The Increase in Translated Books

EJ Van Lanen

A major change is going in for Translated Works.

Consistent powerhouses such as Dalkey Archive Press and – this may surprise you – AmazonCrossing (Amazon’s translation imprint) make up the bulk of publications, but a wealth of smaller presses are rethinking the process of publishing in translation, traditionally a laborious process involving government-sponsored reading lists, recommendations from foreign friends, unreliable readers’ reports and dashed-off sample translations. These difficulties are a legacy of fierce competition between big players, but in a marketplace increasingly populated with small, digital-only publishers, it’s possible to take a different approach. – Why translated ebooks are no longer foreign to publishers – how to pick and choose the best

 

This really makes sense to me in a world where traditional boundaries are breaking down thanks to the Internet.

Smashwords expands Overdrive deal

Overdrive Smashwords

Digital self-publishing site Smashwords is making its ebooks available to more libraries through a partnership with Overdrive, the country’s largest digital library distributor. Through the partnership, Overdrive library clients — the company works with about 28,000 libraries and schools worldwide — will be able to purchase about 200,000 ebooks by 88,000 Smashwords authors and lend them out to their patrons. – Self-published ebook site Smashwords expands to more libraries in deal with Overdrive

Anything that gets more books into the hands of more Libraries is a good thing. It sounds like this will definitely do that.

Author accuses Harper Collins of …

Time Hunters

Posted to Amazon by author Carl Ashmore:

Time HuntersHi guys,

I thought I’d make you aware of a recent situation I’ve found myself in.

In July 2010, I gained a gold star for my children’s book The Time Hunters (Book 1 of the acclaimed series for children of all ages) on the Harper Collins website ‘Authonomy’, and a highly positive review from a Harper Collins editor. Here is a passage from that review:

‘I really enjoyed reading THE TIME HUNTERS. You start off the action with a bang, drawing the reader in right away. Your writing is strong, and in places has a classic feel…. It has terrific potential.’

In October 2010, I decided to independently publish `The Time Hunters’ and made it available as print and eBook. Pretty quickly, the book gained a number of very positive reviews and began to sell well, generating a solid and loyal fan base. Since then, the book has gained 128 five star reviews across Amazon.co.uk and .com. I have also published two sequels, The Time Hunters and the Box of Eternity (Book 2 in the acclaimed series for children of all ages …) and The Time Hunters and the Spear of Fate (Book 3 in the acclaimed series for children of all ages) . I have also sold the foreign rights to a Brazillian major publisher, Bertrand Brasil, and `The Time Hunters’ is due to be published in that territory at some point in 2013.

To sum up the plot, `The Time Hunters’ is about a young girl, Becky, and her brother, Joe, who, along with their time-travelling uncle and Will Scarlet, embark on a series of fast-paced adventures in a treasure hunt for powerful ancient relics.

Anyway, this month saw the publication of a new children’s series by Harper Collins. It’s called (I’m sure you can see where this is going) ‘Time Hunters’ . And the plot – well, it’s about a boy and girl who embark on a series of fast-paced adventures in a treasure hunt through time for powerful ancient relics. Now, in many ways, that is where the similarities appear to end, but they don’t. In Book 5 of their Time Hunters they encounter `Blackbeard’ (I meet him in `The Time Hunters and the Box of Eternity’ (2011)). In Book 4 of their series, they visit Ancient Greece, I do it in `The Time Hunters’ (2010). In Book 6 of their series they visit Ancient Egypt and battle mummies, I do that in `The Time Hunters and the Spear of Fate’ (2013).

I know full well you cannot copyright a title or idea, but this seems more than that. My series has been exceedingly visible across the Internet since 2010, so why on earth would anyone publish a new series under the same name, particularly when the general premise, some storylines and target audience are identical?

Like many writers, when preparing a new book, I spend countless hours considering titles, trying to find the most suitable one to reflect the tone, storyline, target audience and genre of the book. Upon crafting a list of candidates, I’ll google what already exists. This is where I’m incensed by the actions of Harper Collins. `The Time Hunters’ (yeah, I know they dropped the `The’) is extremely visible whichever search engine you use. I also understand that some titles are common and will have multiple books attached to them. As an experiment, I googled the term `Killing Time’ and found there were over twenty books from different authors with that title on Amazon alone. However, `The Time Hunters’ is a much less generic title. Plus, it is indelibly linked with an established and popular series that already exists … my series.

Furthermore, my frustrations are compounded by the fact the new `Time Hunters’ is published by Harper Collins – the very same company who said my book had `terrific potential.’

