Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

03/19/2016

Did the Cuban Sanctions Ban the Export/Import of Books?


havana_books

Books in Havana

Did the U.S. REALLY ban all book exchanges between Cuba and the United States? Not completely, it seems — Oh, and I, as well as many other regular, uninformed citizens, I suspect, did not even realize that books were a part of any such sanctions!

At any rate, researching this article (when the headlines caught my attention) uncovered a few informative tidbits:

One, that OFAC stands for the ‘Office of Foreign Assets Control’ and is part of the Department of the Treasury, which administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions. How about that?

Two, there is an information exception in the Cuban sanctions, called the Berman amendment, that states that the import of books from, and the export of books to, Cuba is permitted and may not be forbidden by OFAC.

Three, the group of publishers who petitioned the U.S. Government to “End the Book Embargo Against Cuba.” should have hired a professional writer to research the sanctions and word the petition in a clear, concise manner!

More details Re amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, movie, television and record companies and how they are now allowed to go hog-wild in Cuba, hiring Cubans to work on “filming or production of media programs (such as movies and television programs), the recording of music, and the creation of artworks in Cuba,” (leaving book publishers behind in the dust?) can be found in the following article from Lexology. Lexology collaborates with the world’s leading lawyers and other thought leaders to deliver tailored updates and analysis to the desktops of business professionals worldwide on a daily basis:

End Book Publisher Illiteracy on Cuba Sanctions

 

 

 

 

07/17/2015

Is It Possible That Amazon Is Not ‘All’ Bad News For Publishers?


Might Amazon’s debilitating effect on local shops be about to change?

For the past 20 years Amazon has disrupted the publishing industry from stem to stern. Could it be that much of the resulting adaptation and metamorphosis has actually been good news for publishers?

Depends on what you consider. What kind of publisher? What kind of book? Book audience location. Book platform. Book distribution system access. Digital technology, etc., etc.

Hell, many of these considerations weren’t even in existence 20 years ago! And while Amazon didn’t create or discover all of the above mentioned ingredients, they were the first to mix them in a masterful menu – creating a smorgasbord of possibilities – the understanding of which is still being deciphered today.

Tonight’s topic will discuss the how’s and where’s of some of the possible positive changes that Amazon has wrought within the publishing industry and the reaction/attitude of the big five publishing houses as well as others (Bowker’s, etc.) in the overall industry.

Key excerpts from tonight’s research/resource article:

“It has been presented as a David and Goliath battle. This is despite the underdog status of the largest publishing houses in the world. As Amazon has become the primary destination for books online, it has been able to lower book prices through their influence over the book trade. Many have argued that this has reduced the book to “a thing of minimal value”.”

“Despite this pervasive narrative of the evil overlord milking its underlings for all their worth, Amazon has actually offered some positive changes in the publishing industry over the last 20 years. Most notably, the website has increased the visibility of books as a form of entertainment in a competitive media environment. This is an achievement that should not be diminished in our increasingly digital world.”

Presenting:

Amazon is 20 years old – and far from bad news for publishers

By , as published in The Conversation (UK). Academic rigor, journalistic flair  

It has now been 20 years since Amazon sold its first book: the titillating-sounding Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies, by Douglas Hofstadter. Since then publishers have often expressed concern over Amazon. Recent public spates with Hachette and Penguin Random House have heightened the public’s awareness of this fraught relationship.

It has been presented as a David and Goliath battle. This is despite the underdog status as the largest publishing houses in the world. As Amazon has become the primary destination for books online, it has been able to lower book prices through their influence over the book trade. Many have argued that this has reduced the book to “a thing of minimal value”.

Despite this pervasive narrative of the evil overlord milking its underlings for all their worth, Amazon has actually offered some positive changes in the publishing industry over the last 20 years. Most notably, the website has increased the visibility of books as a form of entertainment in a competitive media environment. This is an achievement that should not be diminished in our increasingly digital world.

Democratising data

In Amazon’s early years, Jeff Bezos, the company’s CEO, was keen to avoid stocking books. Instead, he wanted to work as a go-between for customers and wholesalers. Instead of building costly warehouses, Amazon would instead buy books as customers ordered them. This would pass the savings on to the customers. (It wasn’t long, however, until Amazon started building large warehouses to ensure faster delivery times.)

