The Year of the Author?


The year pictured was most certainly not the year of the author.

Yesterday was a big news day in ebooks and digital book publishing and we and our colleagues at the other trade publications were busy:

Random House revises author contracts in response to outcry
Hybrid author Sylvia Day signs seven-figure ebook contract with Harlequin
Self-published author tops DBW Ebook Best-Seller list

More on these specific stories below but let’s look at the big picture for a second. Now more than ever authors are in the driver’s seat. Not all of them, not all the time but more than a decade ago, certainly.

In the case of Random House, authors associations pressured it into playing nicer with authors. In the case of Day, when an author does want to play with a publisher, it’s generally on the author’s terms. And in the case of a self-published author topping the best-seller list, when authors play the game without the help of a publisher, sometimes they win.

Is it a coincidence that these three things all happened more or less at the same time or is it just the year of the author?

Related: What Authors Want — Understanding Authors in the Era of Self-Publishing

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The rest of the day’s top news:

Random House Changes Author Agreements for Hydra (DBW)
Bowing to pressure from author groups, mostly the blustery Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, Random House has changed the terms of its contracts for authors that sign with its new digital imprints. Will it be enough to placate the SFWA, which said that a Hydra deal was not enough to qualify an author for membership?

Random House Hydra VP Speaks Out (DBW)
Allison Dobson, vice president and digital publishing director for the Random House imprints in question, sits down with Digital Book World for an interview about the contract kerfuffle, the new contract terms and what’s next for Hydra, et al.

Sylvia Day’s Seven-Figure Harlequin Deal (DBW)
Harlequin, which hasn’t fared as well in the ebook era thus far as its shareholders may have hoped, is making a big bet that best-selling author Sylvia Day can help jumpstart its flagging digital business.

When a Self-Published Title Hits No. 1 (Forbes)
Amanda Hocking and others have long showed that a determined author can compete with even the largest of publishers. Yesterday, hybrid author Jennifer L. Armentrout showed that they can win. What’s perhaps most astounding is that it took a savvy publishing move to get her title to No. 1.

Android, Tablets to Rise While iOS, E-Readers to Fall (The Digital Reader)
The main message of this item may be that IDC, a market research firm that has offered a new prognostication on the tablet and e-reader market, doesn’t know what it’s doing. Nonetheless, the firm says that tablet shipments will hit 190 million worldwide this year and that Android’s share of that market will rise to nearly 50% at the expense of iOS. Meanwhile, e-reader shipments will continue to fall.

Quarto Seeks Change (Pub Lunch)
Illustrated UK publisher Quarto had a challenging year. It hasn’t been able to build a meaningful digital business. The company now has a plan to make some major changes.

Too Successful (PW)
Marvel’s free digital comics giveaway was too successful. It nearly crashed digital comic distributor ComiXology’s servers. The promotion had to be suspended.

Stay of Trial (PW)
Three indie bookstores have sued Amazon and the largest U.S. publishers over the issue of DRM in ebooks, saying it locks them out of the ebook market. Now the bookstores have joined forces with the publishers to ask for delays in the court schedule. Why? Well, for one, Amazon hasn’t even responded to the suit yet. The judge denied the request.

Physical Bookstores Taking a Page Out of Online Booksellers’ Books (Pub Perspectives)
Physical booksellers in the UK are signing deals for exclusive content that readers won’t be able to get if they buy certain books anywhere else. It’s a clever ploy likely modeled after the exclusive content war being waged by Amazon, Apple and others. But will it work?

More E-Textbook Experimentation (DBW)
Everyone thinks that e-textbooks are the future. Everyone, that is, but students, who haven’t really taken to them. Ingram is experimenting with a new partnership that will give students who buy the print version of a book access to the digital version as well. Perhaps they’ll get hooked.

Underground Book Discovery (Mashable)
One advertising project wants to turn the insides of New York City subway cars into book discovery engines that use near field communication technology. Cool.


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One thought on “The Year of the Author?

  1. Pingback: The Year of the Author? | The Passive Voice | Writers, Writing, Self-Publishing, Disruptive Innovation and the Universe


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