Monthly Archives: June 2013

Nigeria Takes on Piracy with Education. Better than McGruff the Crime Dog?

Here’s an idea we wouldn’t mind seeing spread: Nigeria is starting a program to teach secondary school students the importance of respecting copyright.

The Guardian Nigeria reports that the Nigerian Copyright Commission will send staff to schools talk about the issue. The program launched with a one-day “copyright sensitization workshop” for over 300 students.

Speaking at the event, Director-General, NCC, Afam Ezekude, who noted that one of the cardinal goals of the commission is to disseminate copyright knowledge, adding that the commission wants to take its campaign against piracy to the grassroots by engaging students at early stage to enable them know the importance of copyright and how to respect other people’s intellectual property.

NCC, he stated, would launch a Copyright Virtue Club, an internet club warehousing general information for children on copyright issues and great authors.

In a lesson that students everywhere could use, an NCC official also urged the students to resist the temptations of plagiarism, calling it a form of piracy.

The school initiative is part of Nigeria’s larger effort to crack down on piracy with tougher penalties and stepped up enforcement. While Nigeria clearly recognizes a need to improve copyright protection, it is apparently already doing a better job than many nations. It did not make the U.S. government’s latest list of worst offenders of intellectual property rights (its neighbor to the north, Algeria, did).

Here in the U.S., McGruff the Crime Dog’s on the case, delivering the cheery message that “it’s easy to stay on the straight and narrow.” For those dozen or so kids eager to stay on the straight and narrow, McGruff provides a list of 10 “don’ts” and other fun suggestions:

It’s easy to stay on the straight and narrow.

• When you buy a tune on the Internet and download it, make sure you don’t send a copy to a friend or someone who might sell it to others.

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Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

There once was a certain kind of novel that guaranteed controversy, critical upheaval and big sales. In a June Vanity Fair article, this genre was called “Young Women on Life’s Threshold.”

The first, Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa Harlowe, was published in 1748. That novel was described by VF as “an anti-romance with a prowling sexual engine. Clarissa sent a reverberation through the culture—to this day novels about women that become social signifiers tend to be just as raw.”

One novel about young women that registered as notably shocking for its time was The Group, published in 1963. The female characters were recent college graduates, and Vanity Fair called Mary McCarthy’s account “Vassar Unzipped.”

Other famously bestselling Clarissa offspring include Fear of Flying by Erica Jong (1973), Looking for Mr. Goodbar by Judith Rossner (1975), Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann (1966) and The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe—which appeared in 1958.

What we don’t need now is yet another book about a fictional female with “a prowling sexual engine.” Bookstore shelves today are crowded with thousands of shades of gray novels.

P.S.: Sunday, June 16 was Bloomsday. James Joyce’s Ulysses offers us perhaps the most famous fictional fantasy female of all.  Here’s a quote from Molly Bloom: “of course a woman wants to be embraced 20 times a day almost to make her look young no matter by who . . . and yes I said yes I will Yes.”

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New Books by Members

This week’s recent and upcoming releases by Authors Guild members include titles by Warren Adler, Rochelle Alers, Terry Brooks, Sheri J. Caplan, Patrick A. Durantou, Donna Grant, Carolyn Hart, Megan Hart, Eloisa James, Michael A. Kahn, Susan Mallery, Jamie Michalak, Patricia L. Papernow, and Lisa Unger. Titles after the jump.

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The Trial, Week Two: A Worst-Case Scenario Email; Spotlight on Apple’s Eddy Cue and Publishing House Heads. Where’s Random House?

Week two in the Apple ebook price-fixing trial wrapped up Thursday with Apple executive Eddy Cue, the man the DOJ says orchestrated the alleged conspiracy, testifying that he negotiated vigorously with publishers but had no idea what they were saying to each other, as Thomson-Reuters reports.

He said he also did not know of calls the government said publishers were making between themselves, nor did he think anyone else at Apple knew.

“If they were working together, I assume I would have had much easier time negotiating,” Cue said.

Cue was also questioned about another key aspect of the government’s case, the contention that Apple caused ebook prices to increase. Cue acknowledged that the cost of some books did go up from the $9.99 Amazon was charging after Apple opened it’s iBooks store, but he said it was publishers who pushed for higher prices.

Cue is scheduled to take the stand again when the trial resumes on Monday. Though he was considered the government’s key witness, so far the only really surprising revelation from his testimony is an idea Cue had back in early 2009, nearly a year before Apple announced the launch of its iPad.

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It’s Audiobook Month! Not Just for Drivers, says RH Campaign; Audible Ending Dollar Bounty Program

Audiobook sales, led by downloadable audio, have been on the rise in recent years, and June is audiobook month (who knew?), so this seems a good time for an update on this sector of publishing.

With nearly half of all audiobook buyers doing their listening while driving, Random House has launched an advertising campaign to promote the use of audiobooks outside the car, the New York Times reports.

The ads, running in print, online and on the radio, target consumers who engage in activities like knitting, exercising or traveling for business that lend themselves to listening to books.

Deciding what consumer groups to aim at came partly from identifying Web sites where consumers interested in activities like crafts or exercise also discussed audiobooks as a suitable accompaniment.

