An Open Letter to the DOJ from Someone Who Actually Cares About Writers (and Readers) Publishing

The leading literary agents’ organization – the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR) – penned an open letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) opposing the terms of the settlement reached with three of the publishers named in the Agency price-fixing suit. I won’t go into the details of how wrongheaded that letter was. It has already been systematically taken apart by Joe Konrath, Bob Mayer, and Dean Wesley Smith. Also worth reading are Joe Konrath’s subsequent dismantling of another open letter to the DOJ written by Simon Lipskar (a board member of the AAR), as well as the comments made by Passive Guy on the same topic. If you have any doubt whose side (most) agents and the AAR are Read More…

Amazon Is Creating Competition, Not Killing It

The big topic (again) seems to be Amazon and competition – whether it is a monopoly, or is heading in that direction, and whether they should be “stopped” (although, I’m never quite sure what that entails exactly). Barry Eisler dealt with this fear, rather conclusively, back in October in a guest post on Joe Konrath’s blog. But lately, the hysteria has been ratcheted up a notch by Mike Shatzkin’s sensible prediction that Amazon will soon be responsible for 50% of most publisher’s sales (I can’t link to Mike’s original piece at the moment, there seems to be a problem with his site, but Passive Guy quotes the main points). The Author’s Guild now has Amazon firmly in their sights. An article Read More…

Amazon Rakes In More Cash, And Spends It Wisely

Amazon announced its Q2 results yesterday, and the growth was stunning – net sales were up 51% on 2010, topping out at $9.91bn for the three month period ending June 30. Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said that “low prices, expanding selection, fast delivery and innovation are driving the fastest growth we’ve seen in over a decade.” He also noted that the Kindle 3G with Special Offers (priced at $139) quickly became their bestselling Kindle. As usual, no exact numbers were given. Those deep pockets just keep getting deeper. But what are they doing with the money? Despite this staggering growth, profits are down 8% on the same period last year. Why? Some of the details from Amazon’s press release Read More…

Borders Inches Closer to Liquidation

The deadline to save Borders passed yesterday, meaning that they will now proceed to a bankruptcy-court auction tomorrow. It’s not quite over for America’s second-largest bookstore chain, and a bidder could still emerge in the next day-and-a-half to save the company – which employs nearly 11,000 people – from being liquidated. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported today that Books-A-Million were in talks late last night about a deal. However, it seems clear that even if this move comes off, which is doubtful, it will only rescue part of the company, and a large amount of (further) store closures and layoffs is unavoidable. It seems likely now that the bones of Borders will be picked apart, and the remaining Read More…

JK Rowling Really Is Self-Publishing: A Closer Look

Now that the dust has settled a little, I would like to take some time today to examine aspects of JK Rowling’s move into self-publishing. As soon as the announcement was made, various people were tying themselves into knots to describe this as anything other than self-publishing. “Although some are likely to see Rowling’s decision to be her own publisher for her e-books as a significant one for the industry at large, Potter is a unique franchise.” That was from Publisher’s Weekly. Aside from the ludicrous suggestion that any writer couldn’t set up a website and sell their own work direct to the public, note they use “decision to be her own publisher” instead of the dreaded words “self-publishing”. Some Read More…

Could Piracy Be Good For You?

When music industry revenues collapsed after the introduction of MP3s, many writers became worried. While musicians have been able to find alternative income streams – including touring and merchandise – writers generally have one: their stories. Not even Stephen King or J.K. Rowling would fill a stadium for a reading, and most mid-list authors and new writers are lucky if there is a decent turn-out for a free bookstore appearance. In my last post on piracy, I covered how the measures the publishing industry has undertaken to combat piracy have only served to alienate their paying customers, but today I want to look at piracy from a different perspective: its benefits. While I don’t condone piracy, I think it’s an Read More…

Amazon: The 800 Pound Gorilla

In trying to piece together a snapshot of the rapidly changing publishing landscape, we have taken a look at the challenges facing the traditional houses, the rise of the digital tide, how the price of a book breaks out, piracy, and the sudden ascension of the e-book to being the #1 selling format in the U.S. Today we are going to talk about the 800 Pound Gorilla.