Monthly Archives: May 2013

Two Timely Questions: How do you Write the Digital Life? Are the Genre Wars Over?

It’s not just business models that are evolving. From the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper website today come two thoughtful pieces on changes in the creative challenges facing writers and in how literature is judged.

In a post titled, “How do you write about life when it’s lived on computers?” sci-fi author Damien Walter points out a reality that should resonate with anyone who remembers being advised by a writing teacher to develop an ear for dialogue by eavesdropping on strangers:

Walk in to any public space today, from a waiting room to a coffee shop, and note the disturbing absence of voices. We are there, and we are elsewhere. Our discussions are mediated via social networks, and conducted through touchscreen interfaces. Can we call them friends, this network of professional and social contacts we interact with through computers?

Read More…

Ebooks Sales Booming, New Report Says

Ebook sales increased by 45 percent in 2012 to make up 20 percent of the trade book market, according to a report released today by Bookstats, a co-production of the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group.

Not surprisingly in the era of erotic mega-series like Fifty Shades and Crossfire, adult fiction, particularly romance novels, showed the strongest growth in ebook sales.

This sounds like great news for digital publishing, but the reality may be even better. Despite the impressive increase reported by Bookstats, the figures almost certainly underestimate true ebook market growth as titles self-published or released by micropublishers are not included.

The New York Times today also looked at the state of more traditional formats.

Sales of hardcover and trade paperback books were relatively flat: hardcovers accounted for just over $5 billion in 2012, up from $4.9 billion in 2011. Mass-market paperbacks, the smaller format of paperback popular in airports and grocery stores, also decreased in sales.

Read More…

DOJ Calls Apple “Ringmaster” In Price-Fixing Plan

Ahead of the June 3 trial start date of its price-fixing lawsuit, the Department of Justice is portraying Apple as the “ringmaster” that drew publishers into a scheme to sell digital books on the agency model.

In a memorandum filed in court yesterday, the DOJ ascribes tactics to Apple that ranged from enticing to coercive as it persuaded publishers that it offered their best chance to “challenge the $9.99 price point” set by Amazon.

Five major publishers named as defendants when the lawsuit was filed last year have since settled. According to yesterday’s filing, when the publishers “voiced fears that signing an Apple Agency Agreement would subject them to harsh market conditions unless the other Publisher Defendants signed too, Apple assured the publishers that they would be acting in concert to move the industry.”

Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr, speaking to The New York Times, disputed the government’s claims.

“We helped transform the e-book market with the introduction of the iBookstore in 2010, bringing consumers an expanded selection of e-books and delivering innovative new features,” Mr. Neumayr said.

Read More…

Guild Member Early-Bird Discount to BEA Ends Today

The Authors Guild members’ early-bird discount on registration to BookExpo America ends today.

This year’s BEA, the national booksellers’ convention, is Wednesday, May 29th, through Saturday, June 1st, at the Javits Convention Center in New York City. (The exhibition hall opens Thursday; we’ll be at booth #2764.)

All-access passes for members are $104 during early-bird registration.

Read More…

Microsoft to Buy Nook? Insider Monkey’s “Highly Placed Source” Challenges TechCrunch’s “Internal Documents”

Barnes & Noble’s digital future seems cloudier than ever as a new story is contradicting reports that Microsoft wants to buy Nook Media.

For those keeping score, it’s TechCrunch citing “internal documents” that Microsoft is offering $1 billion for the division versus Insider Monkey claiming a “highly placed source inside Microsoft” says it has no plans to acquire Nook Media.

Which source to believe? Beats us, but maybe a little information about the sources will help.

Read More…

Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

William Faulkner’s sinister South is not like Willie Morris’s sweet South or Eudora Welty’s sly and secretive South. Advance readers of Bill Cheng’s Southern Cross the Dog expressed surprise that a Chinese American, who had never been to that part of the U.S., could create a vivid South that seemed authentic.

A fan of the blues, Cheng, 29, grew up in Queens, N.Y. Last week, he told The New York Times, “I just looked for the things that showed up a lot in the music, images and icons that are prominent in music—the flood, the Devil, the hellhouse. The story formed itself around that.”

To one who has been to the South many times, the place is fixed in time as sun scorched and overrun with rank weeds, honeysuckle and vignettes of abject misery. Every one of us—transients, great authors, and now a blues lover–creates his own South.

Cheng is currently on a book tour through the real South.

Read More…

Microsoft Nook Bid Raises Questions About B&N

Reports that Microsoft is offering Barnes & Noble $1 billion for its Nook ebook business raises questions about the fate of the only remaining national chain bookseller and about  the future of digital book selling.

Since TechCrunch broke the story last week, citing leaked internal documents, pundits have widely speculated that Microsoft is interested in acquiring Nook content, but will kill the device business.

Read More…

New Books by Members

This week’s round up of new and recent releases by Authors Guild members includes books by Linda Ashman, Marie Bostwick, Tom Clavin, Tess Collins, Barbara Dreyfuss, Russell Freedman, Shawn Goodman, Chris Grabenstein, Lawrence Grobel, Elissa Haden Guest, Robert G. Kaiser, Suzanne Kamata, John Lescroart, Kathleen Long, Ann M. Martin, Greg Edward Mathieson, Claudia Mills, Walter Mosley, Jennifer O’Connell, Toni Ortner, Dennis Palumbo, Robyn Parnell, Laurie Plissner, Amy Plum, and Divya Srinivasan. See the list of titles after the jump.

Read More…

Indies Put Their Passion Behind Debut Authors

We couldn’t agree more: “The relationship between booksellers and emerging authors is markedly symbiotic,” Elizabeth Knapp writes in Bookselling this Week, announcing the  lineup of fall titles for the ABA’s new Celebrate Debut Authors With Indies program.

Participating booksellers will give the 22 chosen titles special promotional attention in their stores, on their websites and through their newsletters and social media. Publishers nominated titles for the program, but final selection was up to booksellers, who took a refreshingly old-school approach:

Read More…

Who is the Baddest of them All? Ukraine, says U.S. Gov

The U.S. government is calling out Ukraine for its shoddy enforcement of intellectual property rights laws, putting the Eastern European nation literally in a class by itself among trading partners who fail to protect copyright holders.

A new report from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative designates Ukraine a Priority Foreign Country (PFC), a benign-sounding label reserved for the worst intellectual property rights offenders. It’s been more than seven years since a U.S. trading partner had PFC status.  That country? Ukraine, a PFC from 2001 to 2005, when it improved its practices enough to (temporarily) lose the designation.

Read More…