Wednesday News: Apple (finally) settles, Amazon v. Hachette (again, still), the virtues of small publishers, 100 books by black women authors
Report: Apple settles e-book pricing case with consumers – Surprise! Apple, which had previously held out against settling with consumers after being found guilty in the DOJ’s suit against Apple and the Big 5 publishers, has apparently agreed to settle. Just how much they will be paying has not yet been disclosed (they’ve been called on to pay as much as $840 million, which represents treble damages), but this is going to be interesting.
The exact terms of the deal have not been released and will require court approval. A Manhattan federal judge ordered both parties to file for court approval of the deal within a month, Bloomberg reported.
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Under its agreement with the publishers, Apple got a 30 percent cut of all book sales. Last July, a federal judge found Apple guilty of conspiring with the publishers. –Washington Post
Amazon’s dramatic shift – In some ways, all the analysis around this Hachette – Amazon battle is ridiculous, especially given the huge pockets of silence and confidentiality that deter full understanding of the situation. But in other ways, it’s fascinating to see how the publishing and book selling industries are trying to cope with a situation that clearly has major implications for authors, readers, booksellers, and publishers.
I suggest you read this in tandem with Mike Shatzkin’s latest piece (Shatzkin is a publishing consultant) in which he summarizes and rebuts Hugh Howey’s recent piece, “Big Publishing is the Problem.” I don’t know how many answers there are here, but it’s pretty interesting to watch all these talking heads argue with each other.
Given that the shift from wholesale terms to agency already thinned out publishers’ margins, others can judge whether that’s a sustainable squeeze. Michael Cader at Publishers Marketplace, which first reported the investor report, suggested that the shift would “‘cost’ HBG between $16.5 million and $33 million just for Amazon, based on last year’s results”. Hachette reported a profit margin of 11.6% in 2013, with earnings before interest and tax of €223m. Of the big trade publishers Hachette is insulated from shifts to trading terms by being predominantly French, and strong in education and part-works. Both would ameliorate against an Amazon squeeze at the group level, though clearly the impact on its US business should not be under-estimated. –-Futurebook
Norwich novel success shows small publishers finding ways to thrive – Speaking of publishers, this is a pretty nice little piece about how small publishers are surviving the current climate, and the focus is on Galley Beggar Press, which recently published A Girl is a Half-formed Thing, by Elmear McBride, which recently won the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. Press co-founder, Sam Jordison (who previously worked as a journalist for the Guardian Books section), talked about why he thinks Galley Beggar Press and other small publishers can gain an advantage in the current market:
He likens the success of small publishers to micro-breweries providing the public with tastes not provided by the larger firms.
“There is very much a place for small publishers. Things are hard in the publishing industry… and it is harder for big publishers to take risks,” he said.
Bridget Shine, chief executive of the Independent Publishers Guild – which represents both small and large independent publishers – said smaller firms could give more time to “nurturing their authors, having a more direct relationship”. –BBC News
100 Books by Black Women Everyone Must Read – While I was searching for articles on what makes a novel a classic, I came across this site and this list, which, despite being compiled a year ago, is still a pretty comprehensive collection of books written by Black women authors. From the poetry of Nikki Giovanni to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun (with its ubiquitous Acacia Tree cover), there are some really fantastic and incredibly important books here. –For Harriet