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Get ready to load up those new kindles with some fantastic ebooks that will be specially priced at $.99 from December 26th through December 29th. Loads of authors in various genres are joining in on this holiday sale. Click the logo above to check out the main page for this sale and start downloading today.
Our children’s holiday story, The Christmas Owl, will be reduced to $.99 during this sale. An Amazon best selling children’s story, The Christmas Owl , is sure to become a holiday classic. A Barred owl becomes injured and must ask others for help. He promises to give back to those who have a generous heart and he is true to his word. This colorful tale told in verse is vividly illustrated to capture the attention of children aged eight and under.
The world is looking for solutions. At Schiel & Denver Book Publishers, one of the reasons we invest so deeply in sustainable publishing methods, and cherish our independent authors and talented writers so much, is that you have taken the time to make the changes needed to achieve a more shared, secure and sustainable future through your work. Whether you’re a children’s author giving a child that first love of learning to read, a poet, thriller writer or Christian author; we pledge our support to your continued literary brilliance in the fantastic independent books that you pen, and on your admirable personal commitment to your writing.
The fact is that world needs more writers. The literary output of the U.S. can never be too prolific. Sustainable development is a global imperative: over one billion people lack access to food, electricity and drinking water; a majority of our ecosystems are in decline; and there is an enormous deficit in decent jobs, especially for youth globally. Climate change will only compound these challenges – and threatens progress, peace and stability in societies and global markets – including books and publishing.
The book publishing industry is changing beyond all recognition, and for the independent author, getting your book into the hands of reachers in a timely fashion with expert speed to market, has become an increasingly dominant critical factor – where once publishers and authors could rely on long-tail sales and word of mouth. Schiel & Denver Book Publishers is therefore committed to professional book distribution into all markets, on behalf of our authors, and we are pleased to be opening up new channels in Australasia, Asia, China, Africa and Brazil, (outside our main infrastructure in North America and Europe) as a means to set our authors apart in the market with greater numbers of books printed, more sales and more royalties generated per ISBN title.
In a time when reaching agreement on critical issues is proving difficult and divisive — whether at home domestically in America or on the international platform — Schiel & Denver‘s comprehensive book publishing strategies will continue to give independent authors a voice, with dedicated marketing to the retail buying units of stores like Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Books-A-Million, to ensure your voice is heard.
Our corporate sustainability is charging ahead as a collaborative and innovative space for action based on the risks and opportunities at hand. After more than a decade of building up principles and partnerships, we stand on the brink of unleashing global business action as a main-stream, independent book publisher championing author’s intellectual output on a massive scale.
Schiel & Denver only succeeds when our authors thrive with successful book sales derived from worldwide market access and expert distribution to major bookstores. Making this happen is our enduring commitment: more engagement, more innovation, more collaboration.
I’m excited to announce that, after two years, SCARS is now available in ebook format on Amazon! (For the Kindle.) It’s on sale for $7.99, which is cheaper than both the hardcover and the paperback editions.
I’ve had many readers ask me over the years for ebook copies of my books, so I’m so excited that SCARS is now available for ebook readers! I often buy two copies of books I really love–a digital copy to carry around with me everywhere, and a paper copy for home and my shelves, so I think it’s cool that if people want or prefer an ebook copy, they can get one now.
Please help me spread the word about SCARS now being available as an ebook.
Today Amazon announced a new feature for Kindle users–but ONLY Kindle users with an Amazon Prime membership (and, I’m assuming, living in the US): the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.
Kindle owners (with Amazon Prime membership) can choose from thousands of books to borrow for free, including over 100 current and former New York Times Bestsellers — as frequently as a book a month, with no due dates.
That sounds pretty sweet to me. EXCEPT that you have to have an Amazon Prime membership which is $79/year, which many of us don’t have. And it’s likely limited to US only, though I don’t know that for sure. But I’m still waiting for Amazon to open up library ebook usage to Canada and the UK.
Google Inc., owner of the world’s most popular search engine, is starting an electronic book- selling service today with almost 4,000 publishers, in a challenge to Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc.
