Need to Know: Weekly Publishing News & Rumors Round-Up

In What's the Buzz by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka

Borders Group

The remaining stores in the US-based Borders bookstore chain have an increased likelihood of being liquidated, following the breakdown of discussions with a potential buyer after publishers refused to offer more flexible terms under which they would ship books to the company. All final bids for the company are due by Midnight on Sunday and the fate of the company should be apparent by Monday.

The liquidation of Borders would be a tragic blow to the book business.  It makes one wonder why the principle of “too big to fail” — the rationale that was used to save the big banks following the 2008 financial meltdown — couldn’t be applied in this case?

Also this week, Follett — the second largest college bookstore operator in the US (after Barnes & Noble College Stores) is rumored to be putting itself up for sale. The company had $2.7 billion in revenue per year. A likely reason: the increasing adoption of digital textbooks makes the long-term growth prospects of the company less than attractive.

Kobo launched its e-book business in Germany this week. Can they do better than Amazon? One had better hope so, considering the company also plans to roll-out across the rest of Europe over the rest of 2011. The question remains whether or not European readers will be interested in buying books from an overseas retailer or whether or not they are nationalistic enough to want a home-grown solution.

Google announced that it is bringing the iRiver Story HD to the United States and will integrate it with its own bookstore. The Korean e-reader is already very popular in several emerging markets, including Russia and South Africa, but is appearing in the US for the first time.

Sony has also promised that it will update its own e-readers, as well as provide full sized table computers for the US market.

Amazon too is rumored to be releasing its own 9-inch table to compete with the iPad later this year.

Speaking of Amazon, they may be setting up to open a store in Australia, which would make sense considering the recent tumult in Australian bricks-and-mortar bookselling which saw the RED Group decimated. The company currently sells directly to customers in the US, Canada, Britain, Italy, Germany, France, Austria, Japan and China.

A consortium of Chinese writers and publishers have joined together under the name “Zuo Jia Wei Quan Lian Meng,” which according to the Wall Street Journal translates to “Union for the Protection of the Rights of Writers,” and are targeting protests at Apple’s App Store, where they claim hundreds of apps are facilitating downloads of pirated books. The move follows that of an earlier protest led by popular author Han Han against search engine Baidu, prompting that search engine to delete 2.8 million pirated books and documents.

Finally, watch a bookstore get built in 77 seconds…


About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.