December 3, 2012
The saying goes (at least I say it) that as soon as a trend makes the cover of Time, it's over. Well, self-publishing didn't make the cover, but Time did give the topic a six-page article, highlighting a few writers who say they've made hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars self-publishing ebooks. Here's just a few of my takeaways from the piece by Andrew Rice:Continue reading "Millions in Ebooks"
November 28, 2012
Say you're at lunch and someone starts chatting casually about the aseity of the Son. Well, you don't want to be caught short. No, you want to be part of the conversation. You want to act like you know what's going on by doing more than making knowing grunts of approval. But you really haven't a clue what aseity (uh-SEE-i-tee) is. What do you do?Continue reading "A Theological App for That"
June 7, 2012
May 1, 2012
I finally read my first e-book.
OK, call me late to the party, late adopter, troglodyte. Tell me, "Welcome to the twenty-first century." Ask me if I have indoor plumbing.
So, here's how it went.Continue reading "I Finally Read My First e-Book"
January 20, 2012
September 12, 2011
One of my favorite YouTube videos spoofs what a medieval help desk would look like as monks sought to transition from the traditional technology of the scroll to the new technology of the codex. Keeping the debate alive between eBooks and pBooks is Lev Grossman in the New York Times. His observation? That eBooks are a step backward from pBooks.Continue reading "Heads Will Scroll"
April 12, 2011
The online subscription model has worked wonderfully for academic journals, as John Thomson summarizes in Merchants of Culture, becauseContinue reading "Merchants of Culture 5: Not All Digital Is Created Equal"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 7:48 AM
February 1, 2011
Everyone thinks they know where digital publishing is going. Everyone, that is, except for all of us. Take Exhibit A and Exhibit B, brought to my attention by fellow blogger Dan Reid.Continue reading "Students Hate/Love Print"
December 7, 2010
With almost as much delay and anticipation as the launch of Kindle, the Google e-bookstore opened its virtual doors yesterday. When I met with Google at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October, they gave me chocolate, smiled broadly and said it was really, really coming after months of delay. But they still wouldn't give me (or anyone) a date. Now it's here.Continue reading "Google Editions Is Here"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 8:25 AM
October 26, 2010
August 27, 2010
Over a hundred years ago Frederick Winslow Taylor took a stopwatch to a steel plant in Philadelphia and changed the industrial world. By timing every step and movement in the process he came up with the one, most efficient way each worker should work. Productivity exploded, and manufacturers across the country eagerly adopted his methods. Taylor saw humans as extensions of the machine.
In The Shallows, Nicholas Carr contends that “Google’s Silicon Valley headquarters—the Googleplex—is the internet’s high church, and the religion practiced inside its walls is Taylorism” (p. 150). But at Google humans are extensions of a very particular kind of machine—the computer.Continue reading "The Shallows 5: Google’s Narrow Vision"
August 25, 2010
The Net distracts. But not all distractions are bad. As I’ve written here before, taking a break from a problem and letting your brain do something totally different can provide an opportunity for fresh ideas to emerge. The problem is that the constantly distracting state of the Net, contends Nicholas Carr in The Shallows, changes the way we read and think. (You can find the first in my series on this book here.)Continue reading "The Shallows 4: The Net Effect"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 7:52 AM
August 23, 2010
When the Net first hit big in the mid-1990s, I would tell others, “This is a good thing. People are doing a lot more reading now. Teens are not just playing video games on their computers. Anything that encourages reading is for the good.” Now, especially having read The Shallows by Nicholas Carr (see here and here), I’m not so sure.Continue reading "The Shallows 3: Driven to Distraction "
August 18, 2010
Nicholas Carr made a splash with his Atlantic cover story "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" which I discussed here. Now in The Shallows he brings a full-length book to bear on the question, and it's a dandy.
