Posts Tagged ‘e-books’

NYT: Amazon pulls 4000 e-books

February 24, 2012

Amazon removes 4000+ e-books in pricing disagreement (NY Times)

Also, “With each side unwilling to yield, Amazon pulled the plug, and all of I.P.G.’s books for Kindle disappeared. The physical books were not affected.”


Who owns electronic rights on authors’ backlogs?

December 21, 2009

The answer could make or break a publisher or two over the next years.

Did the publishers acquire this right when they signed the author, though it was before electronic publishing existed? Or does the author now have a fresh medium in which to sell his or her older works? I hate to say it, but I think the publishers have a point on this one.

The publisher and the author will not likely have contemplated this specific scenario since their agreement was written before e-books existed. But exclusivity is a part of any contract of this type. In any case, the intent was to limit the rights to sell to other book publishers, irregardless of whether those particular book publishers existed at the time of the contract’s signing or came into being during the contract’s lifetime. No court would find the contract isn’t binding merely because the book publisher is new, and thus the contract couldn’t have contemplated that particular publisher buying the rights. The intent was to bind the author from reselling publishing rights to any other publisher. It seems to me that exclusivity would flow through to new book media, especially where the new media is merely a form of book that is not on paper. While I’m rooting for the authors and their estates on this one, as I am an indie/DIY fan, I’m betting the publishers’ lawyers used broad enough language in their publishing contracts to cover any form of book.

We’ll find out soon enough, as the fight has begun, with the NYTimes saying Random House sent letters out claiming all e-rights in its authors’ works. From that article, the other e-publisher’s response was weak: “Mr. Sharp, president of Open Road, said in an e-mailed statement: ‘We are confident in our agreements and only make deals with parties who represent to us that they own the rights.'” That doesn’t mean much; if I walk in and say I own the rights to a book, does that mean Open Road has legal standing against Random House because I was full of crap? No it doesn’t.

Random House has gone to court over this before:

There is some precedent for arguments over e-book versions of backlist titles. In 2001, Random House sued RosettaBooks, an e-book publisher, for copyright infringement when Rosetta signed contracts with authors — including Mr. Styron — to release digital versions of previously published novels.

In its suit, Random House relied on wording in its contracts that granted it all rights to publish the works “in book form.” In its letter to agents on Friday, Random House invoked the same wording to defend its right to publish e-books of backlist titles.

In 2001, a federal judge in Manhattan denied Random House’s request for a preliminary injunction against RosettaBooks, ruling that “in book form” did not automatically include e-books. An appellate court similarly denied Random House’s request.

The case never went to trial. In a settlement, Random House granted Rosetta a license to release e-book versions of 51 titles. Under a different agreement with Mr. Styron, Rosetta also published two of his books, though its license to do so has since expired.

The fact that the preliminary injunction was denied is not, in my opinion, evidence that Random House will lose the next round. It looks like there will have to be a precedence-setting, to-the-end court fight before this one’s decided. Books such as Catch-22 and Sophie’s Choice are the battleground in this fight, per the article, and that makes sense. The books we all have to read for college have an annually changing captive audience, and that captive audience will be reading mostly electronically in just a couple of years. I’m all for the author getting the profit for books, and as a begrudging Kindle Convert I think e-books are going to take over. If those authors can prove an e-book is something entirely different from a book, then the rights old publishers hold soon won’t be worth the paper they were printed on.

Smell of Books spray adds to e-book reading experience.

June 9, 2009

Smell of Books, now available in five designer aromas

Another e-book problem solved, this time by Smell of Books aroma spray. I would probably go for Classic Musty Scent, but Eau, You Have Cats sounds promising. From the looks of the site, they’ve done some extensive e-device compatibility testing, but please note from the warnings section that Smell of Books is not for use with “real” books, nor with a Zune!