NY Times Business Section: Google's officially in the E-publishing game now. The deal reached (Authors Guild v. Google settlement) concerns Google's publishing of electronic versions of out-of-print books, but books that are still under copyright protection. The settlement is subject to the court approval process, which is pending, but it is a harbinger of the varied future of publishing. A particularly salient point is that "Google would share online sales revenue with publishers and authors."
The article examines numerous other new ideas that are being explored by publishers (including e-books on iPhones, for example). In support of the concept that the industry is expanding, technologically, from the tried-and-true print & ship to stores version, the article quotes Eileen Gittins, chief executive of Blurb, a company that aids self-publishers using the internet: "The book business model is under siege, just as the music industry earlier came under siege."
Kindle/Sony Readers/ cell-phone and iPhone "publishing" are just the tip of the technological iceberg and Genevieve Shore, digital director for Penguin in London said in the Times' article "We will have some interesting new business models on the market in 2009."
In fact, the Times reports that while books sales in the US fell 1.5 percent in the first 9 months of this year, e-book wholesale sales are up 55 percent from a year earlier. Look for this to add impetus to the industry's pursuit of electronic delivery methods.
Electronic books have been available for a while, including Project Gutenberg, which makes more than 25,000 books available for download. Their focus, however, is on books whose copyrights have expired, unlike Google, who will be providing titles that still enjoy copyright protection.
This is just one salvo in the war on the traditional paper book. Given the plethora of electronic delivery options, increasingly "green-minded" consumers, and continuing glum fiscal news, look for everyone in the business to invent, explore, expand and promote alternative publishing and distribution of books. Particularly as the legal ramifications are more completely identified, the various parties weigh in, and precedent for these issues are straightened out.
The October 27 edition of PW (which arrived in my mailbox on 11/7), the Deals column highlights new deals for fiction authors Beth Hoffman ("Saving Ceecee Honeycutt - woman's fiction) and William Ryan (The Holy Thief and 2 addtl. titles, historical crime), both by agents at InkWell. Sounds like a "happening" place for authors to be! Check out their website for more details on this agency (see link to the right).
Lots of romance titles got reviewed in the issue, including a great one for Janye Ann Krentz' new HC title, "Running Hot" (Putnam) "The plot is fast, steamy and wildy entertaining..." Also - Meg Cabot's "Ransom My Heart" is an historical romance "...thoroughly enjoyable and funny."
Other general reviews included "Midnight Sins by Cynthia Eden (Kensington/Brava), "Night Shadow" by Cherry Adair (Ballantine). Mass Market reviews of "Untamed", (starred review) Pamela Clare (Leisure) - about this historical they say: "Clare's detailed attention to the history of alliances forged and battles fought near Fort Ticonderoga adds authenticity, and the characters evolve and change with a realism that readers will love"; "Dying for You" Beverly Barton (HQN) "fast pace and hot-tempered romance"; "Wicked is the Night", Catherine Mulvaney (Pocket Star) - "a diverting if pedictable tale"; and "What a Pirate Desires", Michaelle Beattie's debut title (Berkley Sensation) - "This very traditional but fun romance features a feisty heroine, a tortured hero and a sassy parttot, along with strong doses of betrayal, action and plenty of cunning". The number of reviews give romance a nice plug - not always the case in PW which sometimes reviews a mere one or two romance titles.
And the 11/9 Publishers Lunch Deluxe provides details on 12 new deals for romance novels/authors, more than any other genre covered; 11/10 (hooray!).
Lastly, you might wish to consider looking into membership in the Authors Guild. Their membership fee is $90, but they include contract review among their member benefits. Given the diversity of contracts - e-contracts particularly deviate from the old standard publishing contracts - and the recent propensity of publishers to include new provisions, and to change what had been some traditional provisions - for those of us without agents, it is a good source of legal advice that can help you avoid pain, heartache and wasted efforts later. Their link is on the right!