The Unofficial AAR Blog

The AAR Blog is an open online forum created by the AAR Digital Rights Committee to educate the membership on all aspects of and issues surrounding the emerging digital publishing marketplace.

This blog does not accept comments, but we encourage you to discuss issues raised here to @Digitar on Twitter

All blog posts appearing in the AAR Blog, as well as the contents within the links provided, reflect the views of their individual authors and do not reflect the views or position of the Association of Author's Representatives

  • 20 May 2013 2:07 PM | Digital Rights Committee (Administrator)

    Though the implications, the cost, the strategy, the future, the “synergy”, the EVERYTHING about this potential Tumblr/Yahoo deal is unclear, it’s important. Tumblr has been a megaphone for a lot of authors. So is Yahoo going to kill the switch or serve as megaphone?

  • 08 May 2013 2:06 PM | Digital Rights Committee (Administrator)

    Interesting take on the benefits of books being hacked pre-pub–at least for best-selling authors.

  • 07 May 2013 2:04 PM | Digital Rights Committee (Administrator)
    Maybe everyone else on the agent-planet is aware of this trend. Two of my clients were just contacted, each by a different organization, but for a similar purpose–Author Solutions (owned by Penguin) and Flow Media, respectively. The clients were asked to be interviewed on camera or phone for multi-media use by the company with the promise that the authors would be allowed use the tape for free to help promote their books–this benefit was hard sold. What particularly concerned me was that one client agreed without reading the fine print of the release form (and it WAS fine print) that her interview could be sold by the company–she felt she was pitched that this was a free service to aspiring writers. And now her interview is being sold as part of a subscription with no pay off for her. The other client did not agree to go forward despite the hard-sell that this was a “promotional opportunity” for her–her interview would have been part of a “CD of the month club.” Important to be alert to these services–and what it is they are actually requesting.
  • 06 May 2013 2:02 PM | Digital Rights Committee (Administrator)

    Barnes and Noble nook revival attempt

    Take a look at the DBW piece on an effort to revive the Nook by opening up to Google Play–in other words, millions of games, movies, TV shows and more– through Google Play rather than only offer it’s proprietary apps system.  This may well end B&N’s Nook-specific app development.  Good to see them thinking expansively; gives one hope….

  • 02 May 2013 2:00 PM | Digital Rights Committee (Administrator)
    Given all the recent press about Kindle Singles and the Atavist, it’s interesting to see that The Atlantic magazine is launching an e-book division.
  • 19 Apr 2013 1:56 PM | Digital Rights Committee (Administrator)

    I am always interested in international digital imprints, given that we’re still hearing that digital isn’t picking up in other countries the way that it is in the US, let alone the sort of self-published/independent author-mindset.  Perhaps that will be changing as more international publishers add imprints that take submissions directly from authors?  See below:

    HarperFiction in the UK’s new digital-first imprint, HarperImpulse, is accepting manuscript submissions directly from authors. HarperFiction Publishing Director Kim Young, who is running the imprint with content developer Charlotte Ledger, got what she asked for during their first month of accepting submissions. In an interview with Love A Happy Ending Magazine, Young said, “With our new digital first imprint though we want to hear from everybody and hope to increase that number!” Young said her women’s fiction team at HarperFiction handled about 12 submissions per week, but HarperImpulse “received nearly 500 manuscripts in less than a month and has three acquisition deals in the works,” according to their press release.

    HarperImpulse is based in the UK and accepts submissions from UK writers and from international writers. In a call for submissions on the Authonomy blog, the editors of HarperImpulse said they are looking for “all sub-genres of the romance spectrum, from fun & fast Adult and New Adult genre fiction to more mainstream novels; particularly contemporary, historical, paranormal and erotic fiction.” Young told Love A Happy Ending that she is is focusing on New Adult novels for “the next big trend.” With Harper Impulse, Young and her team hope to build on the fantastic storytelling of authors like JA Redmerski with the support of HarperFiction Marketing, Publicity, and Sales teams to keep up with trends in the digital realm.

  • 15 Apr 2013 1:54 PM | Digital Rights Committee (Administrator)

    Simon and Schuster has just announced an ebook lending program with New York City area libraries that will begin next month. The program allows libraries to purchase all S&S frontlist and backlist ebook titles currently available, with new releases available on their release dates. The ebooks will be available for one year from the purchase date with unlimited checkouts. Each copy of an ebook can be checked out by only one user at a time. In addition, readers can purchase their own copy of an ebook by clicking through the library catalog pages. Through the S&S pilot program, the library will receive a share of the proceeds from the sale of ebooks from click-throughs. Queens Library President and CEO Thomas W. Galante said in the press release, “This bold new program is an important step in the right direction. It not only gives our customers access to some of the hottest titles; it also offers an innovation to allow patrons to purchase titles and support the library at the same time. It’s a win for everyone.”

