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Agency pricing

Wednesday News: Apple (finally) settles, Amazon v. Hachette (again, still), the virtues of small publishers, 100 books by black women authors

Wednesday News: Apple (finally) settles, Amazon v. Hachette (again, still), the...

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.
. . .
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

Monday News: Apple continues its losing streak, say goodbye to DailyCandy and Television Without Pity, “Mammy” gets her own book, and ten beautiful bookstores

Monday News: Apple continues its losing streak, say goodbye to DailyCandy...

Apple Loses Two Key Decisions in E-book Case – Apple continues to suffer at the pen of Judge Cote, who has made it even more likely that Apple will be paying out HUGE in damages. First Cote granted class action status (aka certified the class) in the state and consumer actions, which means that they can all sue together in one action. Then she rejected two of Apple’s expert witnesses and refused to disqualify the testimony of Roger Noll, which basically amounts to accepting the plaintiff’s estimate of damages over the defendant’s (Apple). Which, of course, is significant, because plaintiffs’ analysis sets damages at a much higher level — possibly as high as $840 million (minus the $166 million in settlement funds, of course). Pretty much everyone expects Apple to appeal both decisions.

As part of her granting class certification, Cote also denied Apple’s motion to strike the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert witness, Roger Noll, setting the stage for Noll’s model to be used in determining a final damage award. In her opinion, Cote called Noll’s analysis “straightforward,” and rejected attempts by Apple’s expert witnesses—economists Joseph Kalt and Jonathan Orszag—to discredit Noll’s model. –Publishers Weekly

NBCUniversal-Owned DailyCandy and Television Without Pity Will Be Shut Dow – In a hugely sad move, NBC-Universal is shutting down both DailyCandy and Television without Pity, which means the displacement of 67 employees total (64 at DailyCandy and 3 (!) at TWoP). The reason offered for the move is the predictable not enough traffic and, therefore, not enough money (however that is measured). I have to say that I’m kind of surprised by this move, although I’m not familiar enough with all of the market competition to these two sites. Still, both have been around for more than 6 years, and have compiled pretty substantial archives. TWoP’s forums have also been a pretty good source of entertainment.

So what happens to the huge amount of content in the archives of both DailyCandy and TWoP? It will all be saved in the digital ether, but not be available to the public. One small caveat that should please no one regardless: TWoP’s popular user forums will be kept open until May 31. –Re/code

Mammy Revealed, and Not Just Her Red PetticoatGone With the Wind has been in the ether quite a bit lately. In just a few months, an official (aka authorized by the Mitchell Estate) prequel is being published, written by Donald McCraig, who also wrote one of the authorized sequels, Rhett Butler’s People. The prequel, Ruth’s Journey, focuses on the personal history of “Mammy,” and, according to the publisher’s editorial director, Peter Borland, it will answer one of the major criticisms of the original GWTW:

“What’s really remarkable about what Donald has done is that it’s a book that respects and honors its source material, but it also provides a necessary correction to what is one of the more troubling aspects of the book, which is how the black characters are portrayed,” Mr. Borland said.

In an email, Mr. McCaig, 73, who lives on a farm in Virginia, said that he was drawn to write about Ruth because there are “three major characters in ‘Gone With the Wind,’ but we only think about two of them.” –The New York Times

Ten of the world’s most beautiful bookshops – A little eye candy for the book lover. Happy Monday! –BBC Culture