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Publishing

HarperCollins UK goes direct-to-consumer: Is Amazon worried yet?
September 1, 2014 | 2:25 pm

News that might just have Jeff Bezos quaking in his boots - though don't bank on it - is that HarperCollins in the UK has introduced across-the-board direct sales for its books, including hard copy as well as ebooks. The ebooks have to be downloaded and read on HarperCollins's dedicated HC Reader app (also available for Kindle Fire, cheekily enough), in conjunction with a HarperCollins account. The ecommerce and payment platform for HarperCollins is provided by Digital River, which was behind the recent dedicated websites for its C.S. Lewis and Narnia properties. (Oops, wasn't C.S. Lewis once an author rather than...

No fault in Penguin Random House stars as Bertelsmann books a big win
September 1, 2014 | 12:25 pm

BertelsmannPenguin Random House demonstrated once again what a cozy, fusty, highbrow, unworldly world modern publishing is by bringing home the fat juicy bacon for parent Bertelsmann. And it was all in our stars. As The Hollywood Reporter ... um ... reported, "John Green’s unstoppable young adult melodrama The Fault in Our Stars lifted the fortunes of German media giant Bertelsmann, which controls the book’s publisher Penguin Random House. Sales of the The Fault in Our Stars novel spiked ahead of the release of Josh Boone’s feature film adaptation ... The book sold more than four million copies in print and...

The Gothic blue book: Time for a revival?
August 31, 2014 | 12:04 pm

An enterprising independent publisher, Burial Day Books, recently launched a submissions drive for the fourth in an anthology series that draws on the tradition of the Gothic blue book, a form of short-to-medium Gothic and horror story imprint that flourished briefly at the end of the 18th century and into the 19th. According to Burial Day, Gothic blue books were: ... abridgements of full-length Gothic novels. The subjects of these books fell into one of two categories; the first being set in a monastery or convent and the second being set in a castle. In terms of the physicality of the...

In dismissing Amazon’s Orwell quotation, Laura Miller misinterprets Orwell herself
August 26, 2014 | 9:15 pm

There she goes again. Salon’s Laura Miller has penned the latest in a series of tirades against Amazon, this one summing up the squabble thus far and taking issue with Amazon’s quotation of Orwell’s discussion of paperbacks in its “Readers United” letter explaining that lower prices were good for everyone. We’ve already discussed Miller’s biases in some of the links above, but the most interesting thing has to do with her understanding (or lack thereof) of the Orwell quotation. Miller writes: To top it all off this month, the retailer posted an open...

11 Publishing Shakers to follow, besides us
August 13, 2014 | 8:28 pm

shakerI’ll admit this is blowing my own horn a little, but today I was alerted to an article on The Independent Publishing Magazine listing “The 12 Publishing Shakers You Should Be Following.” After a bit of puzzlement—are the Shakers even still around, and didn’t they make furniture rather than publish?—I noticed that our very own Paul St. John Mackintosh comes in at number one on the list. (And they happen to mention a certain other TeleRead writer in the comments after that…) Another TeleRead-related writer, Nate Hoffelder of The Digital Reader, came in at #7. While posting about it...

Amazon’s e-book position ‘weak’ but customer focus too strong for disruption
August 11, 2014 | 4:35 am

Here’s a couple of interesting takes on the Amazon/Hachette affair. It’s kind of refreshing, actually, after all this back and forth he-said/she-said of authors in favor of Amazon or Hachette and Amazon and Hachette themselves to look at what more neutral parties are saying. For starters, here’s Jake Kerr on Medium.com suggesting that Amazon is fighting so hard for lower prices on e-books because, far from being the monopolistic behemoth others accuse it of, its position in the e-book trade is actually fairly weak. This seems a little counterintuitive at first, but Kerr points out that e-book stores have...

Hachette responds to Amazon advocates’ email on pricing its e-books
August 11, 2014 | 1:24 am

Digital Book World is carrying the response Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch is sending to those people who write him at Amazon’s behest. Since I posted the Amazon letter in full, it seems only fair to do the same for this. Pietsch (or whoever wrote the response for him) maintains that “Hachette sets prices for our books entirely on our own, not in collusion with anyone” (technically true, I suppose, since he said books, not e-books). He also maintains that the vast majority of Hachette’s titles are priced at or below $9.99, that the ones that cost more are nonetheless...

Amazon asks Kindle Direct authors and readers to lobby Hachette in contract negotiation
August 9, 2014 | 3:37 am

Amazon’s PR push in the Hachette negotiation seems to have moved beyond simply posting announcements to forums. I just had a rather lengthy email show up in my inbox from “Kindle Direct Publishing,” which begins with the salutation “Dear KDP Author.” I’m not sure if I received it because I created a KDP account at some point while looking into it, or as a member of the press. Either way, I’m reproducing the letter here in full. The letter essentially expands upon Amazon’s recent forum post about the situation, laying out Amazon’s belief that Hachette wants to charge too...

Hachette tried to toss indies out with the trash in Perseus distro deal
August 8, 2014 | 10:25 am

Perseus GroupNick Mamatas was kind enough to tip me off to a fascinating writeup by Dennis Johnson, co-founder of Brooklyn indie publishing stalwart Melville House, on a story that knocks another hole in Hachette's credibility as the self-styled defender of cultural and literary values against the encroachment of Amazon. As Johnson tells it, Hachette Book Group's just-collapsed deal to buy Perseus Books Group, long owned by private equity fund (not hedge fund as Johnson describes it) Perseus LLC, would have involved jettisoning the cluster of often highly-regarded indie publishers that it aimed to sell with the acquisition's distribution business, to U.S. distributor...

Who exactly owns aNobii?
August 7, 2014 | 4:25 pm

sainsburys_logoThe Bookseller reported that UK department store chain Sainsbury's has bought out its publisher partners HarperCollins and Penguin Random House in aNobii, the book-focused social media platform originally launched by Greg Sung in Hong Kong in 2006, and has raised the 64 percent stake it bought from HMV for £1 in June 2012 to 100 percent. The aNobii website itself is headed up by a press announcement from Italian publisher Mondadori which reads "Mondadori buys aNobii." According to this, Mondadori has taken over "Anobii Ltd. the brand and the assets of the social reading service which has a million users around the world and over 300,000 in...

Bowker data shows traditional publishing steady in U.S.
August 7, 2014 | 12:25 pm

NielsenThe latest short data report from  ProQuest research affiliate Bowker showed traditional print publishing holding up very nicely, thank you, in the U.S. The Bowker release stated that: "production of print books by traditional publishers in the USA declined from 309,957 titles in 2012 to a projected 304,912 titles in 2013. According to the company, the two per cent decrease reverses the sector’s growth in 2012 over 2011, but points to a relatively stable market for print works despite competition from e-books." Meanwhile, "the non-traditional publishing sector saw a far more significant decline over 2012. Its print output for 2013 was projected at...

Shatzkin shares latest on maximizing the backlist in digital publishing era
July 30, 2014 | 6:47 pm

mikeshatzkin.jpgMike Shatzkin's commentary on developments in the publishing industry has often featured in TeleRead in the past - not always in entirely respectful terms. All the same, he's often good for wrap-ups of not-quite-leading-edge newly-received wisdom in mainstream publishing, and one such piece is his latest post entitled (deep breath...): "Publishers need to rethink their marketing deployments and tactics in the digital age to take advantage of their backlists." Shatzkin delves into the traditional publishing priorities of frontlist versus backlist marketing ("Books have always been launched like rockets. The publisher commits maximum firepower to getting them off the ground. Most crash to...