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Industry News: Rowlings book withheld from most foreign publishers, HC launches Christian imprint, S&S revenue hurt by suit costs

August 4, 2012

Amid Piracy Concerns, Advanced Copies of JK Rowling’s New Book Withheld from Foreign Publishers

September 27 will be a good day to be able to read English, as US and UK audiences will be able to rush right out and buy JK Rowling’s new book, The Casual Vacancy. Publishers in France and Germany will get advanced copies. Everyone else has to wait. The Blair Partnership, Rowling’s literary agency, is withholding copies from non-English speaking publishers until the day of release to prevent unauthorized copies from finding their way to the public. Foreign publishers are concerned that the late release will cause them to develop poor translations, because of the rush to market. Rowling’s agent says that none of the Harry Potter novels were released worldwide at the same time, so this shouldn’t been that different.

What this means to you: Piracy is still an issue that has to be resolved. In spite of some publishers removing digital rights management (DRM) software from their books, there’s still concern about theft of intellectual property.

HarperCollins Launches New Christian Imprint

Remember a couple weeks ago when this very blog said that when HarperCollins bought Thomas Nelson, they didn’t plan to combine it with Zondervan, which it already owns? Turns out that wasn’t exactly true. The two imprints will move into a single division, led by former Thomas Nelson CEO Mark Schoenwald. Former Zondervan CEO Scott Macdonald will leave his post. In the new organization, the two companies will operate as separate business units. The press release announcing the move says the new imprint will collaborate where appropriate, but otherwise compete with each other.

What this means to you: More consolidation in the Christian market. Maybe I’m wrong, but I can’t see these companies getting into an auction against each other for content.

Legal Costs Slice Simon & Schuster’s Earnings

Simon and Schuster’s sales rose three percent in the second quarter (ending June 30), but the costs associated with lawsuits related to their use of the agency model for e-books have eaten through all that increased revenue and then some. Lawsuit-related costs led to a $10 million drop in revenue for the quarter. Digital sales were strong, increasing 44% over last year’s second quarter, with total sales of $40 million. Sales were strong in all divisions with some softness in Europe. S&S was the third of five companies to settle with state attorneys general over the Apple collusion lawsuit.

What this means to you: Although S&S CEO Carolyn Reidy said the company had accounted for the legal costs, the settlement took a substantial piece of operating revenue. The cost associated with settlement could mean any or all of the following things: S&S figured the costs associated with going through with the suit would have been prohibitive, the odds of not losing the suit were small, the damages for the suit would have been substantial.

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