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Tag: Amazon (1-10 of 74)

On the Books: Nikki Finke secures book deal with Simon & Schuster

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Simon & Schuster president Johnathan Karp confirmed to The New York Times that Hollywood gossip reporter Nikki Finke has signed a book deal with the publishing house. Karp said he plans to edit the book himself, but declined to share any specifics about the content or release date of the book. “Whenever we publish, the book will be an event,” he said in an email to the Times.

Finke, founder of the gossip website Deadline Hollywood, has been in the line of fire this week—the site NikkiStink.com published an open letter to her, saying she has “threatened and bullied the Hollywood community into providing you information so that you could use it to ridicule, abuse and destroy people.”

Most of the content has now been removed from the site, but it previously cited instances of her incisive written remarks about celebrities from Kate Hudson to Billy Crystal. If her book is as derisive as her gossip reporting, it “will likely be met with dread in movie and television industry circle,” The Times wrote.

Finke also made headlines this week for her involvement in a reported legal dispute with Penske Media Corporation, which in 2009 bought Deadline, which The Times describes as “[one of] the most influential news sites in the movie business.” [The New York Times]

Several Japanese publishers are taking issue with Amazon’s new tactics in their negotiations with them, which are similar to those recently criticized by writers in the U.S. and Germany. According to the Agence France Presse and the Japanese newspaper Asahi, the publishers claim that Amazon is threatening the Japanese publishing industry by pressing for higher commission rates in contract renegotiations. The companies claim that the higher the commission a publishing house pays, the more Amazon will promote their books.

This directly affects book sales in Japan, where Amazon’s market share continues to grow. “Some smaller publishers are facing demands to accept a surge in commission fees,” an anonymous industry source told the AFP. “If this kind of practice continues, small Japanese publishers who have created a diverse publishing culture here will be forced to go bankrupt.” [Business Insider]

Award-winning author Sherman Alexie and bestselling novelist Jess Walter launched a podcast this week, titled “A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment.” Alexie won the U.S. National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 2007 for “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” a semi-autobiographical novel. Walter wrote this 2012’s bestselling “Beautiful Ruins. “We’re going to talk about everything,” Alexie told the Los Angeles Times. [L.A. Times]

On the Books: German authors sign open letter criticizing Amazon tactics

While Amazon and Hachette duke out their differences in the United States, German publisher Bonnier is now involved in a similar dispute with Amazon. Amazon and Bonnier are also negotiating over ebook prices for books published by Bonnier, and while negotiations are ongoing, Amazon has delayed shipment for their books and discouraged customers from buying them. More than 1,000 authors are protesting the treatment, signing an open letter to be published in several major newspapers in the region, and those authors include 2004 Nobel Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek, bestselling authors Ingrid Noll and Nele Neuhaus, and many others.

“Amazon manipulates recommendation lists. Amazon uses authors and their books as a bargaining chip to exact deeper discounts,” the letter reads. Germany is Amazon’s largest market outside of the US. [The New York Times]

The Observer profiles Russell Grandinetti, a senior vice president at Amazon and the man representing the company in the publishing world. He’s one of the most important people in the Amazon-Hachette dispute, and probably in the publishing world at large. “The only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader,” he said. “Everyone who stands between those two has both risk and opportunity.” [The Guardian]

Lev Grossman, author of the Magicians trilogy and Time book critic, writes about finding his voice in fantasy after trying out literary fiction. “In a fantasy world those demons can get out, where you can grapple with them face to face,” he writes. “The story I was telling was impossible, and I believed in it more than I believed in the 10,000 entirely reasonable, plausible things I’d written before.” [The New York Times]

At The Guardian, Sam Leith wonders why British people love to hate Martin Amis. “But there are really three Amises. There’s Amis the writer and Amis the private individual. And then there’s Amis the public figure: the Idea of Martin Amis. That’s the Amis who hogs the attention and draws the fire. The other two are, as it were, collateral damage.” [The Guardian]

The Jewish Books Council put together a “Jewish literary map of New York City,” an annotated map of the city marking places referred to in great books by Jewish writers. [Jewish Book Council]

On the Books: Orwell estate swings back at Amazon

Bill Hamilton, literary executor of George Orwell’s estate, penned a scathing letter to the editor  in yesterday’s New York Times criticizing Amazon’s misrepresentation of the author in a message the online giant posted on ReadersUnited.com last week. The letter was intended to defend Amazon’s position in its ongoing conflict with publisher Hachette over e-book prices, but Amazon’s choice of words has backfired in an ironic way.

In comparing its current e-book pricing standoff to the resistance Penguin Books faced with the introduction of inexpensive paperback books in the 1930s, Amazon quoted George Orwell “out of context as supporting a campaign to suppress paperbacks,” Hamilton wrote. Hamilton likened Amazon’s subversion of the truth to the propaganda tactics employed by the authoritarian government in Orwell’s famed dystopian novel, 1984.

