Morning Coffee – 30 November 2018

Morning Coffee - 30 November 2018 Morning Coffee

Here are a few stories to read this Friday morning.

You just finished reading Morning Coffee – 30 November 2018 which was published on The Digital Reader.

Drunk Take: Amazon Should Buy B&N

Drunk Take: Amazon Should Buy B&N Amazon Barnes & Noble

About five or six years ago there was a popular drunk take that Walmart should buy Barnes & Noble as a bulwark against Amazon.

I call it a drunk take because you would have to be drunk to think Walmart should buy a struggling company that was weak in two areas Amazon was strong (online sales and book sales) and expect Walmart could use the struggling company to compete against Amazon.

Now there’s a new drunk take on Barnes & Noble, one that makes as little sense as before.

It is now the consensus of the penny-a-pundit crowd that Amazon should buy Barnes & Noble.

None of the clickbait could offer a good reason why Amazon should buy B&N; the justifications included real estate, good will, Amazon could sell B&N’s existing stock through its website, and because Amazon has $20 billion in cash while B&N would only cost half a billion.

These pieces also neglected to even mention the antitrust complication, although the Seeking Alpha piece did remind us why B&N is in a precarious state:

I think Barnes & Noble will run out of cash this holiday season because it reported just $11.19 million in cash and equivalents on October 27, 2018.

If B&N has a bad holiday season, they will find borrowing more money next to impossible (who would want to throw good money after bad?). And I (and a lot of B&N employees) expect B&N to have a worse than usual holiday season, resulting in a crisis in early January.

The thing is, B&N’s sales are down because their stores are stocked with a bland selection and staffed by employees who have lost hope.

It will be up to B&N’s creditors to decide if they want to save the company. These are mostly the same book publishers who decided Borders wasn’t worth saving in 2011, and the only thing that has changed in the past 8 years is that the publishers need B&N even less now than they needed Borders then.

Right now a buyer is B&N’s best shot at survival, but who is going to want to buy them?

Certainly not Amazon.

image by davidwilson1949 via Flickr

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You Can Read and Return a Book to an Airport Bookstore

You Can Read and Return a Book to an Airport Bookstore Bookstore

A reader has asked me to find out more about  the airport bookstore “read and return’ program mentioned in today’s link post, and I am happy to oblige.

The program is being run by the airport retailer you’ve never heard of, Paradies Lagardère. This is a division of Hachette parent company Lagardère, and it operates 850 stores in 98 airports. Most are obviously not bookstores, but if you have been in a US airport, chances are you walked by at least one of their stores.

It reportedly launched in 2003, but all the coverage I can find was published last year. From Southern Living:

Launched in 2003, the concept allows customers the opportunity to purchase a book at one of our locations, return it within six months of purchase with the original receipt, and receive a 50 percent refund on regular-priced purchases.” Participating stores are under the ownership of Paradies Lagardère, an organization that’s headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, and operates travel retail shops and restaurants in 98 airports across North America.

What happens to those books? According to Paradies Lagardère, returned books are then sold at a 50 percent discount. You can take advantage of this program at participating stores, which are located in airports throughout mainland North America. Just remember to keep your original receipt and return the book within six months of purchase. Don’t let your books languish in your suitcase and weigh you down. Take advantage of this deal—your reading list will thank you.

There’s speculation on Twitter that the returned books are actually being sent back to the publishers. I don’t know that this is true, but it could be.

In any case, this program is potentially a great way for the retailer to grow a stock of cheaper books that would appeal to budget-minded travelers while at the same time giving customers a reason to come back.

I’d never buy a book in an airport bookstore (it’s being sold at full retail, if not higher), but a half-priced book? That is not out of the question – assuming I didn’t have any reading material on my phone or tablet, that is.

via Simon Collinson on Twitter

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Morning Coffee – 28 November 2018

Morning Coffee - 28 November 2018 Morning Coffee

Here are a few stories to read this Wednesday morning.

You just finished reading Morning Coffee – 28 November 2018 which was published on The Digital Reader.

Morning Coffee – 26 November 2018

Morning Coffee - 26 November 2018 Morning Coffee

Here are a few stories to read this Monday morning.

You just finished reading Morning Coffee – 26 November 2018 which was published on The Digital Reader.

Bowker Finally Notifies Users of Hacked Website and Stolen Credit Cards

Bowker Finally Notifies Users of Hacked Website and Stolen Credit Cards Security & Privacy

It’s been over 3 weeks since I informed you that one of Bowker’s websites had been hacked and that credit card numbers had been stolen, and Bowker is just now beginning to inform the affected parties.

I heard of the news on Twitter from Angela Highland:

It could be worse; I’ve been reporting about Createspace account getting hacked for seven months now, and yet Amazon has said nothing – not to those impacted, nor even to me.

Bowker’s 3 weeks may be frustrating, but it’s nothing compared to Amazon’s Seven Months.

You just finished reading Bowker Finally Notifies Users of Hacked Website and Stolen Credit Cards which was published on The Digital Reader.

Survey of Canadian Author Incomes Shows Retired Authors Aren’t Earning Much

Survey of Canadian Author Incomes Shows Retired Authors Aren't Earning Much DeBunking

One of the favorite pastimes of the publishing community is sharing author income survey reports, and wringing hands over the results. The reports are usually bullshit for various reasons (more on this in a later post), and usually wildly misinterpreted.

