After coming down to the wire, with a trial scheduled to start June 3, Penguin announced May 22 that it will settle the remaining ebook price fixing class action suits, as well as claims filed by 33 states. The publisher had already settled similar Federal claims with the Department of Justice in December 2012. Under that settlement, Penguin agreed to end its allegedly anticompetitive agreements with Apple and other retailers for a period of two years.
The New York publishing world—and beyond—turned out in force on May 14 to pay tribute to Peter Workman, whom Barnes & Noble chairman Len Riggio termed “one of the brightest stars, and greatest minds, in the history of publishing.” Few of the nearly 1,000 attendees at the memorial service held at Columbia University would disagree.
The BookStats 2013 survey, co-produced by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and the Book Industry Study Group (BISG), released some provisional numbers on May 15. (A few statistics are being recalculated, but won’t impact the trend). BookStats found that trade publishing overall saw significant growth since 2011, despite the closures of many brick-and-mortar stores during the same period. Not surprisingly, publishers’ revenue from brick and mortar retail fell 7 percent, but more than made up the ground online, growing 21 percent. Overall, trade net revenue rose 6.9 percent to just over $15 billion in 2012. The number of books sold also grew, by 8.1 percent, to $2.291 billion.
To make the most of BEA, here are the offerings that are best for librarians—not all of them are particularly aimed at our profession, but eavesdropping on “the other side” can be illuminating. Though ebook questions feature heavily, we’re moving on from library availability concerns to debates surrounding secondhand ebooks, the effects on authors, and e-publishing of out-of-print titles.
aBeginning May 8, instructors providing Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) via Coursera will have the option to supplement their video lectures with content from major academic publishers Cengage Learning, Macmillan Higher Education, Oxford University Press, SAGE Publications,and Wiley, at no cost to their students. And that’s just the beginning: “Coursera is also actively discussing pilot agreements and related alliances with Springer and additional publishers,” the company said in a statement. This could be a sea change for both MOOCs and publishers’ business models.
The stock market has hit record highs, and unemployment has reached the lowest level since the recession began. Despite this good news, the library economic environment has not seen commensurate improvement. There continues to be a struggle to find the resources needed to support library collections and services, and conditions remain highly unsettled.
Recently I was talking with a Duke faculty member and editor of a prominent scholarly journal about ways to improve access to the journal he edits. In the midst of the conversation, I found myself being lectured on the need to get scholarly publishing out from under the control of commercial publishing firms. What were libraries going to do, I was asked, to break the stranglehold that commercial publishing had over scholarship? Fortunately I had some answers for him, and a great deal of sympathy for his perspective. But it was very odd to have the tables turned on me like that; I am usually the advocate for open access and new models of scholarly communications, so it was strange to be treated, even briefly, as a defender of the status quo.
During a visit to Egypt two years ago, George Kerscher, Secretary General of the Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) Consortium, found that the country’s major libraries had only a very small collection of books available for print-disabled patrons. And while staff and volunteers were working to make more books accessible, output was limited to only a handful of titles each year.
Discerning this as an outsider, Kerscher (who is blind himself) realized that it was very much a microcosm of how the process of producing accessible books has traditionally functioned in the United States.