Microsoft closed down its Live Search Books project last week, leaving Ingram Digital and its POD unit Lightning Source in the middle of building a gigantic facility to house scanning and digitization. Frank Daniels, COO of Ingram Digital, said , "We'll continue to use the facility. Most of the publishers who started with Live Search will continue with us in Ingram's Search and Discover program. Search and Discover allows our retail partners to offer the same book browsing and buying experience offered to shoppers on sites like Amazon.com. S&D allows even small retailers to compete with sites like Amazon and helps our publishers sell their content."
The BEA is in progress in LA—a big site with lots of updating information—and one of the events was an interview by Wired contributing editor and author of Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business, Jeff Howe of Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organization.
Shirky commented that "... Clancy and Grisham have all but subscription models today" and that "... one-off transactions are incredibly expensive and they lock the reader out of any kind of conversation." He concluded with "the publisher has to be on the side of the reader."
But none of this is new. There have always been authors whose new books readers buy nearly automatically, and the publisher should certainly be on the side of the reader. The reader is the customer. As always, there remains the hurdle of getting the reader to buy a new author's work.
Publishing houses may never die, they only get bought, usually by Bertelsmann, but their lists of authors need to be augmented every so often.
Also, contrast this with Bowker's report that, while standard publishing remained flat last year, there was a five-fold increase in the number of titles from single authors, micro and small press, mostly using POD technology.
Random House and Zogby International did a poll released for the BEA, and found that, of the select population Zogby polled, those who read most are reading more, those who read least are reading less, almost evrybody prefers real books to devices. Lots of interesting information, most of it not too surprising, although I would have guessed that e-books would be faring better than they are.
Borders, which has been steadily losing ground over the last several quarters, is finally rolling out a long-planned upgrade to its shopping experience, with kiosks in stores and an online website designed to mimic the browsing experience in a store. Here's their own take on it all:
The site is not quite as amazing as the publicity release implies: Barnes and Noble has had something similar for some time and has been said to be interested in purchasing Borders. There's a lot riding on this rollout and on the roll of the dice.
It's been in beta for a while, but Borders, which has been marketing through Amazon, now has its own website, complete with a magic bookshelf and video clips. They're expecting a soft quarter, following the reports from B&N and other major sellers, but they are finally positioned to cater to a growing segment of shoppers.
The principal critic for The Observer, Robert McCrumb, is retiring and has done a review of the enormous changes in the industry in the last ten years that is well worth reading even if you think you know all about it. He begins with Zadie Smith and ends with—Kindle.
In the beginning, the idea was to start a series of films starring David Niven as gentleman thief, but Peter Sellers as totally incompetent Detective Couseau stole the show, and the animated main title character, the Pink Panther walked out of the trailer and opening sequence and into an extended series of his own.
First, the teaser:
Then, the first cartoon of the series:
The character has been streamlined and become a silent comedian: there is almost no speech in the cartoons, except in foreign-released versions when a voice-over is used to read English, like signs and names.