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Catherine Cookson estate signs exclusive e-publishing deal with Amazon

mattydoolinI remember when I was much younger my mother told me that one of her favorite authors was Catherine Cookson. I tried reading one of her books, but I couldn’t really get into it. Perhaps I should try again. Certainly, I’ll have the opportunity to do so, as The Bookseller reports that the late Cookson’s estate has signed a deal to release 100 of her novels as e-books directly through Amazon, bypassing her print publishers.

Amusingly, the trust’s literary agent Sonia Land didn’t even bother to consult those publishers.

She told the newspaper: "I haven’t told either firm about the deal and I am sure they are going to kick up a fuss about it. But at the end of the day, what can they say? They do not own the electronic publishing rights to the works. In recent years, they have shown little interest in marketing or exploiting the Cookson brand. It is a wake-up call for the industry."

The rest of the Bookseller article (three paragraphs) is devoted to explaining how popular Cookson is in the UK, “with more than 14 million library lends during the past decade.” Certainly it’s a coup for Amazon. Nate Hoffelder at Mediabistro’s eBookNewser points out that most of the titles are available from .50 to .99 each, both in the US and internationally, including amazon.co.uk. (Some titles are still in print as e-books from the print publishers, and cost more.)

On The Bookseller’s e-book blog, FutureBook, Philip Jones editorializes at length about what this, and the earlier print-publisher-bypass by Ian Fleming’s estate, could mean for print publishers. When the estates choose to publish backlist directly, they are cutting the print publishers out of potentially lucrative income on books that are long since finished products. The costs of editing are sunk, and beyond whatever it costs to get them scanned and formatted into e-books, anything the estates make from them is essentially “found money.” And since they don’t have to set aside a share for the publishers, the estates are laughing all the way to the bank.

And these are only the first pebbles; the avalanche is yet to begin in earnest. There are 88 years’ worth of dead authors with extensive still-in-copyright backlists out there, just waiting for e-publishers to make them an offer. To name a couple, where are the e-books of Earl Derr Biggers’ Charlie Chan stories? Only six of prolific author John Creasey’s novels are available as Kindle e-books, and likewise only a handful of John Dickson Carr’s novels are available as e-books (though more can be found on Project Gutenberg Australia, where they’re already in the public domain).

For the estates of those authors who have clearly-defined copyright heirs, this could be a license to print money. And since they don’t really need publishers to do anything for these works that have already been polished through the editorial process, why should they give publishers any money? That’s not going to make publishers very happy, given that not only are they not getting income out of it but the books will also be competing for reading time with the new works from which they are getting income.

Of course, this isn’t going to help people who want to get ahold of orphan works, which can’t be put back in print or e-print because nobody knows who owns them—and given the setbacks in the Google Books settlement, and lack of any action from Congress, we probably shouldn’t hold our breath waiting there.


50K Audible Audiobooks direct to Kindle via WiFi. – Hocking signs ~$2M deal

New York Times's Julie Bosman reports that self-published Amanda Hocking has signed a four-book deal with St. Martin's (Macmillan).

Hocking, the 26-year-old author, who sold over a million copies of her self-published e-books (Amazon, Barnes & Noble), has signed up with the Big6 traditional publisher for her next series.  Who wouldn't? assuming the terms are good.  I guess the large publishing house couldn't ignore this success story which happened without any traditional publisher marketing, backing, etc.

  They'll publish her “Watersong” series, four books in the young-adult paranormal genre, Bosman wrote.
  See the earlier article here for background on her rise.

  What a scene.  Kudos to her.

' A heated auction for the rights to publish her books began early last week, and several major publishers, including Random House, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins, dropped out as the price climbed into the seven figures.

The bidding eventually rose beyond million for world English rights, said one publishing executive familiar with the negotiations. (St. Martin’s declined to comment on how much it agreed to pay.)  Ms. Hocking was represented by the literary agent Steven Axelrod.

The first book in the series will be released in fall 2012, a spokeswoman for St. Martin’s said. '

  As Hocking reported on her blog Tuesday, in response to news stories that she was shopping her series to traditional publishers, Hocking explained her thinking (and activity) to her readers:

' “I want to be a writer,” she said. “I do not want to spend 40 hours a week handling e-mails, formatting covers, finding editors, etc. Right now, being me is a full-time corporation.” '

The Bloomberg Businessweek/AP story by Tara Bannow the other day has a good backgrounder on Hocking's story, from last year to the signing.
  She's written only one of the four books so far, so there'll be a bit of pressure, which probably won't have much effect on her.

