iPublish Announces its First e-Book List

Not to be overshadowed by Random House’s news that it will enter the e-Book fray, Time-Warner e-Book division iPublish announced its first list of e-Book titles. The list showcases new works by some of Time Warner’s most celebrated authors, including Nelson DeMille, David Baldacci, Sandra Brown, Nicholas Sparks and David Foster Wallace. The list, which is heavy on novella-length work and pre-publication editions of paperback releases, may be indicative of the new division’s future e-Book strategy. iPublish will begin to distribute the titles in September.
[Link updated April 2005]

King: Black in Black

Stephen King reports on his Web site [IA] that after a week of live downloads, his readers are on par to meet his new publishing model challenge. Of 152,132 downloads, 116,200, or 76.38 per cent of King’s readers have sent in their dollar to keep King working on, and uploading, The Plant. King reports that he is thus very close to covering the $124,150 he spent for print ads in Publisher’s Weekly and USA Today to publicize the project.
[Link updated April 2005; only the Internet Archive copy of the page was found]

Random House to Establish All-Digital Unit

Today’s New York Times reports that Random House will establish an all-digital unit which will distribute e-Books and print-on-demand titles. These books will not be distributed through brick and mortar bookstores, but will be sold exclusively online. Consumer prices will be slightly lower than trade paperbacks for e-Books and slighlty higher for print-on-demand titles. Author royalties will be 15% for e-Books and 7.5% for print-on-demand titles. Random plans to launch the unit in January with 20 titles. At least one agent, Robert Gotleib, feels that the royalty structure Random plans to offer is slightly askew, “There is a tremendous reduction in overhead from printing, distribution and all of that, and authors aren’t enjoying the benefits of the increased profitability.”

Pushing Hypertext in New Directions

Matthew Mirapaul’s New York Times column today focuses on two of the most interesting new hypertext releases of the summer – Judd Morrisey’s “The Jew’s Daughter,” which uses Flash to build a shifiting hypertext narrative via mousever links, and “aspergillum gently,” a a multimedia adaptation of “Pedro Páramo,” an existentialist 1955 novel by the Mexican author Juan Rulfo constructed by New York artist Isabel Chang.

King’s Plant

According to Publisher’s Weekly, officials at Stephen King’s Web site said that some 41,000 downloads were made the first day that King made his story available for download. This figure is lower than the nearly 500,000 downloads in March of King’s e-novella, Riding the Bullet.

One theory is that Riding the Bullet benefitted from being backed by a major publisher. Still, $41,000 of revenue in a single day does not necessarily mark this historic attempt at self-publishing as a failure…

Thinking Outside the Book

An LA Times article describes ELO’s first reading event, held this May at the home of Richard Bangs in Redmond, WA. The article includes interviews with e-lit authors and critics including Robert Coover, M.D. Coverley, Katherine Hayles, Shelley Jackson, Dirk Stratton and Rob Wittig. LA Times writer Kim Murphy focuses the piece on the artistic and economic implications of electronic lit. (Abstract available, article can be purchsed for $2.95)
[Link updated April 2005; the article was removed from the Web]

King’s New Publishing Model

Emboldened with the success of his Riding the Bullet e-Book, author Stephen King is experimenting with an honor system publishing model (with a catch) – King will release the first 2/3 of his new work The Plant for free download on his personal site. He will only release the last third of the novel if 75% of the people who download the work pay a nominal $1 fee. (Article in The Industry Standard [IA])
[Link updated April 2005; only the Internet Archive copy of the page was found]

Books by the Chapter or Verse

An article in last week’s New York Times hints at one potential new publishing model – iUniverse and IDG Books are teaming up to allow readers to build their own books out of chapters and components from IDG’s “Dummies” and “Frommer’s Guide” series. Readers pay for each bit of content by piece. The resulting custom book is then bound and shipped, or put into a PDF file for download. If successful, the venture could offer an example for publishers of electronic literature. It’s conceivable that e-lit readers might be willing to pay for an anthology of interactive literature that they themselves construct.

Seybold 2000 to feature E-Book Event

Next month’s Seybold SF 2000 conference will feature a comprehensive e-Book industry event, with a showcase sponsored by Publisher’s Weekly featuring the major e-Book vendors and a keynote by Dick Brass, the leader of Microsoft’s e-Book group.
[Link checked April 2005; the page that was at http://www2.zdevents.com/db/owa/press_release_detail?v_press_release_id=1438 is no longer on the Web and is not shown by the Internet Archive]