Dog-Eared and Dispatched: September 27, 2015
Print ain’t dead! Maybe e-books are? Except they aren’t—although perhaps they aren’t dominating the way some predictions expected. Following that news, e-book subscription service Oyster is shutting down, and serial-release startup Serial Box has launched its first titles. Find these tidbits and diverse publishing news below—ready? Set? Read!
The news causing a ripple through readers and publishers alike this week is the New York Times piece “The Plot Twist: E-Book Sales Slip, and Print Is Far From Dead,” which discusses the ten percent drop in sales that e-books have experienced thus far in 2015. On the print side, independent booksellers are thriving—one bookstore in Texas has seen sales increase by 11 percent—and Penguin Random House has spent around $100 million expanding its warehouse and increasing the distribution speed of its titles. Sales of dedicated e-book devices have declined sharply, with users seemingly migrating to tablets and smartphones for e-reading. However, conflicting takes are coming from other sources, who take issue with cited statistics in the article, since they come from 1,200 publishers who are members of the Association of American Publishers (AAP). According to the Digital Reader, those 1,200 publishers include the five biggest publishers (Penguin Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster), but also represent less than half of the industry’s e-book revenues. Fortune has also offered a take on the “Plot Twist” article, discussing how these numbers could only represent the sales of AAP members; since that includes the Big Five, the drop in sales could reflect the retention of higher e-book prices, which Hachette and other publishers fought Amazon over in the latter half of 2014. So where do print and digital books actually stand? Honestly, it’s probably unlikely for any definitive answer to surface until early next year, when a full year of sales data can reveal if a balance has been achieved between print and digital. [New York Times, Digital Reader, Fortune, Flavorwire]
- Subscription e-book service Oyster is shutting down after two years in operation, and most of the staff is moving to Google.
- In contrast, the recently launched startup Serial Box wants to be “HBO for readers” by offering serial releases of novels and audiobooks.
- To celebrate eighty years of Penguin Books in print, the New York Times created an infographic illustrating key moments in their history.
- How well-read do you consider yourself? Bid4Papers.com has created a test, wherein you try to guess the author based on an image and some clues.
- A team of indie booksellers at the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association have announced an initiative to raise awareness for diverse titles in children’s fiction.
- Ta-Nehisi Coates, nominee for the National Book Award nonfiction prize, will be writing a Black Panther comic for Marvel, which he has described as a childhood dream come true.
- Apple is again embroiled in a price fixing–related suit, this time with now-defunct digital retailers who claim the price fixing drove them out of business.