The Book Business continues to Evolve

The economics of the book business are changing so rapidly the publishing industry barely looks like it did just six months ago.

Divining the profitability of a book is a mysterious art. But basic book economics suggest an e-book is more profitable than a hardcover, even at substantially lower consumer prices, due mostly to the inventory and return costs associated with physical books.

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Duke to offer Thousands of Free e-books

Duke staying with the times

Duke University is about to expand access to free electronic books to include thousands of titles. This fall Duke will be among the nation’s first institutions to offer free online access to books that are still protected by copyright and not in the public domain. Published between 1923 and 1963, the books will be offered to the public because the owners of the copyrights can’t be contacted – either the publishers went out of business or the authors are deceased.

Duke announced the project this week along with other universities – Cornell, Emory and Johns Hopkins. They were able to do what Google hasn’t been able to because their library systems own print editions of the books.

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Soundtracks for e-books?

Music for e-books?

As ebook sales have skyrocketed in the past several years, publishers have searched for ways to improve on the digital editions of their books. In 2010 enhanced e-books with video and audio were all the rage, but sales for many enhanced e-books were dismal, and the books were often expensive to produce.

In the movie “Pride and Prejudice” the music jumps and swells at all the right moments, heightening the tension and romance of that classic Jane Austen novel.

Will it do the same in the e-book edition?

Booktrack, a start-up in New York, is planning to release e-books with soundtracks that play throughout the books, an experimental technology that its founders hope will change the way many novels are read.

[NY TIMES ARTICLE]

With Creativity Bookstore in L.A. is Bucking the Odds

The Last Bookstore

Located on the ground floor of the Spring Arts Tower downtown, the Last Bookstore is a mix of old and new. It has pillars stretching 25 feet up to a painted, vaulted ceiling; underfoot are intermittent mosaics, all part of the former Citizens National Bank, which opened in its grand location in 1915. The light fixtures are new, created from bicycle wheels by Brad Goldhorn, and high on the south wall flows a sculpture made of wire and old paperbacks created by Mike Piscitello, a student at SCI-Arc.

Tucked under wheel-equipped bookshelves is a new, low stage where bands perform regularly. One of the 15 people who works for Spencer books bands; theater events are also coming up and, Spencer hopes, films. “My dream was to create one giant space where everything I thought was cool would be in one place,” he says. “Hopefully, other people will come in and share it with me.”

[GREAT STORY FROM L.A. TIMES]

Apple and other Major Publishers Sued over Price Fixing

Apple and other publishers sued

Law firm Finkelstein Thompson LLP filed a class action complaint against Apple, Inc. and six major book publishers alleging a horizontal conspiracy to fix and increase the price of eBooks in the United States. These allegations, if proved, may entitle purchasers of eBooks to monetary damages. The publishers include Hachette Book Group, Inc., HarperCollins Publishers Inc., Macmillan Publishers, Inc., Penguin Group (USA), Inc., Random House, Inc., and Simon & Schuster, Inc. The action is currently pending before a New York State judge.

The complaint alleges that six of the defendants implemented price-fixing agreements contemporaneously with Apple’s introduction of the iPad in April, 2010. Defendants allegedly did so by coordinating the introduction of an “agency” model for eBooks sales, where the publishers are the direct sellers of the eBooks and dictate the price at which online retailers, such as Amazon.com, can sell the eBooks as agents for the publishers. The book publishers and Apple allegedly agreed among themselves to simultaneously raise the price of eBooks, often from $9.99 to $12.99 or higher.

If you are interested in discussing your rights, or have information relating to this investigation, please contact Finkelstein Thompson’s Washington, DC offices at   (877) 337-1050  or by email at contact@finkelsteinthompson.com

Are eReaders taking over?

Libraries and ebooksOn a recent Go bus trip from Hamilton to Toronto, more than half the approximately 50 passengers had their noses buried in something.

Two of them were reading books. A handful of people were busy texting or using an app on their smartphones. One young kid, who looked to be about seven, played a video game and at least eight people seemed to be just staring at their electronic devices.

They were… [READ THIS COMMENTARY]

Study: E-book Sales Continue to Flourish

kobo ereader  E-book Sales continue to be rock solid according to BookStats, a collaboration between the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and the Book Industry Study Group (BISG). This first BookStats report covers the years 2008-10. Get the complete details here.

“The BookStats study indicates that the publishing industry is healthy and growing during a time of unprecedented change,” said Dominique Raccah, the founder and CEO of Illinois-based publisher Sourcebooks and the chair of the BookStats committee. “Publishers in every sector of our business have made significant investments in content and technology to better serve their audiences’ needs, and those efforts seem to correlate with the results we’re seeing.”

Related story: HarperCollins e-book sales now comprise 11% of its total revenue, the company has said following parent NewsCorp’s latest results. [MORE DETAILS HERE]

 

War is On! Kindle Cloud Reader to combat Apple iTunes

Apple vs AmazonOn July 26 of this year, following pressure from Apple that it would begin strenuously enforcing its 30 percent commission rate, Amazon and Barnes & Noble announced they were shutting down their in-app sales.  Customers were instead instructed to go to the Internet and buy directly from their respective websites. 

Amazon just released the new Kindle Cloud Reader for quick and easy reading right in your web browser.

There are already free Kindle apps out there, but Kindle Cloud Reader extends the popular digital book store and library to PCs and tablets that run browsers based on HTML 5. This includes Safari on iPad and desktops as well as the desktop version of Google Chrome.

[full story here]

Amazon Tablet to debut in October

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Currently not much is known about Amazon’s tablet. What is known is that it will feature a 9” – 10” touch-screen, a powerful application processor and will be based on Google Android operating system. It is expected to be released in two months.

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, the device will be designed by one of the contract manufacturers of electronics, but its successor due in 2012 will be developed by Amazon itself.

[More details here]

15 Years Later 90-year-old Man Publishes Digital Book

In the prime of death

Click image for book details

Studying journalism in 1937, Roscoe Born never dreamed of seeing his own writing in digital format. But looking back now, the 90-year-old author said he is grateful for the technology advancement that has given him the ability to publish a roughly 95,000-word murder-mystery novel, which he started 15 years ago, in the form of an e-book.

[READ THE FULL STORY]

“In The Prime of Death” – get the full details on this book here.