Go Read This | PA sets out restrictions on library e-book lending | theBookseller.com

The import of this statement escaped me the first time I glanced at it

The Publishers Association has set out an agreed position on e-book lending in libraries that will see library users blocked from downloading e-books outside of the library premises. Faber c.e.o. Stephen Page announced the new guidelines this morning (21 October) at the CILIP Public Library Authorities conference in Leeds.

Page told conference delegates that “all the major trade publishers have agreed to work with aggregators to make it possible for libraries to offer e-book lending” with the addition of certain “controls”. He said the guidelines had been developed because of concerns over free e-book lending offered by some libraries to lenders “wherever you are” in breach of publisher contracts.

via PA sets out restrictions on library e-book lending | theBookseller.com.

Now, I can’t decide if this is the stupidest thing I’ve read all day, all week, all month or all year. Heck it could even be the stupidest thing I’ve read all decade.

Publishers should be embracing ebooks. Embracing ebooks in libraries even more and certainly not trying to lock library services into stupid and unworkable restrictions.

If they are worried about lending beyond territories that publishers have contracts for, then some other method could easily have been found rather than to take away one of the most impressive features of ebooks from libraries.

I’m appalled!
Eoin

Go Read This | The Evolution of the E-book: When is a Book Not a Book?: Tech News «

GigaOm has, I feel, a very simplistic sense of the ebook space. However, at times, that can be a very useful thing, because it sweeps away many of the assumptions that industry folks can make almost unconsciously. In this article, I think they do that pretty well.

The advent of tablets and e-bookstores dramatically lowers the barrier to entry for these kinds of writers, who would previously have had to find an agent and a publisher willing to take them on or self-publish via the web or a blog, and would have had to pay them a handsome share of any revenue as well. Now, through services like Bookbrewer and Kindle Singles, they can reach what is potentially a much larger audience, and maybe even make some money. Amazon and other e-book publishers pay authors as much as 70 percent of the revenue their books make. The e-book market as a whole continues to grow rapidly; the latest figures from the Association of American Publishers show that sales climbed 172 percent in August.

via The Evolution of the E-book: When is a Book Not a Book?: Tech News «.

A Problem: Ebook Rights, Small Markets & Divergent Digital Growth Rates

The Frankfurt Book Fair this year was an interesting one for me. It crystalized a few of the many ideas that have been bouncing around in my head. Publishing Perspectives in particular touched on one of the MAJOR issues for smaller market publishers and I wanted to hammer home the point in this post.


I have bad news for publishers of English language books in smaller markets and by that I mean English language markets outside of the UK and US:

Being a small market english language publisher is going to get harder as digital grows

Put simply I believe that US and (initially less aggressively but shortly with the same fervour) UK Publishers will seek to control world english language rights for digital and with it any rights (enhanced/video/audio etc.) they may need in order to sell ebooks and enhanced ebooks on a global basis. This may spread to an all out claim on world English language right including print, somehow I suspect that’s a ways off for now and the emphasis will be on ebook rights.

Why is this?
The reason is that US & UK publishers a compelling economic case for holding those rights while smaller English language markets have less of a business case for retaining those rights.

As Kindle sales, and B&N’s Nook and Apple’s iBookstore and sales through the multiplying ebook retail outlets grow to 10% of group revenue US and UK publishers can begin to plausible include revenue projections for digital editions of new titles.

And some of the growth in ebooks is global. Kobo talks about serving over 200 countries with their ebooks:

Meanwhile, our direct business at Kobobooks.com is rocking and we’ve delivered ebooks into 200 countries from Azerbaijan to Vanuatu – we’re making books available in more places to more people than ever before.

What’s more, they know that the markets that are currently buying ebooks globally are likely to grow rapidly if they even partially reflect

So we have large publishers seeing sales internationally that they can EASILY service at little marginal cost. Acquiring the right to sell to those markets is a sensible strategy that hedges against future global digital sales while delivering real if small sales now.

But the impact on smaller markets is large
Take for example Ireland (I could as easily choose the English language markets in Spain, Slovenia or San Marino), where ebook sales are lower than 1% right now. From that perspective any Irish publisher approached to do a deal for a title they have published in Ireland would be fools to let that deal flounder over digital rights.

And yet, at what point would a publisher be crazy TO do a deal that required them to cede global digital rights; 5%, 10%, 20%, 25%, 50%? What’s more, if a publisher agrees the principle now at sub-1%, how can they hope to grab back that principle at 5%, 10% or 75%?

And it’s not just English
This will be a problem for smaller markets in all languages as larger publishers realise they can reach markets profitably in a digital world that they once could only do expensively and perhaps unprofitably in print.

And it works both ways
US and UK publishers may sell print rights to smaller markets, but they will become increasingly reluctant to sell ebook rights. How would a print only publisher hope to make a run viable in a small market served 10% or 15% or 20% by digital sales from the UK or US based publisher?

Be prepared
So, publishers, what will you answer when US and UK publishers demand your ebook rights? And whatever way you answer, are you prepared for the implications?

There’s more on Frankfurt, but this is the top priority I think.
Eoin

Go Read This | More on the Death of Publishers | Mssv

I’m not sure I agree that publishers have done nothing as this suggests, but even so, it is worth reading:

But why would the average person not pirate eBooks? Like Cory Doctorow says, it’s not going to become any harder to type in ‘Toy Story 3 bittorrent’ in the future – and ‘Twilight ePub’ is even easier to type, and much faster to download to boot.

