Publishers Are Taking the Internet to Court

In a lawsuit against the Internet Archive, the largest corporations in publishing want to change what it means to own a book.

By Maria Bustillos

SEPTEMBER 10, 2020

When Covid-19 struck, hundreds of millions of students were suddenly stranded at home without access to teachers or libraries. UNESCO reported that in April, 90 percent of the world’s enrolled students had been adversely affected by the pandemic. In response, the Internet Archive’s Open Library announced the National Emergency Library, a temporary program suspending limits on the number of patrons who could borrow its digital books simultaneously. The Open Library lends at no charge about 4 million digital books, 2.5 million of which are in the public domain, and 1.4 million of which may be under copyright and subject to lending restrictions. (This is roughly equivalent to a medium-sized city library; the New York Public Library, by comparison, holds 21.9 million books and printed materials and 1.78 million e-books, according to 2016 figures from the American Library Association.) But the National Emergency Library wound up creating an emergency of its own—for the future of libraries.

Brewster Kahle, the Internet Archive’s founder and digital librarian, wrote in March that the National Emergency Library would ensure “that students will have access to assigned readings and library materials…for the remainder of the US academic calendar.” He acknowledged that authors and publishers would also be harmed by the pandemic, urged those in a position to buy books to do so, and offered authors a form for removing their own books from the program, if they chose.

More than 100 libraries, archives, and other institutions signed on to a statement of support for the program, including MIT, Penn State, Emory University, the Boston Public Library, Middlebury College, Amherst College, George Washington University, the Claremont Colleges Library, and the Greater Western Library Alliance. Writing in The New Yorker, Harvard history professor and author Jill Lepore joined many media observers in praising the National Emergency Library as “a gift to readers everywhere.”

A number of other authors, however, took to Twitter to complain.

“Guys. Not helpful,” tweeted novelist Neil Gaiman.

“They scan books illegally and put them online. It’s not a library,” novelist Colson Whitehead tweeted in March. (I wrote last week to ask Whitehead what laws he thought were being broken, or whether he’d since altered his views on this matter, and he declined to comment.)

On June 1, Whitehead’s publisher, Penguin Random House, together with fellow megapublishers Hachette, HarperCollins, and Wiley, filed a lawsuit against the Internet Archive alleging “mass copyright infringement.” The Internet Archive closed the National Emergency Library on June 16, citing the lawsuit and calling for the publishers to stand down. But the plaintiffs are continuing to press their claims, and are now seeking to close the whole Open Library permanently.

The trial is set for next year in federal court, with initial disclosures for discovery scheduled to take place next week. The publishers’ “prayer for relief” seeks to destroy the Open Library’s existing books, and to soak the Internet Archive for a lot of money; in their response, the Archive is looking to have its opponents’ claims denied in full, its legal costs paid, and “such other and further relief as the Court deems just and equitable.” But what’s really at stake in this lawsuit is the idea of ownership itself—what it means not only for a library but for anyone to own a book.

The Internet Archive is far more than the Open Library; it’s a nonprofit institution that has become a cornerstone of archival activity throughout the world. Brewster Kahle is an Internet pioneer who was writing about the importance of preserving the digital commons in 1996. He built the Wayback Machine, without which an incalculable amount of the early Web would have been lost for good. The Internet Archive has performed pioneering work in developing public search tools for its own vast collections, such as the television news archive, which researchers and journalists like me use on an almost daily basis in order to contextualize and interpret political reporting. These resources are unique and irreplaceable.

The Internet Archive is a tech partner to hundreds of libraries, including the Library of Congress, for whom it develops techniques for the stewardship of digital content. It helps them build their own Web-based collections with tools such as Archive-It, which is currently used by more than 600 organizations including universities, museums, and government agencies, as well as libraries, to create their own searchable public archives. The Internet Archive repairs broken links on Wikipedia—by the million. It has collected thousands of early computer games, and developed online emulators so they can be played on modern computers. It hosts collections of live music performances, 78s and cylinder recordings, radio shows, films and video. I am leaving a lot out about its groundbreaking work in making scholarly materials more accessible, its projects to expand books to the print-disabled—too many undertakings and achievements to count.

