Books in the time of tech: Big merger to fight Amazon, Apple; wrapping up e-readers’ story; where is Nook on Surface?

Today we have notes about the book industry:

• The merger announced this morning that would create Penguin Random House, the world’s largest book publisher, is being seen as a response to the rise of e-books and Amazon and Apple‘s positions in the industry.

“This is about negotiating power,” Mike Shatzkin of book research consulting firm Ideal Logical told Reuters. If the deal gains regulatory approval — some say it could be a drawn-out process — the combined company would constitute about a quarter of English-language book sales, according to the Wall Street Journal.

• In other e-book news, are e-readers almost at the end of their story — and so soon? The rise of tablets — where e-reading is just one option — is disrupting the e-reader business, according to Reuters. The Reuters article mentions e-paper makers that have ended production. And the future of e-ink makers is in the air, with some of them trying hard to evolve and catch the tablet wave.

E-readers, of course, aren’t tablets’ only victims. The Merc’s Chris O’Brien wrote a weekend column about how tablets have disrupted the computing industry. Tablets are projected to account for almost all computing devices’ sales growth in the next couple of years.

• Finally, it appears partners Microsoft and Barnes & Noble Nook weren’t on the same page, because the Nook e-reading app was conspicuously absent from the new Surface tablet, which went on sale last week. Barnes & Noble told the Wall Street Journal it is coming “within weeks.” Microsoft announced an investment in Nook earlier this year. (See A day-after Nook report.)



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