Dog-Eared and Dispatched: January 4, 2015
…And we’re back. Hope the holiday season has treated you well and you’re ready for another year of book industry news. This week we’re making up for lost time with updates on Apple and ebooks, as well as looking at the publishing history of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s “Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program” Cozy up to your computer (in the morning please, not just before bedtime), and read on!
The big publishing news of the past week is that Melville House has sold out of its first 50,000 copy print run of The Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture (the ~500-page full summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s “Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program”) in just one day. The Senate had released a PDF version of the report, which is in the public domain, but Melville House was the first publisher to create – as extensively documented on social media – a legible (print) and searchable (digital) edition of the book from a not-very-nice government-issue PDF. Why should you care? This is what publishers should do: promote critical conversation on topics of human interest. This is what the public domain does: promotes creativity and ingenuity to further public discourse on topics of importance. Another printing is in the works. Props to the Melville House team for their hard work – may the returns be few. [Publishers Weekly, Melville House, The New Yorker, The Atlantic]
One of the big items in publishing news for the past few weeks was the next stage of Apple’s appeal in its ebook price-fixing case. The 2nd Circuit Court judges were rather more critical of the DOJ’s case and “appeared sympathetic to Apple’s contention that it engaged in pro-competitive conduct when in 2010 it entered an e-books market largely dominated by Amazon.com Inc. Amazon at the time had a 90 percent market share.” It is, however, unlikely that Apple while “win” its appeal – as Publishers Weekly points out in concise overview of the case, there doesn’t appear to be enough evidence to support Apple’s contentions, and the court must rule on evidence, not on intuition (or common sense). The court will have a think about it, and will come done with a ruling in the next six months or so. We’ll keep you posted. [Reuters, Publishers Weekly]
If you’re planning a late-night read in bed, you’ll need to unearth your flashlight: a study released in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America says the light-emitting ereaders (iPads for short) really are bad for you. The researchers compared readers who read on tablet “in an otherwise dim room” for about four hours before bedtime with those who read a paper book “using reflected light” in the same dim room, tracking – among other things – sleep time, melatonin levels, and self-reported sleepiness using the Karolinska Sleepiness Scale. According to the study, readers with iPads (or other light-emitting ereaders) took longer to fall asleep, slept less, had lower melatonin levels, and were groggier in the morning. That seems like a win for print books (and e-ink ereaders), but this particular study does leave some questions unanswered, the most obvious being: what were participants reading? do people really read on tablets in rooms the same brightness as print books? were readers on tablets reading books, flipping through different books, or browsing/interacting elsewhere? how does this compare to effects of late-night television watching versus reading? I’ll keep an eye out for further studies once I wake up from an afternoon nap – I didn’t sleep well last night… [PNAS, via Galleycat]
- Barnes and Noble has bought out Pearson’s stake in the nook business.
- Profile of Laura Hillenbrand has an interesting take on the publishing process and the role of the author. (Compare the profile of James Patterson
- Authors mansplain, too. Be warned, be wary.
- There’s a new biography of Penelope Fitzgerald out, which looks both readable and inspiring.