DBW Weekly Roundup: 10/8/10

DBW News RoundupDigital Book World presents a weekly round-up of some of the most interesting news, commentary and tweets related to publishing that you may have missed, from all over the digital book world:

Why E-books Are Such a Big Deal
Peter Osnos, The Atlantic

The surest way to get the book is from Amazon, where the hardcover is in stock at $17.79 (discounted from the retail price of $26.95) along with a Kindle e-book version at $14.82 and a downloadable audio from Amazon’s Audible for $14.96. From Apple’s iPad bookstore, you can have the e-book for $12.99. Barnes & Noble has the hardcover for sale, but not the e-book. The likelihood of The New Nobility becoming a bestseller is, let’s face it, nil. But instead of being lost in the great mountain of new releases that are unloaded at stores each month and almost immediately returned as excess inventory, the book is, at most, a few clicks away from ownership—and that represents a heartening development for authors and publishers.

When is E-Royalty Not a Royalty? When 9th Circuit Court Says It Isn’t
Richard Curtis, E-Reads

Ethan Smith of the Wall Street Journal explains the issues (the italics are ours): “Under most recording contracts, artists are entitled to 50% of revenue from licensed uses of their music. That usually means soundtracks for movies, TV shows and ads. Sales, on the other hand generate royalties for the artist at a much lower rate—generally in the low teens, and rarely more than 20%.” For “recording contracts” read “publishing contracts”.  Under current book industry standards publishers pay authors a 25% royalty for e-book sales.  Their contracts also call for a 50% share of e-book licenses made with third parties. But publishers do not consider e-book revenue to be license revenue. If they did they’d have to pay authors 50% of what they receive rather than half of that amount.

Marmite, Maturalism, and Mangification: What Publishers Can Learn from the World of Trends Research
Laura Hazard Owen, Publishing Trends

“Publishers are in a very precarious situation,” Celente told PT. “They mistake trends with fads, they react rather than proact, and they jump onto what’s big. Another really stupid thing they do is put together consumer panels. Why are you asking people who don’t know? They’re doing what is, not what’s going to be. I’ve sat in on a lot of market research panels and they come up with a big zero when it comes to forecasting.” His recommendation for publishers, and anyone else in business, is “making connections between fields. One of my sayings is, ‘Opportunity misses those who view the world through the eyes of their profession.’”

Hollywood must plot a new course to win back its audience
Jeremy Kay, guardian.co.uk

And speaking of video games, studios still don’t understand that, by and large, adaptations of their tentpole releases rarely satisfy. Of course some become hits, but simply getting your gaming division to use the same story structure and characters won’t work when the story is lacking and competition in the games arena is so high. In this regard it’s heartening to see interest in Hollywood coalescing around transmedia. This is the notion that a core intellectual property, say a “bible” or scrapbook of story notes and artist’s impressions about a particular milieu or band of characters, can inspire narrative offshoots that do not mimic each other and work across multiple platforms. The game, movie and graphic novel will all explore elements of this world while remaining true to the overarching meta-narrative of the IP. Several companies have sprung up in the past 18 months dedicated to this form of content creation, and a number of established producers are looking at it. Let’s see if it catches on with the studios.

Book Publisher Macmillan Launches New Film and TV Division
Sarah Weinman, Daily Finance

While Bertelsmann-owned Random House Films co-finances movies in a joint venture with Focus Features (though to date, only one — Reservation Road, based on the 1998 novel by John Burnham Schwartz — has made it from deal to screen) and Simon & Schuster (CBS) has made deals with sister division CBS Films, Macmillan’s new venture will work a little differently, as Deneen told Deadline: “We will develop the ideas in-house, and hire writers who’ll share in the success of the projects. We will retain all rights and hopefully set them up.” Once those ideas are set and a treatment written up, the rights will be shopped to prospective studios.

Random House And Hammer Films Seal Major New Publishing Partnership

I’m particularly excited that we will be publishing Jeanette Winterson in Hammer next year. She’s one of the most inventive and exciting British writers working today, and as such is the ideal ambassador for the Hammer imprint.’ Added Simon Oakes: ‘The life blood of any film company is ideas and stories and, as we reboot Hammer, we can think of no better partner in the publishing world than Random House. Like Caroline Michel and PFD, the team at Random House immediately shared our vision for “Hammer 2.0”. We can’t wait to work with them on the creation of innovative and terrifying new stories for our imprint.’

Tweet of the Week

Colleen Cunningham on #pubexcite

That’s just a taste of what you may have missed this week. To stay on top of the most interesting news, commentary and tweets related to publishing, keep in touch via our RSS feed, follow us on Twitter, join your publishing colleagues in our LinkedIn group, and connect with the broader DBW Network.


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