Inkling’s Matt MacInnis has had some strong words for publishers lately. He’s argued that their key product—the book—is losing its value to consumers and that, as a result, “the software industry is eating publishing for breakfast.”
But by his own account, there’s more to that story.
“Every established publisher has pockets of innovation,” MacInnis writes, “some succeeding in harmony with their organizations, some in spite of them.”
“In reality,” he continues, “the publishing industry is an unlikely amalgam of information industries formerly unified by the concept of the book.”
Those that succeed in reinventing themselves for the next phase of the digital transformation will need to take measured steps that play to their strengths, rather than attempting a complete overhaul.
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Quarto Launches Direct-to-Consumer Site (PW)
The UK-based publisher rolls out a consumer-facing website, reorganizing its content offering for the purpose. QuartoKnows.com displays ten portals to curated, subject-specific categories of titles. Quarto has dabbled in direct-to-consumer sales and marketing on a limited basis before, but the new site represents its first global effort covering the entire organization.
Related: Need Grows for Publishers to Own Customer Relationships
Nook on the Retreat in Europe (Ink, Bits & Pixels)
Barnes & Noble has been quietly winding down its operations in Europe in recent months, and now the company alerts international customers that their accounts will soon be closed. The bookseller’s newly appointed CEO Ron Boire will need to determine the company’s next steps when it comes to Nook, as well as Barnes & Noble’s broader digital strategy, when he assumes that role in September.
Ebook Antitrust Inquiry Presses on in Canada (Ink, Bits & Pixels)
Canadian authorities have not yet closed an investigation into alleged anti-competitive practices among major trade publishers and leading retailers over ebook prices. Regulators are reportedly soliciting information from Penguin, Apple and Kobo, but no suspicion of wrongdoing has yet been declared.
Libraries’ Transition from Print to Digital Draws Protest (WashPost)
U.S. librarians say they’re experiencing resistance from patrons and advocates to the evolution of their collections, which in many cases has shifted away from print toward more digital content. That trend is largely a function of budgetary considerations, even though many libraries say ebooks often remain prohibitively expensive. Some, however, see it as a sign of progress.
Ebooks Get (Mostly) High Marks as Screen Reading Rises (Co.Design)
Recent studies have drawn attention to, and raised questions about, the different reading habits that screen-based content consumption engenders. And while some suggest that we make certain cognitive compromises in order to read digitally, researches in one study focusing on e-reader devices “found almost no significant differences between the paper books and Kindles, save one: people who read on paper were much better at reconstructing the plot of the story.”
Inside the Latest in Licensing (PW)
One observer says publishers are getting better at pursuing new revenue streams through content licensing, and they’re doing it more creatively: “Rather than releasing a standard selection of formats for each film or TV tie-in program, publishers are increasingly developing formats that spring organically from the properties’ content.” Here’s an in-depth roundup of some noteworthy recent efforts.
How Alibaba Could Get the Better of Amazon (Forbes)
It remains very much a mug’s game trying to forecast how, when or whether the leading multinational e-commerce giants will overtake or be overtaken by one another—there are of course too many variables to reliably weigh. Still, the shifting terrain bears watching by any company whose products rest upon it, as publishers’ surely do. Here’s one analyst’s latest assessment of the contest between Amazon and Alibaba.
Mobile Spurring Ebook Growth in Indonesia (E27)
To be fair, most English-language publishers and ebook distributors aren’t waiting with baited breath for news out of the ebook market in Indonesia. But the country does fall in line with a pattern seen elsewhere in emerging markets large and small, both across Asia and elsewhere: as mobile usage and app downloads rise, so do ebooks.
Related: Mobile Growth Pushes Ebooks up in China