Round up #113: Print on Demand blooms, States suit approved

Round up #113: Print on Demand blooms, States suit approved

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Judge Cote approves States agreement with 3 Agency Model publishers

Recently, I wrote about Judge Cote approving the settlement between the US Department of Justice (DoJ) and three publishers (HarperCollins, Hachette, Simon & Schuster) over the Agency Model.

Once the process finishes, that Federal level action ends the Agency Model for those three (which had allowed the publishers, rather than the retailers like Amazon, to set consumer book prices) and the publishers avoid criminal prosecution. That will result in Amazon being able to lower e-book prices. As I wrote about recently, we are already seeing that happen with books from HarperCollins. Within weeks, we’ll almost certainly also prices drop on Hachette and Simon & Schuster.

In a second, separate action, 49 states (not Minnesota), the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico had their own action. That one would result in the publishers giving money to consumers to “right the wrongs”. In this

Bloomberg article

it is reported that Judge Cote has also approved the agreement between the States and those same settling publishers above.

Don’t expect to get much, but these are now the two ends: affecting future prices, and recompense for the earlier actions.

Kodak and Print on Demand brings 100,000 machines into the mix

Roger Knights, one of my regular readers and commenters, has championed the idea of traditional publishers utilizing “Print on Demand” (POD) machines. The idea is that you go to a machine, in a store or other location, and tell it to print you a specific book. You pay for it, and it makes to book for you right there.

Think of it as an automat (a place where you put coins into a machine to buy your lunch) for books…hmm, playing off “Laundromat”, I dub thee…”Libromat”. 😉

I’ve been more skeptical about it, partially because of the cost of investing in the machines.

Well, as this

Publishers Weekly article

points out, that problem may have been solved.

This is going to bring seven million titles (and that can include independently published titles) to over 100,000 machines…and it will be starting to happen in the USA this year. The machines will be able to print in full color, which is a plus.

The Kodak machines were apparently not designed for sophisticated searching, so they may need to work some other way around it. Roger, though, may get a big “I told you so” out of this. 🙂 I still seem some hurdles…how long will it take, how much will it cost, that sort of thing. The bottom line questions are whether customers will do it and if it can be done in a cost effective manner for the publishers.

I do hope it succeeds, because I like people to have more options to get their books…we’ll find out fairly soon.

Harvard Business Review: ” We trust that our customers will abide by copyright law and refrain from distributing ebook files illegally.”

Okay…you, you, and you: close your eyes, fingers in your ears, and say, “LaLaLaLaLa”. Great. I was just about to mention the term DRM (Digital Rights Management), and I’m afraid that incites apoplexy in certain people. 😉

However, this is a case where another major publisher is choosing to release e-books without DRM. You’ll be able to convert them to different formats, if you want…legally use the same book on a Kindle and a NOOK.

The publisher in this case is the Harvard Business Review, and in their

E-Book FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

they make it explicitly acceptable to convert the files they send you to different formats…they even help you do that with instructions.

Many of you will cheer this, which is fine. I don’t have an immediate rejection of DRM…used properly (and it often isn’t), I can see the value in it. If you’d like to see that go away, though, this kind of…experimentation (if successful) is what will hasten that change.

Oh…sorry…you can stop “LaLaLa-ing” now. Hm? Of course, yes: “YOU CAN STOP LALALA-ING NOW.” That’s better… 😉

Amazon reveals success of their traditional publishing…with figures

We don’t usually get actual figures from Amazon about sales…not of e-books, nor EBRs (E-Book Readers). shares in this


what is says is an e-mail from Jeff Belle, Amazon’s Vice President of Amazon Publishing.

I think you’ll find it interesting if you read it, citing specific authors (including well-known ones) and numbers…including 250,000 “copies” of Ed McBain’s Precinct 87 books sold since December.

I’ve written before about how significant I think Amazon’s move into traditional publishing is. It’s a way for Amazon to shift the balance of power. In the past, if the publishers wanted something one way, and Amazon didn’t (text-to-speech, Agency Model), the publishers won by suggesting that they might withhold the books. Customers want books…it’s hard to do business without them. 😉

If Amazon publishes the books that customers want, that seriously changes things.

Publishers could also try to eliminate Amazon by selling directly from their own websites, but we haven’t seen that happen much yet.

