Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Morning Brief: Random House says it will adopt agency model for e-book sales; some thoughts on the Apple event; Protester inside the Wisconsin Capitol starts blog

The last of the six big book publishing houses is now on board the agency model train, Random House announced yesterday. Starting today, the publisher will adopt the system whereby the publisher sets the price of the book and the sales agent collects a commission fee.
“The agency model guarantees a higher margin for retailers than did our previous sales terms. We are making this change both as an investment in the successful digital transition of our existing partners and in order to give us the opportunity to forge new retail relationships,” Random House said in a statement. “We are looking forward to continuing to work with all our retail partners—both digital and physical—on our joint mission to connect our authors with as many readers as possible, in whatever format they prefer.”

The CEO of the American Booksellers Association, Oren Teicher issued a statement, according to MediaBistro, that approved of the move. “We have believed from the beginning," Teeicher said, "that the agency model is in the best interest of not only the book industry, but the consuming public as well … We appreciate the careful and thoughtful deliberation Random House has brought to this issue, and applaud their decision to adopt agency pricing.”

On March 24 of last year, Random House said it would opt out of Apple's new iBooks store, though the company said it was still possible that it could enter the new Apple store but that it was "was treading carefully" fearful the new sales model would erode margins.

Tomorrow Apple will use its latest media event to unveil the iPad 2. Last year there was incredible anticipation that the event would be, well, memorable. But interestingly, I found it to be a major letdown. Watching Steve Jobs sitting in his chair putting the new tablet through its motions just didn't leave me feeling very excited about the iPad.

But in retrospect, that was one time where the event did not live up to the product. I can remember lots of other times where I admired the way Jobs was giving his keynote and only later realized that the products weren't that exciting. Only twice has the product been as amazing as the event: the introduction of the first Mac, and the unveiling of the iPhone.

Tomorrow, hey, its a new iPad, I don't expect to be wowed. The new version will have a faster processor, more RAM, one or two cameras, and a slightly, very slightly different design.

The fun will be in the anticipation that there will be a surprise somewhere along the line. The more important parts of the event may be the things discussed before getting to the iPad: changes to MobileMe? a preview of iOS 4.3? Things like that. We'll see tomorrow.

I suppose there are times when either I or you, my dear reader, realizes that I don't have much to talk about. On those occasions I usually find an app to look at, or comment about other media sites, etc. I suppose I should be grateful that there always seems to be something to talk about.

Then there are sites that are created that sound like they will be exciting, but in reality have not much to say. Here is a new blog by Jonathan Scott that sounds like a great idea, but I think Mr. Scott will find he doesn't really have much to say most of the time.

Called News from Inside the Wisconsin Capitol Building it is Mr. Scott's thoughts on the ongoing protests in Madison. It is a great topic, and a very worth while endeavor. But protests may look exciting from the outside, but walking around in circles, beating drums, and yelling chants is not quite up to the same level of thrill as, say, a blind date. It gets a bit repetitive.

But being inside the Capitol must be even worse: what is he doing in there other than making a statement with his presence? But we wish Mr. Scott all the best, and I guarantee him I will be checking up on his blog occasionally.

Washington Post reporters David A. Fahrenthold and Philip Rucker last posted a story that said that the possibility of a government shutdown was in the hands of a group of Republican freshmen, a collection of 87 newly elected representatives who, for the most part, want to dramatically cut spending in the new budget.

What are the chances these Representatives will force the government to shutdown? One newly elected Texas Republican, Rep. Blake Farenthold, is quoted by the Post as saying "I really feel like I was called to run for office at this time. A whole bunch of things all came together at once. . . . I can't credit that to anything but divine intervention."

Looks like the crazies are in charge -- count on a government shutdown.