Sunday, July 19, 2009

Media Week 28: Napstered, Amazon,, ALA,

WaPo reports on the romance writers of American conference (Link):

There is no prototypical romance writer. Here at the Marriott Wardman Park hotel, some 2,000 women of all races and ages wear everything from chunky Goth boots to strappy stilettos. (There are also men. Maybe five of them.) But if you squint and look for a general appearance trend, this is it: They look like your mom. They look kind, comforting, domestic, as if they are wearing perfume made from Fleischmann's yeast.

The real pros are fluent in every genre. Paranormal romance -- ghosts, vampires -- is big, though the market might be reaching saturation. Jane Austen-era stuff always does well, though one industry expert confidently says, "I think Victorian is the next Regency," which makes everyone in earshot go "Ooh." The array of titles at a massive book signing reveals the wide gamut of what turns people on: "Lord of Bondage," "My Sexy Greek Summer," "Alien Overnight," "Diving in Deep." That last one is a gay, swimming-themed romance written by one straight woman for other straight women.

Slate magazine suggests publishing risks being 'Napstered' (Link):

While publishers, authors, and agents are well within their rights to attempt to maximize profits by forcing e-book prices up, their efforts may backfire. Put off by higher prices, readers who have grown accustomed to $9.99 Kindle editions may choose to flout copyright law and turn to the lush "pirate" markets for books on the Internet. It's a simple matter of querying a search engine to find thousands of e-books—best-sellers included—that can be imported without charge into a Kindle, a Sony Reader, personal computer, or smart phone.

What has kept illegal e-books from taking off? First, all the electronic reading gadgets on the market are subpar, if you ask me, making the reading of books, newspapers, magazines, and even cereal boxes painful. The resolution is poor. The fonts are crap. The navigation is chunky.
Ironically removes purchased copies of 1984 and Animal Farm from the Kindle - and they don't even replace the 'illegitimate' copies with new ones (Link):
People who bought the rescinded editions of the books reacted with indignation, while acknowledging the literary ironies involved. “Of all the books to recall,” said Charles Slater, an executive with a sheet-music retailer in Philadelphia, who bought the digital edition of “1984” for 99 cents last month. “I never imagined that Amazon actually had the right, the authority or even the ability to delete something that I had already purchased.”

Antoine Bruguier, an engineer in Silicon Valley, said he had noticed that his digital copy of “1984” appeared to be a scan of a paper edition of the book. “If this Kindle breaks, I won’t buy a new one, that’s for sure,” he said.

Amazon appears to have deleted other purchased e-books from Kindles recently. Customers commenting on Web forums reported the disappearance of digital editions of the Harry Potter books and the novels of Ayn Rand over similar issues.
FT Editor says most news organizations will be charging for content within a year and he also speaks about the balance between News Bloggers and journalists (Link):

"I do not wish to sound precious. British journalism has always put a premium on the scoop and it has long blurred the distinction between news and comment," said Barber.

"The rise of bloggers may simply signal the last gasp of the age of deference, not just in politics but also in general social mores in Britain, America and elsewhere. Nor does it follow that the worldwide web has dumbed down journalism.

"On the contrary: it has created opportunities to "smarten up". News organisations with specialist skills and knowledge have the opportunity to thrive. The mediocre middle is much more at risk."

Profile of textbook rental company (Link)

There is plenty of secret sauce to Chegg’s business, including logistics and software to determine the pricing and sourcing of books, as well as how many times a given book can be rented. The savings can vary from book to book. A macroeconomics textbook that retails for $122 was available on Chegg for $65 for one semester; an organic chemistry title retailing for $123 was offered for $33. (Round-trip shipping can add $4 to a book.)

Those kinds of savings are turning students into fans, Mr. Safka said. “Word of mouth,” he said, “has put wind in the company’s sails.”
A set of presentations on digital standards from the ALA conderence (Link):
The market for e-books has expanded rapidly in the past year and the release of new readers, along with the ever increasing amount of new content, makes it likely this growth will continue. On July 10, 2009, BISG and the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) co-hosted their third annual standards forum, providing a big-picture look at the development and impact of common e-book standards, and a discussion of the pain points that persist
Coverage of the ALA meeting in Chicago from Library Journal:
Library Journal and School Library Journal's up-to-the-minute coverage of the American Library Association's (ALA) annual conference, to be held in Chicago July 9–July 15, 2009. Breaking news, views, developments, and live reports from the show floor. Check back often for updates via bookmark or RSS.
In Spain their 'big three' have joined together to create a digital content distributor (Link):
Planeta, Random House Mondadori, and Santillana, which together make up some 70% of the market, are joining forces to set up a digital distribution company for ebooks. This initiative will go hand in hand with a major marketing effort starting with a splashy launch of e-books and e-readers this holiday season through at least one major retailer. They have set a goal of having every frontlist title able to be published simultaneously in both print and ebook form by mid 2011.

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