By Edward Nawotka
Our cheat sheet to some of this week’s most talked about publishing news:
Google Book Settlement Rejected by Judge, Publishers Mixed
After 18 months of deliberation in court, an American judge has ruled against the Google Book Settlement, saying that it would give Google an unfair monopoly. Judge Chin noted that work if it were changed from “opt-out” to “opt-in.” It is, interestingly, exactly what the majority of European opponents to the settlement have been saying all along.
Feelings among publishing professionals in the US are decidedly mixed. Many had come to feel that while the GBS was “not perfect” it was a “reasonable place to begin,” and the idea of rebooting the conversation is wearisome. Meanwhile, numerous authors, agents and others stakeholders are cheering the decision.
The decision throws into turmoil several projects that were being built on the assumption the GBS would pass muster.
Perhaps the most important of these is The Book Rights Registry, which has been funded by Google with some $34.5 million as part of its compensation to publishers for GBS. This enormous database — already comprising records for 1.1. million books — was being established to track US and global rights for books in an effort to minimize the number of “orphan works,” i.e. those books which are under copyright but whose rights-holders are unknown or unfindable and are thus in legal limbo and cannot confidently be “published” by anyone.
There are literally dozens of erudite responses to the decision online. A superb summary can be found at Gary Price’s Infodocket.
Still Long Lines for iPad2, Textbook Publisher Support the Device
In other digital news, there are still long lines in the US for consumers who want to buy iPad2s. Stock is limited and continues to sell out daily. It’s said Chinese gangs have organized to buy up all the iPad2s at the New York City Fifth Avenue store each day…and smuggling them to China, where they sell for $2,000.
In light of the demand, textbook publishers are getting behind the device: earlier this week McGraw-Hill and Pearson joined John Wiley & Sons, W.W. Norton, and Wolters Kluwer, in supporting Inkling, a company that converts textbooks into multimedia apps for the iPad. The small San Francisco company that has published just 14 books, just secured a second round of “multimillion dollar financing.”
Finally, thriller writer Barry Eisler decided to break his $500,000 contract with his publisher to self-publish, saying that the royalty for e-books publishers offer – which is 25%, actually only amounts to 17.5% of the retail price after everyone else takes their cut. By self-publishing, he expects to take home 60% or more in royalties. Ironically, at the same time Eisler was leaving traditional publishing, top selling self-published writer Amanda Hocking, who is said to be making “millions” with her .99 cent paranormal romances on Amazon.com, just signed a $2 million deal with St. Martins Press.
She told the New York Times, sagely, “I’ve done as much with self-publishing as any person can do. People have bad things to say about publishers, but I think they still have services, and I want to see what they are. And if they end up not being any good, I don’t have to keep using them. But I do think they have something to offer.”