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Book and Reading News

Teens not aliens, actually like the rest of us when using media

TeenReadingMediaweek reports that The Nielsen Company today presented a new research survey, “How Teens Use Media,” (registration required) that contradicts the widely held idea that they use media in strikingly different ways than adults. In fact, it turns out that teens watch less video on the Internet (3 hours/mo.) than young adults (5.47 hours/mo.) or their parents (3.5 hours/mo. for adults 35-44).

After television, which dominates teen media use at three hours and 20 minutes a day, PC use (52 minutes/day) and Internet (23 minutes/day—less than half the average Net user across all age groups). In sharp contrast to the myth of the multi-tasking, many-screens teen communicating and consuming simultaneously, Nielsen found that “while teens do multi-task in their media experience, their concurrent behavior may actually be lower than it is among adults. The myth that concurrent exposure is the norm, for teens in particular, sets and important framework as we explore the breadth of teen media experience.”

Encouraging for reading, but still bad news for newspapers: One in four teens reads a newspaper, lower than the national average by four percent.

Really bad news for reading: There is no mention of books or e-books in the report. None. Either Nielsen doesn’t consider books a media sector or there is a glaring gap in this very comprehensive review of teen media use.

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Author & Publisher Strategies Book and Reading News

Ouch! Elsevier admits payola for positive reviews

InsideHigherEd.com has caught Elsevier’s textbook marketers in a payola scheme, which the company admits and has said violated its own rules, encouraging contributors to post positive reviews at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. In an email, the company offered $25 gift cards from Amazon in exchange for positive reviews.

The company’s director of corporate relations issued a statement:

“Encouraging interested parties to post book reviews isn’t outside the norm in scholarly publishing, nor is it wrong to offer to nominally compensate people for their time, some of these books are quite large. But in all instances the request should be unbiased, with no incentives for a positive review, and that’s where this particular e-mail went too far.”

So, Elsevier just put a toe over the line…. Right. With new restrictions on blogger payola coming from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, these “little slip-ups” could cost a company dearly. Don’t pay for reviews and make sure all forms of compensation are disclosed, including free books.

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Author & Publisher Strategies

Authors Guild starts full-court press for Google agreement

Roy Blout Jr., president of the Authors Guild, has published a plea for support of the Google Books agreement he helped negotiate, arguing that the deal is being held up over fears about a “‘Monopoly’ of Orphans.” He argues that Google’s monopoly on scanned out-of-print books would be only over those books for which the rightsholder cannot be found, and points to the success of the Authors Registry, a non-profit the manages overseas photocopying rights, in finding 80 percent of rightsholders they seek. He signs it, in his signature Blountian way: “Unmonopolistically yours.”

I have problems with the settlement, because it sets a standard in revenue sharing for all books that will eventually be scanned and sold through Google Books that may shave away more of the tiny sliver of revenue currently going to authors when applied to copyrighted works. The math always works against an author, so this agreement should be combined with a move by the Authors Guild to separate e-book and online rights from paper publishing rights systematically, so that authors receive a higher share of online revenue because publishers have substantially lowered cost and risks when taking an author’s work to digital formats.

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Author & Publisher Strategies

A primer on configuring a blog for Kindle distribution

pskl.us has a tutorial on configuring blog publishing on the Kindle. Covers all the steps, but doesn’t mention the need to remove all advertising and commercial links from the content (because pskl.us has none, he didn’t run into it). The terms and conditions of the Amazon Kindle Publishing for Blogs requires it:

You will deliver a full text, well formed XML feed of each publication from which you have removed all advertisements and other materials that are primarily intended to advertise or promote products or services and from which you have removed all video and / or user-generated links (e.g., Reddit, DIGG, and Technorati).

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Book and Reading News

You can drop a Kindle DX, but don’t forget the extended warranty

KindleDXDropBlogKindle points to this Amazon video of a Kindle DX drop test, estimating the Kindle DX was dropped from 30″ onto what appears to be a linoleum floor (it’s shiny). I can’t help thinking that one would still need the extended warranty, which offers one-time coverage of “accidental drops and damage.”

Categories
The Reading World

TV’s changing, with good news for books

Katherine Rushton of TheBookseller.com has an interesting piece on the impact of the BBC’s increasing focus on dramatizing novels.

The television business worldwide is changing, because the criteria for a “hit” program is no longer necessarily founded on the success of the first 13-weeks of a program’s life, after which the producers see how long they can carry the show. Instead, complete story arcs are being pitched and sold to studios and distributors who will make money from advertising on the networks, fees from downloaded episodes and boxed sets of seasons or the whole show. ABC’s “Lost” and “Life on Mars,” which was an adaption of a BBC minseries, and SciFi’s “Battlestar Galactica” are exemplars of this new kind of programming.

These shows also lend themselves to book adaptations and tie-ins. Rushton suggest that books will be turned into programming more often, and that is true. But programs can also be turned into books, as the “Star Trek” series, X-Files and so forth have spawned large and small publishing franchises.

The era of the story arc in television will be a boon to publishing.

Categories
The Reading World

Wiley’s constant controlled experimentation

Mike Shatzkin writes about family-controlled publishing companies which he describes as “well managed and bascially competent,” because they focus on longer term goals. Peter Wiley’s comment about why the company’s travel sites have done well should be stapled to the foreheads of publishers considering how to do well with e-books:

“Constant, controlled experimentation,” he said. “What worked for us was on the third try. We didn’t get it right the first two times.”

That same Rule of the Third Try has characterized the technology industry, as well. Microsoft, for example, famously did not succeed with Windows until Version 3.1. Lots of rough but rewarding road is ahead.

Shatzkin’ piece is well worth your time.

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Book and Reading News

Kindle DX sold out, again

As reported earlier, Amazon’s Kindle DX has been selling well. Previously, new units were listed as available today, but now the Amazon site says it will be four to six weeks before Kindle DX are in stock.

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Book and Reading News

David Faber of the real work in journalism

GalleyCat has a short interview with CNBC’s David Faber, one of the handful of television reporters who did a good job on the financial meltdown. He has a new book out, “And Then The Roof Caved In” (Kindle edition), about the financial crisis. He talks about starting out doing journalism on a typewriter, which I appreciate, and has this to say about doing the footwork before reporting: “I think there is a tremendous pressure to be fast. Better to not be first and be right, than to be first and wrong.”

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Book and Reading News

Audiobook sales statistics for 2008

The Audio Publishers Association announced its 2008 sales figures, which fell 6.7 percent to $331 million, according to Publishers Weekly. The decline is due to the falling sales of CD audiobooks, which are more expensive on a per-title basis than downloadable books. CD sales were down to $238 million to 72 percent of the market, compared to 78 percent in 2007.

I’ve updated the BooksAhead audiobook statistics pages to reflect this data.