Friday Midday Links: Vintage’s 50 Shades Disclaimer; Apple Not Interested in Settlement with DOJ
First, Google has totally abandoned indie booksellers. Remember that not two years ago, Google was going to save indie booksellers bacon by allowing them to be affiliates of the Google bookstore. Now Google has decided to eliminate its reseller program and concentrate on building up Google Play. Independent booksellers are now left with no digital bookstore. Copia has reached out to them and offered white label services and I am sure that there are many others who could provide the store front to these indies.
Second, the ABA CEO speaks to the issue of the DOJ lawsuit. Apparently the DOJ has met with the ABA CEO and he has given the government an earful on the evils of Amazon. What is so fascinating in this whole Amazon v. the world mentality that the publishers and booksellers have is that they are using one medium (physical) to argue against the monopoly in another medium (digital). This is actually a pretty important distinction that few are making. Publishers and booksellers are hewing to the line that Amazon is using the undercutting of pricing to grow market share for digital books and that agency pricing helps to stimulate competition in the marketplace. But the competition that the ABA and big publishers talk about is physical bookstore competition. There have been few or no entrants to the digital book selling market since the advent of agency publishing.
Yet Amazon is only one of several players in the physical book market. It does not have a monopoly in the physical book market. At most, they have around 25% and may equal or lag behind Barnes & Noble. The reading market is moving toward digital books, an area which Amazon helped to build, but print still comprises 70% of book sales overall. Thus, Amazon has a monopoly over a fast growing, but small part of the overall book market.
Additionally, Amazon’s competition against the publishers has created a huge money making opportunity for authors, a money making opportunity that didn’t exist prior to the rise of the digital book market. Amazon’s competition against the publishers has also increased the royalty revenue for existing print authors. Thus has agency pricing made authors richer?
Apple, Pearson Plc (PSON)’s Penguin Group, and Macmillan, a unit of Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH, want to protect the so-called agency model that lets publishers — not vendors –set e-book prices, said the people, who declined to be identified because they weren’t authorized to talk publicly.
This is essentially a reframe of yesterday’s post but contradicts Reuters’ Friday post that Apple might be interested. Clearly something other than some 4 month or 6 month cooling off period is being asked of in the settlement or else Apple et al would likely have no problem settling. Bloomberg News
Libraries Online Incorporated (LION), a consortium of twenty-five Connecticut public, academic, and school libraries, has imposed a moratorium on the purchase of ebooks from Random House. The action, which was unanimously approved by LION members on March 20, is in response to the March 1 price hike put in place by Random House that doubled and sometimes tripled the price of ebooks for libraries.”
The Digital Shift
She recently gave an interview to the American Bar Association’s “Landslide” publication, which is put out by the “Intellectual Property” Section of the ABA. In showing just how out of touch with the times the ABA remains, there is no link I can share for this story, but in the interview, Pallante is asked about the fact that there is widespread criticism of copyright law being “too restrictive.” Her response is downright scary: “It is my strong view that exceptions and limitations are just that — they are important but they must be applied narrowly so as not to harm the proprietary rights of the songwriter, book author, or artist. Copyright is for the author first and the nation second.
“The copyright page includes this note: “The author published an earlier serialized version of this story online with different characters as ‘Master of the Universe’ under the pseudonym Snowqueen Icedragon.”
But, but this was original fiction. Warranted by the author as such. Oh, Vintage. You can see more about the Totally New Piece of Fiction at Vacuous Minx. Galley Cat