Late last week, Judge Denise Cote, the judge who has presided over the Department of Justice lawsuit against Apple and five of the then-Big Six publishers, approved the terms of the settlements with the publishers, meaning the doors have finally been opened for the money to begin making its way back to the consumers who overpaid for ebooks.
But one person has been working to block the approval of those terms on the grounds that the publishers will not try to stand up for themselves (the publishers maintain there was no effort to bilk the public out of hundreds of millions of dollars, they quickly settled out of court to avoid what would end up costing them more in legal fees), meaning presumably someone must step in.
Bob Kohn, former CEO and founder of the digital solutions company RoyaltyShare who works with a number of major publishers, did not attempt to object to the settlements posed earlier this year with HarperCollins, Simon&Schuster, or Hachette, but objected Friday to the settlement terms for Macmillan and Penguin. His argument was that the actions of the publishers were not in violation of the Sherman Act (which is in place to prevent companies from colluding on the prices of goods to inflate them artificially, for example), but that their actions were necessary to prevent Amazon from growing even larger than it already is.
While some may feel that’s a “noble” reason for breaking the law, Judge Cote disagreed.
Kohn took a huge risk in posing his objection and asking for a Motion to Intervene. The states’ attorneys general were prepared to ask Kohn to foot the bill for a bond to return that money to consumers should he have succeeded in his motion to delay the settlement. While he was unsuccessful, Kohn’s motion in no way impacted the decision or proceedings against Apple for its part in this issue; Apple is appealing its own ruling, handed down by Cote earlier this year in which she found sufficient evidence of price fixing on the part of the company.
As the settlement with the publishers has been approved, consumers should soon start to see refunds–most likely issued in the form of credits on their accounts–for ebooks purchased during the time period of the stated collusion. Some studies of the case found that more than 20 million consumers were affected by the illegal price increases on ebooks.
UPDATE: Bob Kohn is no longer with RoyaltyShare, having left the company earlier this year.
Over the course of 2012 and 2013 tablet sales have been steadily increasing with 45.2 million units being shipped out in Q1 2013 alone. The growth may be coming to an end as major display production companies are shifting their manufacturing might to smartphones.
Taiwan-based makers together will ship 242.72 million smartphone touch panels and 51.81 million tablet touch panels in 2014. This increases the smartphone production segment by 11.7% and decreases the tablet market by a whopping 29.4%.
It seems from sources we have talked to Asus that the market will be eroded in 2014 as basically “anyone who wants a tablet already has one.” Dell, HP, Barnes and Noble and Acer have all scaled back on their product offerings for most of 2013 and the trend will continue.
Major publishing companies such as Penguin, Hachette and Simon and Schuster are starting to see 24% of their revenue stem from eBook sales. Certainly many tech savvy users are embracing the format, but not everyone. Nearly 70% of consumers say it is unlikely that they will give up on printed books by 2016, citing an emotional and visceral attachment to tangible texts.
You would be hard pressed to go a week without reading a news headline about how eBooks are dominating the world and the printed book is dead. Despite their perceived popularity, 60% of eBooks downloaded are never read in the US. Since 2012, the growth of eBooks has slowed significantly as dedicated e-Reader sales are declining, and tablet PC devices are increasingly becoming utilized for other forms of entertainment.
“More than 500 years after the invention of the printing press, book manufacturers and publishers are playing a pivotal role in the next renaissance in books that is happening now,” said George Promis, vice president of continuous forms production solutions & technology alliances, Ricoh. “To borrow a phrase from Mark Twain, reports of the printed book’s death are greatly exaggerated. Print is alive, well and sought after in today’s book market. At Ricoh, we’re focused on ensuring this stays true for years to come.”
The Good e-Reader Radio Show is back with Editor in Chief Michael Kozlowski and Jeremy Greenfield of Digital Book World. Today on the show they discuss how much do authors make and is it better to cut your teeth self-publishing or to go for a traditional book deal right away?