  Bannow also writes, "Earlier this year, Terri Tatchell, co-screenwriter of the 2009 science fiction film 'District 9,' agreed to adapt the books from Hocking's Trylle Trilogy as a screenplay."  
  There's a bit on how she's adjusting to all this, and you should read it there.

In the meantime...
If you want to check out her existing e-books while they are still available and at a good price, see her Amazon author's page.

Amazon announced on March 24 that:

' ...more than 50,000 Audible Audiobooks are available for download on the latest Kindle (UK: K3) via Wi-Fi delivery.
  Of course, owners of any Kindle device can continue to purchase Audible audiobooks from Audible.com and transfer the titles to Kindle via USB. '

  To find out more about how to do this, go to Audible Audiobooks, where they offer a 30-day free trial that includes "two free audiobooks."  The page will give an idea of what's available.  Those already subscribing to Audible Audiobooks they can listen to while on the go will probably welcome this news, as it frees you from the USB cable transfer in that you can download large-file Audible book whenever you are connected to a WiFi network, whether at home or at work or in a cafe somewhere.

Kindle 3's   (UK: Kindle 3's),   DX Graphite

Check often: Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.
UK-Only: recently published non-classics, bestsellers, or highest-rated ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.


Self-published writer Amanda Hocking signs seven-figure four-book publishing deal

In an update on a story from a couple of days ago, the New York Times reports that self-publishing star Amanda Hocking has signed a four-book contract with St. Martin’s Press, an imprint of Macmillan.

The Times reports that bidding eventually rose beyond million, though St. Martin’s declined to reveal the exact figure. The first book in the 4-book “Watersong” series should be released in fall, 2012.

Responding to the rumors on her blog a couple of days ago, Hocking explained that she wanted to be able to spend more of her time writing, and less taking care of other chores that a traditional publisher could manage for her. Self-publishing was a full-time job, and took away from her time to write, as well as do other things she enjoyed.

There’s several factors that go into my decision making about any possible future endeavors. The biggest factors are my readers and the longevity of my career. My goal has always been to put the highest quality product I can out in a way that is the most accessible to readers. My goal has never been to be the "darling" or the "poster child" for any movement.

Certainly, a traditional publisher will be able to help her put a greater polish on her work, as well as make it available to a wider audience (albeit at higher e-book prices). And getting an advance in excess of 0,000 per book means she’ll be able to afford to take it easy for a while—when she’s not busy writing, anyway.

(Found via GalleyCat.)


B&N signs excluseive deal with children’s author Eric Carle


It looks as if Amazon isn’t the only one who can sign up exclusive rights.  From the press release:

Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE: BKS), the world’s largest bookseller, today announced an exclusive partnership with acclaimed children’s author and illustrator Eric Carle and Penguin Group (USA).  As a part of this partnership, Mr. Carle has created custom artwork featuring his beloved character the Very Hungry Caterpillar that can only be seen in Barnes & Noble stores and online at Barnes & Noble.com (www.bn.com).  Fans of all ages will recognize Mr. Carle’s distinctive artwork from his more than 70 books for children including beloved classics The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?. Customers will also get a sneak peek at art from his new title The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse due to be released by Penguin this October.

This week, Barnes & Noble will begin to feature Mr. Carle’s custom artwork in Barnes & Noble stores across the country and on Barnes & Noble.com (www.bn.com/carle) just in time to celebrate “The Very Hungry Caterpillar Day” on March 20.  Artwork will be featured in Barnes & Noble store signage and displays, as well on the BN Kids pages on Barnes & Noble.com (www.bn.com) through July.  A limited run of Barnes & Noble gift cards featuring the new artwork will also be available starting in April. And curriculum guides will also be distributed at BN Educator Nights.  While books are the main focus, this four month-long promotion will also feature other products from The World of Eric Carle.


