Print 23 comment(s) - last by GulWestfale.. on Nov 25 at 11:56 AM

Amazon is paying the publishers for each book that is loaned out, but publishers also want a a say in how their books are used

November has been a huge month for Amazon with the addition of the Kindle Owners' Lending Library to Amazon Prime memberships and the release of its first Kindle Fire tablet just yesterday. But with much success comes a few bumps in the road, and the Authors Guild is working to provide such obstacles in Amazon's road to success.

The Authors Guild, which is a non-profit American organization of and for authors, criticized Amazon's Kindle Owners' Lending Library in a post dated November 14 on its own website.

According to the Authors Guild, Amazon blatantly disregarded the wishes of some U.S. trade book publishers by offering their books in the Kindle Owners' Lending Library after they denied Amazon this privilege.

The Authors Guild's statement on its website described Amazon's process of approaching large U.S. book publishers earlier this year for permission to offer their books in the lending program. According to the Authors Guild, the six largest U.S. book publishers -- Random House, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Macmillan -- turned Amazon down. None of the Big Six's books are in the lending library.

Amazon reportedly went to the next tier of book publishers to seek permission from them, and many rejected its request.

But the Authors Guild notes that Amazon disregarded these rejections and placed books from these publishers into the lending library anyway. It said Amazon got away with this by twisting the interpretation of contracts the online retailer has with publishers. According to Amazon's supposed understanding of these contracts, it's only required to pay publishers the wholesale price of the books downloaded, so it can sell e-books at any price (including giving them away) as long as it pays the publishers.

As it turns out, Amazon is paying the publishers for each book that is loaned out. However, the point that the Authors Guild is making is that publishers don't just want money -- they want a say in how their books are used as well.

"From our understanding of Amazon's standard contractual terms, this is nonsense," said the Authors Guild. "Publishers did not surrender this level of control to the retailer. Amazon's boilerplate terms specifically contemplate the sale of e-books, not giveaways, subscriptions, or lending (Amazon does have a lending program that some publishers have authorized, but it's a program that allows customers -- not Amazon -- to lend their puchased e-books)."

The Authors Guild instructed authors who have found their books in Amazon's Kindle Owners' Lending Library against their permission to contact their publisher as well as the Authors Guild's attorneys.

In other related news, The Christian Science Monitor reported yesterday that the Kindle Fire tablet could top 5 million sales in two months. With a hit on Amazon's hands, which could expedite the success of the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, publishers have a heavy battle ahead of them.

Sources: The Authors Guild, The Christian Science Monitor

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So Mad!
By dusteater on 11/16/2011 12:46:10 PM , Rating: 5
Publishers can go to hell.

RE: So Mad!
By kattanna on 11/16/2011 12:51:04 PM , Rating: 5
they want a say in how their books are used as well.

"Publishers did not surrender this level of control to the retailer.

you just have to "love" how they want more control over a digital copy then an actual physical book. and since in most cases you are paying the same for a digital copy as you would the actual book.. you should be able to do with it anything you can with the physical book.

RE: So Mad!
By Denigrate on 11/16/2011 12:58:13 PM , Rating: 4
Publishers and record companies are vampiric dinosaurs that are on borrowed time. As the digital age progresses, authors and musicians should abandon these companies and publish their own work.

The authors guild is trying to ensure that they do not lose any more control than they already surrendered by signing their rights away to the publishers.

RE: So Mad!
By shiftypy on 11/17/2011 3:48:54 AM , Rating: 2
Publishers and record companies are vampiric dinosaurs that are on borrowed time. As the digital age progresses, authors and musicians should abandon these companies and publish their own work.

Dinosaurs ruled the earth for 150 million years. Mostly because they were bigger than everyone else and better equipped.

So if you expect them to go away "any second now", you'll have a long wait

RE: So Mad!
By Mint on 11/17/2011 12:11:41 PM , Rating: 3
Unfortunately, marketing services are still quite valuable, so publishers aren't going anywhere. Hopefully a big chunk of their cut will go to artists and consumers.

The thing about books and especially music in our culture is that a big part of their appeal is the social aspect. People almost innately enjoy songs/books/shows that others have been exposed to because it's an easy social connection, so they'll continue giving power to big labels/publishers/broadcasters, even if the internet reduces it a bit.

They're not like other goods where you'll buy them from any producer if the quality and price is right.

RE: So Mad!
By adiposity on 11/16/2011 1:38:39 PM , Rating: 3
you just have to "love" how they want more control over a digital copy then an actual physical book. and since in most cases you are paying the same for a digital copy as you would the actual book.. you should be able to do with it anything you can with the physical book.

The book doesn't offer any easy way to exercise control. Digital copies do. The industry actually wants to use DRM to create an environment that benefits them more than the physical book environment would.

However, digital copies also offer easy ways to completely lose control. In order to prevent this, controls have to be given to the publishers. But once they get them, we see how they abuse them (or want to abuse them, at least).

RE: So Mad!
By qwerty1 on 11/16/2011 1:49:15 PM , Rating: 3
Unlike music torrent downloads, the book publishers are getting money for each and every copy of the book loaned out. And they're still complaining???

What next? Stipulate that every reader can only read x words per minute, no skipping pages, pay extra monthly subscriptions for unlimited re-reads???

I doubt even the RIAA would object if they were getting cash for every download.

