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October 2011

Alternative literature

Web comic artist, Randall Munroe has a great cartoon up today. Of course, the cartoon isn’t about books, it’s about provenance, marketing and how we interpret things based on where they come from. And it’s about the ethics of selling something that pretends to do something it isn’t. (Hint: check the title of the post). [...]

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The illusion of patronage

Many successful, serious authors are in love with the notion that they get to be serious and successful merely by writing. There was a brief interlude, perhaps 50 years in all post-Gutenberg, in which it was possible for a talented writer to be chosen, anointed, edited, promoted and paid for her work. Where the ‘work’ [...]

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Paying for first

Here’s a bit of speculation: Soon, there will be three kinds of books on the Kindle. $1.99 ebooks. This is the clearing price for virtually all ebooks going forward. $5 ebooks. This is the price for bestsellers, hot titles and books you have no choice but to buy because they were assigned in school. $10 [...]

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The one page book

Domino is publishing Death and Taxes today. Up until now, there hasn’t been an effective distribution method for posters like this. A store needs to keep them in a tube, and without being able to stare at it, it’s hard to tell you want one. The notion that a book can hang on the wall, [...]

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What talent wants

There are countless new publishers being created. Online podcasts, talk shows, ebook publishers, new kinds of film studios and record labels–all of them need talent. Here’s a four word acronym of what talent wants (along with two things it no longer needs) MONEY: This is the easiest one, because it’s simple to measure. When in [...]

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Sales per book

This is the dark secret of the book industry, and one of the new truths of the music business. Every year, total book sales have been relatively flat, growing just a bit. But, the price of books has been rising, so that means that unit sales, the number of books sold, is flatter still. Missing [...]

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Part of the pack

Non-fiction authors and journalists often travel in packs. An idea comes up, it feels safe, editors assign it, publishers acquire it and the pack heads in. You’ve seen the scrum of 30 or 40 photographers in front of a house, all taking the same picture. You’ve probably read more trivializing and insensitive Steve Jobs stories [...]

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In pursuit of strangers

You can see the marketing problem of every business just by glancing at the plight of the typical author. Once a year, once every other year, he has to come out of his university office/hovel/apartment/rural enclave and go on the road. He has to do Leonard Lopate and the Today show, a spate of blogs, [...]

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