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The archivist’s conundrum: History is written by the lucky
July 8, 2014 | 5:31 am

_76046394_black-prince_splAn article a friend posted on Facebook got me thinking. It involves recently-discovered evidence about a historical figure, Prince Edward of Woodstock, suggesting that a putative “massacre” he committed might not actually have happened at all. It occurred to me that, in this modern era, we tend to assume we can know anything about someone just from what we find in a quick Google. It's sometimes hard to wrap our brains around the idea that much of what we know from ancient times could be wrong, as all we have is what managed to get saved through sheer dumb...

Amazon wants co-op payments, and also concessions in the UK
June 24, 2014 | 4:02 am

So, thanks to a leak, we’ve finally found out what the Amazon/Hachette spat is over. The New York Times reported a couple of days ago that an anonymous source within Hachette says that Amazon wants to extract extra fees for a number of services, including the pre-order button, placement in personalized recommendations, and so on. It looks kind of skeevy at first glance, but it’s really the same kind of “co-op” promotional payment Barnes & Noble extracts for prominent placement of books in its stores. You know how you sometimes see displays dedicated to a single book. or...

Beware Author Solutions, and never ever pay for publishing
March 9, 2014 | 1:11 pm

Author SolutionsIf this isn’t Rule One of self-publishing, it should be: You should never, ever, ever pay someone to publish your work for you. Full stop. End of sentence. Now, it’s fine to pay for useful services, of course. If you can afford it, it could be a good investment to pay someone to edit your work, or to design your cover art, or even to format your book for you if you don’t feel confident of your own skills in that regard. (Though I’d honestly recommend paying $40 for Scrivener and spending a few days learning...

Small press publisher IntoPrint brings out-of-print books back into print
November 6, 2013 | 10:21 am

intoprint_publishing“From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors” has an interview with Anny Rusk, publisher for IntoPrint Publishing. “Cynsations” has another such interview that covers a lot of the same ground. As its name might suggest, this small publishing house uses e-book and print-on-demand publishing to bring out-of-print books back into print. It was born of her business partners’ realization that digital technology meant there’s no need for a book to stay out of print. Anny: John Campbell and Greg Luther realized that in the tech age there’s no such thing as an out-of-print book, just books...

Sweden’s Meganews Delivers Print-on-Demand Newsstand
August 16, 2013 | 12:23 pm

MeganewsPrint-on-demand facsimiles of major dailies are a familiar sight in international hotel lobbies these days, but now Sweden's Meganews has gone one step further, by introducing a mechanized and Internet-enabled newsstand that can print magazines as well as newspapers on demand. "Use the touchscreen to select a magazine of your choice, pay with your credit card, and within two minutes a high-fidelity issue can be picked up at the end of the newsstand," the Meganews site explains. "The printing course of your magazine can be followed on the monitor." Initial venues for the Meganews newsstand "are in locations lacking publications for sale--where...

The ‘Cuckoo’ calls for e-books
July 18, 2013 | 8:12 pm

Laura Hazard Owen (you know, if my middle name was as cool as “Hazard,” I’d probably use it all the time too) has an article over on paidContent discussing the splash that The Cuckoo’s Calling has made unexpectedly among bookstores and and e-book stores alike. Joanna mentioned this article earlier, but missed the most exciting part: This is freaking out bricks-and-mortar booksellers who fear that by the time that they finally get print copies in, everyone will already have read it on Kindle. The New York Times quotes one store owner: “People who can’t get it...

Blackstrap’s business model takes the digital publishing revolution backwards—but in a good way
April 9, 2013 | 11:11 am

BlackstrapWe've watched with interest as a few new digital publishing-related startups have launched seemingly out of the blue over the past few weeks. Thin Reads, a fantastic new website that runs reviews of e-singles, is definitely one of our favorites, and we're clearly not alone; the site has been enjoying a ton of mostly glowing press. (Click to see what Mashable, Paid Content, and MediaBistro's GalleyCat have to say about the new site.) But there's another interesting and brand-new startup known as Blackstrap that hasn't been getting quite as much love lately. In fact, we hadn't even heard of it until we...

Espresso Book Machine comes to South Africa
July 29, 2012 | 11:06 pm

South African IT news site IT Web reports that the University of Johannesburg has just acquired an Espresso Book Machine of its very own. Most of the article summarizes what we already well know about the print-on-demand machine and its uses for printing and binding store-quality paperbacks in mere minutes, but it does quote On Demand Books as projecting over 150 machines installed world-wide by the end of 2012. It also links to a Guardian article from 2009 in which the head of marketing for UK bookstore chain Blackwell suggested that the Espresso “has the potential to be the...

Borderlands bookstore owner recalculates; Espresso not so expensive after all
June 15, 2012 | 8:17 pm

About a month ago, I covered a blog post by Alan Beatts, proprietor of the Borderlands bookstore in San Francisco, in which he did some back-of-envelope calculations to determine that it could take over a decade for profits to pay down the cost of an Espresso. I just now received an email from Mr. Beatts calling my attention to a new blog post with some updated figures—his prior calculations had been based on out-of-date information. Based on the new figures, Beatts now calculates that, at an average rate of 1 book an hour, the machine would pay itself off...

The Espresso is too expensive for independent bookstores, says owner of San Francisco’s Borderlands Books
May 22, 2012 | 12:48 am

GEDC0263A few days ago I mentioned the Harvard Book Store, which features an Espresso Book Machine which it uses to help it stay relevant in its market, and pondered why it is that more stores aren’t following its example. As it turns out, Alan Beatts has a definitive answer to that on the blog of his San Francisco bookstore Borderlands Books. Beatts ran the numbers for the cost of the machine, materials, and operations, versus how long it would take to pay down those costs at various rates. He determined that if he averaged one book an hour over...

Espresso Book Machine not without its drawbacks, University of Utah librarian reports
May 14, 2012 | 12:15 pm

Speaking of the Espresso, a digital publisher’s paen to self-publishing through it led me to a blog post from last year in which librarian Rick Anderson of the University of Utah’s Marriott Library discussed the Espresso’s pros and cons in a bit greater depth than I’ve seen other posts go into. The problems Anderson found mainly have to do with a few technical glitches in the device itself, particularly due to the desert climate of his library being drier than the Espresso was originally designed for. Also, the device has a 45-minute-to-1-hour warmup time due to the glue...

Mike Shatzkin discusses the motives of Amazon
April 30, 2012 | 11:50 pm

Publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin’s latest column is a look at the motives behind Amazon’s competitive behavior, and how it might end legacy publishing. Perhaps the most interesting thing here is that Shatzkin spends the first half of the post giving the devil his due, explaining why Amazon has been looking so good to so many people with manuscripts they want to get out there. If you’ve got the manuscript in hand and you have a choice between [spending months to go from manuscript to published book and earning lower royalties] and having books to show your...