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Excerpt: “I’m enough of a realist to assume that consumers will gravitate to the cheapest, most convenient source of content, whether that’s Amazon or the public library,” said Jimmy Thomas, executive director of Colorado’s Marmot Library Network. “Amazon continues to set a high standard of convenience libraries should attend to. And every time this huge corporation does something on a massive scale, libraries should be reminded to approach services differently. Competing with Amazon on its own terms is not a good direction for libraries. But thinking about how to complement Amazon is worthwhile.”Full piece
Subscriptions for ebooks are certainly in the news this week. Amazon just announced their Kindle Unlimited offering, taking its place beside Oyster and Scribd as a “one price for all you can eat” Netflix- or Spotify-for-ebooks program. And the Book Industry Study Group has released a lengthy and fact-filled report from Ted Hill and Kate Lara covering subscriptions across publishing segments.
It is hard to quarrel with the report’s contention that “subscriptions are here to stay”. The report makes clear, and documents extensively, that there are a great variety of ways subscriptions can be offered and that tools making it easier to manage them are becoming cheaper, better, and more ubiquitous. The report suggests that subscriptions could occur for as narrow an offering as one author’s works. As technology enables subscription offers to be economically viable with less and less revenue, the tendency for more and more publishers to want to “own” their customers, combined with the tendency for publishers to build up their intellectual property inventory in an audience-centric (vertical) way, either organically or by acquisition, it is easy to see how they could proliferate.
It’s a rare thing in a free market when a customer is refused the ability to buy a company’s product and is told its money is no good here.
- Maureen Sullivan, 9/28/2012 – An Open Letter to America’s Publishers
When Sullivan penned this letter as President of the American Library Association, she was worried about the future of libraries. The ALA sought public support over a dispute between libraries and Big 5 publishers in much the same way that Hachette Book Group is currently enlisting authors in its fight over book pricing with Amazon. The problem was simple. Library patrons were reading more and more eBooks.
Full story here.
In principle, I oppose region restrictions. As a reader, they make me itch. But in practice, the way book distribution works across international borders is worse than imperfect: it's broken. If I sell world English language rights to one of my books to a publisher, that publisher can't just print and distribute the book everywhere in the English-speaking world. Publishers used to be regional, not global, players. And even in the wake of the wave of takeovers that resulted in the Big Six Five owning about 70% of the business, mergers between publishing houses are incredibly slow and complicated due to contractual encumbrances.
The E-Reader Death Watch Begins
Tech writers have begun rolling out their eulogies for the humble e-reader, which Mashable has deemed “the next iPod.” As in, it’s the next revolutionary, single-purpose device that's on the verge of being replaced by smartphones and tablet computers. Barnes & Noble is spinning off its Nook division. Amazon just debuted its own smartphone, which some are taking as a tacit admission that more people are reading books on their phone these days, to the detriment of the Kindle. The analysts at Forrester, meanwhile, expect that U.S. e-reader sales will tumble to 7 million per year by 2017, down from 25 million in 2012.
An Amazon executive finally spoke out on the ongoing Hachette contract negotiations, saying that they are in the customer’s long-term interest.
Full piece at gigaoam
Story at Boston.com about program to increase ebook lending in the state and discussion about the problems relating to ebook lending and libraries.
Publishing consulatant Mike Shatzkin discusses ebook subscription services.
Excerpt: My long-held conviction that broad-based subscriptions for ebooks were not likely to work is partly based on facts that are now changing. It is still by no means a slam dunk that ebooks must go where Spotify has taken digital music and Netflix has taken the digital distribution of TV and movies, but it looks more likely today than it did six months ago. Still, looks could be deceiving.
The core of subscription economics is to pay less to the content supplier than they earn other ways to give you some headroom to create a value proposition for consumers. That’s how Spotify and Netflix work. That’s how Book-of-the-Month Club works.