Roundup: No Returns for New HarperCollins Unit, Amazon's Mobile TextBuyIT, Publisher Staffers Get Sony Readers, Ebook Shortage, Custom Cookbooks

New HarperCollins Unit: No Returns, Few Advances (Subscription Required)
The Wall Street Journal says a new unnamed HarperCollins unit will not accept retailer returns and will pay little or no author advances. The business will direct its efforts toward Internet sales and writer profit-sharing.

Update 4/4/08, 1:30 p.m. The New York Times has additional details on the HarperCollins unit:

  • Hyperion founder Bob Miller will run the business.
  • The unit will release ebooks and audio books for all its titles, a move designed to give consumers “information in any format that they want,” says Jane Friedman, president and CEO of HarperCollins. Alternative formats might be included with printed editions at no extra cost.
  • Miller says the business will aim for 25 published titles per year.
  • Authors may get a 50-50 split on profits, but the tone of the article suggests these details are still to be determined.

Amazon Offers Mobile Shopping Through TextBuyIT
Retailers might want to confiscate cell phones at the door. Amazon’s new TextBuyIT service lets customers peruse and purchase Amazon products via text messaging. Purchases are confirmed through an automated calling system.

Publisher Staffers Get Sony Readers
Publishers Weekly says Sony Readers are being distributed to employees at major publishing firms so manuscripts and other documents can be managed digitally. Random House, Hachette, Simon & Schuster and St. Martin’s are all on the Reader bandwagon. Phil Madens, Hachette’s director of publishing standards and practices, tells PW:

“We looked at how much we were spending on paper, postage, ink. A 400-page manuscript would cost $7 to print. In the first couple of seasons, the Reader will pay for itself.”

Ebook Shortage from Big Publishers?
In an analysis of Publishing Trends’ latest ebook figures, David Rothman concludes:

… right now readers just aren’t getting all the titles they need in E [ebook format], partly because DRM and other eBabel-related issues have complicated life for shoppers and many publishers and e-bookstores, thus reducing the potential rewards for publishers of all sizes.

Custom Cookbooks on Demand
Members of BigOven, a food-focused social network, can create and order custom cookbooks through the BigOven site. The system runs on SharedBook’s “reverse publishing platform” API.

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