Penguin Random House Inks Amazon Deal

Penguin Random House Amazon ebooks agency pricingWith Penguin Random House announcing a new multi-year distribution contract with Amazon, all Big Five publishers have now come to terms with the e-tailer.

What those terms consist of, though, remains to be seen in the case of the world’s largest trade publisher, which declined to confirm whether it, too, had agreed to a version of the agency model of ebook pricing its four counterparts have attained.

But the prices of Penguin Random House titles in the Kindle Store should soon offer some indication.

Reports that Penguin Random House UK was on the brink of a standoff with Amazon last month appear to have been overstated; the publisher’s titles never vanished from Amazon’s catalog, as some suspected they might. Others now wonder whether the antitrust probe Amazon is facing in Europe helped speed the deal.


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Smashwords Widens Preordering (DBW)
Previously the self-publishing platform Smashwords has required users to upload final text and cover image files to its system in order to begin offering preorders to readers. Since preordering has become such a crucial sales mechanism for Smashwords authors, though, the platform changes its rules to make preorder capabilities available up to twelve months before final ebook assets are available.

Ebook Subscription Services Adjust to French Law (Ink, Bits & Pixels)
Several of the leading ebook subscription services in France—excluding Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, about which no word on the matter has yet been reported—are said to have adjusted their models to bring them in line with a recent ruling requiring publishers to maintain control over the prices of their ebooks, including on subscription platforms.

Cengage Focuses on Digital as Sales Fall (PW)
A year after emerging from bankruptcy, Cengage Learning finds sales and revenue both down at the end of its fiscal 2015, which ended March 31. Two bright patches were growth in international sales, up more than 10%, and digital sales in the U.S., which grew 13%. One of the company’s stated priorities for the year ahead is doubling down on digital product development.

Marvel Expands Amazon Partnership (FastCo)
Marvel adds more than 12,000 of its individual issues of its digital comics titles to the Kindle Store, making new releases available the same day they’re published. The deal builds on and extends Marvel’s partnership with the Amazon-owned ComiXology.
Related: Marvel Adds Digital Comics to Kobo Catalog

ICYMI: The Hard, Crucial Fight for Customer Relationships (DBW)
Publishers are making great strides toward building relationships directly with their readers after decades of considering retailers their sole customers. As IPR License’s Tom Chalmers explains, doing that successfully starts and ends with recognizing that the reader now “holds all of the power…thanks to the Internet and the various forms of social media.”
Related: Discovery Challenges Mount in a Reader-Driven World

New Framework for Rights Statements (Library Journal)
A working group comprised of leading organizations in the field devises a common framework for international rights statements, much of it drawing on the language for licenses Creative Commons, which participated in the initiative, has developed for web content.

Publishers Push to Protect Greek Book Market (The Bookseller)
As Greece lurches toward a possible exit from the Eurozone, the International Publishers Association calls on finance authorities to impose protections on the economically battered country’s fragile book market, which has reportedly shrunk by 40% over the past five years.

India Widens Access to Digital Education Content (Times of India)
A slate of programs spearheaded by the administration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and designed to widen public access to digital educational resources like ebooks, digital textbooks, audio and video content is set to launch later this summer. “The idea is to bring publishers, free as well as commercial, and schools…together,” one of the initiative’s developers says. “For students it will reduce the burden of physical books and [allow] easy access to structured resources created by schools.”


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