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Wednesday News: Börsenverein v. Amazon, the future of digital lending, YouTube’s subscription service, and polling readers for a book title

Wednesday News: Börsenverein v. Amazon, the future of digital lending, YouTube’s...

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German trade body files Amazon complaint – Börsenverein, a German trade association, has filed a claim with German competition authorities, alleging that Amazon has been trying to negotiate an increase in ebook percentages from 30% to 40-50% with Bonnier, and thus “abusing its market power.” Reports claim that Amazon is, in both the US and the German markets, removing pre-order buttons and delaying shipping of certain books.

In the UK, publishers have told The Bookseller that they too are facing tough negotiations with the giant retailer, with Amazon seeking parity on trade terms for e-books and p-books, and the ability to POD title where a publisher has run out of stock, or is having delivery issues. The Bookseller also noted that the European Union’s Directorate General for Competition is understood to have approached major UK publishers over an investigation into Most Favoured Nation (MFN) clauses. –The Bookseller

What’s Next for E-books in Libraries? – Random House recently hosted a Publishers Weekly executive breakfast, which included a discussion among librarians and publishers, among others, regarding the future of digital books and libraries. This discussion reflects a shift in the overall conversation about libraries and digital books, which had previously been focused on getting as many publisher as possible to agree to have their books digitally available in public libraries. Now, though, there is apparently more attention being paid to optimizing consumer satisfaction and innovating strategies to keep digital lending not just viable but future-oriented.

In one of the more provocative proposals, Mitchell Davis, founder and chief business officer of BiblioBoard, a digital platform provider, told the audience that libraries should consider moving away from their focus on e-book bestsellers. Instead of spending money on a limited number of frontlist e-book titles, generating long waits in hold queues and patron dissatisfaction, why not concentrate limited resources on building a better user experience, based on the library’s “long tail” collections? –Publishers Weekly

YouTube, Record Labels And The Retailer Hegemony – As YouTube prepares to launch a subscription service, music labels are considering the value that the video service brings to their business. Some independent labels have refused Google’s terms, and now there’s a question of how much power YouTube really has, and the extent to which music labels are beholden to the service: “YouTube has become phenomenally powerful but delivers comparatively little back in terms of direct revenue and is now happy to flex its muscle to find out who is really boss.” The relationship seems a bit analogous to that between publishers and Amazon, and considering the hard lessons the music industry has learned vis a vis content delivery, perhaps it’s again time to pay attention to what’s happening there (p.s. I’m not sure about the reference to Brazilians below, because this blog appears to be UK-based and not Brazil-based).

Labels are beholden to YouTube as a promotional channel.  They have turned a blind eye to whether its ‘unique’ licensing status might be stealing the oxygen out of the streaming market for all those services which have to pay far more for their licenses.  The underlying question the labels must ask themselves is whether YouTube’s inarguably valuable promotional value outweighs the value it simultaneously extracts from music sales revenue.  Indeed 25% of consumers state that they have no need to pay for a music subscription service because they get all the music they need for free from YouTube (see figure).  This rises to 33% among 18 to 24 year olds and to 34% among all Brazilians. –Music Industry Blog

HOW I USED FACEBOOK TO PICK MY NEXT BOOK TITLE – An interesting post from Maya Rodale about how she used Facebook polls to forge an appropriate title for her upcoming book. One of the most interesting things about this post for me is the insular context in which titles are chosen (something I knew, but it’s interesting to see it spelled out here so clearly). Of course, since book ideas aren’t really tested out with readers, why would titles be, right?!

Next I learned that data isn’t everything in publishing

I emailed my agent and editor with the exciting news that I had a kick ass title backed up by data. I was then informed I could not use that title precisely because it was so similar to The Flame and The Flower, which they had also published.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had a title changed—my first book was supposed to be called The Pleasure Revolution but a buyer at one of the major accounts said they would not stock the book with that title because they didn’t feel readers would like it. We went with a different title rather than lose some major print distribution. It never occurred to anyone—my co-author, our editor, our publisher, the buyer—to test the title with readers. –Maya Rodale

Tuesday News: People want bigger phones, independent booksellers capitalize on Hachette v. Amazon, Open Road responds to Harper Collins, and literary miscellany

Tuesday News: People want bigger phones, independent booksellers capitalize on Hachette...

