Week in Review: Trio of “Big Six” US Pubs Launch Bookish.com; French Sue Google Over Scanned Books

In News by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka

A brief round-up of some of the top global industry trade news…

Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster and Penguin Group have teamed up to launch Bookish.com, a new consumer-oriented Web site that will market and promote books. The model is something of a hybrid online bookstore and a community-oriented book promotion site. Industry reaction has been best characterized as lukewarm. Still, we’re all for publishers trying to take control of their own destiny, rather than watching people stand idly by. The New York Times has additional detail.


Google Books is getting challenged once again in Europe. Three publishers in France, Editions Albin Michel SA, Editions Gallimard SA and Flammarion have sued Google, claiming the company has scanned 9,797 copyright-protected works for its digital library. The publishers are seeking compensation of 10,000 euros per book, according to Bloomberg News (initial reports said just 1,000 euros per book). Google was ordered to cease scanning books in 2009, following a court decision, but is appealing. Last year they announced a deal to work with French publisher Lagardere to scan out–of-print books and make them available for sale.


Audible — the digital audiobook company owned by Amazon — launched an ambitious new project called ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) a new audiobook platform for authors, agents and publishers aimed at producing titles that are not yet available as audiobooks. The platform will serve both as a production service (via Web-based tools), a rights marketplace, and a showcase to match narrators with producers.

The company offers a 50/50 split, with no upfront costs; or the opportunity to buy the rights to the entire production. Tantor Media is in partnership to cherry pick titles for commercial production and distribution; author Neil Gaiman will also curate a list of his favorite titles under brand “Neil Gaiman Presents.” Audible estimates that some 95% of new titles are not available as audiobooks.

Source: Publishing Perspectives, Publishers Lunch


UK agent Ed Victor has launched Bedford Square Books, a digital first publisher which will focus on reissuing out-of-print titles and those for which rights have reverted back to the authors that the agency represents. A dozen titles are planned to publish in the next six months.

Via: The Bookseller


After “going agency” in the US in March, Random House adopted the agency model for e-book pricing in the UK, making some 6,000 titles available for the iPad and Apple to British readers. The “Agency Model” is still being investigated by the Office of Fair Trading in the UK to see whether or not it violates UK laws against.


Penguin CEO John Makinson told the Wall Street Journal that cheap self-published e-books titles — $2.99 or less — represent “a new market that can’t exist economically in print. You can’t manufacture, ship and store a book at those prices.” He said the company will examine its own backlist and experiment with selling titles — such as Westerns — at similar prices.  He added, that the availability of free public-domain classics doesn’t necessarily cut into the company’s sales — and in fact — boosted sales of print versions. In the year 2009, sales for print editions of classics rose by 30% that year, when the company introduced more attractive, hardcover editions.

Full interview here.


Australian bookselling and publishing continues to be hit with trouble, with more layoffs at REDGroup Retail and the plan to move many of Lonely Planet’s Web jobs from Melbourne to the UK.


Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels (and the basis for the sex-charged television series True Blood) became the fourth author to sell more than one million Kindle e-books. The first was Stieg Larsson, followed by thriller writer James Patterson and romance novelist Nora Roberts.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.