Tag Archives: publishers

Scribd Adds 30,000 Audiobooks

Good news for those who like not to read their books, but to listen to them.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the streaming subscription service Scribd is adding thousands of audiobooks to its catalog — 30,000, to be exact. The new books will include old and new releases from some of the more well-known publishers and authors, including Scholastic and HarperCollins and Haruki Murakami and Suzanne Collins.

Before the addition, Scribd’s catalog included more than half a million titles.

But according to The Verge, that catalog was only made up of e-books, not audiobooks. The hope is that the company will be able to compete now with Audible.

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Netflix-Like Subscription Plan Available for E-Books

Imagine if there were a subscription program like Netflix, but for e-books. Well, luckily there is.

According to The New York Times, publisher HarperCollins has recently struck a deal with the web site, Scribd, which is already used for sharing documents and books. Consumers can pay a flat fee each month to the site to access a large number of e-books.

The site, Oysterbooks.com, already has a similar program, offering access to more than 100,000 e-books for $9.95 a month, but it hasn’t gained much popularity.

The owners of Scribd hope the site will have more success, but so far, HarperCollins is the only major publisher that signed up. Smaller publishers like Rosetta Books, Workman and Sourcebooks have also signed up.

So readers still have more options for books when they go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble’s web site. However, a Netflix-life program for e-books seems like a pretty simple, but brilliant idea. But I only see it becoming successful with readers that consume many, many books each month.  Otherwise, it doesn’t seem worth it to me.

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Apple Penalized for E-Book Price Fixing

For a year-and-a-half, Apple has been claiming its innocence in an e-book price fixing case filed by the Justice Department against the tech company and five other book publishers. Though the other publishers settled a while ago, restrictions are just now beginning for Apple.

The Justice Department charged the publishers and Apple in April 2012 for illegally working together to raise the price of e-books as a way to curb Amazon’s success with e-book sales. Apple was the only company that didn’t settle and instead fought the case in a trial this summer. Ultimately, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled against the company.

According to The New York Times, Apple cannot enter into agreements with the five other publishers that “restricts, limits or impedes Apple’s ability to set, alter or reduce the retail price of any e-book,” under the new restrictions. The company is also prohibited from speaking with one publisher about its contract with another publisher. A “monitor” will keep its eyes on the company ,evaluating it and making sure all antitrust laws are followed.

Apple plans to appeal the case.

Though the other companies profess their innocence, why is Apple the only one to fight so hard in court? That’s likely because Apple is the only one with the money to afford it.

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Random House in Talks to Merge with Penguin

A publishing monopoly could soon be headed this way. According to New York Daily News, two of the world’s largest publishers, Random House and Penguin, are discussing a possible merger.

Publishing 10,000 book a year, Random House is clearly the larger of the two publishing houses. Penguin only publishes about 4,000 books a year. Experts say this would fill Penguin’s parent company’s need to grow and expand. However, there’s also a possibility that if acquired, Penguin would be sold off by Random House’s parent company.

Nothing is official yet, but the talks have writers concerned about the future of the industry. After all, Amazon and and Apple have become big book monopolies in their own right, pushing the industry in a digital direction. Who knows what adding another large company to the mix could mean for publishers and writers?

Spokespeople from both companies say nothing is official yet, and just because they’re talking doesn’t necessarily mean anything will come of it.

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Amazon, B&N Notify Customers About E-Book Settlement Refunds

It’s been months since the e-book pricing lawsuit began. Now that some parties have reached a settlement agreement, people are starting to receive emails from Amazon and Barnes & Noble about receiving e-book refunds.

According to The Telegraph, Amazon was first to send out the emails, explaining that those who purchased e-books that appeared on The New York Times Bestseller List between April 2010 and May 2012 from the web site would receive $1.32 per book. Non-bestsellers would be worth 30 cents in refunds. The refunds aren’t expected to come in until early 2013.

I personally received a similar email from Barnes & Noble about the refunds. Here’s an excerpt:

Although we are required to notify you now of the settlements, there is nothing you need to do to receive the credits as you will receive them automatically in the form of an electronic gift certificate sent via email. Once the settlements’ claim period ends, the Attorneys General will calculate the amount of your credits. If the Court gives final approval to the settlements, we expect to be able to send you your gift certificate in the first half of 2013.

Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster will be compensating for the refunds, since they agreed to the settlement. Penguin Group, Macmillan, and Apple will be taken to court.

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Lena Dunham Signs $3.5M Book Deal

It’s the book analysts are saying will be the next big comedic memoir/bestseller since Tina Fey’s Bossypants. Last week, Random House announced it had acquired a more than $3.5 million dollar book deal with writer, director, actress Lena Dunham. Dunham created, wrote, and starred in the hit TV comedy Girls, which aired its first season on HBO this summer.

According to The New York Times, Dunham’s book is a collection of essays entitled Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She Learned. Dunham started shopping around a 66-page proposal, including illustrations and anecdotes to a number of different publishing companies. A bidding war is what led to the astronomical $3.5+ million deal. But Random House beat the others out in the end.

Random House is comparing Dunham’s work to writers like Nora Ephron and David Sedaris. The publisher says it will include stories about sex, food, traveling, and work. No word yet on when the book will be released.

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$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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Study Shows E-Book Library Borrowing Isn’t Popular

One of the things I’ve always loved about libraries is that you can read for free. That’s the point, right? Since I was a little girl, I have been a huge supporter of the library. So when it came time for me to get an e-reader, I wanted the Nook, the only one  — at that time — that could download e-books from the library.

But according to the Associated Press, a recent Pew Research Center study shows e-book library borrowing is not very popular. Here are the reasons why:

1. People don’t know if their libraries offer e-books for download.

2. Libraries offer a limited selection of e-books.

3. The e-books are not offered in the available format for a particular e-reader.

4. Some publishers don’t make their e-books available at libraries because they’re scared it will hurt sales.

Though I love borrowing e-books, I think these are pretty valid complaints, except for #1. (I’m sorry, but if you’ve got an e-reader, one of the first things you should do is find out if your library offers e-books. And these days, most do.) The limited selection of e-books — whether it’s the library’s or the publisher’s fault — is a major issue. Finding an e-book you want at the library is extremely difficult because there aren’t many titles, and of the ones that are available, there’s typically only one copy, forcing people to go on a waiting list sometimes for weeks. Not to mention, if a publisher offers its print books in the library, there’s no reason not to offer its digital copies. Overall, this study is not very surprising, but brings up good points.

What do you guys think?

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Penguin Publishing To Offer E-Books at NYC Libraries

As e-book sales continue to rise, e-book borrowing is not as popular. Some of that is because publishers fear that offering their e-books in libraries will stagnate sales. Such is the case with Penguin Group USA.

But now the company is changing its tune. According to The New York Times, Penguin will begin offering e-books to New York City libraries through a new pilot program next month. If successful, the program will expand to libraries throughout the country.

The program, in conjunction with 3M, will allow library users in several boroughs to borrow e-books on compatible devices. New titles will not be immediately available. There’s no word on how long the pilot program will last.

Despite their concerns about diminished sales, I still think offering e-books in libraries as well as bookstores is a move in the right direction. Whether they like it or not, e-books are the way of the future, and it’s important for publishers to be ahead of the curve. 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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