Monthly Archives: July 2013

A River Runs Through It: Amazon Gets Reminded of Its Namesake as ICANN Rejects Domain Bid; “.author,” “.book,” Still on Block

As Amazon vies to snag exclusive rights to use top-level domain (TLD) names including “.author,” “.book,” and “.read,” last week it was thwarted in its attempt to buy one suffix it coveted: “.amazon.”

The online retailer applied to purchase the domain name after the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced plans last year to sell generic top-level domain names (website suffixes such as “.com” and “.org”) to private companies. The New York Times reports that an ICANN committee recommended against selling the river’s name to Amazon after a group of Latin American countries voiced their objections in a letter.

“In particular ‘.amazon’ is a geographic name that represents important territories of some of our countries, which have relevant communities, with their own culture and identity directly connected with the name,” the letter said. “Beyond the specifics, this should also be understood as a matter of principle.”

The Authors Guild similarly opposes the plan to sell the rights to top-level domain names for generic book-industry terms. In a letter to ICANN in March, Guild president Scott Turow wrote:

“Placing such generic domains in private hands is plainly anticompetitive, allowing already dominant, well-capitalized companies to expand and entrench their market power.  The potential for abuse seems limitless.

Read More…

Senators Renew Push for Shield Law; Say Bill Would Codify Justice Department’s New Protections for Journalists

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled this week to consider legislation that would turn into law new Department of Justice guidelines putting greater restrictions on how the government collects journalists’ private information while investigating leaks.

The shield law legislation calls for courts to “apply a balancing test before compelling disclosure” of sources and other information from journalists. It also requires that courts arbitrate government media records requests and that journalists be notified within 90  days of their records being reviewed by the DOJ.

The Authors Guild, which has long backed the enactment of such a law, is part of a coalition of media organizations calling on Congress to use this as an opportunity to strengthen the First Amendment protection of press freedom.

Earlier this month, the DOJ drafted a new policy for investigating journalists in response to outrage over revelations that  it secretly collected the phone records of Associated Press reporters and examined emails of Fox News reporter James Rosen in a search for the source of government leaks.

Read More…

New Books by Members

This week’s recent and upcoming releases by Authors Guild members include titles by Terry Brooks, Susan Crandall, Susanna Daniel, Anthony M. DeStefano, Patrick A. Durantou, Ju Ephraime, Helen Frost, George Ella Lyon, Cathy Luchetti, Trinka Hakes Noble, Doris Ober, Richard Peck, Luanne Rice, Barbara Rogan, and Daniel Silva. Titles beneath the jump.

Read More…

Bulletin Board

This week’s batch includes a residency, a fellowship for our Delaware residents, and short story and poetry contests, all with August 1 deadlines.

The Delaware Division of the Arts offers a variety of Individual Artist Fellowships, including grants for literary artists. Entrants must be residents of the state of Delaware for at least one year at the time of application. Recipients must remain Delaware residents during their fellowship year and cannot be enrolled in degree or certificate-granting educational programs at the time of application or for the duration of their fellowships. Established Professional Fellowships of $6,000 will be awarded to those who have significant achievements in their respective fields. Emerging Professional Fellowships of $3,000 with be awarded to those who have not yet established reputations in their fields. To apply, writers must submit a 15-20 page section/selection of prose, poetry, or drama along with their application. Deadline: August 1, 2013. For complete guidelines and eligibility requirements, please visit the website (click Artist Fellowship Guidelines under ‘For Individual Artists’).

Read More…

Double-Digit Ebook Sales Lift Adult Trade Market; Steep Drop in Children’s/Young Adult Sales Attributed to Hunger Games Fall-Off

Sales of adult ebooks continue to rise rapidly, according to new figures from the Association of American Publishers. In the first quarter of this year, sales of adult ebooks totaled $328.2, up 13.6% from the same time in 2012, making the category the largest measured in the organization’s StatShot report. Sales of children’s and young adult books in print and digital form dropped nearly 25% compared to last year, when, as Galley Cat points outThe Hunger Games was in movie theaters, spurring sales of the series’ books.

The increase in adult ebook sales, while modest compared to the growth shown in some previous reports, allowed overall adult trade sales to tick up 3.3% despite lackluster demand for print books.  Hardcover sales were flat at  $226.5 million, trade paperback sales rose less than 2% to $306.6 million and mass market paperback sales dropped 14.6%, to $89.9 million.

All figures are based on sales by 1,192 publishers who report to the AAP.

