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OPLIN 4Cast #264: Libraries vs. publishers – Amazon wins

Posted in 4cast

Almost everybody would agree that 2011 was the year of the ebook, when they captured about 20% of all fiction sales. Almost everybody in the library world also seems to be upset with the large publishing houses, which apparently want to cut libraries out of their ebook distribution models altogether. But while libraries and publishers publicly battle each other, is Amazon relentlessly winning the ebook war? At the very least, they certainly seem to be stockpiling some scary weapons.

  • Amazon publishing expands into children’s books (Publishers Weekly)  “The deal will also mark the first time a number of the titles in the purchase will be published as e-books. Amazon Publishing v-p Jeff Belle said: ‘We believe the children’s book market segment presents a unique opportunity to innovate in both print and digital formats. And since many of these titles are not readily available as eBooks, we see a chance to connect a terrific group of authors and illustrators with more readers.’”
  • Cutting their own throats (Charlie’s Diary/Charlie Stross)  “Anyway, my point is that the Big Six’s pig-headed insistence on DRM on ebooks is handing Amazon a stick with which to beat them harder. DRM on ebooks gives Amazon a great tool for locking ebook customers into the Kindle platform. If you buy a book that you can only read on the Kindle, you’re naturally going to be reluctant to move to other ebook platforms that can’t read those locked Kindle ebooks – and even more reluctant to buy ebooks from rival stores that use incompatible DRM.”
  • Secret of self-publishing: Success (Wall Street Journal/Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg)  “ Inc. fueled the growth by offering self-published writers as much as 70% of revenue on digital books, depending on the retail price. By comparison, traditional publishers typically pay their authors 25% of net digital sales and even less on print books. For some established authors, these terms can make self-publishing a financial home run.”
  • Amazon launches $6M ‘fund’ to boost Kindle Direct Publishing, Lending Library (TechCrunch/Robin Wauters)  “Dubbed KDP Select, the fund aims to let indie authors and publishers ‘make money in a whole new way’. Here’s how it works: if a KDP author or publisher chooses to make any of their books exclusive to the Kindle Store for at least 90 days, those books are eligible to be included in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library and can earn a share of the KDP Select fund.”

2011 wrap-up:
The publishing industry faced numerous threats last year, which are nicely summarized in an O’Reilly Radar article by Jenn Webb, Five things we learned about publishing in 2011.