9 de outubro de 2011

Leituras Digitais (2 a 8 de Outubro)



Rubrica semanal de notícias e artigos relacionados com a edição de livros digitais.

Writers, artists, and public intellectuals are nearing some sort of precipice: Their audiences increasingly expect digital content to be free. Jaron Lanier has written and spoken about this issue with great sagacity. You can purchase his book here, which most of you will not do, or you can watch him discuss these matters for free. The problem is thus revealed even in the act of stating it.  How can a person like Lanier get paid for being brilliant? This has become an increasingly difficult question to answer.
Where publishing is concerned, the Internet is both midwife and executioner. It has never been easier to reach large numbers of readers, but these readers have never felt more entitled to be informed and entertained for free. I have been very slow to appreciate these developments, and yet it is clear even to me that there are reasons to fear for the life of the printed book. Needless to say, many of the changes occurring in publishing are changes that neither publishers nor authors want. The market for books is continually shifting beneath our feet, and nobody knows what the business of publishing will look like a decade from now.
Books are not the central focus of this Amazon-Apple battle even from Amazon’s point of view and they are certainly are not from Apple’s. Apple is a device company and their content offerings, and their control of their content offerings, are intended to reinforce the unique experience their devices deliver. Amazon certainly knows from their Kindle experience that offering the right device can propel content sales and secure the content customers’ business (a lesson B&N has both learned and demonstrated quite successfully with Nook as well). The Fire is as much about video content as it is about books.
But in the book business, we look at these two titans in a different way because they force publishing into managing two completely different commercial models simultaneously. That’s not something most of the tech community has paid any attention to in the prolific “Amazon versus Apple” commentary following the Kindle Fire announcement. But it reinforces the point made in the post from two years ago: the fact that Amazon and Apple have different approaches to acquiring and pricing content offerngs is the most important aspect of the battle between them to the book publishing community. Who “wins”, as in “who sells the most devices?” (or even “who sells the most ebooks?”), is really quite secondary since both are significant and neither is going away.
Klein said the digital reading marketplace is driven by “devices, content, infrastructure, rights, and the reading experience.” The Nook, and potentially the Kindle Fire, offer the infrastructure—“the plumbing to support all this stuff.” Rights, he said, are always difficult; “the content, the mental part, is where the value is, but it’s confused with the physical book.” Now, he said, the challenge is to continue to develop the reading experience: “With digital reading 1.0 we created a digital copy of the analog reading world.” He said digital reading 2.0 will be “a seamless blending of content, discovery, consumption, and the social book that blurs the line between all of those aspects,” pointing to Flipboard as an example. Flipboard is an iPad app that turns a user’s Facebook and Twitter feeds as well as content feeds from magazines or blogs into an oddly satisfying virtual booklike experience on the iPad.
Not long ago, print-on-demand -- dry-copy reproduction and binding of entire books -- was deemed the rescuer of the beleaguered publishing industry by gurus such as Jason Epstein, still a firm believer.
On-demand status should be a badge of honor if prophets like Mr. Epstein are to be believed, promoting to book buyers wishing to be in the technological vanguard -- or what it used to be before e-books. And if buyers like the results of what he calls the espresso machine, good for him, and them. Yet when I wrote about the 50th anniversary of the Xerox 914 last year, it took much detective work to determine that the classic book on the technology was available only in an on-demand version. I never saw it, so I can't judge the results. But it seemed odd that at least one chain bookstore employee, whom I asked about a special order (the book was listed on their database as new)  told me she could be fired if she revealed whether or not the title was on-demand. That's pride?
When Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) introduced the first Kindle four years ago, the e-reader market barely existed and e-books were almost a novelty. Sony (NYSE: SNE) e-readers were already on the scene but the Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) Nook wasn’t even on the drawing board. Last week, Amazon changed the e-reader game again with new dedicated e-readers that can be bought for under $100 and a media tablet that could do the same for that category if it delivers as promised.
There are too many e-readers to cover them all so we’re keeping it simple, comparing Amazon’s Kindle lineup with some of its main competitors, the Nook Simple Touch and Nook Color, Sony Reader WiFi Edition and Kobo’s Touch. Although it’s a tablet, we included the Kindle Fire because of its e-reader origins and its new role at the head of the Kindle family.
It seems to me that for publishers to maximize return, they need to help move readers to ebooks and away from any form of pbook. I know I’ve written this before (see, e.g., The Business of Books & Publishing: Changing the Pattern), but if I were a publisher today, seeing that the trend is rapid growth in ebooks and no to flat growth in pbooks, I would be working on plans to drop mass market paperbacks and publish only trade paperbacks, hardcovers, and ebooks. Phase 2 of my planning would be to eliminate trade paperbacks and just publish hardcovers and ebooks. Perhaps a decade or two down the road, I would look at publishing hardcovers in limited edition runs for collectors and those pbook diehards.
Traditional books and digital content will live side by side into the foreseeable future. I think we have to trust in the book’s usefulness as a tool for transmitting knowledge. There is a reason that the technology of the book has been with us since 400 AD. As humans we find something deeply satisfying in the reading of a physical book, and a certain percentage of us will continue to do so.
This is the age of consumer choice, which means accommodating an infinitely variable range of customer behavior, which in turn means serving content in many ways to many people.
The International Symposium on the Electronic Book was held in Mexico City from September 19-21. The participants came from Brazil, Mexico, Spain, United States and England. Among the subjects covered were the role of the book in the information society, the state of e-books in Mexico; author’s rights in the digital age, virtual libraries, and, finally, ten year forecast for the book. Many of the presentations are available to watch for free online.
According to Google, the eBookstore has hundreds of thousands of titles for sale in addition to the couple million PD titles digitized in the Google Books project. Google signed deals with a number of UK publishers, including Random House, Hodder & Stoughton, Hachette, and others. They’ve also worked out a deal with indie bookstores  via the Gardner Hive network. This deal offers the booksellers much the same terms as a similar partnership with US booksellers; they can earn a commission on customers they direct to Google and they also have the option of selling the ebooks themselves.
Readers can now buy ebooks and read them on all of Google’s apps (iOS, Android, as well as online via a web browser), but there’s no sign that Google have partnered with an ebook reader like they did in the US. The iriver Story HD, while not terribly popular or successful, is available in the UK so there’s nothing stopping Google from using it there.
The move is designed to capitalize on a massive shift in the book market that has been putting pressure on retailers to find new ways to get customers reading and buying books. People are increasingly either ordering books online or doing all their reading on the internet, leaving the retail book business in trouble.
Though few Germans use e-readers compared to their counterparts in the United States or other Western European countries – e-books constituted less than 1 percent of sales in 2010 – Augsburg-based Weltbild, which runs book shops throughout the country and maintains an online presence, is banking on staking out a share of a growing market.
New York Times E-Book Best Sellers

A version of this list appears in the October 16, 2011 issue of The New York Times Book Review. Rankings reflect sales for the week ending October 1, 2011.

E-Book Fiction

1.                      THE AFFAIR, by Lee Child
2.                      THE HELP, by Kathryn Stockett
3.                      THE MILL RIVER RECLUSE, by Darcie Chan
4.                      THE ABBEY, by Chris Culver
5.                      SUICIDE RUN, by Michael Connelly

E-Book Nonfiction

1.                      KILLING LINCOLN, by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
2.                      HEAVEN IS FOR REAL, by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent
3.                      UNBROKEN, by Laura Hillenbrand
4.                      MONEYBALL, by Michael Lewis
5.                      A STOLEN LIFE, by Jaycee Dugard

Vídeos

Patrick Brown of Goodreads discusses their new recommendation engine and discoverability

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