The service, called Google eBooks, features about 3 million titles for free and hundreds of thousands for purchase, the company said today in a post on its website. Book Publishers include Random House Group Ltd. and HarperCollins Publishers.
“They’re going to have access to many, many more books than anyone else,” said James McQuivey, an analyst with Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “This is the time to be doing it” because the market is growing so quickly, he said.
Google, looking to improve its search service while expanding beyond traditional online advertising, is adding a revenue source that’s built from its multiyear effort to scan the world’s books. The number of electronic-reading devices sold in the U.S. should jump to 29.4 million in 2015 from 3.7 million by the end of last year, according to Forrester.
“This is a rapidly growing market, and there’s obviously plenty of room in this market for a number of competitors,” Scott Dougall, director of product management for Google Books, said in an interview. “We’re taking this seriously.”
The eBooks service can be accessed on computers with modern browsers, smartphones and tablets from multiple operating systems including Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS.
The service will work on some e-readers as well, including Barnes & Noble Inc.’s Nook. It isn’t accessible on Amazon’s Kindle, Google spokeswoman Jeannie Hornung said.
Google also will let independent booksellers set up digital stores, helping them compete with Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Members of the American Booksellers Association are able to participate in the program.
While revenue sharing varies, the book publisher receives the majority of the sale through a purchase on Google. With independent booksellers, publishers will typically get the largest portion of the sale, though not necessarily the majority, Hornung said in an interview.
Google’s rivals already are benefitting from growing interest in digital books. The Kindle, which has more than 757,000 books titles, should generate $5.32 billion in revenue in 2012, up from an estimated $2.81 billion for 2010, according to Sandeep Aggarwal, an analyst at Caris & Co.
Apple, which launched its electronic book service earlier this year, had 35 million books downloaded through Sept. 1, the company said.
Amazon Kindle users will soon be able to navigate their e-books by way of old-fashioned page numbers, Amazon announced today in a blog post.
Kindle format e-books currently employ “location numbers,” which correspond to a specific block of text, and not the actual page numbers of the hardbound book. Obviously, this makes it tricky for those situations where multiple folks are reading from the same e-book, but at different font sizes. (In a book club, for instance, or in the classroom.)
“Our customers have told us they want real page numbers that match the page numbers in print books so they can easily reference and cite passages, and read alongside others in a book club or class,” Amazon reps wrote. “Rather than add page numbers that don’t correspond to print books, which is how page numbers have been added to e-books in the past, we’re adding real page numbers that correspond directly to a book’s print edition.”
The page numbers will arrive in a new Amazon Kindle software update, which is expected to be issued soon. Users will be able to view both location numbers and page numbers – and for at least one prominent book publishers and tech critic, that’s very good news indeed.
“Bottom line: enough criticizing the Kindle or the Nook for the way it handles page numbers,” David Pogue writes over at the website of the New York Times. “Neither solution is perfect – ‘locations’ or page numbers – because the problem is insoluble. The best we can hope for is a choice – and now the Kindle offers one.”
Last month, Amazon introduced a new e-book format called Kindle Singles, which the company describes as “compelling ideas expressed at their natural length.” The idea is pretty simple: For five bucks or less, users can download a 5,000 to 30,000-word piece of fiction or non-fiction. Among the first Kindle Singles releases are works by Jodi Picoult, Rich Cohen, Pete Hamill, and Darin Strauss.
In a letter to book publishers, Digg product manager Mike Cieri announced that the troubled social news website will no longer accept content submitted via RSS.
The ability for book publishers to submit all of their stories to Digg automatically using an RSS feed seemed like an efficient way to open up a firehose of content for Digg. However, Cieri says this idea had unintended consequences.
According to Cieri, “Most RSS-submitted content is not performing well on Digg.” He says the site’s analytics show that only a mere 4.5% of Digg’s “Top News” content comes from the RSS submissions. He adds that the ability to submit an RSS feed to Digg “has been heavily abused by spammers and has been a constant drain on our technical resources to identify and fight off spam content.” Cieri praised the manual method of submitting stories to Digg, saying that manual submissions “ensure that quality content appears on Digg.”
