Amazon Gives Authors New World of Options

shutterstock_127801013Amazon shocked and impressed the publishing world yet again yesterday with the launch of Kindle Worlds, a self-publishing platform specifically for fan fiction. The company has arranged deals with rights holders for several popular genre series that authors can now use as a jumping off point for creating original work for sale.
The move gives Amazon yet another conduit into the productivity of authors; it gives authors another way to monetize their output; and it gives rights holders a way to further monetize their intellectual property. On the latter point, imagine if the worldwide rights holder for the Twilight series got a piece of all sales of Fifty Shades of Grey, which started out as fan fiction.
Not so fast! Kindle Worlds won’t allow sexual content, locking out a huge percentage of all fan fiction (including Fifty Shades). Further, an Amazon spokesperson told DBW that each “licensor” has provided a set of guidelines for fan fiction created for their property.
It begs several questions: Given the choice between creative control and money, what will authors choose? Will licensors object to appropriate content created by a known fan fiction author whose other work off the platform is objectionable? What about grey areas, like if a character espouses a political view that the licensor might disagree with?

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The rest of the day’s top news:
Taking on Amazon (DBW)
Books-focused social networking site will launch a print book sales business, DBW has learned, to add to its new ebook sales business. Now that Amazon owns Goodreads, The Reading Room is billing itself as a social networking and book retal alternative.

Penguin Pays Through the Nose (Pub Lunch)
Last among the publishers to settle with the U.S. states in the matter of ebook price fixing, Penguin will pay $75 million to consumers and $15 million in various legal fees.
The Future of Content (DBW)
Ebooks are sure to factor heavily in the future of what Americans read. The American Library Association has put together a series of essays from notable thinkers on what that future might look like. See the highlights here.
Half-a-Million Ebooks (Pub Lunch)
That’s roughly how many ebooks Pub Lunch estimates that Dan Brown sold of his new book Inferno in the first five days of sales. That was enough (probably by a huge margin) to put it at the top of the ebook best-seller list.
Art to Leave Storey (PW)
Long time Storey publisher Pamela Art is leaving the Workman imprint after 30 years with the company to pursue a vague new project. Could this have something to do with Bob Miller’s departure from the company earlier this year?

Microsoft Predicts the Future of E-Reading in 1999 (The Atlantic)
In 1999, when Microsoft launched its Reader e-reading device, it made a spate of predictions about the future of e-reading. Many of them are accurate except for the timing (isn’t it all about timing?). Interestingly, Microsoft’s 2010 prediction is much more accurate than its 2001 prediction. In 2010, MS predicted that “eBook devices weigh half a pound, run 24 hours, and hold as many as a million titles.” Ironically, it was Amazon that made this a reality.
Jobs the Negotiator (QZ)
Emails released by the Department of Justice in support of its case against Apple in the matter of ebook price fixing and collusion show then-Apple CEO Steve Jobs to be a savvy negotiator and, surprisingly, a really good writer.
New Distribution Deals for INscribe Digital (DBW)
The digital content distributor has inked new deals with academic, Christian and multicultural publishers.
Who Is in Charge of How We Read? (Independent)
In reaction to Stephen King’s decision to not release an ebook version of his latest novel, one commentator questions whether it’s up to him to decide how people consume his work. (In short, for now, for the most part, yes, it is.)


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