Monthly Archives: February 2012

Endangered Archives

25 February 2012

From The Endangered Archives Programme:

Unless action is taken now, much of mankind’s documentary heritage may vanish – discarded as no longer of relevance or left to deteriorate beyond recovery.

. . . .

Archives are endangered both by the actions of mankind and the forces of nature. War may wreak catastrophic effects but other man-made threats . . . can be more damaging. For instance, there are the problems of fragility and obsolescence associated with the physical formats to which we have entrusted our documentary heritage – such as audiotapes, glass negatives, and acidic paper.

Archives not kept under any proper legal system are susceptible to neglect or destruction. Political ideology may impact directly on archives, eradicating archives relating to minorities and their rights. As the ICA Congress noted: “Archives are fundamental to ensuring the survival of truth, memory and justice.”

Link to the rest at The Endangered Archives Programme and here’s a link to the Endangered Archives Blog.

Barnes and Noble was considered the “brutal capitalist” of booksellers

25 February 2012

From All About Romance:

While Amazon is considered a disruptor company for many of the changes today – hated by independent book store owners and publishers, especially after they promoted their price-check app over the Christmas holidays, in the 80’s and 90’s Barnes and Noble was considered the “brutal capitalist” of booksellers. And its history is extremely interesting, considering what has been happening in the book world of late. Barnes and Noble was the first major bookseller to discount books, by selling The New York Times best-selling titles at 40% off the publishers’ list price. In the eighties they bought up chain book stores like B. Dalton, Doubleday Book Shops, and Bookstop. In 1998 they tried to purchase Ingram Book Group Inc., the largest book wholesaler in the United States but were unable to do so because of antitrust concerns. Supposedly one reason Waldenbooks and Borders opened so many stores was to keep up with Barnes and Noble’s superstores.

. . . .

In 1998 Barnes & Noble got sued by the American Booksellers Association and 26 independent bookstores who claimed that Barnes & Noble and Borders had violated antitrust laws by using their buying power to demand from publishers “illegal and secret” discounts and then in 2003 Barnes and Noble was the first bookseller to publish its own line after acquiring Sterling Publishing Co., the nation’s largest publisher of how-to books, competing side by side with Modern Library and Penguin Classics.

. . . .

The article, The Bookstore’s Last Stand, talks about how Macmillan, Penguin, and Random House all feel a “ sense of unease about the long-term fate of Barnes & Noble, the last major bookstore chain standing.” Of course these are the same publishing companies that are defendants in class action law suit brought by Hagens Bermans, the law firm representing eBook purchasers.

. . . .

Barnes and Noble and Book- A- Million and many independent booksellers refuse to stock books published by Amazon. While some view this as a smart move, Michael Souers an analyst at S&P’s Capital IQ, in this article from Time views the move as a way for B&N to firmly side with traditional publishers. “It’s kind of a symbolic gesture, one meant to ingratiate themselves with publishers,” Souers says. “And publishers are upset with Amazon for trying to cut them out of the process.”

Magellan Media Partners’ analyst Brian O’Leary feels that it’s foolish for Barnes & Noble to attempt to punish Amazon by dropping titles where Amazon has a special deal with the publisher. “In general” he said, “it’s a mistake for any author or publisher to create scarcity in the channel. It sends the wrong message to readers.”

Link to the rest at All About Romance

Book Country’s First Signed Author: ‘Never Considered Self-Publishing’

25 February 2012

From Digital Book World:

In November 2009, a novel was born about a gatekeeper and a penguin.

Two years later, the novel (initially conceived during National Novel Writing Month, a novel-writing fest in which participants are expected to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days) was uploaded to Penguin’s Book Country, an online community for genre-fiction writers to share and workshop their work.

Fast-forward a few weeks: Danielle Poiesz, an editorial coordinator at Book Country emailed Kerry Schafer, 48 and a mental health crisis response professional in Colville, Wash. and the author of said novel, asking her if she would send the complete manuscript to an interested editor at Penguin.

Susan Allison, vice president and editorial director of Berkley Books, a publishing group within Penguin, was that interested editor. Allison wanted to talk, somehow an agent, Deidre Knight, got involved, and a digital-age book deal was born.

The structure of the deal is fairly standard, according to Schafer: Advance, two books, first due out in February 2013. (Schafer would not disclose the size of the advance.)

What’s different about this book deal is how the book was discovered: Book Country.

. . . .