With this move, the site takes yet another step back toward the old version 3.0, the site design that was in use before radical changes resulted in a user revolt and a 24% decline in U.S. visitors in the first 11 weeks. In response, Digg has slowly added back features that readers missed, such as the ability to bury stories, andlast month’s overhaul that included the return of user profiles and story statistics. Since that first fateful redesign last summer, Digg has laid off more than a third of its staffers.
I’m just wondering why Digg stubbornly refused to modify its obviously unpopular redesign after it became apparent that it was resulting in large percentages of its readership turning away. After a few days of this, why didn’t Digg simply revert to the old version and its rules that seemed to be working pretty well? If not a few days later, why not a month later?
Here’s the full text of the letter we received from Digg product manager Mike Cieri:
We hope this message finds you well. After a bumpy second half of 2010 at Digg, we are starting to see positive signs of improvement and are optimistic about the direction Digg is headed. In January 2011, we saw double digit growth of diggs and comments, as well as an increase in unique visitors and exit clicks out to publisher sites. We’ve taken a number of concrete steps to stay better connected with the Digg community, and we are taking action to improve Digg based on our community’s feedback. One important point of feedback we’ve heard is that RSS submitted stories are hurting Digg in a number of ways, and in the next week we are going to discontinue the ability to submit content via RSS. We’d like to share the reasoning behind the decision, and let you know what you can do to improve your performance on Digg.
Put very simply, most RSS submitted content is not performing well on Digg. For many of our users, RSS submissions take the fun out of finding and submitting great content. When users try to submit a story to Digg and find that the story has already been auto-submitted via RSS, they lose interest in helping spread the story on Digg by commenting and sharing with friends. Removing a user’s desire to champion a story results in less diggs, comments, exit clicks, and ultimately a much smaller chance of making the Top News section. Our analytics reflect this point – only 4.5% of all Top News content comes from RSS submitted content (95.5% is manually submitted).
At its core, Digg is a community of passionate users who take pride in the content they submit and engage with one another in discussion and promotion of viral content. There is a perception that some publishers don’t participate in the community, use RSS submit as an “auto-pilot” tool to submit content without discretion, and do little to promote submitted content o
The online retailer recently participated in the auction for best-selling novelist Amanda Hocking, making its most aggressive move yet into traditional publishing territory.
Amazon.com, the online bookselling behemoth that has sometimes rubbed book publishers the wrong way, has just put its big foot someplace new.
In its most aggressive move yet into territory traditionally occupied by the major New York houses, the Seattle-based e-retailer took part last week in a heated auction for four books by self-published bestselling novelist Amanda Hocking. Executives at several houses said they knew of no other instance in which the company had competed with major publishers for a high profile commercial author.
Amazon has done deals directly with authors and agents in the past, but usually for backlist titles or specialty projects. It has used those exclusive offerings to distinguish its Kindle e-bookstore in an increasingly competitive digital market.
It’s believed that Amazon would have seen Ms. Hocking as a natural fit because of her roots in the e-publishing world, where she has sold more than a million copies of her nine titles in the category of young adult paranormal romance.
An Amazon spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
To beef up its offer, Amazon brought in Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which would have published the print editions of Ms. Hocking’s books, according to insiders. Part of a company that has gone through two debt restructurings in recent years, the venerable trade house would also have lent Amazon the aura of a traditional house.
A Houghton Mifflin Harcourt spokesman was not available to comment.
St. Martin’s Press ended up winning the auction, paying $2 million for the series of four novels, but Amazon actually made the highest offer of the six bidders, according to insiders. Its failure to acquire the titles demonstrates some of the difficulties the company may have if it continues to pursue potential blockbusters as part of a strategy to maintain its Kindle store’s dominance.
Amazon had insisted on exclusivity for the e-book edition, said a high level publishing executive familiar with the deal. That made the offer less attractive to the author and her literary agent.
“[Amazon] has less than 65% share of the e-book market and dropping, and 20% to 30% of the print market,” the executive said. “[The author and agent] would have anticipated significant lost sales.”
