BY NICO VREELAND
We’ve gotten a bit behind over here at C4 HQ. We’ll be back next week with reviews and a new episode of the podcast. In the meantime, here’s a good ol’ fashioned links post.
- Amazon is secretly supporting a number of literary organizations. But, they’re also turning up the heat on major publishers, so egregiously in fact that several of the major publishing houses are refusing to renew their Amazon contracts. This might just be the end of Amazon’s deathgrip on retail book sales… but I’m not holding my breath.
- Meanwhile, the U.S. Justice Department is bringing charges against Apple and five of the Big Six major publishers (all except Random House), over whether their agency-model pricing agreement violates antitrust laws. Most of the publishers are settling (which will likely mean ending agency pricing), but Apple, Macmillan, and Penguin are going to fight it out in court. Macmillan, we should remember, is still run by John Sargent, the slightly reactionary CEO who both hates and doesn’t understand libraries. I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t think setting strict retail prices should be illegal—this battle might have big ramifications.
- Apple believes in that agency pricing model so completely that they are the only major U.S. ebookstore that has refused to sell Harry Potter ebooks, because J.K. Rowling wants to set her own prices for them, but isn’t using agency pricing. Does that make sense? No, not really.
- Rowling (who has announced the title and, uh, price, of her upcoming adult novel) only recently began selling her books in an official digital format. They are DRM-free (unless you want the Kindle version) and reasonably priced at $8-10. Harry Potter fans responded by buying hundreds of thousands of copies. Maybe this will finally convince publishers that DRM is an anti-selling point?
- Lastly, remember how Random House isn’t being sued by the Justice Dept.? Not only were they the only major publisher to refuse the agency model, they were also the only publisher to continue to sell ebooks to libraries with no restrictions on the number of loans those libraries can make. Then—drama! Libraries were organizing to boycott the exorbitant prices Random House was demanding. Or… maybe they’re not. Sounds like Random House is still the best major publisher, but this library ebook situation is one to keep an eye on.
OK, that’s it for this roundup. We’ll be back with lots more stuff next week, so stay tuned.