I have contacted the author and she (Chris Baker is a pseudonym) has pointed out she was working for a book packaging company, Hothouse Fiction, and that the name, concept, copyright etc. all belong to Harper Collins and Hothouse. She said she was merely a `hired pen’, that this kind of thing `no doubt happens a lot’ and I must find it `frustrating’. Well, in truth, there are other `f’ words I could use to more accurately describe my feelings about this.

And, in this case, I’m not sure this situation does happen as often as she suggests. As I said earlier, this is not merely the duplication of a title, or the similarity of the concept, this is a combination of the two that damages a brand (I hate that term) I have worked on since 2005. Clearly, if I approached another major publisher and pitched them a children’s time travel series about a boy and a girl that travel through time on a treasure hunt, then surely their response would be `Well, hang on, Carl, a series like yours already exists and is published by Harper Collins.’

Let me just say I bear no ill feelings toward the author of the new TH series, whatsoever. She seems very personable and is just a writer trying to eke an income in a difficult publishing world. And I wholeheartedly believe her when she says she hasn’t seen my work. However, someone would have seen it, they HAD to have seen it – someone at Hothouse or at Harper Collins – and they still pressed ahead with their `Time Hunters’ series.

I’m just the little guy and they’re a major corporation. I write from my kitchen in a terraced house in Crewe, my four-year old daughter doing everything she can to stop me writing a word, whilst the people that have created this situation probably swan around Soho quaffing goblets of Viognier. The two stories are probably different enough for them to argue there has been no plagiarism, but I can’t deny this situation smarts, somewhat – no, as a matter of fact, it stinks…

Furthermore, as using the same title and concept of an existing series is clearly not an issue, then the next time I write a children’s series I’ll make sure it’s about young wizards and call it `Harry Potter’. No better still, I’ll call it `Ziggy Waggabobble and the Mosphorous Flagdulaters’, a story about heroin-addicted frogs that pepper their conversations with swear words. Let’s see if the Viognier quaffers want to nick that, too …

Anyway, I just thought I’d let you know.

Cheers,
Carl

Definitely an interesting story.

The Possible Death of Agency Pricing

Scales of Justice

Agency Pricing seems to be dying.

Agency as we knew it is on its death bed. Penguin titles are now being discounted by retailers and the rest of Penguin Random House titles will soon follow. – Agency Dead? Penguin Ebooks Discounted

Scales of JusticeSome say this is a good thing.

“The consumer is the huge winner,” said David Balto, a Washington antitrust lawyer and former policy director for the Federal Trade Commission. “Apple’s policies clearly increased prices, and if permitted Apple would have used this formula to raise prices in numerous markets. This is a landmark decision that demonstrates the value of strong antitrust enforcement.” – Apple case cracks open e-books, digital goods pricing

Some argue against.

Even if true, the Justice Department’s argument is weak, because it relies on the Relevant Market Fallacy — the idea that e-book sellers are just competing with each other. They aren’t. They are competing with everything else that is clamoring for people’s leisure time. This includes printed books, magazines, newspapers, blogs, and websites such as this one. E-books are also competing with movies and television, video games, and other tablet and smart phone applications. The relevant market is bigger than just e-books or other reading material. This market discipline puts an upper bound on what consumers will pay for an e-book before turning to other entertainment options. Consumers cannot be said to have been harmed if they are willing to pay higher e-book prices. Given the e-book market’s continued rapid growth since the price increases, people are clearly still willing to pay. They are willingly buying something that gives them more value than what they give up to buy it. – Apple’s ebook ruling and the absurdity of antitrust law

Just to recap: I find the first argument more compelling.

Photo Credit: DonkeyHoley

 

Advantage Amazon after Apple Ruling

Jeff Bezos of Amazon

 

 

The verdict in the Apple case might have been a foregone conclusion, telegraphed by the judge herself, but it emphatically underlined how the traditional players in the book business have been upended. Only Amazon, led by Mr. Bezos, seems to have a plan. He is executing it with a skill that infuriates his competitors and rewards his stockholders. – E-Book Ruling Gives Amazon an Advantage

 

E-Books failed many times before Amazon figured it out. And instead of trying to figure out a strategy to compete, the publishers followed the same script that the record companies used.