Some signs of willingness to pay for news, says Pew survey


The Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism has published its The State of the News Media 2011 report.  Here are some snippets:

Less progress has been made charging for news than predicted, but there are some signs of willingness to pay. The leading study on the subject finds that so far only about three dozen newspapers have moved to some kind of paid content on their websites. Of those, only 1% of users opted to pay. And some papers that moved large portions of content to subscription gave up the effort. A new survey released for this report suggests that under certain circumstances the prospects for charging for content could improve. If their local newspaper would otherwise perish, 23% of Americans said they would pay a month for an online version. To date, however, even among early adopters only 10% of those who have downloaded local news apps paid for them (this doesn’t include apps for non-local news or other content). At the moment, the only news producers successfully charging for most of their content online are those selling financial information to elite audiences — the Financial Times is one, the Wall Street Journal is another, Bloomberg is a third — which means they are not a model that will likely work for general interest news. …

The new conventional wisdom is that the economic model for news will be made up of many smaller and more complex revenue sources than before. The old news economic model was fairly simple. Broadcast television depended on advertising. Newspapers on circulation revenue and a few basic advertising categories. Cable was split half from advertising and half from cable subscription fees. Online, most believe there will be many different kinds of revenue. This is because no one revenue source looks large enough and because money is divided among so many players. In the biggest new revenue experiment of 2010, the discount sales coupon business led by Groupon, revenue can be split three ways when newspapers are involved. On the iPad, Apple gets 30% of the subscription revenue and owns the audience data. On the Android system, Google takes 10%. News companies are trying to push back. One new effort involves online publishers starting their own ad exchanges, rather than having middlemen to do it for them. NBC, CBS and Forbes are among those launching their own, tired of sharing revenue and having third parties take their audience data. …

People are spending more time with news than ever before, according to Pew Research Center survey data, but when it comes to the platform of choice, the web is gaining ground rapidly while other sectors are losing. In 2010, digital was the only media sector seeing audience growth. And cable news joined the ranks of older media suffering audience decline.

Source: Nielsen Media Research, Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, Audit Bureau of Circulations. 1

Digital: In December 2010, 41% of Americans cited the internet as the place where they got “most of their news about national and international issues,” up 17% from a year earlier. When it came to any kind of news, 46% of people now say they get news online at least three times a week, surpassing newspapers (40%) for the first time. Only local TV news is a more popular platform in America now (50%). The new wild card in digital is mobile. A new survey released as part of the State of the News Media find finds that 47% of Americans now say they get some kind of local news on mobile devices such as cellphones or other wireless devices (such as iPads). As of January 2011, just 7% of Americans owned electronic tablets, according to our new survey, but that is nearly double from four months prior; and 6% of American adults have e-readers.



Illinois governor signs internet sales tax requirement into law

Amazon real-world fulfillment.

“After two-months of fence-sitting, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn today signed controversial legislation requiring Internet retailers like Amazon.com and Overstock.com to collect Illinois‘ 6.25% sales tax if they have affiliate sellers in the state. House Bill 3659, the Mainstreet Fairness Bill, was passed by the state’s lame duck legislature in early January,” according to this report at Forbes.

And as you might expect, internet retailers are not happy about the legislation. The Forbes report continues:

Amazon has already said it will terminate its Illinois affiliates, just as it has said it will drop 10,000 California based “associates” if similar legislation pending in that state becomes law…In an escalating PR war, Wal-Mart, Sears, Best Buy and Barnes & Noble have all issued public invitations to Amazon’s spurned associates to join their affiliate marketing programs instead. Yesterday, the Alliance for Main Street Fairness, a bricks and mortar retailers organization, even announced a new web site to connect affiliates ‘about to get thrown under the bus’ by online-only sellers  with retailers who already collect sales taxes on line.  Quinn’s office said today that the affiliate matchmaking service had been launched at his request.

In a statement on the new law from the American Booksellers Association, the ABA’s CEO Oren Teicher said, “This is not only a huge victory for retailers in Illinois, but also for bricks-and-mortar retailers in other states where there is no sales tax equity. The enactment of this legislation means the retail marketplace in Illinois will be competitive and fair, and we believe this victory will also bolster sales tax fairness efforts in other states.”

This is a battle that has been raging in other states as well.  And Mobylives has been covering the beat. See some of the earlier reports here, here and here. Sales tax fairness measures are currently under consideration in Arkansas, Arizona, California, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Vermont.


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A rock opera with dark religious overtones is coming....by way of the iPad and other touch tablets. enkHouse, a leading innovator in transmedia productions has signed Nicola Furlong to develop her concept, along with enkHouse's Managing Director, David Marlett, into a thriller cored by music, and which will have outputs beyond the touch devices, including film, printed book and possibly live ...
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