Tag Archives: HarperCollins

$69 Million E-Book Pricing Settlement Reached

A few months ago, I told you about a possible lawsuit involving a number of publishers who allegedly raised e-book prices illegally. I then reported that three of those publishers had reached a settlement. Well now, we know the details of that settlement.

According to the L.A. Times, Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster have agreed to pay a total of $69 million. The lawsuit was brought about when publishers started setting the prices of e-books, instead of retailers; thus, giving themselves a good portion of the sales. Despite the settlement, they don’t admit they’ve done anything wrong, stating “their actions were merely parallel, unilateral, or justified by market forces and completely legal.”

So how does this affect you? It means that if you bought an e-book anytime between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012, you’ll get some money back. However, it probably won’t amount to very much, as Carolyn Kellogg explains.

Publishers will payconsumers $1.32 for each bestselling title they purchased, 32 cents for books that were less than a year old but not bestsellers, and 25 cents for older e-books. Even devoted readers won’t wind up with much more than the cost of a new e-book or two. Conveniently, refunds will appear in e-book buyers’ online accounts on iTunes, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Readers who purchased e-books through Google or Sony’s storefronts will receive a check, and others can opt to. They can also opt not to receive any rebate at all.

I’m thinking I’ll probably get some money back, but based on what Kellogg says, I likely won’t even realize that anything’s been deposited back into my account. What do you guys think? Do you think these publishers have coughed up enough dough? Or not as much as they should have?

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Publishers Modernizing Classics’ Cover Art to Entice YA Readers

Thanks to Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games, young adult fiction is more popular than it’s been in quite some time. To lure some of these teen readers into the classics, publishers are re-designing the covers of classic books like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.

According to this article by The New York Times, it’s a mindfreak that seems to be working. The new covers are brighter, handwritten, and more youthful. Some are even directly inspired by the Twilight series, with a black background and single red rose.

Many publishers are doing it, and most can since many of the novels are in the public domain — meaning anyone and everyone has free access to them.

According to the article, a number of businesses are selling classic novels now more than ever. It’s a plus for bookstores and even teachers who are happy to see young people reading older books. But of course, there are some bookstores that aren’t seeing much of a change in sales — even teens who prefer the originals.

“If kids want to read ‘Emma,’ they want to buy it in the adult section, not the teen section,” [Elaine Petrocelli, who owns the bookstore Book Passage] said.

“Kids don’t want to feel like they’re being manipulated.” […] For classics like that and “Pride and Prejudice,” [15-year-old Tess Jagger-Wells] said she preferred her hardcover editions with their flowery covers to the more modern versions.

“It’s fun to have the originals in your house to look at and show people,” she said. “It kind of goes with the feeling of the classic as something that’s treasured, something that you want to keep. The new covers make the books look like cheap romance novels.”

Personally, I prefer the old-fashioned covers because I think that’s part of what makes a classic classic. But I’m also past the YA fiction age. What do you guys think?

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William Morrow Toughens Up on Book Bloggers

There are dozens of people, like myself, who blog about books. As part of my hobby, publishers send books to me for free for review on my site. It doesn’t happen often, but I get enough of them — enough that my bookshelves are starting to fill up in my tiny apartment. But some of the more serious bloggers are on blogger lists with the publishers, and have books sent to them constantly, generally about a month before the books’ official release.

But now William Morrow — a division of HarperCollins — is starting to define rules for these bloggers, most of which are not paid and do it for the love of books. According to the L.A. Times, William Morrow sent out a letter to bloggers back in December, explaining that they must read and review the books on their site within a month of receiving. They were told, in a very passive-aggressive letter, that if they didn’t, they would no longer be able to accept free books from the publisher:

If it isn’t already clear, WE LOVE THAT YOU LOVE OUR BOOKS!  And to allow us to continue to offer free copies and free shipping to you committed book reviewers, we will be tracking how many reviews we receive from you.  If we notice that you request books but aren’t posting your comments or sending us the link, we may suspend your ability to receive review offers from us.  We know you’re busy bloggers -– if you don’t think you’ll be able to post a review within a month, please pass on that offer so we can continue to offer you free books in the future!

How is this fair, when most of these bloggers — as I mentioned earlier — are doing this as a hobby? This is not an obligation. Blogger outrage resulted in William Morrow sending out another email the next day that promised “Not posting a review within a time period will not earn anyone a suspension from the list.”

So what was that all about? First, William Morrow sets guidelines, then takes them back. I wonder if the guidelines initially were set because the publisher could not afford to give away so many books. By setting guidelines, it sets some up for failure and would ensure that fewer books would be given away. But ultimately, the giveaways are then blogged about. Readers come across the reviews, and buy the books. Doesn’t giving away books to bloggers ultimately lead to more positive sales? To set guidelines for book blogging is completely baffling. Publishers should be happy to get the exposure at all. The authors I’ve worked with in the past certainly are.

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E-Book Pricing Lawsuit Now Officially Underway

Last week, I reported that Apple and a number of other book publishers faced a lawsuit over collusion for e-book pricing. Yesterday, that lawsuit was made official by the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to this article by The New York Times, the DOJ is suing Apple, alleging that the company lowered its e-book prices in the iBookstore in 2010 as a means to fight Amazon’s low pricing. Julie Bosman explains.

