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I'm Drew Breunig and I obsess about technology, media, language, and culture. I live in New York, studied anthropology, and work at PlaceIQ.

Posts tagged literature
Too bad about Frank, isn’t it?

The first thing HAL 9000 says after he kills an astronaut by crashing a shuttle into him.

2001 is very visionary in all aspects except the characters and sociocultural elements. On the moon there are still ‘girls’ typing up all the male scientists’ communication. Everyone reads late 50s British.

But this works so well for the HAL, who comes across as a panicky, clumsy computer who’s not quite sure if anyone suspects his transgressions.

Canadian bookselling chain Indigo Books & Music is joining Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million in their refusal to carry any Amazon Publishing titles in their stores.

“In our view Amazon’s actions are not in the long-term interests of the reading public or the publishing and book retailing industry, globally,” says Indigo VP Janet Eger. So refusing to stock titles due to business conflicts helps readers?

Protectionism is the last gasp of the obsolete. (Via paidContent)

The NY Times picked the most Lex Luther-ish image they could find of Bezos for their feature on Barnes & Noble.

I strongly suggest reading this piece. The tale of Barnes & Noble’s push to position themselves as a technology company is fascinating (in a tilting-at-windmills sort of way). The finale of the piece reveals how frail the state of the major publishing industry, with companies staking their future on the success of large brick and mortar bookstores and upward trending print and eReader sales.

[Barnes & Noble] have figured out how to use the store to sell e-books. Now, hopefully, we can figure out how to make that go full circle and see how the e-books can sell the print books.

Carolyn Reidy, president and chief executive of Simon & Shuster.

This is the delusional logic entrenched publishers are betting on: a magical future will appear where iPods will drive people to buy CD players, smartphones will sell Franklin day planners, Nooks will help sales of paper, and everything will be fine.

The publishing industry, as we know it, is doomed.

(Via NYTimes.com)

The most telling thing about the NYT’s digital subscription plans is that you can save money on all-access plan (web, phone app, iPad app) by getting a new home delivery subscription for the weekday or Sunday editions.

John Gruber

Despite charging for bits, the NYT’s business model has been and continues to be charging premium prices for paper. Sure, they hire content creators to doll it up a bit. But when you look at the books, they make their money by efficiently selling cheap paper for high prices at a monumental scale and by selling space on that paper.

According to last year’s annual report the majority of their revenue is paper-based. 41% of the NYT’s annual revenues come from circulation. 52% come from advertising, the majority of which is print. Transitioning customers to digital only not only threatens circulation revenue but converts premium print ad space to commodity digital banners.

This problematic business model isn’t limited to the New York Times, or newspapers in general. Just two weeks ago I heard a publishing executive describe eBooks as ‘loss leaders.’ Just like the Times, this publishing house can’t kick their addiction to a business model comprised of selling stacks of paper for $26 that cost $7.15 to produce. (That $7.15 includes the costs of having to buy back unsold copies from booksellers.)

When you look at the numbers, the big publishing companies have their costs and revenues wrapped up in operations that are rapidly becoming obsolete. They are not companies that base their business on the creation and monetization of content regardless of medium (Disney, MLB, …). Their main business isn’t selling news, literature, or any sort of content. Their main business is selling paper.

Anyone care to disrupt?

This publishing template will create a familiar consistent user interface. It also will facilitate in-app purchases for subscriptions and back issues. Another benefit Apple anticipates is that there will be a plethora of new magazines on the iPad. They believe that anyone will be able to create a magazine relatively easily and have it published by Apple and sold through iTunes.

Gadget Daily News on a rumored magazine template in Xcode.

Great news, if it’s true. Consistent interfaces mean each title doesn’t have a learning curve and magazines get to spend more time on content, less time on dev. Plus, it could signal a revival of indie, homemade zines. (Get your Xerox filters ready…)