The subtitle, "What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains," is very descriptive. In this serial review, I'll touch on some of the evidence he offers, a mix of anecdotal and scientific.Continue reading "The Shallows 1: A Change of Mind"
August 16, 2010
Recently, readers of Andy Unedited have let me know about a number of pieces of interest related to stuff I've posted. I'm happy to pass them along to you as well.
IVP Fan Mark Denning read "Will Digital Outstrip Print by 2015?" and suggested two articles to me. The first is a Smithsonian magazine piece, "Reading in a Whole New Way" by tech-guru Kevin Kelly, founding editor of Wired magazine. There he mirrors some ideas found in Nicholas Carr's The Shallows (which I'll be reviewing here shortly) and goes beyond, suggesting how the very meaning of reading is changing.
The second, "Quick Change in Strategy for a Bookseller," is from the New York Times. This piece looks at how e-books are making huge changes not just for publishers but in the retail book business as well.
In a different vein, Dietrich Gruen alerted me to "Reading May Save Your Life" by Bill Ellis, following up my blog "Who Do Books Make Us?" There's still a human side to reading, not just technology and fads. Here's a good reminder of that.
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 7:33 AM
July 29, 2010
Maybe I'm old fashioned. Maybe I'm out of style. Maybe I'm the hipster culture's worst nightmare. But I still think books make a difference.
David Brooks's piece in the New York Times cites another study that shows the power of print. When students take books home for the summer, the impact is as great as attending summer school--aligning with the 27-country study I mentioned here previously.
Brooks makes the interesting point though, that books not only improve our thinking or reading abilities, books make us into different people. They shape not only how we see the world but how we see ourselves. We gain an identity as a learner or science fiction fan or lover of history or maybe just as a reader.
Books help make us who we are. And I think that's a good thing.
June 7, 2010
Engadget reports that Sony's Steve Haber, head of their digital reading business division, says that "within five years there will be more digital content sold than physical content." That means not just books but all print media, including magazines and newspapers.
So, dear readers, what do you think? Is Sony just trying to create buzz? Are they just puffing the product line they expect to make gazillions on? Or are they right--digital sales will overtake print by 2015?
April 1, 2010
Every few months we get together a whole bunch of us from editorial, marketing, sales, production and design--anyone substantively involved in making or selling a book--to evaluate the releases from a season in the previous year. Once we had a cover designer attending for the first time. In trying to explain to the designer what the meeting was all about, someone said with a wry smile and in a voice everyone could hear, "This is the meeting in which we do judge a book by its cover."Continue reading "Books Without Covers"
March 2, 2010
Since I've been an editor all these years, many people assume I have a degree in English or journalism. They are wrong, of course. I have a degree in mathematics.
That may seem an odd thing, but studying mathematics has helped me tremendously as an editor in at least two ways. First, it trained me to think logically and rigorously. Second, it means I'm not totally lost when it comes to thinking about the numbers side of publishing. And there are a lot of numbers to think about: profit, loss, expenses, budgets, sales rates and projections, price calculations, spread sheets, and more.Continue reading "Not an Exact Science"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 10:45 AM
January 26, 2010
No, it's not an invasion of killer bees that you hear. It's the buzz around the Apple tablet, which could bridge laptops and hand-held devices while offering a great book-reading experience.
Barnes & Noble shares have bumped up on rumors that it will have a role in the new device.
The web is alive with fake sneak peaks.
How scared is Amazon? Will Apple dislodge the Kindle from its place of primacy?
International Business Times says the market is out there for the tablet, and it's big.
Will Apple, the ultimate purveyor of cool devices, hit another home run with an iTablet? T-Day is Wednesday.
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 1:41 PM
December 15, 2009
In a comment on my recent post, Mark Denning asked what I thought about Stephen "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" Covey moving electronic rights to some of his books exclusively to Amazon, as reported in this morning's New York Times. So here are some first thoughts, Mark.Continue reading "Proving a Publisher's Worth"
December 13, 2009
Regular Andy Unedited reader Jadell alerted me to this item from Jeffrey Brown. Where is the book going? Where is reading going? That's the question Brown wants to tackle in an occasional series for PBS.Continue reading "The Next Chapter of Reading"
December 10, 2009
Want a handy summary of the Kindles, Nooks, Pockets and Cool-ers of the world? Danielle Belopotosky offers us a good overview of the variety of e-reader devices available in her recent piece in The New York Times.
