Monthly Archives: August 2013

Proposal Seeks to Safeguard Publishing Prospects of Scholars Forced to Put Work Online

Academic historians are grappling with a very modern dilemma: how to balance the benefits of making research findings widely accessible online with the need to protect the career prospects of young scholars for whom that research represents years of hard work and sacrifice.

The American Historical Association is calling on universities to adopt new policies giving students the option of embargoing their dissertations for up to six years. In a recent statement, the AHA described the Catch-22 created by the current system.

“Because many universities no longer keep hard copies of dissertations deposited in their libraries, more and more institutions are requiring that all successfully defended dissertations be posted online, so that they are free and accessible to anyone who wants to read them.  At the same time, however, an increasing number of university presses are reluctant to offer a publishing contract to newly minted PhDs whose dissertations have been freely available via online sources.”

And, the AHA points out, “the book is the measure of scholarly competence used by tenure committees.”

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Bulletin Board

Check out this week’s batch of contests with deadlines ranging from September 15 – September 30.

The University of Wisconsin Press is now seeking submissions for two poetry awards: the Brittingham Prize and the Felix Pollak Prize. Prizes are awarded annually to the two best book-length manuscripts of original poetry submitted. Each submission will be considered for both prizes. Each winner will receive $1,000 and publication. Entry fee: $25 per manuscript, but covers entry for both prizes. Deadline: September 15, 2013. For more information, please visit the website.

The Chariton Review Short Fiction Prize is currently seeking submissions for the best unpublished short fiction on any theme up to 5,000 words in English. Stories must be previously unpublished. The winner will receive $1,000 and publication in the Chariton Review. Entry fee: $20. Deadline: September 30, 2013. For more information, please visit the website.

Les Fugues Press is now seeking submissions for its NOS Book Contest. Eligible submissions include: poetry, novellas, prose poems, innovative novels, anti-novels, short story collections, lyric essays, hybrids, and all forms not otherwise specified. Manuscripts should be 64-250 pages. The winner will receive $1,000 and publication. Entry fee: $25. Deadline: September 15, 2013. For more information, please visit the website.

The Greensboro Review is currently seeking submissions for its Robert Watson Literary Prizes in Poetry and Fiction. The winner of each category will receive $1,000 and publication in the Greensboro Review. Entries must be previously unpublished. Fiction manuscripts should be no longer than 25 pages; poetry manuscripts can include any number of poems but must not exceed 10 pages. Entry fee: $14 per entry (includes a one-year subscription). Deadline: September 15, 2013. For more information, please visit the website.

Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

Put the word “wife” in the title of your next novel and you may have a bestseller.

Julie Bosman, who writes about book news for The New York Times, noted the successes of The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld. They were mentioned in an article about The Silent Wife, a new novel by A.S.A. Harrison. That book, after a slow start, has become the summer’s sleeper, a bestseller.

The author didn’t live to see her Wife’s success. Bosman wrote: “In a real-life tragic twist, Ms. Harrison died of cancer in April, only weeks before her book was published. She was 65.”

Harrison was an editor and nonfiction writer in Toronto.  Her husband, John Massey, told the Times, “She was very modest, and I think she knew that she had worked extremely hard on that book. She had very clear ideas about what was good. And I think she believed she had written a good novel.”

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New Books by Members

This week’s recent and upcoming releases by Authors Guild members include titles by Gigi Amateau, Garnette Arledge, Kelly Braffet, Philip S. Cheng, Elizabeth Cohen, Susan Cooper, Lyn Cote, Tina Dybvik, James Gunn, Tracy Guzeman, Linda S. Johnson, Kirby Lawson, Peter Orner, Philip Raisor, JoAnn Ross, Najla Said, David Ezra Stein, Richard Watson, and Carol Wright. Titles under the jump.

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Bulletin Board

This week’s batch includes a multi-genre contest, a fiction contest, and two residencies. Deadlines range from September 1 – September 15.

The Black Warrior Review’s 9th Annual Contest is now open. Fiction/Prose and Nonfiction entries may be up to 7,500 words. Poetry entries may be up to three poems. Winners in each genre will receive $1,000 and publication in BWR’s upcoming Spring/Summer 2014 issue. Entry fee: $15. Deadline: September 1, 2013. For more information, please visit the website.

Bear Deluxe Magazine is now seeking submissions for its annual Doug Fir Fiction Award. Winners will receive $1,000, publication, residency at the Sitka Center for Art & Ecology, and a manuscript review. Submissions must be previously unpublished short stories up to 5,000 words, relating to a sense of place or the natural world. Entry Fee: $15. Deadline: September 3, 2013. For more information, please visit the website.