This is about as close as one can get to the Ministry of Truth and its doublespeak: turning the facts inside out to get a piece of propaganda across,” wrote Hamilton. “It doesn’t say much for Amazon’s regard for truth, or its powers of literary understanding. [NPR] READ FULL STORY

Amazon: Ebook prices are 'unjustifiably high'

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Amazon’s fight with Hachette over ebook prices isn’t ending anytime soon.

For weeks, Amazon and Hachette have been deadlocked in a dispute over how much ebooks published by Hachette should cost, and how much of that revenue should go to the publisher, author, or Amazon. During this period, Amazon has delayed the shipment of Hachette’s books, removed the preorder button for some titles, and made the books harder to find on Amazon’s website.

Over the weekend, the Amazon Books Team posted an open letter arguing for lower ebook prices. According to the letter, many ebooks are being priced at $14.99 or $19.99, which Amazon believes is unjustifiably high, given that ebooks have “no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out of stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs,” and aren’t sold secondhand.

In 2013, Hachette—along with HarperCollins, Penguin (now Penguin Random House), Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan—was found guilty of conspiring to fix ebook prices. Amazon says the movie was disrespectful to readers and demonstrated a misunderstanding of how ebooks play a role in the publishing industry. According to Amazon, Hachette is afraid that cheaper ebooks will ruin book culture—but its own data suggests that ebook prices are elastic in a way that’s good for the publishing industry. READ FULL STORY

On the Books: Barnes & Noble and Google team up for same-day shipping

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Barnes & Noble is teaming up with Google Shopping Express, a service that will let the bookstore provide same-day delivery to Manhattan, West Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area. The service will help the two compete with Amazon, which already provides same-day shipping in 10 cities in the United States. From Amazon, same-day delivery costs $5.99 for Amazon Prime members and around $10 for other customers. Users who have subscribed to Google Shopping express do not have to pay any additional fees for same-day delivery, and the service costs $4.99 for other customers. [The New York Times]

Nine hundred writers have signed an open letter to Amazon—to be published in this Sunday’s New York Times—asking them to stop singling out authors for “selective retaliation.” Amazon is delaying shipments of books published by Hachette, which they are negotiating contracts with. READ FULL STORY

On the Books: American authors land on Booker Prize longlist

Joshua Ferris, Karen Joy Fowler, Siri Hustvedt, and Richard Powers are the Americans who made this year’s Man Booker Prize longlist. For the first time, Britain’s most prestigious literary award is open to authors in the U.S., as long as the books are also published in Britain. The list is male-dominated: only three of its 13 writers are women. The toast of America’s literary establishment last year, Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, was snubbed. Last year, 28-year-old author Eleanor Catton won for her 800-page novel The Luminaries. A shortlist will be announced on September 9th, and the winner on October 14th. [The New York Times]

In Amazon news, vice president of Kindle Content Russ Grandinetti has asked authors to stop complaining about the company. A group of authors—including Lee Child, Stephen King, John Grisham, and James Patterson—are planning to publish a full-page ad in The New York Times explaining why they are siding against Amazon in the Amazon-Hachette dispute. Grandinetti asked the group to stop publication of the ad, and proposed a plan where Amazon to stock Hachette titles and give authors standard royalties on ebooks. While Amazon and Hachette continue to negotiate among themselves, the proceeds each company normally earns would go to a literacy charity. [Publishers Weekly] READ FULL STORY

Amazon launches all-you-can-read service Kindle Unlimited

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Just yesterday, Amazon launched a page announcing a new subscription service titled Kindle Unlimited before quickly making the page unavailable. But today, it’s been made official. Amazon is now offering Kindle Unlimited, where readers can pay $9.99 a month for unlimited reading and listening on any device. Users will have access to more than 600,000 titles and thousands of audiobooks.

Basically, Kindle Unlimited works like a Netflix for the book world. And as EW pointed out yesterday, its main rivals will be Scribd, which offers over 400,000 titles for $8.99 a month, and Oyster, which offers over 500,000 titles for $9.95 a month.

Amazon appears to be testing unlimited ebook subscription service

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On Wednesday, a webpage for Kindle Unlimited—a subscription service where users can “enjoy unlimited access to over 600,000 titles and thousands of audiobooks on any device for just $9.99 a month,” according to the page—went live and then was quickly made unavailable. Google cache is hosting a copy of the webpage, however, and Gigaom posted a copy of what they claim is Kindle Unlimited’s advertisement video on YouTube.

Amazon has not yet officially announced Kindle Unlimited, and Amazon did not immediately reply to EW‘s request for comment, so many details are still unclear—but the webpage’s existence suggests Amazon may have an unlimited ebook subscription service on the way.

