In this week’s Self-Publishing News Special, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway looks at the latest move in the French book industry’s battle with Amazon: making free book delivery illegal.
In the latest self-publishing news podcast, Howard and I talk about the publishing industry’s issues on climate change and the future for audiobooks. On tonight’s #indieauthorchat at the usual 3pm Eastern, 8pm UK time, Tim will be leading us in a Christmas special.
France’s Lawmakers Take on Amazon Over Book Deliveries
France has led what many in the industry see as the fightback of bookstores against Amazon. You may remember that a couple of years ago, when books from Amazon imprints featured on a major prize shortlist, many French retailers boycotted the prize.
France is also one of the countries that regulates the price of books by law. Publishers set a book’s price, they must print it on the cover, and no one can discount it by more than 5%. That means there’s really only one area you can work with if you want to undercut bricks and mortar stores on price: delivery. The new law sets out to stop anyone doing that. And by anyone, it means Amazon. Free delivery on books is now against the law, with a minimum price a retailer has to charge for delivery.
It will be interesting to see whether this turns out to be a one-off, or whether it’s the start of a more widespread attempt by governments to take on Amazon over price.
What Spotify’s and Kakao’s Latest Purchases Mean for the Future of Subscriptions
It’s been a busy week for subscription companies. It feels like that’s something I say every week. And that goes to show the extent to which subscription streaming services have become an unstoppable trend.
Spotify has had a busy year. It made its move into audiobooks in spectacular fashion when it bought Findaway recently. And this week it has expanded its podcasting possibilities by buying the Australian company Whooshkaa. Whooshkaa specialises in turning content into podcasts. It obviously works with audio content. But the company is also at the forefront of speech to text and text to speech technology. The implications are clear. Spotify is working, as it has openly said, on building a “one stop shop” for all audio content. And for those of us who write this is particularly interesting. It’s clear that in Spotify’s endgame, whatever we write, however we write it, will become available to listeners in whatever format they find most convenient for consuming it – with minimal effort on our part.
One of the frustrating things about Spotify’s acquisitions is that we don’t get to find out how much they cost. The same is not true of Kakao. Earlier this year the company bought serial digital fiction platform Radish for an eye watering $440m. Now it has bought the fantasy fiction platform Wuxiaworld for $37.5m.
How the Industry Is Changing: The Scramble for Infrastructure
These moves tell us several things. First, subscription reading is here to stay. And people with deep pockets believe that it’s what readers want. This is what we heard at Futurebook. And although some of us may worry what it means for our future income streams and others may rail against those consequences, it’s clear that we have to live with them. Second, unsurprisingly, people who read in some genres are into subscription more than others. These tend to be people who read voraciously in genres where writers produce series and serialisable books. And as the growth of podcasts shows, that includes non-fiction.
And third, something deeper is going on. I often talk about the disparity of takeover sizes. Historic giant Simon and Schuster cost $2.2bn but Radish, a relatively new platform many even inside the industry don’t really know, goes for the same ball park. There’s a reason for this and that reason is the most common one in the modern acquisition game: infrastructure. Companies tend to buy other companies because of what they can do with their back end. In some cases that’s a physical infrastructure – a fleet of delivery vehicles and warehouses, for example. But it can also be a technological infrastructure. Avid fans are only part of what makes companies like Radish and Whooshkaa valuable. If we really want to know where the industry is going and how we should plan for that, we need to ask what the technology companies want to buy says about what tomorrow’s industry will look like.
Stanford Travel Awards are Open for Indies
Opening up to indie authors is one of the ALLi campaigns I feel strongest about. I’ve always felt that we will never have our work fully taken seriously in the wider world so long as there are major prizes for which we are not eligible. So I take every chance I can to celebrate those prizes that are truly open.
And this week I came across a really great example thanks to Sunny Singh. The Stanford Awards are devoted to celebrating the year’s best travel writing. If you are a travel writer, or a traveller of any kind, the chances are you will already know the Stanford name. Stanford’s is the world-famous enormous London travel bookshop situated between Covent Garden and Leicester Square. The main award, the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year, comes with a £2500 prize. Entry closes on January 16th.France's war on Amazon, an indie-inclusive travel book prize and other top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes #digitaleconomy #publishingopenup Click To Tweet
Upcoming Conferences and Events
Help us fill this with great online events in the coming weeks and months. I highly recommend this great list of online writers’ conferences from Nate Hoffelder, some of which are indie-inclusive.