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Three New Signs That Paper Books Are Almost Dead
April 29, 2011 11:20 AM
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This week has so far brought three bad omens about the fate of paper books as we've known them.
Barnes & Noble announced that the
upgraded Color Nook will include a page for digital author signatures
. Authors will be able to write directly on the touch screen where the signature will be store for posterity. The first author e-signing is scheduled for next week.
From appearances, B&N has jumped ahead of another e-signature product with the new feature. A few weeks ago, the
New York Times
reported that a software maker in Florida was set to debut an app called
, which will allow users to add a digital signature page to e-books. The page could include a photograph with the author taken on the spot then sent to a reader within two minutes. Autography is going to be released next month.
The obvious unknown here: how will authors will adjust to e-signature requests? Two years ago, David Sedaris was asked to sign a Kindle after a reading and he didn't take it very well. Here was the result:
This second piece of bad news was more horrifying, unless you happen to be in ad sales. Gawker framed it best:
"The 'Advertising in Books Wall' Has Been Breached."
The story referred to a
Wall Street Journal
article about a new memoir by Harry Hurt III, a Manhattan writer whose forthcoming self-published book will include product placement sponsorship and display ads.
"Our economy is down and the traditional book publishing industry is down, so it's either cry in a corner, or do something about it," Hurt told the
The something Hurt did was convince several companies to donate products and free hotel stays in exchange for both ads and a mention in his narrative about a cross-country road trip. Readers will learn about the remarkable engineering of Coleman tents, for example. He also made deals with cigar maker La Gloria Cubana, Briggs & Riley Travelware and Plain & Fancy Farm, a restaurant in Pennsylvania. In exchange for the ads, the companies will tweet about the book and post status updates about it on Facebook.
The well-connected New Yorker may have beat the nation's big publishers to this milestone in a significant manner, but he's not the first author to accept such direct sponsorship. Large companies like
Bulgari and Cover Girl
have purchased product placement in books before. This year a Canadian writer named Shane Rhodes sought outside support -- in the form of free product -- from various craft beer, wine and liquor makers in exchange for mentions in his book of poetry,
: The writer and his pals were out having a drink when they started discussing how little authors earn. Wouldn't it be nice if they could write a book that would sell enough to cover bar tabs for a while. “It occurred to me one night, why don’t we just take out the middle man?" said Rhodes.
Yesterday we learned of Al Gore's latest, er, release,
Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis
. Created with a tricked out multimedia app called Push Pop Press, invented by a couple of ex-Apple engineers,
is being heralded as the bomb that will
"blow up the concept of the book."
Now we can look forward to the inevitable backlash.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
COLOR NOOK UPGRADE
PRODUCT PLACEMENT IN BOOKS
DISPLAY ADS IN BOOKS
AL GORE NEW BOOK
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