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ePublish a Book » ePublishing - The week in Brief » ePublishing Week in Brief – August 27th to 31st, 2012

ePublishing Week in Brief – August 27th to 31st, 2012

ePublishing NewsePublishing Week in Brief – August 27th to 31st, 2012

US ebook customers to receive compensation in price-fixing lawsuit

Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster agree to pay $69m settlement of claims they had colluded over ebook prices

US ebook customers will receive compensation from a settlement of claims against Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster. Photograph: dbphots/Alamy

Readers in the United States who have who have bought electronic books can look forward to compensation, as three publishers agreed to a $69m (£44m) settlement of claims that they had colluded to fix ebook prices.

Announcing the agreement alongside attorneys general from 54 other jurisdictions, the Tennesseeattorney general Robert E Cooper said the collective action would “send a strong message that competitors cannot get away with price-fixing”.

“We will do everything within our power to stop competitors from colluding to artificially raise the costs the prices by millions of dollars more for some of the most popular ebook titles,” he said.

The suit alleges that Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster conspired to to increase ebook prices and eliminate retail price competition by imposing a distribution model in which publishers set the prices – the so-called agency model. The three publishers settled with the USdepartment of justice in April, a move which HarperCollins CEO Victoria Barnsley called “the wrong decision” only last week.

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Keeping lips SEALed

Another week, another leak.

It needs to stop.

This week, excerpts from “No Easy Day” — an unauthorized book by a former member of SEAL Team 6 — were released in advance of its post-Labor Day publishing.

Writing under the pseudonym Marc Owens, the author has been identified as Matt Bissonnette, who participated in the May 2011 raid inPakistanthat dispatched Osama bin Laden.

Apart from an assertion that bin Laden may have been shot dead before any SEALs entered his bedroom — an account quite different from prior descriptions of the raid — there appears to be little new in the book.

“No Easy Day”

But in publishing it without submitting the manuscript for Pentagon approval, the now-retired Bissonnette appears to have violated both law and custom — the latter a point of personal honor which holds that what happens in SEAL Team 6 stays with SEAL Team 6.

Practically speaking, Bissonnette may also have exposed secret operational and tactical information that could compromise future missions and endanger personnel.

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Amazon Publishing Adds Over 1,000DorchesterTitles

Following an auction that concluded August 28, Amazon Publishing has acquired the publication contracts of over 1,000 books from Dorchester Publishing. The auction was set in motion in late June as a way for the publisher’s owner, John Backe, to earn back some of the $3.4 million he was owed by the moribund company. Amazon made the initial bid and competitors had until mid-August to come up with a counter offer.

As part of the process,Dorchesterauthors were offered the opportunity to join Amazon Publishing and receive the full back royalties or have their rights reverted. In June, Amazon identified about 1,900 potential titles, but a spokesperson said about 225 authors turned down their offer in favor of getting their rights back and that the company was unable to contact some other authors because of missing or dated contact information. “Working with theDorchesterauthor community during this auction process has been a tremendous experience for all of us,” said Philip Patrick, business development director at Amazon Publishing. “We are happy to be able to pay their back royalties and we’re thrilled to welcome them to the Amazon Publishing family.”

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Gossip roundup: What will Demi say? Publisher pays $2 million to find out

Demi Moore has reportedly accepted $2 million from Harper Collins to write her memoirs.

There are various mutually exclusive reports about the book’s focus. In England, the Daily Star’s Nameless Insider put it this way: “We already had a great book outline from her in which she said she would write about overcoming her alcohol and cocaine addictions. Now she’s going to blow the lid on her six-year marriage to Ashton (Kutcher), so what would have been a bestselling book is going to become a blockbuster!” Other reports say she’ll focus on troubles with her mother.

Now mag’s source says Moore’s three daughters (with Bruce Willis), Scout, Rumer, and Tallulah, all “hate the idea — they don’t want their lives laid bare.”

No delivery date yet; a ghost writer (“co-writer”) is being sought.

Lifestyles of the rich and single: After her divorce from Tom Cruise became final, Katie Holmes went out in New York and spent $15,000 on shoes — including 15 pairs of Louboutins — and $10,000 on lingerie, says the National Enquirer. Also cocktail dresses and suits.

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Publishing world is turned on by ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’

A nation founded by Puritans, which once banned D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover as too spicy, has developed an insatiable appetite for the joys of erotic romance.

The cause of this moral cratering/sexual flowering/feminist setback — you choose — is another scandalous Brit import: Fifty Shades of Grey.

E.L. James’ erotic trilogy about billionaire bad boy Christian Grey and his virginal young lover, Anastasia Steele, has sold a jaw-dropping 30 million copies in theUSA. Whether they are chatting them up on Facebook, downloading the e-books or grabbing the paperback editions off shelves, Americans can’t get enough of theLondonwriter’s tales of bondage, handcuffs, mad romance and rough love.

Once turned on, those readers are devouring other erotic romances, and authors and publishers are rushing to cash in on the trend with new titles that sport Fifty Shades-like jackets and plotlines.

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Do Mass Market Originals Still Work?

Breaking out authors in paperback is still possible, with help from digital components
Despite shrinking sales, declining shelf space, and the rise in popularity of relatively inexpensive e-book editions, mass market paperback is still a category that can be used to break out an author—especially in tandem with other publishing formats. A number of publishers contacted by PW said despite the category’s decline, mass market pricing combined with savvy marketing in the right genres—among them romance, westerns, paranormal, and crime/thrillers—can still lift an author’s sales, significantly.

Nevertheless, the category presents problems. “It has become very difficult to launch a new author in mass market,” said Pocket Books executive v-p and publisher Louise Burke. “It appears that the e-book format has filled that void in some cases.” But other publishers con­tinue to look to mass market paperback originals as a way to build a following and establish a writer in the marketplace.

“We love mass market and always have,” said Kensing­ton v-p and pub­lish­er Laurie Parkin. “It’s a great way to break out a career. We love mass mar­ket orig­inals.” Pub­lishers at Harper­Collins’sAvonromance im­print and at Har­lequin agreed. Liate Stehlik, senior v-p and publisher atAvon, said HarperCollins continues to be “enthusiastic” about mass market, contending that the decline in mass market unit sales is coming primarily in the reprint segment rather than from sale of mass market originals. Harlequin’s Loriana Sacilotto, executive v-p, global editorial, said it is still possible to launch a writer in the category: “We still consider mass market to be an integral and viable space for debut authors,” while adding the caveat, “with the right publishing and marketing strategy—and it may not happen overnight.”

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Will Paid Reviews Bite Amazon Back?

At least one entrepreneur sells positive book reviews to Amazon authors. How an apparently unreliable customer-review system might finally eat itself.

If you were trying to discredit Amazon’s new self-publishing model aimed at eliminating conventional publishers as obsolete “gatekeepers,” relying instead on crowdsourced reviews, what would you do?

Here’s a thought: Why not work from within? Praise is the coin of the realm on Amazon and other Web 2.0 sites. An unscrupulous opponent of the Amazon model might be tempted to write fake customer reactions. He or she could spike them with hype so absurd that it reminds consumers that all such reviews are questionable.

And indeed, the system has produced its own saboteurs, if unintentional ones. According to the New York Times, an entrepreneur named Todd Jason Rutherford is making a small fortune in the shilling-by-review of self-published Amazon titles. Rationalizing his business as “marketing” rather than evaluation, but evidently not disclosing the payments in reviews, Mr. Rutherford has found a new way to exploit the crowdsourced model:

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