blooks

Downright impressed with this: Feedbooks

Eoin Purcell

I was lead to this video & blog by the continuing debate I mentioned previously and which Mark Thwaite of the Book Depository (I love shopping there and intend to shop there more) continues on The Booksellers new blog section.

Now the system strikes me as like xFruits, a similar service that has launched to weak enough take off (perhaps it was a little ahead of its time/has a difficult time getting readership and thus publishers/has no revenue model attached). The site lists only 13620 xfruiters!

It may be an old idea executed well but it is very cool even so!

Which reminds me. You can find my own blog in a nice little PDF here.

Remembering the coolness of reading one’s own words on a nicely formatted pdf!
Eoin

Keith Richards’s memoir, 7 million dollars and something much more important

Eoin Purcell

You can generally trust O’Reilly to get their priority right
And so it was today. When all anyone else seemed to want to talk about was this, they were considering the merits of CommentPress 1.0 [a new tool from The Institute for the Future of the Book] as:

a potentially significant evolution in blogging architecture

*For a better idea of what exactly CommentPress is read this little piece from the site:

CommentPress is an open source theme for the WordPress blogging engine that allows readers to comment paragraph by paragraph in the margins of a text. Annotate, gloss, workshop, debate: with CommentPress you can do all of these things on a finer-grained level, turning a document into a conversation. It can be applied to a fixed document (paper/essay/book etc.) or to a running blog.

Why do publishers care?
Good question. I suggest we care for the same reason we care about this two pieces of news: A clipping service from Exact Editions and a cheap e-reader.

We should care about the clipping service because someone is building tools to make our online content more useful and easier to utilise. CommentPress is another tool in a growing ecoshpere of tools and services that are making novel and new uses of content more likely. That makes our content more valuable. Seems pretty important to me.

And we should care about e-readers because we need a solid platform for that digital content to reside on. Sure we will get along fine as web-pages that reflow* according to the screen but people don’t always want to be tied to their laptop or PC when reading and that is where the e-reader will come in (if we are lucky).

So ignore the big money, big name news today and dig a little deeper. There is a lot to read about what really matters for this industry.
Eoin

For more on this Booktwo points in a nice direction

Links of Interest (At Least to Me) 14/07/2007

Eoin Purcell

The unstoppable power of Richard and Judy as seen and told by the The Friday Project people.
Here & Here

Frankly one of the finest and clear sighted (not to mention fantastically brief) discussion of the current state of writing:

With the rise of the web, writing has met its photography. By that I mean, writing has encountered a situation similar to what happened to painting upon the invention of photography, a technology so much better at doing what the art form had been trying to do, that in order to survive, the field had to alter its course radically. If photography was striving for sharp focus, painting was forced to go soft, hence Impressionism. Faced with an unprecedented amount of digital available text, writing needs to redefine itself in order to adapt to the new environment of textual abundance.

[Hat Tip to if:book]
Here

Further to that piece I thought these ones from Tim O’Reilly were definitely worth reading too.
Here & Here

The End of Dewey in some libraries
Here (NYT read it before it goes behind the wall!)

Wow I was tired when I posted this
Eoin

More on O’Reilly TOC

Eoin Purcell

If you weren’t enormously envious of everyone at TOC before now . . .
(And personally I was) then you will be now. It is not just that everyone who is anyone is going, its that the discussions sound so wonderful too.

For instance the POD discussion covered on the O’Reilly XML.com pages by Simon St. Laurent:

Why? I think the basic reason is simple – I’m one of those terrible people who’s always looking for books you can’t find easily in stores. They’re out-of-print, available only from the publisher, or otherwise obscure. Ingram was my friend when I ordered through stores, and then Amazon made a lot of things easier. At O’Reilly, I want POD for all kinds of reasons, from keeping old books in print to providing a way to test out new ideas without having to print 5000 books.

I’ve been expecting POD to happen for years. I spent too much time working at Kinko’s, I guess – I’d seen books getting made, if not the fine offset books typically sold in bookstores.

So here, now, it looks like it’s finally here. Lightning Source and other printers are offering print from PDF at rates that aren’t too insanely horrible relative to offset plus the cost of warehousing.

There’s still definitely a place for offset printing – offset has great economies of scale, and if books move out quickly, then the warehousing and other distribution costs don’t matter much. Offset will probably always make sense for initial print runs of books that will sell thousands of copies in a year – but that’s actually a relatively tiny share of the total number of books out there.

You can read much much more of the detail here. At least TOC has enabled em to widen my blog count for publishing and innovation in publishing. So for that at least thank you Tim O’Reilly.