This promise of a large selection of books required a large database of available books for customers to search. Prior to Amazon’s launch, this data was available to those who needed it from Bowker’s Books in Print, an expensive data source run by the people who controlled the International Standardised Book Number (ISBN) standard in the USA.

ISBN was the principle way in which people discovered books, and Bowker controlled this by documenting the availability of published and forthcoming titles. This made them one of the most powerful companies in the publishing industry and also created a division between traditional and self-published books.

Bowker allowed third parties to re-use their information, so Amazon linked this data to their website. Users could now see any book Bowker reported as available. This led to Amazon’s boasts that they had the largest bookstore in the world, despite their lack of inventory in their early years. But many other book retailers had exactly the same potential inventory through access to the same suppliers and Bowker’s Books in Print.

Amazon’s decision to open up the data in Bowker’s Books in Print to customers democratised the ability to discover of books that had previously been locked in to the sales system of physical book stores. And as Amazon’s reputation improved, they soon collected more data than Bowker.

For the first time, users could access data about what publishers had recently released and basic information about forthcoming titles. Even if customers did not buy books from Amazon, they could still access the information. This change benefited publishers as readers who can quickly find information about new books are more likely to buy new books.

World domination?

As Amazon expanded beyond books, ISBN was no longer the most useful form for recalling information about items they sold. So the company came up with a new version: Amazon Standardized Identifier Numbers (ASINs), Amazon’s equivalent of ISBNs. This allowed customers to shop for books, toys and electronics in one place.

The ASIN is central to any Amazon catalogue record and with Amazon’s expansion into selling eBooks and second hand books, it connects various editions of books. ASINs are the glue that connect eBooks on the Kindle to shared highlights, associated reviews, and second hand print copies on sale. Publishers, and their supporters, can use ASINs as a way of directing customers to relevant titles in new ways.

Will Cookson’s Bookindy is an example of this. The mobile app allows readers to find out if a particular book is available for sale cheaper than Amazon in an independent bookstore nearby. So Amazon’s advantage of being the largest source of book-related information is transformed into a way to build the local economy.

ASINs are primarily useful for finding and purchasing books from within the Amazon bookstore, but this is changing. For example, many self-published eBooks don’t have ISBNs, so Amazon’s data structure can be used to discover current trends in the publishing industry. Amazon’s data allows publishers to track the popularity of books in all forms and shape their future catalogues based on their findings.

While ISBNs will remain the standard for print books, ASIN and Amazon’s large amount of data clearly benefits publishers through increasing their visibility. Amazon have forever altered bookselling and the publishing industry, but this does not mean that its large database cannot be an invaluable resource for publishers who wish to direct customers to new books outside of Amazon.

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02/01/2015

A Declining Market for Printer and Publisher Alike? Maybe, Maybe Not – But Changes Are Afoot


Boy on Toilet Reading Paper - f5a5fe54-5e44-45c0-accd-0af459edc30aAll of us are biased in some way. Most of our biases come from two root causes: One, our need to make a living and provide for our loved ones and family. And two, our comfort zone – which is created by our upbringing and what we are familiar with or used to – like mom’s home cooking or our workplace routine and procedures.

So, when our way of making a living is disrupted in some manner or our workplace routine is changing due to, say, newer technology that threatens our very existence and forces change, our ‘biases’ kick in. These biases are deeper in some than others and actually prevent those affected from more immediate acceptance of needed changes.

These types of biases are prevalent in the publishing industry today.

Tonight’s research article comes from BoSacks of The Precision Media Group.

Key excerpt: ‘The lineal, multi-article, traditional experience is changing to a non-lineal, three dimensional collection of editorial material organized by both humans and algorithms that change for the individual person by the second. Every editorial offering will be delivered as a unique and ever-changing personal assortment of information and entertainment. The only exception to these new rules of publishing will be books. They are exempt from this observation, as the book format demands traditional styled and numbered pages, be they print or digital.’

