MediaFile

By Nook or by crook

Barnes & Noble, the venerable book merchant whose history spans three centuries, is in the midst of a strategic identity crisis: how to admit defeat on its Nook platform while turning its last-bookstore-standing status into a de facto monopoly. Barnes & Noble did not spark the e-book revolution – now accounting for 22 percent of all book sales – nor has it proven particularly good at evolving it. So now it’s back to basics, which is to say, back to books.

The precise fiscal health of the company’s Nook Division ‑ e-readers and e-books ‑ is not public knowledge. But the company’s most recent results revealed that its total losses had increased from the previous year. This, as you might surmise, is not the desired trajectory for a business unit that Microsoft asserted was worth $1.7 billion a mere 10 months ago (when Microsoft invested $300 million for a 17.6 percent stake). Only three months ago, Pearson reaffirmed that estimate when it took a 5 percent stake for $89.5 million.

Now the New York Times reports that a person familiar with the company’s strategy says disappointing holiday sales in particular “caused executives to realize the company must move away from its program to engineer and build its own devices and focus more on licensing its content to other device makers.”

In other words, not quite four years after it released its first Nook e-reader, B&N is prepared to close the books on hardware.

To wit: The company’s chairman, Leonard S. Riggio, is bidding to buy all 689 Barnes & Noble bookstores, effectively separating the fate of old media from that of the e-book division, which was predicated on the ill-fated strategy of pushing e-reading devices as well as reading material.

Inkling takes aim at Amazon

Inkling, the three-year-old start-up that transforms bulky textbooks into an interactive experience for the iPad and other tablet devices, launched on Tuesday an ambitious new publishing and search platform aimed for non-fiction content such as books on wine and cooking or ones that covers topics like pregnancy.

Inkling is taking on the big cheeses of distribution by making  content produced on the Inkling platform easier to search through Google. So the titles or chapters or just a page of a relevant book will pop up when someone is seeking a specific topic.

“The problem is people don’t start to search on Amazon,” said Matt MacInnis, founder and CEO of Inkling.  “They start on Google and end up on Amazon.”

Penguin wades into self-publishing

Penguin Group launched a set of tools for writers who want to self-publish their books in print and digital form, making it the first of the six largest publishing houses in the United States to roll out such an offering.

The Pearson-owned publisher introduced the self-publishing suite through its website Book Country, a site for genre fiction authors who specialize in romance, science fiction, mystery and thrillers and are looking for feedback from other writers.

Writers can choose among three different packages to publish their works: e-book form only, user formatted e-books and print books, or professionally formatted e-books and print books. Prices range from $149 $99 to $549.*

How Bobby Kotick ended up alongside Brad Pitt in “Moneyball”

 

How did Bobby Kotick, the CEO of the largest video game company in the United States, end up with a speaking role alongside Brad Pitt in the upcoming movie Moneyball?

In the baseball-meets-math flick based on the bestseller by Michael Lewis, Kotick plays a convincing owner of the Oakland Athletics, at least for the three seconds he is seen in the trailer (see clip above starting at 17 seconds).

When Brad Pitt, playing general manager Billy Beane, comes into his office asking him for a bigger budget to buy players, Kotick says, “we’re not in New York. Find players with the money we do have.”

from Summit Notebook:

All I want for Christmas is a blockbuster

What's a great holiday gift in a recession, yes a good old fashioned book. Random House just got its new Dan Brown bestseller on the shelves.

Pearson's Chief Financial Officer admitted that its consumer publisher Penguin does not have a blockbuster for the holiday season but -- in a rare glimpse of corporate honesty -- said it sure would like to have one.

" I think we've got some good books for Christmas," Pearson's Robin Freestone said at the Reuters Media Summit on the upcoming holiday shopping season.

The end of the story…

……is the cash cow for Chinese company Shanda Literature Ltd, a
subsidiary of Shanda Interactive Entertainment.

The company’s business model is simple: read the first half
of a book online for free, and if you want to know the rest
(which usually is the case if you have read that far) you need
to pay for it. Revenues are split with the stories’ authors.

In China, this proves to be successful. According to Shanda
Literature CEO Hou Xiaoqing, the company now has cash reserves
of $1.8 billion, with 800,000 authors creating up to 80,000 new
pages of content per day, he said at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Barnes & Noble plans big (e-reader?) event

Brace yourself for the next salvo in the battle of the ebook readers (or electronic reading devices, or e-reader, or whatever you want to call them).

Barnes & Noble is planning a “major event” next Tuesday in New York to announce a mystery… something.

The bookseller won’t say exactly what it will announce, but we’d be surprised if its NOT a digital book reader, to compete with Amazon’s Kindle and Sony’s Reader series.

Judge will get proposal to rid world of physical books

Here’s an idea: Everyone, or at least whoever wants to, gives up their books. The books are taken to a warehouse and stored there. In return the the book owner gets access to scanned copies on Google.

A federal judge has given permission for The Media Exchange Company, Inc. to put that proposal forward, as part of a settlement in Google’s deal with publishers to make millions of books available online.

The Media Exchange Company, represented by the St. Louis, Missouri, law firm of Riezman Berger, says it is putting forward the idea on behalf of book owners.

Tuesday media highlights

Here are some of the day’s stories about the media industry:

Amazon Patents Detail Kindle Advertising Model (Mediapost)
Laurie Sullivan writes: “The patents clearly note that Amazon would insert advertisements throughout the ebooks, from the beginning to the end, between chapters or following every 10 pages, as well as in the margins.”

> In-Book Ads Coming to the Amazon Kindle? (Fast Company)
> 6 Reasons Why Ads On The Kindle Don’t Work (Business Insider)

Deadline for Globe bids postponed (Boston Globe)
“The New York Times Co. has postponed tomorrow’s deadline for prospective buyers of The Boston Globe to submit preliminary bids for the newspaper, people briefed on the sales process said. No new date has been set for the bids,” writes Robert Weisman.

Hands-on with Amazon’s Kindle 2.0

Online retailer Amazon.com unveiled a slimmer version of its Kindle digital book reader on Monday, with more storage and faster page turns.

Reuters’ Franklin Paul had a chance to see the new unit in action, as Laura Porco, Director, Kindle Books, demos its text-to-speech and buy on the fly features.