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SFWA announces membership qualifications for self-published and small press writers
February 3, 2015 | 9:10 pm

The Science Fiction Writers of America, or SFWA, has finally come through with its long-promised support for self-published and small press authors. A SFWA press release declares that complete details will be posted to the SFWA’s membership requirements page by March 1, 2015. (I have been informed that SFWA’s members refer to it as SFWA, sometimes pronounced “siff-wah,” rather than the SFWA, so I shall do so within this article.) The press release states that the requirements for Active Membership are having earned at least $3,000 via novel (it’s unclear whether that’s from one or several such novels over...

Harper Lee to publish sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird after 55 years
February 3, 2015 | 7:53 pm

For fifty-five years, To Kill a Mockingbird has been the only novel that Harper Lee published. It was successful enough that she simply didn’t need to publish another one. That one book, published 55 years ago, has kept her comfortable for the rest of her life. But it turns out that To Kill a Mockingbird was actually the second novel that Harper Lee wrote—and now HarperCollins is going to publish the first one, Go Set a Watchman. It is scheduled for release July 2015. Lee explains that when she first wrote Go Set a Watchman, her editor was intrigued...

Art, Value and Publishing
February 3, 2015 | 2:25 pm

valueIn today's Morning Links, I highlighted an interesting post from Dear Author on the subject of book prices and their relation to 'value.' It was an interesting question to me because I've just read a whole series of books on Kindle publishing which seem to take the total opposite view---they promote books not as an art form per se, but as a service. Let me explain. These books are all aimed at nonfiction authors, and their premise is that if you break up your longer book into several smaller ones, you'll have several advantages. On the business side, more books is...

For your Hugo consideration: Designers & Dragons
January 31, 2015 | 7:06 pm

Just a quick reminder: nominations for this year’s Hugo Awards are upon us, and if you signed up for last year’s (to get the entire Wheel of Time series that was included in the Hugo voter packet, for example) you’re eligible to nominate now. Nominations are open through March 10, and you can update and change your ballot as often as you like. And I’d just like to stump for a book that I feel is extremely worthy of consideration: the four-volume history of the role-playing game industry, Designers & Dragons, which was published via Kickstarter last year. Given...

Sad news for Egmont as US operation closes without buyer
January 23, 2015 | 4:25 pm

Sad to say, Egmont Publishing has had to close its US business after trying but failing to find a buyer. The official Egmont statement said: Egmont Publishing, which at $900 million is the largest division in the Denmark-based Egmont group, employing 2,400 people across 30 countries, has a new strategic focus, which is to invest in books and magazine businesses where Egmont can hold a leading market position. One of the outcomes has been the decision to exit the standalone position in the US market, which they entered in 2008. Attempts to sell Egmont USA since October 2014 have not resulted in...

University of California Press joins open access push
January 22, 2015 | 4:25 pm

The University of California Press has just announced a pair of initiatives that mark its major institutional push into scholarly open access, "Collabra and Luminos, two new open access programs for journal and monograph publishing." UC Press, which provides the academic publishing infrastructure for the University of California university system, including UC Berkeley and UCLA, and which claims to be "the world’s greatest public research university," declares that: "Collabra and Luminos launch with a distinguished group of advisory board members, editors, authors, and reviewers from universities and associations around the globe." The announcement continues: The mega journal Collabra is based on an innovative model...

The Holtzbrinck/Springer merger: What does it mean for scientific publishing?
January 16, 2015 | 2:25 pm

cover_natureAs per a Reuters report yesterday, the publisher of Nature and Scientific American, Germany's Holtzbrinck Publishing Group, is merging with Springer Science+Business Media, "creating a group with 1.5 billion euros ($1.75 billion) in annual sales." As well as showcasing the value locked up in scientific publishing, this merger also raises questions about the development of the field and the prospects for wider adoption of scholarly open access. Also included in the deal is educational and and social sciences publisher Palgrave Macmillan. The official Springer announcement read: Holtzbrinck Publishing Group (Holtzbrinck) and BC Partners (BCP) announced today that they have reached an agreement to merge Springer...

Cory Doctorow speaks on self-publishing, Amazon, DRM, Hachette, and a whole lot else besides
January 16, 2015 | 10:25 am

IMG_20150115_103208Cory Doctorow came over to Budapest at the invitation of the Center for Media, Data and Society of Central European University to speak on policing computers and other issues. In the course of a fascinating interview with me, he shared a slew of observations on a great many issues, many of which I'll be presenting in subsequent articles. To begin with, though, here are his thoughts on where self-publishing has got to, and what the whole Amazon-Hachette spat reveals about the impact of DRM on the market. The most important thing that self-publishing does isn’t merely enriching the people who succeed in...

New digital publishing imprint Canelo launches in UK
January 13, 2015 | 2:25 pm

Two former executives at UK independent Quercus Publishing, Iain Millar and Nick Barreto, have partnered with Michael Bhaskar, currently digital publishing director at Profile Books and sometime digital publishing savant, to create Canelo, "a new digital publisher of engaging fiction and non-fiction released as ebooks, apps and on the web. Working closely with authors, readers, developers and other partners, we will bring great stories to new audiences." "The founders, who have worked for Profile Books, Pan Macmillan, Hachette, Quercus and Bloomsbury, among others, want to combine the best of traditional publishing with a fresh approach," continues Canelo's introduction. "We want to find...

Editor shares some publisher love
January 12, 2015 | 4:28 pm

Daniel Menaker, "longtime book editor," has shared a paean in Slate "In praise of the publishers who move units and readers." And after the "15 years I was at Random House, almost five of them as editor-in-chief," he's naturally in a position to know whereof he speaks. Intimately. Cosily. Among many objections that Menaker has to the zeitgeist is the opinion Barry Eisler, who told the Guardian that the signatories of the Authors United letter to Amazon were in “the top 1 percent” who "have no interest at all in improving publishing for everyone. Only in preserving it for themselves." Menaker insists...

Textbook publisher Follett threatens price-comparison browser plug-in
January 6, 2015 | 1:23 pm

A textbook price-comparison browser extension developed by textbook price finding site Texts.com has come under fire from textbook publisher Follett. This extension, “Occupy the Bookstore,” sits in a user’s browser and pops up less-expensive alternative purchasing sites when the user is visiting some online textbook store. Follett asked Texts.com to remove the extension because it draws sales away from stores Follet supplies. Texts.com has no intention of dropping the extension. They believe Follet does not have a case, because the price-comparison plug-in does not actually interact with the stores’ web sites; it interacts with data on the customer’s browser...

Industry Growing Pains and the ‘Content Glut’ Problem
January 3, 2015 | 10:25 am

industry growing painsA half-dozen articles on the publishing industry's 'growing pains' crossed my RSS feed this morning. I guess the new year has everyone feeling introspective, and the short version is that people are tired. Too many shifts in the business model. Too many trends coming and going, and authors try g to cash in on those trends with a glut of books. There are authors who are trying to reach new readers via bargain-priced subscription services. There are others who try and reach existing audiences through programs like Kindle Worlds, which publish within existing fictional universes. Some authors claim that quality is,...