The service would rival Scribd and Oyster, two other ebook subscription companies. Oyster boasts more than 500,000 titles at $9.95 per month, while Scribd advertises over 400,000 titles for $8.99 per month. These services function like Netflix for ebooks, where subscribers can access an unlimited amount of ebooks from the website’s limited offerings at a flat monthly rate. Just as Netflix was a game-changer in the movies and television industries, Scribd and Oyster have been making waves in publishing—so it’s not surprising to note that Amazon has expressed interest.

Many of the books Amazon appeared to be offering before the Kindle Unlimited webpage was taken down were titles from their own publishing imprint, according to Gigaom. However, none of the titles featured in Gigaom’s video or on the website were from the five biggest publishers—HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, Macmillan, or, of course, Hachette. The webpage, however, has titles from some of the bigger independent houses, like the Harry Potter books from Bloomsbury. HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster are both on board with Oyster and Scribd. It appears Kindle Unlimited could also, like both other active services, offer self-published work.

Amazon already offers a sort of book subscription service for Amazon Prime members, the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. Through that, Prime users can borrow one book per month from a selection of more than 600,000 books for no additional cost. Kindle Unlimited appears to be a separate service that won’t be included with Amazon Prime, which costs $99 per year.

Amazon and Hachette's literary showdown continues

The negotiations between Amazon and Hachette are getting uglier. Last week, Amazon proposed a plan to offer Hachette authors 100% of ebook profits until negotiations are over, a plan Hachette swiftly rejected.

According to Amazon, the prolonged negotiations put authors in a bad position. With their proposed plan, authors would at least be able to make more money while the two companies resolve their differences. “Hachette is part of a $10 billion global conglomerate … They can afford it. What they’re really making clear is that they absolutely want their authors caught in the middle of this negotiation because they believe it increases their leverage.” It’s unclear what percentage of Hachette’s book sales are ebooks, but for the industry overall, about 30% of book sales are ebook sales, and 60% of Hachette’s ebook sales are from Amazon.

An Amazon representative told EW, “You have to look at the parent company — Lagardère Group — rather than just the Hachette division. They can afford it, and should stop using their authors as human shields.”

A spokesman for Hachette Livre said Amazon’s statement misrepresented Hachette’s finances, telling EW that “amalgamating Hachette’s and its parent company’s finances as if they were just one big budget is childish and can fool no one with a minimal knowledge of business practices.”

Amazon offers to pay Hachette authors 100% of ebook profits

In the latest development of the ongoing negotiations between Amazon and Hachette, Amazon may be trying to sidestep the publisher altogether and work directly with the authors. David Naggar, VP of Kindle content and independent publishing, contacted several Hachette authors, book agents, and The Authors Guild offering a temporary truce until negotiations are over: “For as long as this dispute lasts, Hachette authors would get 100% of the sales price of every Hachette ebook we sell,” he wrote in a letter. “Both Amazon and Hachette would forego all revenue and profit from the sale of every ebook until an agreement is reached.”

For months, Hachette and Amazon have been negotiating what percentage of revenue from ebook sales should go to each company. Presumably, the revenue lost by giving all book-sale profits directly to authors would “motivate both Hachette and Amazon to work faster to resolve the situation,” as Amazon said in their letter. It isn’t clear which authors Amazon contacted, but Hachette is one of the biggest book publishers in the world, and publishes books by J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, and James Patterson, among others.

Roxana Robinson, president of The Authors Guild, publicly declined the offer. “This seems like a short-term solution that encourages authors to take sides against their publishers,” she told The New York Times. “It doesn’t get authors out of the middle of this—we’re still in the middle.”

For the proposal to work, Hachette would need to agree to it. It appears as though Amazon meant to make this deal a kind of meta-negotiation to speed up the process of the more important negotiations. However, Amazon addressed the letter to authors and members of the publishing industry to solicit feedback. They didn’t initially bring the proposal up with Hachette, saying that they were unresponsive to negotiations.

In the original letter, Amazon wrote:

We heard nothing from them for three full months. We extended the contract into April under existing terms. Still nothing. In fact we got no conversation at all from Hachette until we started reducing our on-hand print inventory and reducing the discounts we offer customers off their list prices. Even since then, weeks have gone by while we waited for them to get back to us.

Hachette responded. “We believe that the best outcome for the writers we publish is a contract with Amazon that brings genuine marketing benefits and whose terms allow Hachette to continue to invest in writers, marketing, and innovation,” the company published in a letter. Hachette also denied Amazon’s accusations that they’ve been unresponsive to the ongoing negotiations. A representative of the company told The Wall Street Journal that it “made an offer in April that was the largest we ever made to any retailer, and in May made another that was higher still. Both offers were rejected.”

Amazon, however, said that turning down the offer to give authors a higher percentage of ebook revenue is bad for authors. “We call baloney,” they said in a statement. “Hachette is part of a $10 billion global conglomerate … They can afford it. What they’re really making clear is that they absolutely want their authors caught in the middle of this negotiation because they believe it increases their leverage.”

In 2013, Amazon accounted for 60 percent of Hachette’s ebook sales.

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