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Sony to shut down Reader store: customers will move to Kobo
February 6, 2014 | 1:53 pm

sony to shut down reader storeAnd another one bites the dust. I just received an email from the Sony store announcing that they are closing the store in the U.S. and Canada as of March 20, 2014. All customers will be transferred to Kobo. Here's the relevant paragraph from the email: You don't have to do anything right now, and you'll be able to re-download your previously purchased eBooks for a limited time. In late March, you will receive a notification from us with a link that will allow you to transfer your library to Kobo. Whether you are new to Kobo or already have an account,...

Serbinis to be Replaced at Kobo
February 5, 2014 | 9:15 am

koboAs reported in today's Morning Links, numerous sources are reporting that Michael Serbinis, who has been with Kobo since the beginning, is being replaced by a Rakuten veteran named Takahito Aiki, who was recently head of a Telecom and will be relocating to Canada to assume the post. Serbinis will remain on board as vice-chairman and founder. I think this could be good news. I have met Mr. Serbinis a handful of times and liked him, and I like Kobo's local partnerships and content strategies. But their customer service needs work, and I have always felt they were unconscionably slow at...

Publishing should create ‘new ecosystem’—but can it?
January 22, 2014 | 3:04 pm

What is the answer to allow publishers to compete in the new world of the Internet on their own terms? On Futurebook, author Jeff Norton proposes that the publishing industry should do what the airline industry did in creating Orbitz, or the broadcast TV industry did in creating Hulu: create their own “arms-length new [venture] to offer credible and compelling services to consumers.” He writes: It strikes me that since the major publishers are facing a dominant digital player, there's an opportunity to form a new, arm's length e-reading ecosystem complete with site, device, and apps. ...

What would encourage eBook readers to switch platforms?
January 22, 2014 | 10:15 am

ebook buyersChris has already covered the Digital Book World article summarizing recent Codex Group research showing that 86% of eBook buyers buy from only one retailer. But I had a few thoughts he didn't cover. The article posited that the ease of infrastructure was the number one reason people stayed with a particular retailer, and that made sense to me. Although I don't currently own a Kindle device, I used to, and I'm pretty much "trained" to go back to Amazon, if for no other reason than it makes it easiest to keep track of what I've purchased. I'm usually good about adding...

Bookseller Weltbild insolvent, flaws in German book trade exposed
January 12, 2014 | 2:21 pm

WeltbildGerman bookseller, publishing operation and media group Weltbild filed for insolvency on Friday January 10th, with reports on Reuters and elsewhere citing both competitive pressure from Amazon in Germany and failure to obtain new financing, after its owners failed to agree on new funding arrangements. Fortunately, the actual bookstores in the bookstore chain Hugendubel - Germany's second largest - which Weltbild part-owns, will be unaffected, according to Reuters, but the bankruptcy terminates a turnaround strategy that involved shifting to more internet-based businesses, albeit in the face of sliding sales. Business will continue for the present while the court administrator looks for a...

HuffPost buys into Espresso model to save bookstores
January 12, 2014 | 12:30 pm

bookstoresYes, the Huffington Post appears to have bought into the print-on-demand Espresso Book Machine model as the solution to bookstores' woes in the digital age. Or at least, travel writer columnist Eytan Levy does. In his piece "How to Save Local Bookstores in Two Easy Steps," he outlines how these machines and tablet affiliate sales could be the salvation of bricks-and-mortar bibliophilia. Salvation must begin, though, by "recognizing the impending doom of the current model," he believes. "Local bookstores currently face the difficulties of increased overhead due to real estate costs and inventory issues, whereas Amazon can cut those costs by shipping...

Barnes & Noble names Nook division CEO Michael Huseby to overall CEO slot
January 8, 2014 | 2:20 pm

Barnes and Noble has just picked up a new overall CEO. Or at least a new-old one. Digital Book World and Publishers Weekly report that B&N has moved Michael Huseby, former CEO of the Nook division, into the top CEO spot left by William Lynch who vacated in July. Huseby said in a statement in the press release: My role, as I see it, is to enhance and unlock the value of these businesses for our shareholders. We are well-positioned in today’s dynamic reading and learning markets and confident in our ability to provide our customers...

Indie-published author seeks to buy St. Charles bookstore
January 8, 2014 | 8:15 am

mainstreetbooksHere’s an interesting story, care of Publishers Weekly. In the town where one of my brothers lives, St. Charles, Missouri, well-known bookshop Main Street Books will close at the end of the month if it cannot find a buyer. Small-press-published novelist and book blogger Brandi Schmidt is attempting to raise $15,000 by February 5 via an Indiegogo campaign in order to buy it and save it from shutting down. If she does buy it, Schmidt’s plans include adding a coffee shop to the bookstore, holding more author signings and events, and holding Skype conferences with authors who can’t attend...

The darker side of instant gratification
January 2, 2014 | 8:29 am

Fullscreen capture 122014 75124 AM.bmpFirst world problems… Ever notice that shortly after you get a new ability, suddenly it’s the end of the world if you can’t use it? People who grew up having to dial in from home or trudge in to a computer lab to get on the Internet now go nuts if they get stuck somewhere without wi-fi or cellular data reception. (Or at least, I do.) And then there’s Gabe’s complaint from the current Penny Arcade, (Tycho’s suggested solution is a little…extreme). Amazon Prime has been amazingly successful for Amazon, and it’s a pretty amazing bargain for consumers,...

Support Indie Bookstores: Commerce or Philosophical Decision?
December 28, 2013 | 12:45 pm

Our usually reliable friends at GalleyCat had a post I included in the Morning Links which I have not stopped thinking about. The writer, Maryann Yin, contemplates the New Year's Resolution phenomenon and proposes that those still in search of a worthy goal consider supporting independent bookstores. The idea originated with a writer from Bustle who suggests that indie bookstores are more then just shops for books; they are also event spaces, philanthropic organizations and owners of pets. And it's there that this 'resolution' lost me. I am supposed to support them because they have pets? My dad has four pets...

Christmas Eve in a bookstore: How it used to be
December 24, 2013 | 12:58 pm

100326VaughnCarrie Vaughn, author of the Kitty Norville werewolf novels, has posted to her blog an amusing tale of the Christmas Eves she used to work in a bookstore, right after college. She explains that she actually loved working Christmas Eve, in spite of the conventional wisdom about holiday-season retail, because last-minute bookstore shoppers were generally very easy to please, and in miraculously helping them find exactly what she needed, she got to “[feel] like Wonder Woman.” Because bookstores are, for the most part, staffed by intelligent, well-read people who want nothing more than to foist vast...

Loss leading did not begin with Amazon
December 21, 2013 | 11:00 am

A bookseller slashes prices on bestsellers by as much as 40% over the publisher’s suggested retail price. It starts doing a brisk business, and as a result is able to stock more backlist titles that move more slowly. Competitors cry foul. Some go under. Publishers are driven out of business, or need to consolidate with other publishers to survive. Am I talking about Amazon, whose $9.99 e-books drove publishers into a conspiracy, or the recent consolidation of Random House and Penguin? Actually, no—I’m talking about Barnes & Noble in 1974. Futurebook is carrying an essay by Tim Coutis, from...