 

BoSacks Speaks Out: The Answer to Publishing’s Enigma of Survival

All of us show bias when it comes to what information we take in. We typically focus on anything that agrees with the outcome we want – Noreena Hertz

 

Many of the people who read this newsletter are in one way or another devoted to the process of print. Some of them are printers, some of them are publishers and most of them have a strong and deep bias, which is clearly and understandably centered around making a profitable living. In fact, we all, regardless of what our profession is, have a biased point of view that is skewed by our need to make a living. In this discussion, I am not in any way saying a bias is wrong, just that it exists and aids us in forming our opinions.

Actually this bias comes twofold. Not only is it based on our need to make a living and feed the family, but also to be in our comfort zone. This comfort zone is, for the most part, like Mom’s cooking. By that I mean that the things we learned early when we were growing up are filled with a nostalgia that makes us feel most comfortable with what we knew and experienced then, something along the lines of Mom’s cooking. If you didn’t grow up in an internet era your comfort in it is less than the screenager who has never experienced lack of instant access to any and all information.

My friend Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Ph.D. who is the founder and director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism,

is filled with bias and exuberance about the printed magazine. He finds and counts every new magazine he can and declares the wonderfulness of the magazine business. His love and bias for the product is infectious and fun to watch. And it is the grand diversity of the ever diminishing magazine product that will continue to keep Samir and my printer friends busy for many years to come.

In fact most of my printer friends are doing quite well, even in an age where the printed magazine is in decline. And that is one of the main points of this essay. A fair and honest profit is still achievable in a greatly declining market for printer and publisher alike. I say bully for them that can continue to stay afloat and be at the top of their game when page counts are in a steady and predictable decline.

But, you knew there was a “but” coming, didn’t you? The majority of the reading public is leaving print behind. Even major magazine media associations are focused on the digital future of making a profit from reading and not on the ways in which we operated in the past.

I have said many times that print and printed magazines are not going to go away, but their numbers will increasingly become smaller. I am starting to think that the very format of the magazine whether print or digital is also in decreasing demand by the public.

Five years into the venture of offering digital magazines, Next Issue Media’s Morgan Guenther, the company’s chief executive officer says, “No one has heard of us.” Guenther suggests that the number of subscribers is “well into the hundreds of thousands.” I am very suspect of that comment and wonder, how much of those are actually paid by the consumer and how much of the “hundreds of thousands” are sponsored? We don’t know. It is surely worth reporting that Next Issue just raised $50 million from the private equity firm KKR and is preparing for a big marketing push. This will perhaps help, but I expect the resulting numbers to be underwhelming.

It seems that the mobile platform is increasingly the platform of choice for most readers, and it will continue to alter the future of the magazine format. The magazine industry will by necessity sell their product by the single article and not by the curated group of reading materials as in the past. The single article sales platform will include audio, video and reading components once known as articles. It is possible to foresee subscriptions to total niches that include articles from multiple publishing sources and not the traditional magazine concept. This would align with formats like Google news, a listing of articles from multiple publishers offered as a one source shopping spot for news, entertainment, and instructional/enthusiast “articles”.

So, now back to the bias discussion. Is it possible that we publishers have a bias for the format of a traditional magazine? In the 21st century is it possible that curation of reading materials will be distributed in an other than the old-style magazine format? From my observations that seems to be a strongly developing trend.

Take your pick from Facebook to Buzzfeed, from Circa to Upworthy, from Printerest to the web pages of People and Time – these reading experiences are not formatted as traditional magazines. Facebook has a billion people reading without pagination as we understand it. There are indeed pages in those reading platforms, but not a single folio.

These observations do not in any way sound a death knell for print or for printed magazines. But they are a suggestion that the predominant way we will read and gather information is not only digital, but unhinged from the concept of continuous pages. Is it possible to imagine that, for the most part, the public’s reading will not be as our forefathers read?

The lineal, multi-article, traditional experience is changing to a non-lineal, three dimensional collection of editorial material organized by both humans and algorithms that change for the individual person by the second. Every editorial offering will be delivered as a unique and ever-changing personal assortment of information and entertainment. The only exception to these new rules of publishing will be books. They are exempt from this observation, as the book format demands traditional styled and numbered pages, be they print or digital.

 

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11/08/2014

Writing About Sex? Why Not, It’s a Universal Aspect of Human Nature


Author and senior vice-president of sales at Penguin Random House, Ananth Padmanabhan

I came across a review of an interesting book on erotica that poses some interesting questions and concepts Re sex and romantic love.

