Monday, June 27, 2011

Around the Word

We start the week off with several new turns in the publishing e-volution. . .

Politico goes publisher: In another sign of the book market's democratizing times, Politico announced today that it is getting in on the digital publishing game. The influential political news site is teaming up with Random House to produce a series of e-books about the 2012 election. It's a chance for journalists Mike Allen, of Politico, and Evan Thomas, of Newsweek, to stretch their long-form muscles and for digital readers to get a look behind the scenes of the 2012 race -- the books aim to provide "details and analysis beyond the day-to-day headlines." Politico will also launch an online bookstore, with links to other titles that relate to the news of the day. Think we can expect other news brands to follow suit?

BOGO books: Publishers are doing everything they can these days to get customers to set foot into brick-and-mortar bookstores, including bundling print books with digital copies. One publisher, Algonquin, has launched the most recent in a series of digital-print packages: buy a paperback book at Barnes & Noble and get a discounted e-book. As the New York Times reports, publishers are trying to innovate the way they sell books in order to get people to buy hard copies. We want to know: Do you find a digital discount enticing enough to purchase a print book? 

In defense of analog: As e-readers get snazzier and tech-ier -- with links, hastags, photos and videos -- it's easy to see complete interactivity as the ultimate in publishing. But looking at the other side of the equation, the Independent's Johann Hari makes the opposite argument: the physical book has to be boring so that the words can stand out. "If you read a book with your laptop thrumming on the other side of the room," Hari writes over the weekend, "it can be like trying to read in the middle of a party, where everyone is shouting to each other." Without separating yourself from the digital, it is too difficult to achieve the concentration necessary for reading a book. How do you stay focused when reading on an e-reader, smartphone or tablet? 

Judging an e-book by its cover: Though self-publishing is on the rise and getting more credible by the day, Futurebook pointed to a cautionary tale about the DIY trend. In March, a British literary agent circumvented her publisher and published the books she represented directly to the web. Now these books have hit the Kindle store, and the covers looked beyond amaterurish -- like "ten-year-old-with-a-copy-of-Microsoft-paint bad." The moral of this story: when weighing the pros and cons of self-publishing, Futurebook's Simon Appleby advises, make sure you take design into account. When your artistic skills are limited, sometimes you really need a professional on your side.

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