Also on the show they regale you with tales of a few editorials done in the Wall Street Journal on judge involved in the Apple case and the court appointed monitor. Apple is not happy that in two weeks they got a bill for $150,000 and the guy wants to meet Al Gore, Tim Cook and other board members without legal counsel present.
There is lots of news about various library and school initiatives to talk about in relation to Axis 360 and Overdrive. If you are in those sectors, you may dig some of the details they talk about. Finally, in the next few weeks Good e-Reader will be doing out forecast of 2014 and an audio show to coincide with the events.
Marvel has just announced that they are now digitally distributing a monthly preview list for their Marvel NOW! line of comics. It is a FREE download available now in the Marvel Comics app for iOS and Android devices and in the Marvel Comics webstore!
The new monthly previews for the Marvel NOW! universe features sneak peeks of Avengers World #1, All-New Invaders #1, Black Widow #1, All-New X-Factor #1, Thunderbolts 20.NOW, All-New X-Men 22.NOW and Savage Wolverine 14.NOW – All-New Marvel NOW! Previews #1 features some of the industry’s top creators tackling some of the Marvel Universe’s biggest characters!
So what exactly is Marvel NOW? It is basically a rebrand of several ongoing comic books that debuted in October 2012 with new #1 issues. The relaunch also included some new titles, including Uncanny Avengers and All-New X-Men. Described as a shifting of the Marvel Universe following the conclusion of the Avengers vs. X-Men storyline, Marvel NOW! entails changes to both the publishing format and the fictional universe to attract new readers. Publishing changes include new creative teams for each of the titles and the in-universe changes include changes to character designs and new storylines. It is not exactly the Ultimates, but quite different from the normal Marvel universe.
Baker & Taylor, the world’s largest distributor of digital and physical books and entertainment products, announced today that through a pilot program it will now be able to make available more than 450 popular ebook titles from Simon & Schuster imprints to classrooms and school libraries using the Axis 360 digital media circulation platform.
The brand new pilot program will allow Baker & Taylor’s K-12 customers to purchase access to many popular, classic and award-winning Simon & Schuster ebooks for school-aged readers. Some of the titles included in the pilot are Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Betsy Lewin, Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson, Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt and For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway.
“Even more than their parents, young readers are very comfortable with digital content, so the addition of children’s and teens’ ebooks from such a large and influential publisher as Simon & Schuster is a welcome development in our industry,” said George Coe, President of Baker & Taylor’s Library & Education division. “Children now have more ways to discover books that engage their minds, and can do so on platforms that are familiar and easy to use.”
It’s time for our weekly look at the top-selling digital comics of the week. There are a few surprises this week and some predictable results as well.
1. Amazing X-Men #2
2. Superior Spider-Man #23
3. Inhumanity #1
4. Earth 2 #18
5. Batman/Superman #6
6. The Walking Dead #117
7. Amazing Spider-Man #700.1
8. Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 3 #9
9. Young Avengers, vol. 2 #13
10. Cataclysm: The Ultimates’ Last Stand #2
Marvel dominates the comiXology top ten again this week, taking seven out of ten slots; The Walking Dead #117, which topped the chart last week, is back for an encore in the number 6 slot, and DC has just two titles on the list. One of this week’s notable Marvel titles is Inhumanity #1, which kicks off a series about the Inhumans, an ancient, genetically enhanced tribe whose city has just been destroyed. And Peter Parker is back in Amazing Spider-Man #700.1, with both Peter and the series being resurrected after the supposedly final events of Amazing Spider-Man #700.
1. The Hedge Knight
2. Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Ghoul Goblin, vol. 1
3. The Essential Calvin and Hobbes
4. The Sandman, vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes
5. The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes
6. The Walking Dead, vol. 1
7. Batman, vol. 1: The Court of Owls
8. Justice League, vol. 1: Origin
9. Ultimate Comics Wolverine vs. Hulk
10. The Authoritative Calvin and Hobbes
Most of the books on this week’s list are the same as last week’s, but the order is shuffled around quite a bit, which means people are still buying them. Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files is new to the list; it was released two weeks ago by Dynamite Entertainment.
