11/29/10: Publishing This Week

California, as a way to save money and improve education, is going to use open source, free textbooks (yay!). Since there’s not enough money to give every student a laptop, there’s some skepticism as to how well this will work. But it’s the first state to try this and something is better than nothing (California K-12 education was ranked 49th in 2009). As a side note, Michelle Rhee, former chancellor of the District of Columbia Public School Systems in Washington, D.C., was the guest on The Colbert Report on Dec.1. She said that in the 1950s, California was #1 in education. What happened?

California Embraces Open Source Digital Textbooks

Sesame Street this week added a monthly subscription option to its e-bookstore. Now users can pay either $3.99 a month or $39.99 a year and gain access to over 125 cloud-based e-books, including “There’s a Monster at the End of This Book” (one of my favorites when I was a kid!)

Sesame Street Adds Monthly Subscription Option to E-Bookstore

Are scammers taking advantage of Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Amazon’s Kindle? Supposedly there are people selling free books through these e-readers. For example, one person has been selling The Brother’s Grimm fairytales, even though they are no longer copyrighted and therefore in public domain. (And you can download for free at Gutenburg.org). Buyer beware!

Barnes & Noble letting users sell free books on the Nook?

Google is launching its own online bookstore, and here are five reasons why this will change the e-book industry.

Five Reasons Why the Google ‘Editions’ Bookstore Matters

Groupon is becoming a big deal, even in the publishing industry. Simon & Schuster now offers Groupon promotions for any of their 35,000 titles. And now Google is trying to buy Groupon. What will this mean for publishers? Some people think Google will evolve to control everything signifiant on the web. This may seem bad, but I don’t think it will end up changing Simon & Schuster’s strategy, so long as it continues to work. I once had a professor who said that big conglomerate media companies are actually good for consumers. He admitted that sounded counterintuitive, but he explained that the less competition, the better, because then the big companies can focus on providing products and services for smaller niches and can keep costs down. Since they’re not worried about competing with themselves, and they’re making all this money just from being huge, the products and services don’t need to be expensive to keep the company afloat. I’m not sure I totally agree with this—I’d have to do my own research before I came to a conclusion—but it is a different way of looking at things.

Google in talks to buy Groupon deals site

UPDATE: Sources: Groupon rejects Google’s offer; will stay independent

Richard Branson has developed an exclusive to iPad magazine, Project. Seems to go with the line of thinking that exclusivity and coolness will sell, so we’ll see how it works out for him.

A Peek Inside Richard Branson’s Project iPad Magazine

According to Barnes and Nobles second quarter, it’s the Nook and digital content that is supposedly helping them. They plan on launching more digital devices next year.

Nooks and Digital Content Drive Barnes & Noble

The e-reader market is dominated by Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iPad. More people are expected to buy e-readers over the holidays, but a recent survey shows that the iPad is expected to beat the Kindle this year.

Impact of the Apple iPad vs. the Amazon Kindle on the e-Reader Market

iPad Beating Kindle This Holiday Season, Says Survey

Next Tuesday, Dec. 7, Digital Book World will sponsor a one hour webcast devoted to what recent developments in electronic publishing (such as color in e-readers and new apps) will do to children’s book publishing.

Webcast Set on the Impact of Digital Developments on Kids Publishing

This is related to book or magazine publishing, per say, but it does have some legal implications for publishers in general. On Sunday, Nov. 28, WikiLeaks began publishing thousands of leaked United States embassy cables. Some people claimed this was a terrorist act, though I read somewhere that most of this information was already out in the public, and it was just the shock of seeing it all together. However, there are claims that this potentially damaged the U.S.’s relationship with other countries. I read one or two of the cables, and it sounds like gossip to me. But to the point. The founder, Julian Assange may have already been secretly indicted by the U.S., for violating the Espionage Act. I’m currently taking a publishing law class and so far there haven’t been too many cases involving the Espionage Act, but I am concerned about what this means freedom of speech-wise. I understand security is important, but I am also an avid, liberal supporter of the First Amendment.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange:  Has US already indicted him?

On another note, I mentioned the Bad Sex in Fiction Award in my post, “Writing Sex.” Well The Guardian wants to know why there isn’t a good sex in fiction award.

How about a good sex in fiction award?

For would-be first-time authors or excited writers such as myself, Amazon and Penguin are once again having their Breakthrough Novel Award Competition. Two grand prize winners will be published by Penguin Group. Good luck!

Amazon and Penguin Announce Fourth Novel Award Competition

And lastly, Simon & Schuster announced on Nov. 30 that they have “sealed a book deal with God.” You can learn more about the book on the Twitter Feed, @TheTweetofGod.

Simon & Schuster Cuts ‘Book Deal with God’

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