The Hambidge Residency is currently accepting applications for the mid-February through April residency period. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the residency allows artists to explore, develop, and express their creative voices. Residencies last from two weeks to two months depending on availability and the residency fee is $200 per week. All new applicants will be considered for the NEA Fellowship which provides a $700 stipend and waives the $400 residency fee for two week residencies. Other scholarships are also available. Application fee: $30. Deadline: September 15, 2013. For more information, please visit the website.

The MacDowell Colony is currently accepting applications for its Winter/Spring 2014 Residency (Feb 1, 2014-May 31, 2014). The Fellowship consists of exclusive use of a studio, accommodations, and three prepared meals a day for up to eight weeks. There are no residency fees. Emerging and established artists are invited to apply. Application fee: $30. Deadline: September 15, 2013. For complete guidelines, please visit the website.

Growing Digital Sales a Bright Spot for Magazines

Mirroring the trend with books, magazine readers are migrating to digital, offsetting sluggish demand for print copies, the New York Times reports.

Magazines continued to struggle with sales of subscriptions and newsstand copies in the first half of 2013, but they made inroads in selling digital editions, according to data released on Tuesday.

Total paid and verified subscriptions declined by 1 percent in the first half of 2013, and newsstand sales, which are often an indicator of a magazine’s appeal, dropped by 10 percent. Both declines were similar to the overall trend in the same period a year ago.

That data, compiled by the Alliance for Audited Media, show the newer format is a still- tiny but fast-growing part of the market.

 Digital replica editions — which replicate the format of the print editions — now make up 3.3 percent of total magazine circulation, with 10.2 million digital replica editions sold in the first half of 2013. During the same time period in 2012, magazines sold 5.4 million digital editions, which made up 1.7 percent of circulation.

Women’s magazines are among the best examples of the trend toward digital. Newsstand sales fell for Cosmopolitan, 23.9 percent;  Glamour, 28.8 percent; and O, The Oprah Magazine, 22.7 percent. But the New York Times quotes Hearst as noting that, “Cosmopolitan grew by 33 percent, to 246,815 digital subscribers, and O grew 22 percent, to 99,412 digital subscribers.”

Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

With all the fuss over J. K. Rowling’s pen name in the news, Carmela Ciuraru, author of Nom de Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms and writing in the Wall Street Journal, offered up an especially prolific practitioner:

Fernando Pessoa, a Portuguese poet who died in 1935, used more than 70 pseudonyms. According to Ciuraru, he gave each “distinct physical characteristics, astrological signs and prose styles. Their literary output was astonishing, and they were known to savage one another’s work. To this day, no one knows the motive behind Pessoa’s relentless self-multiplying. ‘I’m the empty stage where various actors act out various plays,’ he wrote.”

Maybe Pessoa was just having fun.

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How Many A-Rods? Purchase Price of Washington Post vs. MLB Contracts

Let’s start with a disclaimer: this is totally unfair, an apples-to-oranges comparison, and a simplistic one at that.  Still, yesterday’s two blockbuster news stories — Major League Baseball’s long-expected suspension of Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez, the highest-paid player in baseball history, and Jeff Bezos’s complete-surprise purchase of The Washington Post got us curious as to how the relevant numbers stack up.

So, how many A-Rods will it cost Jeff Bezos to buy the Post? The Washington Post costs 0.91 A-Rods, based on the reported $250 million purchase price for the Post and the ballplayer’s current $275 million contract signed for 2008-17. (Or 0.99 A-Rods, using his 2001 contract as the yardstick. The 2008 contract superseded some of those payments.) What about Prince Fielder, the Tigers’ first baseman, who has a $214 million contract for 2012-20? The Post costs 1.17 Prince Fielders, or a whopping 1.32 Derek Jeters. The figures for the top ten baseball contracts follow. All salary figures are from Baseball Prospectus.

Purchase price of the Washington Post, in terms of MLB contracts

1.00 Washington Posts =

0.91 A-Rods ’08 ($275 million; 2008-17)
0.99 A-Rods ’01 ($252 million; 2001-10)
1.04 Albert Pujols ($240 million; 2012-21)
1.11 Joey Vottos ($225 million; 2014-23)
1.17 Prince Fielders ($214 million; 2012-20)
1.32 Derek Jeters ($189 million; 2001-10)
1.36 Joe Mauers ($184 million; 2011-18)
1.39 Mark Teixeiras ($180 million; 2009-16)
1.39 Justin Verlanders ($180 million; 2013-19)
1.43 Felix Hernandezes ($175 million; 2013-19)

As we said, this really isn’t fair. Comparing the purchase price of the Washington Post, without considering its cash flow, assets, debts and various contractual commitments, and the price of securing the services of a baseball player for a limited period of time doesn’t really make sense.

