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Friday Midday Links: Vintage’s 50 Shades Disclaimer; Apple Not Interested in...

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?

Book Web

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

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. library addict
    Apr 06, 2012 @ 12:28:41

    Glad to hear the DOJ hopefully wants more than simply a “cooling off period” from publishers and Apple. Otherwise what a joke.

    I thought the author did little more than change the names of Bella and Edward for 50 Shades. Renaming the characters doesn’t make them actually different.

  2. Carnac the Magnificent
    Apr 06, 2012 @ 12:33:34

    “Amazon’s competition against the publishers has created a huge money making opportunity for authors”

    Within the next five years, publishers will be filing suit against authors for making money and not sharing.

  3. Darlynne
    Apr 06, 2012 @ 12:40:25

    I propose a new sign for on-line businesses, blogs, news outlets, etc., similar to the OSHA posters one sees in grocery stores, factories, etc.: We have proudly read ## days without a reportable Fifty Shades of Grey mention. Remember: Safety is no accident.

    Did you know there’s going to be or already is an audio book, FFS?

  4. Courtney Milan
    Apr 06, 2012 @ 12:40:40

    Of course agency pricing has made (at least some) authors richer. Amazon didn’t announce the 70% tier for its KDP program until after Apple got into the market and set the bar at 70%.

    That in turn has set the bar for numerous other programs. Were it not for Apple, self-published authors would likely be stuck somewhere around the 35% mark in royalties.

  5. Jane
    Apr 06, 2012 @ 12:42:55

    @Darlynne: Yes, it is already audio and the sample features a young girl’s voice and I do mean young girl. Go and listen.

  6. LG
    Apr 06, 2012 @ 13:08:37

    @Jane: Wow. That reader would be perfect for a book aimed at children or teens. Not so much for something like 50 Shades of Grey.

  7. Ruthie
    Apr 06, 2012 @ 13:18:12

    “Snowqueen Icedragon”? Seriously? WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME THIS BEFORE?

    Sorry, I’ll just be over here quietly working myself out of this fit of helpless giggles.

  8. Angela
    Apr 06, 2012 @ 13:51:31

    @Jane: Oh wow. She does sound incredibly young.

    Added to that, the sample solidified my already rock-solid decision to never read this book. “The Merc is a fun drive, and the miles slip away as I hit the pedal to the metal.” Merc? I’ve never heard this abbreviation for a Mercedes.

    And, she even has Movie-Bella’s bad habits of tucking her hair behind her ears. Definitely not for me.

  9. Courtney
    Apr 06, 2012 @ 14:17:52

    I know so my talented authors who actually write original works and struggle to find the right agents and then to have said agents sell their manuscripts to publishers, that this whole Fifty Shades of Grey hullaboo disappoints me. This “author” is getting rich off of her Twilight fan fiction-not an original idea in her head.

  10. Sunita
    Apr 06, 2012 @ 15:29:59

    @Angela: Merc is a pretty common Britishism for Mercedes, and I’ve heard it over here as well.

    @Ruthie: Wherever you’ve been, I’d like to be there with you. And Jane and Vintage both erred: it’s actually Snowqueens Icedragon. Plural with no apostrophe. Vintage apparently still has editors, since they changed it to the possessive form (presumably they think Snowqueen is a Snowqueen with an Icedragon who writes fanfiction).

  11. Ann Somerville
    Apr 06, 2012 @ 19:14:49

    “Merc is a pretty common Britishism for Mercedes, and I’ve heard it over here as well. ”

    I’ve only ever encountered it in American writing as a short form of ‘mercenary’ – as in soldiers.

  12. Lynn S.
    Apr 06, 2012 @ 20:44:43

    All I could think was Merc pronounced merse (wrong, I know), but it made me think of MRSA, which is so damned appropriate.

    @Ruthie: If you listen to the audio, you might hyperventilate. Seriously silliest thing I’ve heard in a long time.

  13. Mitzi H
    Apr 07, 2012 @ 02:04:31

    ABA CEO’s position to support ‘price fixing’ makes me want to puke!!!

  14. Dee
    Apr 07, 2012 @ 15:13:44

    according to audible there is supposed to be a re-mastered version of 50SoG being released on the 14th – this is what audible says:

    Please note: This audiobook contains graphic adult content.

    Random House Audio’s recording of Fifty Shades of Grey has been remastered to address concerns about the narration. This new edition will be available on or around April 17. If you’ve already purchased the audiobook, you will be able to re-download the file from My Library to get the new edition.

    several ppl I know that write audiobook columns DNF’d it because the narration was so bad

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