Editor’s note: The following opinion piece, written by former Book Business editor-in-chief Brian Howard, originally appeared on the Book Business website back on June 26. The subject this piece covers is, by now, relatively old news. But it’s also a very well-written and smartly reasoned essay. And because this appears to have been the very last [...]
We're pounding the hard concrete floors of the Javits Center today — it's day 1 of our Book Expo coverage, as we juggle sessions at two compelling events packed with content: IDPF Digital Book 2013 and Publishers Launch. My colleague Lynn Rosen and I have each gathered snippets of wisdom to share with our readers from presentations we have heard today.
This morning at the International Digital Publishing Forum's Digital Book 2013 Plenary Session, Laura Hazard Owen of paidContent.org interviewed Chantal Restivo-Alessi Chief Digital Officer of HarperCollins in a session titled: Digital Publishing In Transition: Steering a Course in the Middle of A Storm. Restivo-Alessi, who comes to publishing from the music business, noted some differences between the two industries, notably how music is more about selling individual songs rather than albums (not as much of a concern in book publishing). She noted great areas of opportunity in catalog reinvigoration through price promotions, but saw bigger gains to be made in product innovation, both with apps and with enhanced books.
We have our running shoes on today, day 1 of our Book Expo experience, as we race back and forth between two compelling events packed with content: IDPF
Digital Book 2013 and Publishers Launch. My colleague Brian Howard and I have each gathered snippets of wisdom to share with our readers from presentations we have heard today.
In a morning session at IDPF, Richard Nash talked about the book (ebook, that is) as algorithm vs. the book as data. As far as data, he says, the problem we face is abundance. He cites cognitive psychologists who study what our brains do when we read and it turns out what we do is we imagine ourselves doing the action we reading about. A novel, says Nash, is a novel is a program that runs inside the reader.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, what's a picture of words worth?
This month's Harper's Index featured a fascinating snapshot (see photo), in just a few lines, of a current trend in book publishing:
Percentage change in the past twenty-five years in the Consumer Price Index: +41
In the price of beer: +40
Of books: -1
In anticipation of a rare week-long block of reading time (electricity is limited in Tulum, Mexico, and, as a result, so are televisions), I loaded up my Nook Simple Touch with another rare treat: fiction.I've found my reading habits have tended toward nonfiction in recent years and, in the last year or so, toward my tablet (at home) or phone (in transit) and away from fiction and my trusty eInk reader. But last week, as I was loath to get sand up in my iPad's, let's call them delicate areas, and wary of trying to read from that back-lit screen under the Yucatan's intense glare—not to mention that I was anxious to get caught up in an epic tale—the Nook and Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings won the dias day.
While predicting doom for Nook, as our columnist Michael Weinstein put it, has become the favored pastime of the book and tech press of late, it’s hard not to read the news of B&N Chairman Leonard S. Riggio’s bid to purchase the chain’s retail stores and take them private—leaving the company’s foundering Nook division to fend for itself—as the beginning of the end for the little e-reader that could. (Or maybe it’s the end of the end for the little e-reader that couldn’t quite.)