BTW News Briefs

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E-Reading — Measurable and Quasi-Public

Last Friday, the Wall Street Journal looked at how the rise of digital books is transforming reading from a primarily “solitary and private act” into “something measurable and quasi-public” that publishers are studying to create books that better hold people’s attention.

Information tracked by Amazon, Apple, and Google includes how far readers get into books, how long they spend reading them, and which search terms they use to find books, WSJ reported. Apps for tablets, including the iPad, Kindle Fire, and Nook, record how many times readers open the app and how much time they spend reading.

Barnes & Noble, which WSJ said accounts for 25 percent to 30 percent of the e-book market, is also studying customers’ digital reading behavior on its Nook and sharing the data with publishers. And Amazon, as both a retailer and a publisher, is in a unique position to use the data it gathers on its customers’ reading habits. “Kindle users sign an agreement granting the company permission to store information from the device — including the last page you’ve read, plus your bookmarks, highlights, notes and annotations — in its data servers,” noted WSJ.

Better analytics might help the book industry woo more readers, WSJ observed, but some publishers worry “that a data-driven approach could hinder the kinds of creative risks that produce great literature,” and some privacy watchdogs, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, argue that e-book users should be protected from having their digital reading habits recorded.

Chelsea Green Publishing Becomes Employee Owned

Chelsea Green has become an employee-owned company, with close to 80 percent of its stock to be held by its employees.

The transaction, completed on June 29, allows a minority portion of the company’s privately held stock to be held by Ian and Margo Baldwin, who founded Chelsea Green in 1984. Margo Baldwin is currently the company’s president and publisher and will maintain that role for the foreseeable future.

“Selling to our employees was the only way we could ensure the company could remain independent and stay in Vermont,” said Margo Baldwin. “The only one real way to repay investors, traditionally, is to sell. Our investors have been very patient over the years and this offered a way in which they could be repaid and allow Chelsea Green to continue its important role in the marketplace as an independent publisher.”

U.K. Celebrates Independent Booksellers’ Week

A record number of booksellers in the United Kingdom are celebrating Independent Booksellers’ Week, from June 30 to July 7. The program, part of the U.K.’s IndieBound marketing campaign, includes IBW Bookseller Collectibles – the promotion of a small range of titles available only through independents for IBW 2012; and National Reading Group Day, on June 30, which capitalizes on the popularity of Reading Groups in the U.K.

In conjunction with this week’s celebrations, the BA released data  that shows the U.K.’s independent bookshops with cafés grew their turnover last year, bucking a downward trend in the country’s other bookstores. Business data from 40 independent bookshops across the U.K.  showed that those with cafes saw three percent growth in turnover in 2011, compared to a 5.2 percent decline for those without.  The research also found that bookshops with cafes saw a two percent increase in book turnover as opposed to a four percent decrease across all shops. Across the bookshops surveyed, book sales accounted for nearly three quarters of total annual turnover, with non-book sales accounting for 26 percent.

Children’s bookshops also bucked the downward trend. Not a single children’s bookshop closed in 2011, according to the BA, despite a steady drop in the number of independent stores, with 73 closing their doors for good. Thirty-six new bookshops opened in the second half of the year.

July 6 Deadline for NEIBA’s Rusty Drugan Scholarship

This Friday, July 6, is the deadline for nominations for the 2012 New England Independent Booksellers Association’s (NEIBA) Rusty Drugan Scholarship for Emerging Leaders, awarded annually in memory of Wayne “Rusty” Drugan, the association’s executive director from 1992 to 2006.

Candidates, who may apply directly for the scholarship or be nominated by others in the book industry, must be working full-time in a NEIBA member bookstore for at least a year.

The scholarship includes two nights at the NEIBA Fall Conference Headquarters Hotel and two tickets to each meal function. More information is available on the NEIBA website.

BISG on the Move

As of July 18, 2012, the offices of the Book Industry Study Group will relocate to:

 145 W. 45th Street, Suite 601
New York, NY 10036

The organization’s telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, and other contact information will remain the same.

Questions or concerns should be addressed to info@bisg.org or (646) 336-7141.