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?
It takes a lot to have a publisher completely drop an author’s book and ask that bookstores stop selling it. Such is the case with David Barton’s The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed about Thomas Jefferson.
According to Huffington Post, publisher Thomas Nelson decided to stop the presses after the bestseller took heat for having factual errors. The Jefferson Lies is Barton’s attempt at telling the “true” story of Jefferson, one that makes him seem less racist, less bigoted, and less secularist, as Meredith Bennett-Smith explains.
In an early press release for the book, Barton was depicted as a historian’s version of David, battling against the Goliath forces of secularizing liberal revisionists, USA Today notes.
“History books routinely teach that Jefferson was an anti-Christian secularist, rewriting the Bible to his liking, fathering a child with one of his slaves, and little more than another racist, bigoted colonist — but none of those claims are actually true,” the press release stated.
But as it turned out, many of Barton’s claims were hard to verify, and in July the book was voted “the least credible history book in print,” by readers of the History News Network.
Religious groups were starting to organize protests, while other religious experts condemned Barton’s writing. Now it’s finally come to a head. The book is still available through Amazon, but Thomas Nelson has stopped new shipments, recalled copies from bookstores and asked other retailers to stop selling the e-book.
I don’t know about you, but all this controversy actually makes me want to read the book more than ever. Am I the only curious one? What do you guys think?
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?
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?
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?
Many of you may remember Houghton Mifflin as the popular textbook publishing company. But since Education Media and Publishing Group acquired it and Harcourt in 2006 and 2007, the company has been burdened with financial struggles. Now, according to The New York Times, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has begun a bankruptcy process to eliminate its $3.1 billion of debt.
It’s part of a long-term restructuring plan that would turn its debt into equity. Company officials say the Chapter 11 process will benefit the company in the long run, as Julie Bosman explains.
“By converting our existing long-term debt to equity, we will put HMH in a much stronger financial position for the future,” [Linda K. Zecher, president and chief executive of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt] said in the e-mail, adding that she expected the process to be completed by the end of June.
Zecher promises that business will continue as usual. There are no plans for layoffs, and the process should be completed by the end of June. She says the company still has $135 million in cash on hand for the company’s use.
In its final days, the Encyclopaedia Britannica is seeing a resurgence. The oldest continuously published encyclopedia in the English language has been flying off the shelves since the company announced last month it would discontinue its print editions.
According to this article by The New York Times, sales of the Encyclopaedia Britannica — a 32-volume set that weighs 129 pounds — had greatly decreased in recent years. Thanks to the Internet and sites like Wikipedia, the need for print editions of encyclopedias has become scarce. Before the March 13th announcement, only 60 sets — at a cost of $1,395 — were sold per week.
Since then, the 4,000 copies stored in the Britannica warehouse have gone so quickly, there are now only a few hundred left. On average, 1,050 are now being sold per week. They’re all expected to be sold by the end of April.
According to Jorge Cauz, president of Encyclopaedia Britannica, “When they thought it would be around forever, there was no rush to buy one,” Mr. Cauz said in an e-mail. “But now, suddenly, it’s a scarce item.”
It’s not surprising that the company would opt to discontinue publishing the print editions. After all, print encyclopedias are a dying breed. Nonetheless, it’s still sad to see the end of an era. Just another item that has become irrelevant in our society — like the Walkman and answering machine.