Some app news on the Kindle Fire HD

As I continue to use my new Kindle Fire HD, I’m experimenting and finding out a lot of little interesting things. I still have to decide exactly how I’m going to disseminate that. I don’t think I could do another full book very quickly, but I might do something a bit more casual. I’ll continue to share things with you, of course, and do feel free to ask questions.

I tried the Book Collections app, which allows you to organize your books on the KF1 (Kindle Fire 1st Generation). Unfortunately, while you can still organize the books, you can no longer open them to read them. I did check with the publisher, and yes, that’s due to something Amazon has changed.

I was hoping that the Maxthon Mobile Web Browser would be approved for the Kindle Fire HD, but not yet. I use that just about daily on my KF1. I’m hoping that’s just temporary. I can probably go find it and sideload it, but I’d rather get it from the Amazon Appstore, given a choice. Getting an app approved can take a bit of time…I’ll be patient for now: I’m good at that. 🙂

In case you are wondering, an app in the Amazon Appstore will tell you for which devices it is available (and checked by Amazon to see that it works and doesn’t damage the device). My KF1 and KFHD are listed separately (each individual device is), and some are available for one and not for the other.

What do you think? Is POD going to keep print books in the mix? Will you buy Harvard Business Review books because they don’t have DRM? Is having DRM ever an incentive for you to buy? If you get a couple of dollars out of the States suit, will you be satisfied or upset? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.


4 Responses to “Round up #113: Print on Demand blooms, States suit approved”

  1. rogerknights Says:

    Bufo, you’re very diplomatic. You have as much to crow about as I do, because you saw the future of POD in retail outlets, whereas I saw it in bookstores. That’s because I thought that only high volume–which only bookstores could deliver, IMO–could justify the high prices of the POD machines. It hadn’t occurred to me that these low-cost Kodak machines could be pressed into service in retailers.

    Bufo said, “I still see some hurdles…how long will it take, how much will it cost, that sort of thing.” I see them too. I doubt, because of their lower cost, that the Kodak machines will be able to match the real POD machines for speed, book-like appearance, or cost-of-operation (= book cost).

    I’m also dubious about how rapidly these machines will be adapted. “On Demand will train a dedicated staffer to operate the book machines at the Kiosks.” That’s going to involve more time and overhead than an automat.

    The PW article reads like a press release. “On Demand to Roll Out More than 100,000 Book Machines through Kodak and ReaderLink” says the headline. But those partners haven’t committed to such a conversion project. They’ve only committed to pilot programs. 100,000 is a blue sky number, maybe a decade down the road, if all goes well.

    I hope you post follow-up pieces on the chatter in the publishing industry about this project, plus additional news from the participants, etc.

    I’ve changed my mind about how POD distribution into bookstores might happen. I used to think it might happen in one fell swoop, with a collective effort by the publishing industry. That’s because I couldn’t see bookstores coughing up the money for the machines.

    Now I think it might happen incrementally, with publishers using the machines to print out their low-volume and backlist titles at bookstores, and with a select group of publishers being involved in helping to finance acquisition of the machines, perhaps on a lease basis. Low-volume books might continue to be published conventionally as well, but they would be sold to bookstores at a higher price, to encourage the stores to acquire a POD machine.

    This wouldn’t save publishers much money initially, but it would position them to do so in the future, and would get the migration process rolling. Over time, publishers might shift the printing of all except bestsellers over to POD. Then they could get down the cost of printing, warehousing, distribution, and returns.

  2. Lady Galaxy Says:

    I really don’t want any money back from the publishers when the state suits are settled. I knew how much each book cost when I bought it. Sometimes I waited for the price to go lower. Other times I wanted to read the book without having to wait. The choice was always mine. I would prefer that instead of giving money to individuals who bought books that the publishers would give libraries a better deal on lending Kindle titles. If I do end up getting money back, I’ll probably donate it to my local public library for the children’s book section. The traditional retirement gift for teachers in my district is a rocking chair. I had no place to put one and no desire to have one, so I suggested that the best gift they could give me when I retired was to buy books for the school library. They bought 15 books! Sorry, I’m rambling again.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      That is an excellent point! Some of the consumers who were hurt the most didn’t buy any Agency Model books…because they books cost too much for them. Those who did buy them could afford them.

      You’ve inspired me…I’ll probably do a post about that settlement. 🙂

      Bravo to you for donating your “rocking chair” to the future of kids!

  3. An unsettling settlement « I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] I recently wrote about Judge Cote approving a settlement agreement between 49 states, four additional American entities, and three publishers over the Agency Model pricing structure. […]

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