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Blurred lines: Social media and news media feeding into each other
November 19, 2014 | 7:35 pm

On GigaOm, Matthew Ingram expresses fascination with the way that the news media and social media have collided and blurred the lines between each other, in the context of the recent Uber scandal. We’re increasingly seeing major news stories break and grow in social and new media—Twitter, Facebook, blogs—with the traditional media being relatively slow to catch on. Rather than issue press releases, public figures and companies are issuing quick responses via Twitter or Facebook. So is this a good thing or a bad thing? That depends a lot on your perspective. Obviously if you’re...

Simon & Schuster reportedly reaches agency deal with Amazon
October 20, 2014 | 6:50 pm

The interesting times we live in might just have gotten a little more interesting. Right as Hachette is in the middle of a protracted contact negotiation dispute with Hachette comes a rumor, via Publishers Weekly, that its fellow Big Five publisher Simon & Schuster has just finalized a contract deal with Amazon. The deal would supposedly move the pricing model “back toward the original agency plan,” with S&S able to set prices on its e-books, but Amazon retaining some ability to discount. Of course, this is just a rumor based on an anonymous leak. PW pointed out that...

New York Times public editor finds bias in its Amazon/Hachette coverage
October 5, 2014 | 10:45 am

Wow, this is pretty big. For quite some time, indie publishing bloggers such as Hugh Howey, Joe Konrath, and David Gaughran have been complaining about the slanted nature of the New York Times’s coverage of the Amazon/Hachette squabble. Now New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan has taken a look at the Times’s coverage and admitted that it could, indeed, be more even-handed. In her editorial, Sullivan links, recaps, and discusses prominent objections to the Times’s coverage, asks the Times reporters involved for their responses, and concludes: MY take: It’s important to remember that this...

HarperCollins offers authors higher royalties for direct sales
October 2, 2014 | 6:17 pm

harper-collinsOne of the rallying cries of author advocates and Amazon adversaries alike has been that publishers should start selling their books direct to the public instead of letting middle-man Amazon have so much power. Another rallying cry is that publishers should pay authors bigger royalties. Well, Publishers Weekly reports that HarperCollins is combining those two suggestions, in a way—it’s offering authors an additional 10% royalty rate if they use an affiliate link on their web site to sell their book, e-book, or audiobook from HC’s direct sale site. (The PW article isn’t clear on the math; I’m assuming this means...

Authors United to ask Department of Justice for Amazon antitrust inquiry
September 25, 2014 | 6:08 pm

So, Authors United’s latest publicity stunt is to declare they’re asking the Department of Justice to investigate Amazon for anti-trust issues in the wake of the continuing contract dispute with Hachette. (Publishers Weekly talks about it here, linking to a paywalled Financial Times article that you can read free by googling “Authors to call for Amazon antitrust inquiry” then clicking the FT article and answering a question.) They’re still in the process of drafting the letter; Douglas Preston says it was leaked “very prematurely.” The letter will ask the justice department’s antitrust division to “examine Amazon’s...

In dismissing Amazon’s Orwell quotation, Laura Miller misinterprets Orwell herself
August 26, 2014 | 9:15 pm

There she goes again. Salon’s Laura Miller has penned the latest in a series of tirades against Amazon, this one summing up the squabble thus far and taking issue with Amazon’s quotation of Orwell’s discussion of paperbacks in its “Readers United” letter explaining that lower prices were good for everyone. We’ve already discussed Miller’s biases in some of the links above, but the most interesting thing has to do with her understanding (or lack thereof) of the Orwell quotation. Miller writes: To top it all off this month, the retailer posted an open...

Is Hachette gagging its authors?
August 15, 2014 | 2:25 pm

hachette gagging authors?As some may know, there's a fascinating spat going on between Lee Child, recent star of a BBC Newsnight anti-Amazon segment, and the The Passive Voice's readers and creator - a.k.a. David Vandagriff, recently cited, along with Chris Meadows and yours truly, as one of The Independent Publishing Magazine's "12 Publishing Shakers You Should Be Following." As well as the extensive and very detailed interchange between Child and his critics on many points of the pro- and anti-Amazon debate, where Vandagriff himself steps repeatedly into the fray - mostly against Child - one claim stands out - at least for...

Edward Robertson spots fresh irony in Hachette counter-claims
August 12, 2014 | 12:25 pm

Science fiction and fantasy author Edward W. Robertson has added a new insight to the post mortem on Hachette's response to Amazon's open letter. And it's one more that Hachette probably wishes would go away. As well as pointing out, as Chris Meadows has already noted, that Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch either doesn't know the history of his own industry, or is openly lying to the public about it, Robertson emphasizes that the first paperback houses were trying to do an Amazon on the publishing industry of their time. "Paperback rights were purchased by competing publishers who were able to sell...

Terms of Amazon dispute with Disney seem oddly familiar
August 12, 2014 | 6:16 am

disneypicturesA Wall Street Journal article (if it’s paywalled, Google the headline to read it) delves into the sources of the pre-order blocking matter between Amazon and Disney…and if you could summarize it with a single phrase, it would be “the shoe’s on the other foot.” It has some commonalities with the Hachette dispute, but some important differences, too. According to the familiar “person with knowledge of the matter” (he sure gets around, doesn’t he?) the dispute partly concerns promotion and product placement on Amazon’s web site (the element it has in common with the Hachette negotiation, given some of...

Amazon’s e-book position ‘weak’ but customer focus too strong for disruption
August 11, 2014 | 4:35 am

Here’s a couple of interesting takes on the Amazon/Hachette affair. It’s kind of refreshing, actually, after all this back and forth he-said/she-said of authors in favor of Amazon or Hachette and Amazon and Hachette themselves to look at what more neutral parties are saying. For starters, here’s Jake Kerr on Medium.com suggesting that Amazon is fighting so hard for lower prices on e-books because, far from being the monopolistic behemoth others accuse it of, its position in the e-book trade is actually fairly weak. This seems a little counterintuitive at first, but Kerr points out that e-book stores have...

Hachette responds to Amazon advocates’ email on pricing its e-books
August 11, 2014 | 1:24 am

Digital Book World is carrying the response Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch is sending to those people who write him at Amazon’s behest. Since I posted the Amazon letter in full, it seems only fair to do the same for this. Pietsch (or whoever wrote the response for him) maintains that “Hachette sets prices for our books entirely on our own, not in collusion with anyone” (technically true, I suppose, since he said books, not e-books). He also maintains that the vast majority of Hachette’s titles are priced at or below $9.99, that the ones that cost more are nonetheless...

Amazon stops taking pre-orders for Disney movies
August 10, 2014 | 3:25 am

Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-poster-21Amazon’s been busy lately. Folks might remember that Amazon stopped taking pre-orders for Warner DVD/Blu-ray titles for a while, including The LEGO Movie, during a contract dispute similar to the contract negotiation it is undergoing with Hachette. (Unlike Hachette’s, said dispute was resolved in a matter of weeks.) Well, now it’s Disney’s turn to face the Wrath of ‘Zon. Home Media Magazine reports that forthcoming Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment titles, including Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Maleficent, and Guardians of the Galaxy, have seen their pre-order buttons removed, replaced with “Sign up to be notified when this item...