The book, “Play With Me”, is written by Ananth Padmanabhan, who is the senior vice-president of sales at Penguin Random House, and it is his debut novel.

Author Ananth feels there is a big gap in the market today of books dealing with the heart, mind and body and where do you draw the line between them (and/or connect them) when it comes to sex and romantic love. And he should know about any gaps in the market — being the senior vice-president of sales at Penguin Random House and part of the publishing industry for nearly two decades.

“The past few years have seen a lot of short erotic stories being published but novels aren’t so common. I have written short erotic pieces before, but this is the first novel of this kind from India in the male voice,” he says.

 “How does one draw a line between heart and body? When does the mind kick in? What does pleasure do to our notion of love?” he asks.

I have written a few steamy scenes in my past projects and Ananth’s approach and the questions it raises about sex and love is something that begs more understanding or, at least, consideration in developing motives and characters.

Now, this piece from The Hindu newspaper by journalist Preeti Zachariah:

 

Love, lust, and life

“It is not autobiographical at all. I wanted to write about sex — it’s a universal aspect of human nature…” says Ananth Padmanabhan, about his debut novel Play with Me.

 

“Can one person be in love with two people, in very different ways? Yes, he can,” says Ananth Padmanabhan, whose debut novel Play with Me (Penguin, Rs.250) is a somewhat salacious take on the eternal love triangle.

The book tells the story of Sid, a successful photographer in an ad-agency and his two radically different relationships with two women — the gorgeous, free-spirited Cara who changes the way he thinks about erotic pleasure and Natasha towards whom he feels romantic love.

“How does one draw a line between heart and body? When does the mind kick in? What does pleasure do to our notion of love?” he asks.

Here in the city to release the book at Starmark, the author is remarkably candid about his reasons for writing it. “It is not autobiographical at all. I wanted to write about sex — it’s a universal aspect of human nature. And there is a big gap in the market today.”

He should know — Ananth, who is the senior vice-president, sales at Penguin Random House, has been part of the publishing industry for nearly two decades. “The past few years have seen a lot of short erotic stories being published but novels aren’t so common. I have written short erotic pieces before but this is the first novel of this kind from India in the male voice,” he says.

Also at the release was psychiatrist Vijay Nagaswami and journalist Yagna Balaji. Dr. Nagaswami attempted to define erotica. “It’s not just about sex but about people in unabashedly sexual relationships. Erotica is about using a feather, pornography is about using the whole chicken,” he smiles.  Using the popular Fifty Shades of Grey as a reference point, he wondered whether off-beat sexual themes garnered better audience response.

Ananth demurs by saying “For pleasure to be extraordinary, it doesn’t have to be unusual. I wanted this to be real and normal. This is an intense book, written with a lot of integrity that captures what goes on in the character’s mind.” Yagna adds that unlike many other books that claim to titillate, there is no flowery language and veiled allusions. This is the real thing.

Ananth explains, “I wanted to understand how pleasure is impacted by the notion of love. There is no universal formula, however,” he says. “Many times we get into relationships which seem right at that point of our lives, even if we know that they probably aren’t long-term ones.”

“Sex is a fundamental need — there is no morality associated with it,” feels Ananth. Any decision you make is okay if you can live with it yourself.  We constantly seek pleasure. Relationships are all about pleasure. Why should I be apologetic about it?” he asks.

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07/24/2013

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction


Book Covers of Man Booker Prize Nominees

The post tonight introduces a great fiction novel source. Let’s discover some great international authors and their intriguing storylines and characters.

The Man Booker Prize is awarded each year to the best original full-length English language fiction novel by a citizen of the Commonwealth of Nations, Ireland, or Zimbabwe. The winner receives 50,000 pounds in prize money — plus is generally assured of international renown and success.

It is a great honor for authors to be considered for the Man Booker Prize, especially if they make the longlist and it is pure ecstasy if they find their way onto the shortlist!

The 13 nominees for 2013 are the most diverse since the Man Booker Prize inception in 1968 – for novel style, length, subject and author and book story location.

