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Friday Midday News and Deal Links: Ebook Sales Up and Down

Friday Midday News and Deal Links: Ebook Sales Up and Down

News

Google has filed its motion to dismiss in the Google Book Settlement.  The motion is based on a legal term known as standing.  Not everyone can sue anyone else.  You must have “standing” and Google is arguing that only the individual authors and artists have standing, not groups such as the Authors Guild.

In a copyright case, standing comes from ownership. Only the “legal or beneficial owner” of the exclusive right the defendant has allegedly infringed has standing to sue. Since the Authors Guild doesn’t own the copyrights in its members’ books, it can’t sue in its own behalf.

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Hal Roberts posts that SOPA advocates are using his research incorrectly.  His research on DNS filtering does not support SOPA and he tries to set the record straight.

Opponents of SOPA have argued that the DNS filtering, even though it will have a number of harmful effects on the technical and political structure of the Internet, will not be effective in preventing users from accessing the blocked sites. Mr. Castro cites our research as evidence that SOPA’s mandate to filter DNS will be effective. …. His presumption that people will work as hard or harder to access political content than they do to access entertainment content deeply misunderstands how and why most people use the Internet. Far more users in open societies use the Internet for entertainment than for political purposes; it is unreasonable to assume different behaviors in closed societies.

But facts aren’t driving SOPA.  Emotion is.

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October sales results are out and it shows a decline in ebook sales from August to October. According to Publishers’ Marketplace, the ebook sales for August were $80.3 million and ebook sales in October were $72.8 million.  Still, that is enough for an 82% increase over last October ebook sales and every other segment of publishing declined in sales in October including mass market which is down a whopping 33.7%.

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Lenticular clouds West yorkshire

Lenticular clouds have appeared in West Yorkshire.  Amazing gallery to be seen here.

Deals

These are Amazon Big Deals and other than the Miriam Minger titles, the deals expire today. The lowered prices may not be reflected at other sites but the links are provided as a courtesy.

Dear Author

Thursday Midday Links: RWA Is Taking Questions

DA Industry NewsRWA President Michelle Monkou is fielding questions today on blog talk radio. The start time is at noon CST. I wish someone would call in and ask what RWA’s stance is on the change in pricing and Google Book Settlement. Link here.. I would call but I don’t think they would allow me through.

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John Scalzi sides with the ethicist as to whether it is okay to download a digital copy of a book you already own.

But the point to make here is that these days, people are deciding that when they buy a book or a movie or a piece of music, they're buying the content, not the format. As a writer I don't have a philosophical problem with this, since I write content, not format, even if publishers want that content to fit a particular format. And as a consumer, I think there's a certain point at which you get to say "you know what, I've  paid for this already, and I'm done paying any more for it." Both of these are why I say that if you've paid me once for a book I've written and what you've enjoyed, we're good. Pay me again if you like; I won't complain. But once is enough.

Nathan Bransford does not.

It may seem like it’s a trivial distinction to make when the resulting file from scanning yourself vs. pirating a book is potentially almost the same, but that’s where the line between ethical/legal and unethical/illegal is drawn for a reason. In the first version, you’re adding the value yourself through your own effort (just as taking notes in your own margins adds a form of value). By downloading a file illegally you’re misappropriating that added value from the only people (the publisher and author and e-booksellers) who are legally and ethically entitled to profit from it. That’s why we have copyright law. That’s where we’ve chosen to draw the line.

I see a couple of flaws in both arguments. First, if content is what readers are buying, why are audiobooks separate?    Does the aural component add something new? Further, what about used book purchases and subsequent downloads? There is no remission to the author there, yet you still legally own a copy of the book. Bransford argues that the opportunity cost of converting print into digital (v CD into MP3) makes it unethical because creating your own digital file somehow adds value.

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Association of American Publishers’ stats are released for 2009 and sales fell by 1.8%.   Adult hardcovers had a growth of 6.9% ($2.6 billion) but children and YA fell 5% ($1.7 billion).   I see dozens of sales for YA books right now, many for big amounts.   I wonder if these will prove to be a mistake.   Adult trade paperbacks fell 5.2% ($2.2 billion)

Mass market decreased 4% ($1 billion) and book clubs/mail order fell 2% ($588 million).   Ebooks reached $313 million which represents nearly 4% of adult trade sales.   Audiobooks struggled with a drop of 12.9% ($192).

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An intrepid reader at Mobile Read noted that HarperCollins is selling its books for 20% off. Further, the retail price of the books is a dollar less.    But this morning, a notice went up that the site is under maintenance and you can’t buy.   I love the idea of the publishers selling direct at a discount but I can’t help but wonder if this violates some kind of pricing deal with the retailers.   Note to HarperCollins: those prices were right for me. I would buy at those prices.

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A reader sent me i09′s assessment of the how the Google Books Settlement will affect readers.   io9 believes that there will be both a retraction of content (authors refusing to allow Google to display their work) and an expansion (as orphaned works get displayed because the rights’ owner can’t be found).

More importantly, I think we could see a renaissance in contemporary pulp fiction. We can once again have access to weird, unusual stories that are both awesome and not sustainable under publishing’s current blockbuster model. Writers of small and midlist SF books could start making money on their writing again. This is a good thing for authors and readers who love imaginative fiction.

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Publishers’ Marketplace brings up two key issues for this Apple pricing model five of the top six major publishers are trying to cram down our throats.   First is the tax issue (tax link).   Wherever the publisher or retailer has a significant business presence, they have to collect tax.   The publishers and retailers are confused about who has the responsibility to collect and report taxes.   Sounds like it will be a huge headache and one that no one has figured out how to handle. I confess to not understanding the entirety of the issue. Maybe reader DS will help us out?

Second (paid link), iBookstore is allowing all kinds of content into the store via aggregators like Ingram, Smashwords, LibreDigital.   Each one charges a different commission.   Smashwords takes about half of the 30% commission and LibreDigital about 20%.   Ingram won’t say.   The publishers who aren’t doing Agency pricing are having a difficult time enforcing the hybrid scheme.   For example, Sourcebooks has priced some books at the iBooks store at $6.99 and because it doesn’t have an agency agreement with other retailers like BN or Amazon, those two are discounting.   For authors who want to skip the aggregators, you can go directly with Tunecore who will submit your epub to iBooks for a flat fee, no subsequent royalty share.

Right now, though, the iBook store sucks so hard that unless a reader knows exactly what to look for, its fairly useless.   One person (Liza Daly of Threepress and Ibis Reader) called it an airport bookstore and it is such an apt description.

Yesterday I looked and there were no April releases in the romance section which only displays two subcategories: Contemporary and Historical and only about 27 titles in each category.

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Penguin has signed a co branding deal with a major Indian publisher, Shobhaa De. Unfortunately, the books will “comprise of celebrity memoirs, guides and biographies -’ with a focus on lifestyle, business, cinema and commercial fiction.”

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Karen Scott highlighted an interview with two Mills & Boon Authors. Penny Jordan has sold 85 million copies her books worldwide and has never spotted a reader with one of them.

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