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Wednesday News: Hachette UK wants Tor to turn the DRM back...

“I’ve just seen a letter sent to an author who has published books under Hachette’s imprints in some territories and with Tor Books and its sister companies in other territories (Tor is part of Macmillan). The letter, signed by Little, Brown U.K. CEO Ursula Mackenzie, explains to the author that Hachette has “acquired exclusive publication rights in our territories from you in good faith,” but warns that in other territories, Tor’s no-DRM policy “will make it difficult for the rights granted to us to be properly protected.” Hachette’s proposed solution: that the author insist Tor use DRM on these titles. “We look forward to hearing what action you propose taking.” The letter also contains language that will apparently be included in future Hachette imprint contracts, language that would require authors to “ensure that any of his or her licensees of rights in territories not licensed under this agreement” will use DRM. “ Publishers Weekly

“The company, which owns Penguin Books and the Financial Times, said it aims to recruit “the brightest and most entrepreneurial students” for the courses, which have been developed with a number of businesses… Degrees at Pearson College, which will properly launch in September next year, will be validated by Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, which are part of the University of London, said the publishing and education firm.” Telegraph

 “Some authors didn’t even seem to be aware that their books could be loaned under the terms of their agreement with Amazon to publish on the Kindle, and a few later apologized for their attacks on LendInk — but others seemed unrepentant about their criticism, and argued that built-in approval for lending of e-books between complete strangers was somehow wrong. At least one author argued that sharing of books was fine between two friends, but not between two people who had been connected by a website or service like LendInk. Aside from the misunderstandings about the service, the dissatisfaction felt by some authors about the whole idea of e-book lending seems to be driven by the same impulse that keeps publishers from making sharing easier: namely, the idea that every book that gets shared is a book that isn’t bought, despite the fact that plenty of evidence shows that sharing — and even outright piracy — in many cases helps increase the demand for content. As musician Neil Young put it recently: “Piracy is the new radio — it’s how music gets around.”” GigaOM

“Longtime Cosmopolitan magazine editor-in-chief Helen Gurley Brown died today. She was 90. “Her formula for honest and straightforward advice about relationships, career and beauty revolutionized the magazine industry,” says Hearst CEO Frank A. Bennack, Jr. “She lived every day of her life to the fullest and will always be remembered as the quintessential ‘Cosmo girl.’ She will be greatly missed.””

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. Ros
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 05:02:41

    Seriously, Hachette? Seriously?

    *headdesk* *headwall* *head hurts*

    Why can’t publishers just get over themselves already and start recognising that they are actually in the business of selling books to people who want to read them?

  2. Ros
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 05:08:00

    Also, you know what else would solve the problem that Hachette claim to be facing? Global digital rights. One publisher selling ebooks to customers no matter where they live. I know, I know. But a girl can dream, right?

  3. Lynnd
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 07:47:37

    Why can’t publishers (film makers whatever) just get their heads around the fact that anyone who wants to pirate their books will be able to crack whatever DRM system they come up with in about five minutes (O.K., maybe 10 minutes – for many of the pirates out there this is an act of rebellion and they believe that they have the moral right on their side – the “man” is sticking it to them so they are going to stick it to the “man”). All that DRM does is annoy legitimate purchasers who just want to actually own the books they purchase (and with agency publishers most often at higher prices that print books which carry all of rights of ownership). From the people I have talked to who do engage in downloading pirated material, they say that they would be less likely to do so if there was no DRM and prices were “reasonable”. Of course since this kind of information is purely anecdotal and since readers aren’t publisher’s “real customers” anyway, they are just going to ignore what we have to say. It’s why I also think their arguments about Amazon being the “big, bad wolf” are specious at best. If they got rid of the DRM and opened the field to real competition, they could lessen Amazon’s power in no time (and to those who say that the other retailers can’t compete with Amazon – BS – Apple has $40 billion + in the bank and could probably crush Amazon in a price war if they wanted to . Not that this is a good outcome either).

  4. Isobel Carr
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 09:38:00

    @Ros: Hachette (at least the romance-focused Grand Central part of it) already has World English rights to most–if not all–of the books they publish (it’s a point they’re not willing to negotiate on from what I saw). Perhaps their SFF imprint (Orbit) only buys North American rights? Frankly, I’d be damn happy if Hachette would just USE the rights they insisted on having and would take the geo restrictions off my eBooks so readers everywhere could buy them! It was incredibly annoying to discover that I can’t even GIFT an eBook to a reader in Australia.