JG: You were discovered on Book Country. How do you think the site helped you?

KS: With Book Country, it all depends on what you want to get out of it. With Between, I hoped maybe – I didn’t really believe it – but I did hope that maybe it was good enough and somebody might have a look at it and maybe an agent or an editor might have an interest. At the same time, I continued to query it [with agents].

JG: So, now that you have a book deal from a big-time publisher, have you quit your job?

KS: No, not yet. Someday, there’s a dream, down the road, I would like to write full-time.

But now I’m a little bit more dedicated making sure I get my daily writing time in. it’s a job now. I have a contract; I have a commitment. My family understands.

My first round of revisions is due by the end of March. The second book rough draft is due the end of December.

The second book, we’re looking at calling it Wake World, will be a continuation of this book. We’re looking at a trilogy, even though there are two contracted books, I’m planning a trilogy.

JG: Before this deal came through, did you ever consider self-publishing?

KS: I hadn’t. I know I need a good editor. I like to have a team. I didn’t want to spend all the time that is required for formatting and self-marketing. I like having the professional team that I have now. It’s awesome.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World and thanks to Melissa for the tip.

Big Publishing’s Optimism About the Future is Tanking

24 February 2012

Here’s a classic snapshot of an industry that is realizing its world is changing, that the big players may not survive and the people they employ don’t possess the skills necessary to compete in the new world.

The interesting thing about disruptive change is that it’s happened to lots of different industries before and the overall pattern is relatively predictable (although details and timing are not) but none of the top people in an industry being disrupted ever seem to believe it can happen to them. Denial is death under those circumstances.

Can I make him happy, Contessa?

24 February 2012
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“Can I make him happy, Contessa?”

“You love him for himself… [And] I believe your mutual interest in Persian rugs will be a strong bond between you.”

Anne Weale, Now or Never

Publishers and Libraries – Diverging Interests

24 February 2012

From publishing professional Mike Shatzkin:

Because libraries are, at most 5% of a general trade publisher’s business and far less of the ebook business, and because the market is changing so rapidly and because every retailer except Amazon can be said to be struggling to carve out a sustainable position in the global ebook marketplace, there are many legitimate reasons for the biggest publishers to take a wait-and-see attitude about libraries and ebooks. The fear is of a “shopping and consuming” experience at the libraries which is comparable to what the retailers can offer. That potential is largely mitigated now because most of the big books don’t go to them. But, if they did, publishers fear the market could shift away from retail.

That fear is not just about a “lost sale”. It is also about a “lost channel” of sales, or a pipe to the consumer that runs entirely through Amazon.

. . . .

[W]e already face the possibility that we’re headed for a single retailer for ebooks and print online called Amazon. Every other channel to the consumer, libraries and retailers both (whether they know it or not) are ultimately fighting for their digital lives. Publishers don’t want to do anything that weakens Kobo, Google, Barnes & Noble, or anybody offering a commercial channel to customers.

. . . .

I think we should all understand that intelligent people on all sides feel that they are fighting for their survival. That includes Amazon, the publishers, the competing retailers, and the libraries. Our problem is that the interests don’t align and what I think people sometimes have trouble accepting is that it is possible they never will.

. . . .

I think most of us agree that the price-per-read major publishers will be able to capture is very likely to go down. (Some optimists would argue that the number of reads will go up, but, of course, that’s of questionable comfort if the number of authored books available also goes up, and it will.) So publishers are highly conscious of that in ways they never had to think about when the price of what they sold was bounded by physical realities.

Link to the rest at The Shatzkin Files

iBooks DRM Has Been Hacked

24 February 2012

From The Digital Reader:

Reports are coming in today that the latest version of Requiem, an app that removes Fairplay DRM from music and videos sold via iTunes, will now also remove the DRM from iBooks ebooks. It may have taken a couple years, but Apple is now as safe to buy from as any other ebookstore. You don’t have to worry about losing future access to content that you buy there.

. . . .

I’ve always thought that DRM only remained unbroken so long as no hacker was interested in breaking it.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader


Clone Wars: Author Discovers Bots Competing To Sell His Book

24 February 2012
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From TechCrunch:

Carlos Bueno wrote a book called Lauren Ipsum. It’s a book about understanding computers for kids. He priced it at about $14 and offered it as a print-on-demand title and ebook. All was going well, books were selling, when suddenly he noticed a few copies were being offered for $55 or more.

. . . .

