game change

Book Vending Machine Gives New Meaning to Self-Publishing

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 26, 2013 01:41 PM

For those that still prefer to buy their books in print-form, retailer Books-A-Million has debuted a new way for consumers to get their paperback fix: a book vending machine. 

Dubbed the Espresso Book Machine (though it doesn't serve up any caffeinated drinks), it can print out any of nearly seven million titles between 5”x5” and 8”x10” and ranging from 50 to 600 pages. One unique feature, though, is the self-publishing options. Consumers and aspiring writers can upload their digital reams of short stories, novels, family histories and images to the machine that can be arranged and printed on the spot.Continue reading...

brand battle

Amazon Asks: Can’t We All Just Get Along? Not if IBM Has Anything to Say About It

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 8, 2013 04:14 PM

Book lovers have long had a love/hate relationship with Amazon. It’s nice to have access to the world’s books at the click of a button but it has come at the expense of the local bookstore, putting plenty—from mom-and-pop owned storefronts to major chains like Borders—out of business because they can’t keep up with the amount of stock and low prices of their online counterpart. 

Now Amazon hopes to appeal to those same shops by asking them if they’ll sell Kindle e-readers in their locations, the New York Times reports. In exchange, the bookseller gets “a small payment on each sale and a commission on all e-books that the reader buys in the next two years.” Previously, Target and Walmart stopped selling Kindle products due to the effects of showrooming, so perhaps this outreach to smaller sellers hopes to make up for the loss of retail presence.Continue reading...

digital moves

Publishing Head Larry Kirshbaum's Exit from Amazon May Be a Good Sign for Paperbacks

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 1, 2013 12:43 PM

Amazon has been making headlines a lot lately, mostly for new, exciting ventures like charitable e-commerce site AmazonSmile, new, original programming for Amazon Instant Video and it's futuristic new headquarters. But this week the company hit an uncharacteristic speed bump. 

Larry Kirshbaum, previously the head of Time Warner Book Group and head of Amazon’s New York and Seattle adult and children's publishing imprints, announced his exit from the e-publishing giant—a move that also signifies Amazon's efforts to scale-back its publishing operations, according to a report from Shelf Awareness. Amazon’s publishing performance, at first perceived as a full-scale assault on the industry, has not panned out as planned, despite initially signing top authors like Timothy Ferriss (“The Four-Hour Chef”), Penny Marshall (“My Mother Was Nuts”) and Billy Ray Cyrus (“Hillbilly Heart”).

“There’s a lot of fallout to parse here, but it’s worth noting the beating that even a company like Amazon can suffer when engaging in disruptive entrepreneurship," Slate notes. “In 2012, Barnes & Noble announced it wouldn’t sell books published by Amazon. After that announcement, indie booksellers followed suit.” Even more traditional retailers like Walmart and Target chose to not stock Amazon-published books.Continue reading...

Microsoft Reportedly Wants to Buy Barnes & Noble's Nook Business for $1 Billion

Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 10, 2013 12:45 PM

Shares of Barnes & Noble soared 24 percent after it was reported Thursday that Microsoft is considering a bid for the retailer’s Nook e-book business. 

Microsoft is reportedly offering $1 billion for the Nook brand and the digital assets of Nook Media on top of their $300 million investment last year to develop Nook content for Windows 8 tablets. "Our complementary assets will accelerate e-reading innovation across a broad range of Windows devices, enabling people to not just read stories, but to be part of them,” said Microsoft president Andy Lees at the time. "We're on the cusp of a revolution in reading." 

But the revolution stalled as the Android-based Nook has been a money-loser for B&N, not helping America's biggest bookseller compete against Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader.Continue reading...

digital moves

The New York Times Takes Digital Journalism to New Peak With Snow Fall

Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 21, 2012 01:13 PM

Journalists have long cursed the rise of digital as being the death of long-form journalism. Who has time to sit down and consume 20,000 words on one topic when there is a vast array of bite-sized stories to feast on? In this era of "tl;dr," how can one devote so much time to a single issue when there are slide shows to click through, polls to take, and endless YouTube videos of cute cats and other animal antics to enjoy?