Ruling in Apple E-book Case: Orchestrated Conspiracy

Apple iBooks

Apple iBooks

A federal judge on Wednesday found that Apple violated antitrust law in helping raise the retail price of e-books, saying the company “played a central role in facilitating and executing” a conspiracy with five big publishers. “Without Apple’s orchestration of this conspiracy, it would not have succeeded as it did in the spring of 2010,” the judge, Denise L. Cote of United States District Court in Manhattan, said in her ruling. She said a trial for damages would follow. – Judge Rules Against Apple in E-Books Trial

 

Personally, I think this is the correct ruling. What the publishers were doing was very wrong and Apple was definitely at the heart of it.

HarperCollins Overdrive

Fight

In the first significant revision to lending terms for ebook circulation, HarperCollins has announced that new titles licensed from library ebook vendors will be able to circulate only 26 times before the license expires. – Library Journal

Our system has belonged to a partnership through our local MLC that has allowed us to offer EBooks to our patrons the last couple of years. I have been on the selection committee. Back when we started, which wasn’t all that long ago, it was really all about audio. I can still remember the conversations when we were trying to decide between the various ebook formats being offered. Fortunately, Overdrive settled on the right choice, and was ready for the Christmas of 2009 when things really took off.

I emailed the news to the rest of the group members but I doubt I will hear much feedback this late on a Friday. I am sure we will have much to discuss very soon.

And that’s why libraries should just stop buying DRM media for their collections. Period. It’s unsafe at any speed. I mean it. When HarperCollins backs down and says, “Oh, no, sorry, we didn’t mean it, you can have unlimited ebook checkouts,” the libraries’ answers should be “Not good enough. We want DRM-free or nothing.” Stop buying DRM ebooks. – Cory Doctorow

One thing you can say for Cory: He is always consistent. But then, the Publishing Companies give him plenty to work with, too.

Movable Type vs. WordPress

bq.Movable Type 3.0 and on will not be the solution for everyone, and that’s okay. For some users, TypePad makes more sense. For others, non-Six Apart tools make more sense. – “Mena Trott(Another CMS)”:http://www.libraryplanet.com/2004/05/15/cms Many of us at the time and many more since have made the choice to use “non-Six Apart tools.” Six Apart is “making an effort(we’re here to compete)”:http://sippey.typepad.com/filtered/2008/03/were-here-to-co.html to change that.
bq.As you might know, WordPress 2.5 is about to be released, and we wanted to encourage WordPress users to upgrade. To Movable Type. – “Anil Dash(A WordPress 2.5 Upgrade Guide)”:http://www.movabletype.com/blog/2008/03/a-wordpress-25-upgrade-guide.html As you might expect, there was a response.
bq.Movable Type once led the market, it had over 90% marketshare in the self-hosted market. Now they call “pages” and “dynamic publishing”, features WordPress has had for 4+ years, innovation and you still can’t do basic things like click “next posts” at the bottom of home page. For the record, I’m glad they’ve taken the license of MT in a positive direction that prevents them from betraying their customers like they did with MT3, but they have a long way to go before the project could be considered a community. – “Matt Mullenweg(WordPress is Open Source)”:http://ma.tt/2008/03/wordpress-is-open-source/ I consider myself semi-neutral in this since, at this point, I don’t use either product much although I still have sites that are running both. Six Apart made a strategic mistake four years ago and the open sourcing of the product is a good first step toward a remedy. But just like Leo Laporte noted recently, it isn’t that Twitter is better than Pownce or Jaiku (most of them have more features), it is where the community resides. What Six Apart is going to have to do to make Movable Type a force once again is restore the user community that once surrounded it. And that, I think, is going to prove very difficult to do.

Distribution Costs and the Long Tail

bq.In lieu of more flexibility on pricing, NBC U sought a cut of Apple’s hardware sales. “Apple sold millions of dollars worth of hardware off the back of our content, and made a lot of money,” Zucker said. “They did not want to share in what they were making off the hardware or allow us to adjust pricing.” NBC Universal programming accounted for 40% of iTunes’ video sales. Zucker used iTunes as an example of the kind of digital business model that, he asserted, is corrosive to the media business. “We don’t want to replace the dollars we were making in the analog world with pennies on the digital side,” he said. Apple did not return calls for comment. – “Michael Learmonth(Zucker says Apple deal rotten)”:http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117974910.html?categoryid=1009&cs=1 When you make a purchase in a brick and mortar store, there are a certain amount of costs that accrue in producing the item and getting onto the store shelf in order for you to make a purchase. And one cost that has to be considered: no one will ever actually buy that item. When you purchase something, you are also paying the store for everything that will never be. Their goal is to offer the maximum numbers of items at the highest price possible that they can survive and, hopefully, make a profit. Contrast that with iTunes. Inventory costs: there is only one copy of the item. Storage concerns are not existent as well as keeping the item in stock. Distribution costs: These are minuscule and only incurred after an item is sold, not before. And many other costs from above (promotion, packaging, salaries for sales staff) don’t even figure in. A Heroes DVD set will retail for $59.99 for 23 episodes ($2.61 per episode if full price is paid, which is doubtful) but NBC Universal will only see a small portion of that overall cost (otherwise Amazon couldn’t sell it for $39.99 or $1.74). On iTunes, the episode cost is $1.99; we don’t know how much Apple gets to keep but judging from music reports, it is probably around $.60 leaving Universal with $1.39 of profit per episode. It just sounds to me that Zucker is trying to make a case he is deserved money for profits he lost when he never actually had them in first place.

