Books

Go Read This | Tom Weldon: ‘Some say publishing is in trouble. They are completely wrong’ | Books | The Observer

In the piece below, Weldon is on the money and authors should keep that in mind:

He thinks publishing a new book is a bit like running a startup company, or – in an analogy closer to this horse-racing enthusiast – a flutter at the track, where “relentless optimism” is blended with controlled risk-taking.

via Tom Weldon: ‘Some say publishing is in trouble. They are completely wrong’ | Books | The Observer.

Go Read This | Russian state fund takes 25% stake in YotaPhone – FT.com

Interesting news this. I don’t know that it will revive ereaders as a segment and I think we would be better pushing smartphone readers to simply use their current screens to read rather than making life more complicated for them, but:

YotaPhone’s makers managed to fit two devices inside one surprisingly lightweight handset. This is not just a Kindle strapped to a phone. The slim contours are even more remarkable considering the layers of protection needed prevent heat from the battery impairing the e-reader’s “ink”.

Once the basic instructions have been mastered, navigating YotaPhone becomes relatively easy – especially the central conceit of being able to” flip” content from the smartphone screen to the back e-reader.

News from the FT feed, for example, rolls down the electronic ink screen, making it easier to read and, crucially, consuming much less battery. Books and magazines can be flipped to the back to read.

via Russian state fund takes 25% stake in YotaPhone – FT.com.

Go read This | Past, present and future | The Bookseller

Interesting piece by Stephen Page of Faber in The Bookseller:

Publishers and other media companies have always been as singular as those who invest directly with talent to license properties. This is changing. Netflix’s House of Cards demonstrates that players further down the value chain are trying to expand their role to include investment in intellectual property. Alongside this, the transformation of self-publishing has demonstrated that those upstream from larger scale publishers are also able to exploit copyright. We are all part of one continuum, and will co-exist to the benefit of readers and writers alike.

via Past, present and future | The Bookseller.

Go Read This | the left room» Blog Archive » some quick thoughts on that report on author earnings

Much to think abut in the aftermath of Hugh Howey’s data dump! Thos is just one of the many god posts on it:

The reality is that publishing anything is a unique path. If you have a book, and you’re trying to decide whether to self- or traditionally-publish, there is only the apparition of help for you in these figures. It might be that you traditionally-publish and sell 100 copies, and would financially have been better off self-publishing. It may be that you sell a million copies through traditional publishing. That doesn’t mean that you’ve left money on the table simply because those million sales if self-published would have netted you more. You can’t say what might have happened had you chosen a different route – whether you would have got those 100 or those million sales or something different. This is one problem I see with Howey’s piece (and numerous others). The number of copies a book can sell is not some intrinsic part of its make-up. The way you choose to sell it, and what happens along the way, will play a huge part and can’t be discounted.

via the left room» Blog Archive » some quick thoughts on that report on author earnings.

Go Read This | Macmillan To Publish First Novel From Swoon Reads, A Crowdsourced Romance Imprint And Online Community – Press Release – Digital Journal

Publishing is a complex ecosystem (something I wrote about nearly three years ago when I wrote about The Value Web that was emerging in trade publishing), one in which there is no ONE way to publish or be published. Here’s a very nice example of that reality in play:

Sandy Hall, a teen librarian from Hawthorne, New Jersey, posted A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT to the Swoon Reads site in November 2013. Within weeks, the manuscript was rated “Five Hearts” by the Swoon Reads Community and considered to be one of the most “Swoonworthy” on the site. This brought it to the attention of Jean Feiwel, Publisher of Swoon Reads, and the rest of the Swoon Reads Board. One e-mail and two phone calls later, Sandy Hall signed her first book deal for World rights. 

via Macmillan To Publish First Novel From Swoon Reads, A Crowdsourced Romance Imprint And Online Community – Press Release – Digital Journal.

Go Read This | How in-app purchase is not really destroying the games industry | Sealed Abstract

On the face of it this is just a piece about the gaming industry, though a fascinating one. In fact this article raises issues for all content industries from games, to books, to newspapers, magazines and music.

It covers the gamut, the explosion of content, the role of market makers (in this case Apple – though to a lesser mentioned extent, Google), the use of price as a lever and the challenges of making money in markets that have become so large, diverse and saturated.

I’m reminded of two realities most forcefully when reading it, firstly that while digital unleashes greater freedom to create and make content of all kinds available, thus empowering the creator relative to the middlemen and women of the previous era, it also (in its current guise by power of platform) shackles them to the power of another middle-person (for books, mostly Amazon) AND makes a sustainable career even less likely because of the huge increase of content such freedom unleashes. Secondly, I am reminded of just how little information is publicly available to those looking at the book trade. Consider the information in this article about the nature of games sales in the iOS store and ponder how different our conversations might be about ebooks if these facts were more openly shared (some notable exceptions on that front would be Smashwords who share quite a lot of data).

Getting people to play your game in a market of 150,000 alternatives requires a different kind of marketing. For example, if the user can choose to pay $0.99 for your app, or pay zero for another app that’s probably just as fun, they’ll pick the free one. The result follows: 90% of apps are free in 2013 when weighted by monthly average users. And when you look only at those apps that use an experiment/test/data-driven approach for their pricing, you see a strong upward trend in more free apps. So the pricing experiments that these developers are running (you know, actual flipping research, not just speculating baselessly in an HN comment) are telling them it’s better to go free.

via How in-app purchase is not really destroying the games industry | Sealed Abstract.

Go Read This | Waterstones up, Quercus down—what’s the story? | Independent Publishing Guild in the UK | IPG

Very good piece looking at the competing fortunes of Quercus and Waterstones. I’d add a small amount of caution here. Firstly, the Waterstones figures are for the year up to April 2013 whereas the Quercus figures are more up to date. Even so you can follow the logic through from April 2013 until today, in many ways that makes sense because the impact of the kind of policies highlighted here would be more dramatic on publishers in the key Christmas Trading period than at any other time:

Now, cash management is closely related to stock management, so it should come as no surprise that Waterstones’ stock has come down as their cash has grown. I have no knowledge of the state of Quercus’ stock management, but it’s a pretty safe bet that they’ve got too much stock, probably of extremely good titles, sitting in a warehouse, intended for those big orders that never came from the retailers with those challenging conditions.

For independent publishers to remain independent, and sadly it looks as though Quercus will not, we need a relentless focus on cash management and cash generation. Our businesses and the titles and content that make them need to be profitable, and we need to use the digital print and e-book technologies that enable us to hold the lowest stock possible. Easy to say, and probably pretty obvious, but if we don’t hold it as a top priority we can easily be caught out.

via Waterstones up, Quercus down—what’s the story? | Independent Publishing Guild in the UK | IPG.