What Programmers Can Teach Publishers

Emma Barnes Bibliocloud coding ebook publishers“If publishers had zero tolerance for repetition and boring administrative tasks,” Bibliocloud CEO Emma Barnes asks, “what would the industry look like? And how would publishers’ organizations reflect that internally?”

Barnes learned how to code only after founding a small press, and she says the experience has since made her a better publisher.

Programmers, according to Barnes, tend “to get bored easily. We would rather spend a week writing some code to automate a ten-minute task than repeat it every week for a year.”

In other words, being a good programmer means always look for new ways to innovate. “Programmers naturally hone and whittle and constantly improve,” Barnes adds. “They automate the dull stuff so they can think about the bigger picture.” And there’s no shortage of those in publishing today who believe the bigger picture needs rethinking.

Much more.

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Barnes & Noble Narrows Losses for a Shrinking Nook (Pub Lunch)
Reporting its fourth quarter earnings for fiscal 2015, the bookseller says at Nook are down 40% for the quarter over the same period the previous year and 48% for the full year, but the declining ebook business is reducing its losses. Publishers Lunch (which has a thorough breakdown of Barnes & Noble’s latest financials) sums it up this way: “By doing less, Nook loses less.”

Amazon’s Royalty Change a Boon to Authors? (Fortune)
While it’s been roundly criticized by some, Amazon’s switch to paying authors by pages read on its subscription platforms could offer a leg up to some of the least-known writers, one industry watcher argues, in turn helping “make the market for new books healthier.” In this view, Amazon is “trying to figure out the right mix of incentives that will encourage authors to produce what it wants, which is books that sell and that readers enjoy. This may offend writers who don’t want to think of their books as retail products, but it’s a perfectly reasonable approach for Amazon to take.”

Hoopla Digital Adds DC Comics (DBW)
In a deal with DC Entertainment, the digital content platform for libraries expands its offering of digital comics with popular titles in DC’s catalog. hoopla digital, which added ebooks to its platform only last month despite launching two years ago, says its active user base has grown more than 200% over the past year.

Trajectory to Distribute Image Comics Titles (PW)
The digital content distributor and analytics company strikes a global distribution deal with Image Comics covering more than 300 of the publisher’s digital comics, including front-list titles.

Draft2Digital Adds Indie Titles to Oyster (Ink, Bits & Pixels)
Oyster will soon offer authors whose ebooks are distributed by Draft2Digital the option to make their work available to its subscribers. Draft2Digital currently distributes around 50,000 self-published ebooks, all of which will be eligible for inclusion on Oyster Unlimited, the company’s subscription-based ebook platform.

Can Open Analytics Improve Authors’ Writing? (Futurebook)
A new project by Comma Press, called MacGuffin, takes a quantitative approach to the by now common practice of crowdsourcing writing-in-progress. Currently in beta, the platform lets authors upload text as well as audio recordings of their work being read, then publicly shares with content creators and consumers alike precisely where other readers and listeners lose interest and drop off.

Children’s Book Start-up Raises $9 Million (The Bookseller)
UK-based publisher Lost My Name, which lets customers personalize children’s picture books with the names and genders of young readers, pulls in $9 million in a funding round headed up by Google Ventures. The company plans to use those resources in order to help it expand globally.

Ebooks Creep upward in Germany (Pub Perspectives)
According to recent data, ebooks now comprise 4.3% of Germany’s book market, even though growth for the format is slowing down as it is virtually everywhere. The average price of ebooks has also fallen over the past few years as ebook pricing models have shifted and self-publishing grows.

Alibaba Tries Local Services, Too (TheStreet)
The same week Angie’s List sues Amazon for allegedly stealing information in order to launch its local services program, the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba announces a similar venture of its own, starting with food delivery.

Amazon Sets ‘Alexa’ Loose (TechCrunch)
Just after putting its Echo “voice assistant” on sale, Amazon introduces an API for the voice-recognition software it runs, dubbed “Alexa,” allowing external developers to add support for the virtual assistant in their own apps and devices. Amazon also launches a $100 million fund in order to help encourage that development activity.


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