Then again, maybe this isn’t such a stretch. Billionaires can do many things with their extra money, including buying sports franchises and major newspapers. Some do both. A few of those with the money to spend for such things might be comparing these apples to those oranges.

What is Jeff Bezos Buying With WaPo Purchase?

As news spread yesterday evening that Jeff Bezos is buying the Washington Post, the discussion quickly turned to why the Internet visionary would pour $250 million of his own money into a venerable but financially struggling old media business.

While publicly traded Amazon is not involved in the purchase–Bezos will take the newspaper private and be its sole owner–observers are drawing connections between the two businesses.

Brad Stone, author of The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, told the New Republic:

“This is maybe going out on a little bit of a limb: but look, he’s buying a lot of political influence. And we can’t discard the fact that Amazon hasn’t been an enormous player, at least up until the dispute over sales taxes, and in buying The Washington Post, he has a seat at the table. And I think particularly legislators and anti-trust regulators are gonna be weighing the dominance of Amazon a lot in the years ahead.”

Bezos has personally kept a low political profile. But Amazon, after years of opposing an Internet sales tax, is now one of its leading proponents, funding lobbying efforts to pass the Marketplace Fairness Act. The Washington Post reported in February: “Amazon was joined by Target and Wal-Mart in support of the bill; eBay and have opposed it.”  (You may recall Overstock and Amazon’s deep discounting battle).

The Daily Beast in May ran a piece detailing why an Internet tax would now give Amazon a competitive advantage over smaller retailers and highlighting the Seattle company’s ability to persuade lawmakers.

Aside from political influence, the Washington Post could also supply Amazon with content, Michael Sebastian wrote in AdAge:

“One way to make money from the Post — beyond selling advertising and newspapers — could be to harness the library of content at the paper. Brands, maybe even Amazon, need content. Why reinvent the wheel by hiring journalists or creative to produce it, when you can just buy a newspaper?”

Bezos said yesterday that he doesn’t plan to be involved in day-to-day operations of the newspaper. In an open letter to employees, he pointed to challenges in the digital era:

“The Internet is transforming almost every element of the news business: shortening news cycles, eroding long-reliable revenue sources, and enabling new kinds of competition, some of which bear little or no news-gathering costs. There is no map, and charting a path ahead will not be easy. We will need to invent, which means we will need to experiment.”

He also reassured employees:

“The values of The Post do not need changing. The paper’s duty will remain to its readers and not to the private interests of its owners.”

Apple Calls DOJ Proposal Invasive, Punitive and a Gift to Amazon, Asks for ‘Reasonable’ Limitations

On Friday, Judge Denise Cote will consider whether to grant the Justice Department’s request that Apple be forced to accept long-term monitoring and sweeping changes to how it operates or impose the much more limited consequences Apple wants.

In a proposed remedy submitted to the court, The DOJ contends that Apple must be compelled to take steps to “ameliorate the harm its conspiracy caused to competition and consumers.” Among the remedies proposed is a five-year restriction on engaging in agency pricing agreements for any content. That means Apple would be required to throw out its contracts with the five publisher defendants in the price-fixing case, agreements that were set as part of the publishers’ settlements with the DOJ.

In its reply, the company calls the proposal “a draconian and punitive intrusion into Apple’s business.” It asks for “reasonable limitations on Apple’s ability to share information,” similar to what is contained in the publisher’s settlement agreements, a prohibition on retail price MFNs that also echo the publishers’ settlements, and “reasonable antitrust training obligations.”

Apple points out that the publishers’ settlement agreements already prohibit publishers from entering into agency agreements without discounting for a two-year period, which the court has endorsed as long enough to “restore retail price competition to the market for trade e-books, to return prices to their competitive level.”

In addition, Apple argues that any injunction should only apply to the publishers involved in the conspiracy, not the thousands of independent publishers who also sell books through Apple.

Objecting to the proposal to dictate terms for non-book content such as music, movies and apps, the company contends, “There is no justification for this invasion into Apple’s businesses that were not directly at issue in this lawsuit, for which no conspiracy allegations were made.”

The DOJ also wants Apple to operate under the oversight of an outside compliance officer for 10 years, necessary, says the DOJ, since the conspiracy was orchestrated by people at the highest levels of the company.  Apple responds that, “This unduly burdensome remedy is plainly punitive, not to mention out of proportion to the circumstances of this case.”