Dog-Eared and Disapatched: July 12, 2015
Harper Lee’s soon-to-be-released Go Set a Watchman has made a splash in book culture that’s only appropriate given the high esteem with which To Kill a Mockingbird is held. Meanwhile, the Authors Guild calls for a doubling of ebook royalty rates. Macmillan adds 1,000 more titles to Scribd and Oyster, and iBooks allows more complex EPUBs on iPhones. The bad news is that if you wanted a sweet advertising campaign tattoo for the Dragon Tattoo series, the opportunity has been withdrawn. Ready? Set? Read!
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, the anticipated followup to 1960’s To Kill a Mockingbird, became available in the form of a first-chapter excerpt in the early a.m. of July 10th. Reactions to the excerpt have been mixed, particularly since two story bombs are dropped in this first chapter—in the first paragraph, even. (Spoilers in the next sentence.) The New York Times took on an analysis of the revelation that Atticus is actually racist and has attended a Klan meeting. Secondary industries are in the mix as well; an updated documentary from PBS American Masters on Harper Lee aired in the evening of July 10th. On the business side, respected industry consultant Mike Shatzkin discusses why the traditional publishing model for serial rights is outdated and needs to be reconsidered, directly in response to HarperCollins selling exclusive rights to the chapter excerpt to one U.S. publication and one U.K. publication. He argues that the publisher surrendered a large amount of consumer-specific data and the chance to get more readers on an e-mailing list, giving that over to The Wall Street Journal and The Guardian for an amount probably not large enough to make up such a data-rich loss. [Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, New York Times, Adweek, Shatzkin Files]
Back in May, the Authors Guild announced a Fair Contract Initiative, a series of posts designed to help newbie authors navigate the sometimes-cutthroat world of traditional publishing contracts. This week, the organization has released its first detailed analysis in that Initiative, and it takes a damning look at the typical terms assigned to ebook contracts. The Guild analysis shows that, early on, Random House was giving a 50% royalty on ebooks, but soon switched to 25%, setting a trend that carried over to most publishers. While Amazon has been steadily squeezing publisher profits where possible, this also means the real squeeze has been passed on to the individual in the middle—a.k.a. the Author. The analysis concluded with a call for authors and agents to insist upon a 50% e-royalty. [Late Night Library, Publishers Weekly, Authors Guild, Bookseller]
- A gift product company taps into publishing success with the children’s book What Do You Do with an Idea?
- A former bookseller has become a publisher by reissuing LGBTQ titles, under the name Query Books.
- Book sales in June experienced an incremental decrease, atypical for the month bridging Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
- iBooks now offers ebook builds for iPhones, but forces publishers to compromise on ebook complexity for the (literally) smaller platform.
- Mofibo chief business development officer Nathan Hull sounds off on recent changes in ebook subscription services, saying that by giving ground they are forced to simply justify their own position instead of enhance it.
- But following that, Macmillan has added another 1,000 books to dominant ebook subscription services Scribd and Oyster.
- Hachette Australia was actually looking for a woman to receive an advertising campaign tattoo for the latest book in Stieg Larsson’s Dragon Tattoo series. In a recent update, they have opted to not move forward with the tattoo element of the campaign.