When I was a kid, I used to play with the girl who lived across the street. But I never got to choose the game. When we were at her house, she would say “It’s my house, so I get to pick.” When we were at my house, she’d say, “I’m the guest, so I get to pick.” I would’ve been fine with either of these rules, but I was not fine with her choosing whichever was to her advantage at that moment. Visiting BookExpo America (BEA) last week, it occurred to me that, on the question of whether an ebook is “sold” or “licensed,” many publishers are dead ringers for that little girl across the street.
“When is a Sale Not a Sale? Selling vs. Licensing Digital Content” the International Digital Publishing Forum’s Digital Book 2013 conference asked. The panel, which took place on May 30 during the co-located BookExpo America last week in New York, featured Bill Rosenblatt, founder of GiantSteps Media Technology Strategies, who gave a point-by-point overview of the current state of digital copyright law.
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 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.
OverDrive and Sourcebooks are preparing to launch an innovative and ambitious pilot program whose goal is to clearly demonstrate the impact libraries have on book sales and author recognition.
OverDrive sent a letter today to about 35,000 librarians worldwide and invited them to opt in to a program that will run from May 15 through June 1 and allow all participating libraries to feature simultaneously on their OverDrive home page, at no cost, a single title from Sourcebooks.
Librarians rejoice! The Supreme Court of the United States insisted in its Wiley v. Kirtsaeng decision that we can legally lend foreign-manufactured materials!
The case was about textbooks and textbook-market arbitrage, though. That’s worth keeping sight of. Extrapolating from reactions on all sides, what does the Wiley v. Kirtsaeng decision likely mean for the textbook-publishing business, and what can textbook publishers and libraries do if they don’t like that?
Libraries and Friends groups interested in reselling or giving away used ebooks or other digital content files (or purchasing them) may be a little more cautious after the March 30 court decision, Capitol Records v. ReDigi Inc. ReDigi, a virtual marketplace for “pre-owned” digital music, was sued by Capitol Records in what the court characterized as “a fundamental clash over culture, policy, and copyright law.”
From the American Library Association Digital Content Working Group:
The report, which was created by the ALA Digital Content & Libraries Working Group (DCWG), can be used by librarians to weigh ebook contract variables most important to their library. The report assesses 15 ebook contract variables of importance to libraries, ranging from ebook title inclusion, to ebook pricing, to immediate patron access. These variables include important ebook lending characteristics, such as ebook revenue streams for publishers and ebook accessibility for people with disabilities.
Among the many gadgets and gewgaws announced this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas was a debut that may be a boon to students getting more comfortable with digital textbooks. A new etextbook dashboard tool, which will be an included feature in all etextbooks distributed by Kno Inc., will allow students to keep study analytics information private, or to opt-in to share their study results with peers and classmates.
Avid readers who have made New Year’s resolutions to visit their local library more often might be interested in the Library Extension for Google Chrome. The free extension lets users know whether specific books, ebooks, audiobooks, and music CDs are available at their local library while they browse for those titles at Amazon.com.