Steven Axelrod, Ms. Hocking’s agent, declined to comment.
Amazon would also have been at a disadvantage to the other publishers when it came to the print edition, the executive said.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt was brought in with the aim of ensuring that Ms. Hocking’s books would be carried by Barnes & Noble, the No. 1 brick-and-mortar retailer. But there was a question whether the bookstore chain would stock a book published by its biggest rival, even if the title carried the logo of a respected trade house.
“I’m not sure that head fake would have been enough,” the executive said. Referring to the rough tactics that Amazon has employed in its battles with publishers, he added, “Barnes & Noble plays hardball, too.”
On Kindle Fire, you can read comics, picture books, magazines, etc in color, as well as watch more than 18 million movies and TV shows, listen to songs, and browse the net faster than most browsers. You can read documents on it, including Word and PDF. You can email using their web app that gets web email (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL, etc) and import your messages and contacts from other email programs. You can buy apps and games. There’s also free cloud storage of anything you buy; if you delete something off your Kindle Fire, you can get it back any time. Apparently the touchscreen has vibrant color (16 million colors in high resolution), and the screen is a touch screen, easy to use. It has 8 gig internal memory (plus the free cloud storage), and 8 hours of continuous reading or 7.5 hours of playback.
I definitely want an Aamzon Fire! Sadly, it’s available only in the US at the moment. I can’t wait til they make it available in Canada!
Next, Amazon has 3 new Kindles (one of which I’m definitely going to buy to replace my Kindle 3).
X-Ray. Explore the “bones of a book”. With a single tap, see all the passages across a book that mention ideas, fictional characters, historical figures, places or topics of interest, as well as more detailed descriptions from Wikipedia and Shelfari.
EasyReach. Tap to turn pages – no need to swipe, so you can hold Kindle in either hand.
It also has free cloud backup, and you can borrow books from your library if you live in the US.
There’s also apparently a 3G version, with free 3G for life in 100 countries. I didn’t see the link yet, but I’m sure it will be coming.
Although some disgruntled parties in the book publishing industry are claiming that Amazon may forgo a temporary loss of up to $11 for every tablet of the new Amazon Kindle Fire that the Seattle based company sells, with sales so high and climbing, it is unlikely this will hurt the giant online retailer. Amazon has brought a new dimension to book publishers across America, with more and more well known traditional authors self publishing their work and turning to book publishing services. It remains to be seen what will be left of the traditional book publishing industry 5 years from now as a direct result of Amazon’s pioneering book publishing developments. Even book retailers like Barnes & Noble may struggle to keep up with the pace.
PALINET is aware that not all of our members have the technical support or skills necessary to install or test the open source applications that are currently available. We’re looking at a number of ways to address this issue, but we’ve taken two initial steps already. First, a member Technology Caucus has begun regular discussions of open source software tools in monthly meetings. Yesterday, a group of library developers met at the PALINET offices in Philadelphia to install test copies of Koha and Evergreen for evaluation and comparison. It’s my hope that we’ll be able to put together a couple of really clean, well integrated, model systems, which will demonstrate the kind of functionality that is possible with these open source ILS solutions.
A few weeks ago, my husband gave me an Amazon Kindle to amuse me during my recoup after surgery. When I first held this strange, paperback-sized device my immediate reaction was – “why would I want to read a book on an electronic device followed by…you spent what on that thing ????”
Honestly, I am usually what the marketing folks call an “early adapter”, but NOT when it comes to books. I love the smell of books and the beautifully, solid feel of a book in my hands. I get lightheaded when I see a book with embossing, a well placed varnish or anything shiny. All of these things are part of the sacred reading experience and there was no way I was giving them up. I was so wrong.
