What’s the Buzz: What’s on Scribd, Dan Brown Fever, Digital Textbooks Take Off?

In News, What's the Buzz by Hannah Johnson

By Hannah Johnson

What's the Buzz

I’ve become fascinated with all the things people have uploaded onto Scribd.com. Want to read and comment on a rough draft of your favorite author’s work-in-progress? Need the lecture notes from your biology class? Or maybe the instruction manual for your toaster oven? Look no further than Scribd! Some content is free, but Scrib also sells ebooks (like Angela’s Ashes for $12.80—by the way, the paperback version sells on Amazon for $10.88). I particularly liked this quote from author Amy Stewart’s description of her novel-in-progress, The Last Bookstore in America: “And why is [this book] priced at $1.81? Because after Scribd takes its cut, that leaves the author with $1.05, which is exactly the standard royalty an author would get for a new trade paperback.”

And now, onto the inevitable spread of Dan Brown Fever. Ron Charles, the fiction editor for the Washington Post Book World, wrote on Twitter yesterday, “190 people who haven’t read Dan Brown’s LOST SYMBOL have rated it 3 out of 5 stars on B&N.com.” The initial print run is six and a half million copies, but with the simultaneous release of the hardcover and e-book on September 15 in the US and UK, this will be a great opportunity to see how print vs. digital sales will play out.

Finally, the school year is about to start and there has been a flurry of discussions about digital textbooks lately. The iPhone seems to be the favored delivery method, with apps like Bigwords and CourseSmart that offer textbooks for the iPhone’s tiny screen. Also getting buzz is Flat World Knowledge , an open source textbook publisher. They claim to reach 40,000 students this coming year with their DRM-free textbooks. But despite the hype, Josh Catone gives us “3 Reasons Students Aren’t Ready” for digital textbooks.

About the Author

Hannah Johnson

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Hannah Johnson is the publisher of international book industry magazine Publishing Perspectives, which provides daily information and news about book markets around the world. In addition to building partnerships with international cultural and trade organizations, she works with the Frankfurt Book Fair to organize and support a number of its overseas initiatives. Hannah has also worked as the managing editor for an online media company, The Hooch Life, focused on craft distillers and cocktail experts. Prior to that, she worked as a project manager for the Frankfurt Book Fair’s New York office, managing various business and marketing activities.