While many news organizations use all manner of digital wizardry to create more engaged news consumers, the term applies much more perfectly with those who actually sit down and consume those long-form stories that require a paper to devote one reporter’s time and energy over an extended period, a luxury not many publications can make in these tightly budgeted times. 

The New York Times, though, is thankfully making the effort and taking a chance on some of its readers settling into their favorite chair with their e-readers and tablets and digesting a story that may take them a good hour to read and watch. The paper has partnered with, a site dedicated to bringing such content to readers, to create short e-books that will sell for $2.99 a pop.

The first project of this original series, “Snow Fall” was just released on to great acclaim on social media and is based on an article that John Branch wrote for the Times. It beautifully, interactively and dynamically — yet horrifically — tells the story of 16 of America’s top skiers and snowboarders who got buried in an avalanche in Washington state last year and is reminiscent of The Perfect Storm and Into Thin Air.Continue reading...

branding together

Penguin Random House Publishing Mega-Merger Thwarts Murdoch

Posted by Sheila Shayon on October 29, 2012 11:39 AM

In a defensive and offensive move, two major European media companies, Bertelsmann and Pearson, are combining their book publishing divisions, Random House and Penguin, exponentially increasing their reach and scale in light of prodigious growth from e-books and digital retailers. 

"Together, the two publishers will be able to share a large part of their costs, to invest more for their author and reader constituencies and to be more adventurous in trying new models in this exciting, fast-moving world of digital books and digital readers," stated Pearson CEO Marjorie Scardino in a press release

The merger seals Random House’s leadership as the largest English-language consumer book publisher worldwide, and parent Bertelsmann will have the majority share at 53%. And no, web wags, it won't be called Penguin House or Random Penguin.Continue reading...

digital moves

Barnes & Noble Brings HD and Premium Video Content to Nook Tablets

Posted by Shirley Brady on September 26, 2012 03:13 PM

In a serious challenge to Amazon's latest Kindle moves and Apple iPad, Barnes & Noble has introduced the two newest tablets in the NOOK family of e-readers: NOOK HD ($199) and NOOK HD+ ($269). The New York Times sees B&N positioning the first HD Nook tablets as "iPad Lite," and call the retailer's new "video service for the Nook color devices similar to the iTunes store and includes movies and TV series from Disney, Viacom and Warner Brothers."

According to B&N's press materials, NOOK HD is "the lightest and highest resolution 7-inch HD tablet ever. NOOK HD+ is the lightest Full HD tablet with a brilliant 9-inch HD display that magazine and movie lovers will adore. Enjoy incredible reading and entertainment like never seen before – all starting at just $199."

They're available for pre-order at and in-store on Nov. 1st; AP took a look at how they stack up here.

personal brands

J.K. Rowling Seeks Lower-Key Personal Brand Beyond Harry Potter

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 26, 2012 11:05 AM

We’re not at Hogwarts anymore, kids. As J.K. Rowling prepares to release her first non-Harry Potter book, The Casual Vacancy, on Thursday, her publisher, Little, Brown, has announced more than one million pre-orders and a two million book print run for the highly anticipated title.

Her first adult novel is poised for a record-setting debut. "It's one of the biggest releases of the 21st century. I think 99.9 percent of us (in the industry) are predicting it will go straight to number one," commented Philip Stone, charts editor at The Bookseller magazine, to The Telegraph.

Patricia Bostelman, VP Marketing, Barnes & Noble, told USA Today that The Casual Vacancy could be the biggest book of the year. "We're very optimistic about this book. She's a gifted storyteller and very skilled at creating characters and creating worlds.”

Whether Rowling can cross over from the magical realm of Harry Potter — conquering the young adult book market, selling 450 million books and earning almost $900 million, not to mention movie and ancillary sales — to an adult novelist, is the next million dollar question.Continue reading...

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