For-profit publishers like HarperCollins or Hachette don’t perform the kind of work required to preserve a cultural posterity. Publishers are not archivists. They obey the dictates of the market. They keep books in print based on market considerations, not cultural ones. Archiving is not in the purview or even the interests of big publishers, who indeed have an incentive to encourage the continuing need to buy.

But in a healthy society, the need for authors and artists to be compensated fairly is balanced against the need to preserve a rich and robust public commons for the benefit of the culture as a whole. Publishers are stewards of the right of authors to make a fair living; librarians are stewards of cultural posterity. Brewster Kahle, and the Internet Archive, are librarians, and the Internet Archive is a new kind of library.

I first spoke with Kahle in 2013, when he became one of just a handful of people in the United States permitted to discuss his receipt of a National Security Letter from the NSA. Hundreds of thousands of these letters were sent out, but only the three that had been successfully challenged in court, and thus rescinded, could be discussed in public without risking imprisonment. The NSA had demanded that the Internet Archive divulge personal information about a library patron, and the only way to refuse to comply (without being jailed) was to sue the government, so that’s what Kahle decided to do. The Internet Archive won that lawsuit, with the help of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU.

“I’m a librarian!” he told me, back then. “Libraries have had a long history of dealing with authoritarian organizations demanding reader records—just, who’s read what—and this has led to people being rounded up and killed.”

Now Kahle finds himself on the other side of a lawsuit. The key issue in this one is the as-yet-untested legal theory of Controlled Digital Lending (CDL), which the Internet Archive and partner libraries have been working out over the last few years, in order to deal fairly with the new question of lending digitized books within the parameters of existing copyright law. CDL was designed to mirror the age-old library practice of (1) buying or otherwise acquiring a physical book, and (2) loaning it out to one patron at a time.

Like a traditional library, the Internet Archive buys or accepts donations of physical books. The archive scans its physical books, making one digital copy available for each physical book it owns. The digitized copies are then loaned out for a limited period, like a traditional library loan. The physical books from which the scans were made are stored and do not circulate, a practice known as “own-to-loan.”

Harvard copyright scholar and lawyer Kyle Courtney has explained this reasoning very clearly. “Libraries do not need permission or a license to loan those books that they have purchased or acquired,” he said at a recent conference. “Copyright law covers those exact issues.… Congress actually placed all of these specialized copyright exemptions for libraries in the Copyright Act itself.”

The for-profit publishers in the lawsuit, however, do not care for this idea. What they allege in the complaint is this: “Without any license or any payment to authors or publishers, IA [the Internet Archive] scans print books, uploads these illegally scanned books to its servers, and distributes verbatim digital copies of the books in whole via public-facing websites.”

What this ominous description fails to acknowledge is that all libraries that lend e-books “distribute verbatim digital copies of the books in whole via public-facing websites.” Yet the publishers claim later in the same document that they have no beef with regular libraries. They love libraries, they say (“Publishers have long supported public libraries, recognizing the significant benefits to the public of ready access to books and other publications”), and are “in partnership” with them: “This partnership turns upon a well-developed and longstanding library market, through which public libraries buy print books and license ebooks (or agree to terms of sale for ebooks) from publishers.”

The real issue emerges here: The words “license ebooks” are the most important ones in the whole lawsuit.

Publishers approve of libraries paying for e-book licenses because they’re temporary, just like your right to watch a movie on Netflix is temporary and can evaporate at any moment. In the same way, publishers would like to see libraries obliged to license, not to own, books—that is, continue to pay for the same book again and again. That’s what this lawsuit is really about. It’s impossible to avoid the conclusion that publishers took advantage of the pandemic to achieve what they had not been able to achieve previously: to turn the library system into a “reading as a service” operation from which they can squeeze profits forever.

