Publishing Trendsetter is a production of Market Partners International and Publishing Trends.

A DRM Primer for a VAT World

This article was originally published on our parent site for the book publishing industry, Publishing Trends

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The ongoing and increasingly heated debate over the use of Digital Rights Management (DRM) in digital publishing has recently received more press attention because of the EU ruling to charge VAT (value-added tax) on ebooks.

For those in need of a reminder, Digital Rights Management refers to the protections  that are in place on many copyrighted digital products like video games, smartphone apps and ebooks that make illegal downloading more difficult.

In the beginning of March 2015, France and Luxembourg lost their court case to reduce VAT rates for ebooks to those of print editions, Reuters reported.  The countries tried to convince the court to consider ebooks goods rather than digital services so they could charge the same reduced VAT rates as print books.  The ruling against France and Luxembourg means that tax rates on ebooks will rise from 5.5% to 20% in France and from 3% to 17% in Luxembourg.

This ruling comes a little less than two years after the French government’s move to reduce the VAT rate, specifically for the benefit of non-DRM-protected ebooks.  French Deputy Isabelle Attard originally distinguished between DRM-laced ebooks as services and non-DRM ebooks as goods on the theory that “Everything that goes against interoperability, or imposes reading constraints would be subject to a VAT of 19.6%, in the capacity of services, and not sale of a book, therefore of a product,” Attard said at the time.  This motion failed to pass, so the country decided to give all ebooks the same reduced VAT rate.

DRM systems are often controversial because while they protect copyright, they also prevent people from converting ebooks into different formats, from sharing with multiple users or between different devices, and from printing the ebook. Although there are some movements to eradicate DRM completely, none seem to propose a viable alternate solution to protect against piracy, thereby protecting author and publisher income.

In an interview with the anti-piracy company Rightscorp, Good e-Reader learned that there will be an estimated 700 million pirated ebooks in 2018.  According to Rightscorp, approximately 300 million ebooks were pirated in 2013. Based on these numbers, it seems this method isn’t preventing piracy.

Read More »

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 3/9-3/13

number_5_orangeEvery week we recommend 5 publishing news stories that young book professionals should read to feel more connected to what’s going on in the industry. There are only 5, so even if you weren’t able to read a thing all week, these should help keep you in the know.

The tech blog Gigaom shut down after nine years.

The state of Alabama decided to open an elder abuse investigation for Harper Lee after concerns were raised that the author might not be coherent enough to agree to the publication of Go Set a Watchman.

Universal and Scholastic reached an agreement for a three-year, first-look production deal.

An ebook piracy site is threatening an anti-piracy firm for abusing its DMCA system and violating the CFAA.

A group of Christian publishers are suing Family Christian Stores, because their bankruptcy plan could lead to them losing $20 million.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 3/2-3/6

number_5_orangeEvery week we recommend 5 publishing news stories that young book professionals should read to feel more connected to what’s going on in the industry. There are only 5, so even if you weren’t able to read a thing all week, these should help keep you in the know.

Ebook sales are slowing down, which in turn, means publisher revenues are also going down.

A European court ruled that ebooks will not get the same tax cuts as paper books do.

Coffee House announced their first imprint, Emily Books.

A Supreme Court judge ruled in favor of a trade group to help them collect sales tax on online purchases.

A former VP of Borders is looking for funding for a startup that would provide content to book-themed websites.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 2/23-2/27

number_5_orangeEvery week we recommend 5 publishing news stories that young book professionals should read to feel more connected to what’s going on in the industry. There are only 5, so even if you weren’t able to read a thing all week, these should help keep you in the know.

Amazon announced the first 10 titles to be published through its crowdsourcing program Kindle Scout, which will be published digitally by the Kindle Press imprint.

For its 80th anniversary, Penguin Books created an interactive website to sell its Little Black Classics series.

Barnes & Noble announced it will be splitting its college-focused business from its retail and Nook businesses, creating Barnes & Noble Education.

In the wake of the announcement that Egmont USA is closing, Lerner Publishing Group has acquired its titles.

EBSCO has acquired YBP Library Services from Baker & Taylor.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 2/16-2/20

number_5_orangeEvery week we recommend 5 publishing news stories that young book professionals should read to feel more connected to what’s going on in the industry. There are only 5, so even if you weren’t able to read a thing all week, these should help keep you in the know.

Faber & Faber has been dropping hints that it might sever their connection with FSG to start their own US branch.

Amazon looks to implement drone delivery in other countries since the FAA isn’t thrilled about drones in the US.

A newly discovered book by Dr. Seuss will be published this July.

Kindle Unlimited is ruled illegal in France.

