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Not Sure What to Read Next? Goodreads Wants to Help

Goodreads4The Goodreads app, a sort of book club for the mobile set, is now delivering personalized book recommendations.

The app, and website, allows individuals to compile lists of books they want to read, are reading, and have read, and to share it with friends and peek at their friends’ reading lists. The iOS update released Wednesday night will now serve up a clever carousel of book recommendations based on your past book ratings and favorite genres. Newcomers to the app will need to rate at least 20 books before seeing recommendations. Read more

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Lulu Announces a One-Click Publishing App

The self-pub service Lulu got ahead of the pack this week when they announced their new publishing options available via Google Drive.

The Lulu One-Click Publishing App is a Chrome applet that, when tied into your Google Drive and Lulu accounts, lets authors and publishers collaborate on documents in Google Drive and then submit the documents to Lulu for sale and distribution. The app supports multiple file formats including PDF, DOC, DOCX, and TXT and can accept multiple files simultaneously from multiple creators, thus enabling large scale collaborations.

While this app might not have the sophistication of Inkling Habitat, the heavily hyped textbook creation tool, it does offer integration with a tool that many people already use.  What’ more, adding new contributors to projects is probably going to be really easy, given that nearly everyone has a Google account now.

Chrome Store

Publishers Respond To DOJ Lawsuit

HarperCollins and Hachette have settled with the Department of Justice rather than face a lawsuit over the agency model for eBook pricing. Simon & Schuster is expected to settle, as well. Macmillian, on the other hand, has decided to fight the DOJ in court.

Hachette said today that the company has “reluctantly agreed to join the settlement of this matter.” Here is an excerpt from the HGB letter on the subject: “Hachette was not involved in a conspiracy to illegally fix the price of eBooks, and we have made no admission of liability.  Hachette’s unilateral adoption of agency was designed to facilitate entry by a new retail competitor and to increase the diversity and health of retail booksellers, and we took these actions knowing that Hachette itself would make less money than before the adoption of agency.  Although we remain confident that we did not violate the antitrust laws, we faced the prospect of lengthy and costly litigation with government plaintiffs with virtually unlimited resources.” Read more

Wiley to Sell Off CliffNotes, Other Assets

John Wiley & Sons, a publisher known for its technical and academic imprints, announced Wednesday that it’s putting a number of its print and digital publishing assets up for sale. They’re spread across a number of topic areas, including Webster’s New World, CliffsNotes, as well as publishing imprints for fields as diverse as culinary, general interest, nautical, pets, and crafts.

The assets up for sale earned around $85 million last fiscal year, and are being sold only after a reevaluation of the company’s Professional/Trade business portfolio. “We plan to drive long-term growth, accelerate our digital transformation, and optimize our return on investment by investing in content and services that provide our customers in research, learning and professional practice with knowledge resources that help them to realize their professional and personal goals,” said Stephen M. Smith, Wiley’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

Wiley won’t be selling assets from its other business units (Scientific, Technical, Medical, and Scholarly and Global Education) at this time.

Penguin eBook Sales Doubled In 2011

Publishing company Penguin released its 2011 earnings today, reporting that the sales reached almost $1.7 million, up 1%  from 2010.  In addition, the publisher reported that profits were up 8% from the previous year, reaching $179 million.

According to Penguin, eBook revenues doubled in the U.S. in 2011 with titles like The Help increasing its eBook sales by 5x from 2010 to 2011. In addition, last year Penguin authors Nora Roberts and Charlaine Harris each sold more than a million eBooks. The press release has more: “Our eBooks sold well across a wide range of genres and subjects, from romance and thrillers to literary fiction and serious nonfiction. The reach of eBooks has expanded; we recently sold our first eBook in Antarctica.”

Penguin Group (USA) CEO David Shanks stated: “Our eBook sales doubled, we expanded our digital publishing programs, and we won a Pulitzer Prize for the second year in a row. We had more bestsellers than we’ve ever had in a single year.”

eBook Sales Up 130% At Hachette

Digital growth at the Hachette Book Group’s net sales from digital products which include eBooks and audiobooks increased 130% in 2011. These digital products represented 22% of the company’s overall revenue in 2011, compared with 8% in 2010. The publisher also reported today that it had 62 titles hit the New York Times eBook bestseller chart in 2011.

