Wednesday Links 3-10-10

News about books and ebooks from around the web:

  • Vapidity will continue to rule the bestseller list. Sarah Palin plans to “write” another book (get ready, Marcos), Lindsay Lohan has plans to hawk her crazed mutterings, and Hilary Duff just signed a contract to write a series of young-adult Da Vinci Code-style caper novels (I kid you not). Previously, we learned about reality star Lauren Conrad, who’s writing novels (plural) despite having never read a whole book in her life (which you should do, if you want to write one). Then there’s always Dan Brown, a terrible writer of stupid books (even his website wants to be a movie)… but he has 80,000,000 readers. And let’s never forget Douglas Preston, a horrible writer who’s so overprivileged and out of touch that he attacked his own readers for not paying exorbitant prices for his crappy books. Please help me solve this. If you like any of those writers, do me a personal favor: stop buying their books and watch TV instead. TV does mindless entertainment much better than books, and then books can go back to being carefully crafted works of the imagination, and not just paycheck tickets cranked out by illiterate uncaring morons and vapid celebrities trying to cash in on their fleeting fame. Publishing industry: I hate you. To wrap up this rant, here is a grossly unreadable article about nothing, written by an editor from Knopf. It’s a joke, right? Nobody’s that bad a writer, especially not a professional editor, right? Right?
  • Borders is broke and starting heavy layoffs. Three months ago, while discussing the Nook, I noticed that Borders notably had no plans to release its own ereader/ebookstore. I said this about it: “Oh, and also… remember Borders? I’d say they have about 2 years of financial solvency left. It’s going to be like a brontosaurus dying.” Based on my understanding of the financial gobbledygook in the article in that first link, that timeline was just  slightly generous. Ebooks are the way of the future, bookstores. Don’t be shy.
  • Two weeks ago, the NY Times published this article by Motoko Rich about the prices of ebooks vs. paper books. It included this chart, which got everybody in a huff because it claimed that ebooks selling for as low as $9.99 will provide as much profit to publishers (not authors) as full-price, $26 hardcover books. Among the respondents: Gizmodo, GalleyCat, John August, and almost everybody else in the world. I just have one thing to add. Rich estimates the costs of printing and shipping at $3.25. Since online hardcover prices max out at about $15, that means, logically, ebook prices should max out at about $12. Since some new, hardcover, guaranteed bestsellers go for even less (like Stieg Larsson’s next one, pre-selling at Amazon for $11.50), ebook editions of those should come in at sub-$10. Which means maybe readers asking for $9.99 ebooks wasn’t so astonishingly entitled after all. Maybe the Macmillan/Amazon kerfuffle lost Macmillan more than it gained them. Maybe publishers should shut up about prices and windowing and all those other caveats, and just put their weight behind ebooks. Stop treating your customers like enemies, and maybe everything will turn out OK.