Open Source Movable Type

As a one-time user of Movable Type (who still owns a full license for 3.x), I thought this was great news.
bq.Six Apart, the world’s leading independent blogging software and services company, today announced the beta release of Movable Type 4, a blogging platform designed to meet the website content management needs of growing organizations and to serve as a social media platform that enables businesses to create community-driven websites. This beta release continues Movable Type’s tradition of powering many of the web’s most popular blogs for over five years. – “Six Apart(Six Apart Announces Movable Type 4 beta – blogging’s next step toward a flexible, extensible social media platform for businesses and power bloggers)”:http://www.sixapart.com/about/press/2007/06/six_apart_annou_10.html But I do have admit I found this article rather amusing on a couple of points.
bq.There’s a lot of history between MT users and SixApart. Although Movable Type was never an open source platform, prior to the release of MT 3.0 many treated MT as if it was open source. The decision to enforce licensing with the release of MT 3.0 caused widespread outrage in 2004 (including rather vocally from myself) and in many ways was a tipping point that delivered WordPress from relative obscurity to being the popular blogging CMS it is today. Dash said that commercially SixApart had no choice other than to enforce licensing at the time. However SixApart in 2007 is a thriving company with a broad suite of popular products, including TypePad, Vox and LiveJournal, and today can afford to give back to the blogging community. – “Duncan Riley(Movable Type 4.0 Beta Launches, Platform To Be Open Sourced)”:http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/06/05/movable-type-40-beta-launches-platform-to-be-open-sourced/ It wasn’t the fact the licensing terms were being enforced for the first time, it was the fact that they were being changed.
bq.With 3.0 we have revised our licenses and pricing structure to address this issue. We feel that with this new release we have created licensing that allows and encourages the development of software and services paid or free. – “Mena Trott(It’s About Time)”:http://www.sixapart.com/about/corner/2004/05/its_about_time.html Which led to moments like this.
bq.And yesterday I learned, as most of you have probably also learned, that Movable Type 3.0 comes with a new licensing plan. 1 author and 3 sites is free. Up to 3 authors and 5 sites: $100. Up to 6 authors and 8 sites: $150. Up to 9 authors and 10 sites: $190. I have 11 Movable Type sites. To upgrade to Movable Type 3.0 would cost me $700. But wait! If I act now, I can take advantage of the special introductory price of $600. Also, all the voluntary donations I’ve made over the years also count towards my purchase. That was $20, and later $45. That brings the price down to $535. $535 for comment moderation. – “Mark Pilgrim(Freedom 0)”:http://diveintomark.org/archives/2004/05/14/freedom-0 Some people were even harsher.
bq.I also think that it’s pretty much a given that when SixApart announced MT 3.0 they abandoned their then user base as well. – “Duncan Riley(MT isn’t going to die, you’re just not going to see the MT brand as much)”:http://www.duncanriley.com/2006/07/17/mt-isnt-going-to-die-youre-just-not-going-to-see-the-mt-brand-as-much/ Of course, some concerns were certainly addressed.
bq.We’ve updated the site with the new pricing and licensing options. – “Mena Trott(Announcing Pricing & Licensing Changes to Movable Type)”:http://www.sixapart.com/about/news/2004/06/announcing_pric.html And addressed again.
bq.We also continue to make our personal license for Movable Type even more open: The personal version of Movable Type is now completely free, and supports as many blogs and authors as you want. – “Jay Allen(A blog for every business: Movable Type Enterprise and Movable Type 3.3)”:http://www.sixapart.com/movabletype/news/2006/08/movable-type-free.html These days, I still prefer to use Textpattern for most projects. I have never been comfortable with the way WordPress does things. But I still miss some of the power and flexibility that Movable Type offered. So perhaps I will take another look (I downloaded the Beta while I was typing this).