Their argument also hinges on the notion that it’s illegal to scan a book that you own. Note that this is what’s being claimed in the complaint: that the books are “illegally scanned,” as Whitehead tweeted back in March. It’s not just the distribution of “pirated” copies they’re trying to prevent. It’s doing as you wish with your own property.

This runs deeper than the question of digital format. NYU law professor Jason Schultz, co-author of The End of Ownership, explained it in an e-mail: “The key here is that our law and cultures have always distinguished between owning something and temporarily purchasing access to something. Most people know the difference between owning a home and renting one, or owning a tuxedo or renting one. We also know this with most media, for example the difference between buying a copy of a film on DVD and going to see it in the theater.”

The Internet is 31 years old, and in those three short decades the virtual world we’ve come to depend on has slowly eroded the idea of private ownership—literally, your right to call your belongings your own. Things you used to buy just once, such as your own private copies of software like Photoshop or Word, your privately owned vinyl discs and CDs, or movies on VHS—have increasingly begun to come through dispensing services you pay for every month, from vendors like Adobe, Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify. And you’ll never stop paying.

That rentier mentality is now reaching into the world of books. As Schultz elaborated: “For each physical book that a library owns, it can lend it out to whomever it chooses for as long as it wants and the copyright owner has no say in how such lending happens. But here, because digital technology is involved, the publishers are asserting that they can control how/when/where/why libraries lend out digital copies.… In other words, they want to change the rules in their favor and take away one of the most cherished and valuable contributions that libraries make to society—allowing members of the public to read for free from the library’s collection.”

The oldest surviving library in England was founded in 1653 through the bequest of Humphrey Chetham, a Manchester textile merchant and banker, “for the use of schollars and others well affected to learning, the books to remain as a public library for ever.” Chetham’s Library has been in continuous operation as a free public library for more than 350 years. The first keeper was charged with opening “from 8 till 11 in the morning, and from one till four in the afternoon,” and “to require nothing of any man that cometh into the library.”

We’ve come a long way since then—for good or ill—but the Internet isn’t as inherently democratic as Silicon Valley would like us to believe. Technology at the end of the 20th century advanced too quickly to prevent all kinds of unwanted consequences and threats to laws and long-held principles, like a boom town built with no zoning, ramshackle and rowdy, by people more intent on finding gold than on creating a worthwhile community in which to live.

It’s not easy getting anyone at the Internet Archive to discuss these matters in the middle of litigation, but I did manage to speak with Brewster Kahle for a few moments.

“Libraries buy, preserve, and lend,” he said. “That’s been the model forever. [Libraries] actually supply about 20 percent of the revenue to the publishing industry. But if they cannot buy, preserve, and lend—if all they become is a redistributor, a Netflix for books—my God, we have a society that can get really out of control. Because if a publisher maintains control over every reading event, who’s allowed to read it, when are they allowed to read it, if they’re allowed to read it, and be able to prevent anybody, or particular regions, from being able to see something, we are in George Orwell world.

“What libraries do, is they buy, preserve, and lend. What this lawsuit is about—they’re saying the libraries cannot buy, they cannot preserve, and they cannot lend.”

Libraries have operated on those principles for thousands of years, collecting, preserving, and sharing knowledge not for profit but as a public good—requiring nothing. For many centuries, young people of limited means have been the explicitly intended beneficiaries and users of libraries. Some of those young people grew up to write books themselves. It would be a tragedy if the profit motive were to succeed at last in putting an end to that.

Book Publishers Warn Congress Amazon Is Too Powerful


By Matthew Gault

Three of the publishing industry’s largest groups have sent a letter to Congress warning of Amazon’s power in the industry. Representatives from the publishers told Congress that Amazon has too much power and is engaging in anti-competitive market behavior that has made it a de facto monopoly in the publishing world.

“Amazon’s scale of operation and share of the market for book distribution has reached the point that no publisher can afford to be absent from its online store,” members of the Association of American Authors, the Author’s Guild, and The American Booksellers Association said in a letter to Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), the Chairman of Congress’ Antitrust Subcommittee.

