Friday, April 5, 2013

Publishing Industry News

This week's post covers 3/22-4/5/2013. Big events in the publishing world these past couple of weeks, so clear a little space in your day: you'll want to read up on these if you haven't already heard of them!

Industry News

If you haven't yet heard that Amazon bought GoodReads, you've probably been engaged in a space battle on another planet. Whether or not this makes you happy depends on your standpoint. Amazon promises that GoodReads will be allowed to continue to operate independently and keep its buylinks to other vendors, although many suspect the ownership will lead to an inevitable crowding out of non-Amazon links and material.

Reactions? On the bright side, getting access to the data and reviews may be all Amazon wanted, because it will help Amazon become even better at connecting readers with books and let Amazon incorporate a social element they've always wanted. The founders of GoodReads are excited about the move, and assuming Amazon's current and future leaders keep to its motto of "First do no harm," it could be a great thing for the reading community. Although Apple, Barnes and Noble, and other retailers probably won't ever appreciate the move. LibraryThing founder Tim Spalding loves this news, but thinks B&N and other buy links will be soon dropped no matter what Amazon claims; president of the Authors Guild Scott Turow is horrified and thinks "Amazon’s control of online bookselling approaches the insurmountable." (In other words, the publishing community is divided.)

Also, Simon and Schuster and Barnes and Noble are having a fight. Is this a problem? Yes, it affects authors. Barnes and Noble will be ordering fewer S&S books. (Thanks to Sabrina Jeffries for sharing the links!) Why? Kristen Rusch explains her take on it: Because B&N orders fewer books from S&S, which means those authors sell fewer books, which affects the re-orders. And for industry members watching Hugh Howey's print-only deal, this might make the difference as to whether or not that catches on.

And if you've been wondering whether or not you'll be able to resell your e-books, it's looking like a firm "no": the US District Court of Manhattan ruled that music reseller ReDigi will be liable for copyright infringement (ReDigi is expected to appeal, of course). This seems to say the Right of First Sale Doctrine doesn't apply in the same way to electronic works, something that both Amazon and Apple are watching because they've both applied for patents to resell digital books.

Kobo releases its own Kobo e-reader, to compete against the Kindle and Nook and other such devices.

In February, indie booksellers started a lawsuit against Amazon and the Big Five ("Six") publishers over e-book DRM that locked e-books into certain e-readers (namely the Kindle). Amazon and the publishers are now requesting to have the case dismissed, on the grounds that there's no proof that DRM has had that effect, or harmed competition, or that there was any such conspiracy between the Big Five and Amazon to promote the Kindle exclusively, as that would be harmful to the publishers themselves.

And in New York, the courts have ruled that the internet sales tax is legal (due to the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013, recently passed by the Senate). That means online sellers will have to include sales tax in purchases made by customers regardless of the customers' locations. Overstock has stopped selling to NY affiliates, and Amazon already "supports nationwide sales tax rules."

GalleyCat introduces the monthly Self-Publishing Intelligence Report.

Authors with Night Shade Books are being faced a dilemma. Night Shade is going out of business, and in trying to avoid bankruptcy, which would leave authors potentially unable to reclaim their rights ever (meaning those books would become forever out of print with no further print options) by selling its contracts to another publisher... who wants to rewrite the contracts. The deal will only go through if enough authors sign off on it, but authors feel like they're between a rock and a hard place with this one. You can comment yourself at the Facebook and Twitter sites of the parties involved:

(Thansk to Anthony Deaver for sharing the links, through Bliss Morgan, through Michael Bernstein.)

Industry Blogs

QueryTracker's Publishing Pulse for 3/29 and 4/5.

Best-selling author C.J. Lyons gives an interview about KDP Select on Jane Friedman's blog, and who she thinks it's best for. Authors with 2-3 books out would probably get the most benefit, while for those with only one book, she doesn't recommend it. Authors with established fan bases who buy from varied retailers might end up alienating their audiences, so they should be careful.

If Amazon's acquisition of GoodReads makes you nervous, here are five review sites unaffiliated with Amazon.

Agent Kristen Nelson puts forth her view on Indie author and agent parings, in a several-part series. If you want to know how agents are connecting with indie authors and why she feels it benefits both, it's worth a read. She sat down with Hugh Howey (author of the Wool series), and from that conversation,  started to get an idea of how she would have to change to work with indie authors. Or, in her words, "Let’s quit complaining [about traditional publishing being archaic and not changing] and start having conversations to instigate change because how do you think change happens?"

What do you think about hands-free books? Nathan Bransford is excited about the concept. (For "awesome" appeal alone, I'm in! Especially if the Google Glass can track your eye movements enough to automatically scroll so you don't have to.) He also offers some alternatives to Google Reader, if you were a big fan of RSS and are now searching for a replacement.

QueryTracker writer Carolyn Kaufman creates a comparison chart for various Cloud services. She doesn't suggest using any of the big-brand names for your original creative works due to the legal loopholes in them (such as allowing the company to use your data in any way they want), and although the sites claim they won't do so, probably good advice not to put your manuscript in some of these services.

Agent Janet Reid gives 3 basic mistakes not to make in queries: Don't say "copyright 20xx" in the text (it's not needed and shows you haven't done your research), don't make your comp titles movies, and don't say your book is intended for adults (the genre covers that). She also suggests focusing on one genre in writing, and gives four mistakes that show a lack of professionalism, such as using someone else's e-mail address to send a query. And she defines what counts as "timely" in the publishing world, as far as an agent following up with an editor about a submission goes.

Oh, yes, and if you've read the QueryShark archives (and you should), one of her readers has archived all her posts for easier perusal.

Writers Write explains why considering word count and staying within standard guidelines is important for debut books looking for traditional publishing.

And Hugh Howey gives some advice on why authors might want to switch to self-publishing. He pretty much says self-publishing is good. Publishers aren't bad, but you'll get a better deal self-pubbing, and if you do traditionally publish, make sure the contract is on your terms. It's got a lot of the reasons I've decided to switch to self-publishing first, and worth a read.

So, we're all terrified of adding a picture to a blog that's been copyrighted, and getting sued for it. But Imgembed, a new image site, aims to help bloggers avoid fear of copyright infringing by making it part of the terms: You can use the images for free, in return for promoting the artists.

And Rachelle Gardner talks about legal and effective pinning on Pinterest for authors.

And, taxes. Ready for them? Here's some advice for writers at tax time. (Thanks to Lauren Harris for the link!)

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


  1. It's Barnes & Noble NOT Barnes & Nobles!

    1. See, this is why I shouldn't put these posts together at night. D'oh!