DBW Weekly Roundup: 12/10/10

DBW Weekly RoundupDigital Book World presents a weekly round-up of some of the most interesting news, commentary and tweets related to publishing that you may have missed, from all over the digital book world:

Considering Transmedia: Literature “Born Digital”
Laura Fleming and John Connell, GETideas.org

Inanimate Alice is a remarkable literary and digital phenomenon – a ‘born digital’ text, authored by Kate Pullinger, an award-winning Canadian novelist, that deploys text, video, images, sound and gaming components to deliver a compelling and powerful tale of a young girl, Alice, who travels the world with her parents. To date, the story develops over four episodes (there are six more in the pipeline) and the narrative increases in complexity as Alice herself grows older through the story. Like many who have met Alice, the young reader above has been completely gripped by her tale.

Unlike most digital content being used in education today, Inanimate Alice has not been adapted from another medium. It is not a traditional text-only story which has then been re-created and enhanced in digital form. Rather Alice was conceived, written and created entirely within the digital domain. The producer (Ian Harper, of the Brad-Field company), the storyteller (Kate Pullinger) and the artist (Chris Joseph), the key movers behind Alice, all wanted to create something that was authentically and wholly digital, and not something derived opportunistically from other, more traditional, domains.

The name given to this kind of literature is transmedia.

Lusty Tales and Hot Sales: Romance E-Books Thrive
Julie Bosman, New York Times

Barnes & Noble, the nation’s largest bookstore chain, is courting romance readers more aggressively than ever. William Lynch, the chief executive, said in an interview that until recently Barnes & Noble was a nonplayer in the huge romance category, but that it now has captured more than 25 percent of the market in romance e-books. Sometime next year, he said, he expects the company’s e-book sales in romance to surpass its print sales. “This is a new business for us,” Mr. Lynch said. “Romance buyers are buying, on average, three books a month. That buyer is really, really valuable.”

Len Riggio: PW’s Person of the Year
Jim Milliot, Publishers Weekly

By any standard, the past 15 months have been eventful for Barnes & Noble. In September 2009, the company completed its purchase of Barnes & Noble College Booksellers and two months later introduced the Nook, its entry into the e-reader wars. This spring, B&N appointed William Lynch as CEO and announced a $140 million investment to upgrade its digital capabilities. In late summer, the retailer emerged victorious in a proxy battle (while announcing that it was exploring the possible sale of the company), and in the fall surprised the industry with the launch of Nookcolor. The man behind all these events, who is leading the nation’s largest bookseller through an unprecedented transformation, is Len Riggio, PW’s Person of the Year. While acknowledging that “a lot happened this year,” B&N’s chairman says the year’s developments have been long in the making. “We’ve been working hard on this for the past three years. The digital transformation didn’t start in 2010,” Riggio says.

Google’s “Open” Books
Farhad Manjoo, Slate

When the Kindle Web reader makes its debut sometime early next year, Kindle books will be more “open” than Google books. Yes, Kindle titles won’t work on competing e-readers—Amazon has refused to support Adobe’s DRM system and instead uses its own proprietary format—but Google’s books won’t work on the Kindle, which is by far the most popular e-reading device in the world. (The Kindle commands about 50 percent of the e-reader market.) In other words, if you buy a book from Google, it will work just about everywhere except the Kindle. If you buy a book from Amazon, it will work just about everywhere, including the Kindle. What seems more open to you?

For bookstores: my one big question after playing with Google eBooks
Ann Kingman, Booksellers Blog

What are you going to do set your store apart from every other place I can download ebooks?

  • There is a very strong “browse” capability in the Google eBookstore that is missing from the indie store that I visited. I could search at the indie store, but if I didn’t know what I wanted, I was a little stuck.
  • Trumpet the fact that you offer Google eBooks on your front page, and very loudly. There is lots of press about this now. People want to try it. Shout from the rooftops that you have it, don’t bury it in the search results.
  • Merchandising! I’d love to see your “front page” of the ebook section promote your staff picks and other books that set you apart from everyone else. Incorporate your staff or customer reviews, and any added content. Treat this as your “front of store” the same way you do physical books in your physical store.

Google eBooks Paves The Way For Ad-Supported Publishing
James McQuivey, Forrester

Since Google intends to provide its books from the cloud, it can deliver ads that are timely and targeted. And the economics of publishing are swiftly moving away from an analog production model (I blogged about this to much ado last month) which means that soon, we will no longer need to force the entire cost of a book on the buyer of the book, but instead can extract value from the reader of the book, in direct proportion to the value they get from it. In other words, the more pages they read (the more value they get), the more ads they see and the more value the publisher and author receive.

A&E, History Open Up Shop On Facebook
Andrew Wallenstein, paidContent

Facebook pages for series like History’s Pawn Stars and A&E’s Dog the Bounty Hunter now have a ‘Shop’ tab, where a variety of items are available for discounted prices. The new feature is facilitated by Delivery Agent, which manages AETN’s online stores. A&E Television Networks’ consumer products division is riding a wave of brands of all types that are capitalizing on Facebook’s e-commerce capabilities, which are conducive to spreading the word on available merch to friends. Another AETN brand, Lifetime, will get its “Shop” option activated for select shows next year.

HarperCollins stands down BookArmy
Graeme Neill, The Bookseller

The site will close down on 21st December. It formally launched in March 2009 offering users the opportunity to discuss and review titles, get recommendations according to reading tastes and sharing books with others. In an email to members today [9th December], the BookArmy team said: “The decision has been made to close the site, after facing strong competition from similar sites and fewer advertising opportunities in such a tough economic climate.”

Tweet of the Week

Jenifer Joy Madden on Media Convergence

That’s just a taste of what you may have missed this week. To stay on top of the most interesting news, commentary and tweets related to publishing, keep in touch via our RSS feed, follow us on Twitter, join your publishing colleagues in our LinkedIn group, and connect with the broader DBW Network.

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