‘The Lost Symbol’ Doesn’t Herald a New Age for eBooks After All

Discovered via Victoria Strauss:

Even Dan Brown can’t break the e-book 5% rule

When Dan Brown’s "The Lost Symbol" was released on Sept. 15, Amazon’s rankings revealed that Kindle sales outstripped sales of the hardcover. This led some ebook enthusiasts to herald the dawning of a new era. FastCompany asked, "Could Dan Brown’s new book be heralding the e-book age?" CNet wrote: "The possibility that the Kindle version of ‘The Lost Symbol’ — which follows Brown’s wildly popular ‘Da Vinci Code’ and ‘Angels & Demons’ — is outselling hard copies on Amazon could be a monumental moment in the e-book industry."

Recession Has Been Good to Newspaper Inserts

Rick Edmonds at Poynter.org says the surge in coupon clippers brought about by the current economic crisis has been good for the inserts side of newspaper advertising.

The New York Times was the latest to note the trend in a feature Monday. I especially liked the photo of "coupon queen" Susan Samtur sorting her clippings into an accordion file case. The picture suggests that there is a tactile appeal to clip-and-save, plus a sense of planning and control, quite different from being the passive recipient of a random barrage of online ad messages.

Indeed, the Times article, like one in the Wall Street Journal and a Biz Blog post of mine in February, suggests that online start-ups are trying to grab a piece of the action but make up only a tiny half a percent share of redemptions, so far.

Social Networking to Land a Paying Gig: It’s Not Just for Writers Selling Manuscripts

Marian Schembari at Publishing Trends details how she landed a job in publishing, but not by sending out resumes and cover letters.

Of course, advertising yourself to get a job is a little weird, I have to admit. It’s one of those stories you hear about people wearing their resume on a T-shirt or taking cookies to an interview. No one wants to be that person.

Let ‘Em Go

Lyons: "Instead of giving newspapers bailouts, we should be hastening their demise"Newsweek.com
"The weak papers need to die," writes Daniel Lyons. "The strong newspapers need to go into bankruptcy and restructure their businesses with smaller staffs and lower cost structures. Yes, it will be painful. But journalists will find jobs — and they’ll be working in a better, faster medium."
[Poynter Romenesko]

Celebrate the Freedom to Read

Sept. 26-Oct. 3 is Banned Book Week, which celebrates the First Amendment and freedom of expression while highlighting the harm in censorship. From the American Library Association‘s post on the subject:

The books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings.  Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections.  Imagine how many more books might be challenged—and possibly banned or restricted—if librarians, teachers, and booksellers across the country did not use Banned Books Week each year to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society.

Along those lines, BookDads posts about one children’s book that has managed to make the Banned Books list three years in a row.

Readability Problems? Ebooks to the Rescue!

Kassia Krozser at Booksquare ruminates on the age-old problem of readability in the layout and design of books. Her solution? Read the work in ebook format instead.

With print books, there are definite limitations to what you can do to make the actual reading easier. It is amazing how hard people will work to read, despite the challenges. Ebooks are different. Here is how it works in ebooks. I’m going to mess up your book. After you spend all that time on formatting and typesetting and getting the kerning just right, I’m going to mess with it. Not out of malice, of course, but there you have it.

Congressional Hearing on Newspaper Financial Woes Set for Thursday

Congressional hearing on newspapers set for ThursdayEditor & Publisher
The hearing will "examine contraction in the newspaper industry, the economic impact of the changing media landscape, as well as the future of the industry at large," says an announcement. Pew Research Center’s Tom Rosenstiel will be one of the witnesses. 
[Poynter Romenesko]

From the E&P article: 

"The witnesses will review alternative funding options for newspapers in our new and ever-changing electronic age. Since the ratification of the Bill of Rights, the federal government has acknowledged that the press is an institution which is afforded special protections by name. In this spirit, I think that the government can help foster solutions for this industry in ways which protect the independence of newspapers and enables their objective reporting to thrive in a new economic and media climate."

All of which prompts the question: how involved can government truly be in its watchdog’s welfare without harming the watchdog’s objective watchfulness?

In Spite of Industry Predictions, It Ain’t Over

Has newspaper advertising reached rock bottom? Probably not.

During the last few months, as newspaper stock prices rebounded somewhat from  their lowest points, and as newspaper execs suggested, in conjunction with second quarter results, that having made all the cuts they did, they would be in good shape “once advertising rebounds,” I found myself nevertheless thinking the same thoughts as the crystal ball-gazers consulted by the New York Times who said that the bottom, for newspaper advertising revenue, had not yet been reached. [Nieman Journalism Lab]

Have We Ever Paid for Content?

Paula Graham says the much-discussed "pay for content" online news model may be fundamentally flawed in that newspapers and magazines never really charged for their content, even in print. Subscriptions and newsstand prices have been traditionally used to pay for the medium, and the means of distribution, and not for the content of the articles.

In fact consumers never really were paying for content, and publishers weren’t really selling it either. If the content was what they were selling, why has the price of books or music or movies always depended mostly on the format? Why didn’t better content cost more?

One could argue, however, that via iTunes, Apple has successfully transitioned music from consumers paying for medium to consumers paying for content. Could the same happen for online news and online books? Graham says that iTunes is actually more of a "tollbooth."

Discovered via New Business Models for News and @freddieoconnell.

Google CEO Weights in on the Online Paid Content Debate

He also utters one of the two latest media business model buzzwords, the other being "local."

Google CEO: Publishers will have a hard time charging for general newsReuters
There’s too much free content online, says Eric Schmidt. "My guess is for niche and specialist markets … it will be possible to [charge], but I think it is unlikely that you will be able to do it for all news."
[Poynter Romenesko]