What was happening was that a bot had found the book and priced it at some ridiculous level – $45 at last count. Bueno was bemused, at best, and realized that bots had found the book and were essentially running a price war amongst themselves.

. . . .

As the bots fought, they reduced the price to below retail in order to grab sales. They hoped to make up the difference in shipping costs. Suddenly Amazon noticed the resulting power play and the company’s own bots reduced the price to below their price

Link to the rest at TechCrunch and thanks to Greg for the tip.

Non-Compete Clauses

24 February 2012

Another excellent essay by Kris Rusch:

Traditional publishers never got in trouble for their monopoly because they studiously avoided working in tandem—Random House did not collude with Bertelsmann to control pricing, for example. But they did—often—play follow the leader. If one publisher came up with a good way to make extra money, then the other publishers quickly followed suit.

. . . .

Just a few years ago, publishers had given up on building careers, deciding instead to launch newcomers all the time in hopes that they would become the latest Stephenie Meyer or Suzanne Collins. So the idea of building a career one midlist novel at a time had faded, and a lot of writers—who had been at this for decades—made noises about retiring or moved to comics/gaming/screenwriting or became teachers, truck drivers, or bitter drunks sitting in the corner of every writers conference within driving distance.

At the same time, publishers had given up on independent bookstores, making them pay full wholesale price for a book while giving a chain like Borders a deep discount for that same book. Which meant that the chain bookstore could sell that book at half-price or lower, while the independent, which probably paid half of the cover price, couldn’t discount at all.

Publishers didn’t care as long as they made their four-to-six percent profit every year. And because no one protested their business practices, there was a lot of skimming, and forgotten royalties, and unreported foreign sales. Who was going to fight the big bad publisher, anyway? A writer? Give me a break. The agents? Most agents soon figured out that they made more money if they went to bed with the publishers instead of the writers.

. . . .

Because if I had my druthers, I would indie publish and traditionally publish. I don’t like having all of my eggs in one basket, even if I own the basket myself.

So, selfishly, it’s better for me if a bunch of us shove traditional publishers kicking and screaming into this new world along with us.

None of us writers will ever agree on the best contract terms. What’s good for me won’t be good for you. You have different circumstances.  I may not need a hefty advance. You might. I might think that a royalty rate on e-books that’s too low is a deal-breaker. You might not. And so on.

But we can—and should—agree on one thing:

We should be willing to walk away when a traditional publisher offers us terms we don’t like.

. . . .

The other area we as writers should completely agree on is this:

We should never ever ever ever sign a blanket non-compete clause.

As traditional publishers slowly realize that they no longer have a monopoly, they’re acting worse toward writers instead of better. They’re trying to scare writers or worse, force them into behaving a certain way.

. . . .

The clause often goes like this:

“The Author agrees that during the terms of this Agreement he will not, without written permission of the Publisher, publish or authorize to be published any work that might compete with the Work.”

(The capitalized Work refers to the book that is the subject of the contract.)

Sometimes the clause continues with this:

“The Author also agrees not to publish any other work without written permission of the Publisher for two years after the publication of the Work.”

The net effect is to prevent the writer from writing anything else without the publisher’s permission. Since the first part of the clause goes for the term of the Agreement, and the term of the Agreement is often dictated by sales, then that means that for a writer whose book (under this Agreement) becomes a bestseller, this writer will alwayshave to ask his publisher’s permission to write anything else—including blog posts.

Even the more limited “also agrees” clause for two years or six months or whatever “after the publication of the Work” is terrible. Because that still puts a writer’s entire career at the mercy of his publisher. It took three years from purchase to publication of my first novel. If you add the two years of the clause on top of that, I wouldn’t have been able to publish anything without my publisher’s permission for five years.

. . . .

Don’t let anyone tell you what to write. Ever. Ever.

Link to the rest at Kristine Kathryn Rusch and you should read it if you plan on signing a publishing agreement or if you ever have signed a publishing agreement.

Amazon to offer the Kindle in Brazil for $115

24 February 2012

From Good EReader:

Amazon is expanding into South America with their flagship Kindle Touch e-Reader this July. They intend to undercut the local market by offering their device for $115 and compete against Sony and devices made by Positivo Alfa that cost triple the cost of the Kindle.

Amazon is currently in negotiation with major book publishers in Brazil and South America in general. These deals should be finalized by March or April. They are intending on opening up a physical location in that market as their base of operations.

Link to the rest at Good EReader

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