Wednesday News: Scribd reduces Romance, Apple loses appeal, Tess Gerritsen abandons lawsuit, & Misty Copeland is ABT’s new principal
Scribd Reduces Romance Catalog – From Jane: Late yesterday afternoon, news came out that Scribd was drastically reducing the number of romance books that would be available through the subscription service. I reached out to Scribd and received this message:
“Over the past two years, the Scribd catalog has grown from 100,000 titles to more than one million. We’re proud of the service we’ve built and we’re constantly working to expand the selection across genres to give our readers the broadest possible list of books for $8.99 per month. We’ve grown to a point where we are beginning to adjust the proportion of titles across genres to ensure that we can continue to expand the overall size and variety of our service. We will be making some adjustments, particularly to romance, and as a result some previously available titles may no longer be available.
There are still thousands of romance titles and a lifetime of books to read in the romance genre and beyond. We look forward to continuing to grow subscribers, increase overall reading, and increase total publisher payouts in a way that works for everyone over the long term.”
A subsequent blog post at Scribd indicates that they intend to rotate content (maybe a bit like Netflix?)
The emails sent by distributors Draft to Digital and Smashwords to the indie authors give some insight behind the decision.
As we all know, the concept of a subscription service for books is
extremely new. There are several models on the market now for
effectively monetizing subscriptions, and none of them exactly matches
what we’re used to from traditional sales royalties. As the market
experiments with different approaches, there are bound to be some
missteps and false starts along the way. In fact, we should expect
this business model to evolve even more in the near future.
Scribd took a significant risk putting in place a model that paid
authors the same amount as a retail model for each book read by a
subscriber. As we all know, romance readers tend to be incredibly avid
readers. In trying to cater to this voracious readership while under
this progressive payment model, Scribd has put itself in a difficult
place. In a bid to better balance these operating expenses, Scribd is
immediately slashing the volume of romance novels in its subscription
If you are receiving this email, then you are a Draft2Digital author
who has published books in the romance genre to Scribd. This means
that some or all of your romance novels are likely going to be
delisted from their service today. (Books that are priced at free will
not be removed.)
While a large number of romance novels will be removed from Scribd, it
isn’t all of them. We aren’t privy to the exact guidelines Scribd is
using to decide which romance novels will remain, and it’s our
understanding that they remain in flux at Scribd.
–Via an email from Draft to Digital.
Essentially it appears that romance readers cost too much money for the subscription service. The best customers are the ones that sign up for a service but then never use it not unlike a gym membership. The worst ones are those that use it every day, multiple times a day. Businesses lose money on subscribers like that.
Authors liked the subscription model. They were paid 60% of list price if a book was read past 30%. I’m unsure what the deal was for traditionally published authors but most presumed that they got their standard 25% off of net for a book that was downloaded and at least partially read. Some people point to this model when arguing Amazon should be paying them more for participation in Kindle Unlimited.
It’s clear, though, that the model of paying 60% per book read is unsustainable if you have a bunch of romance readers ravaging their way through the content. Whether Scribd remains a good option for romance readers remains to be seen.
I do feel like Amazon has won something this round without even having to lift a finger. –Scribd
Apple loses e-book antitrust appeal – And Apple is one step closer to having to pay out the $400 million settlement funds, along with $50 million in legal fees. Apple is running out of legal options, despite their ongoing insistence that their actions were perfectly legitimate.
A three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit voted 2 to 1 against Apple. Writing for the majority, Judge Debra Ann Livingston said that Apple illegally orchestrated a conspiracy between book publishers, upholding a district court ruling from 2013. The lawsuit was filed by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Additionally, she said that the injunction imposed by District Court Judge Denise Cote was appropriate and left it in place. It’s the latest strike against Apple in this long-running case, which stems from agreements the company set up with publishers around the launch of its online ebook marketplace. –PC World
GRAVITY LAWSUIT: WHY I AM GIVING UP – You may be familiar with Tess Gerritsen’s breach of contract suit against Warner Bros., which acquired New Line Productions in 2008, where Gerritsen had a project in development based on her book, Gravity. Warner Bros. ended up making a film called Gravity, written by the same person who had been tapped to direct New Line’s version of Gerritsen’s project, giving no credit to Gerritsen. The background is here. Long story short, Gerritsen does not believe that the continued emotional and financial investment in the suit will result in a favorable result, especially given the court’s rulings regarding her contract with New Line and Warner Bros. obligations to her vis a vis that contract. Gerritsen’s case is a grim warning for all writers who sell their IP rights to third parties:
Even those robust provisions in my contract did not protect me when New Line was absorbed into Warner Bros. In this era of endless studio mergers and acquisitions, how can we writers protect ourselves from those who purchase our intellectual property rights and make promises but later voice no objection when their parent companies or affiliates take control and circumvent those promises? I’m afraid the answer from this court is clear: we cannot.–Tess Gerritsen
Misty Copeland Is Promoted to Principal Dancer at American Ballet Theater – And now for some good news: Misty Copeland has been promoted to principal dancer for the American Ballet Theater, the first (aka only) African American woman to receive that honor in the Ballet’s 75-year history. If you are unfamiliar with Copeland, check her out in this amazing Under Armour ad. Another poignant example that stereotypes are made to be challenged and subverted.
Even as her promotion was celebrated by her many fans, it raised all-too-familiar questions about why African-American dancers, particularly women, remain so underrepresented at top ballet companies in the 21st century, despite the work of pioneering black dancers who broke racial barriers in the past. And it showed how media and communications have changed in dance, with Ms. Copeland deftly using modern tools — an online ad she made for Under Armour has been viewed more than 8 million times — to spread her fame far beyond traditional dance circles, drawing new audiences to ballet. –New York Times