News & Notes is a weekly Saturday post featuring book- and publishing-related news, links to interesting articles and opinion pieces, giveaways on this and other blogs, and other cool stuff.
- Author and president of the Author’s Guild Scott Turow wrote an opinion piece on “The Slow Death of the American Author,” published by the New York Times last Sunday. In it, Turow criticizes the possible resale of digital works, the Big Six publishers for offering dismally low royalties on ebooks, piracy websites, Google and other search engines for pointing to piracy sites, Google and the Hathi Trust for scanning and digitizing millions of in-copyright books, and libraries for lending ebooks (and even print books, though he hedges by saying libraries have nutured authors and authors are “happy with this system.”) To me, the entire piece comes off a bit whiny and “they’re all out to get us.” Yes, publishers offer low royalties on ebooks… so some authors choose to publish independently with Amazon, where they get 70% royalties. (Turow doesn’t mention this, perhaps because he has a long history of railing against Amazon — odd, when you realize that many of his own sales are through Amazon.)
- Will Kaufman offers a strongly-worded rebuttal (profanity alert.) He makes some good point, particularly regarding piracy, but agrees with Turow re reselling ebooks and library e-lending. I definitely do not agree when it comes to libraries, and I refer you to…
- “Libraries and Book Discovery: A Reader’s Response” a brilliant response to that portion of Turow’s post by Sarah of Clear Eyes, Full Shelves, and a defense of libraries’ role in book discovery. I couldn’t have said it any better myself.
Other articles of interest this week:
- “Whose mp3s Are They, Anyway?” (Caitlin Kenney, NPR’s Planet Money)
- “Is This Science Journalism? Nah. Then What Is It?” (Robert Krulwich, NPR’s Krulwich Wonders)
- “No TV? No Subscription? No Problem” looks at streaming (TV, movies, and music) over the internet, shared accounts, and the need for social sharing. (Jenna Wortham, New York Times Business Day)
More Books & Ebooks in the News:
- On April 6, e-tailer BooksOnBoard stopped selling ebooks. They claim the shutdown is “temporary” while they restructure to better compete with Amazon, B&N, and Kobo. We’ll see. Customers can still access their titles (for now — I strongly urge you to download them to your own computer if you haven’t already.) Jane Litte at Dear Author responded with “To Save Indies, Publishers Need to Reconsider DRM,” in which she talks not only about DRM but about how Agency pricing hurt or destroyed independent e-booksellers — despite the BooksOnBoard founder’s initial support for it.
- “Americans Still Love Libraries” Short article and a long and informative infographic from Jason Boog at GalleyCat.
- “Adult Hardcover Revenues Down Nearly 7% in 2012.” (Jason Boog, GalleyCat) In contrast, adult fiction and nonfiction ebook sales increased 33% over the previous year. Children’s and YA hardcover sales were up 11% for 2012, but ebook sales beat them tenfold, growing by almost 121%.
- “B&N Upgrades PubIt! to Nook Press, A New Self-Publishing Platform” (Publishers Weekly) An interesting tidbit from the article: B&N say that self-published works “represent about 25% of all e-book sales on Nook devices.” As for the new Nook Press, it will pay up to 65% royalties on the list price, and is non-exclusive (meaning authors can also publish and sell at Smashwords and other platforms.)
- Author Brenda Hiatt has been compiling earnings data for independently-published books (data contributed by the authors.) It makes for interesting if sobering reading if you are thinking of self-publishing.
- There’s a Massive Fiction project on Kickstarter. The organizers and writers aim to create a fictional world in which anyone can participate. It will be seeded by three novellas and lots of stubs. The cool part? It won’t be copyrighted. In other words, anyone can write fanfiction in this world without breaking copyright. You can even sell your fiction if you want (and if anyone will buy it.) Sounds like fun! One of my favorite writers, Jessica Day George, is participating.
I’m always on the lookout for interesting articles, lists, and links for News & Notes, so please let me know if you see (or write!) anything that might be good for this feature. You can leave me a comment or send me an email — my address is on the About/Review Policy/Contact page.