Publishing

Amazon Explains POD Move; Ingram Raises Questions

Amazon has sent an open letter to “interested parties,” explaining “what we’re changing with print on demand and why we are doing so.” Amazon has caused a major stir in the pod field with its decision to have publishers who want to sell pod titles directly through its Web site use its BookSurge pod subsidiary. And late Monday afternoon, Ingram, parent company of BookSurge rival Lightning Source, issued a statement from John Ingram noting the concerns it has fielded from publishers about Amazon’s actions.

Complete article at Publisher's Weekly.

Amazon to Force POD Publishers to Use BookSurge

BookSurge, Amazon’s print-on-demand subsidiary, is making an offer that most publishers would like to refuse, but don’t feel they can. According to talks with several pod houses, BookSurge has told them that unless their titles are printed by BookSurge, the buy buttons on Amazon for their titles will be disabled. A detailed explanation of her how the new program was explained to her is provided by BookLocker.com co-owner Angela Hoy on her writersweekly.com blog.

Over the last year, BookSurge has been trying to cut into the market share of pod leader Lightning Source and is using the selling clout of Amazon to generate more business. “I feel like the flea between two giant elephants,” said the head of one pod publisher about the upcoming battle between Lightning Source and BookSurge/Amazon. He said although the deal with BookSurge will be more expensive, he has no choice but to make the move since most of his authors expect their titles to be for sale on Amazon. He added that his company will also continue to use Lightning Source for printing as well. Amazon's BookSurge mandate extends to traditional publishers as well as to online pod houses.

Story continued at Publisher's Weekly

$100 and a T-Shirt

Though zines have been published since at least the 1920s when sci-fi fans began producing their self issued writings devoted to the genre, there has been few attempts to document the history and culture of zine making in a narrative form. This is perhaps the first documentary to provide a comprehensive overview of zines and zine makers and is a welcome document on this facet of underground art and media. Some of the most interesting points in the documentary occur when there is a divergence of opinions on a topic, such as the discussion on pricing and profit, selling out, and making a living from zines. The makers cover a significant amount of ground and they largely succeed in creating a work that informs and entertains both those with only a minimal knowledge of zines as well as those immersed in the culture. Anyone involved with zines is likely to enjoy hearing the thoughts and perspectives from other zine makers (and might also appreciate seeing some of their favorite zinesters being interviewed). Also, the documentary provides an excellent introduction, and perhaps source of inspiration, to someone new to zines. $100 & A T-Shirt is a valuable and much needed documentary on zines and zine culture. Anyone interested with an interest in alternative media and publishing is likely to enjoy this excellent documentary.

Documentary available at Amazon and Netflix.

Controlling a Sea of Information

A journal publisher is having authors contribute information directly to the database.

Curators at one of the world’s most widely used biological databases, The Arabidopsis Information Resource, or TAIR, have joined forces with the journal Plant Physiology, to solve the “flood of information” dilemma. It is a first-of-its-kind partnership, which cuts out the middle person for entering important genetics and other biological data about plants into the database. The new system will unclog the information highway and significantly increase the data contained in TAIR.

No mention of libraries or librarians.

Insanity @ My Library: A Photo Contest

Scott Douglas has released full details of a book give away contest here:

Do you have a picture that perfectly illustrates the insanity that takes place at a library? Maybe it's the book drop that was destroyed by a firecracker, the librarian who never matches his socks, or the library that is completely falling apart and has structural damage to prove it! If so, send them to me and you will automatically be entered in a drawing for a free signed copy of Quiet, Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian.

Time to End the Slavery of Traditional Publishing

In a characteristically provocative talk last week, Richard Smith, who is on the Board of Directors of PLoS, accused traditional subscription-based publishers of acting like slave owners. And he compared open access advocates to abolitionists.

Richard was speaking at the BioMed Central Open Access Colloquium, alongside other "abolitionists," including my colleague Ginny Barbour, Senior Editor at PLoS Medicine. The talks have all been archived on the colloquium website.

Reed Elsevier Selling Business Information Division

The Reed Business Information division is mainly trade publications such as New Scientist and Library Journal. Reed Elsevier indicated that the sale of the division has to do with it's advertising-based model, among other reasons. Last year, 60% of their income came from advertising. At this point in time, there are no buyers for the division, but the private equity investment group Apax Partners has indicated some interest.

Lillian Virginia Mountweazel

In 2005 there was an article in The New Yorker about a fake entry in the 1975 New Columbia Encyclopedia for Lillian Virginia Mountweazel. The entry was a copyright trap.

There is a YouTube video that discusses the entry:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjRdhVlw354

Twelve, Betting on a Dozen Books Each Year

Publishers in the U.S. released more than 291,000 separate titles in 2006. But one imprint that got its start just last year has already had a string of hits with a philosophy of "less is more."

"Nobody has any idea what's going to hit. I think that publishing is basically a corporate form of legalized gambling," says Jonathan Karp, publisher and editor in chief of Twelve, which only releases one book a month — 12 each year.

Karp had already ushered a string of books onto best-seller lists before starting Twelve; he began his career in 1989 as an editorial assistant at Random House and worked his way up to editor in chief. Among the hit books he worked on were Seabiscuit and The Orchid Thief

Story continued at NPR.

Waiting for It

For writers, few steps in the publishing process are as strange as the state of suspended animation between submitting a manuscript and seeing the book appear in stores. The sudden change in cabin pressure from writing to waiting can be jarring — and can last a very long time. “It comes as a huge shock when it happens the first time,” said the Irish writer Colm Toibin, whose first novel, “The South,” appeared in 1990, a year and a half after he turned it in. “It was all slow and strange.”

Technology may be speeding up the news cycle, but in publishing, things actually seem to be slowing down. Although publishers can turn an electronic file into a printed book in a matter of weeks — as they often do for hot political titles, name-brand authors or embargoed celebrity biographies likely to be leaked to the press — they usually take a year before releasing a book. Why so long? In a word, marketing.

Full story here.

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