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Posts Tagged ‘books’

The writing on the wall for: Booksellers, libraries, newspapers?

May 21, 2010 Leave a comment

1. Finally, somebody does the math. According to the Wall Street Journal, under the new pricing model for e-books “championed” by Apple when it released the iPad, in which digital booksellers receive 30 percent of an e-book’s price, the booksellers get rid of their loss leaders. However, the fact remains that 30 percent of $12.99 is $3.90. So, the WSJ article says:

But for Barnes & Noble, the model can’t hide a brutal reality: $3.90 is a fraction of the $12.50 it now earns on a full-priced hardcover priced at $25.

Now I’m no math whiz, but as more people embrace e-reading, the $3.90s will never catch up to the $12.50s. It’s imperative that the book superstore find a new business model, and quickly. Books won’t join VHS tapes anytime soon, but obsolescence has its way of creeping up on you. Better to be prepared.

2. Speaking of books, here’s an interesting article from the Mercury News about Stanford’s foray into “the bookless library.” Stanford is conducting the experiment with its physics and engineering libraries first. Its reasons: It’s running out of room for physical books, and the availability of technical information online.

3. And now, for newspapers. The Atlantic’s How to Save the News is a fascinating, in-depth look at the newspaper industry’s troubles, Google’s role in all of it, and what can be done to fight the fact that print newspaper ads still pay the bills (sort of) while online ad prices have yet to catch up. The article’s overall tone: Online’s the future; publishers need to keep trying new ideas to make money; and information won’t be free forever. Apparently, Google executives think it’s inevitable that people will start paying for information. For the newspaper industry’s sake, I hope the brilliant minds at Google are correct. But I doubt most consumers hope the same thing.

Google Editions could mean e-books everywhere

May 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Books on your browser? Some people already read books online without a dedicated e-reader. But Google’s reportedly imminent entry into the e-books world could make the practice much more common.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Google will be launching its e-bookstore as early as June. The e-books customers purchase can be read on a good old Web browser — no fancy iPad, Kindle, Nook or (Sony) Reader needed.

I can imagine how this might be exciting to avid readers. Because many people have Net access almost everywhere they go, Google Edition customers would never need to lament that they wished they had brought a book with them. They could finish those last few pages of a really good book during a break at work, or on their smartphone as they stand in a long line for a latte.

Read more…

At Barnes & Noble, the future is now

March 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Keeping up with the e-reading industry is really cutting into my writing time. But the business and tech geek/reader in me is just fascinated by all the twists and turns in the epic that is digital books. The latest news — the shakeup at Barnes & Noble — is notable because William Lynch, the company’s dot-com president, is now the struggling bookseller’s CEO.

It’s like a metaphor for the cultural shift that is happening with books and the transition to e-reading. Out with the old, in with the new. Lynch’s experience is in online commerce: Before he joined B&N last year, he was at HSN, founded gifts.com, worked at Palm. At 39, he’s relatively young. A quote in the Wall Street Journal by B&N Chairman Leonard Riggio  — brother of the 55-year-old CEO being replaced by Lynch — speaks volumes:

We need someone who has a vision of the new space, somebody who can recruit great people in technology. We have to be more than a retail bookseller.

Read more…

Libraries without books: What is this world coming to?

February 12, 2010 Leave a comment

In the age of the Kindle and the Nook and the upcoming iPad, and a world in which there are Facebook groups called “People Who Like to Read the Newspaper on Paper,” the New York Times recently posted a written debate titled “Do School Libraries Need Books?” The lightning rod for the discussion: a boarding school in Massachusetts that last fall decided to give away most of its books and turn its library into a digital center.

After reading all five viewpoints — from two educators, two authors and a library director — plus the multitude of comments this topic generated, here’s what I came away with:

  • Libraries need to be updated. This is true. But in the please-digitize-microfiche kind of way. Cushing Academy, the aforementioned school, is right in saying that research is done differently now — libraries need to keep up with the times. Getting rid of all physical books may seem bold, but it’s ridiculous. Sure, most students turn to the Internet to do research for a term paper, but when they have to read “Anna Karenina” for class, they pick up the book. And that makes sense. Update libraries, yes. Have the digital tools complement the physical ones. But take away the books and they’re no longer libraries. Read more…

Another rewrite urged for Google books deal

February 5, 2010 Leave a comment

We live in interesting times. Less than 20 years ago, I worked in newsrooms in which there was one computer dedicated to accessing the Internet, if at all. When you stop and think about it, it’s hard not to marvel at all the information that’s available to us today. The Internet continues to force us to think about reading and writing and information in new ways. And grapple with tough questions.

Google, which has scanned millions of books and aims to create a massive online library/bookstore, has again run into a roadblock. The Justice Department said Thursday that the new proposal, borne out of Google’s 2008 settlement with a group of authors and publishers, still would effectively give the Silicon Valley company a monopoly over out-of-print books. Justice’s position could affect a federal judge’s ruling, scheduled for Feb. 18.

The quick summary: Proponents of Google’s books project say it would benefit the public good. Read more…