The letter was signed by Maria Pallante, President and CEO of the Association of American Publishers; Mary Rasenberger, Executive Director of the Author’s Guild; and Alison Hill, CEO of the American Booksellers Association.

“A year ago, the New York Times reported that Amazon controlled 50% of all book distribution, but for some industry suppliers, the actual figure may be much higher, with Amazon accounting for more than 70 or 80 percent of sales,” it said. “Even booksellers that avoid selling on Amazon cannot avoid suffering the consequences of Amazon’s market dominance.”

Last month, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos testified before the House’s Antitrust Committee and had trouble answering basic questions about some of its predatory practices. “This market power stems not only from Amazon’s share of the market for book distribution, but also from the astonishing level of data that it collects across its entire platform,” the letter said, echoing concerns voiced by Congress.

The letter directly referenced the recent antitrust hearing and urged Congress to continue investigating Amazon and recommended several specific courses of action.

“Prohibit Amazon from leveraging data from the operation of its online platform to compete with and disadvantage the suppliers doing business there,” it said. “The data that Amazon collects from across its platform not only gives Amazon leverage over its book suppliers, it also gives Amazon an insurmountable lead over any would-be distribution rivals—a lead so daunting that, at this point, absent government intervention, there is no possibility of meaningful competition from anyone, whether they be publishers, booksellers, or emerging platforms.”

Amazon also ties its distribution services to its advertising services and the publishers said that has to stop. “In instances where Amazon manipulates discovery tools to make a supplier’s books difficult to find without the purchase of advertising or refuses distribution unless the supplier also purchases advertising, Amazon can extract both unwanted purchases and supra-competitive prices from suppliers,” the letter said.

The publishers also suggested that Amazon’s use of merchant fulfillment networks to ship products creates an anticompetitive atmosphere and that its use of books as a loss leader has radically altered the publishing business in ways we still don’t understand. “Amazon’s use of pricing tactics in the book industry reveals that one of its core business strategies is one used by monopolies for over a century–underselling the competition to monopolize markets,” the letter said.

The bottom line is that the publishing industry is tired of racing to the bottom with Amazon and feels it’s emerging as a monopoly. “The Subcommittee’s work has shown that Amazon holds an outsized position of power and control in our country, giving it the ability to interfere with the free flow of information, ideas and literature on a large scale,” the letter said. “With great appreciation for your leadership, we note that the American book publishing industry is and always has been uniquely intertwined with our democracy.”

Publishing Leaders Issuing Warning over Amazon’s Market Power

By Jim Milliot | Aug 18, 2020

Courtesy Amazon

Amazon Books in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

Three of publishing’s most important organizations have teamed up to write a letter to the chairman of the House Antitrust Subcommittee investigating the market power of Big Tech to press their case that, over the last several years, Amazon’s growing dominance over book publishing and bookselling has fundamentally altered the competitive framework of the industry. If Amazon’s power is left unchecked, the letter continues, competition within publishing could diminish even more.

In a joint letter to Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Maria Pallante, president and CEO of the Association of American Publishers, Mary Rasenberger, executive director of the Authors Guild, and Allison Hill, CEO of the American Booksellers Association, wrote that their members have long relied on a level playing field to publish and sell their works. But today, the letter continued, “Amazon no longer competes on a level playing field when it comes to book distribution, but, rather, owns and manipulates the playing field, leveraging practices from across its platform that appear to be well outside of fair and transparent competition.”

Amazon’s power is far reaching, the letter states, including using predatory pricing and its market dominance “to engage in systematic below-cost pricing of books to squash competition in the book selling industry as a whole.” As for the entire publishing industry, the letter states, “we believe that Amazon acts anti-competitively in multiple ways, dictating the economic terms of its relationships with suppliers so that publishers, their authors, and the booksellers who sell on Amazon pay more each year for Amazon’s distribution and advertising services but receive less each year in return.”