Both generalizations are true in the case of The Writers’ Union of Canada annual report on its members’ income.

The TWUC’s report was publishing last month, but it only crossed my desk last night when the CBC covered it.

It’s a story as old as the craft itself: an impoverished author, serving coffee or scrubbing floors while writing what would become a seminal novel.

Except in Canada today, tales of financial hardship extend to writers who are established, have published several books and even those who have won major prizes.

When the Writers’ Union of Canada recently surveyed its members about their incomes, the results were sobering: an average writer made $9,380 a year from his or her writing. That’s 27 per cent less than what writers made three years ago, and a whopping 78 per cent less than they made in 1998.

The problem with this report is the makeup of the survey group.

If you go download the report from the TWUC website, you’ll see that, of the 1,499 respondents, 62% are  over the age of sixty (another 20% of the survey group were in their fifties).

The thing about this age distribution is that only about 31% of Canada’s adult population is over the age of 60 (Wikipedia).

What’s even crazier is that 31% of the survey group were over the age of 70, while at the same that age cohort only makes up about 14.4% of Canada’s adult population. This population is over-represented in the survey group even though they are statistically more likely to be dead than working.

This survey is not a representative sample of the population, and should not have been published. Then again, the same can be said for just about all surveys on author income.

The problem with these surveys is that they are conducted by groups living in the past. All of these groups share the assumption that author income is controlled by external forces when in reality author income is market-driven. Writing is a skill and writer and author are both professions.

An author’s income is dependent on how good they are at marketing their work, but do you ever hear one of these reports being framed in those terms?

Nope. Every time one of these reports is published, the group behind it always talk about somehow changing the external forces that supposedly control authors’ incomes. They never talk about this business matter in terms of authors learning to be better business people; oh no, authoring is a noble calling, and it cannot be sullied with crass commerce.

Any group that feels this way has achieved the zenith of irrelevancy, and should be allowed to continue to wither away into nothing.

Next!

image by waferboard via Flickr

 

You just finished reading Survey of Canadian Author Incomes Shows Retired Authors Aren’t Earning Much which was published on The Digital Reader.

Morning Coffee – 23 November 2018

Morning Coffee - 23 November 2018 Morning Coffee

Here are a few stories to read this Friday morning.

  • Here’s a fascinating collection of obscene songs.
  • This survey of Canadian author incomes needs to be taken with a grain of salt. (my post is in the works, yes)
  • Kris Rusch explains why authors shouldn’t let resistance stop them.
  • The UK Society of Authors backs the wrong side on the EU’s disastrous new copyright rules (Article 13).
  • Victoria Strauss digs into how the bankruptcy clause in publishing contracts don’t really offer any protection. 

You just finished reading Morning Coffee – 23 November 2018 which was published on The Digital Reader.

Amazon’s Black Friday Sales Begin Today – Here’s What’s Good

Amazon's Black Friday Sales Begin Today - Here's What's Good e-Reading Hardware Fire Kindle

As promised, Amazon’s Black Friday deals start today, and they are so good that they are well worth tearing yourself away from the table.

Amazon doesn’t have either of their newer Kindles on sale, but they did put the older Kindle Paperwhite on sale as well as several Kindle Fire models. Amazon also knocked $80 off the price of the 2018 iPad (I would get one to replace the iPad I misplaced 3 years ago, but I missed out).

Kindle deals

Other eReader deals

 

You just finished reading Amazon’s Black Friday Sales Begin Today – Here’s What’s Good which was published on The Digital Reader.

Amazon Continues to Ignore the Hacking of Createspace Accounts

Amazon Continues to Ignore the Hacking of Createspace Accounts Amazon Security & Privacy Self-Pub

As I am sure you have read both here and on The Book Designer, for the past seven months hackers have been targeting accounts on Amazon’s POD service, Createspace. Once the hackers gain access to an account, they quickly change the payment details point to a Russian bank.

Earlier today a couple questions crossed my Twitter feed related to this story, and I thought they deserved a follow up:

1, I don’t know why Createspace has been silent on this issue. I have fairly good connections in all the places where authors hang out, but I have not heard any authors mention that they had been contacted by Createspace.

My bafflement only increased this morning when I read the email from Amazon about my email address may have been leaked in a breach on Amazon.com. I mean, Amazon will rush to warn me that my email may have been leaked, and yet they won’t warn anyone that authors are getting robbed on Createspace?

And to be clear, Amazon does know about this issue. I contacted Amazon a week before the story was published on The Book Designer, but they never answered any of my questions or even offered a statement. I then sent them a link when the story was published, and they still didn’t respond.

Given that this problem has been going on since April, the lack of response is startling, to say the least, and it is certainly getting in the way of sharing the relevant details with authors. And that is why my next answer is less than definte:

2, So far as we know, only accounts on Createspace are affected by this hack. Or at least, I have not heard reports that KDP accounts have been similarly hacked. However, given Amazon’s silence on this issue, I cannot say for certain whether that is true.

This is a developing story, and I will continue to report on it as new details emerge. Stay tuned.

image by ell brown via Flickr

You just finished reading Amazon Continues to Ignore the Hacking of Createspace Accounts which was published on The Digital Reader.