1. Smallville #1
2. The Sandman: Overture #1
3. Naruto, vol. 63
4. Forever Evil #3
5. Demon Love Spell, vol. 5
6. It’s a Dog’s Life, Snoopy
7. Sandman #1
8. The World According to Lucy
9. Snoopy at the Bat
10. The Walking Dead, vol. 1
Smallville #1 topped the Nook list last week, too, but you didn’t see it here because it was a free comic—DC was offering a number of digital-first comics for free over the Thanksgiving holiday. Its position in the number one slot probably reflects a lot of free downloads. Everything else is in the same position relative to the other books as they were last week, except for one more new title: Demon Love Spell, vol. 5. This series was my pick for the worst manga of 2013 at the Best and Worst Manga panel at San Diego Comic Con last summer, which shows how much I know.
1. The Walking Dead #117
2. The Walking Dead, vol. 19
3. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic #13
4. The Walking Dead, vol. 1
5. The Walking Dead Compendium Two
6. The Walking Dead #116
7. My Little Pony Micro Series #10: Luna
8. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic #1
9. The Walking Dead Compendium One
10. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic #12
The Walking Dead are taking over the iBookstore, apparently, with six titles in the top ten as opposed to four My Little Pony titles. It’s interesting how much of a lock these two comics have on the iBooks top ten, and that holds true further down the list as well; it’s as if these are the only titles a lot of people buy on iBooks.
Early last month, Netflix announced that it will develop five miniseries based on Marvel comics: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist will each get their own miniseries, then they will all come together in The Defenders. Last week, the news broke that Twilight writer Melissa Rosenberg will be the writer and executive producer of the Jessica Jones miniseries; she had previously developed a series for ABC based on the character, but that project never came to fruition.
Jessica Jones is an intriguing character. She went to high school with Peter Parker and was there when he was bitten by the radioactive spider that turned him into Spider-Man. Shortly after that, she was in a car accident in which her family was killed and she was exposed to radioactive chemicals, which gave her her powers. In her first comic series, Alias, which is not available digitally, she took the name Jewel and became a costumed superhero, but things did not work out well, and she left to become a private investigator.
Jessica takes a prominent role in the series The Pulse, which is available as part of the Marvel Unlimited subscription service but not on comiXology (except for issue #10, which is a tie-in to the House of M event). As the series begins, she is the girlfriend of superhero Luke Cage and is expecting his child. Looking for a steady income and health insurance, she takes a job with the Daily Bugle (the same paper where Peter Parker, Spider-Man’s alter ego, is a photographer) as a sort of consultant, working with reporters Ben Urich and Kat Farrell. There are three story arcs that are a good read on their own: issues 1-5, in which the staff investigates the disappearance of another reporter and ends up unmasking the Green Goblin; issues 11-13, in which Jessica has her baby during rather tumultuous circumstances; and issue 14, the final issue in the series, in which she tells her baby about one other time she tried to be a superhero, but set it aside to protect two children who were left at a crime scene. At the end of this issue, she decides she will marry Luke Cage, who proposed in issue 13. These three story arcs are a great introduction to Jessica and Luke and won’t get you bogged down with other storylines, as the rest of the series crosses over with other Marvel stories.
If you want to see more of Jessica—and Luke—check out The New Avengers, vol. 2, which ran from 2010-2012. In this series, Luke and his superhero compatriots move to the Avengers Mansion, splitting off from the main group, but they are soon drawn into a battle with supernatural forces. In Settle in for a good read, because this series lasts for 34 issues (also available on Marvel Unlimited).