The authors asked Cicilline to consider four recommendations:

Prohibit Amazon from Leveraging Data from the Operation of its Online Platform to Compete with and Disadvantage the Suppliers Doing Business There: The organizations contend that “the data that Amazon collects from across its platform not only gives Amazon leverage over its book suppliers, it also gives Amazon an insurmountable lead over any would-be distribution rivals—a lead so daunting that, at this point, absent government intervention, there is no possibility of meaningful competition from anyone, whether they be publishers, booksellers, or emerging platforms.“

Prohibit Amazon from Tying Distribution Services to the Purchase of Advertising Services: “Amazon offers two distinct services to the authors, publishers and booksellers that supply and sell books through its online bookstore, but brazenly ties them together so that suppliers must spend advertising dollars in order to make distribution services viable,” the letter argues.

Prohibit Amazon from Imposing MFNs and Other Parity Provisions: While acknowledging that Most Favored Nations (MFNs) and parity provisions are not inherently anti-competitive, the letter notes that “lawmakers should be concerned that Amazon imposes MFNs and other parity provisions to eliminate the ability of rivals or new entrants to gain any meaningful competitive advantage relative to Amazon.” Amazon, the letter continues, require “publishers to a) offer Amazon similar or better economic terms and conditions as those offered to any competing distributors; b) inform Amazon about more favorable or alternative terms given to competitors; and c) restrict pricing discounts to consumers.”

Prohibit Amazon from Using Loss-Leader Pricing to Harm Competition: “For over two decades, Amazon has used books as loss leaders in the book industry to lure consumers to its website, gather data, make profits on bigger ticket items, and capture an increasing market share,” the letter states. “Despite innovation in the independent bookselling world, independent bookstores find themselves struggling to compete with a company that historically sells books at a loss to that end. Amazon has garnered the bulk of the online book market through loss leader pricing, including by offering books below cost in order to promote and sell its proprietary Kindle device.”

The letter concludes by pointing to the subcommittee’s own work, which the authors say shows that Amazon holds an outsized position of power in the U.S., “giving it the ability to interfere with the free flow of information, ideas and literature on a large scale,” adding: “The American book publishing industry is and always has been uniquely intertwined with our democracy. Many authors, publishers, and booksellers along the way have contributed to the marketplace of ideas, and we hope that many more will emerge and thrive to the benefit of the public. This will not happen, however, unless government officials step in decisively to exercise appropriate governance of Amazon.”

My name is Marina, and I’m addicted to books. They’re everywhere. I stack them anywhere there is an open space. My closet holds more books than clothes. Books serve as stands for mirrors, lamps, and jewelry stands. A bench I expected to refurbish years ago has become a makeshift bookcase, with books of all kinds […]

via Surrounded: How Books Are Keeping Me Going in Quarantine — Causeway Lit

PW’s Top News Stories of 2019

 

Big changes in the bookselling landscape were the subject of several of the industry’s top stories in 2019, along with publishers’ relationships with different partners.

1. Elliott Advisors Buys Barnes & Noble; Daunt Named CEO

After struggling for several years to find ways to boost the bookstore chain’s sales and to improve its bottom line, B&N’s board of directors approved the sale of the company to private equity firm Elliott Advisors in a deal worth $683 million. The transaction didn’t come without some drama, as another company—widely believed to be ReaderLink—was working to make a counteroffer. In the end, the B&N committee charged with evaluating all offers voted in favor of the Elliott cash deal, believing it had the necessary financing to get the purchase done quickly.

Following the completion of the deal on August 6, Elliott officially named James Daunt B&N CEO. Daunt already served as CEO of the U.K.’s Waterstones bookselling chain, which is also owned by Elliott. Among the changes Daunt has discussed implementing in 2020 at B&N are an overhaul of its merchandising approach and returning the responsibility of each store’s performance to local managers.

