Petrona’s choice from the Internet (10 April)

One of the links in my “blogs and website” sidebar (see right) is called Miscellany from the Internet– which are the articles I “share” on Google reader. I thought I’d round these up for the past week in this post.

O’Reilly, the technical publisher, is to go fully print on demand. “With the enormous change we are experiencing in the industry, the traditional models of publishing no longer make financial sense. To be able to grow our publishing program while at the same time lowering our costs is a huge leap forward”, said Laura Baldwin, president, O’Reilly Media.

The cost to a small publisher of selling books on Amazon. Linen Press loses £2 for every title sold by the online bookseller – not exactly a sustainable business model.

An anonymous Waterstone’s bookseller writes about the company’s current woes. “But all booksellers can hope for is that our new owners will eventually invest and give us the tools to do what they actually genuinely love doing—selling books.”

The Scholarly Kitchen, always worth a read, has a good post about the disruption being caused by the “social web” (or Web 2.0), based on a “recent report from Wedbush Securities, a Silicon Valley firm that analyzes the valuations of private companies, updates what we already know about the social Web, and shows how powerful it has become. Almost across the board, it is the de facto Web now”.

Moving to books, there is a fascinating and informative interview of Quentin Bates by Barbara Fister at her Scandinavian Crime Fiction blog. Bates is the author of the debut novel Frozen Out (UK; Frozen Assets US), which I reviewed for Euro Crime earlier this year. He answers questions about why he set his novel in Iceland; why the protagonist is a woman; and how his work compares with that of Arnaldur Indridason and Yrsa Sigurdardottir, native Icelandic authors whose novels have been translated into English. Bates’s second novel in his series, Cold Comfort, will be published in January 2012.

Book reviews I’ve enjoyed: The Magician’s Accomplice by Michael Genelin, reviewed by Glenn Harper at International Noir Fiction; Lucifer’s Tears by James Thompson, reviewed by Ben Hunt at Material Witness and also by Peter at Nordic Bookblog.

One or two posts of interest (to me):
Smashwords: Readers, authors and librarians against DRM (includes logos for your website or blog).

Cuts, cuts, cuts at Nicci French blog.

Two articles here and here about the threats to the important programmes to open up all types of government data in the US and the UK.

Google crisis response, including “preparedness tools”.

7 thoughts on “Petrona’s choice from the Internet (10 April)

  1. So many aspects of the publishing business to consider. I understand that book lovers want the small businesses to thrive, I am just not used to be on the side of the shops because all I have seen in Denmark is a few huge chains that have had a monopoly on selling books all my life. Hence our ridiculous prices. Clearly, Amazon is a threat to indie shops and small publishers, and they are not exactly kind to foreign ebook writers either. That is why Smashwords suits me fairly well for the time being – as a writer, that is, not necessarily as a reader because it can be difficult to find the good titles among all the mediocre ones.

  2. The article by the Waterstones person is sad. Knowing what to do as a consumer of books is becoming increasingly difficult. A local indie bookseller was explaining the truly awful supply chain issues that Australian booksellers have to deal with – like the fact that the cheapest wholesale price he can currently get for a new release title (even as an eBook) is $19.90 on top of which he has to add something if he is to keep his doors open – yet those same books are being sold on Amazon and Book Depository for $9.90 (I mean they’re not the same books – they’re the US or UK editions of the books not the Australian editions of the books but our local seller is not allowed to buy the US or UK editions for resale and even if he could the local seller does not believe the wholesale prices are much lower – he thinks Amazon in particular uses new release titles as a loss leader as they can afford to). What’s he supposed to do? What are we readers supposed to do?

    Thanks as always for your interesting and thought provoking links

  3. Most readers have to buy according to price, most of us can’t afford to do otherwise. I could never buy a new (hardcover) book at a retail store in my city in the States, which when tax is added would be $30. For one read? So I and many others have to turn to Amazon, with its free shipping on orders over $25 and discounts, or to the Book Depository, where one can get two books for $24, no taxes, no shipping fees. But mostly I use the library, as frustrating as that is, as they get global titles a year after publication of translated or UK titles. But if one wants a new book quickly, the Book Depository is the way to go.
    I do go to the local and wonderful mystery bookstore to get new paperbacks put out by Felony and Mayhem press (its owner is part owner of that bookshop), which puts out wonderful books no longer in print otherwise. And occasionally I’ll buy a very special book there to keep and share among friends, as the newest Sjowall and Wahloo series, with introductions by current writers, or to buy gifts.

  4. I just read the scholarly kitchen post you linked to while I was on a conference call about nothing in particular (thankfully I have resisted the pressure to turn these weekly gabfests into video calls). Sounds like an interesting study and I loved the comments to that post…it’s rare to see such intelligent back-and-forth in internet comments these days. Well done to them.

  5. Thanks for all these comments. Bookselling and publishing is fraught with pitfalls as organisations try to stay in business and readers try to avoid either going bankrupt or resorting to piracy. I wonder where it will all end.

    Glad you like the Scholarly Kitchen, Bernadette.

  6. Just an informational point and book recommendation Kate Atkinson’s “Started Early, Took My Dog,” is quite a good book; starts out seemingly telling disparate stories of different characters, but it morphs into a story which comes together. Much intelligence, observations of human relations, philosophy and wit. Very good.

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