While news is out about the creative team behind the show, nobody has yet said where Jessica will be in her life journey—the series could focus on her Alias days, before she met Luke and had her baby, or it could pick up the storyline later. The course of true love doesn’t always run smooth for Luke and Jessica, so there are a lot of possibilities. Add that to the fact that Jessica is a strong woman who is fiercely devoted to her child, but at the same time has a realistic view of her abilities and the constraints of life as a superhero, and you have the opportunity for a show that really breaks the standard superhero mold. With Rosenberg helming the project, it will be interesting to see what lies in store for Jessica Jones.
Verdict: 4 Stars
Game developer and author Jeff Kinney has done it again with a new Diary of a Wimpy Kid title, Hard Luck (Amulet Books). In this go around, life is even tougher for everyone’s favorite cartoonish middle schooler. Not only does he have the usual obstacles to juggle, like unpopularity, not doing well in school, and the proverbial middle child problems, this year, and even bigger threat has invaded: a girlfriend.
Specifically, Greg’s best friend’s girlfriend. Rowley, who could be counted on to be Greg’s wingman in all situations, somehow has attracted someone of the opposite sex, and therefore dropped Greg like third period French.
Part of the fun of the Wimpy Kid books is that they are completely relatable to both current readers and to adults who remember the angst of middle school. Apart from that, readers can also enjoy the “you, not me” aspect to Greg’s misadventures. While the book series has been banned in several US schools and libraries due to the attitudes and misbehaviors of some of the key characters, the entire series and this title in particular are perfect for reluctant readers who might identify with the constant uncertainty Greg feels.
Hard Luck is available now, and currently holds the number one bestseller spot on several retailer and book lists.
Simon&Schuster UK has recently announced the launch of a genre-specific social media and blog site, meant to entice avid readers of its New Adult and Romance titles. Called The Hot Bed and curated by an in-house team of four Simon&Schuster UK professionals, the site aims to be the source for news about S&S’s top-selling and most well-loved romance authors, as well as a blog for those authors to make appearances.
Fans will also get in on the action as they can connect with authors and with one-another via the site. The Twitter and Facebook feeds for the new site will allow fans to engage with the storylines and offer their remarks. The site also offers Tumblr, Pinterest, and YouTube landings.
Several authors have already been featured on the site, including S&S authors Jamie McGuire, Abbi Glines, Colleen Hoover, Alice Clayton, and Christina Lauren.
As the site continues to grow, new program offerings will be announced, including reader events for fans. The site has also promised future efforts to promote the brand through connectedness with other presumably romance brands.
Jamie McGuire, Abbi Gilnes, Colleen Hoover, Alice Clayton and Christina Lauren
None had expected the UK based supermarket chain Tesco to come up with a tablet offering of its own; and if that wasn’t enough, the company has now stated they are planning a sequel for launch soon. All of it started with the Hudl, whose biggest feature has been its affordable price tag. Tesco is claiming the Hudl, which went on sale for £119 (roughly around 195 USD), sold in numbers significant enough to warrant coming up with a sequel. The Hudi went on to notch up sales figure of more than 35,000 within the first few days of its launch, while around 300,000 have been sold in the two months since. That is the entire shipment they had expected to sell through the end of 2013.
As for the upcoming Hudl 2, almost the entire thing remains cloaked in secrecy and the only thing we know of the upcoming device is that it will sport enhanced specifications. That’s hardly surprising considering every sequel is designed to be better than its predecessor. However, it remains to be seen just how much of an improvement Hudl 2 comes with without disturbing the affordability factor which is believed to be Tesco’s trump card.
Aldi’s decision to follow suit with an even cheaper tablet, one that costs just £80, may be a competing point for the Hudl. Dubbed the Medion Lifetab Android tablet or just Lifetab, the tablet comes with features that can be considered befitting the price tag, though a reported four hour run time will be a real pain. Nevertheless, the tablet offers compatibility with the Google Play Store where it will have access to over 850k Android apps. The tablet also comes pre-loaded with quite a few apps such as Drawing Pad, a media player, and a month long free trial of Kaspersky Tablet Security.
As such, there seems to be a new battle brewing in the ultra-low cost tablet segment where the Hudl may have taken an initial lead, though competition is hot on its heels.