Friday, February 22, 2013

Publishing Industry News

Publishing news and relevant industry blogs for 2/9-2/22. Okay, so I'm exhausted as I'm finishing this up, which means there's a good chance I've missed something. If you can find something major that I should really include, please toss it in the comments and I'll update Saturday morning!

Industry News

Indie booksellers sue Amazon and the Big Five  ("Six") over DRM. Basically, they're saying that by signing agreements with Amazon that restrict the devices on which the e-books produced can be read, and since the same deals have not been offered to them, competition is being limited. By Kindle books being only readable on the Kindle, and all e-books sold on Amazon only being Kindle-compatible,  the companies have created an environment in which the vast majority of readers who want to purchase a book produced by the Big Four will purchase a Kindle--cutting the indie retailers out of the picture. The indie booksellers are asking for an injunction against Amazon to prevent the addition of DRM to Amazon-purchased e-books. (As a Nook owner, I would love to see the dumping of DRM from Kindles. Do you know how many books I don't read, because the authors are only on Amazon? I just don't like reading books on a computer.)

Meanwhile, Amazon increases their funds to 2.2 million for the e-book borrowing pool. That means publishers and authors stand to make more money than before if they choose to allow their e-books to join the borrowing community. Publishers who join the KDP Select program are allowed to have their books put into this pool, and any book borrowed generates a small royalty fee that goes to the publisher (I think that means it's considered part of the author's earnings). KDP Select requires any book offered in it to be available only on Amazon, and not through any other e-retailer.

In the DOJ lawsuit versus the Big Five, Macmillan throws in the towel and decides to settle as well, leaving Apple the only defendant. The Macmillan settlement is scheduled to go to the U.S. Department of Justice to be approved by July 8. Part of this deal would be $20 million to go into the fund to reimburse e-book purchasers.

And the DOJ okays the Penguin-Random House merger. They're expecting the deal to finalize in late 2013, although they're waiting for approval from a couple of other concerned groups (such as the European Commission) who are looking into the merger.

ReDigi is getting close to being able to sell used e-books, but they still have to pass the hurdle of a lawsuit filed by Capitol Records that claims copyright infringement. Filed in January 2012, the lawsuit rejects the claim that ReDigi is the "digital equivalent of a used CD store." Among other things, ReDigi plans to make use of the fact that they pay artists and copyright holders at sale, and that they use a software that thoroughly ensures the material sold is deleted from the original device when the material is loaded on the new one. Two Thursdays ago, we learned Amazon is also working on a similar program to allow resale of used e-books. Both companies are caught in the still-developing no-man's land of digital sale, in which e-books are actually only licensed, not owned, by the purchaser.

Congress introduces a bill aimed to make all publicly-funded published research freely available to the public. Part of the controversy comes because the published material would need to be fully searchable on a central database, which means all of the some 1.5 million research articles published each year would have to be uploaded, entered into publicly searchable databases, and otherwise appropriately processed, and opponents (including publishers of said research) say that the material is publicly available already.

Yet another bill is on the floor in front of Congress to require large e-retailers to pay sales tax. Still yet to be seen whether or not this bill will succeed where others have failed.

Do you live in India? Are you writing a book? Caution, Pearson is expanding their vanity publishing branch Partridge to India. Find out more at Writer Beware. Also beware if a claims-to-be media company calls you up and offers you a huge promotional deal--if only you'll invest $5000 (USD) of your own money. The one she recently heard of is called Close-Up TV News.

Second-Life creators make Versu, a choose-your-own style platform that sells choose-your-own stories and will one day allow authors to create their own choose-your-owns to sell. They've only got a few books right now, but I see potential, lots of it...)

Industry Blogs

QueryTracker's Publishing Pulse for 2/15 and 2/22. (Edit: Latter added late).

Nathan Bransford reflects on Bookish, a site where readers can read books, shelve them, share them, recommend them, and also buy them.

Why do agents send form rejections instead of telling you what you could do to improve your manuscript? Even a sentence or two of feedback? Rachelle Gardner explains--those two minutes add up considering the thousands of queries agents get, they know they could be wrong, and more. She also explains why the new saying "self-pub is the new slush pile" is untrue.

If you're writing a will and deciding whom to leave your copyrights to, ask before giving them to someone. Kathryn Rusch explains why, and it really comes down to this: if the person doesn't know about literary rights, and isn't willing to learn, they can get screwed over and your book may fade into obscurity even if it's made into a movie.

Jane Lebak on QueryTracker talks about working with a cover artist. The cover artist's job is to get readers to pick up your book, no matter whether or not it's fully accurate to what's inside--so be flexible, because "Cover art is not an illustration. Repeat after me: it's a selling tool." That aside, it does help to have an idea of the tone you want your cover art to have, the genre, the theme of the book, the audience you're trying to reach--all the things that will help in designing the perfect cover to appeal to that audience. Meanwhile, Sarah Pinneo explains why you should have multiple links to places readers can buy your books: give them a choice of where to purchase, and include indie retailers.

At the Editor's Blog, tips on getting your details right, and how to have just the right amount of detail.

I may have mentioned before that I love Jim Hines' cover posing. He imitates the poses of the people on the covers of books to raise awareness of just how silly women's poses often are. Most of the poses he imitates are women's, but he does a few male poses for comparison. It's drop-dead hilarious--and it really says something about the cover industry.

Booktalk Nation now offers virtual author readings, for authors to connect to fans without the travel hassle. Readers may even order signed books and have them shipped to their homes.

What other publishing news have you encountered in the past couple of weeks?


  1. I like that Congress is trying to make taxpayer-funded research available to the public, but adding in a bit about making a searchable database is unnecessary and imposes the risk of a good idea being shot down because of tagged-on riff-raff. There already is a good searchable database readily accessible to the public. It's called Google Scholar.

    1. Part of their reason for this seems to be that they want standardized formatting so that standard analysis tools may be easily used on all research, improving re-use potential and searchability, and allow cross-over analysis between studies on a large scale. But yeah, the cost that would entail leaves me raising an eyebrow, especially when all the information is available to the public! It's a lovely thought and I can see the need for it, but is it practical right now?

    2. The extra stuff is really just unnecessary for the public. It's more in-depth than an average Joe would care to get. And you're right- it would cost a lot because it's a whole long-term project that a group of people would be needed to do.

  2. Lady Arite is right. Google Scholar is really great.

    Thanks for all the publishing news, Rebekkah!

    1. I'm going to have to run through their archives, then. Keep meaning to and haven't gotten around to it yet (bad me!) Thanks for dropping by!