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Industry News: Indie Publishers Oppose Suit; Amazon Buys Another Publisher; 50 Shades Author’s Husband Lands Deal

June 30, 2012

Indie Publishers Oppose DOJ Lawsuit, Back Agency Model

A group of nine independent publishers has banded together to oppose the Department of Justice’s lawsuit against Apple, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, and HarperCollins over e-book pricing. The suit alleges that the defendants colluded together to force the agency model into existence. The independent publishers are saying that while they do not use the agency model, they have benefited from its use by the big publishers. The agency model turns sellers into business partners, forcing them to charge a specific price for the books and giving them a cut. The retail model allows the seller to charge any price they want for books and pocket any difference. The independent publishers supported their statement with a study the showed Amazon undercut even wholesale prices in book sales. The trial is set for June 3, 2013.

What this means to you: It depends on who you believe. The DOJ seems to be effectively acting as Amazon’s proxy here, and it alleges that Apple and the publishers violated anti-trust laws by colluding to set e-book prices. There’s at least some evidence of this accusation. Steve Jobs’ autobiography says that Apple approached the publishers and offered the agency model as a way to counter Amazon’s dominance.

The suit charges that CEOs of the publishers met in upscale New York City restaurants to discuss ways to force Amazon to change its pricing. It also alleges phone calls and e-mails about the same topic. If these allegations can be proved, they would seem to point to collusion. However, the lawsuit could also hurt competition by freeing Amazon to absorb losses to put pressure on its competition to lower prices to an unsustainable level. In other words, both the DOJ and the publishers could be right. This will obviously affect the price of e-books which could affect the perceived value of books and result in less money for authors down the road.

Amazon Announces Plans to Purchase Dorchester Publishing

Amazon, which has already acquired or creates some imprints, has announced plans to buy western, horror, and romance publisher Dorchester Publishing. Amazon will bid with any other interested suitors in an auction this August. The winner will transfer rights to the existing books and release Dorchester’s books as e-books. Amazon has been active in creating or acquiring publisher. It acquired Avalon Publishing last month and purchased 450 titles from Marshall Cavendish Children’s books. It has also created imprints for out-of-print and self-published books; books in translation; mystery, suspense, and thriller; romance; science fiction and fantasy; and general fiction.

What this means to you: As with the previous story, it depends on your view of Amazon. Their contract terms are more generous than most other publishers’, so that helps writers inside or outside Amazon. But Amazon has been notorious for renegotiating terms for many of its suppliers. If it gets the same type of leverage over authors and agents, there’s concern they could do the same.

EL James’ Husband Gets Publishing Deal

In case you haven’t had your fill of news related to 50 Shades of Grey, here’s more: author EL James husband has inked a book deal. Niall Leonard has a deal for a “gritty” young adult thriller called Crusher that Random House will publish as part of a three-book deal. Leonard has an impressive platform, having written for television programs Hornblower, Wire In The Blood, and Monarch Of The Glen.

What this means to you: Other the a desire to stab your eyes out at the next mention of EL James or her books, this article shows the ability of networking to work in publishing. Leonard was going to self-publish until James mentioned the books to her publisher. Random House probably wouldn’t make an offer–let alone a three-book offer–unless Leonard could write. It matters who you know, but it matters more what you can produce.

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One Comment
  1. July 2, 2012 10:30 am

    All I know is that many of us new authors would not be able to sell any books if it was not for Amazon crashing the NY gatekeepers’ party.

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