The Twitter Fiction Festival lineup was announced for 2015.

A True Tale of Being Published, Publishing by Gail Godwin: A Trendsetter Roundtable

Sometimes for any author, navigating the path of publishing is a little confusing. Their job is to focus on writing after all. Lucky for us, three time National Book Award finalist and bestselling author Gail Godwin wrote about her journey through the publishing process that began in 1958 when she met with a Knopf scout to try to get a story published. Godwin has seen the industry go through many phases. She’s had good editors, tricky editors, battles over titles, and fabulous book launch parties. She’s lived a long part of her life as an author, and catalogued it for readers in her new memoir, aptly named Publishing (Bloomsbury, 2015).  Samantha, Jennifer, and Moè sat down to talk about what they learned about publishing from someone on the other side of the industry.

Samantha Howard: Okay! So we all read Gail Godwin’s memoir, Publishing and we have opinions, right?PublishingCover

Jennifer Donovan: Yes, opinions galore and ready to share!

Moè Nakayama: Yes indeed!

Samantha: So I guess we’ll start with the easiest question, what did you guys think of the book?

Jennifer: I thought it was great insight into how an author’s mind works while they’re in the process of getting published.  It’s lucky for us that she kept journals and remembered so many details of what she was thinking at the time.  I will say, though, that her storytelling could be confusing. I was getting lost with her jumping around and had to refer to the timeline at the end of the book a few times.

Samantha: I’m willing to bet that’s why there was a timeline in the back.

Jennifer: Shout out to whoever thought to include it. It was very helpful!

Moè: To be honest, I feel like I would have gotten more out of the book if I was familiar with Gail Godwin’s other works. But I really enjoyed reading about the personal, human efforts that go into writing and publishing a book. It really is a memoir, and not a how-to about getting published.

Samantha: Yeah absolutely. I also haven’t read any of Gail Godwin’s work, but I still found it a rewarding read as someone in the publishing industry. It was rewarding to know that the industry was constantly changing in the 70s too. It’s not just now that we’re all panicking about jobs. She was very honest, and I liked that.  And it doesn’t hurt that she name dropped one of our bosses, Connie Sayre!

Moè: Yep! On three pages!

Jennifer: It’s also kind of scary how often the industry changes.  I feel like these days a lot of people will blame ebooks for all the flux, but it’s been like this for awhile, as we saw from Gail’s account.

Samantha: This is kind of stupid to say, but I was so surprised to hear about a time that Ballantine wasn’t owned by Random House. I think it just goes to show that take for granted the existence of the Big Five and the history behind it.

Moè: I was surprised by that, too, Jen. I guess it was silly of me to think it was particular to our times, but Gail’s stories about switching editors and restructured houses, etc., were really kind of eye-opening. And I agree, Sam. Reading this memoir made me want to learn more and look farther back into publishing history!

Jennifer: What would you say was the most eye opening moment in the book, for you?

Samantha: That whole story about her and Robert Gottlieb as her editor, and how he was just so lukewarm on her. And then boom, she got a new editor who felt more in line with Gail’s own vision for her work. Then she exploded into the world of bestseller-dom and National Book Award nominations.

Moè: For me, it was when – though I think there are multiple passages, not just one – Gail writes about her anxieties about other authors. She writes about awful tour escorts who go on about other authors and about a bad lunch with one of her editors, where the editor talked about other successful authors. It’s another kind of constant pressure that comes with being an author that I’d never thought to consider.

Samantha: What about you, Jen?

Jennifer:  For me, it was her paying for her own publicity. For some reason I never thought of an author with a bigger publishing house having to do that. I could picture self-published authors and maybe the small house ones, but she was with a big company.

Samantha: Yeah it is shocking to think of a company saying to her face, sorry we’re not spending any more money on your book.

Moè: Amazing example of how authors can try to take control of their own career. Read More »

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 2/9-2/13

number_5_orangeEvery week we recommend 5 publishing news stories that young book professionals should read to feel more connected to what’s going on in the industry. There are only 5, so even if you weren’t able to read a thing all week, these should help keep you in the know.

Scribd added comics and graphic novels to its subscription service and says new issues will be available about a month after their print release.

After securing a number of titles from local publishers, Amazon launched Kindle Unlimited in Canada and Mexico.

Inspire! Toronto International Book Fair announced that it will not have a second year due to lack of commitments from exhibitors.

Book sales in Christian fiction are on a decline, but publishers aren’t too concerned.

Citing its long dispute with AmazonHachette’s ebook sales dropped significantly in 2014.

Our Ebooks, Ourselves: What’s Happening with Our Ereader Data?