RE: So Mad!
By pixelslave on 11/16/2011 9:20:56 PM , Rating: 3
What do you expect? These are the same folks who want a share from used book sales.

RE: So Mad!
By Dug on 11/16/2011 1:51:04 PM , Rating: 2
They do want it the same as a physical book.

If you lent your Kindle to someone to read the book, there's nothing stopping you.

I can see their point of view. It would be the equivalent of making a copy of a physical book on a copy machine and lending it out.

RE: So Mad!
By boobo on 11/16/2011 4:08:10 PM , Rating: 5
Not really. Lending your Kindle would be more like lending someone your bookshelf with all your books.

The Kindle makes the book unavailable to you until the other person returns it.

RE: So Mad!
By GulWestfale on 11/16/2011 5:49:50 PM , Rating: 2
as an author myself (independent), i appreciate the lending feature. after all, i might get a new, paying fan this way.
and with the low amount i charge for my books, that is a real possibility.

if however, you price your books at 15.99 (more than paperback copies, in some case), then you really shouldn't wonder why people pirate your stuff, and refuse o give you any of their hard earned money.

and one more thing: with publishing available to anyone (amazon, smashwords), and with online editing and proof-reading services, who still uses a publisher? i mean, what do they do??

RE: So Mad!
By Ringold on 11/16/2011 7:49:45 PM , Rating: 2
i mean, what do they do??

The only useful thing they do, as I see it, and possibly moreso in the future, is filter the wheat from the chaff. Every one and their dog could publish a book, but hopefully only those interesting and worth reading would get through a publisher.

At least, thats how they can stay relevant in the future, in my view. Without some sort of filter, the market will look like the android app store eventually. A billion apps ranked by popularity, with BS like porn taking top spots, occasional gems up top, while other gems are burried hundreds of spots down due to being relative unknowns.

RE: So Mad!
By GulWestfale on 11/25/2011 11:56:15 AM , Rating: 3
everyone and their dog can already publish books; look at stephenie meyer/dan brown...

RE: So Mad!
By lecanard on 11/16/2011 7:16:14 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah, and take all the authors they represent with them!

For that matter, why do we need publishers at all, when the quality of self-published e-books is so high?

Sarcasm aside, I'll be the first to say that publishers are daft, and by fighting e-books (instead of embracing them) with the agency model, they have failed to move with the times and are paying for it now. That's a shame since they are the ones who make it so books can get edited, marketed, and proofread. That is really important.

Wait, What!
By DFranch on 11/16/2011 1:56:26 PM , Rating: 2
So they are getting paid for every book lent, but they still aren't happy. It seems like more people would read their book, and since they are getting paid they would make more money. What are they unhappy about exactly?

RE: Wait, What!
By iceonfire1 on 11/16/2011 2:26:36 PM , Rating: 2
It's the Author's Union : The publishers who disallow books to be lent are pissed that other publishers are making money. It's ironic, because it means that the first publishers' books will (still) be torrented whereas the other publishers will now potentially make more money.

RE: Wait, What!
By PsychoPif on 11/16/2011 4:22:55 PM , Rating: 2
I hate publisher as much as the next guy, but it's the Author's Union. I'm pretty sure it would'nt be called that if it was full of publishers.

Unless I'm missing something, it looks like a lot of you did'nt understand the news.

By Flunk on 11/16/2011 2:01:52 PM , Rating: 2
That same loophole could be used to sink Amazon, If someone writes a distributed program that downloads copies of selected works from the lending library over and over Amazon would have to pay the publishers wholesale price over and over without any benefit to themselves.

RE: Loophole
By Rukkian on 11/16/2011 2:18:11 PM , Rating: 2
That would be of limited success, since as far as I know, you are only allowed to download 1 book per month per prime membership.

RE: Loophole
By tynopik on 11/16/2011 4:08:18 PM , Rating: 1
Most of the books in the Amazon lending program have already been ripped.

The digital downside.
By erikstarcher on 11/16/2011 1:49:40 PM , Rating: 3
Just one more reason to buy physical items. Fu*k digital downloads. CD, DVD, Blu-ray, and hard copy books only for me. I will create a digital version if I want one, but won't buy anything digital with DRM or any other controls.

By Dribble on 11/16/2011 4:43:04 PM , Rating: 2
This is how it has always worked in the past. I did that for free, now I pay to borrow and it's cheaper for everyone as no physical books yet that's still not enough...

Greed, greed and more greed.

Amazon should do what they like - it's not like any of them can afford to black list Amazon as it's a good % of their sales.

It's all about control.
By Netscorer on 11/16/2011 7:19:38 PM , Rating: 2
Publishers and Author's Guild (read Labour Union) are afraid to death about this program as it would mean total loss of control over distribution channels. Because if Amazon will monopolize distribution channel, it would be able to dictate terms of engagement from that point forward.
That's why, even if they are being paid full price for what is essentially a rental to the end users, they see it potentially as the end of the game.
From Amazon perspective this is about wrestling this control and achieving dominant position in the book business (not that they already are not enjoying top place with no contender in sight). Barnes & Noble will not be able to match this program, as they can not afford to subsidize such a huge expense. Apple may tag along but they have a limited audience (not everyone can or want to afford iPad). Google is too busy fighting too many wars to dare to open another front.

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith

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