Dog-Eared and Dispatched: December 7, 2014
As both publishers and retailers turn their attention to holiday sales, book news usually slows down to lists of “best books of the year” – but real news doesn’t disappear entirely! There’s a digital focus to this week’s rundown of book culture, as Barnes and Noble and Amazon take their usual positions in book news headlines (more details below). Are you ready? Get reading!
Barnes and Noble has bought back Microsoft’s share of the Nook for $125 million – less than half of the $300 million Microsoft originally paid. As you will recall, Microsoft had invested in the Nook back in 2012, hoping to gain ground against Apple and Amazon in the ereader market. Although the deal may have reinvigorated investors’ interest in Barnes and Noble for a short period of time, it failed to deliver much else. Indeed, Barnes and Noble does not seem to be fairing well in the digital marketplace: “The Nook, which once looked like Barnes & Noble’s best shot at adapting to the digital retail landscape, has become a drag on its bottom line. Barnes & Noble reported on Thursday that revenue for the Nook segment in the most recent quarter fell 41 percent, to $64 million, compared with the period last year. Sales of e-books and other digital content fell 21 percent, to $45 million.” (Meanwhile, Kindle sales were up, lest you think the problem is with the ereader market.) Although it is tempting to treat the failure of this partnership as a bit of a joke, it does raise the nagging question of what you are buying when you are buying an ebook – and what you have left when the platform is no longer supported. [Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Galleycat, MobyLives!, Mother Jones]
As Amazon tries to streamline its warehouses (and labor disputes) by running on robots, an organization in the UK calling itself “Amazon Anonymous” (strange that Amazon didn’t snap up that domain name, too) has urged consumers to boycott the online retailer this holiday season for the following reasons “They don’t pay their workers a Living Wage. They dodge their tax. They take money away from our local shops. So this year, let’s take our money away from them.” This could cost Amazon a pretty penny – indeed, the current pledges stand at over £3 million. Bezos responded in UK media with a couple of humblebrags – an odd response, but time will tell if it will be effective. [Newsweek, Amazon Anonymous, MobyLives!, The Guardian, The Telegraph]
- Jacqueline Woodson, winner of the National Book Award for young adult literature, shares her opinion on racism in the book world.
- A judge in the UK has ruled there is no good reason not to send books to prisoners.
- The New Republic is having a trying week.
- Writers on why they are keeping their day jobs.
- Apparently, publishers like it when an author has a solid online platform.
- Is poetry relevant?