After years of expressing concern about the potential impact that library lending might have on consumer sales, major publishers have good cause to take another look at the library market for ebooks, according to executives from library ebook distributors OverDrive, 3M, and Baker & Taylor. With consumer sales growth slowing, bolstering institutional sales will likely become more of a priority for major publishers. OverDrive CEO Steve Potash noted that publishers, like all for-profit companies, are always looking for growth, and “there’s still a lot a growth in institutions, and there [are] significant opportunities for growth in education…. If retail is flattening, you have to experiment.”
Traditional publishers may be johnny-come-lately to publishing digital-only and digital-first, but their efforts bring the weight of deep editorial and marketing experience to the digital-only equation. This spring saw a new push by HarperCollins to enhance its digital-first lines with the launch of Witness Impulse, a digital mystery, suspense, and thriller line that will release its initial ten titles in October under the William Morrow Impulse imprint; the publisher said it is the first of its kind (mystery) from a major U.S. publisher.
Macmillan on Friday became the last of five major publishers to settle a lawsuit over the pricing of ebooks originally filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and 15 states in April 2012. In an email addressed to “Authors, Illustrators and Agents” Macmillan CEO John Sargent wrote that he believed the company had done nothing wrong and could still win the case, but the risk of losing the legal battle had become too high.
The stultifying confusion over library ebook lending would benefit from a more empirical approach, and I would like to propose that for at least the short term HarperCollins’s 26-loan cap model, while far from perfect, should receive more careful analysis.
Pending the approval of U.S. District Judge Denise Cote, $69 million will be awarded to consumers who purchased agency-priced ebooks between April 2010 and May 2012, as part of a proposed settlement of a state antitrust suit filed against HarperCollins, Hachette SA, and Simon & Schuster. Led by the Attorneys General of Connecticut and Texas, 49 states (excluding Minnesota) and 5 U.S. territories had accused the publishers of conspiring to fix ebook prices.
U.S. District Court judge Denise Cote denied a motion by Apple, Penguin, and Macmillian to dismiss a civil class action suit that alleges Apple and the major publishers colluded to set ebook prices. The-56 page court document explains the standard of proof Judge Cote applied, saying that the court “may not properly dismiss a complaint […]
The latest change in the library ebook marketplace, Random House’s steep rise in its ebook prices—initially said to be as much as 300 percent on some trade titles—may be even more devastating than the 26-loan cap imposed by HarperCollins last year on ebook circulation.