Why Amazon Is Not Innovative

amazon, ebooks, publishersIt’s 2016. We are landing rockets on floating platforms in the ocean. Engineers are developing high-speed transportation systems in which pressured capsules ride on air cushions facilitated by linear induction motors. A network of high-altitude Wi-Fi balloons is being designed to float on the edge of space so that everyone on the planet can connect to the Internet.

And ebooks turn pages.

What happened to the exciting digital future of ebooks?

As the leader in the digital book space, Amazon is doing very little to innovate around ebooks. Last week, ZDNet ran a series of articles titled “Why Amazon is the king of innovation.” As it pertains to Prime, drone delivery, and Amazon Web Services, Amazon is exceptionally innovative. Arguably the best. But finding one ebook in a vast digital store and reading it on an e-ink device is archaic compared to Amazon’s other initiatives. “It reads in the sunlight” is about as innovative as “It’s called a fax machine.”

Why are our friends in Seattle so slow when it comes to the future of reading?

Much more.

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Let’s Take “Search Inside the Book” to a Whole New Level (Joe Wikert)
Do you remember when Amazon introduced both “Look Inside” and “Search Inside” functionality for books? They were such simple yet revolutionary features at the time. Before Look/Search Inside, it was impossible to do a simple flip test like you could at a brick-and-mortar store. Fast-forward to today, when we take Look/Search Inside features for granted, so much so that there’s been virtually no innovation on this front. I believe there’s a real opportunity here, though, to help consumers find what they’re looking for, as well as significantly improve the overall content discovery and evaluation process.

Could Publishers and Agents Agree on a Flat Royalty Rate? (PW)
Since ebooks became a crucial source of revenue for publishers six years ago, the royalty rate on the format has been an ongoing bone of contention between authors (and their agents) and publishers. While authors and agents have stood firm on their position that the standard rate of 25 percent (which refers to the percentage of net profits authors receive on ebooks sold) must change, publishers haven’t budged. Could a flat royalty system, in which one rate is used across formats, be a solution?

4 Steps for Building an Author Brand (BookMachine)
This is a guest post from Ricardo Fayet. Ricardo is an avid reader and startup enthusiast who has been studying the publishing industry with interest for several years. He co-founded Reedsy, to help authors collaborate with publishing professionals.

A Cloudy Moment in Content (Pub Perspectives)
“Twenty-eight percent told us they don’t know if they’re ready” for digital publishing, says Mark Gross, whose Data Conversion Laboratory sponsors the “dynamic publishing” study.

Publisher Reach on Facebook Is Down 42% (AdWeek)
According to an analysis by SocialFlow, publishers on Facebook have experienced a rapid decline in overall reach during the past few months. The social analytics company examined 3,000 Facebook pages, most of which are publishers who have a collective annual impression count of around 500 billion reaching 600 million unique users.

Barnes & Noble at NYC’s Citicorp to Close As Building Renovates (Pub Lunch)
Barnes & Noble’s midtown Manhattan store at the Citicorp building will close at the end of the month, as owner Boston Properties undertakes a renovation of the base and has declined to renew the bookseller’s lease.

My Very Rough Two Weeks Working for Barnes & Noble (PW)
Following a death in my family last year, I temporarily withdrew from the world to grieve. When it was time to return, a part-time job seemed a good way to rejoin the living. “Why not work in a bookstore?” someone asked.

Translating David Foster Wallace’s ‘Jest’ Into Greek (Pub Perspectives)
“It’s hard enough translating 600-word-long subordinate-clause-laden sentences while maintaining as similar a rhythm as possible,” says Wallace translator Kostas Kaltsas.

University Presses Cope with Budget Cuts (PW)
A number of states throughout the country have reduced funding to public universities. In trying to cut costs, some university systems are taking a hard look at their presses. While one university is considering shutting down its press, others continue to support theirs—but expect them to rely more on their own resources and less on institutional funding.

A 10-Year Plan Is Absurd (Seth Godin)
Impossible, not particularly worth wasting time on. On the other hand, a ten-year commitment is precisely what’s required if you want to be sure to make an impact.


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