Aside from the usual barrage of book reviews, most of the publishing news lately has been about e-books and digital publishing. Publishers continue to insist that e-book prices need to be high to cover their costs, and consumers don’t seem to care that an e-book bestseller is just a few dollars cheaper than its print counterpart. Microsoft, which invested $300 million in Nook assets last year, is moving closer to taking over the entire operation. Software and apps that let people write their own books and magazines are popping up faster than daisies on a spring day.
For readers this is both good and bad news. The good news is that we have more selection and variety than ever before. The bad news is that we’re drowning in digital offerings. Without a vetting process, or some kind of quality control, selection of what we read is growing ever more complex. I’ve predicted for some years that the next “big thing” will be a way to filter and manage the increased flow of information, and point of contact sites like Goodreads are proving just how invaluable that kind of feature can be.
A lot of self-publishing activity may die down once the novelty wears off. Our first story about Flipboard shows how you can create your own magazines. It’s kind of a modern version of boring friends with vacation slides. It has a great cool factor but it also requires discipline and work to create content. This is not meant to disparage digital publishing, but hopefully some order will come to the publishing universe before too much longer.
Flipboard is one of the main competitors to Pulse Reader. Both are news reading apps. Flipboard just took a step ahead in the battle for market share by offering an android tool to create your own mobile content by clipping photos and news stories into a magazine format. The app was made available for iOS (Apple) first and has already resulted in a network of 56 million users and one million homemade magazines.
Dark Horse Digital celebrated its second anniversary with a giveaway promotion the resulted in one million free digital comics being downloaded by eager fans. Graphic novels and comics in print have enjoyed a recent resurgence and Dark Horse sees digital editions as an important part of that growth. Some of their titles include Star Wars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hellboy and Avatar. Check them out at http://www.darkhorse.com.
The Nook Simple Touch sold out at most UK bookstores following a dramatic price drop from about $121 to $45. Barnes & Noble coordinated the promotional pricing with a campaign called “Get London Reading” that was sponsored by the Evening Standard, a major London newspaper. B&N also donated 1,000 of the e-readers to the national literacy charity Beanstalk.
Bexar County officials broke ground for a new all-digital library, named Bibliotech, that was approved for funding this past January. The library will offer access to 100 e-readers, 50 computer stations, 25 laptops and 25 tablets that can be used on site. E-books will be stored on a cloud system provided by 3M Library Systems.
Microsoft is considering buying the entire Nook assets resource for about $1 billion, after previously investing $300 million with B&N to create a joint digital business. If the sale goes through it would be considered a clear sign that B&N wants out of the e-reader business, as well as a sign that Microsoft wants to get further into the media business and bolster its flagging app offerings. Manufacturing and selling the Nook has not been profitable for B&N, although e-book sales are up nearly 7%.
Written and released even before the final verdict was in, a new book titled Killer Girlfriend: The Jodi Arias Story, shows how the lines between e-books and e-news are blurring. The book was handled by Vook, a digital publishing service group.
Using Twitter, author Maureen Johnson issued a challenge for followers to re-design covers of well-known books to be genderless and non-specific. The publicity stunt was apparently successful and resulted in hundreds of replies, including the remake of the cover for The Game of Thrones. Johnson did not disclose any details on why the covers of her books usually feature scantily clad, sexy young ladies. Apparently what’s good for the goose is not always good for the gander.
Another library innovation: books by mail
Despite state funding cuts, The Price County, WI, still offers Books-By-Mail to county residents who cannot physically get to the library itself. The program started in 1979 and currently has an estimated 500 users.
Documentary film covers the decline of print books and long-reading
If you’re tired of reading about the demise of print books, now you can watch a film about it instead. A new documentary, Out of Print, by director Vivienne Roumani, debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film investigates the future of long-form reading, the decline in popularity of printed books and implications for the future.
A regional trend as developed in Texas for fictionalized stories about the state withdrawing from the Union. None of the authors claim to approve of or support real secession, but say they believe it makes for interesting novels. A recent poll of residents shows the majority still favor staying as part of the United States, though many like to talk about how the state actually had independence for a short time after defeating Mexican troops in 1836. Some titles include The Secession of Texas by Darrel Maloney and Lone Star Daybreak by Erik Larson,
Now you can listen to non-stop, 24-hour a day, grueling, drive yourself insane, sit in the tub and cut your wrists, gut-wrenching, heart-rending love stories with Kindle Love Stories podcasts. And because that won’t be emotional enough, you can commiserate and shed tears with others at a Goodreads reading group devoted just to those stories. Romance continues to be the most popular genre in e-book sales.
Inferno will be released this week and has already received the largest pre-orders of any title since JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy. The plot remains a secret, but Brown promises it will be his “darkest novel yet.” The only details available are that it deals with Dante’s vision of hell and his influence on Christians after 1300 A.D. You might find it interesting that Brown hangs himself upside down by the ankles when he suffers from writer’s block.