Imagine a world in which anyone can sell ebooks and compete successfully with Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble. That’s the world Hummingbird Digital Media hopes to make a reality.
Hummingbird, a subsidiary of American West Books, was born when Stephen Blake Mettee, Hummingbird’s president, and his colleagues became inspired at BookExpo America.
“We recognized that three companies had a lock on ebook sales and everyone else was shut out,” says Mettee. “My son, Joshua Mettee, owner of American West Books, and our partner Christopher Robbins and I started talking about a way to change that.”
“Independent bookstores and others had dipped their toes into the ebook retailing market, but they hadn’t embraced less robust solutions for one reason or another,” Mettee continues. “This told us there was a need yet to be filled.”
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No Publisher Supports Authors’ Marketing Efforts Right Yet (Mike Shatzkin)
It is my firm conviction that the biggest shortcoming of traditional publishers these days is their failure to help authors help themselves with digital marketing. In my opening remarks at Digital Book World earlier this month, I said this: “At the very least, every house should do a ‘digital audit’ for every author they sign that includes concrete suggestions for filling in gaps and improving discoverability and engagement. To my knowledge, not one does.”
Using a Facebook Profile But Not an Official Page (Jane Friedman)
One of the first marketing tasks given to authors by agents, publishers, and publicists is: Start an official Facebook page. So far, I have not done this for myself. Instead, I use my Facebook profile with the “following” function turned on. That means I have private friends, but also public followers. I want to discuss the pros and cons of this choice, but first I’ll describe the history of my experience and how I ended up in this situation to begin with.
How Do We Value Ebooks? (Teleread)
We know how much ebooks cost. But what is their actual value? This is a question pondered in this post by writer and blogger Max Florschutz. Florschutz is puzzled by the way ebooks alone among digital media catch flak for being “too expensive.” He points out that no one complains that MP3s cost too much at 99 cents each, or that video games sold via Steam should be cheaper than the version that comes in a cardboard box. Why, then, are ebooks so different?
Amazon’s Lofty Profits Open Cloud to Rivals (Bloomberg)
“Your margin is my opportunity.” It’s a quip often attributed to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to explain his zeal for high-volume sales at teeny-to-nonexistent profits. It’s ironic, then, that in Amazon’s cloud business it is Bezos’ margin that is providing an opening to rivals like Google.
The Role of Publishers in the Copyright Value Chain (Pub Perspectives)
As reported by The Bookseller’s Lisa Campbell and others, an “Action Plan” on the European Union’s VAT apparently will, if approved, allow EU states to lower VAT on ebooks. This could resolve the highly contentious classification of ebooks as “electronic services” rather than cultural products and the long-running “a book is a book” resistance to that stance, which has seen print books taxed at a far more advantageous rate than ebooks in many parts of the EU.
France’s Short Edition Lengthens Its Reach (Pub Perspectives)
French publisher Short Édition is quickly capitalizing on the popularity of its short-story dispensers, more than doubling the machines’ number since their November debut and getting one into a high-visibility café in San Francisco.
Trade Gains Lift Scholastic’s Sales, on Narrower Seasonal Loss (Pub Lunch)
Scholastic reported fiscal third quarter results on Thursday, with sales up $19.5 million to $366 million, as losses from continuing operations were cut by over half to 21 cents a share, compared to 48 cents a share a year ago. The operating loss of $16.4 million was also well below last year’s deficit this quarter of $24.7 million. (Scholastic typically reports a seasonal loss in the third quarter, which is generally its weakest.)