A Firestorm Revisited & Other News

Last week the internet was ablaze with the Cooks Source debacle.  For those who might not know what I’m referring to, here’s my post on it.  There are links in the post where you can find more background information.   Since then, the folks at Cooks Source have issued an apology (of sorts).

I say “of sorts” because they still don’t admit they did anything wrong in using an article without permission or recompense.  Nor have they addressed the comment made by their representative that anything on the internet is in the “public domain”.  You can read their statement here.   I happen to think John Scalzi’s comments about it are dead on point, especially when he states that Cooks never would have addressed the issue had the internet gone viral about what happened.

In other news, Hell must be a bit colder this week.    The New York Times has announced that it will begin listing a best sellers list for both fiction and non-fiction e-books after the first of the year.   According to the article, the lists will be  “compiled from weekly data from publishers, chain bookstores, independent booksellers and online retailers, among other sources.”  One of those “other sources” is RoyaltyShare.  It will be interesting to see just how complete the data will be when compiling these lists.

Going hand in hand with the news from the NYT is the AAP’s (Association of American Publishers) release of September’s sales figures.  E-book sales increased 158.1% over September 2009.  The only other areas showing an increase were downloaded audiobooks (73.7%), university press paperbacks (10.6%), higher education (2.2%), and professional books (0.7%).

“The Adult Hardcover category was down 40.4 percent in September with sales of $180.3 million, and sales for the year-to-date down by 8.1 percent. Adult Paperback sales decreased 15.8 percent for the month ($111.5 million) but increased by 1.5 percent for the year so far. Adult Mass Market sales decreased 23.6 percent for September with sales totaling $67.8 million; sales were down by 15.7 percent year to date.”

The year-to-date figures for e-book sales shows an increase of 188.4%.  While that is still a small part of a traditional publisher’s overall sales, that figure is growing.  The fact is this trend is only going to increase.  E-book readers are becoming more affordable.  Tablets such as the iPad also make reading e-books more attractive to readers than sitting at their desk reading off their PC or Mac.  E-books are here to stay.  The only real hurdle still left to clear — leaving aside the elephant in the room called DRM — is how long it will take for an industry standard format to be decided upon.

Until that happens, we’ll continue to offer our e-books in a variety of different formats and all will be DRM-free.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “A Firestorm Revisited & Other News

  1. Pam Uphoff

    “The Internet is Public Domain” idea really needs to be tested in court. That seems to be the way we make half our laws, these days, so I don’t think anyone on either side will trust the legal standing of things posted until then.

  2. You may be right, Pam, but I really don’t want it to come to that. Think about how many different interpretations we get of a law now. You go from one federal district or circuit court to another and you run the risk of getting a different view on what a law means. Then it has to be appealed and then appealed again and possibly yet again before we get clarification from the Supreme Court. In the meantime, Congress will often get involved, starting the process all over again. The effect that will have on the internet in particular and publishing in general is scary, at least to me.

  3. Stephen J. Simmon

    Fighting to avoid straying into anything that could be construed as “politics” here …
    Safeguarding copyrights is one of the few things Congress is *supposed* to get involved in. It’s one of the seventeen Enumerated Powers in Article I Section 8, after all. What we need is for authors to exercise out First Amendment guarantees, and begin lobbying our newly-elected officials to update copyright protections for the Internet Age, I think. (I hope I kept that sufficiently apolitical …)

  4. Stephen, I agree the laws need to be updated to reflect the change in tech as well as distribution. However, I want to see that come from Congress — gasp, getting close to politics here but no getting around it — and not from the courts.

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