Thursday News: S&S profits, Apple appeal, WaPo bookclub, and ancient humans
Profits Up Nearly 13% At Simon & Schuster – Publishing home of celebrity fantasy RPF, Simon & Schuster had a 12.9% increase in operating revenue over last year, due in part to strong fourth quarter earnings (34% more this year than last):
E-book sales fell in the year, while sales of digital audio increased between 35% and 40%, Reidy said; digital products accounted for 25% of total revenue in 2015 (about $195 million), compared to representing 26% of revenue in 2014 (about $202 million). The dip in digital revenue was offset by a rise in print sales. In addition to an increase in sales in its audio division, sales in the children’s group rose, while sales in the adult division were flat, Reidy said.
Reidy was optimistic about prospects for 2016, pointing to two titles that could be among 2016’s biggest sellers: the just-signed memoir by Bruce Springsteen and a memoir from comedian and actress Amy Schumer. And Reidy said S&S will continue to work to “identify and establish new fiction authors.” She added, “The market has shown readers are looking for new voices.” Reidy said she expects S&S to continue to publish new titles by YouTube and other social media celebrities. – Publishers Weekly
U.S. appeals court upholds Apple e-book settlement – Well, Apple’s latest
stall tactic appeal has confirmed Judge Denise Cote’s 2014 approval of a $450 million settlement, which followed Cote’s holding that the company was liable for occupying a “central role” in the ebook price-fixing “conspiracy.” Apple is still looking to the Supreme Court to hear their appeal on the liability finding, but in the meantime, the 2nd Circuit has closed one door on the company by finding that Cote was acting within the scope of her power by approving the settlement.
In Wednesday’s decision, the 2nd Circuit said Cote did not abuse her powers or act prematurely in approving the settlement.
It pointed to expert testimony that the accord, combined with $166 million of settlements with publishers, could actually award consumers more money than they claimed to have lost.
The 2nd Circuit also cited Cote’s observation that Bradley’s arguments were made by a “professional objector,” meaning a lawyer who hopes to win a fee for resolving “stock objections” to class-action settlements. – Reuters
Lois Lowry Chooses ‘Lord of the Flies’ for WSJ Book Club – Lowry, author of the classic YA book, The Giver, will be hosting the new Wall Street Journal Book Club, which will feature William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. Lowry’s book (1994) was published 40 years after Golding’s (1954), and both belong to the subgenre of dystopian YA fiction. On the enduring popularity of that subgenre, Lowry opines:
What do you make of the trend of violent, dystopian novels for young readers?
Why the genre has suddenly become so popular again probably stems from the fact that today’s kids—and I have grandchildren who are 15 and 17—are living in very uncertain times. When I read “Lord of the Flies,” we were not scared about the future. It was a very comfortable time. I think it was misleadingly comfortable of course, but we didn’t lie awake at night worried about what the future would be like, and I think today’s kids do…It probably is appealing to turn to novels that portray a kind of possible future—and also to take them as cautionary tales. – Wall Street Journal
Humans started having sex with Neanderthals over 100,000 years ago – So new evidence suggests that so-called “modern humans” were reunited with the Homo sapiens sapiens up to 120,000 years ago, rather than the 70,000 previously assumed. Which still doesn’t make Transcendence any more palatable to me, but it does seem to confirm the thesis that Neanderthals were living in isolated groups in Central Asia, where they were encountered by and merged with modern humans.
The standard narrative about how modern humans met Neanderthals is pretty simple. A group of early humans, possibly Homo erectus, hiked out of Africa over 600,000 years ago and settled all over Europe and the Middle East. Over time, they evolved into Neanderthals, Denisovans, and probably several other groups. Meanwhile, back in Africa, the common ancestor of Neanderthals and Homo sapiens was busily evolving into—you guessed it—Homo sapiens sapiens. Around 70 thousand years ago, modern humans started streaming in huge numbers out of Africa, into Europe and the Middle East, possibly spurred on by chilly weather caused by the Toba eruption in Indonesia. There, they met up with their long-lost cousins and immediately started humping. – Ars Technica