Jul 13 2010
Borders opens its ebook store to the public. It sells epubbed books using the standard epub encryption. Borders ebooks can be read on all devices that read epub. It is fulfilled by Kobo and thus has some backlist title problems which will hopefully be resolved over time. I’m not sure that Borders can gain 17% of the market just by opening its doors when it has missing content.
Round 2 of Barnes and Noble v. Amazon involves a battle over students. According to one study, over half of college students are going to buy an ereader. Barnes and Noble’s gambit is to offer Nookstudy, a software application to be launched next month. The software application is designed to be a note taking, text book reading application. Amazon is offering free Prime membership for one year to all college students.
Spicing up the competition between the two is the news that Amazon has recently been granted a patent for a dual screen ereading device that is broad enough to cover the nook. There is no word, yet, on what Amazon intends to do with such a device but it has not been shy about enforcing patents in the past. Amazon patented 1-Click shopping experience. Apple licenses this for iTunes and its iPhone/iPad/iTouch. Barnes and Noble tried to implement its own 1 Click experience. Amazon sued BN and was granted a preliminary injunction. An out of court settlement was reached and BN instituted a two click buying process.
Calvin Reid, writing for PW, notes that agency pricing has achieved publisher’s goals of seizing control over pricing, raising ebook prices, and allowing more merchants in the marketplace. Of interest, it notes that when there is pricing freedom, Amazon Kindle prices are lower:
On the other hand, Stephen King’s Under the Dome is available for $9.99 for the (agency model priced) Kindle edition, but rises to $16.99 on the iBookstore-’so buyer beware and go figure. And pricing can get even stranger. Kensington Publishing offers its books through the agency model for Apple and sticks with the wholesale model for Amazon. The resulting pricing for the iBooks and Kindle editions is much the same-’except when it isn’t. Mary Monroe’s novel, God Ain’t Through Yet, sells for $9.99 for the Kindle and $10.99 in the iBookstore, but L. Devine’s Drama High: Cold as Ice, a popular African-American teen series, is priced at $5.71 on the Kindle (a non-agency model price) and $8.99 in the iBookstore-’Kensington’s genre titles range from $4.99 to $9.99 in the iBookstore.
Tony Holland, chair of the Society of Authors, spoke at the Romance Novelist’s Association and urged the authors to foment for larger royalties. Holland, among others, wants to see a 50/50 split in ebook royalties. Ironically, Holland uses the same arguments for higher royalties that readers use in arguing that prices of ebooks should be cheaper:
Although publishers “are inclined to dismiss the argument that costs are reduced on ebooks”, Holland said: “Once a system has been set up, publishers won’t be paying for warehousing, distribution and printing, and we have to ask ourselves what are they spending the money on?
Contrast this with Sandra Brown’s statements at Thrillerfest (Via EbookNewser):
“The huge downside is that they didn’t start charging enough, it should be closer to hardcover pricing,” she said. “I almost feel guilty when I download a book from a colleague, because I know how much blood sweat and tears went into that. I would pay more if they charged more.”
I give Sandra Brown an “E” for effort. (Seriously, I am going to start writing E for Effort reviews. No author will be insulted by those, right?) As several others pointed out when this article appeared, “What the fuck is with the comic book comparison” and “does she buy mass market reprints ever?”
Author Ilona Andrews is giving away free content on Smashwords. What is the content you ask? Outtakes of the books from Curran’s point of view. Fun!
Barnes and Noble is undergoing a lawsuit brought by investor Ron Burkle. BN voted in a poison pill provision which essentially would dilute Burkle’s interest and make a take over very expensive. Burkle sued, asserting that this was against the company’s best interest. In testimony, a few interesting things came out. Burkle wanted BN to buy Borders.
BN has suffered a 54% stock decline in the past 11 months and some are wondering whether BN’s purchase of founder and Chairman Len Riggio’s college textbook business to the tune of $514 million made sense.
Publishersmarketplace is the only venue that I could find that reported on Len Riggio’s impeachment during the trial. Riggio testified at trial that the poison pill was adopted to protect the company but in a videotaped deposition earlier admitted that the poison pill was to protect his family.
James Patterson has announced he has sold over 1 million ebook copies. Of course, he has also sold over 205 million print books. It would be interesting to know how many print books he sold during the time period during which he accumulated the 1 million ebook sales.
Author Tony Woodlief complains about the restrictions of copyright law and how it is economically and creatively inhibiting creators.
The copyright thicket is a growing frustration among writers and editors. One editor of a popular literary anthology (who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals from publishers) confirmed that many publishers pursue illusory short-term profit at the expense of both profit and art. By demanding fees that most people won’t pay, they forsake free advertising for the artists they claim to protect. If restaurants behaved that way, not only would they deny you the right to take home leftovers to your dog, they’d try to charge you for smelling their food when you pass by.
And finally, a little real life romance story. Iker Casillas is the captain of
Real Madrid the Spanish team and the goalkeeper. In the first match of the WorldCup, Real Madrid Spain lost to Switzerland and Casillas was blamed. Some accused Casillas of being distracted by the sideline reporter, Sara Carbonero, who happens to be Casillas’ girlfriend. Spain wanted Carbonero gone.
Many fans have been angered by her presence in South Africa, fearing it could prove a distraction for the goalkeeper and prove a destabilising influence within the squad. Carbonero was asked by her own TV station, Telecinco, about her influence. “Can I destabilise the team?” she said. “I think it is nonsense.”
Casillas went on to make two crucial saves in the final World Cup match and helped bring home to Spain their first World Cup trophy. In a post game interview with reporter Carbonero, Casillas gets emotional and then, well, you really need to watch it:
Life. You can’t script it better than this.