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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

Friday News: More on the Apple-Beats deal, Amazon Germany delays shipments, BEA 2014, and eBay’s new fashion research

Friday News: More on the Apple-Beats deal, Amazon Germany delays shipments,...

Apple’s Beats deal is bad news for these two companies - So now that the Apple – Beats deal is officially confirmed, the predictions shift into full gear. Will Beats bring Apple back to its glory days? Will it end up being an expensive flop? And what about other online services?

Yahoo Tech Reporter Aaron Pressman says this deal is not welcome news for Pandora and Spotify. “If you’re Pandora or Spotify – which maybe was heading towards an IPO – if you’re an investor in those companies, you’re pretty bummed out,” said Pressman. “This is not good for you.” — Yahoo News

Amazon Strategy Raises Hackles in Germany - Perhaps on the strength of Amazon’s share of the ebook market in Germany — which is substantial — the company is now delaying shipments for books from German publisher Bonnier Media Group. Similar to the early stages of Amazon’s US battle with Hachette, the situation in Germany has emerged from negotiations between Amazon and one of Germany’s largest publishers over the sharing of ebook profits.

Yet in a country where shopping hours are also tightly controlled by the government, Germans are becoming increasingly accustomed to the ease and independence of ordering books at all hours and having them delivered to their front doors.

Germany’s book-order business, including online sales, grew by 4 percent last year to 2.7 billion euros, or $3.7 billion, according to the Federation of Mail-Order Booksellers. Amazon towered above its competitors, controlling more than half of the German market, with sales of €1.9 billion. — New York Times

BEA 2014: Strong Traffic, Talk of Amazon-Hachette - Even BEA, which is currently underway in New York City, is preoccupied with talk of the Amazon-Hachette conflict. Along with flourishing attendance, a tribute to Maya Angelou, and presentation of the Indie Champion Award to James Patterson, people were talking about the battle. Patterson, especially, was outspoken, insisting that publishers must remain afloat to “support good literature,” and noting that profit margins in publishing are not enormous:

As Patterson sees it, readers and the bookselling community must step up in order to safeguard the future of our literature. He spoke about how this “economic war” will affect grocery stores, libraries, and bookstores. “Ultimately it will put thousands of mom-and-pops out of business. If Amazon’s not a monopoly, it’s the beginning of one. If this is to be the new American way, this has to be changed, by law if necessary.” He wanted the media and authors groups to take up this topic. “It’s a worthy subject of this BEA.”

Patrick Hughes, Fulcrum’s marketing and sales director, was also vocal on the subject of Amazon, and completely unsympathetic toward Hachette. “I can’t complain, there’s nothing better out there,” he said. “Amazon is our largest customer.” He continued: “One international corporate behemoth complaining about another international corporate behemoth—I have absolutely no sympathy.” — Publishers Weekly

In order to chase down fashion recommendations, eBay turns to neurological data - The use of algorithms to try to predict consumer choices and recommend merchandise is not a new concept, but eBay is taking the process a step further, it seems, by using neurological research to attempt to figure out what consumers want to wear, and thus, buy. Creepy or cool? Or maybe both?

Fashion taste is a fickle thing, but scientists have long pursued the neurological causes behind our aesthetic choices. We are still far from understanding the motives, but MIT Technology Review reports that a team at eBay Research Labs in San Jose is using neurology research and in-person opinions to help craft an algorithm that determines fashion combinations — ideally to be used to recommend clothing during shopping experiences. — Gigaom