Yesterday, Tim O’Reilly announced that, after a seven year run, O’Reilly Media would no longer organize their annual “Tools of Change” conference. Of course, like many I was asking a fearful “Why? What’s not working?” Which is why I was thankful to see this quick exchange between LibraryThing founder Tim Spalding and O’Reilly-founder Tim O’Reilly:
The two Tims talked via Twitter briefly where Tim O’Reilly said that there was a definite opportunity cost:
“Expensive in NY, not very profitable, not enough resource to do everything we want”.
So it sounds that, yes, as ebooks settle into their own and trends are maturing and flattening, it was really a numbers decision to pull the plug on the Tools of Change conference.
The TOC conferences have been fun. While many other digital publishing conferences have popped up over the past few years, TOC tended to focus on “high level views” of publishing and technology. While the details were mentioned and listed, there were more chats and sessions on trends and next year’s tools than this year’s strategies and products.
Speaking of which, it sounds like (paragraph 5) O’Reilly plans on rolling out their own publisher-focused tools in the coming months. I’m anxious to see what they can offer that other services and add-ons don’t already. It’d be exciting to see then apply their forward-looking experience to current publishing tools and services. We’ll see.
The American Bookseller Association is teaming up with 20+ publishers and independent booksellers across the country for a special week of promotions called “Thanks for Shopping Indie”. The ABA helped get special pricing on a select set of titles for independent bookshops, so they can pass that extra-lower price on to their customers.
The event kicks off in conjunction with Small Business Saturday (Nov. 24th) and runs through December 1st. So mark yoru calendars and be on the lookout for the “Thanks for Shopping Indie” logo as there may be some good book deals to be had.
It’s great to see this promo. I was so disappointed when Google left independents hanging. I’ve stopped by a few local shops looking for the new Kobo displays, but haven’t seen any yet. So yes, I now have the perfect excuse to canvas the town this weekend and visit all of the local shops.
The fact that the Vestavia Hills Cokesbury store will close its doors early next year has been confirmed via phone. Yesterday, the United Methodist Publishing House announced that they were closing all 38 of their full-line stores and 19 of their school campus/seminary bookstores.
The statement says that the United Methodist Publishing House and Cokesbury are bowing to their customers’ trending to buying online, which makes the overhead of keeping stores open too high.
They tried to spin a little positive angle by announcing a new online selling system called CokesburyNEXT, but it just won’t be the same as being able to go into a bookstore and thumb through the weighty texts that make up many religious books. It’s really too bad. The local Cokesbury staff has always been great and helpful. So sad to see another bookstore close.
This past week saw a new world record was set for the most money paid for an American book. The winning $9,826,500 bid was placed, at Christie’s, by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association which won them George Washington’s personal copy of the Constitution and Bill of Rights printed in 1789.
What makes this book so cool is that it has all of Washington’s notes and thoughts scribbled throughout. Pretty crazy to think about George holding this very book while circling passages as he (and the rest of the country) is trying to figure out just what all the President is allowed to do. Very very cool. The book is making its way back to Mount Vernon where it was until 1876, when it began its journey through private libraries and auction houses.
This weekeend I stopped by Alabama Booksmith and walked out with a haul (all unsigned books are 75% right now. They said the sale lasts as long as they have unsigned books).
But I had to ask. . . why is Alabama Booksmith doing this?
The answer: the bookstore is getting ready to re-launch with a new business model. I spoke with the guys behind the counter and they said that the signed first editions customer segment has exploded. So they are going to focus on serving these customers. That means that later this year Alabama Booksmith will no longer keep un-signed books on the shelves. Now, they will always be able to order any book for you and they will always keep stock, behind the counter, for book clubs and other groups. But as far as being a “stop in and browse” and “get lost in the stacks” kind of a shop – only if you want a signed copy.
As it was explained to me, they will begin tearing down the free-standing shelves, in early August, and replacing them with table-top displays. This leaves the wall shelves for display and will open up the shop and give add to the “presentation” of the books as objects to own and gift. It also gives them the ability to make space for more chairs and standing room during author events.
I think this is a smart shift for them to do. With the massive success of their subscription-based Signed Editions Book Club, Jake and crew obviously have the data and experience to back up this decision. I have no doubt that they have carefully surveyed the local and online bookseller landscapes and they are capitalizing on a unique skill and reputation they have developed over the years. . . getting authors in the store to meet folks and sign books.
In this day and age it’s great to see a local bookstore maximizing their efforts in a niche they created for themselves and making the capital improvements needed to help keep the Birmingham indie book scene a vibrant one.
I love stories like this… The NY Times published the recent account of a Brown University archivist finding, what is believed to be one of only five copies of a print done by revolutionary heavyweight Paul Revere himself. No doubt the chance of this happening increases if your job is handling books from the 1700′s. But it’s still pretty cool to think that such a unique rarity was just stuck in the back of a book on physics. Revere was quite the engraver and printer, flooding the colonies with pamphlets and political information. He’s certainly not known for any kind of iconic or religious art, which ups the “cool factor” of the find. Be sure to click through to read the article on the library archivist and see the photos.