“We looked at who was chatting about audiobooks and how could we insert ourselves into that conversation,” said Heather Dalton, the director of marketing for Random House Audio.

In less happy audiobook news, is ending the $1 per download author payment program it began last spring.

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Bulletin Board

This week’s contests include poetry, fiction, and nonfiction with deadlines ranging from July 1 to July 15.

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation is accepting submissions for the Barbara Mandingo Kelly Peace Poetry Awards. The contest is open to everyone, but poems must be previously unpublished and written in English. You may submit up to three poems, maximum 30 lines per poem. The winner will receive $1,000 and the winning poem will be posted on the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation website.  Entry fee: $15 for up to three poems. Deadline: July 1, 2013. For complete guidelines, please visit the website.

The Bard Fiction Prize is open to emerging writers who are American citizens under the age of 40 at the time of application.

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Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

Our military mess in Afghanistan waved a flag that helped sell 38 million copies of Khaled Hosseini‘s two novels, providing readers with background on a mysterious land.

The author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, now 48, told The Guardian, “I think if I were to write my first book now it would be a different book, and it may not be a book everyone wants to read. If I were given a red pen now and I went back . . . I’d take that thing apart.”

Instead, Hosseini has written a third novel, The Mountains Beyond. Part of it is set in Afghanistan too.

Hosseini, who trained as a doctor, was the cover subject for the June Writer’s Digest. In it, he said, “One of the things I really love about writing is all the spontaneous moments, all the surprises, all the unforeseen developments that pop up and give you an insight into how different things might be conducted . . . which would make for much more interesting storytelling.”

In Kite Runner, the fictional narrator says that there is an “Afghan tendency to exaggerate—sadly, almost a national affliction.” I remember back when anyone who fibbed was called a storyteller. Hosseini lives in California, but he was born an Afghan storyteller.

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Apple Price-Fixing Trial So Far: Amazon Blasted as a Bully, Google Grilled, A Comic Minion Moment

Week two in the Apple fix-pricing trial began Monday with HarperCollins CEO Brian Murray and Macmillan CEO John Sargent testifying that they weren’t forced by Apple to revise their terms with Amazon–as the Justice Department’s claims–but simply engaged in tough negotiations with both e-tailers to get the best possible deal.

While all five major publishers originally named in the suit have settled with the DOJ, the government’s case hinges largely on their actions in 2010, when Apple allegedly acted as “ringmaster” compelling them to adopt the agency model.

Monday’s witnesses also included a Google executive who finished testimony that began last week, when the Apple’s lawyer aggressively grilled him about his contention that publishers had told him Apple forced them to adopt a model that would result in higher prices. CNET reported:

Apple started to pick away at the Department of Justice’s claim that the tech giant conspired to inflate e-book prices by repeatedly and rapidly firing questions at a key Google witness.

The tactic paid off for lead Apple attorney Orin Snyder, who began to wear down on Thomas Turvey, director of strategic relationships for Google. Turvey appeared increasingly frazzled and frustrated as the afternoon went on.

Asked to name a publisher who told him about Apple’s demands, Turvey could not.

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Piracy, Bribery, Profit? Amazon Releases Kindle Into Complex Chinese Book Market

Will the availability of the Kindle be enough to convince Chinese readers to actually pay for the ebooks they download? That’s the hope as Amazon starts selling its Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle HD Fire in a nation of rampant piracy.

Stemming copyright violations would require quite a change in mindset. Consider a 2012 survey of nearly 19,000 Chinese readers, as reported in the People’s Daily Online:

The survey, carried out by the  Chinese Academy of Press and Publication, also showed that 40.1 percent of respondents who have read e-books before would be willing to pay for the books, down 1.7 percent year on year.

So, six out of 10 ebook readers in China would not even be theoretically willing to spend money on the titles they download.

Amazon is hoping to discourage piracy by keeping prices low, selling most ebooks at the equivalent of $1.63. But it will also have to convince consumers to choose the Kindle over cheaper Chinese e-readers, as Bloomberg reports:

Amazon, a brand known for bargains in most of the places it operates, finds itself in a more premium position with its Kindle products in China. The Paperwhite costs 849 yuan. E-Commerce China Dangdang, one of Amazon’s Chinese competitors, began selling its own e-reader there a year ago. The price: 599 yuan.

Amazon’s move comes on the heels of a scandal highlighting China’s pervasive problems with copyright, the arrest of Lou Li, the founder of that country’s largest online literature site, Qidian. Press accounts differ as to the nature of his alleged misdeeds–reports have him arrested for either selling copyrighted material that belonged to Qidian’s parent company or accepting bribes in a copyright negotiation.

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New Books by Members

This week’s recent and upcoming releases by Authors Guild members include titles by Elizabeth Bailey, Hendrik Booraem V, Martha Brockenbrough, Claire Cook, Patrick A. Durantou, David E. Gumpert, Cary Holladay, Stephen King, Susan Mallery, Philipp Meyer, Fred Nadis, Francis Ray, Elizabeth Richards, and Polly Shulman. Titles under the jump.

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