Tag Archives: Publishing

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Butterbeer, Jeter’s Book Love and the Triumph of Google Books

Google Books Takes the Win.

More than eight years of litigation and a decision has finally been made:  Judge Chin has ruled in favour of Google Books and the Library book scanning project, to the dismay of the Authors Guild.  Chin dismissed the Guild’s lawsuit, believing not only that the scanning project “enhances the sales of books to the benefit of copyright holders” but further asserting that Google Books “advances the progress of the arts and sciences”.  The American Library Association is celebrating along side Google, praising the advancement to research and learning.

JK Rowling: No Plans to Top Harry Potter

This week, JK Rowling admitted in an interview that her Harry Potter series was the pinnacle of her success.  Although she will continue to write out of a love for writing, she shared that she had no interest in trying to prove herself as a novelist to anyone.    The Telegraph went on to discuss how the liberating the financial success of her magical series has been, allowing her to pursue other passions such as her children’s charity, Lumos.

Starbucks and Their Not So Secret Butterbeer

In other Harry Potter news, excitement broke out earlier this week at the mention of an unofficial “butterbeer” drink available at Starbucks.  Based off of a beverage enjoyed by Harry and his friends in the series, the novelty frappuccino has been met with enthusiasm, as well as disappointment at its potent sweetness.  Perhaps it’s something just not meant for us muggles.

NSA Making Writer’s Wary

A survey published by PEN America has indicated that writers are more worried than ever before about their privacy rights and freedom of the press, and have actively started to self-censor themselves.  While it isn’t suprising to hear that 85% of writers are concerned about the levels of government surveillance, more startling findings have taken root: of the PEN members surveyed, “24% have deliberately avoided certain topics in phone or email conversations, and another 9% have seriously considered it”.

Derek Jeter to Start Publishing Imprint

It’s a whole new ballpark for the NY Yankee’s shortstop, Derek Jeter: he wants to get into the publishing business.  Partnering with Simon & Schuster, Jeter Publishing is set to start releasing books in 2014, focusing on children’s books, middle-grade fiction and non fiction for adults.

What’s your favourite publishing story of the week?  Let us know by tweeting us @sumbolacosi.


The Benefits (and the Beware) of Book Bundling

Earlier this week, Amazon announced Their Kindle Matchbooks program to launch this October: a book bundling system that will allow Amazon customers to order e-book copies of their purchased print books at a discount: some e-book copies will be free with this program, and the highest cost?  $2.99.

The Upsides

The immediate benefits of bundling are obvious for the consumer:  the convenience of an additional reading platform, the added value and the element of social reading, while still retaining the tactile joy of a physical copy.

For authors, bookstores and publishers, the benefits are easy to see as well:  Their customers aren’t forced to choose between digital or print.  Bundling also offers promotional value and increases discoverability.  Going one step further, it goes towards building a relationship with the reader.

Also notable is that most news outlets that announced Amazon’s Matchbook program added the telling descriptive “finally”.  Bundling has of course, been a long standing and promotion for films, music or video games: why not books?  In the past 18 months, several publishers and authors have become the testers and the trailblazers of this idea, with respectable levels of success.  Perhaps Amazon was waiting to observe their competition before developing their own bundling system, a cautious but seemingly cost-effective strategy.  

The Downsides

With all the benefits for both the buyers and sellers of books, what could possibly go wrong with Amazon’s Matchbook?

Firstly, there is intrinsic, monetary value attached to both the print and digital copy of the book.  As TechDirt pointed out last August, some publishers are concerned bundling could “leave money on the table“.  There is additional concern of buyers gifting their purchase, while retaining either the print or digital version for themselves.

Secondly, (and more importantly) the first point bears repeating: there is intrinsic, monetary value attached to both the print and the digital copy of a book.  Amazon’s Bookstore has been known to discount even their best sellers by nearly half their cover price; their prices were even further slashed in a price war with the e-commerce company Overstock.  While celebrated authors tied to one of the big five publishers may have little to worry about, most books on Amazon already sell for less than $4.00.  Amazon’s Matchbook risks further devaluing the work of a lesser known author by enforcing the premise that a digital edition should be cheaper, or free.

Is Amazon intentionally enforcing this idea?  Not likely.  The problem with Amazon is that they’ve built themselves on being able to provide consumers with the product for the least amount of money. They have been rewarded for this, but their focus is on instant gratification of the buyer, not the effect on the author or the publishing community.

As Dustin Kurtz argues, costs of producing a book have very little to do with the paper it’s printed on.  The value of an e-book shouldn’t be diminished simply because its digital.

Book-Bundling is an exciting new stage in in the ever-changing world of publishing, and a great opportunity for authors, publishers and readers alike.  Hopefully what we pursue in our passion for reading, writing or sharing is a healthy appreciation for a great bargain, while remembering how valuable our storytellers are.

What do you think of this issue?  Let us know by leaving a comment, or tweet us @SumbolaCoSI.



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Just Jake, Ron Burgundy and a Price War

Amazon’s Battle with Overstock Continues

Popular e-commerce site Overstock went after Amazon last month, discounting their books 10% lower than Amazon’s prices.  Determined not to be undersold, Amazon went on to discount some of their best sellers by as much as 64%.  Described by Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne, the discount was created to reward loyal customers “without adding undue pricing pressure on independent bookstores”. It is unclear how the e-commerce giants intend not to harm independent bookstore sales, as even Barnes & Noble, Wal-mart and Target are sitting this battle out.  For the original story available on Publisher’s Weekly, click here.  For Monday’s update: click here.

Thirteen Year Old Offer Signed to Penguin’s Grosset & Dunlap

Thirteen year old Jake Marcionette has topped off a year of school, lacrosse, and annoying his older sister by being signed to Penguin’s Grosset & Dunlap group.  Just Jake, the story of sixth-grader Jake Ali Mathews, offers an authentic and humorous voice on the excitement and troubles of being a kid. President and Publisher of Grosset & Dunlap, Francesco Sedita  said he was “blown away” upon learning that Jake Marcionette was only 12 years old when he wrote Just Jake.  Now in seventh grade, Marcionette’s first novel in two book deal with an option for more will be published February 2014.  See the full story here on CBC Books.

Ron Burgundy’s Autobiography: “I cried like a baby, and you can take that to the bank”

Looking for a glimpse into the life of Will Ferrell’s alter ego?  Look no further than Ron Burgundy’s autobiography, Let Me Off At The Top!: My Classy Life And Other Musings. Burgundy shied away from proclaiming it the world’s greatest autobiography stating that he’s “too close to the work”.  You can find the story here on Independent.ie- the book will hit shelves both physical and digital November 2013.


Cli-Fi: Global Cautionary Tales


Climate-themed fiction has taken the reading world by storm this year.

The term, cli-fi has been in circulation for a few years, coined by activist and reporter Dan Bloom. This year, “cli-fi” has gone viral after notable media outlets such as NPR, Christian Science Monitor and The Guardian took a liking to it.

The stories have been described as “cautionary fables of climate change”, and a platform for considering, debating, and growing a dialogue on its consequences.  Whether the “clima-pocolypse” is the main conflict, or simply a back drop to the story, the united message authors of this speculative genre are sending is that climate change impacts, and will continue to impact everyone.

Looking for a hot cli-fi read?  You can find The Weather Composer by James Mahu in the Sumbola Bookstore- keep your eyes peeled for more!

Do you have a favourite cli-fi novel?  Add it to the comments below, or email us at Social@Sumbola.com