After Christmas, tens of millions of people will have the motive, the means, and the opportunity to perform book piracy on a massive scale. It won’t happen immediately, but it will happen. It’ll begin with people downloading electronic copies of books they already own, just for convenience’s sake (and hey, the New York Times says it’s ethical!). This will of course handily introduce them to the world of ebook torrents.

via More on the Death of Publishers | Mssv.

Quick Link : The Ideal 21st Century Publisher: A Remix | Guy LeCharles Gonzalez

This fantasy publisher of mine would be niche-focused, of course, and would view books, print and digital, as but one medium for the stories it acquires, and likely only publish 6-12 physical books/year — a mix of novels, anthologies and comics, featuring work by its authors and their fans. A tightly integrated and sustainable list would be emphasized over volume, and mutually beneficial partnerships would be prioritized over traditional vendors and intermediaries.

via The Ideal 21st Century Publisher: A Remix | Guy LeCharles Gonzalez.

Frankfurt Day One 2010: TOC Frankfurt, Canada Livres International Rights Seminar

The Frankfurt Marriot

The Frankfurt MarriotIt has been an excellent if somewhat tiring first day here in Frankfurt.

First up was O’Reilly’s Tools Of Change Frankfurt, which started with an interesting overview from Andrew Savikas followed by Pablo Arrieta and Douglas Rushkoff who gave the highlight quote of the morning y telling the room that 60% of them were superfluous to the needs of publishing.

Rushkoff was both right and wrong in his prophecy I suspect, but time will tell. It has certainly been the topic of more than a few conversations I’ve shared in recent years and numbers both higher and lower have bounced around, the emphasis being in a 40-60% range.

My session seemed to go okay, but it is always hard to call these things. I was lucky to have an engaged audience for the questions and answer portion of the session though.

While I was there the rather interesting news about Richard Nash‘s (a longtime American based Irishman) first list at his Red Lemonade (get it!) imprint broke. This is kind of the first of two shoes to drop so wait for the community type announcement when it comes, I expect it will be very interesting indeed.

On top of that, during my session, in another room, where he was giving his own talk (one I’d have loved to see) clever old James Bridle only went and announced a rather cool new project, Open Booksmarks. I wish him, and the project, luck, it’s interesting and I think it has legs too.

Once my session was over it was off to the Messe for the Canada Livres International Digital Rights Seminar, which had at least one Irish attendee other than myself, Ivan O’Brien of O’Brien Press.

That series of talks and the panel discussion that followed was excellent. The speakers gave such a diverse view of how ebooks are shaping their markets and their realities.

John Oakes of O/R books has a model that makes their own website the primary sales channel. They sell ebooks and print editions direct to customers and have had some success, notably Going Rouge, a title on Sarah Palin that parodied her Autobiography, Going Rogue. They also license paperback editions of the books to other publishers for sale in traditional bookstores which seems like a reversion to the days of paperback houses to me, not such a terrible idea in some ways.

Perhaps the two most eye-opening talks for me were from Ronald Schild from MVB Marketing (a subsidiary of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association) and Silvia Clemares head of digital publishing at Grup62. They were eye-opening because both talked about efforts by their native book industries to respond to digital change in strategic focussed ways. In Ronald’s case it was Libreka and for Silvia, Libranda.

But they weren’t the only innovators either, Erin Creasy from ECW Press outlined not just the sheer complexity of their ebook rights situation, but also their new digital only press, Joyland a smart play if ever their was one.

Michael Tamblyn of Kobo Books also spoke and he was (as he always seems to be) excellent. he focussed on international sales and how they have taken off for Kobo. One fascinating slice of a day in the life of Kobo, May 21st 2010 showed them selling ebooks into over 150 countries, which is frankly amazing and shows you what a scrappy upstart can do.

I had a great day and met (if for some, MUCH too briefly like Richard Padley, Sophie Rochester and Kate Pullinger) some great people, much more busyness ahead tomorrow!
Eoin

Frankfurt 2010

I’m leaving Dublin this afternoon for Frankfurt, Germany to attend the Frankfurt Book Fair 2010.

This year I have a busier schedule than I had originally imagined I would, but a fun one nonetheless with some downtime too (though perhaps not enough).

Tuesday sees talks at both O’Reilly’s smashing Tools Of Change Frankfurt-2010 and Canada Livres’ International Rights Seminar.

I’ll be talking about The Irish Story and what small (and large) publishers can learn, do and plan for based on it. In many was it is a talk about the practical side of my Pecha Kucha speech at Tools Of Change 2009.

At Canada Livres, I’m taking a slightly different look at things, from a more theoretical direction, but with some practical advice for publishers, remembering too that Canada and Ireland are both alike and very different.

On top of that I’ll be meeting publishers from near and far and reporting for Irish Publishing News. You can follow my Tweets which will be tagged #fbf10 for the fair and #tocf10 for Tools Of Change, not sure what the Canada Livres hash-tag is but as soon as I have it, I will update.
I’m looking forward to it.

If you are around, see you in Frankfurt.
Eoin

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Image Credit, Danny Sullivan (via Flickr), Attribution 2.0