Check it out here.
November 5, 2009
Creativity usually isn't concocting something totally new. Mostly it is combining two or more pre-existing things never joined before--or never in quiet this way. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups is an example to chew on. Or consider the printing press--five hundred years ago it was a delightful combination of books and a wine press. And that's still a good combo.* Today, we have a name for such inventions--mashups.Continue reading "Mashup Mishap?"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 9:30 AM
October 2, 2009
I just came across an excellent and important article the old fashioned way--someone pushed a piece of paper in front of me. (Actually, the paper got stuck in my in-basket for a few months, and I just unearthed it. Is that an argument for digitization? Not necessarily. I lose things on my computer all the time. But I digress.) Malcolm Gladwell writes a tour de force review debunking Chris Anderson's new book Free: The Future of a Radical Price (retailing for $26.99!).Continue reading "The Future of Free"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 7:36 AM
September 24, 2009
The world of e-book devices, apps, providers and acquisitions is fast-changing and very complex. Keeping up with it all is a challenge for any publisher. A colleague drew my attention to a very helpful map of the e-book universe brought to us by the folks at TechFlash.com.Continue reading "The e-Book Universe"
August 31, 2009
Someone recently asked me a helpful diagnostic question for those in leadership, a question that helps you get at the big picture. "What causes you to lose sleep at night?" Certainly for me the Great Recession and the sea changes it may be bringing in book publishing have been right at the top of the list for me.Continue reading "Shatzkin's Bad News, Good News"
August 27, 2009
August 18, 2009
Offering competition in the marketplace is the American way--and the Japanese way too, apparently.
Sony has just announced that it will be adopting an open e-book format (called ePub) to help counter the early lead Amazon's Kindle proprietary format has taken in the market. Those who buy e-books on Kindle can only read them on Kindle (or iPhone). The open ePub format will allow readers to buy e-books and read them on the device of their choosing.Continue reading "The e-Book Competition Heats Up"
August 14, 2009
June 11, 2009
Andrew Carnegie, J. P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller--American greats and American robber barons of a bygone era. The era may be gone, but American robber barons are as current as Twitter--at least that's what Daniel Lyons thinks.Continue reading "Break Up Google"
June 1, 2009
What do students look for in used textbooks? Well, it's often more than just paying less money--as important as that is.
Further to my blog about Kindle DX and textbooks, Clive Thompson notes the work of Microsoft researcher Cathy Marshall on this topic. She "found that university students carefully study used textbooks before buying them." Are they hoping to learn about biology while drinking their triple-shot latte without having to pay for the book? No.Continue reading "What Students Want in Used Texts"
May 27, 2009
We know the problems with textbooks: stratospheric retail prices that have put the used book market into hyperdrive that has forced publishers to put out new editions more frequently that has pushed retail prices even higher. Who will save us from this cycle of futility?Continue reading "Saving the Textbook--or Not"
March 30, 2009
By now we all know that 2009 is the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of both Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin (both born on February 12). Book publishers have taken full advantage of this by issuing dozens of new books on these gentlemen. But no book is being published about a man whose two hundredth birthday we will celebrate on May 1, who has also had a profound effect on society. His name is Benjamin T. Babbitt. What did he do?Continue reading "The Legacy of Benjamin Babbitt"
March 26, 2009
I've heard it said with the visionary breathlessness of a true believer: "Information wants to be free."
