1) The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books racked in 130,000 attendees this last weekend, which is really excellent news. The event included a scavenger hunt with an iPad prize. Among the attendees was bestselling thriller author Mary Higgins Clark, in her 80’s, who is old enough to recall when paperbacks were predicted to destroy the publishing business and so she’s not too worried about ebooks. The London Book Festival, however, unfortunately saw a large downtick in attendance, thanks to the volcanic ash cloud. (Once again, Volcanic Ash Cloud — great name for a rock band. Also, Feral Miami Chickens.)
2) HarperCollins has teamed up with fashion retailer Asos.com to launch microsites featuring six titles for women and teen girls, starting with Candace Bushnell’s Sex and the City prequel The Carrie Diaries. The sites will contain reading excerpts, author videos, etc., and contests for Asos vouchers. This is part of publisher efforts to branch out further into the wholesale market once again and it is also a great development that any fashion company gives a crap enough to be willing to try it out. (Of course Bushnell is a t.v./film brand but the others aren’t.) The deal is a sign of books’ increased status lately due to the ebook market getting lots of press. If you want to try out the first one (Bushnell is a fun interview,) the link is: http://www.asos.com/Women/Women-Landing-Pages/20100322Hhotreadsw/Cat/pgehtml.aspx?cid=10447
And if you think this is a sign of the apocalypse, grow up. Anything that makes books desirable or simply visible next to other products is a good thing. And no, it will not kill off literary novels. They have their own special marketing and promotion channels, quite sturdy ones, which is why we have literary bestsellers. And they are going to be doing this sort of thing where they can for those too. And the deal with the fashion house will make ripples through the whole fiction market, not just for “cootie” titles. The big development here is that other companies want to work with the book publishers, something that has not been easy to get before but is becoming more common, and will allow publishers to further exploit the Web with industries that have much deeper promotional pockets than they do.
3) Hulu, which lets folks in the U.S. watch t.v. shows and other programs on their computer, is not pulling in enough money through advertising. This is not a big surprise as this is a rampant problem throughout the Web. Having lured in many customers with the freebies for several years of parent companies covering the losses, Hulu is now trying to move to a more profitable model. So recent episodes of shows will still be free, but if you want more than that, Hulu will have a subscription service where you can get access to all the videos for US$9.95 a month. There is going to be a lot more of this one part free, the rest you pay for set-ups for entertainment sites, but certainly Hulu is the biggest for right now.