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Industry News: The rise of book apps, Random House sales up, Non-profit publisher raises money for charity

March 31, 2012

Are Apps the Future of Books?

As intellectual property issues abound concerning e-books, many draw parallels to MP3 tracks of music, pointing out that most artists don’t make tons of money on track sales. But author tours don’t pack NFL stadiums, or even seedy bars on the edge of town. They don’t have the alternate forms of income that recording artists enjoy. That might change. A growing trend toward apps, rather than just e-books could provide an enhanced experience for readers. A recent article in Forbes described trends in book apps. Apps can run the gamut from enhanced e-books, with extras like you see in DVDs, to fully functional apps that you can use to communicate with other readers and the author, or that require you to interact with the book.

Random House Earnings, Sales Increase

When this blog and its predecessor started, the news from the publishing industry was horrible. Today, at least, that’s not the case. Bertelsmann has announced that Random House earnings increased 7% in 2011, spurred on by e-book sales and cost cutting. In addition, sales increased 27% in January (we assume this is a year-to-year increase), with sales of childrens’ hardcovers increasing 69%, compared to a 22% increase in adult hardcovers and a 49% increase for e-books. Random House’s total revenue, however, fell 4%.

Publishing Company Takes Non-Profit Model

Imagine a publishing house in which books were produced for free, where the workers got no pay and had day jobs, and where the books cost nothing. It’s not some anarchist’s dream, it’s Concord Free Press, the brainchild of an author named Stona Fitch. Fitch’s book Give and Take was picked up by a major publishing house, but didn’t survive when his editor left the industry. Fitch decided to start his own imprint, and make it a non-profit. Concord Free Press publishes 3,000 copies of a book and sends them to 50 independent book stores around the country. Readers must donate to a charity of their choice and pass along the book when they’re done reading. So far, Concord has published six titles and netted more than a quarter million dollars for charity.


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