The Type Of Competition Big Publishers Want
The real discoverability problem in publishing is that readers are discovering (and enjoying) books that don’t come from the large publishers. What these publishers have is a competition problem not a discoverability problem.
Amazon regularly gets slated for purported anti-competitive actions, but it has done more to create the digital marketplace than any other company. It has also done more to open up that marketplace to vendors of all shapes and sizes than any other company. Small publishers and self-publishers, for the very first time, have a level playing field with large publishers.
In other words, Amazon has fostered huge levels of competition that rarely get spoken about. Because Big Publishing doesn’t want actual competition. It hates actual competition. Read More…
Why Is The Media Ignoring Author Exploitation?
The Amazon-Hachette dispute has caught the media’s attention. But what about the story the media refuses to cover? The media is more concerned with one-sided accounts of Amazon’s perceived actions – when no one really knows the exact nature of the dispute. The media is more concerned with what Amazon might do in the future, than actual author exploitation by the world’s largest trade publisher: Penguin Random House. Penguin Random House owns the world’s largest vanity press – Author Solutions – which is currently subject to a class action for deceptive business practices, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and violation of business statutes in California, New York, and Colorado. The court papers cover the same ground that I’ve been blogging about for the Read More…
The Real Scandal At LA Times Festival of Books Isn’t Amazon
This is the same LA Times Festival of Books that has been welcoming Author Solutions for years without a peep. And aside from scamming writers in general, Author Solutions has also been scamming authors at the event.
I reported last month that Author Solutions is selling $3,999 book signing packages to appear at the LA Times Festival of Books, and that by Author Solutions’ own figures, they screwed authors out of over $900,000 at last year’s event alone.
This book signing scam has been going on at the LA Times Festival of Books for at least five years. Where’s the outrage? It’s pretty hard to miss the giant row of Author Solutions booths at the event. Why didn’t all these indie booksellers and publishing professionals threaten a boycott over Author Solutions?
And why hasn’t Publishers Weekly covered this story? Read More…
Bloomsbury Seeks Deal With Author Solutions
Self-publishing is big business. By my estimates, self-publishers have captured 30% of the US e-book market. And everyone wants a slice. Unfortunately, many organizations are prepared to do pretty much anything to make sure they get theirs.
Author Solutions is the market leader in the author exploitation game. That, however, was no impediment to Penguin splashing out $116m to purchase the company in July 2012. And it has been absolutely no barrier to a huge range of companies doing deals with them of one kind or another.
The latest edition to this gallery of rogues is Bloomsbury Publishing, who are famous for the Harry Potter series, but who are also known to UK writers as publishers of the querying author’s bible the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook. Read More…
Author Solutions Scam Goes To Miami Book Fair
Another day, another Author Solutions scam in my inbox. Remember the Author Solutions book signing scam planned for The Word on the Street Festival in Toronto next month (to which the organizers are turning a blind eye)?
I suspected that the Word on the Street Festival wasn’t the only literary event that Author Solutions would be targeting, given that Author Solutions made $297,000 from the 2012 Word on the Street Festival. I was right.
The Miami Book Fair is a long-established, reputable literary festival (celebrating its 30th year) which has wheeled in some big names for this year’s event, such as Junot Díaz. Unfortunately, the Miami Book Fair is also allowing a terrible scam to take place at its event. Read More…
Word On The Street Festival Ignores Author Scam
I wrote a post last month about Author Solutions’ relationships with The Bookseller in the UK, and the Word on the Street Festival in Canada. Since then, I’ve been in touch with the editor of The Bookseller who has shared some positive news. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about my exchange with The Word on the Street Festival. This post is from 8 August 2013. It has not been updated except to clean up broken links, but it’s important to preserve these older posts on author exploitation and the comments remain open. To recap, last month I discovered a new Author Solutions scam – using their booth at a Canadian literary festival to get even more money from their customers. Read More…
Penguin Random House Merger Boosts Giant Scam
Defenders of the deal claimed that Penguin would clean up Author Solutions – a universally reviled vanity press which has been slammed by every watchdog in the business, and which is currently the subject of a class action suit for deceptive business practices.
