International News Sampler
By LANA POPOVIC
More international petit fours, this time with an icing of snark. I can only deny my true nature for so long.
- Amazon has a new inside man in Brazil to help prepare for its launch in the country’s ebook market. Mauro Widman is an engineer who has spent the past year and a half developing the ebook platform at Livraria Cultura, one of the largest bookstore chains in Brazil, which must be just delighted that Widman is scooping all that hands-on knowledge he’s acquired while building their platform and taking it to Amazon. Widman’s new Amazon title is “vendor manager” for the Kindle. Is that doomsday bell of global monopoly I hear tolling in the distance?
- The Japanese practice of “Pecha Kucha,” in which architects present their work in twenty images for twenty seconds each, will be adopted at a new digital conference in London this summer. Writing in the Digital Age is aimed at writers hoping to find a publisher, and authors who are already published but are seeking advice about the new digital landscape. But is the pecha kucha rapidfire format the best way to go about machinegunning authors with new information?
- “Waterstone’s 11,” the chain’s pick of debut novels that it predicts will be prizewinners, is dominated by white women, including a former Royal Shakespeare company actress, a bookseller from Alaska, and a Welsh woman who grew up in a fundamentalist religion.
- It’s hard out there for a German retail bookstore chain trying to go head to head with Amazon. After a largescale shift to digital content and its introduction of a dedicated ereader, the Oyo II, last year, German book retailer Thalia has reported a loss of over 93 milion euros. Since Thalia boasts around 300 physical brick-and-mortar retail locations, an established online market, and a dedicated ereader to handle the 300,000 ebook titles in its catalog, one might hazard a wild guess that the loss has more to do with competing with the Kindle than with finding “the optimum way of integrating our traditional stores with our online shops so that we can leverage the potential of the new megatrend, the e-book.”
- Digital library distributor OverDrive has added thousands of foreign language titles to its catalog by signing a number of new publishing clients, including PubLit, owner of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, also known as those books of slapdash crazy that I will never understand why everyone thinks are so awesome. Yeah, bring on the hate; I can take it. The company’s online catalog has books in over fifty languages, now including ones in Russian, Swedish, Portuguese, Italian, Turkish, and Spanish. The addition of the foreign titles brings their catalog to 700,000.
- It’s a well known fact that other countries translate way more books than the US does, the rationale often being that America the beautiful is so large and splendiferous that there’s more than enough cultural diversity to be had from authors within its borders. But could it be that the rest of the world has a secret case of “literary xenophobia” too?