Electronic Publications

Belt-Tightening and Fretting at BookExpo

What was once the 'be there or be square' event of the bookworld, a smaller and less flashy BookExpo America was held this past weekend at the Javits Center in Manhattan.

According to Bloomberg News, BEA "was a toned-down affair as delegates fretted about declining publishing revenue and the rise of electronic books like Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle 2." Carol Schneider, a spokeswoman for the Random House Publishing Group. “Everyone has a somewhat reduced presence.”

Several large publishers, including Farrar, Straus and Giroux, a division of Macmillan, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, were missing from the Javits Center’s convention floor, choosing to work from basement meeting rooms, which are less expensive than the well-adorned display booths.

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House Inc. known for hosting lavish sit-down dinners at such venues as Campanile in Los Angeles and the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, when the convention was held in those cities, instead held a cocktail party at the modest, timeworn Strand bookstore in Greenwich Village.

More on the diminished state of the book industry and "on the increasingly frenzied conversation about electronic books that has hijacked the business" at the New York Times.

New, Edgy and Free; LJ's Book Smack Newsletter

Want "high-impact reviews of street lit, genre fiction, graphic novels, audio, and DVDs, along with edgy RA, in-depth prepub info, and industry buzz" direct from seasoned library-type editors?

Then you'll want to sign up for Library Journal's new twice-monthly newsletter BOOK SMACK (where did they get that edgy edgy name??).
Here's where to subscribe.

Kindle e-reader: A Trojan horse for free thought

Emily Walshe: In our rush to adopt new technologies, we have too readily surrendered ownership in favor of its twisted sister, access.

Web 2.0 and its culture of collaboration supposedly unleashed a sharing society. But we can share only what we own. And as more and more content gets digitized, commercialized, and monopolized, our cultural integrity is threatened. The free and balanced flow of information that gives shape to democratic society is jeopardized.

The Google Books settlement: A symposium, and a call for library action

Everybody’s Libraries has a big post "The Google Books settlement: A symposium, and a call for library action"

Last Friday I went to a fascinating symposium at the Columbia Law School: “The Google Books Settlement: What Will it Mean for the Long Term?” The symposium included presentations by US copyright register Marybeth Peters, and antitrust expert Randal Picker [slides], followed by panels featuring speakers from the legal, publishing, and library world, as well as a few folks representing Google, authors, international publishing groups, and photographers. The audience filled most of a large room, and included listeners from all these communities. I prepared for the day by going through Walt Crawford’s lengthy summary of the settlement and its commentators, which I recommend to anyone needing to get up to speed on the issues.

Sharing at Scribd

Online document sharing site Scribd has announced that it has partnered with a number of major publishers, including Random House, Simon & Schuster, Workman Publishing Co., Berrett-Koehler, Thomas Nelson, and Manning Publications, to legally offer some of their content to Scribd's community free of charge. Publishers have begun to add an array of content to Scribd's library, including full-length novels as well as briefer teaser excerpts.

Hearst Planning Electronic Reader Alternative To Kindle

Analysts suggest such a device would help the news publisher find an answer to reverse shrinking subscriber bases, as well as revenue losses from publications.

Hearst Corp.'s plans to launch a wireless electronic reader for viewing the publisher's newspapers and magazines reflects the kind of experimentation deemed pivotal to finding a business model that can compete in an era of the content-free Internet.
Hearst, which has seen its own revenue plummet as advertisers shift an increasing amount of their spending to the Web, is planning to launch an e-reader with a large-format screen this year, Fortune magazine reported Friday. The device would be big enough for the layout and advertising requirements of newspapers and magazines.

Full story here.

Authors' Guild vs. reality: Kindles and read-aloud

Cory Doctorow:

Time and again, the Author's Guild has shown itself to be the epitome of a venal special interest group, the kind of grasping, foolish posturers that make the public cynically assume that the profession it represents is a racket, not a trade. This is, after all, the same gang of weirdos who opposed the used book trade going online.

DRM a drag on e-book growth, say critics

Imagine bringing home a music CD from Best Buy and discovering that it will only play on some of your stereo equipment. Moreover, you're limited in the number of times you can switch the CD from one stereo to another.

That is the kind of restriction and hassle that e-book enthusiasts face today, according to critics, because of the widespread use -- misuse, they would argue -- of digital rights management (DRM) technology.

Publisher speculates about Amazon/Google e-book "duopoly"

Speaking at Princeton on Thursday, Richard Sarnoff, chairman of the Association of American Publishers, discussed the landmark settlement in the Google Book Search case. Sarnoff speculated that the agreement could effectively give Google and Amazon a "duopoly" in the online book market.

Tim O'Reilly Unplugged: The Kindle 2 And Transforming Industries

Last week, after shooting my video coverage of the launch of Amazon's Kindle 2 in NYC, I sat down with O'Reilly Media founder and CEO Tim O'Reilly, who was producing the Tools of Change For Publishing Conference across town. The book publishing industry is going through a massive, and in some cases very painful, transition. In my podcast interview with O'Reilly (full transcription below), he discusses Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN)'s decisions from his perspective as a book publisher, how this transition actually began centuries ago, and where it's going. Is it a case study that your industry can learn from?

There's actually a bit of irony in Amazon's choice of the Morgan Library in New York City to launch the Kindle 2, as well as the choice to have Stephen King do a reading from his new book Ur which, when it first comes out, will only be available to owners of Amazon's Kindle e-book reader.

The Morgan Library is home to the largest single collection of Gutenberg Bibles (three). The Gutenberg Bibles are considered to be "the first substantial printed book in the Western world" and in my interview with O'Reilly, he refers to their printing in the 1400s as perhaps the beginning of a revolution that's still underfoot.

Full interview here.


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