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Publishers, Amazon, and competition: Three points of view
June 1, 2014 | 11:00 am

There’s a theme in the triad of Amazon/Hachette articles I found this morning, and the theme is…competition. First of all, here’s a rare op ed in favor of Amazon that originally appeared in CNN’s “Fortune” section. (Though it seems to have vanished from there; the link no longer works and the author reposted it on his own blog.) Len Sherman rebuts an earlier anti-Amazon piece by Adam Lashinsky and argues that Hachette’s background as an illegal colluder suggests it is more interested in keeping prices high, whereas Amazon wants to keep them lower for consumers. ...

Not everyone has a local bookstore, nor should they have to
May 30, 2014 | 12:14 pm

img_1118 People like to talk about the importance of buying books in a local independent bookstore to help keep local independent bookstore culture alive—especially now that the mud is flying around about Amazon and Hachette squabbling with each other. Rather than support a bully, the thinking goes, you should buy books from a local instead. But as Kelly Jensen notes in BookRiot, that’s often not possible. It may even smack of “privilege.” Not all readers have access to brick and mortar stores. Not all readers have the capability to walk to their local indie...

Hachette responds to Amazon’s statement, will discuss compensating authors when terms are reached
May 28, 2014 | 1:28 pm

Last night we got a statement from Amazon in regard to its current squabble with Hachette over contract terms; today we get a (somewhat snarky) statement from Hachette. Digital Book World has posted Hachette’s statement, which I’ll reproduce in full here: It is good to see Amazon acknowledge that its business decisions significantly affect authors’ lives. For reasons of their own, Amazon has limited its customers’ ability to buy more than 5,000 Hachette titles. Authors, with whom we at Hachette have been partners for nearly two centuries, engage in a complex and difficult...

Two fingers to UKIP with “More Bloody Foreigners” event
May 27, 2014 | 10:25 am

BloodyAfter a European election with a surge for the UK Independence Party that showed just how xenophobic the English are prepared to be, a counterblast is being staged at the London Review Bookshop  with a "More Bloody Foreigners" event scheduled for June 11th, featuring four continental European crime writers - Poland's Mariusz Czubaj, Bosnian Andrej Nikolaidis, and Italians Marco Malvaldi and Ben Pastor - supported by their publishers Bitter Lemon Press, Europa Editions, Istros Books, Maclehose Press, and Stork Press, and the Polish Cultural Institute in London. "Located in the heart of Bloomsbury, just a Rosetta Stone’s throw from the British Museum,"...

Sneaking books into bookstores is not a good idea
May 25, 2014 | 10:36 am

Here’s another one from the “probably not a good idea” department. Self-published writer Brendan Leonard had a bright idea: he might see if he could get his book more exposure by planting it in a Barnes & Noble store. All that was necessary for it to ring up was to have an ISBN bar code on it, which it did. He then had the idea to use it as an Instagram promotional gimmick: place books in various stores and post their location to Instagram so people could go buy them. Granted that he was giving money away by giving his...

Updated: ‘Amazon Derangement Syndrome’ characterizes dispute between Amazon and Hachette
May 24, 2014 | 12:36 am

So, there’s a thing. Over on The Passive Voice, and some other blogs with similar points of view, they refer to it as “Amazon Derangement Syndrome (ADS),” for the way a certain class of people seem to like to run around like chickens with their heads cut off whenever the evil Amazon does another evil thing evilly. Now, I’ll grant that ADS might not be the best term to go around using if you want to engage in serious discourse, given that the sort of people who toss it around are likely to be just as opinionated in...

Comic book shop advocate pushes for windowing of digital comics
May 2, 2014 | 4:58 am

The Southgate, Michigan News-Herald has a story about a local comic book shop owner, Dennis Barger, who has formed a nationwide “Comic Book Retailers Alliance” to advocate for print comic book shops. His rhetoric should sound familiar to anyone who’s watched e-books “kill” print bookstores. Barger said, despite what some people in the industry think, social media and other marketing isn’t what sells books for the most part. “The employees at local comic shops pushing these books is the difference in being in the top 200...

That’s show biz: The value propositions of bookstores and movies
April 12, 2014 | 5:35 am

Sometimes when I’m trawling through the news, I run across unrelated posts that form an interesting juxtaposition. Here’s one concerning the very similar way that technological change has affected two entirely different industries. First, Dan Meadows (not a close relation as far as I know) has an interesting pair of posts relating to bookstores, publishers, and their respective value propositions. In the first one, he talks about bookstores and publishers in general. The services these institutions offer hasn’t changed—bookstores still have about the same number of books, publishers still offer the same services—but because people suddenly have even better...

Indie bookstores doing fine: Now stop demonizing Amazon?
April 10, 2014 | 10:31 am

amazonSalon, rarely the most Amazon-friendly of venues, has just run another story on the state of the indie bookstore sector in the U.S., and found surprisingly positive trends. And naturally, being Salon, it saw fit to headline the report with a hit at Amazon like: "The independent bookstore lives! Why Amazon’s conquest will never be complete." In the article, Andrew Leonard picks up on the same kind of data that I instanced previously on the relative fortunes of indie bookstores and major book chains (Borders in particular, of course) in the era of digital disruption. "Brick-and-mortar bookstores aren’t dead, yet," he...

Nook vs Amazon: Who knew Nook pricing was so much higher?
April 7, 2014 | 4:23 pm

nook vs amazonDuring the days covered by the agency pricing settlement, I was buying most of my books from Barnes & Noble because a Nook Color was my primary reading device. Price differences between Nook and Amazon were minimal to non-existent on most of the books I wanted to buy. Consequently, I received a much larger ebook settlement credit for Nook than for Amazon, and I decided this would be a good time to pick up some of the books on my Wishlist. I mostly wishlist Big Five books and track them in eReader IQ, hoping for a price drop, so most of...

Amazon not the only reason for bookstore closures
March 31, 2014 | 12:35 pm

amazonIt's easy to get caught up in the 'Amazon is the bad guy' rhetoric, and blame Bezos and Co for ruining all the bookstores. But this NY Times article is a useful reminder that sometimes, the explanation is a lot simpler than we might think. The article highlights the sky-high rents in Manhattan, which are forcing even chain bookstores out of the market: "In December, Christine Onorati, the co-owner of Word bookstore in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, opened a second store in Jersey City. Ms. Onorati said she never looked seriously at Manhattan because the rents were so unaffordable. Even with lower rents...

The great Sony Reader Store to Kobo migration
March 29, 2014 | 9:55 am

sony reader storeYesterday, I received an email from the Sony Reader Store with a custom link to use to migrate my Sony store account. Has anyone else gotten this yet? I clicked the link and expected a smooth transfer; I didn't get it. Three attempts later, I finally got a prompt screen to call tech support, which I did; I spent quite some time on hold, and then was told my problem has to be 'escalated to level 2.' The rep seemed unsure of what would occur once that happened but said they have a special team set up to handle the Sony...