The 13 books are:

More on the Man Booker Prize by Mark Brown in The Guardian:

 

Man Booker longlist ‘most diverse’ in prize’s history, say judges

Chair of £50,000 prize says 13 novels on 2013 list range from traditional to experimental and from Shanghai to Hendon

Judges for the 2013 Man Booker prize have drawn up what is “surely the most diverse” longlist in the prize’s history, they say, naming 13 books by authors who are mostly far from being household names.

Only two authors on the list have been nominated for the prize before: Jim Crace is listed for his 11th novel Harvest, 16 years after he was shortlisted for Quarantine; and Colm Tóibín, shortlisted twice before, is in the running for The Testament of Mary, which came out last year.

Robert Macfarlane, this year’s chair of judges, said: “This is surely the most diverse longlist in Man Booker history: wonderfully various in terms of geography, form, length and subject. These 13 outstanding novels range from the traditional to the experimental, from the first century AD to the present day, from 100 pages to 1,000, and from Shanghai to Hendon.”

The 1,000-page book is one of the most intriguing on the list. The Kills, by Richard House – a writer and artist who teaches at the University of Birmingham – could be described as a political thriller but is much more than that, Macfarlane said. Strictly speaking, it is four books in one novel and comes with extra, digitally available film and audio content, although the Booker panel is judging only the words.

Three first-time novelists are on this year’s list. NoViolet Bulawayo, who was born in Zimbabwe a year after it became independent and moved to the US at the age of 18, is on it for We Need New Names, which has been described a “visceral and bittersweet” portrayal of life in a Zimbabwean shantytown called Paradise. Eve Harris, published by the small Highlands publisher Sandstone, is longlisted for her yet-to-be-released book The Marrying of Chani Kaufman, set in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community of Hendon in London. And Donal Ryan makes the longlist for The Spinning Heart, a novel told from the points of view of 21 people struggling to get by in a rural Irish village.

Ryan is one of three Irish writers on the list, the others being Tóibín and Colum McCann, nominated for TransAtlantic, which spans 150 years.

The other nominated novels which have yet to be released are: The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, the youngest writer on the list at 27; The Lowland by Indian-American writer Jhumpa Lahiri; the second world war novel Unexploded by Alison MacLeod; and Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson.

Continued

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03/31/2013

How a Book is Born: The Publishing Process – A Video Series


Ever wonder about all the actual steps involved in creating and publishing a book? I have — and often wonder if I left out steps in my planning 🙂

Well, tonight’s post introduces a free, informative and entertaining  video series put together by New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver and Harper Collins. Go behind the scenes and follow the book publishing process from start to finish in a seven-video series for book lovers, students, and aspiring writers.

This series covers:

Episode 1:
Developing the Idea

Episode 2:
Writing the Story

Episode 3:
Editing the Book

Episode 4:
Creating the Art

Episode 5:
Proofing the Story

Episode 6:
Printing the Book

Episode 7:
Reading the Book

Hope you enjoy the series and learn something new — Click here for videos

01/04/2013

Analyzing the U.S. Book Publishing Industry


Analyzing the U.S. Book Publishing Industry

What a daunting task!

But, I thought a look-see into how the analysis is structured and just what goes into such an intellectual endeavor would be illuminating and fun for many who may not already know.

AND, I thought the source of this and related analyzes would be of great interest to those who want to research, pursue and understand the more professional, business side of publishing (not to mention other research-of-interest projects).

The source is Barnes Reports — ‘The Barnes Reports are a cost-effective, easy way of gathering all the current and forecast information and demographics on over 100 major industries and 400+ minor industries that you need for your business plans, research reports, market analysis and industry profiling. Since 1998, the Barnes Reports, a division of C. Barnes & Co., has been publishing market research and analysis reports for its clients. Based in beautiful Bath Maine, the Barnes Reports division is dedicated to producing the highest quality research to describe industries, nationally and locally, in the United States at an affordable price.’

From Research and Markets Dot Com

2013 U.S. Book Publishing Industry – Capital and Expenses Report

The 2013 U.S. Book Publishing Industry-Capital & Expenses Report, published annually , contains timely and accurate industry statistics, forecasts and demographics.

