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Industry News: Google can scan books, publishers challenged to expand storytelling, American Idol model comes to writing

November 23, 2013

Judge: Google’s scanning of books amounts to fair use, can continue

Eight years after the Author’s Guild brought a lawsuit against Google for scanning 20 million books without the permission of the copyright owners, Judge Denny Chin has ruled that the scanning project, and the way readers can access the books, amounted to fair use and can continue. Google has scanned the books and readers can search them, but can only read snippets of their content. In his ruling, Judge Chin said that Google did not obtain permission, the program provides “significant public benefits.” (Google books limits access to snippets if the copyright holder hasn’t given permission.) Chin also said that the service actually helps copyright holders. The Author’s Guild promises to appeal the ruling.

What this means to you: After the advent of radio and television, baseball owners resisted having their home games broadcast, saying that it would limit the attendance at games because people could listen or watch rather than attend. Ironically, the opposite has happened. In the same way, having books available in Google Books could help build an audience for books in the same way a library does.

HarperCollins UK Boss: Take storytelling to apps, games, and video

Last year, when the head of HarperCollins in the UK, Victoria Barnsley, quit and was replaced with Charlie Redmayne, the publishing world was afraid it was getting a geek. That might be true, but it might be the right move. This week, Redmayne delivered a message telling publishers that they have to retake storytelling from rivals that have extended it beyond ebooks to other formats. In this case, the rivals extend from Amazon publishing books and ebooks to app and game developers. According to Redmayne, publishers need to think beyond books to digital content, just as others are moving into the book space.

What this means to you: Essentially, Redmayne is echoing a mantra that’s been used a lot here–the best platform is a great book. Publishers must continue to produce great books. But great books aren’t enough. They need to produce the stuff that goes along with it–and that might include apps, games, and other related content that adds to the bottom line. In a way, it’s the same thing authors have been told for quite some time–you have to have a great book, but you also have to have a platform. Publishers can add to their bottom line by building the rest of the suite of products to change their authors into actual brands.

Italian show extends American Idol model to writers

There’s a very good chance you’ve spent some time thinking about the possibility of an American Idol-type show for writers. You’d have the embarrassing wannabes in the auditions, then you’d have rounds of competition complete with overstressed competitors hungry to live their dreams. Maybe Gordon Ramsay would drop by to lovingly call them donkeys and ****s. With the exception of the Gordon Ramsay part, Italian television has debuted such a show. The winner of Masterpiece will get a publishing contract and an initial run of 100,000 copies. After the initial part of the show–the weeding out of the pretenders–the contestants were placed in unfamiliar circumstances, and then got a chance to write about it–for 30 minutes. After six of the eight contestants were eliminated, the top two gave an elevator speech–literally–to pitch their book to Elisabetta Sgarbi, the Editor-in-Chief of Bompiani, the participating publisher.

What this means to you: Not a ton, at least not immediately. But if the show works and people watch, it could be picked up here. And if it is, it could help you learn about parts of the industry, not to mention giving you live examples of pitches. If nothing else, it’s a more realistic–if skewed–look at the industry than you’d get from Castle.

One Comment
  1. November 28, 2013 4:39 pm

    Thank you for educating us about these issues. I’m already imagining a spinoff of an American version of the Writer-Idol show (partly inspired by your allusion to Chef Ramsay): Unedited Nightmares.

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