A London bookstore is offering a chance to win free books for life

1 October 2016

From Entertainment Weekly:

Imagine getting free books for the rest of your life. Well, one London bookstore is offering a chance to win just that in a drawing called the Library of a Lifetime.

Heywood Hill announced a prize drawing that will give the lucky winner the opportunity to receive one recently published hardcover book per month for the rest of the their life, totally free. But these are not just any books: they will be handpicked according to the reader’s tastes by the shop staff. To enter, readers must share which book has meant the most to them.

. . . .

The store already offers a version of this in their A Year in Books subscription, in which customers receive one reading selection per month, hand-picked for their tastes by the shop staff. The subscription costs £200 per year for paperbacks.

Link to the rest at Entertainment Weekly and thanks to Dave for the tip.

100-Year-Old Theater Is Now A Bookstore

1 October 2016

From Dose:

Grand Splendid was originally built in Buenos Aires, Argentina as a tango theater back in 1919. In 1929, it was converted into a cinema and then finally into the grand bookstore it is now in 2000.

By Jorge Láscar from Australia (El Ateneo bookshop) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jorge Láscar from Australia (El Ateneo bookshop) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Link to the rest, including more photos, at Dose and thanks to Barb for the tip.

A Leader in Canadian Writing Takes Stock of Self-Publishing

28 September 2016

From Publishing Perspectives:

It’s always been difficult for writers to make a living from writing. According to Merilyn Simonds—former chair of The The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) and a writer and editor with nearly 40 years in the business—this is the one constant in an ever-changing publishing ecosystem.

At the same time, she says, it’s never been a more exciting time to be a writer.

. . . .

During her tenure, TWUC members voted to open the organization to self-published authors—a contentious and divisive move, she says.

“I was happy with the decision,” Simonds says, “although interestingly, not many [self-publishing authors] want to join. They’re not interested in issues like copyright, contracts, rights.

“There’s a divide between traditionally published and self-published writers, with defensiveness on both sides, and that’s too bad, because eventually the two are likely to merge. The ‘publisher’ as we know it may not be around much longer.”

. . . .

“Writers who have traditionally published, for example, could learn from self-publishing authors the kind of energy and self-direction required to take personal charge of their writing careers, educating themselves in handling digital publishing tools and trying new things.

At the same time, she says, indie authors might recognize what publishers do. Unpleasant surprises can include “how hard it is to find an audience,” Simonds says, “and to get books into readers’ hands.”

Simonds offers a word of caution: “Self-publishing puts your head in the marketplace, and that’s no place for a writer’s creative process. You need to separate being a writer and being published.”

. . . .

Publishing is an environment, an ecosystem, Simonds says, in which everyone is affected when one element changes within it. What many self-publishers may not recognize, she says, is that independent publishing isn’t its own environment. It’s part of the larger publishing ecosystem: “Eventually you’ll meet up with the edge of your pool.”

These are the kinds of changes writers need to be watching for. When the big publishers merge to create even larger entities that are more risk-averse than ever, writers may need to be able to see opportunities opening up to them elsewhere, perhaps in the independent arena.

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

PG poses a respectful questions to authors using traditional publishers, “Do you realize how much are you paying for the services provided by your publisher?”

For a middle-aged writer, a publishing contract in today’s standard form will likely last well over 100 years. The book’s US copyright will last for the remaining years of the author’s life plus 70 years thereafter and so will the publishing contract. Copyrights in other nations are of similar duration.

Under a typical publishing contract, the author will be paying others over 80% of the retail revenues from ebook sales and licenses. If print books continue to be a mass market product for the next 100 years, the author will be paying others 85-95% of retail revenues.

Of course, the author won’t be writing checks to these other parties. They’ll pay themselves before the publisher sends any money to the author, but the financial result is the same as if the author were writing the checks.

Those percentages are fixed under a standard publishing contract signed today and, regardless of what happens in the future, nothing in that contract obliges the publisher to change the royalty structure included in the contract until it terminates along with the copyright in 100 years.

Indie authors, on the other hand, will typically receive about 70% from ebook licenses and sales.