Reading for the page-turning impaired. First off, I thought that it was going to be like reading on a screen which my senior eyes just can’t take any more. But the kindle looks like paper…sort of a grayish paper. You turn the pages by hitting the next or previous button. Super easy. I know you might be thinking….you’re too lazy to turn pages? Trust me. Buttons are a tremendous asset if you ever find yourself stuck in bed, drooling on yourself, with your arm encased in a refrigerated sling. And really it’s not just useful for one-armed gimps like me. Let’s say you are one of those poor slobs that ride the train every day to get to your soulless job trapped in a cubicle. Well, now your soulless trip does not need to involve elbowing your neighbor to read your book. You can even read standing up with one sweaty hand on the seat handles and the other clutching your kindle. And best of all, your neighbor will never know you are reading that biography on your favorite Golden Girl, Bea Arthur. It is the ultimate private reading experience.
Reading for the Psychologically impaired Aside from the joy of buttons, you can also take notes and annotations easily as you read. In my pre-Kindle days, I would tag pages with sticky notes or if I was really feeling frisky….write on the book. (gasp) Writing on a book gives me painful flashbacks of Catholic school in the third grade. Even a harmless underline could earn you the stern disapproval of the nuns. To this day, I have serious Catholic guilt when it comes to taking notes on a book. With my kindle, I just type my notes on the key pad and they are all saved within each book.
Reading for the Visually Impaired For those of you that walk around with a cane and are known to occasionally mutter how you remember when gas cost a dollar, then you will really appreciate the text options in the Kindle. With just a click of the button, you can increase or decrease the size of your type. Voila. No more hurt eyes.
Reading for the Drug Impaired After you get used to the Kindle’s features, the device becomes as transparent as any other method of reading. Several times, I reached for the corner of my Kindle to turn the page instead of using the buttons. I had actually forgotten that I was reading a book on a device. (ok I admit that I was drugged up on pain killers at the time, but I wouldn’t be surprised if other people do the same thing).
Reading for People with Really Big Thumbs My one complaint with the Kindle is that the buttons on the sides are way too long. Amazon’s product focus group must have been a room full of big handed chimpanzees because there is no way that anyone needs buttons that large. At first, I kept accidentally hitting the next and previous screen buttons because they are just so honking big. Amazon needs to rethink their target market’s average thumb size for V2 of the Kindle.
But other than the giant buttons, I am really enjoying my new toy. Now if only I could get it to have that new book smell.
It turns out the rumors about a new, redesigned Kindle was wrong. Craig Berman, Amazon.com’s chief spokesperson, told the New York Times: “One thing I can tell you for sure is that there will be no new version of the Kindle this year. A new version is possible sometime next year at the earliest.”
So if you were hoping for a new Kindle with no page delays and a sleeker design, or snatching up a cheaper earlier version, then you’re out of luck–at least for now.
However, Amazon currently has a promotion where, if you sign up for a Chase/Amazon.com credit card, you can get $100 off the price of a Kindle, bringing the price down from $359 to $259. That’s quite a jump, and may make it more affordable for some readers.* Though whether you want another credit card or not is up to you.
*Canadians should remember that it’s a huge hassle to purchase ebooks through the Kindle; you need to have a valid US address to do so, and whispernet won’t be available to you.
"Your reaction seems to me to display what I would least expect from you: naivete about technology. The "canned computerized sound" these things have now will be replaced by better and better sound, but if the authors don't protest now, they will lose an asset that has been covered by negotiated contracts. The vast majority of authors make pathetically little for their hard work, and booksellers have historically been shamefully indifferent to copyright issues."
I'd like to address this by analogy. My neighborhood bookstore sells a wide variety of reading accessories. For a one-time cost of about $10, a reader can use a vinyl full-page magnifier to see the text of any book in larger print than was originally intended, effectively an unauthorized large print edition. But I've never seen the Authors Guild condemn bookstores for selling magnifiers.
If it's OK to spend $10 at a bookstore to turn virtually any book ever published into a serviceable large print edition, why is it so wrong to spend $359 at Amazon.com to turn a recently purchased ebook into a poor-quality audiobook?
This clearly isn't about helping readers. If the goal were to help readers, one would think the Authors Guild would encourage the development of more convenient modes of reading.