Lagardère SCA, Hachette’s parent company released these figures today along with its 2011 full year revenue report. While Lagardère’s net sales for 2011 were €7,657m, a 3.9% drop on a reported basis from 2010, digital books did well across the group.

At Hachette Livre, fourth quarter eBook sales accounted for 20% of adult trade sales in the U.S. and 10% in the U.K.  In 2011 eBooks accounted for 6% of Lagardère Publishing’s total net sales.

Bloomsbury eBook Sales Up 38% In Q411

Bloomsbury had a record holiday season for eBook sales. The company reported this week that its eBook sales grew 38% in the fourth quarter of 2011 over sales during the same period last year.

The company attributed the sales to the growth of eReaders in the UK. The press release has more: “YouGov reported that over 1.3 million ebook readers were sold in the UK over the Christmas period.”

Chief executive Nigel Newton, stated: “We have a robust business, strongly adapted to the digital market place, that we have positioned to take full advantage of the continuing opportunities arising from growth of online sales and sales of ebooks.”

The publisher’s bestsellers during the period include: River Cottage Veg Everyday! by Hugh Fearnley-WhittingstallHeston at Home by Heston Blumenthal; Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman; as well as the Harry Potter box sets.

J.A. Konrath Versus Hachette

Earlier this week, publishing house Hachette leaked an internal document to Digital Book World that explains why publishers are relevant.

The document calls self-publishing a “misnomer” and defends the role of the publisher. Here is an excerpt from Digital Book World: “Publishing requires a complex series of engagements, both behind the scenes and public facing. Digital distribution (which is what most people mean when they say self-publishing) is just one of the components of bringing a book to market and helping the public take notice of it.” The document goes on to outline the work that publishers do including curating, brand building, selling and distributing books.

Author J.A. Konrath, a self-published author who has sold more than a million eBooks through the Kindle book store alone, responded to this post telling publishers to get their act together. In an email sent to Digital Book World, he wrote: “Publishers should stop trying to convince themselves and others that they’re relevant, and start actually being relevant. Here’s how: 1. Offer much better royalties to authors. 2. Release titles faster. It can take 18 months after a book is turned in to be published. I can do it myself in a week.” Follow this link to see his entire email.


Will Fancy Covers Save Print Books?

To help offset some of the money lost on MP3 file sharing and illegal downloading, many smart bands and record labels create special edition CDs and vinyl records for albums that are also released digitally.

The idea is to create a product that is beautifully designed that fans will want to own. Often, these extensive boxsets and heavy vinyl packages, come with a code to download the album for free for those who purchase it. Let’s face it, even those people who will shell out more money to buy a 180 gram vinyl version of an album, are probably going to actually be listening to MP3s more often.

The New York Times is reporting that this trend is beginning to happen in book publishing, citing examples of books with elaborate print packages from Jay-Z, Haruki Murakami and Stephen King. The Times reports: “The eagerly anticipated 925-page novel by Haruki Murakami, ’1Q84,’ arrived in bookstores in October wrapped in a translucent jacket with the arresting gaze of a young woman peering through.”

Read more

Hachette eBook Sales Up 134%

Lagardère SCA, the company that owns the Hachette Book Group, announced its third quarter revenues today, and reported that its digital book business continues to grow.

According to the company, eBooks now represent 21% of HBG’s net sales, which is up from 9% of net sales for Q3 2010. This is a 134% growth over total eBook sales in 2010.Bestsellers helped contribute to these sales as Hachette on the New York Times’ new eBook bestseller list.

According to the press release, eBook sales helped the company, since net sales in English-speaking countries during the quarter. Net sales fell 8% in the US and 10% in the UK which the company attributed to the impact of lower margins from eBooks and retail bankruptcies such as Borders going out of business.