No ebook vendor attempts to contractually tie up an author for 100 years or anything close to that length of time. Indie authors are free to stop selling ebooks through a vendor at any time. If a competing vendor offers a better deal today or in ten years, indie authors can move their ebooks to that vendor.

Just as traditional publishers will either disappear or be greatly changed in 100 years, so will book marketplaces. Indeed, what we today recognize as printed books and ebooks will likely have been replaced by methods we can barely imagine to provide stories to readers in 100 years.

But today’s traditional publishing contracts will remain in force and unchanged unless whoever owns the publishing contracts at that time agrees to change them.

Homer wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey near the end of the 8th century BC. Whatever means by which Homer’s stories were shared with others are long gone but the stories remain and are read today.

Virtually everything about today’s book business other than stories and storytellers will evolve in 100 years. Does it really make sense for an author to contractually commit her stories to an organization that will almost certainly cease to exist in a form she would recognize before that contractual commitment expires?

Philip Pullman calls for UK to adopt EU plans to protect authors’ royalties

23 September 2016

From The Guardian:

His Dark Materials author Philip Pullman has welcomed a “badly need[ed]” new proposal from the European Commission that would protect authors who achieve unexpected success from missing out on royalties.

Pullman was speaking as president of the Society of Authors, which is pressing the UK government to adopt clauses from the new EU draft directive on the digital single market in order to “avoid unfair practices that currently prevent authors making a living from writing”. The Society highlighted the case of Horrid Henry author Francesca Simon, who has not received any royalties from the television and film adaptations of her Horrid Henry books, despite the series being broadcast in 44 countries with more than 1.5m DVDs sold.

In an article last December, Simon revealed that she was missing out on the royalties because when she sold Orion her first Horrid Henry book in 1993, the book deal included film and television rights. A deal with Novel Entertainment for those rights was subsequently negotiated by Orion. “They did a poor deal. They did not use a lawyer,” wrote Simon in the Author magazine. “Not understanding their proper value led to the worst mistake of my career.”

The new draft directive, released last week, states that authors “often have a weak bargaining position in their contractual relationships, when licensing their rights”, and that “transparency on the revenues generated by the use of their works or performances often remains limited”, with this affecting their remuneration.

It proposes two safeguards, which the Society of Authors says are particularly important for writers. The so-called “bestseller clause” would give authors the right to claim additional and appropriate remuneration if the returns in their contracts are disproportionately low compared to the subsequent profits from exploitation of the works. The transparency safeguard, meanwhile, would give writers a right to regular and adequate information on the exploitation of their works.

“I welcome this draft directive, especially for its emphasis on transparency and the bestseller clause. Authors badly need the sort of natural justice that these clauses embody, not least because our work contributes substantially to the wealth of the nation,” said Pullman. “I hope that our government will see the rightness of these proposals and embody them firmly in the law of our land to ensure that they continue when we leave the EU.”

“Publishers too often fail to give their authors full information on sales and exploitation of their work. Many more gain an unfair windfall when a work is an unexpected success but do not share any of that gain with authors. This unfairness leads to many authors no longer being able to make a living from writing and, if unchecked, threatens the creative excellence of our publishing industries,” she said.

Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to Nate for the tip.

PG is always in favor of authors being paid more, but this strikes him as strange and a little pathetic.

Why are UK authors so powerless? PG has known some good British lawyers and finds it difficult to believe they could not do an excellent job of protecting authors in contract negotiations.

PG is no expert on UK laws, but if the publishers are colluding, doesn’t the Competition Law provide a remedy for complaints?

Laws have their place, but they certainly have the potential to freeze a 2016 solution in place for many years to the detriment of new and useful business and technical developments. Plus, legislators and bureaucrats everywhere seem to be highly pervious to the lobbying of moneyed interests, including large publishers.

