DOJ Decides Not to Meddle in Publishing Industry

department-of-justice-logoConsidering the past two years – in which the U.S. Department of Justice investigated and sued five of the largest U.S. publishers and Apple and then forced a situation in which they had to rewrite their contracts with ebook retailers while the industry battled over the issue – the DOJ acted uncharacteristically yesterday.

Perhaps love was in the air this Valentine’s Day and the DOJ didn’t want to get in the way of two kids who just wanted to make a go at it together in the big world; the Department announced that it was no longer looking into the proposed merger between Random House and Penguin, the two largest publishers in the world.
It’s just one regulatory hurdle, but a big one. Now Random-Penguin bankers, lawyers and execs need to wait on other regulatory bodies around the world to do the same.
If the DOJ felt a bit less interested in this issue today than it did two months ago, one wonders if Penguin’s capitulation over the issue of alleged ebook price-fixing helped the DOJ make its decision. This was thought to be part of the motivation for Penguin to settle. One key thing to remember: If the merger goes through, Penguin’s new ebook retail contracts would apply across the entire company, ending 2010-era agency pricing.

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The rest of the day’s top news:

Book Publishing Start-ups: Passion vs. Business Sense (DBW)
Trade publishing in the U.S. is a $14 billion industry. That can’t whet the appetite of venture-capital firms looking to make investments that will pay off ten-to-twenty times in three-to-five years – even with all the “disruption” going on right now. So why do VCs invest in book publishing start-ups? A love of books, says one expert.
Four Things Publishers Should Do to Get More Involved With Start-ups (Pub Perspectives)
Publishers are just not taking to book publishing start-ups the way that they could, according to a new report. The report offers some remedies, such as appointing a point person for start-up relations in-house and assigning resources to work with start-ups. One question on following these recommendations: Why?
Ebooks at 24% of Simon & Schuster Sales (Pub Lunch)
Ebooks continue to rise at one of the nation’s largest publishers. Problem is, as they do, overall revenues are decreasing.
New Atria Imprint (DBW)
Simon & Schuster has poached a HarperCollins editor and is giving her her own imprint. Atria has been known over the past year for making a living off of signing successful self-published authors.
iPads Thrive in the Classroom (The Buffalo News)
The Williamsville, NY school district is spending $300,000 to equip all of its fifth graders with iPads. Kids love them and they seem to be helping improve academic performance. Good news for publishers that want to sell content to those school districts, right? Well, there’s one problem: “the district still hasn’t found a way to purchase all the e-books it needs without having to create individual Barnes & Noble accounts for every fifth-grade iPad.” Related: Three Problems With Tablets in the Classroom.
Lee Child, E.L. James et al Send Random House Love Letter (DBW)
Happy Valentine’s Day, Random House: The publisher put out a video with some of its biggest authors talking about how much the publisher does for them. It’s part of an ongoing effort at the publisher and others to convince the publishing world and readers that they add value to the publishing process.  
Does KDP Select Still Work? (A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing)
Last year, Kindle Direct Publishing Select – the program that gives self-published authors certain benefits in the Kindle ecosystem but demands the content be exclusive – helped Joe Konrath Make $100,000 in six weeks with one of his books. This year, the results are much more modest. Konrath is hesitant to criticize the program but it’s clear from his own analysis that its effectiveness has waned.
Self-Publishing Intel (DBW)
DBW sister publication Writer’s Digest will hold a self-publishing conference this year. We have all the details here.
Putting Authors and Technologists Together (The Bookseller)
A new fund has been established to connect writers with technologists so they can experiment with new kinds of storytelling. There are two £3,000 ($4,645) currently up for grabs.
Death of the Salesmen (Futurebook)
In the UK, where the publishing market is a tad smaller than it is in the U.S., the importance of salespeople is fading fast with the rise of ebooks and of Amazon. The same is also happening in the U.S.
Impelsys Enters Library Ebook Market, Joining OverDrive and 3M (DBW)
The ebook distributor perhaps best known by DBW readers for helping publishers and other firms set up digital content subscription services will challenge OverDrive and 3M in the library ebook market.

Erotic Fiction Valentine’s Day (DBW)
Happy Valentine’s Day, fans of erotic fiction: Penguin has acquired a new erotic fan fiction series and thinks it could be the next Fifty Shades.  


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