J.K. Rowling’s new book comes out Thursday – an adult novel about a social concern

J.K. Rowling’s new book, The Casual Vacancy, comes out this Thursday – September 27, 2012 – and there’s not a spell in it. The adult novel focuses on small-town politics and poverty in southwestern England. A topic so far from her regular work that her publisher has skipped the publicity campaign. They’re just going to release it, pray to god, and see what happens.

Still, Barnes & Noble expects it to be a top seller. Her name may sell millions by itself, but one wonders how the fans will react. And that has been on Rowling’s mind too, from USA Today:

Rowling says she understands and accepts that many readers would rather she just keep writing about the boy wizard.

“Yes, I understand that point of view. If you love something — and there are things that I love — you do want more and more and more of it, but that’s not the way to produce good work. So as an author I need to write what I need to write. And I needed to write this book.”

I guess that dream of seven more high-quality Harry Potter books is done, and Rowling has loudly proclaimed it so “never, never, never.” Her encore will be adult novels – with a social cause – and, possibly, a children’s book. Maybe that will have some wizards in it?

Even through all this, there is some excitement for the book. Fans know she created amazing characters in Harry Potter and may do the same in The Casual Vacancy. Perhaps, it will be a Dickens-like classic that inspires even as it tells a sad story.

Learn more about the plot and the characters in the USA Today exclusive interview with J.K. Rowling.

 

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Real-time stats revolutionized journalism – what will they do to books?

It takes the average reader just seven hours to read the final book in Suzanne Collins’s “Hunger Games” trilogy on the Kobo e-reader—about 57 pages an hour. Nearly 18,000 Kindle readers have highlighted the same line from the second book in the series: “Because sometimes things happen to people and they’re not equipped to deal with them.” And on Barnes & Noble’s Nook, the first thing that most readers do upon finishing the first “Hunger Games” book is to download the next one.

In the past, publishers and authors had no way of knowing what happens when a reader sits down with a book. Does the reader quit after three pages, or finish it in a single sitting? Do most readers skip over the introduction, or read it closely, underlining passages and scrawling notes in the margins? Now, e-books are providing a glimpse into the story behind the sales figures, revealing not only how many people buy particular books, but how intensely they read them.

For centuries, reading has largely been a solitary and private act, an intimate exchange between the reader and the words on the page. But the rise of digital books has prompted a profound shift in the way we read, transforming the activity into something measurable and quasi-public.

 

The full story – Your E-Book Is Reading You

Continue reading Real-time stats revolutionized journalism – what will they do to books?

Microsoft invests half billion in the Nook, making it more valuable than Barnes and Noble

Microsoft and Barnes & Noble have teamed up to compete against Apple and Amazon in the eBooks business. The new partnership sees Microsoft investing $300 million in a new Barnes & Noble subsidiary.

The $300 million investment in the Nook subsidiary of Barnes & Noble gives Microsoft about 17.6 percent ownership of this business unit. That values this part of the business at about $1.7 billion. Before the markets opened this morning, the Nook business was valued about $900 million more than Barnes & Noble itself.

via GigaOm

 

In addition, Microsoft is paying another $305 million to get Nook on Windows 8 with some content:

Microsoft will be paying the Barnes & Noble subsidiary $180 million for revenue sharing on the Nook app that B&N will make for the Windows 8 platform. This is nonrefundable, the filing notes. Microsoft is also paying $125 million (equal to $25 million over five years) “for purposes of assisting NewCo in acquiring local digital reading content and technology development.” This, too, looks to be nonrefundable.

via Techcrunch

To put that in perspective, in the last quarter Barnes and Noble made $52 million in profit (on $2.4 billion in sales), and Amazon pulled in $130 million in profit (on $13 billion in sales). Clearly, Amazon has a big edge over B&N.

But, when you look at Microsoft’s earnings for the last quarter, $5.1 billion in profit (on $17 billion in sales), it looks like the big dog just entered the game. But, don’t forget that Apple is on the scene as well.

Clearly, the e-reader battle is just heating up and everyone wants a piece.

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On a side note, Target just announced they are pulling all Kindle’s from their stores due to ‘showrooming.’ The practice of visiting Target to physically touch a product, so you can then buy it on Amazon.

The rise of e-reading in America

28% of Americans age 18 and older own at least one specialized device for e-book reading – either a tablet or an e-book reader.

The holiday season saw a huge boost in ownership for both e-readers and tablets. Both jumped 9%, meaning that nearly one in ten Americans received a device over the holidays.

The average reader of e-books says she has read 24 books in the past 12 months, compared with an average of 15 books by a non-e-book consumer.

78% of those ages 16 and older say they read a book in the past 12 months.

Overall, those who reported reading the most books in the past year include: women compared with men; whites compared with minorities; well-educated Americans compared with less-educated Americans; and those age 65 and older compared with younger age groups.

30% of those who read e-content say they now spend more time reading, and owners of tablets and e-book readers particularly stand out as reading more now. 

The longer people have owned an e-book reader or tablet, the more likely they are to say they are reading more.

The prevalence of e-book reading is markedly growing, but printed books still dominate the world of book readers. 

In our December 2011 survey, we found that 72% of American adults had read a printed book and 11% listened to an audiobook in the previous year, compared with the 17% of adults who had read an e-book.

There are four times more people reading e-books on a typical day now than was the case less than two years ago.

10x more stats at – The rise of e-reading, Pew Internet

 

And, a fun ending:

Why people like to read.