Survey Says: People Want Bigger Phones – Dear Apple, what is that they say — change or die? Remember the olden days when you were the underdogs, the upstarts, the revolutionaries? What happened, Apple? Please don’t make me buy a Galaxy Note. Please. XOXO, Me

Of the 23,000 people polled in almost two dozen countries, 57 percent plan to buy a new smartphone in the next year. And almost half, 48 percent, of intended buyers want a model with a 5- to 7-inch screen, Accenture said.
. . .
In India, 67 percent of consumers are leaning toward a larger screen model, in addition to 66 percent in China, 61 percent in Indonesia, and 64 percent in Turkey. By contrast, In the United States, only 40 percent were seeking a larger screen and just 30 percent in Germany and 19 percent in Japan. –Yahoo Tech

Booksellers Score Some Points in Amazon’s Spat With Hachette – My brain keeps wanting to read this as “bestsellers score some points,” because for all the talk of independent booksellers taking advantage of a potential vacuum in the retail market, what’s happening with mid-level authors and books? From what I can tell (and this article seems to add anecdotal evidence to the case), it’s still the big books that seem poised to benefit. And that doesn’t seem like so much good change to me.

What bothered Mr. Sindelar wasn’t that Amazon’s tactics were so hard-boiled. Rather, “our goal as retailers is to connect people to books,” he said. “The notion that a retailer would obstruct readers from getting to certain books they want completely violates our ethics as retailers. I wondered how we could get that message across to customers.”

So Mr. Sindelar went to Hachette’s publishing list, looking for the next potential blockbuster. At the Hachette subsidiary Little, Brown and Company, he found “The Silkworm” by Robert Galbraith — a.k.a. J. K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series — the follow-up to her best-seller “The Cuckoo’s Calling.” “That seemed obvious,” he said. “Ordinarily, we wouldn’t get any pre-orders for a book like that. Zero. But Amazon had deleted its pre-order button, so I thought we could capitalize on that.” –New York Times

Open Road Fires Back at HarperCollins in Copyright Case – Boy, this is getting interesting. Open Road is, among other things, claiming they’ve only made $19K in sales on the digital edition of Julie of the Wolves (about 10.45K books). Harper Collins wants something in the neighborhood of $1.1M, inclusive of attorneys’ fees and damages for alleged “willfulness” on Open Road’s part. Although the origins of this case were contractual (was there a granting of digital rights to Harper Collins in the 1971 contract), it may have more to do with royalties, which Jean Craighead George found to be insufficient with Harper Collins (only 25% to Open Road’s 50%). Considering the Hachette-Amazon battle, that makes the situation even more relevant and interesting.

Claiming that the Harper proposal is based on “a misleading portrayal” of the facts, Open Road attorneys argued that not only has Harper not suffered the kind of irreparable harm necessary to justify its proposed remedy, in fact it has not suffered any harm at all. “Harper cannot prove any present harm, let alone irreparable harm,” Open Road attorneys argued, noting that despite its win in court, Harper does not have the right to sell Julie of the Wolves e-books without the author’s consent, “which it has never obtained” owing to “a fundamental disagreement as to a fair e-book royalty.” –Publishers Weekly

The Secret Lives of Authors: The stories behind the stories. – Speaking of Open Road, they’ve got a pretty rich Pinterest board — a sort of ‘behind the scenes’ author board. Normally I’d shy away from posting something like this, because I think the focus on authors over their books has gotten a wee bit out of control. However, there’s some pretty cool stuff here, and some of the authors are no longer around. For example, there’s a list of ’16 things you didn’t know about Octavia Butler’ and some great old photos of the likes of a young Dorothy Sayers and Erica Jong, as well as a listing of ‘literary drinks — 10 famous fiction writers and their cocktails.’ –Pinterest