At the time, Apple with its blockbuster iPad was trying to challenge Amazon’s hold on the e-book market. Amazon, the online retail giant, had become a kind of Walmart for the e-book business by lowering the price of most new and best-selling e-books to $9.99 — a price meant to stimulate sales of its own e-reading device, the Kindle.

Publishers, looking for leverage against Amazon, saw Apple as their white knight.

Three of the publishers — Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster, and HarperCollins — that faced suits have already agreed to settlements. But the fight is far from over. Either way, the Justice Department is looking to ensure that e-book prices are lowered for everyone because “E-books are transforming our daily lives, and improving how information and content is shared.  For the growing number of Americans who want to take advantage of this new technology, the Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that e-books are as affordable as possible.”

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Apple, Other Publishers Face E-Book Pricing Lawsuit

As the popularity and success of the e-book industry continues to grow, so do the prices of the books, according to a number of readers and more importantly, the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to this article by The Huffington Post, Apple and a number of other top publishers are facing a possible lawsuit regarding collusion, for allegedly raising e-book prices. In addition to Apple, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette Book Group, Penguin Group and Macmillan also faces possible charges.

U.S. and European officials allege Apple and the others raised prices as a means to block rivals like Amazon from being able to offer cheaper books. The “agency model” that was in adopted in 2010 gives publishers the right to set their own e-book prices, giving Apple 30% of the cut. This model eliminated the “wholesale model,” which gave retailers the ability to set their own e-book prices.

And in addition to the new possible Apple is already under fire, dealing with a class-action lawsuit filed by consumers with similar allegations.

I personally haven’t noticed raised e-book prices, but it wouldn’t surprise me if some illegal collusion was going on behind the scenes. What do you guys think? Have you notices a price increase for e-books?

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Amanda Knox Signs $4M Book Deal

Amanda Knox is set to be a multi-millionaire. The American exchange student who was convicted of murder and later acquitted just signed a $4 million book deal with HarperCollins to tell her story.

According to this article by Huffington Post, Knox will, for the first time, tell her side, with the help of journals she kept during her time spent in an Italian jail. Publishers say her memoir will detail the murder, the trial, and the second trial that ultimately acquitted her last year, as Hillel Italie explains.

“Knox will give a full and unflinching account of the events that led to her arrest in Perugia and her struggles with the complexities of the Italian judicial system,” HarperCollins said in a statement Thursday.

“Aided by journals she kept during her imprisonment, Knox will talk about her harrowing experience at the hands of the Italian police and later prison guards and inmates. She will reveal never before-told details surrounding her case, and describe how she used her inner strength and strong family ties to cope with the most challenging time of her young life.”

The $4 million deal promises world rights for the book, which is due in early 2013.

As the article mentions, the legal process is not yet over for Knox and the case of her dead roommate. So who’s to say whether or not the book will help or harm her case?Either way, it’ll be interesting to get an inside glimpse into Knox’s life.

Also worth noting is that 20 publishers made offers to buy Knox’s story; yet no one wants to buy the rights to Casey Anthony’s story.

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Amy Winehouse’s Father to Pen Daughter’s Biography

Whenever a celebrity dies, the quickly-published biography is inevitable. But in the case of Amy Winehouse, it’s the author that makes her biography unusual. Her father, Mitch Winehouse, signed a deal with HarperCollins to write Amy, My Daughter, which is set to be released next summer.

This is an all-around bad idea for a few reasons:

1. The deal paints Mitch Winehouse in a bad light. The fact that a father is financially benefiting from his daughter’s death makes me nauseous.

2. In order to properly write a biography, the author must do extensive research on the subject. Mitch Winehouse obviously knew his daughter, Amy. But that’s not to say he knew her well. Though her drug abuse was apparent, he would have to speak with her friends, ex-boyfriends and colleagues to learn the extent of it, and that’s not going to make his grieving period go any smoother.

3. If he doesn’t do the appropriate research and instead writes her biography how he saw it, it will be emotional and loving, but has the potential to show bias and make excuses for her behavior.

It’s for these reasons that Carolyn Kellogg, who wrote this article for the L.A. Times, suggests Winehouse’s good friend and former addict Russell Brand write the biography instead.

But of the many forms that mourning can take, a memoir of a lost daughter seems ill-advised at best. What kind of perspective can Amy Winehouse’s father have? How can he be expected to deal with her difficulties, her proclivities? In a 2007 interview with the Guardian, not long after her album “Back to Black” came out, Winehouse said she wanted her superpower to be “supersexuality”; her one-word answer to “How do you relax?” was “sex”; and her most unappealing habit was “being an abusive drunk.” A straightforward biography would be hard enough — but one from her father?

Instead, I’d like to nominate Russell Brand to write it. His memoirial to Amy Winehouse, which appeared in the Guardian sparkled with intelligence, insight and empathy.

Unfortunately, it seems the rights have already been signed over to Mitch Winehouse, and there’s not much that can be done at this point. We all know Amy, My Daughter is bound to be a bestseller anyway. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best decision.

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