Techie book news: What’s next? Cliff Notes on Twitter?
Electronic readers like the Kindle and Sony Reader will be the hot gift item this Christmas, according to the Los Angeles Times, but you won’t be able to read Sarah Palin’s new autobiography on one, even though she pounded the thing out in under four months, reports the Associated Press.
That’s because publishers worry that e-books, a tiny but fast-growing segment of the $24 billion publishing business, will eat into sales of more expensive hardcover editions.
Palin’s book, a 400-page opus titled Going Rogue, won’t be available as an an e-book until Dec. 26. HarperCollins spokeswoman Tina Andreadis is remarkably frank about her company’s reasoning: “We want to maximize hardcover sales over the holidays.”
Going Rogue, originally scheduled for a Spring 2010 release, will now be published Nov. 17. Palin perplexed and annoyed pundits when she quit her job as Alaska governor with more than a year remaining on her first term, but now we know why:
She wanted to devote her full energies to writing Going Rogue, which presumably will explain why she should be allowed to bring the intellectual prowess and political sophistication she showed as John McCain’s vice-presidential running mate to the White House in 2012.
Going Rogue will have a first printing of 1.5 million copies, the same as the late Sen. Edward Kennedy’s recently published memoir, True Compass
IN OTHER E-BOOK NEWS: Celebrated magazine editor Tina Brown, who now runs The Daily Beast, an online news and commentary site, thinks traditional publishing is way too slow. So she’s inked a deal with Persea Books to generate e-books by Daily Beast writers and reporters at record speed, reports The New York Times.
Called Beast Books, the new venture will allow an author three months to write a book, while editors and designers will spend a month knocking it into shape for electronic publication. Traditional publishing usually requires a year for writing, and a year for production before a book hits the shelves (unless the author is Sarah Palin).
Brown says topical books take too long to come to print, thereby missing an opportunity to find readers and influence people.
“There is a real window of interest when people want to know something,” Brown said. “And that window slams shut pretty quickly in the media cycle.”
JUST WHAT WE NEED, EASIER ACCESS TO SELF-PUBLISHED BOOKS: Meanwhile, Sony has signed up two small e-book publishers, Smashwords and Author Solutions, to sell self-published e-books on the Sony Reader. .
“This is one more example of the democratization of book publishing,” said Mark Coker, founder of Los Gatos, Calif.-based Smashwords.
You say “democratization,” I say “mobification.”
KINDLE FLUNKS AT PRINCETON: E-books may be the future of reading, but most of the 50 Princeton students given a Kindle in a pilot program despise the thing, according to bookseller.com.
“”I hate to sound like a Luddite, but this technology is a poor excuse of an academic tool,” said one student. “It’s clunky, slow and a real pain to operate.”
APPLE TABLET UPDATE: Gadget geeks, meanwhile, look eagerly to Apple to perform the same trick for e-readers that the iPod turned for music players – show competitors how it’s done. Mashable.com cites the rehiring of Michael Tchao as vice president of product marketing as a promising sign they won’t have to wait much longer.
Tchao, you see, was one of the original “ideators” (don’t you love geek speak?) behind the Apple Newton, a progenitor of the hand-held electronic device, like Blackberry and iPhone, that dominate human existence today. Of course, the Newton never made it into production, so can this really bode well for the Apple Tablet?
FINALLY: SLOW DOWN YOU’RE MOVING TOO FAST: For an antidote to all this speed, Eva Hoffman offers a long, thoughtful essay over at the Guardian about how digital technology — specifically its very speed and efficiency — is making us dumber by the minute.
Preaching to the choir here, Eva, preaching to the choir.