Monroe Adding Machine advert of un-known vintage

Things You May Have Missed Last Week (№13)

Well, Borders “aetn’t dead yet”, to borrow a phrase from Terry Pratchett’s character Granny Weatherwax, but it’s a near thing thus far. There’s at least one small publisher holding off content from them (not Atomic Fez, may I add) until things get sorted. Still, we hope for the best, eh?

Monroe Adding Machine advert (un-known vintage)
Monroe Adding Machine advert (un-​​known vintage)

That said, there’s vultures circling the slow-​​moving British Bookshops, currently being Financially Managed by Zolfo Cooper. And HMV continues to claim that Waterstone’s isn’t for sale, no matter how many people scream for it to be put on the market.

So… any good news? Anyone…? Hello…?

Two Bits of Self-Promotion to Start

This last week saw the announcement of Atomic Fez gaining it’s first  big honor for the 2010 publishing year: Peter Tennant of Black Static magazine in the UK release the list of his “Best Books of 2010″. Two titles of Atomic Fez’s made the cut, and as far as I can tell Atomic Fez was the only publisher to achieve multiple mentions. HOORAY!

Also last week, a blog elsewhere on the Internets gained mention on Warren Ellis’s blog, all about ‘how to sell your electronic book or comic without relying on Apple’s iBookstore’. In THIS POST, I take a look at the differences between the proposed system and the one which has been used here for sales of electronic books since the start of things over a year ago. It turns out that there’s very little difference between the two. I e-​​mailed Mr. Ellis to let him know that the system he declared “fucking brilliant” certainly seemed to work as far as I was concerned, but he’s not replied; no doubt too busy promoting the DVD-​​release of Red and convincing his daughter that no she really doesn’t want a hippopotamus.

The Weekly Listing of Troubles at Bookstores on Both Sides of the Atlantic Ocean

It may be a relief once the question of “how long will/​can they last?” is answered. You could be forgiven if you’re getting a bit tired of hearing the continuing details, what with the nature of its ‘death of a thousand cuts’ continuation in the common awareness; I know I am.

Borders, USA laid off 45 people early last week, those specifically happening at the Ann Arbor office. Meanwhile, the distributors and publishers were told that the offer made to them by Borders was at least worth considering. The Washington Post had THIS to say about the store’s situation, and HERE is Newsweek’s view of the matter.

Meanwhile, over at Barnes & Noble, there’s more lay-​​offs and a shift in stock-​​buying and merchandising operations. The official line is that things are being made more efficient and the result will be more in keeping with the new market leaning more heavily toward electronic delivery of content. Changes of some sort have to be made to B&N if they’re to somehow survive long enough to out-​​last Borders’ potential disappearance. Ideally, both firms will continue and be fruitful, but the prospect of both of them going away is disheartening at the least. For more about B&N, have a look at THIS ARTICLE from Publishing Perspectives.

On the other side of the pond, British Bookstores & Stationers were predicted to continue operating for at least the next several weeks. Part of the solution seems to have – like Borders – laying-​​off 40 people: 25 positions in head office and 15 in the warehouse. So far there’s not a single alteration in marketing approaches or inventory selection as potential new owners are sought, but it’s likely that this will be part of the way forward, if a way is to be found at all. Waterstone’s seems to think so, as they’re increased the amount they’re spending on advertising. It’s a sure way to let people know you have the books they want on your shelves, and a far better impression to give than news footage of executives making grim statements about the business in general.

Oh, and Waterstone’s still claim they’re not for sale. So ignore THIS figurative ‘man behind the curtain’ who keeps screaming for them to sell.

Amazon Does More Things, Again Without Publishers' Involvement

Oddly, we start this section with THIS ARTICLE from, explaining how you can publish your own book through Amazon’s Kindle Store. Last week’s post of mine about the fact you can do things without using the Apple iTunes store is a good one to read after reading this article here, especially after you’ve read the crazy number of hoops you have to jump through to sign up for the iTunes store when compared with the Kindle Store; the latter being a breeze in comparison.

Amazon is branching out further as an actual content provider with their next AmazonEncore thing. According to THIS, they’re planning on publishing sixteen novels, most of which are to be ‘over-​​looked’ gems that are already in their catalogue in some form or another. How this differs from what any small-​​or-​​medium-​​sized press is already doing is not clear, however.

Because they can’t seem to leave well enough alone, Amazon is also re-​​naming the Digital Publishing Platform. Friday morning they e-​​mailed me – plus THE PRESS of course – and anyone with that sort of account informing them about the changes. Other than it now being called “Kindle Direct Publishing”, the only real change that matters is that now Canadian accounts and Canada-​​originating sales now qualify for the same 70% payment programme as USA-​​based ones. The fact that the Canadian Dollar has been trading around par with the American one for the past few months is likely to have something to do with it, plus the imminent clearance for a Canada-​​located distribution warehouse for the company.

Electronic Books and All Sort of Electronic Things Continue to Continue

Oh, gracious, let’s just go through a list of these, rather than try to create some prose stringing them all together, shall we? We’ll all be happier as a result, I suspect.

  • has THIS ARTICLE about how libraries are making e-​​book lending easier… sort of…
  • the Wall Street Journal takes THIS LOOK at ‘vooks’ (video books) which might be the white knight for publishing… again…
  • According to THIS ARTICLE, just because Apple sold over seven million iPads doesn’t mean it’s bad for Amazon; just the opposite, actually
  • The British Library has a smartphone app now; theirs provides images of the first edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the world’s oldest bible ‘Codex Sinaiticus’, Nelson’s Battle Plan (written before his victory at Trafalgar), Galileo’s letters and Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks
  • Shelly Fralic wrote THIS COLUMN in the Vancouver Sun about how she’s embraced the e-​​book (it’s shame she paid so much for the book, though); and Ross Rogers SAID something similar in the Globe & Mail as well
  • According to @codejill in THIS ARTICLE, book piracy isn’t the problem anyone should worry about, and Tim O’Reilly weighs in HERE on the same topic
  • There’s an increasing need to standardize things in the e-​​book world, says Eric Hellman in THIS ARTICLE
  • APPARENTLY, people are happy to buy e-​​books from independents in ways they weren’t willing to do with printed editions; HERE’S another one if you’d like
  • Random House is starting to bundle together titles that make sense in association, based on the up-​​coming mini-​​series taking a look at the specific literary character types; details HERE

Various Bits & Bobs of Varying Topics

Much like the above, let’s have a list, but this has nothing to do with technology per se.

  • Genre fiction seems to have used awful covers a lot; why? Let’s FIND OUT
  • Do you hate even the4 idea of e-​​books? Then the CAMBO is for you!
  • One of the ways that University Bookstores keep things happening is to ‘rent’ text books; an increasing number do so, certainly
  • Wondering what books are popular in Canadian libraries right now? HEAD HERE to find out what people are willing to read, but not willing to buy their own copy of
  • What is ‘smut’ and what is ‘sexy literature’? GO HERE to learn the view of one writer of erotica

2 thoughts on “Things You May Have Missed Last Week (№13)

  1. I really don’t understand why crap and/​or weird covers are the SF/​F standard. You can do so much better, especially these days…so why do so many keep looking like bad 80s trips?

    Also, why are the UK covers almost always more attractive than the North American ones?

    1. I wish I had an answer for either of those thoughts. The UK covers are typically classier, which might suggest that American publishers have a tendency to go with bold and brash designs, expecting that the common denominator is the safest, but that’s a specious suggestion. It might be correct, but I hope not.

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