Books are Back: Romanticism Lives!

by Cynthia W. Moore

I Love Books

Photo from: https://brewingthoughts.quora.com/E-Books-vs-Printed-Books-The-Dilemma

Digital Book World published an article on their blog entitled “Who Cares How You Read? Just Read.”  Writer Laura Brady wrote that “There has been a lot of press lately about data that looks like it’s pointing to declining book sales and surging print sales.”  Well, if third quarter data counts as data, she is, indeed, correct.  Publisher’s Weekly recently posted that third quarter eBook sales were “down” at HarperCollins and “weak” at Penguin Random House.  Is the ever-climbing eBook sales graph line headed to the long tail?  Perish the thought!

The digital publishing industry is just hitting puberty and suitors of all kinds are lining up at the door.  Brady writes that, although she is now an eBook developer, she “loves books [and] started working in publishing because of a romantic idea of what books and the people who publish them are all about.”  She even admits that she doesn’t “apply the same romanticism to the business she works in now.”  Ah, there’s the rub.  People really do have an attachment to their books.  Reading books digitally is utilitarian.  You can’t really cuddle up to an e-reader, but you can get your work done.

Even playground bully Amazon has weighed in on the disruptive mess it has created by changing its status to brick-and-mortar bookstore owner as well.  Many “Like” the move and the comments are overwhelmingly favorable.

Laura Brady, though, is really addressing publishers and doing some much-needed PR for eBooks:

“I think there are certainly a lot of misconceptions about ebooks—that they can’t be nicely-designed, that they are worth less than print, that reading them is a “less-than” experience. None of these things are true. But they will become a self-fulfilling prophecy if publishers believe them and put little to no energy or creative attention into their digital publishing programs. Just like mass market paperbacks upended a staid publishing culture in the ‘30s, ebooks aren’t going anywhere and need to be a critical part of the publishing planning process.”

Brady goes on to say that “Some of us are working constantly to make future-proof ebooks that are nice to look at and easy to consume despite the confusing proliferation of specs and devices.”  Apparently it is up to publishers to save eBooks’ fourth quarter sales and thereby the industry overall.  Sometimes, though, I like rooting for the underdog and unlike Brady, I do “get jazzed by the smell of paper” in a newly purchased book.

Sources:

http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2015/who-cares-how-you-read-just-read/

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/index.html

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/financial-reporting/article/68440-bestsellers-offset-weak-e-book-sales-at-penguin-random-house.html

http://publishingtrendsetter.com/industryinsight/long-tail-publishing/

http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/its-time-to-turn-your-back-on-amazon/Content?oid=19708679

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/11/03/454250311/amazon-opens-a-real-bookstore-in-seattle

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Cynthia Moore is a writer and former educator who joined the M.P.S. in Publishing program at The George Washington University to gain cutting edge industry know-how to launch her own publishing venture.

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Penguin Random House Announces New Library Marketing Initiatives

Source: http://goodereader.com/blog/digital-library-news/penguin-random-house-establish-unified-marketing-group-for-libraries

By Nicole Lamberson

Penguin Random House is working to strengthen its efforts with libraries in a series of moves this month aimed at increasing its already dominant presence.

Library Journal reported that Penguin Random House announced a new Adult Library Marketing Group, fusing Penguin and Random House’s operations. Though the two companies merged in July 2013, adult library marketing efforts have remained separate. President of Sales, Jaci Updike, wrote that by streamlining its marketing operations, Penguin Random House “will be ramping up our already extensive outreach efforts to libraries nationwide with our innovative marketing programs.” The new marketing group will ensure an integrated effort and that the process for libraries will be a smooth transition.

The article noted that libraries will likely see a “stepped-up energy,” and that both companies have had a history of commitment to libraries – Random House “has long been a model for trade publishers in library marketing,” and Penguin brings “far more [books] than its competitors” to the American Library Association’s annual conference.

News of its new marketing group is not the only library related news for Penguin Random House this month. The company announced a new partnership with BiblioCommons to expand its eBook offerings. BiblioCommons describes itself as “the only software vendor to focus exclusively on the online experience of public library patrons.” The agreement will make more than 38,000 titles available to BiblioCommons acquisitions platform. Vice President and Director of Library Marketing and Digital Sales, Sales Operations for Penguin Random House, Skip Dye, stated that working with BiblioCommons helps “public libraries play a new role in the discovery” of their titles and authors.

These steps show a concerted effort by Penguin Random House to continue strengthening its relationship with libraries. It also shows the importance libraries still play for publishers. It’s an essential market in increasing discovery and gaining new readers, and Penguin Random House is making sure to stay ahead of the pack.

Print Continues to Rule the World of Higher Education

By Kate Leboff

Half of Americans own an e-reading device, up from the 30% that owned one in 2013; in 2012, President Obama wanted to get e-textbooks into every classroom by 2017; and Florida lawmakers have mandated that public schools convert textbooks to digital versions. Despite the surge of technology, e-books, and “digital natives,” in recent years, evidence published in 2015 shows that, at the very least, the vast majority of students at colleges and universities around the world still prefer print to digital.