An envious book nerd.
Eoin

Links of Interest (At least to me) 2007006017

Eoin Purcell

The Return
It has come to my attention that although the link blog does get visited, links I really really like don’t get the usual traffic. So I am reinstating Links of Interest. Here goes.

LibraryThing goes over 15,000,000 books (Now that is a lot of books).

LibraryThing demonstrates something we always knew—that regular people have a lot of books—probably many times what all the world’s libraries hold. I’ve never seen the relative numbers discussed. It never mattered before, but now that regular people can put their catalogs online and engage in tasks, like tagging and work disambiguation, that bear on age-old issues of library science, it’s not entirely pointless to compare the two.

I don’t know why for sure, but I’m desperately excited by the this news. Mcclatchy are launching a new news website nationally in the US. They also run a spiffy blog for news editors called Etaoin Shrdlu (Yeah the name took me a minute too, so here‘s an explanation link).

For all you Lulu.com curious this link is certainly a beaut. Simple, structured, its like the missing manual for lulu.com. Here

Blurb to jump into Europe

Eoin Purcell

Where only Lulu.com has gone before
Blurb.com is to expend some effort in building market share in Europe according to The Book Standard:

Starting next month, the company will launch specific website improvements geared toward European users, including the option to view Blurb books in metric dimensions and see prices and buy books with local currencies. The improvements will allow international Blurb users to create, publish and ship books for less.

Important or not?
Blurb has always worried me from the perspective of a publisher. The software it provides they increasingly powerful while remaining easy to use. Whereas lulu.com provides excellent printing for your average paperback, I see blurb attacking niches.

If you read the links Thursday to this report on Trade Publishing and the importance of niches, then you will begin to understand that worry.

After all as the power to design and print books shifts from the hands of publishers and becomes decentralised why should we be able to retain the market share we currently have? Given that books published by blurb.com and lulu.com can be sold online (even at places like amazon.com & .co.uk) and distribution is being outsourced to postal and delivery services, there is no limit to what these outfits can achive if they get into the minds of niche writers.

Takeover targets I wonder?
To a degree I wonder how likely Blurb or Lulu are to survive outside of one of the larger publishers. After all their technology would be beneficial. It would enable the big houses to attach themselves to the long tail. It would also enable them to offer their own POD service and not be totally reliant on Amazon’s or other players POD arms.

Alternatively they could always replicate the infrastructure themselves. But that would cost time, money and commitment not to mention an understanding fo the market. Much better to offer employment to the founders by buy out as Google and other tech focussed companies have been for some time.

Waiting for the first for sale sign
Eoin

Change: What’s been taking up my time

Eoin Purcell

Reading Fiction
Is a surprisingly large part of my job. Although Mercier only publishes a very few fiction titles and those are of a very good standard (For Example), many of the submissions we get are fiction so for the first time I am reading fiction with a critical eye (i.e. Is it good? Can we sell it? Will it make money? Is there a good hook for the retailer?). I read one over the weekend that I loved but the questions still pile up.

Anyway this is a post more to talk about change more than anything. Change in strategy at Snowbooks. Where Emma Barnes has posted a very detailed analysis of how tricks are going for them:

Our top ten (out of 50 live) titles account for 65% of our total margin.
Our second best selling line in terms of volume, value and margin is Boxing Fitness.
We made exactly the same cash gross margin on Living the Good Life as The Crafter’s Companion, yet Living has sold only 38% of the volume of Crafters.
10 books have made more than £10,000 gross profit.
Our average gross profit per unit is £1.31.
Our average cost per unit is £1.20.
Our average sales value per unit is £2.50.

Change at if:book where Sophie has finally launched:

Sophie’s raison d’être is to enable people to create robust, elegant rich-media, networked documents without recourse to programming. We have word processors, video, audio and photo editors but no viable options for assembling the parts into a complex whole except tools like Flash which are expensive, hard to use, and often create documents with closed proprietary file formats. Sophie promises to open up the world of multimedia authoring to a wide range of creative people.

James has a good initial review.

Change too at LibraryThing which has launched LibraryThing for libraries:

What is LibraryThing for Libraries?

* Give your patrons exciting new content, including recommendations and tag clouds.
* Let your patrons take part, with reviews, ratings and tags. Keep the control you want.
* Enhance your catalog with just a few lines of HTML. Works with any OPAC and requires no back-end integration. Really.
* Draw on the collective intelligence of your patrons and LibraryThing members.

And if the words of those from mercier are true a sense of change in publishing too. There seems to have been a great amount of positivity and energy at LBF this year. Sounds good to me.

Enjoying a nice weekend
Eoin