Before anyone gets on me because I promised the post on copyright and haven’t done it yet, I will. I promise. But it has exploded in the amount of research and issues posed. So I want to make sure I’m not shorting it any. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get to it by next week. In the meantime, I’ve been busy fighting the publishing battles on various fronts. I don’t know if it is the season or the knee-jerk reaction many of the outlets are still having over the “is it porn or not” issue, but some of NRP’s titles have been slowed to a near stop in the review process while others I’ve tried to take down off some sites so they can go exclusive for a limited period on others are slow to come down. I am really ready for this year to be over. Maybe 2014 will bring a return to normalcy.
Since this is a holiday week, and that means most publishers are closed so there isn’t much news going on in the industry, this will be sort of a scattered post. Let’s start with this article from Publishers Weekly about the espresso machines in bookstores. No, I don’t mean those nice coffee machines with their overpriced coffee. These are the print-on-demand machines that were supposed to help rejuvenate the indie bookstores and help publishers and authors alike. The machines are expensive and some publishers have been reluctant to release titles for use with these machines. That limits their worth to the bookstores. So does the fact that bookstores have to worry about maintaining the machines.
According to the article, it seems that only deep backlists have been released by publishers, on the whole, for use with the POD machines. I’d like to say this surprises me but it doesn’t. Look at how slow publishers were to embrace e-books — I know, they really haven’t embraced e-books yet. Instead, they view e-books as a necessary evil. The espresso machines represent a potential new step in technology and distribution and the bean counters and suits just don’t like change. Besides, if they did embrace the espresso machine method of getting books into the hands of readers, it would add another layer of accountability, one that didn’t fit into the current BookScan program. Then there is the contractual obligations the publishers have to their distributors who, believe me, do not want the POD program to succeed on a large scale.
So, instead of making it easier to put books into the hands of readers, a potential change in the way publishing and bookselling continues at a snail’s pace. Will it take off? Not until the machines become even cheaper than the $85,000 they currently cost and not until more titles are made available. In other words, I’m not holding my breath.
On the bookstore front, Barnes & Noble posted better earnings this past quarter. Now, before you jump on the bandwagon and start celebrating, the earnings came despite an 8% drop in sales. More telling is the fact that sales from the Nook side of the business dropped 32.2%. According to Publisher’s Weekly, this drop was caused by a decrease in digital sales as well as a decrease in prices for e-books. There was also a decrease in the number of Nook units sold.
So how did B&N post better earnings? That’s pretty simple. They’ve closed stores, cutting their overhead. Fewer stores means fewer sales. As for the decrease in digital sales, well, it is yet another indication that B&N entered the digital market too late. That’s especially true with getting an e-reader on the market. Amazon continues to dominate there and will, at least for the immediate future.
Finally, in the “what were they thinking” department — not to mention the “they’d never believe it if I put it in a book” department — here’s a story about some ghost hunters. Our intrepid characters — I can’t call them heroes — made their way from Texas to Louisiana to check out reports of supernatural activity at LeBeau Plantation in St. Bernard Parish. Like any good, self-respecting ghost hunter (yes, the sarcasm meter is running high here), these guys started their adventure by trespassing. Then they started looking for ghosts. To assist them in their endeavors, they are alleged to have smoked themselves some pot, had themselves some booze and still there was nary a ghost to be found. Upset because the ghosts wouldn’t come out to play, the ghost hunters allegedly torched the plantation and now find themselves facing charges for arson and more.
I have to admit, my first reaction when I read about what happened was to be surprised they hadn’t seen ghosts and more simply because of the pot and booze and who knows what else. Then I found myself laughing about how the fine and proper Louisiana ghosts would never have come out to party with these interlopers. And, yes, I have a story forming in the back of my mind based loosely on these events.
Which has me wondering if any of you have come across one of those stories that you know your readers would never buy and yet there it is in black and white in the paper or on the news? If you have, what’s it been and have you used it for inspiration?