Friday, April 20, 2012

Publishing News

Publishing news for the past couple of weeks!


The DOJ has officially filed an antitrust lawsuit over e-book pricing against Apple and 5 of the Big Six publishers (but not Random House). HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, and Hachette Group will be agreeing to a settlement in the DOJ vs. Big Five and Apple case. Apple, Macmillan, and Penguin will be fighting the antitrust charges in court. The terms of the settlement are quite a hassle, although they don't necessarily mean an end to the agency model - just the ability of publishers to set the prices, which is why the publishers wanted the agency model in the first place. CNET analyzes the case and suggests that it's not likely that the charges will stand against Apple, even if they do against the publishers. CEO of MacMillan, John Sargent, posts his statement on the issue on Amazon intends to lower prices on eBooks again.

(If you're not up to date on the case, here's a longer and more thorough summary. Or, you can check out the short version at the bottom of the page.)

Probably because of this ruling, at least two of the Big Six in the publishing world have, for the first time, not signed Amazon's latest annual contract. I assume this means their books will not be available through Amazon, at least not new. This follows in the pattern set by the Independent Publishers' Group, who also refused to sign with Amazon after disagreeing with their terms. 4,000 titles lost their eBook "buy" buttons on Amazon for the refusal, although they are still available through other sellers such as Barnes & Noble and Apple, and in some cases on Amazon in paperback.

Smashwords has announced that they will continue to use the agency pricing model.

Also, there was no Pulitzer Prize awarded for fiction this year. The other categories all have awards, but not fiction. The lack of an award is not unique; it's happened a total of 62 times across all the categories.

Industry Blogs

Jessica Faust over at BookEnds, LLC will be ceasing her frequent blog updates after 5 years of consistent blogging - if you've been here before, you know I'm sad to see it go. She's still got all her great posts available, though, and may occasionally post in the future when something good comes up. Also, in case you missed it, all the agents at BookEnds now have new e-mail addresses. Don't send your queries to the wrong ones.

Jane Lebak over at QueryTracker offers suggestions on writing your synopsis. You should expect to have it 500-1000 words, and include only what you need: Your character's inciting incident, and he or she decides to do about it. Give the ending, and include side characters only if absolutely necessary. Danyelle Leafty joins her with advice for figuring out what your writing style is: are you an outliner or a pantser (do you outline, or make it up as you go), a marathon writer or a sprinter (do you write in short spurts, or long marathon sessions), a flypaper or a fisher (ideas come easily, or ideas come hard)?

QueryTracker also offers its Publishing Pulse for 4/13. (edit Friday afternoon: and 4/20.)

Over in PubRants, Agent Kristen reminds us that if we're asking about "the next big trend," we're already behind it! By the time the story would be written, printed, and published, the trend is almost over, and certainly no longer the fresh new thing on the block.

Rachelle Gardner gives suggestions on beginning a career without sabotaging yourself. Are you in this for the "long haul"? Then never stop improving your writing, don't make agents or editors mad at you, stay positive, and keep your eyes on new technology! Also, don't screw yourself up with social media.

And she offers two sides of the debate: Why authors self-publish and why authors still look for publishers.

Nathan Bransford offers a nice recap on the whole DOJ vs. the Big Six and Apple lawsuit, and speculates on what the world will look like after it's settled.

Over at the Ink-Stained Scribe, Lauren Harris offers advice on using Yarny to work writing into a busy schedule. It's a cloud-based program that writers can use to, say, write during their lunch breaks. Because it's internet-based, the documents are accessible anywhere the internet is.

The Short Version of DOJ against five major publishers and Apple:
When Amazon began selling eBooks at a loss, they gained almost 90% of the market. Shortly thereafter, five publishing houses and Apple each approached Amazon and pretty much said they wouldn't let Amazon sell their books if Amazon didn't switch to the "agency model" of pricing. This raised eBook prices, because it meant the publishers would be setting the prices instead of the retailers. Ironically, this earned the publishers less money per book than the "wholesale model" that allowed retailers to set the prices, as Amazon was absorbing the initial loss under the wholesale model. But since Amazon could use sales from their other markets absorb the cost of selling eBooks at a loss, Amazon began to dominate the market. Since the implementation of the agency model, Amazon has declined to about 60% of the eBook market, allowing other sellers (such as Apple and Barnes & Noble) to compete. Then the Department of Justice filed a antitrust lawsuit against Apple and the five publishers who demanded the agency pricing, on grounds that they colluded in an anti-competitive way to raise the price of eBooks. Amazon has come out and said the first thing they intend to do is lower prices on eBooks as soon as they can.

More related articles: US sues to lower prices of best-seller e-books, E-book antitrust suit against Apple a win for Amazon, and Speculation abounds that Amazon triggered e-book lawsuit. All three have a bias against Amazon (which is something to keep in mind when reading them), but they do give implications on how the ruling may affect the industry as a whole.

Amazon does give grants to independent booksellers and publishers adding up to a total of about $1 million. There's a long list tucked away on their page of their beneficiaries. Recipients say the grants are crucial to staying in business, but critics speculate on the possibility of Amazon using the grants to buy off independent publishers. It can't be denied that Amazon has been crucial to keeping some of these independent publishers in business, though.

What publishing industry news have you seen in the past couple of weeks?