Innovation is not a product

Amazon, Books, ebooks, publishing

“The book publishing industry is what happened to innovation in the book publishing industry. It is that simple, and rather than try to push this industry to be less conservative (what Wikert is trying to do), I think that our energies are better spent on looking for innovators changing the industry from the outside.”

A bad ‘n’ biased article about innovation in publishing industry. Besides the fact that it sings praises to Amazon as innovator (probably for taking employee exploitation to levels never imagined by Taylor), it constructs innovation as “new products”, rather than “new ideas”. This is the favored definition by Silicon Valley standards, because it is easy to mask the age of an idea. And it suits their purposes: innovation is a buzzword that sells and can attract capital, by promising new avenues for profit. But new ideas are less ordinary than one might think. The idea for a low-power paper-like display had existed since the 1970s, originally conceived by researchers at Xerox PARC, but had never been realized. Not quite new & recent. And the innovators were MIT professors and students, not upper management echelon at Amazon. As for the “all-you-can-read subscription model”, another Amazon “innovation”, has anybody heard before of libraries?


Indigo Books and Music announces it plans to sell fewer books

Books, Bookstores, Uncategorized

This will put pressure on publishers to increase their media presence and pump up their marketing department, to compensate the reduced presence in bookstores. The consequence will be a greater scrutiny on the sale potential of published titles and the restraining of access for new authors (especially for small publishers). They will probably go “indie”, but the success rate there is small (until now). Academic publishing will be even more affected, forced to exist mostly in the online environment, where Amazon will squeeze every penny out of them. The prices of textbooks and academic books will get even higher and accessible to only a small minority of readers. As digital format books will be even more present, DRM will be even more hard to bypass. Suit against sites like Libgen and SCI-Hub might have foresight value. Brave new world.

Why are textbooks so expensive?

Books, prices, publishing

“The College Board recently estimated that the average student spends upwards of $1,200 per year on textbooks. (This figure is much higher for students at for-profit colleges and trade schools.) But American schools in the 19th century used the same books for all grade levels, mainly as a memorization tool. Textbooks then began to take precedence over instructors, as high school and college courses increasingly became structured around a book’s table of contents in the early 1930’s. The books were cheap and were reused for decades; publishers prided themselves on the durability and longevity of their products.

At some point during the 1970s, books started to get expensive. Publishers capitalized on professors’ willingness to adapt new editions of a book every two or three years. Textbooks became less about educating the masses and more about exclusivity and profitability. By the 1990s, the textbook market was an oligopoly, and prices skyrocketed.”