This clearly isn't about money either. Unlike ordinary books or audiobooks, ebooks with DRM generally can't be shared or passed along, meaning buyers need to pay for every single book they read. One would think that overzealous advocates of authors' rights would act like the RIAA or MPAA, working to support fully monetized DRM schemes that reduce potential profit loss from pass-along. If major ebook systems end up looking like the iTunes Music Store, there will be no market for used ebooks; shouldn't that delight authors furious with used books, and the right of first sale?
But that's not the case either. What's left then? Defense of status quo? If publishers aren't giving authors a fair shake, let's talk about that. Maybe technological change means that there will be increased blurring of the lines between print, audio, and ebook formats; if that's what readers want, the industry needs to adapt appropriately as it allocates and prices those rights. As an avid reader and book shopper, I'm just not ready to give up my right to resell used print books, or use third-party tools like magnifiers, booklights, or read-aloud systems.
The nights are drawing in and it’s book prize season – Nobel, Man Booker et al. This is the moment in the year, as the Flat draws to a close and as the National Hunt book publishing season gets into full swing, when literature becomes a horse race. That just might be the good news. John Steinbeck once observed that “the profession of book publishing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business”.
Many people who care about books are not so blithe. They worry that the turf accountants of our culture (tipsters who know the price of everything but the value of nothing) are reducing art to a crude cash value to publish a book. That’s one consequence of the credit crunch.
Every bookie is quoting literary odds now: Ladbrokes, William Hill, Paddy Power and Unibet are all at it. I can see some sense in giving the betting on Peter Carey or Howard Jacobson – they’re on a book publishers shortlist – but the whole point of the Nobel prize is that its shortlist is confidential. It beats me how anyone could come up with starting prices for it. According to its website, the Swedish academy makes its choice based on submissions from “professors of literature, book publishers and language, former Nobel laureates” and members of similar bodies, the Académie Française for example. The Swedes usually get about 350 nominations, all secret. How on earth can any bookie make sense of that?
Yet, such is the power of the market, and the importance of the prize, in a prize-conscious culture, that before the announcement of the great Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa as the long-overdue winner for 2010, both Ladbrokes and Unibet were quoting odds of Les Murray (8/1), AS Byatt (18/1), Vaclav Havel (35/1) and even Bob Dylan (150/1).
Mad as this seems, it is no more improbable than the founding of an important literary prize by a would-be poet who happened to invent dynamite. Alfred Nobel published a verse tragedy, Nemesis, inspired by Shelley’s The Cenci, just before his death in 1896.
Man Booker also has its roots in trade. Britain’s premier book prize was initially sponsored by a food conglomerate and is now backed by a hedge fund, the Man Group.
At this year’s Booker banquet in the Guildhall, there will be an awkward moment when a middle-aged bloke in a suit rehearses the trading achievements of his company to the assembled literati, makes a segue to his commitment to the arts and sits down to polite, slightly mystified, applause.
At such moments, it is hard not to recall Dr Johnson’s definition of the patron: “Commonly a wretch who supports with insolence and is paid with flattery.”
Under the coalition, it’s back to the 18th century. According to some, this is the worst crisis in books since Paternoster Row was destroyed in the Blitz in 1940. To paraphrase Macaulay, contemporary writers sometimes know luxury, and often face penury, but they never know comfort. Writers and self-publishing artists in austerity Britain will be grateful to sponsors such as Man and Costa.
The future may be Orange, but it’s hardly bright. The Arts Council, the British Council and the BBC, to name three traditional patrons, all face outright government hostility or death by a thousand cuts.
In this climate, writers may have to take their lead from George Gissing’s indigent hero Jasper Milvain who, more than 100 years ago, declared in New Grub Street: “I am the literary man (of 1882)… I a
The parents of Madeleine McCann are writing a book about their daughter’s disappearance and their so-far unsuccessful efforts to trace her.
A deal has been signed with book publishers Transworld which is an imprint of Random House UK. Few details have been revealed but Kate and Gerry McCann are receiving a “substantial” advance and “enhanced royalties” which gives the couple a bigger than normal share of the profits from sales.
