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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?