Articles about "e-books"


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

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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

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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

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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. “Their delivery mechanism is beside the point… Basically, if they’re able to consistently produce spectacular pieces of journalism that generate a lot of online buzz, they’ll succeed. If they can’t, they won’t.”

Earlier: Direct publishing of e-books offers hope for long-form journalists (Poynter) Read more

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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

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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.

“Separating Nook from the Barnes & Noble brand would be a huge mistake,” Simba Information senior trade analyst Michael Norris told The Associated Press. “A lot of people who buy e-books buy physical books as well. Do they really want to tamper with that kind of marriage?”

Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps notes that the Nook business is growing so rapidly, B&N shareholders may not have the patience for the amount of investment it will require. Nonetheless, it has been the star division of the company and separating it could cause problems. She writes:

The Nook business has benefitted from synergy with Barnes & Noble in two key areas: 1) Barnes & Noble’s channel (retail stores) and 2) Barnes & Noble’s publisher relationships. It’s not clear how a separate Nook business would function without the benefit of Barnes & Noble’s retail stores and publisher relationships.

Nook has fueled Barnes & Noble’s growth: What will be the value of Barnes & Noble without the Nook business? Where will the growth come from?

Related: Google is allegedly developing a 7-inch tablet, under $199, to rival Kindle Fire, Nook (The Next Web) | Estimates of Kindle Fire ownership so far in major cities (All Things D) Read more

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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

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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

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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. The 2012 election cycle will be different.

Instead of waiting more than a year for writing, editing, printing and distribution of print books, Politico will publish a series of four e-books (the first coming Nov. 30) during the campaign. Meanwhile, Real Clear Politics just last week published its first of three e-books on the 2012 election.

Books capitalizing on current events are also coming faster.

The Boston Globe published its trio of e-books on Whitey Bulger only seven days after the FBI apprehended the longtime fugitive gangster.

Vanity Fair published its e-book of eight stories about Elizabeth Taylor only eight days after her death, David Friend, editor of creative development, told me. About 10 days after the News of the World scandal broke, Vanity Fair had assembled an e-book of its 20 best stories on Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. from the past 25 years.

Crime and politics are popular topics

Five of the 18 e-books I reviewed related to criminals or high-profile court cases. Four were about politics or government (plus five future books promised by Politico and Real Clear Politics).

There were at least two books each on business/economic issues, terrorism/foreign policy (led by bin Laden), and celebrities.

How are publishers choosing their e-book topics? Most seem to just follow their instincts for what readers want.

Vanity Fair doesn’t do market research to plan its e-book topics, Friend said. The editors just follow “what excites us, editorially. If we like it, we hope others will like it.”

Different price points

Among the 18 e-books I reviewed, nine had a list price of $3 or less. These tended to be shorter books, or “singles,” and often were based on previously published content.

Most news organization e-books were priced under $3.

Four of the books cost between $3 and $6, while five of the books cost $6 or more. The highest price was $9.99, for multimedia-rich e-books by ABC News on Amanda Knox and the British royal wedding.

The L.A. Times may test some new business models with upcoming e-books, such as having them paid for by a sponsor or advertising, said Emily Smith, senior vice president of digital. Another idea is to use an e-book as a digital version of the free tote bag, she said, a reward you give away to subscribers.

Need to add value

How do you persuade people to buy a collection of stories published previously that may be found for free in online archives? Try thinking of it like a DVD.

The DVD also contains previously released content which might be found elsewhere (cable TV) for free. But studios have figured out they can add value by packing the DVD with exclusive deleted scenes, director commentary and behind-the-scenes documentaries.

E-books can work the same way. Vanity Fair’s Elizabeth Taylor collection added two new stories to the six previously published.

The new L.A. Times e-book, “A Nightmare Made Real,” draws from staff writer Christopher Goffard’s two-part series in the paper about a Las Vegas banker accused of kidnapping, torture and sexual assault. But it also adds “more detailed portraits of key characters and Goffard’s account of how an unlikely tip led to his narrative.”

Don’t forget print books

The quick publishing and low cost of e-books offer many advantages, but in some cases the additional investment in a printed book may pay off as well.

The Boston Globe has been publishing print books for a long time, especially to commemorate local sports team championships. The Globe has two more hardcover books coming out soon — a biography of Mitt Romney in January and a book on Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary in March.

The Washington Post’s 2010 book, “Landmark: The Inside Story of America’s New Health Care Law and What It Means for Us All,” was published in hardback and paperback, as well as an e-book. The paper now is surveying readers about their interest in buying cookbooks, travel guides and other types of books.

One advantage of publishing a book, printed or electronic, is you can reach new audiences for stories of nationwide interest or lasting relevance. A reader in New York may never read the daily edition of the L.A. Times, but she might see its e-book in the Kindle store and download it. Even a reader in L.A. might not see the paper’s daily coverage of the Las Vegas banker story, but he could download the e-book a year later and read it one weekend.

“We have too many great stories and world-class journalism in databases,” Times Managing Editor for News Davan Maharaj said. “Many of these stories live on, and they translate well to some of these devices with just a tweak here and a tweak there.”

It’s likely 2012 will be an even bigger year for e-books. New low-cost e-readers from Amazon and Barnes & Noble debuted just in time for the holidays.

Said Vanity Fair editor Friend, “From what we’re seeing with the holiday sales of e-readers, seeming to the biggest thing since Rubik’s Cube or Cabbage Patch dolls, this could be really big.”

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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. Amazon’s touchscreen Kindle, which also uses e-ink, is $99; the base Kindle is $79.

The upcoming holiday season should cause a surge of sales for these e-readers and tablets.

Publishers and independent authors will benefit most, as all of these devices expand the market for e-books. That’s a promising sign for newspapers that have repackaged news articles into e-books.

The color touchscreen devices for $199 and up also expand the audience for news apps. The Nook Tablet, Nook Color and Kindle Fire all will run a variant of the Android operating system. News organizations should be able to get their Android apps into the Nook and Amazon app stores, with some additional submission steps.

The devices also expand the market for the Nook Newsstand, which carries about 250 print-replica magazines and newspapers, and the Kindle Newsstand. Apple’s Newsstand for the iPad and iPhone, meanwhile, is having early success.

A recent Pew study found that 11 percent of U.S. adults own a tablet now; most of them use their devices to get news that they once got from print or TV. The good news is that studies show that tablets increase owners’ overall appetite for news.

There is an opportunity for traditional news organizations to make the tablet leap with their audiences. But it will require reinvention of content and storytelling, rethinking of business models, and fending off new competitors. Read more

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