This article was originally published on our parent site for the book publishing industry, Publishing Trends

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In October of last year, news broke on The Digital Reader that Adobe Digital Editions was taking a significant amount of user data and sending it back to their servers. Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) is a program that allows readers to put ebooks onto their reading devices from retailers and libraries alike. The program’s terms and conditions don’t mention anything about the extra data logging, and there was some outrage. Users were concerned that Adobe was getting data from every single page they read.

It’s understandable that ADE users were upset that their data was being taken in a way that they hadn’t agreed to. However, tracking how a reader engages – or doesn’t engage – with an ebook is only going to increase. Retailers like Amazon, Apple, Kobo, and others all track usage data from the ebooks they sell. It’s not just retailers that do this either, Oyster and Scribd also track actions of their subscribers.

So what’s being tracked when we read a book on a Kindle or open up the Oyster app? Retailers and subscription services track how far you’ve read in a book, where in the book you stopped reading it, how quickly you read it, and how you came across that book, among other data.

Say the data for This Book shows that most people who stop reading the book before completion quit in chapter 7. The fear is that the editor of This Book will ask the author to make some changes to chapter 7 to hopefully increase the number of readers who read all of the way to the end. Buzzfeed Reporter Joseph Bernstein mused on this idea: “Excuse me, Mr. Joyce, you’re losing a lot of Kindle Fire readers here in this third section. Maybe tighten it up a smidge?” All jokes aside, there are some who aren’t concerned at all. Bernstein interviewed Claudia Ballard, an agent at WME who said “…people have been picking up books and not finishing them for a long time. At the end of the day a unit sold is a unit sold.” Of course, that’s not strictly true with ebook subscriptions.

Since users of a subscription service pay one monthly fee for unlimited books, royalties to authors are calculated differently. Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords, has openly told the press how each payout schedule is structured for both Oyster and Scribd. It’s no surprise that both payout systems are tied to engagement. Coker spoke to GoodEreader about Oyster’s payment structure for Smashwords authors saying, “As a Smashwords author or publisher, you’ll earn 60% of your book’s retail list price whenever an Oyster subscriber reads more than 10% of your book, starting from the beginning of the book forward.” Coker also spoke to Fast Company about Scribd’s payout system, “The first 10% of every book from page one forward is available as a free sample. If readers read an additional 20% more, the author and publisher get credit for a full sale of the book, 60% of the list price. Scribd will also pay in cases where the reader reads more than the first 15% of the book, but less than 30%. In that situation, the author gets a ‘browse credit.’ For every 10 browses, they get credit for a full sale.” It should be noted that these payment structures are for Smashwords only. Oyster and Scribd are both fairly quiet about how their payments work, but it’s clear that it’s based, at least in part, on engagement data per book. Read More »

Event Recap: Books are Sacred, Lawn Mowers Aren’t

Last night, the NYU Center for Publishing gathered some publishing heavyweights to discuss how their books became bestsellers in today’s publishing industry during their NYU Media Talk event.  Authors R.L. Stine, Elin Hilderbrand, and Malcolm Gladwell talked about book success in a digital age with TIME Book Critic Lev Grossman as moderator.

In today’s world of big business and the ongoing ebook pricing battle after the famous Amazon-Hachette disagreement, Gladwell feels that books and other cultural products need to be treated as sacred.  “Should books be carved out from other kinds of economic behavior as special? I would say yes.” He continued, “I think cultural products ought to be considered separately from lawn mowers.”

This is important to consider since ebooks have become a significant part of sales for most authors.  Children’s authors like Stine have seen little change (since most kids don’t own ereaders), but Hilderbrand, who writes what she categorizes as a “beach read,” has seen a major shift of sales.  In 2010, about 1/3 of her sales were in the ebook format.  In 2014, her book Matchmaker sold about 75% in ebooks, presumably because it’s easier to buy your next beach read from your ereader.  “I prefer that people read a paper book but it’s the same content” so it’s not that big of a deal to her.

Read More »

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 2/2-2/6

number_5_orangeEvery week we recommend 5 publishing news stories that young book professionals should read to feel more connected to what’s going on in the industry. There are only 5, so even if you weren’t able to read a thing all week, these should help keep you in the know.

HarperCollins will be publishing a recently discovered manuscript of Harper Lee’s, but this news is not without controversy.

Commercial printing company R.R. Donnelley acquired Courier Corporation for $261 million.

Founders of Black Balloon Publishing and Electric Literature created a new publishing startup, Catapult.

The Canadian Governor’s General Literary Award winner 2014 faces backlash due to gender and sexuality conflicts.

Investment firm Centre Lane Partners now has control of Perseus Books Group’s investment funds in hopes of helping Perseus to grow.