My response? "Labor wants to be free." If free information is a good idea, free labor is even better. So maybe you'd like to work for nothing?Continue reading "Labor Wants to Be Free"
February 9, 2009
Two recent pieces on the digital future of publishing don't so much disagree as they do look at the world through very different lenses. While both lenses are important, it is easy in our fast-paced, do-it-now, do-everything-now, ADD culture to lose track of the one in light of the other.Continue reading "Two Digital Lenses "
January 29, 2009
Amazon is almost as good at creating buzz as Apple. So what will happen on February 9 when Jeff Bezos hosts a news conference in New York? If it isn't Kindle 2.0, lots of media watchers, e-book fans and gadget hounds will be disappointed.
As Brad Stone reports in the New York Times,
The device has been out of stock since November, after Oprah Winfrey touted it on her show. The announcement seems to confirm our suspicions that the original Kindle has been obsolete since that time and that everyone who purchased the device over the holidays from Amazon.com — or put their name on a waiting list — will receive the newer version.
Wait, watch and read. Shall we feel the buzz or feel bummed?
January 26, 2009
The saying goes that once something makes Time magazine--be it pop trend, political trend, economic trend--it's over. For example, once Time reported the housing bubble a couple years back, it was probably time to get out of real estate.Continue reading "Time to Learn"
January 19, 2009
Is the rise of reselling books on the internet destroying publishing? Book lover David Steitfeld thinks it might be.
The explosion of people selling used, nearly new and rare books online means readers can save money if they are willing to wait a while for a new book to make its way to these re-sellers. And it's not just Amazon. There are over 20,000 such booksellers around.Continue reading "Are Book Lovers Killing Books?"
January 11, 2009
What do publishers really have to offer authors? Can't someone self-publish easily through Lulu or XLibris? Can't they sell their books on Amazon.com? Retail stores are in decline, so who needs publishers to get their books on the shelves?
1. help a book focus a conversation about important topics
Shirky was amazed to hear publishers talk about abandoning these functions in favor of finding authors who already have a "platform." If an author can already market directly to a group of potential readers, why does he or she need a publisher?
The answer, Shirky thinks, is by publishers making sure they matter to and are trusted by readers. As every publisher knows, however, readers almost never know--much less trust or distrust--publishers. Who publishes Toni Morrison or Thomas Friedman? Readers don't know. The only people likely to know are publishers themselves.
Shirky's three functions are good and valuable for publishers to focus on. But I don't see how looking for authors with platform negates them. The reality is that substantial decline in retail bookstore sales minimizes a traditional channel for publishers. In a bygone era retailers (who might have known publishers) also handsold books to customers. Retailers used to be the fulcrum between publishers and customers, and that fulcrum has shifted to the author. And as I've said here before, authors without platform rarely do well.
What do publishers offer, then, with self-publishers offering so much and retailers offering less? Years or decades of experience in knowing how people read, how ideas are absorbed, how story and content flow most effectively, powerfully and beautifully. (In short, editors.)
What do publishers offer? Years or decades of experience in knowing what books people buy, how they hear of them, where they buy them, how they buy them, why they buy them and how much they'll pay for them. (In short, marketers.)
And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about the contributions of professional book designers, print buyers, rights managers and others. (In short, more.)
Is the publishing world changing? You bet. Do publishers always know best how to deal with that? Not at all. If authors want to publish without editorial or marketing expertise, they can. Many do; some succeed, many don't. But if authors want such help, they can find it at a publishing house.
December 19, 2008
Alan Jacobs, purveyor of things literary, probably best known for his book The Narnian, has started a new blog called "Text Patterns." He describes it as "commentary on technologies of reading, writing, research, and, well, knowledge. As these technologies change and develop, what do we lose, what do we gain, what is (fundamentally or trivially) altered? And, not least, what's fun?"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 1:15 PM
December 4, 2008
My colleague Sally Craft recently spotted two very different perspectives on the future of book publishing that are worth reading and pondering together.
The first, "How to Publish Without Perishing," from a guest columnist, author James Gleick, was posted at the New York Times.
The second, "To Publish Without Perishing," is from a guest blogger, NYU college professor Clay Shirky. This response to Gleick's piece was posted at BoingBoing.com.
