DBW Weekly Roundup: 1/14/11
Digital 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.
Worst-Case Scenarios: Contemplating Life After Borders
Jim Milliot, Publishers Weekly
Despite its problems, Borders still accounted for 8.5% of dollars spent on books in the third quarter, according to Bowker’s PubTrack service, compared to 17.4% for Barnes & Noble. For many publishers, Borders remains their third largest account behind B&N and Amazon. A Borders bankruptcy or other actions that would result in a dramatic downsizing of its store count would be a boon to B&N and would further cement its place as the country’s largest bricks-and-mortar bookseller. B&N inserted itself into the publisher-Borders negotiations last week when it said it expected publishers to offer all booksellers, including itself and independents, the same terms it gives to Borders. Independent booksellers have taken note of B&N’s call for a level playing field and will be watching to see how aggressive B&N may be in ensuring that all booksellers get equal treatment.
While there is speculation that Borders’s troubles will help indies rebound, it is not clear how much they may benefit other than stores that are in direct competition with the chain. In recent years, Amazon, and now e-books, have provided as much, and in some cases more, competition to indies than either Borders or B&N. But with fewer stores, those that remain would become all that more important for publishers to support.
You Have Been Disconnected
Jason Ashlock, The Naked Book
But I wonder how better we might all be at our work if we worked to rescue the “reader” from those unfortunate, conceptual quotation marks: would we publish differently, and perhaps more successfully, if we were better connected to the individuals we hope will buy what we publish? Last fall I somewhat jokingly suggested on Twitter that the heads of the big houses should go on a listening tour, stopping at libraries and bookshops across America, meeting with their constituents. Imagine what we’d learn about tastes and desires, about pet peeves and preferences. Imagine what intangibles we’d discern that aren’t legible on a Bowker report. It would be good to hear from those “consumers”—especially the ones angry enough to call.
Back to the Future: In Brazil, Door-to-door Book Sales are Booming
Ricardo Costa and Maria Fernanda, PublishNews
If the growth in door-to-door sales is any indication, there is demonstrable hunger for books in areas not served by stores. In fact, door-to-door is proving to be an important distribution strategy for publishers. In 2006, door-to-door represented 5% of all sales. In 2008, the number was grew to 13%; by 2009, the segment was close to 17% of the market. All this time, bookshops have not lost any market share, suggesting that the business is growing across all segments –- with door-to-door growing perhaps strongest of all.
Six e-Book Trends to Watch in 2011
Michael Hyatt, CEO, Thomas Nelson
e-Book Clubs. With over a million new books published in 2009 (the last stats we have), we are awash in content. We need curators more than ever. A single editor or a panel of them will pick the best of the best. Since it is all done electronically, readers will choose the frequency in which they receive new titles. Just like the book clubs of yesteryear, etailers will give them an e-book bundle in exchange for a commitment to purchase a specific number of titles at a special membership discount.
Playing Catch-Up in a Digital Library Race
Natasha Singer, NY Times
“What’s sort of missing is digitization of the accessible literature,” like the popular novels and biographies readers seek at brick-and-mortar public libraries, she says. A few institutions, like the National Library of Norway, are already venturing into this area, via novel arrangements with copyright holders. “It would be nice to conceive of something bigger that has more to do with the public good than with the academic side of the equation,” Ms. Cousins says.
Tweet of the Week
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.