Dog-Eared and Dispatched: July 26, 2015
Ebooks becoming radio plays finds modest financing success, while audiobook sales experienced a 13.5 percent uptick in 2014 over 2013. HarperCollins has created an Agent Portal for agents linked to their authors, allowing the unprecedented sharing of HarperCollins’ U.S. sales data—for agents only, of course. Rounding out the week, a bookstore-hostel opens soon in Tokyo, free-book vending machines launch in an underserved D.C. neighborhood, and a Queens bookshop sells Ta-Nehisi Coates’ recently published novel at cost. Ready? Set? Read!
Have you ever been reading a book and wished you could listen to a matching movie-style soundtrack, designed by the author or publisher? Maybe? If you have, Booktrack, a tool designed for adding soundtracks to ebooks, has just closed a fundraising round for $5 million, following a successful raise of $3 million. Proponents describe it as “turning ebooks into radio plays with rich musical scores.” This comes on the heels of an announcement that audiobook sales were up 13.5 percent in 2014, courtesy of a survey from the Audio Publishers Association. Differing sharply from audiobooks, Booktrack allows soundtracks to be fully customized and costs around $1,000 per title (but only if Booktrack creates the music). Each Booktrack ebook is sold with an additional fee, and publishers receive 70% of the ebook cost while Booktrack receives 70% of the soundtrack fee. [Booktrack, Adweek, Audio Publishers Association, Publishers Weekly]
HarperCollins has launched an Agent Portal, which is “designed to make royalty statements, U.S. sales data, and anti-piracy information easily accessible to agents that represent HarperCollins authors.” According to the official press release, it will include royalty information from June 2014 onwards, plus lifetime sales for each author, with the intent to eventually do away with paper statements. The site will also be a hub for anti-piracy efforts, including tracking of takedown notices for each HarperCollins ISBN. To date, no publisher has provided access to consolidated sales data nor gathered their associated agents in such a fashion, but the service has some clear benefits for agents and, in turn, will likely help the publisher’s sales, which is no doubt the end goal. For parent company News Corp., total revenue was down by 1 percent in the third quarter, excluding its book publishing unit, which saw a 14 percent increase. [Adweek, HarperCollins, Publishers Weekly, Reuters]
- Author E.L. Doctorow died on Tuesday at the age of 84.
- Starting in September 2015, Book and Bed Tokyo will allow travelers to stay in their bookstore during nighttime “closing” hours, in a hostel-style arrangement and with hostel prices.
- Is Amazon continuing to serve author interests better than publishers? Mike Shatzkin argues his take on why publishers need to make more and bigger changes in author relations.
- JetBlue’s Soar With Reading program places vending machines that deposit books at no cost in areas they call “book deserts.” So far, three have appeared in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
- Astoria Bookshop in Queens is selling Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between The World And Me at cost to encourage readers to buy it—this means the hardcover release is $14 instead of the listed $24. Toni Morrison’s blurb calls it “required reading,” and clearly this bookstore agrees.
- Historian William Conrad Gibbons has died, age 88. He was well-known for a book series on the U.S. government and the Vietnam War, which offers detailed coverage of Congress and the executive branch from 1945 to 1975.
- Atlas Obscura has created an interactive and “obsessively detailed map of American literature’s most epic road trips.”
- Goodreads took a poll of users’ summer reading habits; after receiving over 95,000 votes, they’ve created an infographic to illustrate the results.
- The National Library of France has experienced two major thefts totaling $4.4 million in the past year. The stolen goods have been traced back to an employee in the Richelieu-Louvois branch.
- New York Times critic says the publication of Go Set A Watchman is “one of the epic money grabs in the modern history of American publishing.” Ouch.