August 26, 2008
Every couple of months our neighborhood book club gets together. This last week we discussed Devil in the White City. We were interested in the book because of its Chicago connection.
Electronic books came up in the course of the discussion and I mentioned the Kindle. I was met with a roomful of blank stares.
Now, these folks do not have their heads in paper bags. They are informed. They listen to NPR. Some are educators. Heck, they are in a book club, for goodness' sake. But something that is all the buzz in the publishing industry was something they had never heard of.
It reminded me that I live in a big country and a small industry. Even when a book sells millions of copies, most people have probably never even heard of it. So if Amazon has sold one- or two-hundred thousand Kindles, it's really small potatoes.
Certainly for those of us in publishing it is our job to stay on top of trends and new developments, and plan effectively for the future. But a dose of perspective can help us do that too.
August 15, 2008
Have I reached curmudgeon status yet? Probably. If not, I still have my eyes on the prize.Continue reading "The E-Book Curmudgeon"
June 25, 2008
Is Google Making Us Stupid? Nicholas Carr wants to know. (I guess so he won't be stupid.) His friends can't read anything longer than a paragraph. Summaries. Quick access to information. He's affected too, says he. (But not so much that he can't write a long, thoughtful article for The Atlantic.)Continue reading "Brilliant Ignorance"
May 29, 2008
When it comes to the digital future of publishing, we as publishers can be our own worst enemies.
Everyone seems to agree that electronic books will be a significant part of the world ahead. The only disagreement is how fast this new publishing environment will emerge and in what form. One of the major barriers to any form of digital publishing, however, are the permissions policies of publishers themselves.Continue reading "Our Own Worst Electronic Enemies"
February 27, 2008
Everyone agrees on one thing when it comes to the future of digital publishing. No one agrees.
Andrew Benneman, manager of the Digital Media Group of Chicago University Press (CUP), bravely lays out some thoughts on how publishers should think about their electronic future in a "free" webinar. (It's free in that while it won't cost you hard, cold dinaro, you will have to fork over your contact information.) If you have fifty-six minutes to spare, you can see the slideshow "Developing a Digital Distribution Strategy" with voiceover by Andrew here.
These were some of the highlights I took away.Continue reading "Digital Dilemmas"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 5:16 AM
November 26, 2007
Well, Amazon's Kindle made it--just in time for Cyber Monday today. Amazon has a huge spread on the glories of Kindle, complete with video demonstration and words from Jeff Bezos and Toni Morrison. Already there are over 700 customer reviews with an average three-star rating out of five.
Today, Larry Magid wrote: "The first batch of Kindles sold out quickly and Amazon says it won't have more in stock until Dec. 6. But my guess is that the Kindle will have modest success and won't become a bestseller. But it does point the way to the future of reading. As paper and other natural resources get more expensive, this is the obvious way to go, especially for students and school districts who are now burdened with heavy, expensive and often outdated text books. But if I were Jeff Bezos, I'd worry about Steve Jobs. It wouldn't take too many Apple programmers to turn an iPhone and an iPod into an iReader."
November 2, 2007
October 28, 2007
Breathlessly we await this month the yearlong-rumored launch of Kindle, Amazon.com's electronic book reader. At a reported $400 to $500 per, will this be the e-book reader Nirvana we have all been looking for?Continue reading "Will Kindle Set the World on Fire?"
October 1, 2007
Sitting on my wife's chifforobe I recently noticed a small, old, clothbound book. On the front was the title, True Liberty, the author's last name, Brooks, and a drawing of flowers printed on the case. The book is about 5" x 7" and only thirty-two pages, published by the Henry Altemus Company of Philadelphia (1842-1936), which started as a bookbinder and evolved into a publisher of photo albums, Bibles, decorative reprints of fiction, religious and moralistic books, juvenile series books, fairy tales, and puzzle books.Continue reading "Publishing That Lasts"
April 23, 2007
The new Sony ebook reader is now in stores. But . . .
You can't search it.
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 8:58 AM