A slew of news reports have announced that after extensive studies and surveys of college students are in favor of reading their assigned readings – textbooks, journals, novels etc. – for courses in print versus on screen.  One survey of 500 active college students, taken by Direct Textbook, a comprehensive textbook price comparison service, found that 72% of students prefer print textbooks to e-books.  A study at the University of Washington found that a quarter of students still bought print versions of e-textbooks, even when those books were offered free of charge. I can sympathize. When purchasing the textbooks for the first two courses of the GW Publishing Program, I decided to purchase  the print version of the title, The Book: A Futurist’s Manifesto, despite it being offered online for free.

In January of this year, Naomi S. Baron published Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World, in which she discusses “how technology is reshaping our understanding of what it means to read. Digital reading is increasingly popular. Reading onscreen has many virtues… Yet, Baron argues, the virtues of eReading are matched with drawbacks.” – from the Oxford University Press.

In her book, Baron also completed a survey of more than 300 college students in the U.S., Japan, Germany, and Slovakia, finding a nearly university preference for the tangible textbook versus its digital version. A startling 92% of students said they concentrated and comprehended more when reading a hard copy versus on a cell phone, tablet, e-reader, or computer. However, it seems that the format and medium on which these college-age digital natives are reading for pleasure, “light reading,” does not matter as much. In children and adolescents, though, it seems that reading print versus digital books is on the rise as 65% of 6 to 17 year olds would prefer “real” books to e-books, an increase of almost 17% from 2012.

In 2014, 87% of textbook sales were print editions while only 9% of the market were comprised of e-book purchases. With the leftover 4% being made up of file sharing.

The biggest issues, as outlined by Baron in her book, are students getting distracted, finding themselves multitasking and taking breaks to surf the internet more often, and the eye strain, headaches, and physical discomfort that accompanies reading on screen for hours at a time. 90% found themselves multitasking when reading onscreen than those reading the hard copy versions.

Some other reasons that have been cited as to why students prefer print textbooks to e-books included: Print textbooks are easier to read, they like the physical effort of annotating what they are reading, some print textbooks are cheaper – buying used, e-books are difficult to navigate and bookmark, they do not require internet access, professors do not allow laptops or tablets in class, the availability of e-books can be limited, and students seem to often print out the pages of online and e-book readings anyways.

The students who like to read digitally versus having the tactile, physical experience referenced the fact that e-books are often cheaper, are lighter and searchable, are environmentally friendly, e-readers allow adjustable print size and brightness, text can be converted to audio, and these can often be used with apps.

In the end, it seems that, at least for now, print textbooks rule the world of higher education.

One student, Cooper Nordquist, a student studying political science at American University, commented that, “[he] couldn’t imagine reading Tocqueville, [the 900 plus-page, “Democracy in America”], or understanding him electronically. That would be just awful.”

Another commented that “You just get distracted. It’s like if I finish a paragraph, i’ll go on Tumblr, and then three hours later you’re still not done with reading.”

Sources: 

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/direct-textbook-72-of-college-students-prefer-print-over-ebooks-300135561.html

http://campustechnology.com/articles/2015/09/01/survey-most-students-prefer-traditional-texts-over-ebooks.aspx

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/why-digital-natives-prefer-reading-in-print-yes-you-read-that-right/2015/02/22/8596ca86-b871-11e4-9423-f3d0a1ec335c_story.html

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120765/naomi-barons-words-onscreen-fate-reading-digital-world

http://www.zmescience.com/research/technology/people-prefer-books-over-ebook-042432/

Paper vs eBook: What the Statistics are Saying

Paper Versus eBook: What the Statistics are Saying

     Book of the Future

       Ever since Kindles and iPads hit their high in 2010, talk of the death of paper books has increased exponentially. But is paper really on such a dramatic decline? The numbers for 2014 book sales indicate the opposite, and trends in 2015 largely say the same. Nielsen BookScan, a technology that tracks what readers buy, concluded that the amount of paper books sold in 2014 increased by 2.4% from the year before.

Supposedly paper books were done for in 2012, when sales “hit rock bottom,” but the recent spike in sales tells a story of a resilient and long-lasting format for readers. Several studies have been conducted on the productivity of eReaders, and most indicate that comprehension increases when one reads from a paper book. It is much easier to quickly scan over a page of an eBook, causing comprehension to “[take] longer and [require] more effort to reach the same level of understanding.”

True to their first love, bibliophiles everywhere advocate for paper books, adamantly proclaiming that nothing compares to the feel, heft, or smell of a book. In fact, for many people, “the physical act of opening a thick cover and listening to the whispered crackle of spine and page is part of the enjoyment.” It isn’t just the feel or the smell that entice paper-book-fans worldwide, though; actually owning a book, a physical, tangible copy, holds a kind of magic that a list on one’s Kindle inventory cannot. Recently, the Ryerson study found that more readers believed eBooks as more temporary than physical books, perhaps due to the fact that an author or publisher can remove an eBook from the web without warning.

However, eBooks and digital readers are not going extinct either. Rather, they seem to be forming a peaceful coexistence with paper books, one where readers can choose the method by which they receive content. Because of this, both readers that prefer paper books and readers that prefer digitized content have access to published works. It seems as though publishing is heading toward a “paper-and-pixel” future.