“My reason for writing is simple – to give an account of the truth,” she said. “With the depletion of Madeleine’s Fund, it is a decision that has virtually been taken out of our hands.”
Gerry McCann said he was hopeful the publication would help the ongoing efforts to find out what had happened to their daughter, who went missing from their holiday apartment in the Portugese resort of Praia da Luz on 3 May 2007, as her parents dined with friends nearby.
“Our hope is that it may prompt those who have relevant information – knowingly or not – to come forward and share it with our team. Somebody holds that key piece of the jigsaw.”
The book publisher, Bill Scott-Kerr of Transworld, is more than happy with the deal and sees the book – expected to retail at £20 – as a big seller.
“It is an enormous privilege to be publishing this book” he said. “We are so pleased to be joining Kate and Gerry McCann in the Find Madeleine campaign.”
There are also expected to be newspaper serialisations around the publication date, believed to be 28 April 2011 which would coincide with the fourth anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance.
The official Portuguese inquiry was formally shelved in July 2008, although private detectives employed by the McCanns have continued the search.
The bill, which is expected to pass the National Assembly later this month, would let book publishers set e-book prices. The idea is to prevent publishers from being undercut by the likes of Amazon or Apple.
The French Senate has passed the first reading of a bill that would allow book publishers to set a fixed price on e-books, in a bid to try to protect publishers and smaller retailers as the e-book market takes off.
But since the first reading on October 26, several objections have been raised – not least of which are whether the law is even legal.
An extension of a 30-year-old law
The law proposed by centre-right senators Catherine Dumas and Jacques Legendre aims to replicate the 1981 Lang Law, which prohibits the sale of physical books for less than five per cent below a cover price set by the publisher.
This law has proved popular in France, helping to maintain one of Europe’s best networks independent bookstores by protecting them from competition from large chains.Dumas and Legendre’s bill was the result of a year of consultations with writers, publishers and retailers, who are concerned that their revenues will be hit by the expanding online market. But for now, industry figures show that e-books make up less than one per cent of France’s book market, but that is expected to double in the next year.
“In 2011, we will see the beginning of a really strong market,” said Clément Hering, an analyst with Gfk, in an interview with Deutsche Welle.
“Till now, it’s been quite a tiny market because of the price of products, which is quite high in France, and the number of platforms that are selling e-books which is quite tiny too, but that is changing.”
According to Hering, the e-book market so far has been a way of generating extra revenue for publishers rather than something that erodes profits, but that could change. In the US, digital literature accounts for more than eight per cent of the book market.
Enforcability remains an issue
But as the Internet is international, it is difficult to see how this law will work in practice. There seems little to stop a French consumer buying a book from a website based in another country, unless the government decides to geo-block e-book retailer websites. Otherwise, a French consumer could just as easily buy the same title at a lower price from Belgium or Luxembourg.
Another more serious obstacle is the European Court of Justice - this protectionist measure might turn out to run contrary to the idea of a single European market.
The Court has dealt with similar cases, including ones resulting from the Lang law, by determining whether the rule would be discriminatory against imports.”If they would be discriminatory then, prima facie, they would be unlawful unless the state imposing the restriction would be able justify it in some way.” said Angus Johnston, an EU law specialist at Oxford University.
The protection of national culture can be adduced as a justification, but Johnston says it is difficult to argue that a country’s literary heritage is protected by allowing the country itself rather than the importer to set the price of a book.
“On the face of it seems it would be challengeable successfully under EU free trade law,” he added.
The French parliament will take up the debate again in the next few weeks, when an amended version of the bill will be brought before both houses a final time before it can be signed into law.
Another problem with the proposed law, industry watchers said, is that it may inhibit innovation in this relatively new marketplace. The bill doesn’t make a distinction between books that are distribut
A 76-year-old British writer has been jailed for six weeks in Singapore after the High Court found him guilty of contempt of court over a book that raised questions about the independence of the judicial system.
Alan Shadrake, who lives in Malaysia, had refused to apologise for the content of his book, Once a Jolly Hangman, which deals with the use of the death penalty in the island state.