If nifty old archives of historical significance interest you then you should tune into Book TV (on CSPAN2) this weekend. At noon, on Saturday, they will be touring old bookstores and the Nichols Collection at the University of Oklahoma. They have books going back as far as the 15th century! They also have a History of Science Collection with papers and books from Galileo, Copernicus and other famous people in white lab coats. I think it’ll be fun to watch.
I can not express how sad this makes me. Google has announced that they will pull all support for selling e-books, from independent booksellers. They seem to be playing the same game that Apple and Amazon are. I guess starting in January 2013, they will be no different.
I am guessing their plans like: giving away the Android operating system, supporting the ebook infrastructure for bookstores, etc. just wasn’t paying off fast enough. So they’re copying the iTunes/Amazon model, with the launch of Google Play.
No doubt someone like Copia or Kobo will step in to fill the void, but I’m betting many many booksellers will just throw in the towel. Who can blame them? Why sign on with another service, if they can just be bought by Google or Amazon who kick the bookseller back to the curb?
The capitalist in me says Google is a business and needs to do what’s right for their business, just like all these indie bookstore owners have the right and should do what’s in their best interest. But I remember the materials that went out when Google was courting the American Booksellers Association and indie stores. None of it was conditional. None of it said “Now remember one day we may pull the plug”. At a minimum Google could preserve their “Do No Evil” mantra by supporting their current roster and just say “we won’t be taking on any more shops, because it’s not working like we thought”. That would be honest and fair to those shops who jumped on board to support ePub, Google Books and serve their store’s customers.
This really is another indicator that indie bookstores need to stay indie. Totally. They need to develop in-house talent for delivering books and products to their customers. They need to undertand how websites, Twitter, Facebook and ebook reader devices work. And they need to stay as close to their customers as they can. Hopefully groups like the ABA can step in and offer strategic help as lots of bookstores’ e-book sections go dark next January.
Now that I think about it, publishers really should get involved. I mean they want these shops to sell their books. I wonder what publishers could do to make it easy for indie store owners to sell their e-books… widgets… iframes… hmmm…
While overall revenue and sales are down, from the previous year, Books-A-Million’s CEO Clyde Anderson is stepping aside. Starting March 13, 2012, the CEO seat will be filled by Terry Finley. Finley will add the job to his current duties. So his title will now be CEO/President/COO. That’s quite a business card!
Books-A-Million is based in Birmingham. They closed 21 stores and opened 41 new stores in the past year, giving them a total of 256 stores in 31 states.
Apple announced a new iPad today, available March 16th. Prices start at $499 for wifi-only and $629 for 4G model. But does any of this matter for book readers? As a reader, it’s not enough for me to update my first-gen iPad, but let me tell you why publishers should be very excited about the capabilities of Apple’s new device:
- Hi-res screen: I mean VERY high-resolution. It’s first tablet that actually rivals print when it comes to resolution. I work for a travel publisher and we’ve always had issues with our maps on eReaders. Print books have always been better. No eReader device could rival the detail of a paper book. And that matters when you are looking at maps, topo lines and map keys. Well now there is a device that can support the level of detail and zoom book readers need and deserve.
- 4G connection speed: Again I am looking at this from a travel publishing perspective. This over-the-air speed is capable (but not very likely while you are out and about) of being faster than some hom wifi connections. That’s huge for publishers pushing content to book readers as they move about. Expecially for travel publishers selling updates and maps as readers are out on their adventures.
- Battery life: It’s nine hours with the 4G turned on. That’s a long road trip or a hike from sun-up to sundown. That’s a lot of reading and book referencing. Our customers/users/readers need to be happy, whether on a digital device or holding the print product. Big battery life is a step in this direction.
If publishers are doing their jobs the put A LOT of work into making unique quality content. It’s nice when device makers do their best to support this content. Now, having said all that, there are still many issues I have with reading non-fiction on eReaders. I’ll have to post about that later this week.
Blogs I Like
- B’ham Public Library
- Book Chase
- Book Patrol
- Bookshelf Porn
- Exile Bibliophile
- Fine Books Blog
- Loud poet
- Nathalie Foy
- Oh My Godwin!
- Reed Next’s Next Read
- Turn the Page
- AL.com Books
- AL.com Books Forum
- Alabama Center for the Book
- Alabama Writers' Forum
- Bham Wiki
- Book TV
- Menasha Ridge Press
- The Literacy Council
- Book Art
- Book Collecting
- Book Column
- Book Covers
- Book Design
- Book Reviews
- Book Sale
- Book Talk
- Bookstore Ideas
- Digital Publishing
- Free Books
- Friday Finds
- Gifts for Book People
- New Releases
- On the TV
- On the Web
- Publishing Industry News
- Site News
- Tools for Readers
- Upcoming Titles