Sign of the times. Avon Books is launching Avon Impulse, a new imprint dedicated to digital publishing that will feature e-books and POD novels and novellas by current Avon authors and that aims to "seek new talent to nurture in an e-book marketplace that finds Romance experiencing expansive growth."
"Romance readers have been among the first to embrace books digitally," Liate Stehlik, senior v-p and publisher of William Morrow and Avon Books at HarperCollins. "Their passion has encouraged us to introduce a line of romance e-books, which empowers Avon to publish more quickly, with an eye to what's trending in fiction."
The company said that Avon Impulse authors will benefit from "the same platforms" that Avon authors have as well as from "a dedicated 'five-point' marketing and publicity platform" that includes "cross promotion, digital marketing and publicity, social media outreach, interactive assets and coaching, as well as targeted online retail placement strategies."
The company said that Avon Impulse e-books will be sold via all online retailers. POD copies will be available from online book retailers. According to the imprint's website, Avon is taking this step in part because "traditional channels for mass market genre fiction are shrinking. Fewer grocery stores, drug stores, mall stores and superstores are carrying a broad selection of romance titles. While there is a strong consumer market for Avon titles, the channels that we have always depended on to grow new voices and publish broadly are under pressure."
Avon Impulse's first title is A Lady's Wish, an original novella by Katharine Ashe that makes its debut next Tuesday, March 15. The imprint aims to release at least a title a week.
Avon Impulse will pay no advance to authors but will offer 25% royalties, beginning with the first title. After 10,000 copies of an e-book are sold, the royalty rate rises to 50%.
USA Today has an overview of the strong reaction by librarians and others against HarperCollins's new policy of limiting the lending of its e-books to 26 library patrons--after which the e-book disappears. Some have started a boycott of the publisher and are "protesting what some consider the digital 'destruction' of books."
In an open letter to librarians on its strikingly named Library Love Fest blog, HarperCollins stated: "Selling e-books to libraries in perpetuity, if left unchanged, would undermine the emerging e-book eco-system, hurt the growing e-book channel, place additional pressure on physical bookstores, and in the end lead to a decrease in book sales and royalties paid to authors.... If a library decides to repurchase an e-book later in the book's life, the price will be significantly lower as it will be pegged to a paperback price."
Barnes & Noble is having trouble selling itself, Reuters reported, saying that the bookseller's "efforts to find a buyer have slowed to a crawl, erasing recent gains in its stock price, as potential suitors question the bookseller's ability to compete against formidable rivals."
B&N put itself up for sale last summer, and at one point about a dozen potential suitors had shown interest. Yesterday the company's stock closed at $11.79 a share, its lowest price in 15 years, since shortly after going public.
"The [low] stock price isn't the draw or the deterrent," one anonymous investment banker told Reuters. "There's no strategic (bidder) out there that would want them. They could appeal to private equity, but there's been no rabid interest so far."
Standard & Poor analyst Mike Souers said that another factor is chairman Len Riggio, who owns about 30% of the company and has said that he might be interested in taking the company private. "It's likely that investors are just coming to terms with the fact that Leonard Riggio is unlikely to cede power," Souers said. "Unless it's a private takeover led by him, it's unlikely to happen."
In a related story, Time examined the contrasts between Borders, which just filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and B&N, which is shifting emphasis to e-books and its e-reader, the Nook.
"Barnes & Noble is just a better-run bookstore," Bill Kavaler of Oscar Gruss & Son told Time. "They have better locations, their stores are brighter and it's better stocked. And while there's some discomfort with Barnes & Noble's management, you can't say they're not trying to run a good book chain."
Time also noted "a surprising comeback" by many indies. One example: Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn, N.Y., whose co-owner Jessica Stockton Bagnulo said, "We tailor our inventory to fit our community" and noted that the store's emphases on local authors and events "are things that work for us that wouldn't work for anyone else."
Should Amazon give away free Kindles? As CNN's
Amy Gahran noted, "In a way, Amazon has already been giving away
Kindles for awhile--in the form of the free Kindle smartphone, tablet,
and computer apps. Right now, about 6 million U.S. adults own
e-readers--but this field is getting much more crowded.... The Kindle's
core business model has always been to sell books, not devices. So a
free Kindle seems like a potentially savvy business move.
Gahran added that if Amazon doesn't lead the way in offering a free e-reader, "someone certainly will."
