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Industry news: Fallout from used ebooks, Amazon tries to own part of the internet, and learn how to write the 50 Shades way

March 16, 2013

What a used ebook market would mean for publisher and authors

Three companies, Amazon (surprise!), Apple, and ReDigi are seeking patents for solutions that would allow them to resell ebooks. Under terms of the Apple and ReDigi approaches, the publisher would get a cut, as would the author (depending on terms of his or her contract). A recent Forbes article looks at how the reselling might work. And while it would result in less revenue for a like-new ebook (they don’t tend to break down over time), it’s not necessarily Armageddon for everyone except the retailer and the reader, it’s not good, either. But there are plenty of legal hurdles to jump between now and when used ebooks (and mp3s, for that matter) become a reality.

What this means to you: As Forbes points out, this isn’t going to happen tomorrow. Also, most current approaches provide some level of compensation to the publisher. But what the author gets depends on the terms of their contract–something to bring up with your agent. But those are the current business models and approaches. What if Amazon changes its terms to take all the money itself? What if a third party starts reselling used ebooks at a lower price and decides not to cut in the publisher? How do self-published titles work? Would publishers be more likely to tighten digital rights management software to prevent resale? No one knows the answers to these questions yet. And while the courts work them out, it could be the wild west, with great deals for readers and no revenue for authors.

Amazon seeks top-level domain names like .book and .author

A number of companies are petitioning ICANN, the global internet traffic cops, for sole rights to top-level domains that fit their business model. For instance, if Amazon got their way, they would own all internet addresses that would end with .book, .read, and .author. Others are understandably upset about this prospect. Amazon’s not alone. They and others are looking to own .app and .movie. The Authors Guide, Association of American Publishers, and Barnes and Noble, among others, are opposing the moves, calling them anti-competitive. Amazon is declining comment. Last year, ICANN announced plans to assign rights for organizations to become registries for these top-level domain names.

What this means to you: It’s not clear at this point whether this is Amazon being the evil empire (one of many), or just the next step in Internet evolution. After all, if Amazon can  own kindle.com, why not .kindle? (A point made in the article.) And while it seems fair and appropriate that Amazon might own .kindle, it seems rather overbearing that they would own .book. But someone will own it, and sell or give the rights to use it. You’ll still be able to use .com and .net as you currently do, without Amazon (or Microsoft or Google…) making money from it.

Buy this book and learn how to write like EL James

In a move that’s sure to make all manner of literary types shudder, EL James is publishing a book with advice about writing. Fifty Shades of Grey: Inner Goddess includes professional advice, places for writers to add their own ideas, excerpts from the Fifty Shades series, and her playlist of songs, presumably heavy with Barry White selections. The book will also talk about the importance of journaling. According to her publisher, there was a lot of demand to know exactly how James did it.

What this means to you: Go ahead, crack wise. Moan at how the lowest common denominator has been reached. Throw up if you must. But then check out the article again. Like her or not, EL James made a lot of fans and money on her books. She navigated through a difficult industry and caught lightning in a bottle. I might not ever read her books or strive to be in the exact same position as she is, but I’d listen to what she had to say about her experience and what she learned on the way. I’d also listen to her on journaling (or writing every day), and how her playlist affected and inspired her writing.

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One Comment
  1. March 18, 2013 11:53 am

    Admit it, Chris. Secretly, you’ve read the trilogy. 😉

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