    The New York Public Library reported a 168% increase in ebook borrowing last year, a growing trend in library lending. According to Library Journal’s 2012 report on digital lending, “average circulation more than doubled from 5,000 to 11,000 between 2009 and 2010, and then quadrupled from 11,000 to 44,000 between 2010 and 2011.” In addition, 27.8% of libraries offer mobile reading devices for circulation, according to the American Library Association.

    Simon and Schuster is the last of the Big Six publishers to announce a library e-book lending program. According to the ALA, ebooks have been available to libraries from Random House and HarperCollins for the longest time. Frontlist titles from HarperCollins can be checked out 26 times before the license expires. Backlist titles are available from Hachette for library circulation. Penguin, after a nearly year-long hiatus, re-launched a lending program starting in the NYC area on October 1st, 2012 which allowed libraries to purchase frontlist titles six months after publication.  Macmillan affirmed in January of this year that they would soon begin a lending program for the Minotaur backlist for two years or 52 lendings, whichever comes first.

    NYPL President Tony Marx said in a press release, “This is a path breaking step that will ensure that as ebook readership grows our citizens can enjoy access to books akin to what the library has always provided.”

  • 08 Apr 2013 1:52 PM | Digital Rights Committee (Administrator)

    This morning’s New York Times published an opinion piece by Scott Turow, president of the Author’s Guild, calling everyone to task:

    • The Supreme Court, for allowing the importation and resale of foreign editions of US books;
    • Publishers, for not being more generous to authors, and “limiting e-book royalties to 25 percent of net receipts. That is roughly half of a traditional hardcover royalty.”
    • Google, for linking to websites offering pirated versions of his book;
    • Publishers again, for not selling ebooks to libraries;
    • Amazon, for patenting an ebook resale marketplace;
    • Russia, where  ”e-publishing is savaged by instantaneous piracy that goes almost completely unpoliced”,
    • …and many others.

    My favorite line in that story is the following:

    “[I] in the country of Tolstoy and Chekhov, few Russians, let alone Westerners, can name a contemporary Russian author whose work regularly affects the national conversation.

    Right – because Scott Turow’s novels are all about affecting the national conversation.  Scott, have you looked at the national conversation about books?  Are we talking Tolstoy and Chekhov?

    No, from what I see, most of the national conversation has been about Fifty Shades of Grey.

    The Constitution’s framers had it right. Soviet-style repression is not necessary to diminish authors’ output and influence. Just devalue their copyrights.”

    Wait, what?   Where in there did he talk about devaluing copyright?


    Now I’m not saying that I disagree with Mr. Turow on all of these points.  But a scattershot op-ed about all the things wrong with the business of publishing and writing doesn’t seem to make any new or major points (let alone suggestions for solutions)  – other than that many writers are being nibbled to death by very large and hungry rats.

  • 26 Mar 2013 1:48 PM | Digital Rights Committee (Administrator)

    This post is from agent Liza Dawson:

    I continually hunger to make sense of our digital business world. Two books have absolutely thrilled me: Clayton Christensen’s THE INNOVATOR’S DILEMMA: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail and Timothy Wu’s THE MASTER SWITCH: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires

    Both books offer a big-picture view of the intertwined history of content, technology and corporations. They explain how development of the telephone, television, radio, film and computer industries were each blasted open by surprise technological advances. In all cases, the disruptive tech advance led to a long period of openness. But then, inevitably, in comes the aggressive new guy in town: Bell Telephone or RCA, for instance. The little guys are muscled aside and the pool of players contracts.

    Christensen and Wu cover the history, but more than that they provide a detailed road map of this Wild Wild West e-world we are living in. And that’s what they can do for us — look back at what happened in other industries so that we can figure out what’s going to happen in ours.

    Almost every week I meet with another smart, ambitious publishing innovator. And each time I scribble down my notes, I’m really thinking: Could I be sitting with one of those crazed, brilliant, driven, slightly vicious oddballs whom everyone dismisses…but who is creating the future and not just trying to make sense of it?

    I’m going to direct you to Christensen and Wu’s websites rather than linking you to a half dozen innovative retailers, because everyone needs to make his own decision about where and how to acquire content:

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