The Association of American Publishers Monthly StatShot has just been released. The numbers in the report give industry insiders (and readers) a chance to see fluctuations between current and previous book sales. And while, overall, it appears that the number of books sold in March 2011 and those sold in March 2012 remain steady, or in the words of Publishers Marketplace, “a flatter overall trade market” — it’s not so cut and dry as it may sound.
At an invitation-only event in Los Angeles yesterday, Microsoft’s Chief Executive Steve Ballmer unveiled its new family of Surface tablets. Shoppers can soon expect two versions of the Surface, the “RT” targeted at the casual consumer and the “Pro” for content creators.
After years of Apple dominating the mobile-friendly tablet market, Microsoft is finally getting into the race by using their best asset - software. Running on the yet-to-be-released Windows 8 operating system, these tablets will come preloaded with Office software. And with an included detachable keyboard, it looks like the Surface is not only gunning for the iPad, but is also looking to make laptops obsolete as well.
However, during the press conference, Steven Sinofsky, President of Windows, made it quite clear how he expects consumers to use the product. When describing the device he said, “It’s solid. It feels great in your hand like a book. It just fits there.”
So how will the new Surface products compare to other tablets and e-reading devices? Here is a handy chart to show the differences:
Booklovers who read e-books know that there are a few ways that digital reads are very different from ink and paper books. At the top of the list is that most e-books are more difficult to share and move across e-reading devices. These days, Digital Rights Management — commonly known as DRM — software, protects most e-books. However, DRM is not particularly popular with readers some e-publishing ventures are opting to skip the form of protection entirely. Thus the GiantSteps Media Technology Strategies is proposing that the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) look at ways to revolutionize the way that digital content is protected by finding a middle ground between DRM and no protection at all.
DRM technology limits how digital content or devices are used, working to make sure that those uses are within the guidelines or parameters set by the company that sold the content to a user. DRM is mostly in place to stop piracy, the illegal act of copyright infringement, and preserve artistic control. However, this is not just an issue that affects those who download illegally, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has some really great examples of when you might run into problems with DRM:
CreateSpace has great news for authors and readers: Their distribution capabilities have just increased. The print-on-demand arm of Amazon will now sell books published through CreateSpace across several European countries. Amazon’s sites in Spain, Italy, Germany, France and the UK will carry these books, which previously were only available in the United States.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publishes fiction, nonfiction and educational software, but is undoubtedly best known as one of the leading publishers of textbooks. However, due in part to market changes, the company has been having financial struggles. But readers should not expect HMH to disappear as of yet. On Friday, the publisher announced in a press release that they have crafted “a comprehensive financial restructuring plan to convert HMH’s outstanding long-term debt to equity and create an appropriate capital structure” that will help the publisher get back onto firmer footing.
Weak market demand, including a lack of government funds set aside for purchasing new textbook editions, have contributed to the publisher’s struggle to make ends meet. The company has racked up an impressive amount of debt, however, the company has no plans to flounder on the edge of extinction. HMH President and Chief Executive Officer Linda K. Zecher says, “With a more appropriately-sized capital structure and greater financial flexibility, along with our world-class brand and innovative digital education solutions, we will be well-positioned to accelerate our growth initiatives and expand our digital platform.”
There’s no denying, these days it’s all about digital books. In fact, AAP’s recently revealed sales figures show that a large portion of the increase in book sales can be attributed to the robust e-book market. And publishers have definitely been paying attention to the trend with new e-lines popping up on an almost weekly basis. Entering the fray is Simon & Schuster which has just announced that the mass market imprint Pocket Star will be re-launched as an e-only imprint.
There’s no denying that the publishing industry is in a state of flux. Self-publishing continues to take over a larger share of the book market while longtime publishing houses are shutting their doors and the death rattle of Borders is still echoing through the sales figures. Back in 2011, the Association of American Publishers reported, much as we expected, although e-book sales were growing, they didn’t balance the falling print book sales. Thankfully, the AAP’s newly released report shows that the tide is turning.
Tor and Forge, publishing imprints of Tom Doherty Associates and a subsidiary of Macmillan, announced yesterday that by the end of July the two popular imprints, as well as Orb, Starscape, and Tor Teen, will only be offering DRM-free e-books. DRM, which stands for Digital Rights Management, is technology that limits the access and use of certain digital products (MP3s, e-books, etc.) in order to curb pirating and prevent copyright infringement. Although DRM makes stealing digital content more difficult, it also limits the use of the product and can be a disadvantage for buyers.
Currently, almost all of the e-books offered by the “big six” publishers, the major New York City-based publishing houses, and sold through major online retailers are DRM encrypted and can only be used on the specific e-reader associated with the retailer (for example, you can’t — easily — read an Amazon e-book on a Nook, or a Barnes & Noble e-book on a Kindle). This challenge, the results of DRM restrictions, has been one of the issues that keeps ownership of e-books and print books from being synonymous.
Recently Amazon has launched several publishing initiatives and added four new imprints to their publishing arm. Last year, Montlake Romance, 47North, Thomas & Mercer and Amazon NY joined Amazon Crossing and Amazon Encore. In just a short amount of time, these lines have managed to acquire a list of author names and titles that would make even the most jaded reader giddy. So fans will be excited to learn that there are even more books on the horizon.
Earlier this week, Publisher’s Marketplace reported that in the last quarter it has seen a “large volume of deal reports for [Amazon’s Publishing’s] various imprints ...” And that certainly bears out with a look at these numbers.
AMAZON PUBLISHING DEALS
Publishers Marketplace points out that Amazon’s 52 deals in the past four months are “roughly equal to the adult publishing deal reports for two of the ‘big six,’” and that both Hachette Book Group and HarperCollins reported just over 50 deals. Amazon’s adult fiction deals are commensurate, and certainly nothing to scoff at. But it looks like Amazon has no intention of resting on their laurels; they know that adult fiction is only a piece of the picture.
It’s the end of an era with Dorchester Publishing officially closed their (physical) doors. The publishing house was founded in the early 1970s and since has focused on several fiction genres including romance, Westerns and horror (and in the process launching the careers of some RT favorite authors like Marjorie M. Liu, C.L. Wilson and Christine Feehan).
Sadly, on March first, the doors of the publishing house were locked, the phones disconnected and the lights out. There was, for all accounts and purposes, no one home at the publishing company.
However, this is not the first news that Dorchester is in financial trouble. In 2010, the house announced that they would only be publishing titles in e-book format moving forward, a policy that was met with trepidation by authors and readers. Meanwhile, several authors began legal battles with the house related to alleged unpaid royalties and backlist rights.
Since 2010, conditions have not improved and the company slowly lost its entire editorial staff. When the extent of Dorchester’s decline was uncovered, the former VP of marketing, Tim DeYoung had this to say via Twitter: