Today in books and publishing: Bezos confirms Kindles are a loss-leader; critics and publishers respond to Yan's Nobel; Ferlinghetti turns down Hungarian prize; Rich Dad, bankrupt author.
Amazon makes nothing on Kindle devices. We've already heard plenty of speculation about the profit (or lack thereof) that Amazon makes on Kindle devices, but now we have it straight from the man himself. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has confirmed that Amazon makes no money on the devices, selling them at break-even prices to bolster sales of e-books and other online content. "We sell the hardware at our cost," Bezos said of the Kindle Fire HD and Paperwhite. The strategy helps them steer customers away from Apple, who sells more expensive e-reading devices at a profit. Amazon's loss-leader approach could turn out to be a better long-term strategy for retaining customers, and Bezos says the devices make readers hungrier for more books. "What we find is that when people buy a Kindle they read four times as much as they did before they bought the Kindle." [Forbes]
Yan, his critics, and publishers respond to Nobel win. This year's winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature Mo Yan has been criticized for being too cozy with party officials. Following the Nobel announcement, these complaints were voiced strongly by dissident artist Ai Weiwei, who said, "Giving the award to a writer like this is an insult to humanity and to literature ... He has been very clearly pursuing the party's line and in several cases he has shown no respect for the independence of intellectuals." Yan's acceptance speech didn't skirt politics entirely, though. He brought up one thorn in the side of Chinese authorities: 2010's Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, who remains imprisoned for his activism. "I hope he can achieve his freedom as soon as possible," Yan said, without aligning himself with Xiaobo politically. Amidst all this political rhetoric, the publishing industry also responded to the Yan's win with cheers. The author's publisher Shanghai Xinhua Media Co. grew 10 percent thanks to Yan's win. Financial analyst Zhao Yue says, "In the longer term, the country is pushing for an improvement in the cultural sphere, so the outlook for this industry is positive." [The Guardian]