Library Loans Are a Double-Edged Sword

22 September 2016

From Digital Book World:

Denmark experienced rapid growth in digital lending from libraries between 2011 and 2015. At first this was a welcome source of new revenue for publishers. But by the middle of 2015, the digital lending market had grown even larger than the commercial market for digital book sales. Similar to the New York Public Library app, SimplyE, the national Danish library launched its own digital lending app, eReolen, which considerably simplified ebook borrowing, allowing users to borrow and read in just one click, increasing the amount of digital books borrowed.

Mofibo, the leading subscription service provider in Denmark, told book business news outlet Bogmarkedet that 16 percent of the provider’s customers said the reason they terminated their subscriptions was that they were able to get the same books for free at the library. At this point, an increased opposition from publishers and local resellers of ebooks started moving from the director’s office to the media.

. . . .

By late 2015, the third largest publisher in Denmark, Politikens Forlag, stepped in and said that they were willing to completely withdraw their books from the libraries if a new way of lending digital books was not found. At that time, the publishing director of Politiken Forlag, Lene Juul, said to the newspaper Berlingske(loosely translated): “The lending of digital books has grown rampant. The trend at the eReolen, where books can be lent for free to the consumer, is a slippery slope that has to be stopped now, because it can have devastating effects for the development of the book market in general.”

In Denmark, the libraries have a legal right to lend books without having to get permission from publishers. However, this is not the case for digital books, and by late 2015 the publishers decided to use this to their advantage. Many of the largest Danish publishers, like Gyldendal, withdrew their books from the libraries by the January 1, 2016.

. . . .

It would appear that the withdrawal of the large publishers had the desired effect. Digital books sold now account for about 67 percent of the market relative to library borrows in Denmark.

In neighboring Sweden, lending has continued uninterrupted for several years, and an estimated 72 percent of all ebooks consumed are borrowed from the public libraries. This has put pressure on the market, driving down the prices of digital books. Today the average sales price of an ebook relative to its paper cousin is 28 percent lower (including VAT), and that is even taking into account that physical books have a VAT of 6 percent compared to the 25 percent on digital books.

When looking at possible solutions for finding a natural equilibrium between the public sector and the private market, publishers have begun campaigning for the introduction of limits on the amount of loans made by libraries. One of the suggested solutions is to introduce “friction” when users borrow books. However, it is never a good solution to structurally disappoint the public by making them wait months for their books or use a complicated borrowing process.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

Copyright Trolls Now Threatening College Students With Loss of Scholarship, Deportation

20 September 2016

From TechDirt:

In all of our coverage of copyright trolls, those rent-seeking underdwellers that fire off threat letters to those they suspect of copyright infringement with demands designed to extract cash without having to actually take anyone to court, it’s quite easy to become somewhat numb to the underhanded tactics they employ.

. . . .

But there is a special place in hell for copyright trolls who falsely inform students that failure to pay on receipt of threat letters, or who falsely inform foreign students that deportation could result from a failure to pay. According to at least one university in Canada, this is apparently a new favored tactic among some copyright trolls.

According to the copyright office at the University of Manitoba, mainly US-based rightsholders are writing on a regular basis to students demanding cash settlements for alleged infringement. Noting that the university forwards copyright infringement notices to students as they’re required to under the country’s ‘notice and notice‘ regime, the copyright office says some of the letters are “tantamount to extortion.”

In addition to cautioning over the potential for multi-million dollar lawsuits, some notice senders are stepping up their threats to suggest that students could lose their scholarships if fines aren’t paid. For visiting students, things become even more scary. According to the university’s copyright office, some porn producers have told foreign students that they could face deportation if an immediate cash settlement of hundreds of dollars is not forthcoming.

Just so everyone is clear, loss of scholarship and/or deportation is not a thing that can actually happen as a result of failure to pay a copyright threat letter.fd

Link to the rest at TechDirt

Man Booker Prize 2016 shortlist announced

19 September 2016

From Books and Publishing:

The shortlist for the 2016 Man Booker Prize has been announced.

The six shortlisted titles are: The Sellout (Paul Beatty, Oneworld), Hot Milk (Deborah Levy, Hamish Hamilton), His Bloody Project (Graeme Macrae Burnet), Eileen (Ottessa Moshfegh, Jonathan Cape), All That Man Is (David Szalay, Jonathan Cape) and Do Not Say We Have Nothing (Madeleine Thien, Granta).