2. B&T Exits the Retail Wholesale Market

In early May, Baker & Taylor announced that it was closing its retail wholesaling business, which supplied books to bookstores and other physical retailers. The decision came following months of rumors that some deal between B&T and competitor Ingram was in the works. When no deal surfaced, B&T began phasing out its retail operations, a process that lasted into the early fall. The move was made, B&T explained, to better align itself with its parent company, Follett Corp., whose strengths include working with schools and school libraries. B&T’s library wholesaling operations were not affected. Publishers and booksellers were both concerned that B&T’s exit from the retail business would slow shipments to stores, especially to the West Coast, where B&T fulfilled orders through its Reno warehouse, which was set to close. Publishers, as well as Ingram and Bookazine, came up with plans to alleviate any potential problems, with Penguin Random House perhaps coming up with the most aggressive plan of all: in November, it announced it was taking over the operation of the Reno warehouse, which it will use to service West Coast stores.

3. Macmillan Implements E-book Windowing for Libraries

In late July, Macmillan announced that, beginning November 1, it would implement a two-month embargo on library e-books across all of the company’s imprints. Under the publisher’s new digital terms of sale, library systems are allowed to purchase a single perpetual access e-book during the first eight weeks of publication for each new Macmillan release, at half price ($30). Additional copies will then be available at full price after the eight-week window has passed. All other terms remain the same: e-book licenses will continue to be metered for two years or 52 lends, whichever comes first, on a one copy/one user model.

The decision outraged librarians across the country, who see the move as a direct attack on their ability to offer timely services to their patrons. Scores of library systems are boycotting buying Macmillan e-books in protest of the move. For his part, Macmillan CEO John Sargent says “frictionless” e-book loans by libraries reduce the value of the books and hurt overall sales. Sargent is set to appear in a session discussing the matter at the ALA Midwinter Meeting, which runs January 24–28 in Philadelphia.

4. Audible Caption Proposal Called Copyright Infringement

When word began circulating in July that Audible was developing a new program called Captions to run text alongside its audiobooks, publishers, agents, and authors all called the proposal copyright infringement. Before the program could be launched, the AAP filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Big Five trade houses, as well as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Scholastic, asking for a preliminary injunction; the lawsuit was subsequently backed by representatives for the Authors Guild and the Association of Authors Representatives. At year end, Captions had still not been implemented, and the judge overseeing the case has urged the publishers and Audible to settle the matter out of court.

5. Tariffs Imposed on Books Manufactured in China

As part of its trade war with China, on September 1 the Trump administration slapped 15% tariffs on most books manufactured in China. Excluded from the tariffs were children’s picture books, coloring books, and drawing books, as well as Bibles and religious books. Children’s books were subject to possible tariffs on December 15, but the administration suspended imposing those tariffs after reaching a “phase one” agreement with China over trade. The other book tariffs, for now, remain in effect.

6. Citing Problems, Publishers Cut Ties with Authors

Given the charged nature of the times, publishers have been keenly aware of the reputations of their authors. In 2019, that led to a number of publishers dropping authors following various allegations or charges. Three instances of this in particular were among the most read stories on PW. After allegations of inappropriate behavior made against Tim Tingle by two booksellers, Scholastic dropped plans to publish his middle grade book Doc and the Detective; Tingle, who had his rights to the book returned, denied the allegations. Author Kosoko Jackson requested that Sourcebooks withdraw publication of his debut YA novel, A Place for Wolves, following concerns raised on social media. And in June, after a Netflix drama reopened interest in the Central Park jogger case, in which five black and Latino teenagers were falsely accused of assault and rape, Dutton and author Linda Fairstein terminated their publishing relationship; Fairstein was formerly chief of the Manhattan district attorney’s sex crimes unit and oversaw prosecution of the case.

7. Indie Booksellers Incensed over Breaking of ‘Testaments’ Embargo

Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments was expected to be one of the big books of 2019, especially for independent booksellers. So when it was discovered that Amazon had broken the September 10 embargo date, booksellers were furious. Publisher Penguin Random House acknowledged that a retailer had inadvertently released copies before the official on-sale date and said the situation had been corrected. The incident highlighted the frustration many booksellers feel about the enforcement of embargoes, which are frequently broken by one retailer or another.

