Day 4 of Apple e-book case: The meeting in Jeff Bezos' boathouse
June 6, 2013

"I'm not comfortable discussing the contents of that meeting."

That's what Russell Grandinetti, Amazon's (AMZN) vice president for Kindle content, said when asked in court Friday about a meeting he attended in Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' Seattle boathouse on Sunday Jan. 24, 2010.

It was the only question in more than four hours of testimony that Grandinetti declined to answer.

Jan. 24 was a significant date in several respects. Amazon executives knew that Apple (AAPL) had scheduled a major product announcement for the following Wednesday.

Pearson's Penguin Settles States' Ebook Antitrust Claims
May 22, 2013

Pearson Plc’s Penguin unit said it reached a $75 million settlement of antitrust claims by 33 states and consumers over electronic-book pricing.

Penguin, which was sued last year for allegedly participating in a conspiracy with other publishers and Apple Inc. (AAPL) to fix the price of e-books, announced the settlement in a statement today. The company resolved related claims with the U.S. Justice Department in December.

Amazon Unlocks The Value Of Fan Fiction With 'Kindle Worlds'
May 22, 2013

In a funny way, fan fiction is the purest form of literary art there is, the one most untainted by commerce. It’s hard to make money from it because someone else owns the intellectual property (unless you change the details just enough, in which case you can make quite a lot of money on it. Just ask E.L. James.)

Amazon’s ready to change that. A new program called Kindle Worlds will let would-be writers publish, and profit from, fan-fictional e-books with the blessing of the original characters’ creators…

Numbers Game: Books or Beer?
May 22, 2013

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what's a picture of words worth?

This month's Harper's Index featured a fascinating snapshot (see photo), in just a few lines, of a current trend in book publishing:

Percentage change in the past twenty-five years in the Consumer Price Index: +41

In the price of beer: +40

Of books: -1

Can you sell more books? Non-returnable? AAPSSolutely!
May 20, 2013

On January 1, 2013 I assumed the position of Executive Director of The Small Publishers Association of North America (SPAN). As of June 1, 2013 SPAN will formally be known as The Association of Authors and Publishers for Special Sales (AAPSS). 

The AAPSS mission is to become known as the premier source of information, education and help for publishers of high-quality content published in printed, electronic or audio form for sale to consumers, non-bookstore retailers and non-retail buyers. AAPSS intends to become the respected brand-name entity that provides high quality, functional and innovative sales and marketing resources that enhance our members’ efforts to grow their businesses profitably.

Apple tells DOJ: 'we negotiated individually with publishers'
May 15, 2013

Apple has responded to the US Department of Justice's charge that it conspired with publishers to raise e-book prices, filing a defence which asserts that it "conducted individual negotiations" with the publishers involved in the case.

In documents filed on 26th April and released yesterday [14th May], Apple said its agreements with the publishers were "the result of hard-fought negotiations, reached through compromise and discussion". It said: "Apple denies that competition has been hampered by its entry into the e-book business; rather, competition on price, selection, and content quality has flourished…"

Is anyone still paying attention to the DOJ/ebook antitrust case?
May 15, 2013

I guess I'd forgotten. Now that all the the publishing players have settled, abandoning agency pricing and returning to the wholesale slums, the DOJ/ebook antitrust case, which popped up again in everyone's news feeds this week, feels a little anticlimactic.

The DOJ, perhaps simply because it's what it found, or perhaps because there's no one left to pick on, is framing the last defendant standing, Apple, as the "ringmaster" in the price-fixing suit, according the New York Times.

Barnes and Noble shares climb 20% following Microsoft rumours
May 9, 2013

Shares in America's biggest books retailer Barnes & Noble climbed nearly 20% yesterday after a report that Microsoft is considering an offer to acquire its Nook business - B&N's tablet and e-book business and a rival to Amazon's Kindle.

The technology website TechCrunch reported that Microsoft, which already owns 17% of Nook Media, was proposing a $1bn offer to buy Nook's digital assets.

U.S. Senate Passes Sales Tax Fairness Legislation
May 7, 2013

On Monday, May 6, the U.S. Senate passed the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 by a vote of 69 to 27. The legislation would give states the authority to require remote sellers to collect and remit sales tax in the state, so long as the seller does $1 million or more in remote gross sales annually. The bill now moves to the U.S. House of Representatives, where it is expected to face a tough fight.

“We are grateful that the U.S. Senate has done the right thing …” said ABA CEO Oren Teicher,

British publishers report boost from e-books, biggest annual sales ever
May 1, 2013

 British publishers have reported their biggest annual sales ever and insisted rumours of their demise at the hands of growing e-book consumption are greatly exaggerated.

Total spending across printed and digital formats rose 4pc to hit £3.3bn in 2012, according to the Publishers Association.

Printed books still account for the vast majority of sales and slid by just one per cent to £2.9bn.

Publishers were cheered, however, as continued growth in the digital market more than made up for the shortfall.