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Industry News: Wiley Wins $7K in Piracy Case, Rowling’s New Book is Co$tly, Hotel Replaces Gideon Bible with Kindles, CT Tax Law Could Affect Online Book Marketing

July 7, 2012

Wiley Gets $7,000 in Damages for Piracy of One Book

A federal judge has awarded $7,000 to John Wiley and Sons from one reader, Robert Carpenter of Poughkeepsie, NY, who uploaded WordPress for Dummies to a torrent website. A GalleyCat article says the award included $5,000 for copyright infringement and $2,000 for trademark infringement. Depending on your viewpoint, the award may seem low, but most of these cases are settled out of court for around $3,000. Considering that Wiley has sued hundreds of people, they may have made over a million dollars in settlements. Wiley was seeking more than $150,000 in damages.

What this means to you: It probably depends on your views of intellectual property and digital material. Personally, stealing is stealing. And throwing other peoples’ property on a server because you think it should be free is certainly theft in my book. But a lot of people don’t see it that way. In many ways, these arguments wrap around perception of value. Although a digital book is not a tangible thing, it still has value. And the six months or longer of labor writing a book is still work, even though you can’t hold the e-version in your hand. Unfortunately, a piracy-free Internet is like a weed-free lawn–for most, in can’t be achieved.

JK Rowling’s Cover Art, Book Prices Announced

When JK Rowling’s adult book, The Casual Vacancy, is released in September, it will look like the picture accompanying this story. It’ll also cost you. The hardcover will be priced at $35.00, with the large-print hardcover at $39 and the e-book setting you back $19.99–a full 58% more than a typical e-book. Given the current agency model for pricing, don’t expect a lot of deep discounts from the e-tailers, either. Rowling’s first published work since the last Harry Potter book weighs in at 512 pages and talks about generational and other differences in a seemingly idyllic English hamlet.

What it means to you: If you just have to get your hands on this book, it means you’ll have to dig a little deeper than normal. But the publishers are likely to be watching this book’s sales. If the book does well, you might start to see pricing tiers for books, where the new “event” books actually cost more than they have in the past, while other books remain the same price. It’s sort of like the Rays charging more for games against the Yankees than for games against the Royals. Of course, this is full conjecture on my part. It’ll also be interesting to see if there are any scathing one-star reviews based solely on the book’s price, as has happened on Amazon and other sites when readers were irritated with prices.

Hotel Replaced Gideon Bible with Kindles

Rocky Raccoon will have to go to his room to read Gideon’s Kindle, as least in one Hotel. The Intercontinental’s Hotel Indigo in Newcastle, England, is replacing the printed copies of the Gideon Bible with a wifi version of Amazon’s Kindle Touch. If the plan is successful, the chain will consider increasing its scope. The Gideons are okay with it, too, noting that anything that gets the Bible in your hands is a good thing. If your Kindle goes missing, though, the chain will just charge it to your bill. In other e-reader/tablet news, a new version of the Kindle Fire is expected in August (maybe even later this month). And there are fresh rumors of Apple entering the fray with a smaller-version iPad as soon as October. Google has also released a new tablet, the Nexus 7.

What this means to you: The march of e-readers will continue unabated. The cost of e-readers for public use seems to have stabilized for now, with features increasing. But it’s not a stretch to envision a cheap or free version of a Kindle, with fewer features and ads becoming a possibility for hotel and other use. As for the new releases of the Kindle Fire and the long-rumored iPad mini, Apple may be the only company that can combat Amazon’s growing industry dominance. They will eventually compete directly with Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Scholastic Appeals Tax Decision to the Supreme Court

Scholastic, publisher of The Hunger Games series is appealing a Connecticut state supreme court decision that could result in it owing the state more than $3.3 million in back taxes. The ruling covers sales to 14,000 teachers in Scholastic’s book club. According to Forbes, existing federal case law requires a company to have a physical presence in a state for it to be liable for that state’s sales tax. However, Connecticut has adopted an Amazon law that any online seller with affiliates in the state are also required to collect sales tax. The state is asserting that by receiving points for extra books purchases, the teachers, who pass out the Scholastic forms and collect orders, are affiliates of Scholastic, and the sales tax is due.

What this means to you: Unless you live in Connecticut, it means nothing–for now. If the Supreme Court affirms the Connecticut decision or allows it to stand by not taking the case for review, it provides states a potential for new revenue that could significantly change how book sales happen. For instance, if you include a link to your book to an online bookstore that sells your book, you could become an agent for the online company, and your sales may require sales-tax payment. If states adopt Connecticut’s model, online sales of books (or almost anything else) could become more complex as tax laws are interpreted.

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