In the fourth quarter ended December 31, net sales at Amazon.com rose 36%, to $12.95 billion, and net income rose 8%, to $416 million. Because the substantial increase was lower than analysts' expectations of more than $13 billion, Amazon's shares dropped 9.8% in after-hours trading to $166.29 a share, after having risen 5.2% to $184.45 during the day. As Sandeep Aggarwal, an analyst at Caris and Co., told the Wall Street Journal, "It's disappointing because we were expecting that investment spending will come down now, but it clearly hasn't."
Among the tidbits of news Amazon revealed, typically without solid numbers:
- Kindle books have now "overtaken paperback books as the most popular format," even as paperback sales have continued to grow. Amazon is selling 115 Kindle books for every 100 paperbacks. The company had thought this point would not be reached until the second quarter of this year.
- In the quarter, Amazon sold three times as many Kindle books as hardcovers.
- The U.S. Kindle store has more than 810,000 e-books, 670,000 of which retail for $9.99 or less. The company also offers millions of free public-domain titles.
- North American sales rose 45%, to $7.21 billion.
- Media sales in North America rose 12.9%, to $2.37 billion.
- International sales rose 26%, to $5.74 billion.
- International media sales rose 11%, to $2.86 billion.
inventory at Al Kitab Bookshop, "situated in the heart of Tunis, just
across the street from the imposing gray interior ministry," was under
strict censorship during the regime of recently deposed Tunisian
president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, the Irish Times reported.
have changed quickly. Books about Ben Ali, his wife Leila Trabelsi,
political repression, Islamism and corruption in the regime are now
available. Al Kitab's owner Selma Jabbes "is still awaiting delivery of
its first order of banned books from Europe; those in the window were
donated by readers and put on display 'to give an idea of how we
suffered here,' " the Times wrote.
Jabbes said the shop
was watched closely by authorities: "All the spies were here regularly.
We sometimes had books taken even after they were authorized, and we had
regular visits to check that we weren't hiding banned books."
So it's not Stephen Colbert. Anonymous, the author of O: A Presidential Novel
, published this week by Simon & Schuster, is Mark Salter, a former speechwriter for Senator John McCain, Time
magazine reported yesterday. Among other "in-plain-sight" clues, Time
are that S&S publisher Jonathan Karp worked with Salter on several
McCain books; Karp's descriptions of Anonymous match Salter; and
Anonymous tells a story that only a high-level McCain campaigner would
Neither Salter nor S&S would comment, according to the New York Times.
Patti Smith's follow-up to her National Book Award-winning memoir, Just Kids, will be a mystery novel. The Guardian
reported that she said, "For the last two years... I've been working on
a detective story that starts at St Giles-in-the-Fields in London." The rocker cited Sherlock Holmes and
Mickey Spillane as inspirations.
Book trailer of the day: The Book of Freaks by Jamie Iredell (Future Tense Books).
This trailer was created by Bryan Coffelt and Brian Smith, two students
at the Portland State University publishing program. The book is being
published in March by Kevin Sempsell, who also works at Powell's Books
and whose memoir, A Common Pornography, was published by Harper Perennial last year.
In a column for the Atlantic distributed by the Century Foundation, Peter Osnos, founder and editor-at-large of PublicAffairs, reminds us that Judge Denny Chin has yet to accept or reject the Google Book Settlement, reached more than two years. He wrote:
"Whatever the outcome, the original settlement and its revisions remain a landmark in the dizzying transformation of information from the traditional means of delivery of printed material to today's increasingly digital options. Why? Because Google originally argued that it had the right, which it declared was a public service, to digitize everything without regard to paying the content creators of copyrighted material. Once Google conceded that was not the case in the 2008 agreement, that particular contention was resolved.
"In certain respects, however, technology and commerce have overtaken the original dispute. Digitized books can be programmed so that they cannot be copied or printed more than once, which limits the notion of a free-for-all in which authors and publishers lose control of the material. Many books in the public domain (the vast majority of works that have been digitized) are increasingly available from a variety of sources, which reduces Google's omnipotence. Given the extraordinary growth in the use of e-book reading devices (which were barely a factor when the lawsuits against Google were originally filed), the interests of authors and publishers have shifted to getting a fair share of revenues rather than the prospect of receiving no revenues at all."
"What will the publishing industry look like after 10 more years of advancing technology?" SF Signal asked a few writers, editors, critics and publishers in the sci-fi industry. A sampling of their predictions:
chain stores are almost certainly toast, but the surviving independent
stores will be able to compete as they always have--with a curatorial
selection rather than an exhaustive one," author Nick Mamatas predicted.
"If you live on the coasts or in a college town here in the U.S.,
you'll have nice, clean bookstores to go to. If you don't, you'll have a
kiosk in a shopping mall with a POD machine and some sort of instant
Anders, editorial director of Prometheus Books' Pyr imprint,
anticipates "a vast sea of drek (some of it incredibly popular) with a
smaller number of truly magnificent works (some of it incredibly
popular) and a wealth of 'good stories well told. I'm not being
flippant. E-books don't spell the death of publishing, though we are in a
watershed moment. In ten years, e-books will be the dominant form of
book, and, of course, some books won't even have print editions. But
it's always been about the content, not the delivery mechanism."
USA Today noted that 23 of the top 50 books on its bestseller
list sold more digital versions than print, "the highest number yet this
If you missed Lewis Carroll's 178th birthday yesterday, you can still celebrate by checking out Flavorwire's "The Evolution of Alice in Wonderland: A Book Cover Odyssey," which looks back at more than 100 years of Alice covers.
Ariana Paliobagis, the new owner of Country Bookshelf, Bozeman, Mont. (Shelf Awareness, January 20, 2011), told Bookselling This Week
about her plans for the store, where she has worked for five years as a
bookseller. "The store is in beautiful shape; we have a great
selection; and I have an incredible staff of really dedicated
booksellers," Paliobagis said. Still she plans "to bring the store into
the 21st century" by expanding its online presence. In the past two
years, she had created a website, opened a Twitter account and started
an e-mail list. Soon she aims to sell e-books via Google eBooks.
North Baltimore Patch has published a series of q&a interviews with six current and former bookstore owners in Baltimore: Rupert Wodolowski, owner of Normal's Books and Record; Benn Ray, co-owner of Atomic Books; Kate Khatib, co-owner of Red Emma; Kevin Johnson, owner of Royal Books; Stan Modjesky, owner of Book Miser, which closed in 2004; and Susan Weis-Bohlen, owner of breathe books.
Weis-Bohlen drew a nice distinction between chain and independent bookstores: "Small bookstores can change very quickly. When we see the tide rising or receding, we can act swiftly to make changes--reduce inventory, increase the mix of books and gifts, add more special events to draw people to us. Stores that react slowly to change are usually the ones that don't make it. We constantly have to have our eyes open, scanning the horizon, and knowing what people want and how to bring it to them."
Pets publisher TFH Publications and Discovery Communications have renewed for five years their co-branding publishing agreement, adding these two new products:
Animal Planet Complete Guide books on a specific pet topic. The first, Animal Planet Complete Guide to Dog Care, appears next month.
Dogs 101, a series of books based on the spirit of Animal Planet's successful TV show. Eight breed-specific Dogs 101 titles will be released in 2011, beginning in July.