Publishers Weekly has more, including stats on audiobook sales (related story: Amazon and the Growing Audiobook Market), which continued to grow strongly as it shifts rapidly from physical media (CDs and tapes) to downloadable digital delivery:

Read More…

Peter Osnos: Amazon and the Growing Audiobook Market

With audiobook sales rising, Peter Osnos, writing in The Atlantic, takes a look at Amazon’s dominance of the market, achieved in large part through companies it acquired.

At the last tally (now more than a year old), more than 60 percent of audiobooks were downloaded to digital devices, and nearly all of those came from Audible (an Amazon company) or through its long-standing license to supply audiobooks to Apple’s iTunes. Amazon also owns Brilliance audio, the biggest producer of CD-based audiobooks. Audiobooks are now well over a billion-dollar business, and the available figures suggest that Amazon retains a far larger piece of that revenue than any other retailer.

Amazon purchased Brilliance in 2007 and Audible in 2008.

Osnos notes the hardball terms the company is able to demand.

Audible uses the clout it has amassed from this success to negotiate deals with publishers, who doubtless resent the low advances on offer — $1,000 is typical — for all but guaranteed bestsellers. But publishers are reluctant to pass up the opportunity to reach an audience of a size only possible on Amazon.

The future for audio, particularly downloadable audiobooks, looks bright. Osnos discusses the steep growth in the number of titles available in audio, and the expected continued migration to downloadable audio and away from CDs.

Read More…

Cuckoo’s Calling Fallout: Denials of a “Stunt,” Empathy from a Pseudonymist, A Post-Revelation Rave, and an App for Uncovering Authorship

Reverberations from J.K. Rowling’s outing this weekend as the author of The Cuckoo’s Calling, published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, continue, and not just in Amazon raking in sales of the Kindle version as the printer works overtime to get physical copies of the crime novel into bookstores.

In the three days since London’s Sunday Times broke the news, we’ve seen:

Emphatic denials from Rowling and her publisher, Little, Brown, that the whole thing was a sales-boosting stunt. The Bookseller quotes J K Rowling’s spokesperson, Nicky Stonehill of Stonehill Salt PR: “We can confirm the story in the Sunday Times was correct, and it was not a leak or elaborate marketing campaign to boost sales. We are not commenting any further.” The Bookseller also quotes the publisher that the revelation, “was not a leak or part of a marketing campaign.”

Read More…

Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

With the merger of Penguin and Random House, two meaningful imprints of the past will lose their distinction. Boris Kachka is certain that this will happen.

He is the author of Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America’s Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Whew, that’s a lot of title.

Kachka wrote an essay for The New York Times’ op-ed page about the merger and what consolidation means, making use of an old quote:

“‘A new imprint on a book gathers character through the years,’ declared the first sentence of the first catalog printed by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 1946. But an old imprint, once merged, tends to lose it. Even Penguin and Random House aren’t immune. . . . Maybe Random Penguin, as a few wags have suggested, would have been a more apt name.”

Read More…

JK Rowling’s Experiment in Pseudonymity: Critical Acclaim No Match for Big Name

The revelation that “debut” mystery novel The Cuckoo’s Calling was actually written by J.K. Rowling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith highlights quirks of the book business and challenges faced by authors both famous and obscure.

Rowling, who admitted to writing the novel after London’s Sunday Times uncovered the truth about the book published by Little, Brown in April, issued a statement saying:

“I had hoped to keep this secret a little longer, because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience. It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation, and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name.”

Liberating perhaps after publishing her much-anticipated first adult book, last year’s The Casual Vacancy, to tepid reviews that measured the novel against her blockbuster series.

“With J. K. Rowling’s new novel, ‘The Casual Vacancy,’ we are firmly in Muggle-land — about as far from the enchanted world of Harry Potter as we can get,” Michiko Kakutani wrote in the New York Times.  “There is no magic in this book — in terms of wizarding or in terms of narrative sorcery.”

Despite the mixed reviews, The Casual Vacancy debuted at the top of the New York Times bestseller list.

Meanwhile, “Robert Galbraith” met the fate of many first-time authors, attracting critical praise including a starred review in Publishers Weekly, but low sales (they’ve, of course, spiked since the weekend).

Read More…

New Books by Members

This week’s recent and upcoming releases by Authors Guild members include titles by Meg Cabot, Philip Caputo, Zita Christian, Shutta Crum, Patrick A. Durantou, Donna Grant, Debbie Levy, Richard Lewis, David Milgrim, Russ Rymer, Cathleen Schine, Monica Wellington. Titles underneath the jump.

Read More…