All Articles Tagged "e-books"
(Wall Street Journal) — Even as readers grow more comfortable with digital books, some continue to question why so many of the most popular new e-books are priced so high. Michael Connelly’s recent legal thriller, “The Fifth Witness,” has more one-star reviews on Amazon than five-star reviews in part because some angry reviewers focused on the e-book’s $14.99 price. As physical book sales fall, publishers’ fixed costs are becoming more cumbersome. One area major publishers can cushion the blow is by keeping e-book prices higher. “If e-book prices land at 99 cents in the future we’re not going to be in good shape,” said one New York publishing executive, who asked not to be identified. Indeed, e-book prices on many new national best sellers are higher today than they were at the start of last year. That’s because the six major publishers have adopted a new pricing model, known as “agency pricing,” championed by Apple Inc. Publishers, worried about the deeply discounted $9.99 digital best-sellers promoted by Amazon.com Inc., agreed to set the consumer prices of their digital titles. Under this model, retailers act as the agent for each sale and take 30%, returning 70% to the publisher.
(Wall Street Journal) — The economics of the book business are changing so rapidly the industry barely looks like it did just six months ago. The era of the book superstores, with their big windows and welcoming tables stacked high with books, has gone into decline. Many of the country’s most enthusiastic readers have already switched to less-costly digital books. Amazon customers now buy more Kindle titles than hardcovers and paperbacks. Divining the profitability of a book is a mysterious art. But basic book economics suggest an e-book is more profitable than a hardcover, even at substantially lower consumer prices, due mostly to the inventory and return costs associated with physical books. At least 80% of all books purchased are still physical copies, however, which means that publishers must still pay legacy costs at the same time as building their e-book business.
By Christina Burton
For everyone who got a dose of “Why Black Men Love White Women” by Rajen Persaud, “Confessions of a Video Vixen” by Karrine Steffans and “Mama Dearest” by E. Lynn Harris, here’s the woman behind those hot titles and now, the first digital book publishing venture.
An author and a Pulitzer –prize winning former journalist, Karen Hunter has been on a successful streak in her publishing career. She has co-authored J.L. King’s “On the Down Low” and books by Al Sharpton, Donda West and Mason Betha. In 2007, she teamed with Simon & Schuster to launch Karen Hunter Publishing, an S&S imprint focused mostly on popular nonfiction aimed at the market for African-American titles. In January of this year, the New Jersey native launched First One Publishing, a completely digital book publishing company focused on releasing fiction and nonfiction books by veteran and emerging authors.
We caught up with Hunter to learn more about starting an e-book firm, about her not being a primarily black book publisher, and turning this part of her career toward faith.
Have you done like your publishing house and gone “all things digital?” Is there even a bookshelf in your house anymore?
I have several bookshelves; my movement is not about eliminating the physical book, it’s about embracing technology and the future and helping others get there. I have several computers, but I still write down my goals on paper with a pen. I still write notes and letters to people.
As a mastered journalist, I’m sure there’s always breaking information and research coming at you. What news helped birth First One Digital Publishing?
[It had] nothing to do with journalism. What inspired First One was [my] watching [nearly] five years go by since Sony produced one of the first e-readers, and watching the industry I was involved in do nothing to incorporate this new, very convenient form of reading. I saw the music industry implode because of its unwillingness to accept the technology and innovation shown by Napster and others. I saw that very same thing happening to publishing. I didn’t want to be left behind. Before First One, there was Karen Hunter Media, [which was] devoted to e-books. First One, through Mgmt-One [a Cincinnati business advisory firm], allowed me to take that vision to a new level.
(Fast Company) — Since April the first, for every 100 print-and-paper books Amazon has sold, it’s also sold 105 e-books, according to a fresh Amazon announcement. Kindle e-readers arrived, along with a small but fast-growing digital bookstore, in November 2007–by July 2010, Amazon notes, Kindle book sales had surpassed hardcover book sales, and then six months later beat the paperback books sales rate. Now Amazon’s customers are “choosing Kindle books more often than print books. We had high hopes this would happen eventually, but we never imagined it would happen this quickly,” says CEO Jeff Bezos, comparing Amazon’s 15-year heritage of selling physical books to just four years of e-book sales.
