By Edward Nawotka
Our cheat sheet to some of last week’s notable publishing news from around the world…
Children’s publishers descended on Bologna last week for the Book Fair where -– aside from the usual rights deals –- all talk focused on developing books for the iPad and the iPad alone. A debate ensued about whether it was better to develop self-contained book “apps” that will sell in the App store or else publish them as individual books. Young adult fiction –- especially of the paranormal variety (vampires, etc.) continues to be one of the hottest spots in global publishing.
Amazon this week beat everyone to launching a cloud based service for media storage and have launched a music stream service called “Cloud Player.” Expect to see other large retailers follow and compete in this space, particularly Apple. Issues that arose immediately were the question of whether or not it was legal and whether or not people “purchasing” titles from Amazon and elsewhere actually “owned” their media -– and could thus move it to another cloud storage platform at a later date – or were merely “licensing” it for use exclusively on Amazon.
Speaking of Amazon -– they were a bidder on the deal noted last week to buy self-published phenomenon Amanda Hocking’s new series that sold for several million dollars to St. Martin’s Press. Amazon…yes, they bid to publish the e-books, with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt doing the print. Also this week, BitTorrent –- a site better known for illegal filesharing -– published their first novel.
A report by US e-book publisher Smashwords studied their own data which — in my interpretation — indicated that the earliest and strongest adopters of e-books are in places underserved by bookstores. Rural communities in particular have strong sales, suggesting that people are buying e-books as much of necessity than an outright desire to read digitally. There is still demand for print books where they are available in bookstores.
China want you to think they’re getting serious about honoring copyright: After 40 of China’s top authors –- led by Han Han, who is equivalent in popularity to Stephenie Meyer –- complained, Baidu, China’s top search engine, deleted some 2.8 million documents and books that were available for free download. They left less than 1,000 titles for free download.
Finally, the debate about the Google Book Settlement’s rejection by a US court last month continues to rage. Robert Darton of Harvard University suggested in the New York Review of Books “that looking at efforts to create national digital libraries taking shape in Norway and The Netherlands –- where they have state support, and they involve plans to digitize books covered by copyright, even those that are currently in print, by means of collective agreements” –- might be a better option. He even offered up the pan-European digital library known Europeana as an example. State sponsorship, in the United States…don’t bet on it.