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Missouri is cutting back in the book-publishing trade, in part because it already has a stack of books nobody seems to want.
On Thursday, the Missouri Legislature voted to eliminate the hard-bound version of the official state manual, known as the "blue book," and cull many old sections from the even heftier 20-volume set of state laws.
This is a two-part essay on the future of online publishing in the US. In this essay, I argue that professional publishing companies such as Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg hold the keys to the future of the news and information industry, far more than do technology companies such as Google. The goal of this essay is to offer a plausible roadmap for navigating the toughest business challenges facing the news and information publishing industries in the digital age.
In the latest round of the book pricing wars, Amazon.com Inc. has begun selling a number of new hardcover books published this month by Pearson PLC's Penguin Group (USA) for only $9.99 amid a dispute between the two companies over electronic books.
Penguin stopped providing digital editions of new titles to Amazon as of April 1 because Penguin and Amazon haven't yet struck an agreement on a new "agency" pricing model, in which publishers set the retail prices of their e-books. Out of the five major publishers that struck an agency-pricing deal with Apple Inc., Penguin is the only one that hasn't yet reached an agreement with Amazon.
Since Amazon can't sell the digital editions of Penguin's books, it is, in effect, showing its customers that Amazon is still the place to go for discount pricing. The low price also serves to put pressure on Penguin, as publishers passionately dislike the steep discounts. Many publishers say a $9.99 price tag on a new hardcover book cheapens the value in the minds of consumers.
Fresh Air on WHYY
Interview with Ken Auletta
Ken Auletta's latest column asks the question, "Can the iPad topple the Kindle and save the book business?" The article, published in the April 26 issue of The New Yorker magazine, discusses the ongoing battle between publishing companies and Amazon for pricing e-books, which are projected to eventually account for as much as 40 percent of all books sold.
Auletta is also the author of 11 books, including World War 3.0: Microsoft and Its Enemies and Googled: The End of the World As We Know It, which tracked the development of Google from a search engine to the provider of all things Internet. He has written the "Annals of Communications" column for The New Yorker since 1992.
Listen to full piece or read interview highlights here.
A dead author is making a big splash in the publishing industry. William Styron wrote towering works of literature -- "Sophie's Choice" among them. Styron died four years ago. His work is about to be published as electronic books. But the author's long-time publisher will not be collecting the profits.
By now it must be clear to all but a handful of diehards that the business model based on returnability of books for credit, a practice instituted by the trade book industry some 75 years ago, is no longer viable. In fact it has proven to be a bargain with the Devil.
Some pundits ascribe the woes of our business to printed books themselves, saying that the medium is no longer appropriate for our times. In truth nothing is wrong with printed books. Everything is wrong with the way they are distributed.
advantage, schmantage "Who loses the shell game? Academics whose work is less widely available than it should be, and anyone who wants to read the primary literature. Who wins? Publishers, whose prices have been allowed to escalate because they have largely escaped scrutiny (except by librarians, who for no good reason that I can see have been largely ignored, at least until relatively recently, by academic and political decision makers). "
Ken Auletta of The New Yorker writes:
On the morning of January 27th—an aeon ago, in tech time—Steve Jobs was to appear at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, in downtown San Francisco, to unveil Apple’s new device, the iPad. Hundreds of journalists and invited guests, including Al Gore, Yo-Yo Ma, and Robert Iger, the C.E.O. of Disney, milled around the theatre, waiting for Jobs to appear. The sound system had been playing a medley of Bob Dylan songs; it went quiet as the lights came up onstage and Jobs walked out, to the crowd’s applause.
In the weeks before, the book industry had been full of unaccustomed optimism; in some publishing circles, the device had been referred to as “the Jesus tablet.” The industry was desperate for a savior. Between 2002 and 2008, annual sales had grown just 1.6 per cent, and profit margins were shrinking. -- Read More