New deals signed last week between Hachette and Simon & Schuster and their ebook retail partners have driven down prices of ebook best-sellers.
This week, both Hachette and Simon & Schuster inked new retail contracts with Amazon and their other partners, giving up pricing control per a settlement both publishers signed with the Department of Justice over the issue of ebook price-fixing. The retailers have wasted no time discounting some of the publishers’ ebook titles.
We’ve reached an interesting point in the ebook pricind saga: All three publishers that settled with the Department of Justice to resolve an ebook price-fixing lawsuit have now fulfilled the first and most important part of their agreements — sign new ebook deals with their retail partners.
Simon & Schuster was the last to sign a new deal with Amazon and others — putting its new agreement into place this weekend. Hachette had its new deal up and running earlier this past week. And HarperCollins was very early out the gate…
Random House had its corporate Christmas party on Wednesday night in New York, and word is that Santa likes bondage. A lot.
Markus Dohle, the chief executive of Random House, promised employees — from top editors to warehouse workers — a $5,000 bonus to celebrate a profitable year. The cheering went on for minutes, according to people in attendance.
Call it 5,000 shades of green.
The nature of book publishing is changing, in ways big and small. In fact, the very nature of what a book ‘is’ is shifting. But that’s not what I’ve been thinking about these past few days. No, my exploration today is about authors – and what the author of the future needs to do in order to be good partners with their publisher.
Wow, did I just say that? You bet I did. Partners. Because the nature of how books are conceived, written, and brought to market, is being dramatically re-invented.
Hachette has entered into new ebook contracts with retailers following the ebook pricing settlement with the Department of Justice. Amazon and Barnes & Noble are now discounting the publisher’s ebooks, and other retailers should follow soon.
Not content with threatening high street bookshops and disrupting the traditional publishing model with its Kindle e-readers, the web giant has written to authors’ agents to announce its attack on another link in the chain.
From early next year, Amazon Publishing in Europe will compete to sign up English language authors from the firm’s base in Luxembourg. The new unit will be led by Vicky Griffith, who currently runs Amazon’s publishing efforts on the US West Coast.
Byliner and Atavist, two publishers that focus on e-singles (digital longform journalism), are experimenting with online subscriptions. While the programs are still in early stages, they could serve as models for other publishers who want to try the same thing.
The San Francisco-based Byliner publishes fiction and nonfiction e-singles it calls “Byliner Originals,” from authors like Margaret Atwood, Amy Tan and Jon Krakauer. It sells them through ebook retailers like Kindle, Nook and Apple, usually for $1.99 or $2.99.
Ah, two can play this game! There's a lot of noise in the news feed today about Barnes & Noble's earnings report (share price down, but down significantly less compared to last year, retail sales flat, Nook sales up). But what's "interesting" (read: annoying, for journalists anyway) is that B&N is playing the same game Amazon plays with Kindle sales: Nook sales "doubled" over Black Friday weekend. But how many units does that represent? B&N's not telling.
The recently announced merger of Penguin and Random House, which is owned by Bertelsmann in Germany, sent shock waves throughout Western publishing circles. This new leviathan will publish a quarter of all books appearing in English, with annual sales of close to $4 billion, yet it is being treated by The New York Times and other media as a routine and perhaps even beneficial development.
Led by sales on sites from Apple to Zappos and back to Amazon again, consumers put any questions they may have had about the state of the economy to one side, and they spent like crazy.
This past weekend, the first of the holiday shopping season, has already been breaking records for consumer online spend. Today comScore announced one more: Cyber Monday raked in $1.465 billion in online sales, making it the heaviest-spending day in U.S. e-commerce history. It was second only to this year’s Black Friday sales, which topped $1 billion.