Posts Tagged ‘e-books’

There was a popular book written about the heroine scene in Cairo called 1/4 Gram by Essam Youssef, and it prompted this article: “Are There Still Topics Too Taboo for Fiction?

The end of the article asks a very interesting question – “In a world where there is increasing tolerance, even craving, for grim reality, are there still subjects that remain taboo?”

I think this goes back to my post about teen books being depressing. They crave this grim reality. And they want to read books that push the boundary of too far, that boundary that still exists but is so transparent, so thin, that I think soon it will fall. I actually think it has fallen for adults, especially with self-published books that can talk about any subject the author pleases.

So, my answer is no. There isn’t anything that remains taboo.


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According to the AAP (the Association of American Publishers), book sales fell about 1.8% in 2009.

Here’s the breakdown of the report:

Sales went up in 2009 for the following:
Adult hardbound books
Paperbound books for children and juveniles
Higher education books

Sales went down in 2009 for the following:
Paperbound books
Hardbound books for children and juveniles
Mass market paperbacks
Mail order and book club sales
Audio books
Religious books
Elementary and high school books

Stayed about the same:
Trade sales of adult books
Trade sales of juvenile books

I would like to point out, before the pessimists take over, that the publishing industry, according to the AAP, still saw $23.9 billion in sales in 2009. And the economy hasn’t been great, so the fall of sales was actually pretty understandable. And e-book sales went up about 700%.

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I was reading Booksquare today, and I noticed an old post from Nov. 2009 called Trendwatching 2010, and I wanted to add my two cents (per usual). Here’s a couple predictions about how publishing will evolve in the next couple years or so.

1) E-books will be huge (duh!) and BOTH the Kindle and the iPad will continue to be popular.
2) E-book prices will actually get higher – some will be at $9.99 or below for a while, but publishers will probably make $14.99 the standard, and some books will be even more expensive as time goes on. Publishers will realize that people will pay these prices.
3) A lot more small presses will use on-demand publishing. And on-demand publishing will eventually become the standard (I’m talking about 5 years from now, not right away) because it doesn’t require such a commitment of time or money.
4) Sales to China will increase exponentially, and all foreign rights will be a much more important money-maker for publishers.
5) Self-publishing will be increasingly more accepted, and publishers will actually find some of their bestselling books from among these authors. And we will see a Self-Published section in many bookstores.
6) Almost every big book or author will have book trailers, websites, and blogs. Some already do, but book trailers will be a HUGE marketing tool – much more important to marketing plans than they are now.
7) Independent bookstores will all have Book Espresso Machines.
8) The hottest genres will be Young Adult, Horror, and Paranormal Romance.

Some of these are pretty obvious, but I think it’s good to remember that publishing isn’t a stagnant industry – it’s changing so much that we all need to grow with it, quickly.

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For my Book Marketing class this term, I’ve decided to create a book trailer. I’m one of those people who always wants to be at the movies early so I won’t possibly miss any of the trailers, because I really like trailers and I am often impressed by how they are cut and manipulated from the movie footage to show just enough of the story to be intriguing.

My trailer will be for the YA book The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. This is one of my top five favorite books, and definitely my favorite McKinley book, though Spindle’s End and Beauty are also amazing (especially if you, like me, enjoy the retelling of fairy tales).

So I wanted to get an idea about how to do a book trailer. I looked at several, including The Graveyard Book , The Hunger Games, and The Lightning Thief.

From what I can tell, the best book trailers do the following:

1) Don’t usually show real people. I’m guessing that this is to distinguish the book trailer from movie trailers, to not hinder people’s imaginations, and to make production costs less.

2) Flash the cover of the books repeatedly. This is to make sure that people will remember the cover and buy it when they see online or in stores.

3) Offer much more text to read than movie trailers. Sometimes this text is also narrated, but sometimes there is just epic music.

I even found this site, which will probably help me: How to Create the BEST Book Trailer EVER.

Now, I will start storyboarding. Wish me luck!

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One thing I really like about the emerging e-book technology is that it is encouraging smaller publishers to be a little more innovative. Ooligan Press, for example, now has websites and blogs for several of their books. One of the books, Classroom Publishing, even has a blog where teachers are encouraged to post their latest projects and ideas – making the blog a great resource for other teachers. Therefore, when you buy Classroom Publishing, you are getting more than a book. You are getting a conversation with many teachers from all over the United States.

