Changing the Way Readers Buy and Create Books

web20It seems like every week a new firm pops up that’s going to change everything about the way readers buy and consume books.

Here’s how the narrative usually goes: “Publishers and retailers want to do X but readers really want Y and so what we’ll do is supply Y – duh – to compete with those supplying X.” What is seldom considered is why most retailers supply X and what the difficulties in supplying Y are (see: Oyster, for instance).

The latest start-up to make such promises is Bindworx, a UK-based book retailer that will allow customers to buy pages, chapters or other small slices of books. Bindworx, however, has a twist that does seem novel: It will also allow its customers to create (and then buy) new works by combining old works and their own intellectual property. Think mashups for books.

The rights issues surrounding this seem mind-boggling. However, an increasing proportion of our cultural memes are something old that’s been mashed-up, remixed and turned into something new. It could be one of those things that’s so crazy it might just work.

More on BindWorx.

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The rest of the day’s top news:

Bezos Speaks (paidContent)
In a letter to shareholders on Friday, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos shared more tidbits about the company’s intentions, including the how it views authors as customers and the current status of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

Ganxy Adds New Features to Enable Ebook Giveaways (DBW)
Ebook retail platform Ganxy will now enable publishers and authors to give away ebooks at scale through its portable storefronts.

Publishers Getting More Aggressive With Pricing (PW)
As has been evident for months through observing the Digital Book World Ebook Best-Seller list, ebook pricing is starting to get fairly aggressive. Publishers HMH and Storey are getting in on the act with some low prices of their own. Related: Ebook Best-Seller Average Price Hits Lowest Point Yet.

Try Everything (PW)
In his keynote at the London Book Fair’s Digital Minds conference, author Neil Gaiman implored the publishers in the audience to experiment more, saying that nobody knows what the future holds except that everything is changing so experimenting is necessary. Related: Atria Publisher Judith Curr Says Publishers Need to Experiment More With Digital Content.

Android Tablets Gaining Market Share (DBW)
Tablet sales are still rising at a breakneck clip and they’re being powered by increasing popularity in Android-based tablets like the Kindle Fire and Samsung Galaxy.

Bookstores Ask Court to Move Forward With Lawsuit Against Amazon, Publishers (PW)
Responding to motions from Amazon and six of the largest U.S. publishers to dismiss a lawsuit filed against them by three independent booksellers, the publishers themselves have filed a motion asking the court not to toss out the suit, which alleges that Amazon and the publishers used digital rights management software to keep indie bookstores out of the ebook business. Related: How Kobo Helped Indies Sell More Ebooks.

How Big Is Self-Publishing? (David Gaughran)
Self-publishing advocate David Gaughran “guestimates” that self-published authors have grabbed 25% of the U.S. ebook market when it comes to units sold. Assuming the market is $1.5 billion (this is the size of the adult fiction/nonfiction, children’s/YA and religious ebook market), that would be nearly $400 million.*

* CORRECTION: This blurb has been updated to more accurately reflect Gaughran’s blog post. He did not state that self-published ebooks had taken 25% of the U.S. ebook market in dollars. His estimate was for “units sold.”

The Effects of Reading on Screens (Scientific American)
Screens have not yet been able to match the physicality of reading with paper.

Amazon’s Latest Acquisition (The Digital Reader, video)
Amazon has purchased the Totally Hip Video Book Review (by Ron Charles, Washington Post book reviewer). Don’t worry: the review will continue to be totally objective (not) and, also, this is a spoof.

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