Dog-Eared and Dispatched: January 11, 2015
This week’s rundown of bookish news is full of, well, actual news. There’s international mayhem, domestic economics, and the future of ebooks. Are you ready? Read on!
The biggest literary news this week is also the hardest to write about. On January 7, masked gunmen raided the office of the controversial French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, leaving twelve dead, including the magazine’s editor, four cartoonists, an economist, and a copy editor. There have been too many responses to gather all of them here, some of them reasons, some of them less so; many literary figures, including Salman Rushdie, have spoken out against the attack, but Joe Sacco’s response gets at both the sadness and troubling aspects of the case. Here’s hoping for a civil society, where one can enjoy the “freedom to vex, irritate and derange.” [BBC, Slate, Globe & Mail, Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, MobyLives!]
It wasn’t a happy holiday season for the nook. Although Barnes & Noble holiday sales reached $1.1 billion (an increase of 1.7% from 2013), nook sales were 55% lower in 2014 than in 2013. It’s not just the nook, though – UK bookseller Waterstone’s announced that their Kindle sales flatlined over the holidays, too. Indeed, numbers suggest that iPad sales will be down, too, so sales of both tablets and dedicated ereaders are slowing. Market saturation? Sluggish economy? Folks saving up for future technology? Or do print books just make better gifts? We’ll keep watching the numbers in 2015 and let you know. [Galleycat, MobyLives!, USA Today, The Guardian]
Speaking of ebooks, the ebook subscription service Scribd is starting 2015 right, with $22 million in venture capital (which is the same amount all publishing projects on Kickstarter combined raised in 2014). Scribd has an attractive selection of publishers providing ebooks, as well as some impressive readership numbers (17 million hours! of! reading!). Will ebook subscription services ever take off? As we noted back in November, Penguin Random House doesn’t think so and has, so far, steered clear of the major services. Self published authors are a bit put out, too, as Amazon’s Kindle unlimited pays lower royalties than if the book were purchased. Do the subscription services cause readers to expect books for free? Why don’t you go ask your local librarian about that. [Publishers Weekly, MobyLives!, Scribd, NY Times]
- The Authors Guild case against Hathitrust has been dropped.
- Following in the footsteps of Garrison Keillor and Cheryl Strayed, Haruki Murakami is offering advice – to anyone, about anything.
- Facebook/Zuckerberg has founded a book club; the first books is selling well.
- Top Shelf comics has been bought out by IDW.
- As the MLA witters on in Vancouver, BC, it’s the usual round of anti-English-department crankiness shows up again.
- Elizabeth Gilbert thinks you shouldn’t quit your day job.