A First in the Ebook World for Simon & Schuster

Simon & Schuster has acquired the print publication rights to the self-published ebook hit Wool, leaving the ebook rights with the author.

The question for Hugh Howey and his agent, Kristen Nelson, was whether S&S can help them make the book bigger and better than they could on their own – for a cut of the revenue, of course. Other self-published authors, those who do have a choice between a publishing deal and going it alone, should watch this development closely.

Regardless of how well S&S does with Wool, this was a shrewd move on Howey’s part: There’s certain to be a halo effect on the ebook for whatever marketing S&S does for the print edition, juicing digital sales for which Howey gets most of the proceeds.

“If S&S in print and with their marketing machine can turn this into a two-million selling book, maybe that means he sells another half-a-milion, even 700,000 ebooks,” said publishing consultant and DBW partner Mike Shatzkin. “And that sends the message that the big publishers can do a lot that an author can’t do for himself and that Amazon can’t do for them. That would make it easier to convince the next author that they shouldn’t keep all of the ebook rights after the publisher comes into the game because the publisher adds value to those rights.”

Shatzkin will interview Howey and Nelson on stage at Digital Book World 2013. Check out the agenda.

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The rest of the day’s top news:

E-Readers Endangered? (DBW)
According to a new report, e-reader shipments are on the wane worldwide and they will continue to decline for years to come.  This revelation has caused some chatter on the Web. AllThingsD has the gloomy headline “Every Time You Buy a Tablet an E-Reader Dies,” while paidContent strikes a more optimistic tone with “Sorry, But E-Readers Aren’t Dying.”

Phone + E-Reader (BBC)
A Russian company will manufacture and sell a smartphone with two screens: one LCD and the other e-ink. As e-reader shipments decline, perhaps the rise of other devices using e-ink technology will keep the firms that produce it in business and they will continue to be able to supply the shrinking demand for e-readers.

A New Bundling Option for Publishers, Authors (DBW)
Start-up Ganxy has launched an ebook bundling option for publishers and authors. It makes it easy to bundle and sell several ebook titles at various discounts over any period of time through a custom widget that stands alone or can be embedded on websites or on Facebook. Part of the program’s charm is that it gives any publisher the ability to sell directly to consumers.

Kindle Updates (Venturebeat)
Boring but important: Developers working on apps for Kindle’s version of Android can now send updates to individual Kindle devices. This brings Kindle in line with other devices running Android or iOS and it also means that app developers for Kindle can talk more directly and more often to their customers.

Technology and Parents (DBW)
A new report dives deeply into children’s literacy (or lack thereof for many) and how technology could make a difference. While many apps and ebooks focus on basic literacy skills, it’s parents, teachers and other adults that play the biggest roles. Technology can only do so much – as it turns out, it can’t raise your kids.

Libraries and Publishers (Forbes)
For regular readers of this newsletter and of Digital Book World, everything in this article will be old hat. (We bet some of you will even be able to find some factual errors!) Click if you want a refresher on everything going on with libraries and ebooks.

Wiley’s Fate (PW)
What will happen to the remaining trade publishing assets that Wiley has not yet sold? Unfortunately, it looks like they’ll be wound down and closed. The assets include Howell House, an imprint focused on pets, and Wiley’s nautical titles.

Byliner Going Old School (PW)
Ingram will distribute print editions of Byliner content.

Achtung! Sony in Deutschland (DBW)
Sony has launched its ebook store in Germany.

If Ebooks Were Free… (The Digital Reader)
Given the option of paying Techdirt for an ebook or downloading it for free, nearly half of Techdirt readers chose to pay. Among those who opted to pay, the average price was $4.95, very close to the default option offered on the sales page: $5.00.

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