore, will be contributors, and the magazine will seek freelance submissions.”Our writers are smart, insightful, occasionally combative, funny, and well read – our cast is wildly diverse. We will feature best-selling, award-winning authors alongside young, emerging writers,” says Frey.
DoJ Says Court Should Approve E-book Deal Without Delay
In a motion made Wednesday, the Department of Justice says that arguments made by Apple, Macmillan and Penguin as well as the friend of the court brief filed by the ABA and Barnes & Noble objecting to the final judgment reached between the government and Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster over e-book price fixing charges raise no real new issues and therefore asks that the court approve the agreement without further hearings.
The DoJ maintains that arguments made by the parties that the government doesn’t understand the e-book business is just a variation made by other industries at other times. “While e-books are a relatively new arrival on the publishing scene, a plea for special treatment under the antitrust laws is an old standby,” the DoJ wrote. “Railroads, publishers, lawyers, construction engineers, health care providers, and oil companies are just some of the voices that have raised cries against ‘ruinous competition’ over the decades. Time and time again the courts have rejected the invitation to exempt particular businesses from the reach of the Sherman Act.”
The new brief rebuts the separate filings made by Apple, Macmillan, Penguin and the ABA/Barnes & Noble. In dismissing the Penguin brief that argues that, overall, e-book prices have come down since the implementation of the agency model, the DoJ points to its own study that shows that the average price of a Penguin title sold through Amazon rose 17% after the implementation of the agency model and that the average price of new releases rose 21%. The DoJ provided two exhibits to support its claim of price increases, but continued to assert that it does not need to produce its internal economic analyses.
Back to School: Electronic textbooks are becoming more popular, but printed text remains top choice
It is a familiar annual ritual at universities and colleges acrossCanada. Starting this week, students will begin to pile into campus bookstores and face the harsh reality that a single textbook can easily cost more than designer jeans or a month’s supply of submarine sandwiches.
“It was a little surprising my first year seeing some of the prices, because you can easily pay $150 or more for a textbook that you’ll only use for a semester,” says Catry Lai, a fourth year University of Toronto life sciences student.
It’s not unheard of to spend $1,000 or more on textbooks for Canadian students. But after careful shopping, Lai expects to spend about $500 in textbooks this year.
And that’s because, in addition to keeping an eye out for used books, she’s investing in electronic textbooks, which can be 50 to 70 per cent cheaper than first-edition print editions.
The demand for etextbooks inCanadais small but growing. Expectations are that they’ll hit 10 per cent of sales by year’s end. And the appeal of lower prices, more up-to-date information and a less cumbersome load to carry means that etextbooks could be dominating the market in less than five years.
Amazon.com Selling eBooks in India
Authors who checked their Kindle Direct Publishing dashboards this morning found an unheralded surprise: the drop down box that lists the different international Amazon sales channels for authors’ ebooks sales on Amazon.com now quietly reads, “Amazon.com (includesIndia).” Literally overnight, the retailer opened up its ebook distribution channel to customers from the second most populous country in the world.
This is welcome news, especially for indie authors searching for new and voracious readers, as it overrides the issue raised in a February 2012 article in Bloomberg that details the hoop jumping Amazon was having to endure in order to get a foothold inIndia. Legislation is in place inIndia that blocks foreign companies from selling multiple brands within the country, which has prevented giants like Walmart from having a sales channel within the country.
Another article from Digitizor.com dating back to June 2011 stated that Amazon would be selling inIndia within six months–which clearly didn’t happen on that time table, most likely due toIndia suspended the law that would have allowed foreign retailers–but it did state that Amazon would begin with ebooks, listing a new online division head forIndia.