Feeds

Internet book publishing ruling breaks new ground

Authors 1, Publishers 0

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

A ruling by a US judge may significantly change the book publishing business. A district court judge agreed with electronic book publisher RosettaBooks that traditional publishing houses do not have an automatic right to print their authors in an electronic format.

This means that authors are entitled to sell their electronic rights separately. The implications for author and both publishing houses are obvious. Without a contract specifying both paper and electronic publishing, an author could have two contracts for the same book. This in turn could see two companies competing over the same book.

Unsurprisingly, the decision that electronic distribution is a new technology and should be governed by different agreements has not be greeted with joy by traditional publishers.

So will we see an e-book industry develop in the next few years? Maybe. Publishing electronically has the advantage of being very cheap and virtually one-price. One version saved on a server can become one million versions. The situation with paper printing is very different. This means greater risks can be taken, more books published and so on and so forth.

Practically though, the ease of publication could lead to a swamping of the market with inferior books. Plus, would recognised authors want to sell the rights to their books at lower prices (which they most likely would have to)? Would such authors also risk alienating their paper publishers by signing another contract for electronic publishing?

And we haven't even covered the fact that e-books have so far not proved too popular. No matter what anyone says, it will be a long time before we are comfortable reading huge tracts of text on a VDU.

We asked young, hip author and former book editor Nicholas Blincoe (who just happens to be Rob news editor's brother) what he thought about it all. "It's true that old publishing contracts leave the whole thing open. There have been a number of high-level seminars with the heads of publishing houses and the heads of big agencies to hammer this problem out. Everyone is trying very hard to sort it out."

But has he or anyone else he knows signed up with an electronic publisher? "I haven't signed anything and hardly anyone else has either." Would he think about it? "Yes, if the money was big enough, but there's not much money involved at the moment."

Would his publisher get shirty if he signed an electronic contract? "Well they would have been a year ago. But Internet books have not really taken off, so publishers are now far more relaxed."

It looks as though all publishers will do is extend contracts into electronic publishing as well, although one other possibility does exist: different versions of a book, catering for the different format. Author Douglas Rushkoff is already testing this out, as well as trying for more interaction with his novels. Check out his Web site here.

Related Stories

eBook security debunker arrested by Feds
Boycott Adobe campaign launches

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Number crunching suggests Yahoo! US is worth less than nothing
China and Japan holdings worth more than entire company
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.