  5. Randi
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 09:49:14

    As someone who has attended community colleges, 4 year private liberal art colleges, public universities, and a for-profit university, my best experience was at the for-profit university (Univ of Phoenix if you’re interested andthat’s where I finally graduated from). I don’t have any idea why folks are up at arms about a learning institution that is FOR PROFIT. It makes no sense to me. Why are non profit learning institutions supposed to be better? In my experience, non profs are more expensive, have a slew of instructors who are useless and interested only in tenure, and are very inflexible in their dates/times of classes.

  6. Ros
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 10:02:39

    @Isobel Carr: Presumably the books they are worried about are ones they don’t have the global rights too, though? Since Tor have rights in some areas.

    But yes, if they have global rights, not using them is just plain dumb. It’s almost like publishers don’t want people buying their books. Oh, wait…

  7. Ros
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 10:05:52

    I don’t think the Pearson degrees sound like a scam. They’ve got too many big names involved for that, including the validating college which is part of the University of London. Whether they are the best way to learn is another question, but with tuition fees rising sky high in the UK, a cheaper degree which doesn’t require relocation is going to be an attractive proposition for many.

  8. Mireya
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 10:09:45

    All I am going to say is that, if a middle aged reader like myself is able to figure out how to strip DRM… well, I don’t think I need to say much more, because you know, ebook pirates are not computer proficient at all … *snort*


  9. SAo
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 10:19:36

    So, used bookstores have existed for decades, if not centuries, and now with the advent of iPods and cheap game apps, suddenly they are causing the demise of publishing? Yep, I buy that.

  10. Gillyweed
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 12:10:01

    @Randi: I’m glad you had a good experience at U of Phoenix. In answer to your question about why people are up in arms about for-profit colleges:

    In case that link doesn’t come through, here are some of the concerns set out in the senate report:
    –For-profit colleges spend more money on marketing than they do on educating
    –They aggressively recruit low-income students, and 96% of their students take out loans (not bad in of itself, but see below)
    –They have high drop-out rates; their students are more likely to end up in debt but without a degree than students at non-profit colleges
    –The tuition and fees are significantly higher than comparable programs at public, non-profit universities
    –“Students in for-profit schools represent 13 percent of the nation’s total college enrollment, but account for almost 50 percent of all loan defaults”

    So basically, they’re pocketing billions of taxpayer dollars even though over 50% of their students aren’t getting degrees and might not be able to pay back their loans.

  11. MrsJoseph
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 13:10:08


    I’ve attended both traditional colleges and a for-profit university. My brother attended a for profit art school and my sister in law also attended a for-profit (Phoenix) as well.

    The for-profit school was both great and horrible. The drop-out rate was outstanding! We lost on avg about 75% of our students. Our professors – supposedly culled from people currently working in the field – were a mixed bag. Some were great teachers and others were clueless (never taught before). The cost was also amazing. I eventually dropped out because I was not getting what was promised: to be taught enough to have the ability to work in the industry within a set period of time. As I already held a degree, it was easy for me to locate another job.

    My brother also dropped for financial reasons. He’s now attending a traditional university.

    My sister in law dropped because she found out she was not getting the right education to work (teaching). The school she was working at sat her down and had a frank conversation.

    Just my experience. YMMV.

  12. Laura Florand
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 14:03:48

    Thanks for the mention. :) I was happy when Tor took DRM off Blame It on Paris. I’m trying to imagine being an author on the receiving end of such a letter. And either trying to change one’s publishers entire policy on ebooks or being the lone author at the publisher who is supposed to alienate all her ebook readers. The author seems like a strange pressure point at that point, since contracts on all sides would already have been signed. It’s more an issue between Hachette and Tor. Maybe I’m misreading something, since this is all third/fourth-hand.

  13. Grace
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 16:20:46

    So Hatchette is basically demanding authors to tell other publishers how to do business in order to protect Hatchette’s interests? Shouldn’t this be something between Hatchette and Tor without the author as an unwilling intermediary? And I’m curious as to how an author is supposed to enforce licensee rights from other parties outside Hatchette? Do they have their own legal department they can dial up? Those are going to be some scary looking contracts.

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