They were chosen from a longlist of 13 that included South African-born Australian author J M Coetzee’s The Schooldays of Jesus.

This is the third year that the prize has been open to writers of any nationality, and the shortlist is split between two British, two US and two Canadian writers.

Three of the novels are published by Penguin Random House and three from small, independent publishers.

Link to the rest at Books and Publishing and thanks to Valerie for the tip.

Digitization Is Not Necessarily Evil

17 September 2016

From Publishing Perspectives:

Sweden’s Jacob Dalborg is CEO of Bonnier Books.

. . . .

Ahead of his CEO Talk interview at Frankfurt Book Fair’s Business Club on October 19, Publishing Perspectives asked for his views on the industry from where he sits in Bonnier’s top management in Stockholm.

Publishing Perspectives: After years of noise about digital disruption, does 2016 seem quieter in publishing?

Jacob Dalborg: I think everyone has come to terms with the fact that digitization is not necessarily evil. It’s generally accepted that it carries great opportunity.

The term “disruption” itself, when used in a publishing context, is in my opinion more often just a buzzword than a statement of facts. In reality, e.g. digital commerce only represent more selling points, not something very new and different from what we have always dealt with.

I think of publishing as a storytelling business before anything else. Our job has never been to publish as many books as possible, but to find and publish exactly the right books and to develop authors and authorships.

In that sense, I am not even sure we have had any dramatic disruption in the proper sense of that word. People love to read stories, and they always have. Actually, people read and write more than they have ever done before. They read books and everything else. The format in which we publish our stories does not–and should not–matter that much to us or to our readers. I belong to those who actually believe that content is king.

. . . .

PP: Ebooks, e-readers and mobile devices, as well as large-scale retailers like Amazon have all changed the business over the last decade. Where do you think the most important innovation takes place today?

JD: Typically, it’s not in the products themselves that you’ll find the innovation. There are of course still improvements to be done and changes to be made. As a publisher, I love ebooks because once they’re produced, you have them available forever, they have no inventory. However, the core publishing activities of acquiring, editing and publishing stories remain the same. To the consumer, the reading experience is not very different.

. . . .

PP: You mentioned that people write more than they ever have. Will you share your thoughts on self-publishing?

JD: Unfortunately, self-published books don’t figure into industry statistics. That would help us estimate the actual effect of it.

As we’ve traditionally worked in a market of carefully selected ranges of titles, it’s clear that the abundant number of titles “out there” is a new kind of challenge for publishers. How can we stay top-of-mind in this significantly larger amount of content?

In addition, all publishers should definitely look into the self-published market to identify the best authors and offer them their core service of author development. I am sure that we’re missing several good authors right now.

Finally, I would recommend anybody whose book has been rejected by a publisher or an agent, to self-publish. That will give you all the tools you need to build your own brand and reader relations and it can get you both feedback and attention. A publisher might find you and contact you.

. . . .

PP: It’s often said that publishers should learn from other industries like the music industry, television or newspapers. How relevant do you find this advice? Is it just a cliché or are there major lessons there for us?

JD: To answer that question, it’s important to take the differences between the industries into account. You might say that those other industries were more truly disrupted by digitization and the advent of the Internet.

The news industry–and of course printed newspapers in particular–have been challenged by the immediacy of Internet distribution. Where distribution of news in the broadest sense followed fixed schedules and either publication or broadcast at regular intervals, they’re now distributed everywhere as soon as something happens.

. . . .

When it comes to music, film and television, their consumption were bound to stationary devices like gramophones, TVs or cinemas. The ability to carry them with you and watch or listen on a truly portable device has seriously changed the demand and behavior around those products.

But none of these phenomena has had a huge importance for books.

First, their production time can be very long and most often they don’t lose their relevance if they’re not published on a specific date.