Mr Shadrake had offered to apologise for offending the judiciary before being convicted two weeks ago, but Justice Quentin Loh ruled that his book had scandalised the court.
He said Mr Shadrake had shown “a reckless disregard for the truth” and “a complete lack of remorse”. The defendant had contended that the book amounted to “fair criticism on matters of compelling public interest”.
At a sentencing hearing on Tuesday, Mr Shadrake was also fined S$20,000 (US$15,400) and ordered to pay costs of S$55,000. The prison sentence was lighter than the 12-week term sought by the prosecution.
M. Ravi, Mr Shadrake’s lawyer, had urged the court to censure the author rather than imprison him. “This is by far the most serious sentence [for contempt]. It is the harshest punishment so far [for this offence in Singapore],” Mr Ravi said.
Mr Shadrake was arrested in his hotel room after travelling to Singapore to publicise the book in July. The Singapore authorities have said that charges of criminal defamation are also being considered.
Overseas human rights campaigners condemned the proceedings. Phil Robertson, deputy director of New York-based Human Rights Watch, said Singapore was “damaging its poor reputation on free expression by shooting the messenger bearing bad news”.
The Singapore authorities have robustly dismissed claims that the courts discriminate against individuals on grounds of nationality, background or status.
Ministers are unapologetic about restrictions on free speech, however, which they say are essential to prevent conflicts between the prosperous island’s mainly Chinese, Indian and Malay population groups.
K. Shanmugam, the law minister, said in a speech in New York two weeks ago that Singapore’s “small society” could not withstand the impact of US-style media freedoms.
“For example, the faultlines in our society, along racial and religious lines, can easily be exploited,” he told an audience at Columbia University.
Singapore’s controls on expression include a state-supervised and mainly state-owned media, tough libel laws and restrictions on street gatherings of more than four people.
Mr Shanmugam questioned the objectivity of organisations such as Reporters Without Borders, the Paris-based press freedom organisation, and Freedom House, a US group that campaigns for civil liberties.
RWB ranks Singapore 136th in the world for press freedom, below Iraq and Zimbabwe, while Freedom House has angered Singapore by ranking it below Guinea, where more than 150 anti-government protesters were last year killed during a rally.
“I suspect that our rankings are at least partly due to the fact that we take an uncompromising attitude on libel – and the fact that we have taken on almost every major newspaper company [in the world],” Mr Shanmugam said.
Singapore, with a population of 5m, also imposes heavy penalties on criminal offenders, including caning for violence and vandalism, and the death penalty for murder and drug trafficking. It has one of the lowest crime rates in the world.
Google aims to use its position as the world’s most popular search engine to erode Amazon’s dominance of e-books in the book publishers industry, while Apple Inc harnesses the iPad tablet and iTunes online store to make its own inroads. The competition means Amazon’s share of digital books will decline to 35 per cent over the next five years from 90 per cent in early 2010, New York-based Credit Suisse Group AG estimated in February.
With Google’s effort, each publisher is negotiating different revenue-sharing arrangements, though all of them will keep the majority of the money from each sale, the person said.
Michael Kirkland, a spokesman for Google, confirmed the company’s plan to start an online bookstore this year. He declined to comment further about the project.
Google Books, a separate initiative to scan books and offer publishers ways to sell them online, has been held up in court until a settlement with publishers is approved.
An accord between Google, the Authors Guild, and other authors and book publishers would resolve a 2005 lawsuit that claimed Google infringed copyrights by making digital copies of books without permission. In February, the US Justice Department recommended altering the agreement. The agency argues that Google will gain an advantage over competitors.
Amazon.com, Microsoft Corp, AT&T Inc, and the governments of Germany and France also objected to the agreement, saying it would give Google unfair control over digitised works.
Google fell $26.40, or 4.5 per cent, to $555.71 yesterday on the Nasdaq Stock Market, following an announcement by the European Commission that it’s probing the company’s business practices. The shares have declined 10 per cent this year.
The Wall Street Journal reported on the e-book store yesterday.