Friday, August 02, 2013

Weekend Reading: The More Thoughts about Publishing Edition

Work continues to be a bit of a mess... but I can't ignore my list of links about the state of publishing forever, so I'm going to make an attempt at a somewhat substantive weekend links post, all about how the publishing industry is evolving.

I don't know if you've been following the saga of Apple vs. Amazon, by way of the big publishing companies, but I largely agree with this post from Matthew Ingram: the publishers could probably solve their Amazon problem by doing away with DRM.

If you haven't been following it and are curious, The Battle of $9.99, by Andrew Richard Albanese is an excellent overview. (This is link is to an eBook, which will cost you $1.99.)

Right now, Amazon looks dominant in the publishing realm, but Evan Hughes argues in Salon that Amazon is cannibalizing its own success. I don't know that I agree with his entire argument, but I think that he has a point about the fact that the online world hasn't found a satisfactory replacement for browsing in a bookstore- at least not yet.

Kobo seems to be coming on strong as a competitor to Amazon, but they are not the only ones. A company called Zola wants to take them on, too. I'm watching both with interest.

I'm also intrigued by the idea of a Groupon-like business model for eBooks. But I'm not holding my breath for it to happen.

I'm also intrigued by the idea of bringing print on demand to bookstores. I hope it succeeds, actually. Between this and the way that a lot of indies are partnering with Kobo, maybe it is too soon to declare independent bookstores dead.

One reason I care about all of this churn is that I want to see more authors reach more people. Some people are arguing that the new age is just making it harder for an author to get noticed... but Bob Greene's recent CNN piece would seem to provide an object lesson in the fact that it has always been hard for an author to get noticed.

Another reason I care is that I want a nice variety of things to read. Right now, I particularly like to read short eBooks, so I found the opinions of authors C.D. Reimer and Lindsay Buroker on short fiction eBooks interesting. (Quite coincidentally, I stumbled across Buroker's Flash Gold steampunk novella, and quite enjoyed it.)

Magazines used to be another source of solid short reads, and I've been watching The Atlantic's foray into providing eBook content that with interest. Apparently, this is just one of many revenue streams they have been pursuing.

The app companies are also trying to get into the "long reads" (which are really short reads) game. I don't have an iPad, so I can't check this particular app out. Maybe they'll come to Android.

I continue to be fascinated by how we find the things we read. In my case, it is largely by word of mouth (or more properly, word of links...) online, and largely by search on my eReader. I'm not 100% satisfied with either method. In both cases, other methods leak in. I sometimes hear about a book (or follow a link about it) and go find it to read. And I sometimes find interesting things to read from searching on a topic.

What about you? How do you find things to read?


  1. Oh my...a juicy post for me to procrastinate the day away following links lol. I will blame you for my zero word count. :)

    I did want to say Kobo is doing some very ugly stuff to their page look right now and many of us are quite worried about how books will sell going forward.

    This on top of a basically broken search function. Kobo es no bueno. Which is sad because we so badly need viable competition in this industry.

    What we (the authors I hang with) are doing to deal with the disoverability issue raised in the Salon article, is banding together. We do lots of cooperative marketing stuff now. I'm also starting coops in other genres. We've been writing long enough that we have connections we can leverage to sell books.

    The answer for authors is to build life boats and choose carefully who they invite on-board. Then everyone has to row together for mutual survival.


    1. Stay tuned... I have a side project brewing that explores some ideas I have in this space. Since it is a side project, it is proceeding slowly, and I'm not ready to announce any details yet. But once I am, I'd LOVE feedback from authors. (If you're not a regular reader and would still like to hear about the project when it gets far enough along to discuss, drop me an email.)

  2. I find reading material through word of mouth and Goodreads. When I finish a book that I liked, I'll check the lists that Goodreads users have added the book to and usually stumble onto other interesting books in the lists.

    1. I haven't found GoodReads to be very useful for short eBooks, which are my favorite thing right now- I can finish them before I forget how they started!

  3. I've taken several literature MOOCs. Lately, they have driven my choice of "difficult" fiction that I can't pick up on my own and fully appreciate. My husband takes the same classes so dinner conversation becomes discussion section. It's a good way to tackle weighty books, but the schedule of one book a week can be a bit heavy for your stage in life.

    When I am sewing, knitting or driving, I listen to audiobooks. I am such a rabid Barbara Rosenblatt (Audie winner, called the Meryl Streep of audiobooks), I'll pick up an audiobook just based upon her reputation. She can afford to choose her projects, and she only chooses good ones.

    1. BTW, I subscribe to the Atlantic mag and have purchased a short story once, but am wary of doing it again.

      They gave away a good chunk free, then I purchased the rest of what they called a novella. Well, I paid $3.99 for the last 20% of a short story (where I read the first 80% for free). That left a bad taste in my mouth. They should not have called it a novella, and they should have been more transparent about how little I was getting for the $.

      If they had been more transparent, and charged 99 cents, I would have purchased many more. That was the first and last story I purchased from them.

  4. zenmoo2:19 AM

    I do most of my reading via the Christchurch City Library Overdrive account, with the occasional purchase from Amazon or itunes if something has been recommended and sounds good (usually from your blog! - I really enjoyed 'Soundings', for example)

    My technique for finding things via overdrive is pretty haphazard; as it's a 'free' library account I download a lot and flick through it. If I don't like it, I delete and move on. The Christchurch city library also sends out newsletters and blogs about new books (see and for kids, . I've picked a few recommendations from there. I absolutely love the libraries here - I have serious librarian job envy at times.

  5. I'm a public librarian, so I have the distinct advantage of being surrounded by books, pre-pub review journals, and readers every day, and I find books to read from all those sources, as well as from a number of blogs. But of course that doesn't help you at all if you're looking for short ebooks, since many of those (I'm looking at you, Kindle Singles) aren't available for libraries to purchase, and thus we tend to ignore them.


Sorry for the CAPTCHA, folks. The spammers were stealing too much of my time.