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Dear Author

Weekly Tech RoundUp

Rupert Murdoch, losing money on his print publications, is turning his eyes toward Google, accusing the search engine of stealing copyrights. (I’m guessing that Murdoch isn’t a big fan of the fair use doctrine). It’s pretty easy to exclude your material from Google and I would think that Murdoch could afford to hire a tech team to keep the material the search engine but excluding your information from Google means excluding your content from the millions who use Google. The article posits that Murdoch’s comments are a prelude to a lawsuit. Also, Rupert is looking into charging for his content after saying the WSJ should be free online.

And in my last Rupert Murdoch piece, apparently he is also thinking that he needs his own ebook reading device. He apparently is investing in a large screen device in four-color. Note to Rupert Murdoch, commercial fiction readers don’t want to lug around a device too big hence the popularity of the netbook. Just thought you might want a heads up about that.

Amazon customers are boycotting books over $9.99. In principle, this is a nice idea. After all, I do think that there are publishers that are outrageous in their pricing of ebooks. For example, St. Martin’s Press is pricing the digital equivalents of its mass market books at $9.99 up to $14.00. Simon & Schuster has upped all its pricing for digital mass markets to $9.99. I feel those prices are totally out of line and actually serve to suppress ebook growth, at least legitimate ebook growth. But Amazon, a retailer, isn’t really responsible for the pricing at this point. I believe that the $9.99 pricing is a “loss leader.” Essentially, they are selling books at a loss in order to gain something such as encouraging you to buy a Kindle over another product as well as increasing market share of book purchases (and also your heart, soul and mind). The entities readers need to protest/boycott are the publishers themselves. (Thanks to JMC for the link).

Verizon is talking to “five different e-reading device makers” to provide wireless service for the ebook readers. Everyone (including me) suspects that this is a way to compete with the Kindle-buy-through-your-device feature. Sony is presumed to be one of the five. AT&T is apparently in the hunt as well. There is appears to be a lot of interest (by whom I am not sure) but I think this is exciting for ebook readers.

Speaking of AT&T, they are predicting that by the end of this year, we consumers are going to see laptops the size of paperbacks with slide out keyboards/touchscreens that can run all day on a single charge. I believe everything but the “run all day on a single charge” bit.

Finally, some sad news about Ars Technica, one of the best tech sites on the internet. Apparently the Conde Nast subsidiary suffered a huge loss of its workforce when 7 of its 17 employees were given the ax. Ars is a site I would pay to have access to.

Dear Author

Game On Says Judith Regan to Jane Friedman

The book world is abuzzing with the complaint filed by Judith Regan, former head of Regan Publishing, a division of HarperCollins. No one can deny that Regan was a success. In her complaint, she alleges that she generated over $1B in sales. Fifteen of Regan’s books were NYT Bestsellers with five of them being in the number 1 slot.

But her success began unraveling with the backlash over the O.J. Simpson hypothetical confessional, If I Did It. Regan took the blame even though Rupert Murdoch’s signature was on the contract as well. Regan was subsequently fired over claims that she made anti-Semetic remarks.

The suit alleges breach of contract, sex discrimination, retaliation as well as accusations that Friedman, president and CEO of HarperCollins engaged in a calculated and defamatory smear campaign. She claims that the anti-Semetic claims were “fabricated”. (For some reason I thought someone had an audio recording of this?).

She also accuses NewsCorp of forcing her to lie about her affair with Bernard B Kerik during the vetting process of his nomination for homeland security secretary in 2004. Kerik later withdrew his name from the nominating hat by confessing to hiring an illegal alien as a nanny. In fact, Kerik had alot of other problems such as “alleging conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and lying to the IRS.”

The best part of this suit? Being on the sidelines. Get your popcorn, kids. This could be way entertaining. Pray for protacted litigation with lots of depositions and court filings. Hope that HarperCollins, NewsCorp and Regan don’t settle.

Via NY Times, Wikipedia, and NY Magazine.