DBW Weekly Roundup: 7/2/10

DBW News 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:

Jeff Bezos’s mission: Compelling small publishers to think big

  • First of all, there are a bunch of publishers of all sizes, and they don’t all have one opinion. There are as many opinions about what the right thing to do is as there are publishers. So you’re seeing that some of them are being very aggressive on prices, pricing their books well below $9.99. Others are trying to do everything they can to make prices as high as possible. And what you’re going to see is a share shift from one group of publishers to this other group of publishers.

Barnes & Noble Posts Strong Sales, but Earnings Still Weak

  • “The explosive growth of digital books has created the most compelling opportunity in Barnes & Noble’s history” said chairman Leonard Riggio in the accompanying statement. “We have found that Barnes & Noble Members, our best customers, have increased their combined physical and digital spend with us by 17 percent since purchasing a NOOKTM, and by a phenomenal 70 percent in total units.” CEO William Lynch added, “In fact, in just a brief 12 months since we launched the Barnes and Noble ebookstore, our share of the digital market already exceeds our share of the retail book market.”

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, are you paying attention to #booksthatchangedmyworld?

  • What’s a little amusing is that it with all the attention that The Shallows, Nicholas Carr’s new book, is getting, the New York Times actually referred to the hashtag in a post suggesting that perhaps Internet addicts aren’t getting stupid as quickly as Nicholas Carr suggests. They actually read books. Or at least they can remember the titles of books they should have read. Within a day, someone paying attention scoffed up the URL booksthatchangedmyworld.com, recognizing, if not a monetizable idea, at least a subject worth developing further.

Bookseller Beware: Google Snuggles Up to Independent Bookshops to Sell E-Books

  • As the New York Times report pointed out, Darin Sennett, the director of Web development at Powell’s Bookstore in Portland acknowledged that Google would also be a competitor, since it too, would sell books from its Web site. However, Sennett believed that Google would favor its smaller partners. “I doubt they are going to be editorially recommending books and making choices about what people should read, which is what bookstores do.” His statement seems almost sweetly naïve as Google prepares to go head-to-head with Apple, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Getting into the bookselling business — even with e-books– is a take-no-prisoners proposition as margins decline and shares tumble.

BREAKING: Zuda Comics WEBSITE shut down

  • About half an hour ago, a memo was sent to Zuda creators announcing that the original digital comics line website was being shut down. A few of the better known Zuda titles, such as I RULE THE NIGHT, BAYOU, and HIGH MOON will be folded into the newly announced DC Digital program. Begun in 2007 as DC’s fledgling attempt at the world of comics on the Web, despite some quality content, Zuda was plagued by a number of problems including a widely derided Flash-based interface and a monthly contest format that often killed the best content after 10 pages. However, it did have successes with the award winning BAYOU comic, and other print projects such as the Harvey award-winning HIGH MOON by David Gallaher and Steve Ellis and THE NIGHT OWLS by the Timony Twins.

Conflict over app and film deals for children’s books

  • Children’s agents are putting film rights deals for books ahead of rights deals for mobile phone and iPad apps, a stance that could limit the growth of the children’s digital market. Agents fear that highly interactive, animated apps could jeopardise film rights by discouraging a film company from taking on a book where an app has already been created.  Selling film rights for a property could also preclude digital deals further down the line said agent Celia Catchpole. “I have received a request for digital rights for an illustrated novel. The film rights for that book have already been sold and I am trying to establish whether digital rights would infringe the film rights.” 

The Nitty Gritty: When Is a Book No Longer a Book?

  • So if trading one cover for another can shift the way a story is processed by a reader, how would the change from print to digital not do the same–or more? Others (like Emily Pullen in a guest column here on Monday) have noted that they have been “fooled” or misled by e-reading in ways that they never would have been with a print version. Yet others have discussed, in reviewing various e-reading programs, how differences in the way that pages turn, covers are displayed and text is formatted can shift their experiences with e-books. What happens to the story itself? While the words may remain the same, the way they are displayed is changed. Their relationship to each other shifts, in a way that scenes from a movie or notes in a song do not. Which words are on what page? Which pages are visible at the same time? Where are the section breaks? Even the word “page” is losing meaning in the digital world–when you can change screen orientation, layout and font size, a page is no longer a static thing but instead is customizable to each individual reader.

Tweet of the Week

The Gray on The Elements: 186k copies in print; 75k copies of app sold.

 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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