Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Publishing trends

However devoted one may be to ebooks, there are times when only a physical book will do. Such as when the book:
  • isn't available in digital format,
  • is a gift for a reader yet to make the switch,
  • is in a series of which you already have a collection, and you want all the copies to match,
  • has large graphics or detailed tables or copious footnotes, any of which makes the ebook edition awkward to use, or
  • in some ineffable way just calls out to be held.
These are all reasons why even ebook aficionados sometimes want to visit a brick-and-mortar bookstore. Online recommendation engines have their place, some are even fairly good, but IMO browsing shelves retains its virtues -- like the serendipitous find. But browsing becomes tricky when there are no bookstores to be browsed ...

Though I never got around to posting about it, I was chagrined last August when Barnes and Noble reported dismal sales and earnings.

Well, reports are just out about Barnes & Noble's latest quarterly results and while BN eked out a tiny profit, its sales declined -- again -- this time by 8%. It's troubling to see the country's largest bookstore chain struggle. Not even the bankruptcy less than three years ago of its largest brick-and-mortar rival (Borders Books) seems to have helped.

Also from my "about publishing" files, this time from about two months ago, "HarperCollins To Make Most U.S. Backlist Titles Available To Books Subscription Service." How, exactly, and to what extent, will a book borrowed by a Scribd subscriber for an all-you-can-read monthly fee become a royalty event for a Harper Collins-published author? That "detail" is not discussed -- and (as an author, though not with HC) I'd like to know.

Amazon, meanwhile, recently began a new cross-marketing program called MatchBook. If you bought a print edition of a participating title via Amazon, you can add its corresponding Kindle edition for a fairly token amount ($2.99 or less).

Will people elect to own a book in print and e- format? Maybe some. Will people buy a print book for someone else and the discount Kindle edition for themselves? That I can certainly see happening. Will gifting of the extra edition lead, sometimes, to the recipient discovering and embracing a new author? That could happen, too.

Let's call it a noble (but not Barnes) experiment, 'cuz I'm about to find out. All my titles published by FoxAcre Press are enrolled in the Amazon MatchBook program.

Do you recall the long-running (back to 2005) case of Google vs. authors? Google proposes to scan copyrighted works for search (pocketing ad revenue for serving up those search results). Different authors and author groups have varying opinions about whether they care to participate and whether various compensation offers are equitable. After some past settlement terms have been rejected by the court, here's the latest twist: "Google defeats authors in U.S. book-scanning lawsuit."

The Authors Guild (not that, contrary to the name, the group represents all authors) is expected to appeal.

Interesting times ...

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