Buzz Bissinger’s e-book pulled in price war

New York Times
Buzz Bissinger’s e-book sequel to “Friday Night Lights” was suddenly pulled from Amazon, David Carr reports, in an example of how e-book sellers are becoming Wal-Mart-like in their market dominance and pricing power. Apple offered a promotional deal for Bissinger’s book, and Amazon responded aggressively by cutting the book’s price to zero, which led the publisher to temporarily pull it from the Amazon market rather than give it away. || Related: Microsoft makes $300M investment in Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-reader (Wired) | E-book publisher drops DRM (PC World) | Erotica genre climbs the e-book bestseller lists (News 10). Read more


Justice Department alleges e-book price-fixing in lawsuit against Apple, publishers

Bloomberg | Wall Street Journal
The Justice Department alleges in an antitrust lawsuit that publishers colluded with each other and with Apple to fix the prices of e-books, reports Bloomberg’s Bob Van Voris. Simon & Schuster, Hachette Book Group and HarperCollins have settled their suits. “Those three publishers agreed to terminate their agreements with Apple regarding e-books and refrain from limiting any retailer’s ability to set e-book prices for two years,” reports The Wall Street Journal. But Apple, Penguin and Macmillan are prepared to fight the allegations, Van Voris says. “They will argue that pricing agreements between Apple and publishers enhanced competition in the e-book industry, which was dominated by Amazon.com Inc.” The lawsuit stems from the industry’s switch from a wholesale model, in which retailers could set prices for e-books (and undercut each other), to an “agency model,” in which publishers set the prices that retailers could charge. Read more


Majority of people who read news now get it on handheld devices

Pew Internet
More than half of Americans who regularly read news get it on handheld digital devices, according to new research. The Pew Internet & American Life Project found 54 percent of news-reading adults turn to cell phones, tablets or e-readers (question 23). There’s good news for writers: “41% of tablet owners and 35% of e-reader owners said they were reading more since the advent of e-content.”

The main focus of the Pew survey was on e-books and how Americans are embracing them. A few interesting facts: Read more


Justice Department says e-book sellers colluded to raise prices

The Wall Street Journal | Chicago Reader | Mother Jones
The Justice Department has threatened an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and five major book publishers for colluding to raise e-book prices, the Journal reports. At issue was the decision by booksellers, led by Apple, to let book publishers set a single retail price for their e-books. Previously, sellers such as Amazon had offered discount prices to compete for customers.

In other e-books news, Steve Bogira at Chicago Reader agrees with Dwight Garner’s praise of Kindle Singles, but adds, “I’m not crazy about the ‘long-form’ label. Long-form doesn’t bring to mind much that’s positive. Would you rather file the long-form 1040, or the short-form 1040EZ?”

Meanwhile, Kevin Drum at Mother Jones takes a closer look at Matter, a crowdfunded startup that will produce a weekly long-form journalism piece for 99 cents. Read more


Apple takes on textbooks, online courses with new apps

GigaOmEngadget | 9to5Mac
Apple is aiming to disrupt and reinvent the textbook market, just as it has done previously with music and news. At an event today in New York, company executives debuted a new textbook-optimized version of iBooks, as well as a new version of iTunes U designed to host full courses. iBooks 2 enables note-taking, interactive quizzes and virtual flashcards. There’s also a new iBooks Author software for easily creating iPad textbooks. Textbooks will start at $14.99 or less, and the three major publishers who produce 90 percent of textbooks — Pearson, McGraw Hill, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt — are already on board. || Related: J-school curriculum is starting to look a little silly (Poynter.org) Read more


How would a split affect Barnes & Noble, Nook business?

Barnes & Noble is exploring whether to spin off or sell its Nook e-book and e-reader business line, according to paidContent and others.

What would that mean? It would separate the fast-growing Nook business (up about 70 percent annually and expected to total $1.5 billion this year) from Barnes & Noble’s struggling bricks-and-mortar stores and hardback distribution business.

The Nook Tablet from Barnes & Noble costs $249.

Consumers might see it as a good thing, alleviating their concerns about investing in proprietary e-books and devices from a company with an uncertain financial future.

For the company, however, the strategy is questionable. CEO William Lynch says it’s about unlocking “substantial value in what we’ve built with our Nook business in only two years.” Industry analysts are less certain. Read more


Reports: Apple plans iBooks-related announcement this month

TechCrunch | All Things D
Apple is planning a “media-related” announcement later this month in New York, Kara Swisher writes. Alexia Tsotsis confirms the report and says the event will “unveil improvements to the iBooks platform” and attendance will be “more publishing industry-oriented than consumer-focused.”

There are no reports yet of what those improvements may be. Perhaps Apple will be addressing some of the features that e-book rival Amazon offers, like the ability to lend a purchased e-book to another person, or apps to read an iBook on something other than an iPhone or iPad (PCs, Android phones, etc.). Regardless, it will be something to watch as e-books play a growing role for news organizations and individual journalists.

Related: Nicholas Carr on the malleable e-books of the future (WSJ.com) Read more


Direct publishing of e-books offers hope for long-form journalists

O’Reilly Radar | GigaOM
Atlantic freelancer Marc Herman says his $1.99 Kindle Single, “The Shores of Tripoli,” is selling well enough to cover the costs of his reporting trip to Libya and may bring in enough to fund his next project in advance. “If things keep going how they are going,” he tells Jenn Webb, “I think in a few months I’ll be able to say I have the beginnings of a viable business model as well as a viable way to bring long-form reporting about international events to the public.” The Radar interview has insights on the pricing dilemma, the writing process and the traditional publishing industry. Mathew Ingram analyzes what Amazon can do for authors and journalists. || Earlier: In the year of the e-book, 5 lessons from — and for — news organizations (Poynter.org) Read more


In the year of the e-book, 5 lessons from — and for — news organizations

Mark 2011 as the year news organizations discovered e-books.

Sure, Time Magazine tried one back in 2010, but this year at least 10 other newspapers, magazines or news websites have published at least 17 electronic-only books seeking bigger audiences and longer lives for their greatest stories. Many more are coming.

I analyzed those 18 e-books to study their topics, prices and strategies. And I talked with people from Vanity Fair, which published three e-books this year and is planning more, and the Los Angeles Times, which just published its first and expects up to 10 over the next year.

Here are five lessons so far about using e-books for news.

Shorten the production cycle

The most talked-about book chronicling the 2008 presidential election — “Game Change” by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin — was published in January 2010.

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New, cheaper Nook devices should expand audience for news apps, e-books

Barnes & Noble unveiled a new lineup of e-readers today, including a low-cost, color tablet that will compete with Amazon’s Kindle Fire and may tempt lightweight users away from the pricier, full-featured Apple iPad.

For publishers, the continued trend of lower prices is more interesting than the specific device features. Until this month, tablet ownership was mostly limited to people who could afford to spend $500 or more on an iPad. With the new Nook Tablet at $249 and a similar Nook Color at $199 (the same price as the Kindle Fire), publishers can expect accelerating consumer adoption of these media consumption devices.

The Nook Tablet from Barnes & Noble will cost $249.

Barnes & Noble also refreshed its Nook Simple Touch, a black-and-white device that uses e-ink, and dropped the price to $99. Read more

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