(Wall Street Journal) — The nation’s largest book publishers are facing increasing pricing pressure on the digital front as the number of cheap, self-published digital titles gain popularity with readers seeking budget-minded entertainment. Amazon.com Inc.’s top 50 digital best-seller list featured 15 books priced at $5 or less on Wednesday afternoon. Louisville businessman John Locke, for example, a part-time thriller writer whose signature series features a former CIA assassin, claimed seven of those titles, all priced at 99 cents. ”They’re training their customers away from brand name authors and are instead creating visibility for self-published titles,” one senior publishing executive who asked not to be identified, says of Amazon. As digital sales surge, publishers are casting a worried eye towards the previously scorned self-published market. Unlike five years ago, when self-published writers rarely saw their works on the same shelf as the industry’s biggest names, the low cost of digital publishing, coupled with Twitter and other social-networking tools, has enabled previously unknown writers to make a splash.
(Reuters) — The rapid rise of e-books could lead to a “reading divide” as those unable to afford the new technology are left behind, even as U.S. reading and writing skills decline still further. At particular threat are African-American communities where many students are already falling behind their majority peers in terms of literacy, said award-winning writer Marita Golden — and this despite the growing ranks of noted African-American writers, such as Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison. ”My biggest concern is that the technology will continue to widen the gap,” she told Reuters. “It won’t just be the digital divide but also a reading divide if reading becomes an activity that’s now dependent on technology. ”If reading becomes dependent on technology that must be purchased, then I think we may see the literacy divide persist and even widen.”
(The Network Journal) — Watermark Books & Cafe on a midweek morning was bustling with book browsers and coffee sippers. It’s been a surprisingly good year for the Wichita bookstore, as it has been for many independent bookstores across the nation. Watermark owner Sarah Bagby estimates her book sales have risen 20 percent in the past 12 months compared with the prior year. Yet bookstore owners are girding for the changes shaking the industry, with the big chains possibly consolidating, the continued growth of online booksellers, and the rapid rise of e-books.
(Wall Street Journal) — Buying a new book isn’t as easy as it used to be. Spiegel & Grau, an imprint of Bertelsmann AG’s Random House Inc., last month put Jay-Z’s memoir and lyric guide, “Decoded,” on sale as a $35 hardcover. It also made a digital edition available at the same price, although Amazon.com Inc. and Barnes & Noble Inc. sell it for only $9.99. The book has been a big hit. Published on Nov. 16, it has 330,000 copies in print, according to its publisher, a significant number of copies in this economy.
(Publishers Weekly) — Many publishers are still trying to understand what impact the rapid growth of digital technology will have on the industry and their businesses. Publishers of titles aimed at the African-American market are no different, and the digital strategies—from making e-books readable on every kind of device to using online marketing and social media—are very much the same. PW talked with a variety of publishers—from small independents to the large New York trade book houses—about how they are using digital publishing and the new technologies to reach readers in the African-American book market. The promise of digital publishing prompted Karen Hunter—publisher of the Simon & Schuster imprint Karen Hunter Publishing, a line of mostly nonfiction works aimed at the African-American market—to align with a new and separate digital publishing venture. She’s heading a digital publishing house that will launch in January and is owned by Mgmt one, a business advisory firm headquartered in Cincinnati. First One Digital Publishing plans to publish 10 e-books and will determine whether to publish print editions on a case-by-case basis.
(Daily Finance) — Former President George W. Bush’s new book Decision Points was widely expected to be one of the biggest books of the fall, and based on its opening-day sales numbers — more than 220,000 copies sold — that’s proving to be the case. But what’s particularly eye-popping about those figures is not that Bush’s book was Random House’s best-selling non-fiction title in 16 years (when another former President, Bill Clinton, moved 400,000 copies of his autobiography My Life on its first day of sale) but that 50,000 of those sales came from e-books. ”It shows the digital market’s rapid growth,” spokesman David Drake of the Crown Publishing Group, the Random House division that published Decision Points, told the Associated Press. Considering that e-sales accounted for more than 20% of the total, “rapid growth” is an understatement.