Apple, and Barnes and Noble, and Amazon, Oh My!
Posted on July 14, 2013
Lots of action and change happening in the publishing world. From the inside point of view of a writer trying to navigate the rough waters, it’s a mess. So let’s do some recapping of the latest kerfuffles!
Apple: It’s official. Apple lost in the Department of Justice case that accused the company, along with other publishing companies that had already dropped out, of conspiracy against Amazon for digital book pricing. According to the New York Times article, “A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that Apple had illegally conspired with five of the six biggest publishers to try to raise prices in the budding e-books market…”.
Barnes and Noble: I recently wrote about the decision by Barnes and Noble to stop producing the Nook Tablet. But there’s been more shake up in the leadership structure of the company that does not instill confidence in the company’s survival. While the Washington Post thinks that the stepping down of William Lynch as the CEO doesn’t mean the end to the bookstores, it does muddy the waters in terms of what exactly the company can and will do to not end up closed like its old extinct rival Borders.
Amazon: It’s unclear if the DOJ legal case means that Amazon will get some big shift in business or that its business practices just got legitimized by the courts. While the traditional publishing world has been portraying Amazon as the big bad wolf, what just happened was the courts just proved that it was the other way around as the publishing world tried to blow Amazon’s house down – and failed.
On an inside note from Amazon’s self-publishing world, there are a few things quietly happening that do point to how big of a bad wolf the company may be. Few may be aware of how Amazon creates algorithms so that books can be seen. From time to time, Amazon changes those algorithms, which in turn changes whose books are on top. Recently, Amazon added genre subcategories that are to help readers find specific genre books, so instead of having a book under just Fantasy, perhaps a book can be found under “Paranormal & Urban”. It helps with the searching, but could hurt a new author trying to get discovered.
The most recent change has been in how books are included in the Best Sellers lists. Rising star Elle Casey noticed the change as she watched her latest book Shine Not Burn climb up the charts. Casey noted in her blog the segregation of e-books out of the Books section into a Kindle Best Sellers list. What this does to self-publishing authors who mainly sell digital books over their available paperbacks is segregate them away from those books that sell well in physical form. In other words, there’s now a clearer separation between traditionally published books and self-published. It’s an interesting move for the company that just benefited from the recent case ruling, and one that while some readers call beneficial makes self-publishing authors take notice.
It’s never a dull moment keeping up with the publishing world. It should also be noted that the merger between Penguin and Random House is finalized, so the Big Six is now officially the Big Five. I know I’m not alone in my disappointment that they didn’t rename the merged company Random Penguin. For now, the best we can do is to keep watch on new movements and go purchase a book to read!