90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Wednesday, August 3, 2011

News Organizations Cash In On Quickie E-books

The newspaper industry has seen its advertising revenue cut in half over the past decade from about $48 billion in 2000 to $23 billion last year, according to the Newspaper Association of America.

Now newspapers and other media organizations are looking to make up for that shortfall by publishing e-books of major news stories, like the Osama bin Laden raid or the capture of renowned Boston mobster, Whitey Bulger.

Here & Now media analyst, John Carroll, said the Bulger story allowed the Boston Globe to re-purpose a treasure trove of material from its archives.

“It’s really redefining what a book is. It can be just print, print and video. A book now is something that is very different from a book we’ve traditionally seen since the 15th century.”
– John Carroll, H&N Media Analyst

“What you do is slap a cover on it, you put an intro on it, you pull material out of the archive and you format it for the Kindle or the iPad and you send it out there,” Carrol said. “Any revenues you get from it is pretty much gravy.”

These e-books generally sell for just $1 to $5, but that can add up.

Take the example of the tech website, Ars Technica. The site recently published a 27,000-word review of Apple’s new operating system. You can read the review for free on the website, but it’s also packaged as a $5 e-book, which sold 3,000 copies in the first 24 hours.

So why would people pay for something that’s already free online?

“The reason is portability, readability,” said Carroll. “It’s much easier to read 27,000 words on a Kindle than it is on a computer screen.”

Other news organizations are trying to figure out which platform offers the most bang for the buck.

Fortune magazine’s in-depth feature about the inner workings of Apple was only available in the print edition and via the iPad. Normally the magazine would also release the story for free online. But the magazine is now experimenting with different platforms.

“They want to drive not only revenues, but also readership, in a particular direction,” said Carroll. “And they’re trying to pick the platforms that people can access their content from.”

Since e-books also feature video, television news organizations are also getting in on the act.

ABC News recently released a compilation of its reporting on Osama bin Laden as a video book, or v-book, that includes video.

“It’s really redefining what a book is,” said Carroll. “It’s multimedia… it can be just print and video. A book now is something that is very different from a book we’ve traditionally seen since the 15th century.”

Guest:


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Ken K. Chartrand

    I write fiction. Because in fiction I can stretch my mind better than if I was writing non-fiction. the thing is ,how do I make my fiction sell as well as non-fiction? I know that it  is no problem for the famous authors from large publishing houses to sell well but for my novel,’The Lupine Effect” I placed it available in all three formats ,Paperback, hardcover, and an e-book version. The e-book is doing ‘ok’ but I don’t know what else to do to make the paperback sell good too.

  • Ken K. Chartrand

    Hi Friends! I have a werewolf/romance novel ,”The Lupine Effect”. It is available as an e-book as well as the regular Paperback and Hard-cover. The e-book version of “The Lupine Effect” is selling for $2.99
    Just a couple of weeks  ago i released a short story on the Amazon Kindle system it is going for $0.99
    I am relatively unknown, so I find that the digital book is a great way to get out there. 

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

April 15 7 Comments

4 Lamb Recipes, Plus Lamb Cooking Tips

With the weather getting warmer, Here & Now resident chef Kathy Gunst is thinking lamb. She shares recipes for Middle Eastern-style lamb meatballs and more.

April 15 14 Comments

The Problem With U.S. Tax Policies

Tax expert David Cay Johnston says it's easy to fool the IRS, but there's one catch: "you have to be rich." He says outdated tax policies are hurting the economy.

April 14 4 Comments

Lessons For News Media After Marathon Bombings

We take a look at what the news media got wrong and what can be learned for future breaking news coverage.

April 14 7 Comments

Marathon Bombing Survivor Loses Limbs But Finds New Life

A year after Jeff Bauman lost both legs in the bombing, he and his fiancée are expecting their first child.