ENTRIES TAGGED "publishing disruption"

Publishing News: Penguin settles, Macmillan holds its ground

Apple and Macmillan stand alone against the DOJ's ebook lawsuit, PressBooks opens up, and Amazon may be inviting disruption.

Here are a few stories from the publishing space that caught my attention this week.

And then there were two

In headline news this week, the Penguin Group announced it had reached a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice. Jim Milliot reports at Publisher’s Weekly that the “[t]erms are nearly identical to agreements reached with Simon & Schuster, Hachette and HarperCollins, but according to the government, if the Random House-Penguin merger is approved the newly formed company must abide by the agreement.” Milliot notes that as Random House is not involved in the DOJ lawsuit, it can continue conducting its ebook business under the agency agreement in the meantime.

Laura Hazard Owen reports at PaidContent that “Penguin is discussing a similar settlement with the European Commission and that the DOJ’s case will continue against remaining defendants Apple and Macmillan.

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Publisher: a new role in data herding

To weather industry disruption, publishers essentially need to become leaders of big data and data intelligence companies.

In a recent interview at PBS’ Media Shift, Jason Ashlock, founder and president of Movable Type Management, addressed the changing roles of publishers and argued that they’re not innovating fast enough. Ashlock argues that we’re in the age of the author and direct audience engagement and that publishers need to become conduits for this engagement and curators of communities in addition to curators of quality books.

In a similar vein, Forbes writer Suw Charman-Anderson recently argued that publishers need to become retailers. As retailers, publishers put themselves in a position to collect customer data, which in turn puts them in a better position to offer customers unique additional value and experiences. O’Reilly’s Joe Wikert is a big proponent of the direct sales channel.

To weather the disruption in the industry, publishers do need to become strong multi-media companies as Ashlock suggests and retailers as Charman-Anderson suggests, but more than that — more to the root of that — publishers essentially need to become leaders of big data and data intelligence companies in order to capitalize on the benefits of these business models. They need to learn how to sift through and analyze data to extract meaning, quite a different business than traditional publishers are used to and not an easy task. As Adam Frank argues at NPR, making use of big data and data intelligence requires specialists who understand the intricacies and nuances of data, who know how to “separate the chaff from the real, useful insights.”

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Publishing News: Self-publishing to be the option of first resort?

Mark Coker talks publishing disruption, the DOJ gets snippy, Robin Sloan programs a book review, and NFC gets a dispenser.

Here are a few stories that caught my attention this week in the publishing space.

Self-publishing disruption

Suw Charman-Anderson at Forbes began running an interview series with Smashwords’ founder Mark Coker this week. The first in the series addressed the disruption of self-publishing in the traditional publishing world. Coker says the traditional publishing model is going to be turned upsidedown, that “self-publishing is going from the option of last resort to the option of first resort.” He notes that self-publishing often has had an associated stigma while traditional publishing has not, but says “over next few years we’re going to see that reverse.”

Coker also argues the disruption to traditional publishing isn’t only going to come from outside the traditional ecosystem:

“We’re also going to see a mass defection of some of the best traditionally published authors. This has already started to happen among primarily mid-list authors, who do reasonably well and then their books go out of print. A lot of those authors are republishing their back catalogues as self-published ebooks, and they are earning more money, enjoying more creative freedom, and having more fun than they did working under the thumb of traditional publishers.”

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Publishing News: Subscription experiments and the dangers of paving cow paths

Subscription sales models tested, a "holy trinity" of web opportunities missed, and publishing's future assessed.

Here are a few stories from the publishing space that caught my attention this week.

Publishers test subscription model waters

TED BooksTED Books launched a new app this week, TED Books for iOS, that not only allows them to sell directly to consumers, but also to experiment with a subscription sales model. Laura Hazard Owen at PaidContent notes that the app also is built on the Atavist publishing platform, which allows for audio features and embedded video. Hazard Owen describes how the app sales model works:

“Readers can buy the books a la carte for $2.99 each or can purchase a subscription: $14.99 for three months of books. That price includes six books, with one new one delivered every two weeks. ‘Founding subscribers’ — those who sign up in the first 90 days — get free access to all the books in the back catalog. (Authors are paid advances and also get a royalty each time their book is downloaded.)”

Jacqui Cheng at Ars Technica took a hands-on look at the app and concluded “that book and subscription prices were right in the sweet spot, though the app itself (while functional) could use a little more polish before it becomes great.” Her observations include issues with subscribers not being able to preview content before downloading; the comment system only applies to books as a whole — there’s no way to highlight a section and comment within the book; and comments also are only viewable to those who’ve already purchased the book, not to potential book buyers. Glitches in social media sharing features, however, seemed to present the most frustrations. Cheng writes:

“I tried to share a TED Book over Facebook via the app, but when I tapped the Facebook option, a white screen came up in the center for a second and then went away. And when I tapped the Twitter button, it simply brought up a blank Twitter box like the one built into the rest of iOS. There was nothing attached — no book summary, no screenshot, not even a link to TED for my Twitter friends to click on. The e-mail sharing option only starts a new e-mail with a picture of the book cover attached. Needless to say, I was pretty disappointed with the sharing options here — they almost may as well not even be included in the app for how limited they are by default.”

You can read Cheng’s entire account of the app here.

In other subscription experiment news, Next Issue launched its all-you-can-read magazine subscription app for iOS this week, a few months after launching on Android. Laura Hazard Owen reports at PaidContent that the platform currently offers 39 titles, “with more expected later this year,” and outlines the various subscription options, from $1.99 to $14.99 per month. But is it worth the money? Hazard Owen concluded that the $14.99 premium subscription ought to be a bargain for her family, “except it doesn’t include print issues and two of the magazines [they] subscribe to, Martha Stewart Living and the Economist, aren’t available, at least for now.” Lauren Indvik at Mashable also addressed the value proposition and notes: “According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’s 2010 Consumer Expenditure Survey, the average American household spends $100 per year on reading materials, a category that includes books, newspapers and magazines.”

Value aside, is it even a model that will work in the age of digital disruption? Mathew Ingram argues at GigaOm that the biggest problem Next Issue faces is that its model of selling entire magazines doesn’t fit the way people are starting to consume content — articles-at-a-time, Flipboard style — and that the platform is “paving a cow path.” Ingram also describes the bigger picture issue that is plaguing magazines as well as newspapers:

“If Next Issue were to pull individual articles out of its magazines and collect them based on popularity or some other algorithm — or made it easy for readers to share individual articles and other content outside the walled garden of the app itself — that might make it more appealing to those who have gotten used to a Flipboard-style model for consuming content. But it’s not clear that magazine publishers would be interested in doing that. For them, the game is about increasing circulation figures so they can try to keep their advertising revenues from bottoming out as print-based revenue continues to decline.”

You can read more on Ingram’s thoughts here.

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