Book Biz: Australia Re-Imagines Libraries, Magazines Merge, Stop Printing or Declare Bankruptcy, B&N Buyer?

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There are times that an industry introduces a new idea using a term or terms you’re not familiar with. Some years ago at a Book Industry Study Group (BISG) seminar that I attended as part of the annual Book Expo, the term metadata was used over and over and I had no idea what the heck they were talking about. I remember the definition I found that evening with the help of Google was overly complicated and I certainly didn’t feel comfortable with my understanding of the term.

It seems that I wasn’t the only one since I opened an email the other day that could have been entitled “Metadata for Dummies”. It explained what metadata is so simply that I wish I’d been able to read it when I first heard the term.

As the author points out, metadata is data about data. When you right click on a song file on your computer, information about the song is generally available, although it appears nowhere in the file name, such as title, artist, length of the performance, perhaps the year it was recorded, and often the genre.

Similarly, by offering publishers the opportunity to describe their titles by market, genre, author, etc. and to have that data available to book buyers provides a more complete analysis for the buyer to consider. For the book industry in general it’s a sales tool that large publishers understand and use routinely, but it may be that it would be most helpful for the rest of us who struggle to establish our titles.


B&N For Sale

It’s been awhile since Barnes & Noble openly solicited offers to be acquired or merged, but now CEO Leonard S. Riggio has announced his plans to buy the company (except for the Nook brand) in an all cash deal. The guessing has begun as to what the retailer might be worth in such a transaction.

Amazon: You Don’t Own It But You Can Sell It

In a patent filing that is unusual and very misunderstood, Amazon will allow people who have paid for Kindle content to “sell” the content (which they don’t own) and Amazon will cancel the book’s availability to the seller and make it available to the buyer (for a fee, of course). ReDigi, an online service already buying and selling “used” digital content, uses a different business model.

What if …?

A number of print and digital publishers reflect on how they would do things differently if they were starting from scratch right now.

Amazon Games

While Amazon continues to fight efforts by state governments to collect sales taxes, it has given its blessing to a proposal allowing states to tax online sales IF they have a “simplified” tax code for such collection.

Amazon is also fighting the same battle over sales taxes inGerman amazon neo-nazi Europe, but got a black-eye for a different reason there; the warehouse security company it hired in Germany seems to have been staffed by neo-Nazis intent on harassing immigrant employees.

France Sued for Lowering Tax on eBooks

The European Commission has informed the European Court of Justice that France has illegally lowered its taxes on ebooks.

Readers Digest Files for Bankruptcy (Again)

readers-digestReaders Digest Association (the publisher) has again filed for protection from its creditors just three years after it was taken over by its lenders in its 2009 bankruptcy filing.

If Only Henry Luce Was Still Alive

The directors of Time Warner are in discussions with publisher Meredith (Ladies Home Journal) to sell Time magazine, similar to its sale of AOL and Time Warner Cable a few years ago.

Variety to Stop Printing and Offer Free Content

Long running Hollywood tabloid Variety has announced it’s ceasing production of its daily print edition while also removing the pay wall from its online edition. A weekend print edition will continue.

Ebook Pricing Settlement, Apple Still Fighting

With Macmillan being the last major book publisher to accept new guidelines for ebook pricing, Apple remains the lone defendant willing to challenge the DOJ lawsuit. But then, when has Apple ever followed anyone else’s pricing model?

Like” Two Sides

Two Sides web-site was created because there is a lot of ecological misinformation about the paper and ink industry. Did you know today’s domestic forests contain carbon equal to 27x our annual output of carbon? They’re on Facebook now.

How Green is Your Tissue?

Not only has Swedish paper manufacturer Södra Cell Värö been producing “totally chlorine free” (TCF) paper since 1993, it’s bark drying kiln means the plant uses no fossil fuels in its tissue manufacturing.

Wausau Closes Mill

Forestry product giant Wausau is closing a paper mill that produced specialty printing papers in Maine to re-focus on the manufacture of tissue in other of its mills. There will be around 130 jobs lost. I had no idea there was so much tissue demand in the world.

library - art-green1-620x349Library Re-imagined Down Under

Two young architects have been awarded the contract to design Sydney’s new $40 million Green Square library. They presented a vision of the library as a community center with gardens, music rehearsal rooms and a water play area.

Print Company Investors in 21st Century?

Gerard Cellette must be one helluva salesman. He bilked investors in eight states out of $150 million by selling shares in a fictional printing company. Who invests in new print capacity in the 21st century?

Final Thought

I cannot live without books. Thomas Jefferson

About Wayne Johnson 69 Articles
I've worked in book manufacturing for over 30 years, closing my company Baker Johnson, Inc. in 2005. Currently I work freelance with a large group of publishers, advising them on the printing options available to them as the book industry endures major restructuring. My wife Cathy is a retired psychologist and spent most of her career working with the youth at Maxey Boys Training School. She is a small mammal rehabilitator with Friends of Wildlife. Our daughter Whitney is a PharmD working in the Denver area evaluating the pharmaceutical requirements of nursing homes. Our son Eliot lives in Waterloo and is an editor at Mathematical Reviews in Ann Arbor.