Second, books have always been mobile. The promise of carrying “hundreds of books” with you on your Kindle is fine, but maybe not very relevant. Most people are happy with bringing a few paperbacks with them on vacation. Therefore, ebooks don’t constitute a very different experience for the readers. That may very well be the reason that the market share of ebooks isn’t growing so fast.

Only in English-speaking countries do we see the ebook market share at about 20 to 25 percent. In Germany, ebooks have about 10 percent of the market, and everywhere else, it’s below 5 percent. I believe that it’s not the medium itself but more likely Amazon’s persistent pushing of ebooks to the market that has caused the growth of market shares in the US, the UK, and Germany.

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives and thanks to Marc for the tip.

The Australian book industry: all love and no money

17 September 2016

From The Sydney Morning Herald:

Books are sharks, said the late Douglas Adams. There were sharks before there were dinosaurs, and the reason sharks are still in the ocean is that nothing is better at being a shark than a shark.

If you believe the doomsayers, Australian books are an endangered species. But they are cruising around the ocean in good numbers and in splendid shape. That, at least, was the message from a recent Melbourne Writers Festival panel on our $2.2 billion publishing industry.

. . . .

“Australians have fallen a bit in love with themselves through publishing,” said Penguin Books Australia sales manager Louise Ryan. “Australian authors sell massive amounts of books.”

Since the GFC, book sales have increased. Sales of ebooks, once seen as the death knell of the print book, have plateaued at 20 per cent of the market. And the quality is up: Melbourne bookseller Peter Mews said he didn’t believe we’d ever had a better period of Australian writing than we have now.

The key is the flowering of small publishers and independent bookstores – an area where Ryan says we are leading the world. Thirty per cent of our sales go into independent bookstores, the highest percentage anywhere.

. . . .

Small publishers can balance the need to sell books against the desire to put out titles they consider significant. Scribe publisher Henry Rosenbloom said he was about to launch William Maley’s What Is a Refugee? “I expect it to sell about three copies, but it’s a very important book.”

Hence the phenomenon of small companies punching above their weight at literary awards nights.

. . . .

But publishers rip off authors, right? Not so, said Cate Kennedy. Scribe picked up her first book of short stories when no one else would, and it went on to international success. She had heard publishing was a dog-eat-dog world, “but I feel so supported and nurtured”.

Link to the rest at Sydney Morning Herald and thanks to Dave for the tip.

Blackwell’s trials new ‘enhanced’ bookshop concepts

16 September 2016

From The Bookseller:

Blackwell’s has launched two new “enhanced” concept stores on the eve of the Back to University season in a bid to combat the “pressured” academic bookshop model, with, among other initiatives, a competitive price-match offer.

The fresh, aggressive initiatives follow statistics that suggest that more students buy print textbooks online than in bookshops.

In one of the “most exciting projects” for Blackwell’s in recent times, new concept shops have opened on the university campuses of Liverpool and Cardiff respectively, fusing the company’s physical and digital offer and striving to put socialising at the heart of students’ in-store experience.

Fighting against the perception that cheaper textbooks can be sourced online, the 137-year-old chain retailer is launching a nationwide Student Price Match Guarantee, vowing to equal the price of textbooks at Amazon, Waterstones and W H Smith. The chain has also worked with academic publishers to offer a digital version of most print textbooks on its e-textbook platform Blackwell Learning, for £5 if students buy a print copy, and it is also offering students the option to buy and sell second-hand textbooks at every UK branch.

. . . .

Both the Liverpool branch and the 2,000 sq ft Cardiff University shop, managed by Paula Martin, will have four coloured zones, with Academic represented by “Blackwell’s blue”, Digital under green, Promotional offers flagged by light blue and Non- Book sections marked in yellow.

. . . .

The revitalised look and competitive price-match offer follow the news that prominent independent academic bookshop The University Bookseller, based in Plymouth and owned by Ron Johns, closed in December after 42 years. Johns cited low publisher discounts and students increasingly turning to the web to source information as reasons for the closure. The University of Leicester’s academic bookshop is slated for closure, after a consultation by the institution urged the university to offer an experience that “better reflects students’ needs and the way in which they now access books and learning materials”.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

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