There has been a lot of press lately about data that looks like it’s pointing to declining ebook sales and surging print sales. There has also been some chatter about the inferior experience of reading ebooks.
“The biggest point,” writes ebook developer Laura Brady in a blog post for Digital Book World, “that I think gets lost in some of the print book / ebook hullabaloo of the last few weeks is this: who cares how people read? Just read. Publish good books, find your readers, repeat.”
“I am excited that people are buying books—hardcover, trade paperback, mass market and ebooks,” Brady continues. “I like it when they read in apps, on e-ink devices, on their phones and desktops. I don’t care much if people get jazzed by the smell of paper (although I do think it’s a little weird).”
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Audible Builds a “Choose Your Own Adventure” Instagram Experience (Fast Company)
Though Audible is firmly planted in the aural realm, the company has deployed an ambitious multi-sensory strategy to promote one of its most-anticipated offerings: an audiobook of Locke & Key. The graphic novels by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez have gone gangbusters since the first issue’s 2008 release, and Audible went to great lengths to record narrations that are as sonically robust as the printed originals are visually arresting. To market this sound-based project, Audible had to get creative with its approach and figure out the best way to communicate a sound-based experience in a visual world.
Inside Amazon’s First Physical Bookstore (PW)
On Tuesday, Amazon, the largest bookseller in the world, did something it has never done: it sold a book to a customer face-to-face. Despite appearances Amazon Books, the company’s first branded retail storefront, is a far cry from the bookstore as we know it. The store, which is situated in an outdoor mall across the street from the University of Washington campus, is unlike the grandiose retail book palaces that Barnes and Noble and Borders built in the late 1990s, and with 5,000 to 6,000 titles on hand, Amazon Books stocks far fewer titles than today’s bigger bookstores. Small and scaled back, Amazon Books is cleanly designed and easy-to-navigate.
Simon & Schuster Has Modest Gain in Third Quarter (Pub Lunch)
After four straight quarters of declining sales, Simon & Schuster gained $4 million (or 2 percent) in the third quarter, with sales of $203 million. Ebook sales remained moderate, comprising 20.4 percent of sales for the quarter (compared to 25.1 percent a year ago), but the gains in digital audio helped sustain total digital sales: All digital was 24.8 percent for the quarter, compared to 28.3 percent a year ago. For the first three quarters of the year, ebooks comprised 21.8 percent of sales, compared to 24.1 percent a year ago.
What Should a Book Be? (Bookseller)
If you could make any kind of a digital book, what would it be? How would it behave? What story would you tell? Anna Gerber and Britt Iverson, co-founders of Visual Editions, put forward the case for digital-native narratives.
Academic Publishing Can’t Remain Such a Great Business (Bloomberg View)
Publishers of academic journals have a great thing going. They generally don’t pay for the articles they publish, or for the primary editing and peer reviewing essential to preparing them for publication (they do fork over some money for copy editing). Most of this gratis labor is performed by employees of academic institutions. Those institutions, along with government agencies and foundations, also fund all the research that these journal articles are based upon. Yet the journal publishers are able to get authors to sign over copyright to this content, and sell it in the form of subscriptions to university libraries. Most journals are now delivered in electronic form, which you think would cut the cost, but no, the price has been going up and up.
Continued Improvement For Indigo (Pub Lunch)
Canada’s Indigo reported second quarter results on Tuesday, with sales rising $16.7 million (CA), or 8.8 percent, to $206 million, and a reduced net loss of $1.8 million, compared to a loss of $8.5 million a year ago. As in the previous year, “revenue growth was driven by the continued double digit growth of the general merchandise business” mainly in “paper and toys,” with changes to the paper business to account for the weakness of the Canadian dollar. The company’s core book business growth also got a big boost “by the trend for adult coloring books,” while reducing costs related to promotion discounts by $4.3 million reduction “to clear through non-returnable book inventory.”
Grantland and the (Surprising) Future of Publishing (Stratechery)
It’s dangerous, I suspect, to draw too many lessons from the ignominious end of Grantland, the high-brow sports and culture site that ESPN shuttered this weekend, several months after parting ways with Bill Simmons, the site’s founder and editor-in-chief. Much of what transpired seems to have clearly been personal, not only the rancorous way in which it ended but also how it begun: was ESPN every truly committed to a brand-building endeavor that didn’t even have the ESPN name, or was Grantland a pet project meant to keep Simmons, the most influential and famous sportswriter of his generation, in the fold?