by Campbell Geeslin
Are you ready for your close-up?
In a plot twist only a sadist could dream up, a new Italian TV show called Masterpiece pits aspiring novelists against one another reality-show style, with a payoff to the winner of a 100,000 first printing. If the program is a hit in Italy—where writers are revered but sales are pitiful—a U.S. version cannot be far behind.
This week’s recent and upcoming releases by Authors Guild members include titles by Anthony Aveni, Eliza Cross, Matt de la Peña, Patrick A. Durantou, Stephanie Greene, Lesley Ellen Harris, Steven James, Robert Littell, Laurie Loughlin, Ann M. Martin, Sandra Moran, Susan Pearson, Joan L. Ramirez, Albert Russo, Anita Shreve, Martin Cruz Smith, Leslie Morgan Stanley, and Kenneth Weisbrode. Titles below the jump.
Can lawsuits slow piracy in China? We may soon find out.
Top Chinese video sites Youku Tudou, Sohu Video, Tencent Video license their content lawfully and sometimes create their own programs. Now, with the backing of the Motion Picture Association of America, they’ve filed suit against Baidu, China’s dominant search portal, and a smaller competitor for spreading links to unlicensed content. The suits seek about $50 million in damages, according to a story in The Hollywood Reporter.
Congressional efforts to update U.S. copyright law are set to resume next Tuesday, when a House Judiciary subcommittee meets to discuss changing business models and content delivery methods in the digital age.
Judge Denny Chin today ruled that Google’s mass book digitization project to be a fair use, granting the company summary judgment in the copyright infringement lawsuit brought by the Authors Guild in 2005.
This week’s batch of contests includes two regional contests (for California and Midwest residents) as well as translation awards and the PEN Literary Awards. Deadlines range from Dec 9-16.
The Commonwealth Club is now accepting submissions for the 83rd annual California Book Awards for books published in 2013. Applicants must be residents of California in order to qualify. Self-published books, print-on-demand books, and e-books are not eligible. Deadline: December 16, 2013. For more information, please visit the website.
Fear of government intrusion is influencing how some American authors and journalists do their jobs, causing them to avoid researching, writing about and even privately discussing many of the most newsworthy topics, according to a report by the PEN American Center, Chilling Effects: NSA Surveillance Drives U.S. Writers to Self-Censor:
The surprise success of the season is a book of photographs of New Yorkers on the street, each with a quote from the subject in reply to questions asked by Brandon Stanton, a 29-year-old photographer from Georgia. The title is Humans of New York “which has become an instant publishing phenomenon,” The New York Times said.
The pictures with quotes were first posted on Facebook, where they were viewed by more than a million fans. Now, 145,000 copies of Humans are in print. But during a signing at Barnes & Noble in Union Square, the store ran out of books.
The exposure on the Internet and the book have made Stanton famous. The Times’ Julie Bosman wrote that student Jessica Ruvin stopped him on the street and asked him to pose for a photo with her. She said, “I’m such a big fan. He exhibits the best part of New York—people on the street.”
This week’s recent and upcoming releases by Authors Guild members include titles by Eric Carle,Valerie DeLaune,Charlotte Hinger, J. Sydney Jones, Lisa McCubbin, Mark Meier, G. Wayne Miller, Tom Nissley, Ann Patchett, Douglas Preston, Robert Root, Roger Rosenblatt, William Seale, Carol Colclough Strickland, and Pamela S. Turner. Titles under the jump.
Via Melville House, comes word that 98 UK publishers there have declared insolvency over the last year, a 42% increase compared with the previous year. Anthony Cork of Wilkins Kennedy, the accounting firm that issued the report, attributes much of this to the “massive buying power” of Amazon and other discount sellers, squeezing publishers’ profit margins.
Cork also said the increasing popularity of digital books — UK ebook sales soared 134% in 2012, according to the Publishers Association — creates opportunities for publishers, but also a new set of problems.
“However, the e-book market is now itself subject to fierce price competition and as with the music and film industries and the arrival of downloads, piracy is a serious threat. Academic text books are amongst the most vulnerable to piracy as today’s students are simply accustomed to accessing the content they want on the Internet for free.”
Melville House notes that the pricing pressures on publishers and booksellers trace back to a major change in UK bookselling in 1995.
“Publishers in the UK were formerly protected by the Net Book Agreement, which was in effect from 1900 to 1995 and kept book prices static for all merchants. Books could only be discounted if they were second-hand or damaged, which led to many booksellers defacing books with markers or hole-punching the covers in order to offer reductions.”
UK bookstores have fared worse than publishers since then. Melville House points to a 2009 BBC report that 500 independent UK bookstores had gone out of business since price controls were dropped in 1995.