Needless to say, all that has happened in the year since is that Penguin has aggressively expanded the operations of Author Solutions – a task that is a little easier when you can add the names of two historic publishing houses to your logo, and to your sales pitches.
As you can see from email excerpt below, AuthorHouse is trading off the Penguin Random House merger to try and hoodwink their customers into buying a massively overpriced YouTube advertising package that simply won’t sell any books. Read More…
A List of Things Scott Turow Doesn’t Care About
Scott Turow woke up from his slumber recently to bark nonsense about Amazon’s acquisition of Goodreads on the Authors Guild blog, before being thoroughly eviscerated in the comments.
Undeterred, Turow sought out the considerably larger platform of the New York Times’ Op-Ed pages on Monday to decry The Slow Death of the American Writer.
On reading the latter, my first thought was: if Scott Turow didn’t spend so much time hating Amazon and pretending self-publishing didn’t exist, maybe he wouldn’t be so depressed. Read More…
Author Solutions Complaints Continue Under Penguin
Did you notice that skeevy self-pub racket, Author Solutions, is accumulating brands as quickly as it accumulates customer complaints these days?
It all started last July when Pearson bought Author Solutions, the parent company of dozens of self-publishing brands including iUniverse, AuthorHouse, Xlibris, Trafford and Palibrio as well as media companies FuseFrame, PitchFest, Author Learning Center and BookTango.
Then Pearson (who owns Penguin) merged with Random House after purchasing Author Solutions. Author Solutions, in addition to running its aforementioned arsenal of brands, was then charged with running a new self-publishing imprint: Archway. Read More…
Simon & Schuster Sets Up Sleazy Vanity Press
Simon & Schuster has launched a self-publishing operation called Archway Publishing – contracting one of the most disreputable players in the business to run the show: Author Solutions. We’ll get to that distasteful link-up in a second, but first let’s have a look at what Simon & Schuster are offering prospective customers (i.e. writers). This post is from 28 November 2012. It has not been updated except to clean up broken links, but it’s important to preserve these older posts on author exploitation and the comment section remains open, as always. Fiction packages start at $1,999 and go up to $14,999. If you have written a business book, prices are saucier again: $2,999 to $24,999. While the upper end of Read More…
Penguin’s New Business Model: Exploiting Writers
Penguin’s parent company Pearson has announced the purchase of Author Solutions for $116m – news which has shocked writers, especially given Author Solutions’ long history of providing questionable services at staggering prices.
Author Solutions are the dominant player in the self-publishing services market – via their subsidiaries such as Author House, Xlibris, iUniverse, and Trafford – and had been looking for a buyer for several months. According to the press release, Author Solutions will be folded into Penguin, but will continue to operate as a separate company. Penguin’s CEO John Makinson stated:
“This acquisition will allow Penguin to participate fully in perhaps the fastest-growing area of the publishing economy and gain skills in customer acquisition and data analytics that will be vital to our future.” Read More…
The Authors Guild Doesn’t Serve Writers
At the beginning of March, The President of the Authors Guild – Scott Turow – called for the Department of Justice to drop their unfinished investigation into e-book price-fixing.
That call, of course, went unheeded, the investigation continued, and a suit was filed. A settlement was agreed with three of the Price Fix Six (with the rest electing to go to trial), but that settlement had yet to be approved by the court. Meanwhile, a wave of news stories appeared bashing a company not alleged to have participated in that price-fixing: Amazon.
The allegations against Amazon were successively absurd, culminating in a ridiculous story which claimed that Amazon’s charitable donations were a nefarious attempt to co-opt critics. It was quite clear at that point that we were witnessing a concerted PR campaign to sully Amazon – with reporters openly admitting that these stories were being fed to them by publishing executives. Read More…