The report features 2013 current and 2014 forecast estimates on the cost of materials, capital expenditures, inventories, rentals, and other expenses nationally and for all 50 U.S. States and up to 900 metro areas. Expenses categories include materials used, payroll, human resources benefits, health insurance, retirement/pension plans, advertising, taxes, depreciation, electricity, fuels, equipment, repair/maintenance, and software. Capital expenditures include building, machinery, vehicles, and computer equipment. The report also includes industry definition, a breakdown by establishments size and industry size estimates (establishments, sales and employment).

Barnes Reports’ Capital & Expenses reports are an essential part of any GAP analysis, benchmarking project, SWOT analysis, business plan, risk analysis, or growth-share matrix.

Users’ Guide, Industry Definition and Related Industries, Industry Establishments, Sales & Employment Trends, Industry Ratios, 2012 Establishments, Firms & Payroll, 2012 Industry Cost of Materials, 2012 Industry Inventories, 2012 Industry Rentals, 2012 Industry Capital Expenditures, 2012 Industry Other Expenses, 2013 U.S. States – Estimated Cost of Materials, 2013 U.S. States – Estimated Capital Expenditures, 2013 U.S. States – Estimated Other Expenses, 2014 U.S. States – Estimated Cost of Materials, 2014 U.S. States – Estimated Capital Expenditures, 2014 U.S. States – Estimated Other Expenses, 2013 U.S. Metropolitan Areas – Estimated Cost of Materials, 2013 U.S. Metropolitan Areas – Estimated Capital Expenditures, 2013 U.S. Metropolitan Areas – Estimated Other Expenses, 2014 U.S. Metropolitan Areas – Estimated Cost of Materials, 2014 U.S. Metropolitan Areas – Estimated Capital Expenditures, 2014 U.S. Metropolitan Areas – Estimated Other Expenses, Definitions and Terms.

The above breaks down many of the categories that go into the professional analysis of the subject report.

Another helpful report mentioned in the below link  is the 2013 U.S. Book Publishing Industry-Industry & Market Report

So, if you are an ardent researcher and have a few extra bucks to blow, you now have an excellent resource in which to invest the bucks 🙂

Read and learn more

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09/23/2011

An 84 Year Old Surviving, Thriving Bookstore!


Benjamin Bass, founder, the Strand Book Store in NY

Who the hell said that bookstores are a thing of the past … emulsified in the wake of the digital storm?

I got news! There is an 84-year-old bookstore in New York that is not only still standing …  BUT, is thriving on the printed word …

Behnam Nateghi reports in The Voice of America:

Books and bookstores, have been having a hard time in the United States in the last few years.  Not long ago, large discount booksellers drove many small, independent book stores out of business.  Now,  those superstores are taking a hit from on-line and digital book sellers. Borders —  the country’s number two book chain — recently declared bankruptcy and Amazon says it is now selling more e-books than printed ones. But in New York City, there’s a family owned, independent book store that is still going strong.

Family owned business

The Strand Book store, in New York’s East Village, is surrounded by huge buildings belonging to New York University. It is more than 84 years old and is among the oldest cultural institutions in New York. It’s affectionately known for the row of tables outside, filled with one-dollar books.

Nancy Bass Wyden, Strand’s manager, is the granddaughter of the store’s founder, Benjamin Bass.  

Nancy and her father, Fred Bass, say the store owes at least part of its success to its location in New York City.

Read and learn more  

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08/20/2011

Coming: Legal Deposition RE E-Book Pricing, Economics of Digital Publishing and Inner Core Operations


Deposing Core Elements of the Agency Model

Class action lawsuits are growing against five major publishers plus Apple RE the infamous “agency model” (where the publisher sets the book/e-book price versus the traditional wholesale/retail model where the price is set by the sellers/retailers (?) … at least I think I have that right) 

Per publishing consultant, Mike Shatzkin, who writes the great IdeaLog Blog,  the “agency” model is based on the idea that the publisher is selling to the consumer and, therefore, setting the price, and any “agent”, which would usually be a retailer but wouldn’t have to be, that creates that sale would get a “commission” from the publisher for doing so.

Or, put another way by the ABA (The American Booksellers Assoc): Under the agency model, a publisher sets a retail price for a specific book, which establishes a level playing field for all resellers.

 I have posted on the agency model several times back when it was first named … and damned if I don’t seem more confused about it now!

At any rate, the lawsuits … mostly claiming that e-book prices are being artificially inflated … and their associated costs are spiraling upward!