According to WDEF-TV, Dalton, Ga., declared Monday Charlie McClurg Day, honoring the nine-year-old boy who organized a letter-writing campaign that resulted in Books-A-Million opening a store in the town (Shelf Awareness, December 6, 2010).
The latest additions to Algonquin Books' Booksellers Rock! series is Jay D. Peterson, manager of Magers & Quinn Booksellers, Minneapolis, Minn., and a board member and volunteer tutor at Rock Star Supply Co., a nonprofit inspired by 826Valencia (shown on r. with author Per Petterson).
Our favorite of the q&a's came in response to the question about why he does what he does:
"Last Tuesday, I began my day by chatting and looking at 300-year-old books with a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist (Paul Harding). I've shared podiums with my favorite authors and beers with some of the brightest people in the business. I've barbecued with Valentino Achak Deng (subject of Dave Eggers' What Is the What) and eaten some of David Byrne's leftover sushi. Something tells me a career in accounting wouldn't have panned out this well."
Book trailer of the day: Bent Road by Lori Roy (Dutton), which will be published March 31.
Sandra Boynton's bestselling The
Going to Bed Book
is the basis of her debut ebook app, released by Boynton Moo
Media, a partnership between Boynton and Loud Crow Interactive. Launched on
Friday, The Going
to Bed Book
app hit #18 in Apple's ebook app store. British Invasion singer Billy
J. Kramer is the voice when "the big guy reads it" (as demonstrated
in the trailer
). The price in Apple's App Store is $1.99 for iPhone/iTouch; $2.99 for the
iPad. Next up for Boynton Moo Media: Moo, Baa, La La La!
The Louisiana Weekly
spoke with a pair of New Orleans indies--Community Book Center and
Afro-American Book Stop--about the pending closure of two Borders
locations in the city.
closing of our local Borders store really is bittersweet to me. I feel
for the employees who will lose their jobs in this tough economy," said
Michele Lewis, owner of Afro-American Book Stop.
She added that it also hurts African-American authors. "Most Borders
across the country have pretty large African-American sections, so I'm
concerned about the future growth of African American titles, authors,
books, etc. Roughly 30% of the total amount of book sales for
African-American authors come from Borders, so a number of our authors
will no longer get publishing contracts. There are only about one-fourth
of African-American bookstores across the country that were in business
10 to 15 years ago that are still open today."
Katrina, Lewis reopened in New Orleans East because the East was home:
"For me, it was about opening my store in my community. This is where my
business started.... It's been a struggle. We're holding on, but we're
not doing as well as we did at one point. I think because we have so few
shopping areas here in the east, we automatically drive to Metairie or
the westbank to do our shopping; a lot of my customers will go out to
those areas, because that's what we were forced to do post-Katrina. It's
vital that I find a way to remind them that we are here and we want to
be a part of this community."
Community Book Center
owner Vera Warren is also urging residents and neighbors to support
their local bookseller. "Independent Black bookstores are closing all
over the country," she said. "When owners announce they're closing,
people are like 'Why are you doing that?' and 'We can't let that
happen.' Well, if I haven't seen you in the store in seven or eight
months, that might be the reason I need to close.
in your community is worth investing in--particularly if the people who
own and operate it look like you. But we continue to go to other people
to spend money, and come back to the community when we need something.
The key is to realize the importance of investing in our community
institutions that serve our people all of time and not some of the time.
We need to support each other; or the next time your child is running
for queen or whatever, go to Amazon and ask them to take out an ad:
that's what it boils down to."
The Women's National Book Association New York City is presenting a panel on digital books, e-books, enhanced e-books and apps on Tuesday, March 29, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Association of American Publishers offices, 71 Fifth Ave. in New York City. Appropriately, considering the subject, there will be live streaming video broadcast and live chat live via Twitter and Facebook. Attendees may bring questions or send them in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Panelists are Peter Costanzo, director of digital content at F+W Media; Andrea Fleck-Nisbet, digital publishing director, Workman Publishing; Ami Greko, senior vendor relations manager, U.S., Kobo; and Evan Ratliff, editor of the Atavist and author of Lifted, a Kindle Single book.
The moderator and organizer is Susannah Greenberg of Susannah Greenberg Public Relations.
Cost is $10 to non-members and $5 to students. Free for WNBA and AAP members. RSVP using the subject line "digital books" to email@example.com.