ePublishing Week in Brief – June 3rd to 7th,2013
Optimism Among Book Publishers at BookExpo America
For an industry that has been so focused lately on the impact of disruptive upheavals in technology and retailing, last week’s BookExpo America–the annual publishing fete at New York’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center–was notably mellow, even upbeat by the standards of recent years. Publishers Weekly’s front page headline captured the mood: “Stability Brings Hope at BEA.” And with 20,000 book people on hand, there was enough activity in the aisles, booths, and autograph areas to engage the interests of any attendee.
One highlight was the climax of publishing’s first Hackathon–a 36-hour competition in which roughly two hundred individuals independently or in teams submitted projects to help connect readers with the books that interest them, whether through better library data systems, reading platforms, etc. Among the finalists, the winning project at BookExpo was Evoke, which revolved around the idea of an app organizing characters by “‘types’/similarities” into “trees,” helping “users find new characters and books they might love.”
The Hackathon was only one of a multitude of well-attended events at the convention including author appearances, panels on a range of issues devoted, one way or another, to publishing’s future and non-stop schmoozing. The biggest crowd I saw on the floor was for Jim Carrey who is self- publishing a children’s book next fall and was signing brochures. But there were a host of other celebrity authors on hand from publishers large and small including Doris Kearns Goodwin, Elizabeth Gilbert, Wally Lamb, Chris Mathews and many more, supporting the notion that books are streaming forth to audiences reading them on a variety of print and digital platforms with an increase, albeit modest, in total sales.
Publishing CEO takes stand in antitrust suit against Apple
The testimony of David Shanks, chief executive of Penguin Group was a mixed bag. On positive side for the Justice Department, Shanks testified that Apple inserted a provision in its e-book contract with Penguin which forced the publisher to modify its existing agreements with other retailers, including market leader Amazon.
The provision known as the most favored nations system is one of the Justice Department’s targets in its suit, as it claims consumers were hurt by fixed prices.
On the other hand, Shanks appeared to contradict allegations by the Justice Department that Apple conspired with Penguin with statements on how Apple and Penguin clashed on many things.
McArthur & Company publishing house closes after 15 years
The independent Toronto publisher handled such authors as Maeve Binchy, Barry Callaghan and John Brady.
Kim McArthur, president of McArthur and Co., has announced the independent publishing house will close. She will continue to work as a literary/creative agent.
McArthur & Company, one of this country’s small independent publishing houses and the exclusive agent in Canada for several overseas publishers, announced Friday it was closing after what founder Kim McArthur called “a mostly grand 15-year run.” It had faced financial difficultieslast year.
McArthur, the former head of Little Brown Canada until it folded in May 1998, plans to team up with Miron Blumental, the former entertainment lawyer for the late bestselling Irish author Maeve Binchy.
Education technology startup Knewton just clinched a partnership with publishing giant Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) that it claims will impact 5 million students by the end of the year.
The company develops online learning tools that can be adapted to each learner’s individual needs, whether it’s in K12, higher education, or professional development. The technology works by dividing lessons into building blocks and then measuring students’ performance as they learn.
From today, HMH’s educational materials will be enhanced by Knewton’s personalized learning technology and used in K-12 classrooms across America. Knewton’s COO David Liu said the new offering will be a digital companion to the traditional textbook, and the company is still determining pricing.
Filed under: ePublishing - The week in Brief