These details in Publishers Weekly by Andrew Albanese:

More Lawsuits Over Agency Model

A class action lawsuit over e-book pricing filed against five major publishers and Apple has begun to sprawl, with four new “copycat” lawsuits filed last week. Two suits, filed in Manhattan, add Random House as a defendant, while a third suit, also in Manhattan, adds Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Another suit was filed in Oakland, Calif. The claims and assertions of fact in each suit are nearly identical to the original suit, filed August 9 by the firm Hagens Berman: that the simultaneous introduction of the agency model by the major publishers reflects an illegal conspiracy to “artificially inflate” e-book prices.

The filing of copycat suits is very common in consumer class actions. “It is more the rule than the exception,” one class action attorney told PW. If a case is perceived to be a good one, there will be multiple filings by different firms in different courts, and the firms will then compete to see who will become lead counsel. In the coming months, the cases—and there could be more coming—will be organized, and the defendants will seek to have them moved to one court.

According to the filings, the price-fixing conspiracy occurred as Apple negotiated terms with publishers in anticipation of the 2010 iPad release. On January 27, 2010, when asked by reporters how Apple’s e-bookstore would compete with Amazon’s $9.99 price, Apple’s Steve Jobs responded that the prices “would be the same.” That public pronouncement, one suit alleges, “was a signal to Publisher Defendants that each of them had agreed to join the conspiracy.” The following day, January 28, Macmillan CEO John Sargent told Amazon of its switch to the agency model. “This would have been irrational if Macmillan had not expected its primary competitors to follow suit,” the lawsuit notes. “Acting alone, no individual publisher would be able to sustain the supra-competitive prices.” The agency model, the suit notes, effectively ended “retailer discretion” for e-book pricing.

Read and learn more
 

 
 

 

05/19/2011

Despite E-Book Popularity, Traditional U.S. Print Title Output Increases


Traditional Print Publishing is Not Going Anywhere...Just Yet

I have touched on this subject several times in the past…Who the hell said print is dead? Because the figures damn sure don’t back up that postulation!

 
This even fresher evidence comes by way of the Bowker bibliographic information database as reported via press release in the Sacramento Bee:
 
Print Isn’t Dead, Says Bowker’s Annual Book Production Report
Traditional publishing grows a modest 5%, while POD sends print total over a record 3 million 

Bowker, the global leader in bibliographic information, released its annual report on U.S. print book publishing, compiled from its Books In Print® database.  Based on preliminary figures from U.S. publishers, Bowker is projecting that despite the popularity of e-books, traditional U.S. print title output in 2010 increased 5%.  Output of new titles and editions increased from 302,410 in 2009 to a projected 316,480 in 2010. The 5% increase comes on the heels of a 4% increase the previous year based on the final 2008-2009 figures.

The non-traditional sector continues its explosive growth, increasing 169% from 1,033,065 in 2009 to an amazing 2,776,260 in 2010.  These books, marketed almost exclusively on the web, are largely on-demand titles produced by reprint houses specializing in public domain works and by presses catering to self-publishers and “micro-niche” publications.   

“These publication figures from both traditional and non-traditional publishers confirm that print production is alive and well, and can still be supported in this highly dynamic marketplace,” said Kelly Gallagher, vice president of publishing services for Bowker. “Especially on the non-traditional side, we’re seeing the reprint business’ internet-driven business model expand dramatically. It will be interesting to see in the coming years how well it succeeds in the long-term.”

In traditional publishing, SciTech continues to drive growth

Continuing the trend seen last year, science and technology were the leading areas of growth as consumers purchased information for business and careers.  Major increases were seen in Computers (51% over 2009, with an average five-year growth rate of 8%), Science (37% over 2009, with an average five-year growth rate of 12%) and Technology (35% over 2009, with an average five-year growth rate of 11%).  Categories subject to discretionary spending were the top losers, perhaps still feeling the effects of a sluggish economy.  Literature (-29%), Poetry (-15%), History (-12), and Biography (-12%) all recorded double digit declines.  Fiction, which is still the largest category (nearly 15% of the total) dropped 3% from 2009, continuing a decline from peak output in 2007.  Religion (-4%) fell to 4th place behind Science among the largest categories.

Top book production categories:

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