Saturday, June 06, 2009

Media Week 22: University Press, BookExpo, BordersUK, News Corp

If you are on Twitter you will have seen these. Apologies.

Scott McLemee at Inside Higher Ed takes a look at some of the University Presses at BookExpo and their comparative investments in eBook formats:

Many people take it for granted that the economic downturn amounts to a a tipping point in e-publishing, at least for scholarly presses, and perhaps especially for them.But even the publishers moving steadily deeper into the digital terrain are doing so watchfully.

The expression "tipping point" (with its implication of "point of no return") hardly seems to apply, to judge by this year's Book Expo. A more fitting term might be the one used by Ellen Trachtenberg, a publicist for the University of Pennsylvania Press. "We're at a tension point," she told me. "We don't have any e-books, but our board of trustees is keen on doing them, so we are looking into it."

PW's BookExpo content is here.

Elizabeth Eaves took a walk around BookExpo last weekend (Forbes)
Why write books? The compulsion to try to entertain, persuade or make meaning is irresistible.

At the very least, the industry appears to be handling technological change more gracefully than the music business or ink-on-paper newspapers, in ways that are reassuring to an author. Publishers will automatically make new books available in a digital format, suitable for the Kindle or other e-readers--though mid-list authors may have to ask, or arm wrestle, publishers into digitizing their older books. Nobody knows whether sales in the still-tiny digital books market will cannibalize print book sales or add to them, nor whether margins on e-books will be enough to keep publishers in business. It seems wisest, though, to give the people what they want, how they want it.

Borders UK denied they are facing critical financial issues rather that they need some external help to rightsize their retail space. Nevertheless, the appointment of a financial adviser raises speculation about the company's future. The Bookseller

More from News Corp - this time newly hired Jonathan Miller - on developing a paid content model. (Hollywood Reporter)
Paid digital media services are the wave of the future for media giants, and the only question is how fast they will become reality, News Corp. chief digital officer Jonathan Miller said here Tuesday evening, adding that the conglomerate will push to develop new business models that work for the industry overall.

"We will see a return to multiple revenue streams," Miller predicted after his chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch recently hinted more of his empire's digital content offers may carry a price tag in the future.

"Free versus pay is one of the really big issues out there," and this is the time the industry seems ready to find answers, he said.

We want to see a (business) model established.
Also on The Twitter, there was a publishing boot camp in Toronto over the weekend and here is the link

An interview in The Observer magazine with crime novelist Martina Cole:
I've run down the batteries of not one but two tape recorders. My note-taking hand is aching. And when I finally arrive home, I have to spend some time sitting quietly in a darkened room. It's not unlike being kidnapped, interviewing Martina Cole, although if you've read any of her novels, you're probably thinking a claw hammer through an eye socket, or a shank in the neck and a severed artery or two, whereas in actual fact it's a constant, non-stop stream of stories, opinions, homilies, exhortations and offers of tea, coffee, wine, cake, ham salad, water, coffee. Ah go on, a little glass of wine. And when I come to transcribe it all, I manage 29 pages, or 16,000 words, or to put this into context, roughly a fifth of a novel, before I simply give up, overwhelmed.

God, she can talk, Martina. It's non-stop. The stories just keep on coming. She doesn't even need to pause for breath. I begin to suspect that she might have gills. Or that she breathes through her skin like a frog. But then she's written 16 novels, all bestsellers; in fact she's far and away the bestselling British author today, translated into 28 languages, trumped in the charts only by the likes of The Da Vinci Code, so it really shouldn't be surprising that she knows how to spin a yarn, although somehow it is.

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