The same is true for digital comic books, that new ideas are going to emerge and allow smaller companies an edge if they can adapt faster than larger. I’m really proud that Portland is such a hub for comic books, with Bowler Hat Comics, Oni Press, Topshelf, and Dark Horse (yes, I realize Dark Horse isn’t very small) right around the corner. And I know they are adapting to the increasingly digital formats out there. Reading Jim Fallone’s “Digital Comics: Level the Playing Field Part II,” I was really struck by how much opportunity there is to be creative. I like the optimistic tone of the article, and the idea that new technology is a good thing.

Speaking of digital comics, though, as excited as I am about them, I recently talked to several comic buffs who aren’t impressed. Just out of college, both men agreed that the new iPad app could be cool, but that the iPad was too expensive for a lot of comic book readers – especially when they could read e-comics on their computers. And they admitted that they don’t really even like comics online, because they prefer the traditional format offered in the old ink and paper editions. Comics should be taller than they are wide, apparently, and that’s not true of laptops. Plus, the work that the artists, inkers, and colorists put into a comic is much more apparent on paper. So it looks like, even though there is an opportunity for comic book publishers to bring new ideas to the table, they’ll have to be really good ideas to catch some of this skeptical audience.

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I really like how Publisher’s Weekly has a Morning Report, so I’ve decided to do my own with stories that have caught my attention recently.

Amazon is not going to set prices of e-books!! This is great news for publishers, as the recommended e-book price by Amazon was $9.99 which was not enough. Publishers put so many man hours into a book, with editing, design, and marketing that it doesn’t matter that the books isn’t actually printed. The book is still expensive. And $9.99 doesn’t cover that. But the new suggested price of $14.99 is better and, really, what matters is that publishers will get to set the price instead of Amazon. Amazon wants low e-book prices to sell the Kindle, and doesn’t seem to care about the long-term consequences for the publishing industry. To see specific stories about the negotiations between Amazon, Hatchette, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan, Galleycat is a great source.

I don’t have a Kindle or an iPad, and probably won’t get one until their prices drop a little (grad students have big chunks of money to burn, sadly) but I’m really excited to see how comic books use this new technology. Apparently there’s already an iPad application for comic books, and each issue will be $2. There aren’t many titles right now, but the future looks bright. I know a couple comic book collectors, though, and I’m not sure how they will react – there will no longer be comic books to thumb gently through before trading them with friends to exclaim over their rising price as a collectible. For more information about the technology available and the advantages of digital comics, see this article in Digital Book World.

Just like I’ve been saying here in this blog, people are confused about the iPad: they have no idea why anyone would spend that much money on a device that basically does the same things as a laptop. Right now, at least, I think only real techno geeks are going to be lining up for this one. Maybe when the price drops, the redundancy of function won’t matter as much.

And, since I’ve been talking about indie bookstores, I wanted to include this shout out to the McNally Jackson Cafe by Front Studio. They have remodeled, and it looks great. The wall paper looks like books, there are book hanging from the ceiling, and apparently the new cafe menu is full of food-related quotes. I don’t usually include stuff about places in New York, but this is exactly the sort of great innovation I wanted to encourage with my blog post about ideas/hooks for indie bookstores.

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There’s been a lot of discussion about whether self-publishing is better or worse than publishing through more traditional channels. So I thought it was interesting that prominent author John Edgar Wideman has decided to self-publish his new book Briefs: Stories for the Palm of theMind with Lulu.

Wideman has won several awards, and was a National Book Award finalist. Currently, Briefs is only available through Lulu, but will be released with an ISBN in a few weeks. When asked why he self-published, he answered, “Why not?” Which is a really great answer coming from an author who is already established and tenured.

But what about the people who haven’t been published before? What incentives does self-publishing offer? Not many right now, honestly, but perhaps if other big name authors decide to self-publish there will be less of a stigma about self-published books being the works only of authors who couldn’t find a “real” publisher. It would be great if that was the result of Wideman’s break from the norm.

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