Monday Midday Links: Digital is killing print and everyone wants a piece of that pie
I confess that I thought about not doing these anymore but apparently the midday links are very popular so onward!
In the eyebrow raising department, the pseudo regulatory arm of agenting in the UK is debating whether to remove the prohibit against agents as publishers. Andrew Wylie began publishing his client’s backlists. Agent Sonia Land digitally published Catherine Cookson’s backlist. In the U.S. Richard Curtis publishes backlist titles and runs ereads.com. Waxman Literary Agency runs Diversion Books, an epublishing arm. Steve Axelrod is co publishing digital backlist titles with his clients like Julie Ann Long. I view agents publishing their client’s books as a conflict of interest and believe that this activity by agents will culminate in a lawsuit in the near future. However, until such time as there is a potential financial deterrent, I would not be surprised to see more and more of these ventures in the future, for not only backlist titles, but original digital fiction.
When all of the publishers have original digital fiction lines and agents do as well, I wonder what impartial party will be advising authors as to the best place for their works?
Speaking of advice, Steve Axelrod and his client, Amanda Hocking, choose to turn down Amazon’s bid to be Hocking’s print publisher. Amazon offered the most money to Axelrod and Hocking but was turned down, presumably because Amazon’s deal required an exclusive provision (likely for the Kindle). These are the types of decisions that would be questioned in an agency publishing matter and it would be difficult for an agent to prove that turning down more money for some other distribution deal was in the best interests of the client.
Amazon is making moves to retail its print books and has signed an agreement with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. HMH will distribute Amazon’s books in brick and mortar retail stores around the U.S. Can BN refuse to stock these? I am guessing no. Shatkzin points out that the interesting part of this deal is HMH’s statement that indicates print rights are a subsidiary now.
HarperCollins says that its 26 lending limit cap is a “work in progress” and that it is committed to listening and learning from libraries about the digital lending process.
“We try to be intelligent about our policy,” he said. “And when we landed on 26, the information that we had was that most books don’t circulate 26 times. In terms of the long tail, this particular number probably works for a different part of the collection. We realize it doesn’t work for the best sellers.”
I guess the question is whether HC is more evil for the cap or MacMillan, the sponsor of the new romance website, Heroes and Heartbreakers, and Simon & Schuster for not allowing their books to be digitally lent at all. Both Macmillan and S&S have said that the digital lending business model, as it currently exists, does not work for them.
Big money is being paid out for dystopian YA books. I suppose the interest in that genre can be traced back to Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy.
oung adult fiction is big business. Between 2008 – when the last Twilight novel and the first Twilight film were released – and 2009, the market almost doubled in size. This year, despite sales having dropped slightly, the teenage fiction market is worth £48m, according to industry analysts Nielsen BookScan. While the Twilight saga, which has sold more than five million copies in the UK, and the Vampire Diaries series still outsell dystopian titles, the market for “paranormal romance” appears saturated.
I believe the YA market is glutted as well. YA market, as I understand it, is largely driven by the retail buyers like Barnes and Noble and school buys. With declining budgets, school buys will decrease and BN is already scaling back on the number of books it is putting on the shelves. Everywhere I turned at RWA, a romance author was hawking her YA book. The rumor is that BN sales of YA PNR is down 25%.
Also down are print sales. And this is all the fault of digital book sales.
According to new sales data coming from the US and UK first quarter sales in the US are down a full 9% in volume on last year, from 178m in the first quarter of 2010 to just over 162m this year….marked drop in fiction sales on both sides of the Atlantic, with the UK down 9.8% on 2010 figures in the first quarter, and the US down a massive 19.3%. According to Nielsen figures, fiction is the dominant e-book genre, taking a share of 70% compared with its print share of 30%.
Said Nowell: "We can surmise that e-book sales may be affecting fiction more than other genres, and responsible for the steep downturns in the US and UK.”
Maya Rodale has an interesting piece about the gentleman’s club known as White’s. It still exists today. It is still as exclusionary and likely as misogynistic as it was when it was founded. It’s like Augusta National, the home of the golf tournament called The Masters. No girls allowed.