Publishing

Random House Adopts New Model for Selling E-Books

Beginning Tuesday, Random House will join other major book publishers in selling its e-books using the so-called agency model, setting its own prices for e-books while the retailer takes a commission.

Five of the six largest publishers switched to the agency model last spring after Apple introduced its iPad.

“The agency model guarantees a higher margin for retailers than did our previous sales terms,” Random House, publisher of Stieg Larsson, George W. Bush and John Grisham, said in a statement on Monday. “We are making this change both as an investment in the successful digital transition of our existing partners and in order to give us the opportunity to forge new retail relationships.”

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Blog post by publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin:

But it has seemed clear to me for a long time that ebooks offered compelling advantages over print — portability, ease of purchase, and a lower cost basis that must inexorably lead to lower prices — that would increasingly sway many of the inevitably growing number of people who had a readable handheld screen in reach most of the time. And my long experience dealing with bookstore economics made it clear to me that the consequent sales subtraction from brick-and-mortar stores would lead to closures, which would lead to longer travel times for customers to get to the stores, which in turn would drive more people to purchase print or digital books online. And that would lead to more closures. This is a virtuous circle if you’re in the ebook business or sell print online. Or if you want to see Americans consume less gasoline.

It is a vicious cycle — a death spiral — if you’re a bookstore. - Full article

Tools of Change Conference

The (O'Reilly)Tools of Change in Publishing Conference is happening right now in New York; the event is sold out, but there are a lot of streaming events and sessions that you can take in on line, for example, the Future of e-books Technology and Copyright, Intellectual Property Rights, and Licensing Issues in the Digital Era. Check them out here.

Information technology and economic change: The impact of the printing press

Information technology and economic change: The impact of the printing press
Historians argue that the printing press was among the most revolutionary inventions in human history, responsible for a diffusion of knowledge and ideas, “dwarfing in scale anything which had occurred since the invention of writing” (Roberts 1996, p. 220). Yet economists have struggled to find any evidence of this information technology revolution in measures of aggregate productivity or per capita income (Clark 2001, Mokyr 2005). The historical data thus present us with a puzzle analogous to the famous Solow productivity paradox – that, until the mid-1990s, the data on macroeconomic productivity showed no effect of innovations in computer-based information technology.

Don't miss Figure 1. The diffusion of the printing press

What Scientists Think about Open Access Publishing

The SOAP (Study of Open Access Publishing) project has run a large-scale survey of the attitudes of researchers on, and the experiences with, open access publishing. Around forty thousands answers were collected across disciplines and around the world, showing an overwhelming support for the idea of open access, while highlighting funding and (perceived) quality as the main barriers to publishing in open access journals. This article serves as an introduction to the survey and presents this and other highlights from a preliminary analysis of the survey responses.

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Do libraries help or hurt publishing?

Do libraries help or hurt publishing?
With libraries around the world in such financial jeopardy, a couple of questions come to mind:
•What purpose (if any) has a library served for you?
•If libraries ceased to exist, what would the ramifications be?
•Do libraries help or hurt publishing?

The Mark Twain Controversy Continues, and Nancy Pearl Weighs In

As we've heard recently, in NewSouth Book's new edition of Huckleberry Finn, they will replace the "n-word" and "injun" with the word slave. More on the forthcoming edition from The New York Times. Nancy Pearl, just named Librarian of the Year says "I think it's a mistake, because books are written at a particular time in history, and we need to read them with the knowledge that they're written at those times. This is the way the world was then, and this is the way the world is now, when that kind of language isn't acceptable." Pearl told KIRO Radio's Frank Shiers that if readers are offended by the use of such language in the book they simply don't get it (below).
More audio at MyNorthwest.com

Translation as Literary Ambassador

Hoping to increase their tiny share of the American book market, foreign governments and foundations are plunging into the publishing fray in the United States.

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How Publishers Are Tackling the App Question

At Publisher's Weekly

Are apps marketing devices for authors and books, or a new revenue stream? This is just one of many questions publishers are asking as they develop apps from their content. When PW approached large and midsize publishers to find out about their app programs, we discovered that many houses don't have "programs" per se. Questions loom about what content is best suited for apps—though overwhelmingly it seems that reference and children's are sweet spots—and how best to look at apps.

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