Late Night Library

Dog-Eared and Dispatched: November 16, 2014

Dog-Eared & Dispatched: November 16, 2014

Portland didn’t have a blizzard this week and, in other non-news, Hachette and Amazon have a contract. Also in this week’s rundown of book culture: we a take a look at the Marketplace Fairness Act and top level domains (not as fun as they sound), with award notices galore in the footnotes. Read on, read on…


handshake

Well, it had to happen: Amazon and Hachette have signed a multi-year contract. With very little fanfare – and just in time for the holidays – the dispute is over: neither side seems to have won. As the Wall Street Journal reports: “Under the new e-book agreement, which will take effect in early 2015, Hachette will set the prices of its consumer titles. The companies said Hachette will get better terms when it ‘delivers lower prices for readers.’ Both companies declined to make executives available for further comment.” Although Simon & Schuster’s successful contract-making a few weeks ago probably put pressure on both Amazon and Hachette to find a solution to their lengthy contractual negotiations, the “larger existential crisis” about publishing provoked by the dispute has not really been resolved. So it looks like a return to the publishing status quo. For now. [Wall Street Journal, BBC, Publishers Weekly, Electric Literature, MobyLives!, Shatzkin Files]


Bricks and Mortar

Still no sales tax | image of Powell’s City of Books from Walsh Construction

House Speaker John Boehner has declined to bring the Marketplace Fairness Act before the House of Representatives this year, which means that online retailers will continue to be allowed not charge sales tax for purchases (so long at they do not operate a physical store in the relevant state). Whether one viewed it as a sneaky way to raise taxes (quelle horreur!) or a way to level the playing field between online stores and brick-and-mortar retailers, the bill was at the very least problematic. As the Wall Street Journal notes: “The sales-tax bill is enthusiastically backed by America’s state and local tax collectors as well as the largest retailers, online and off. Amazon and other retail giants see it as a way to hobble their smaller competitors by burying them under a blizzard of audits and collection burdens that don’t exist offline” (emphasis mine). Perhaps it’s best to leave the matter at the state level after all… [Shelf Awareness, Wall Street Journal]


.smile!

Amazon has won the auction for the top level domain “.book,” – despite the protests of the Association of American Publishers – paying somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million for the block. Once limited to the utilitarian (.com, .org, .net) and geographical (.us, .uk, .ca), ICANN has finally been sorting through the paperwork for more top level domains (e.g. .store, .buy, .author, .joy, .smile, to name just a few … at random). Whether Amazon will monopolize the domain or merely seek to profit by it remains to be seen. [Publishers Weekly, MobyLives!, ICANN]


FOOTNOTES

  1. An argument for reading new books: they are a blank slate.
  2. Isabel Allende will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
  3. Has there been a decline in literary feuds? Good heavens, I hope not.
  4. The results of the 2014 Information is Beautiful Awards are in (spoiler: information is beautiful).
  5. Also available: Posted on: November 16, 2014 · Blog, Dog-Eared & Dispatched, Homepage ·Tags: , , , , , , , .

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