8. The Netflix-Literary Connection

Streaming services have increasingly been looking to book publishers for source material, none more so than Netflix, which was on a book acquisition spree over much of 2019, developing screen adaptations of dozens of novels, series, short story collections, and graphic novels, with a particular interest in those aimed at children and teens.

9. AWP Fires Executive Director

Less than six months after being named the Association of Writers and Writing Programs’ permanent executive director, Chloe Schwenke was fired in September. She had succeeded longtime executive director David Fenza, who was dismissed in April 2018. Schwenke, a transgender woman, alleges that her firing was primarily based on discrimination.

10. Allison Hill Named ABA CEO

Allison Hill, president and CEO of Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, Calif., was named the next CEO of the American Booksellers Association. Hill succeeds Oren Teicher, who has served as ABA CEO for the past 10 years. Hill begins her new job March 1.

A version of this article appeared in the 01/06/2020 issue of Publishers Weekly under the headline: PW’s Top News Stories of 2019

Marketing your book with FB

written by Book Cave

To sell books, you need to find more readers. Spreading the word about your ebook can be challenging, but there are a lot of ways you can promote yourself and promote your ebook on Facebook.

1. Set up landing pages to link to from your Facebook posts

When people see and click on your promotion Facebook posts, you want to take them to a page on your website that will encourage them to buy your books or signup for your newsletter. That page needs to be attractive, well-designed, and have a call to action (like links to buy the books or a signup button).

2. Create an author page

You’re limited on what you can do with Facebook if you’re just using your personal Facebook profile. We recommend setting up an official author page so you can more easily promote your ebook on Facebook. With a page, you can schedule posts, use ads to get more likes, and can easily advertise to those who’ve liked your page.

3. Ask readers to share posts with others

Many people are willing to pass on the word but don’t even think to do so. If you ask them to share, they are more likely to hit that share button, meaning that more people will see your post. This can be accomplished by saying “Please share with your friends!” at the end of the post. Naturally, you don’t want to do this with every post.

4. Keep Facebook posts short

Followers are more likely to read and respond to a short post. A post with a short question and a link to a longer blog post is a great tactic.

5. Post things that will encourage engagement

It may surprise you to know that Facebook does not show all of your posts to all of your followers. Facebook uses an algorithm to determine how many posts it shows to how many people. Basically, more engagement = more reach. If more of your followers like your posts and leave comments, then Facebook will in turn show more of your posts. Drive engagement by asking followers a question with everything you post, even if it’s just a link to an interesting article. This means that not all of your posts will be “promotional.” This is important for more than just Facebook’s algorithm: people don’t like to be continually sold to, and they may leave if they don’t feel that your page offers anything other than promotion.

6. Make posts interesting

Images are a great way to keep posts interesting. If you link to a webpage that has a share image, Facebook will automatically insert the image for you. (So with all your blog posts, make sure to have great images!) You can also post funny images or memes. If you’re just posting straight text, make sure to ask a question or use a statement that compels participation so the post will hold people’s interest.

7. Post about giveaways

Readers love getting books for free! Giveaways for books that are downloaded directly from a landing page (rather than bought from a retailer like Amazon) and can even include additional prizes, like a gift card. These giveaways can be a book you’re giving away yourself as a subscriber magnet (where readers have to sign up for your newsletter to receive a new book), or it can be a group giveaway that you’re doing with other authors. These kinds of posts often get a lot of shares as well and will help you gain more followers organically, without paying money. Make sure this post links to a great landing page; Book Cave provides this landing page for you when you use our subscriber magnet services.

8. Post about sales on your books

Unlike a giveaway, when a book is on sale, even if it’s on sale for $0.00, readers buy it directly from the retailer. If your book is only on sale at one retailer, like Amazon, your Facebook post can link directly to Amazon. If it’s on sale at multiple retailers, link instead to a landing page on your website that links to all the retailers where it’s available.

9. Post about upcoming releases

Those who are following you on Facebook are doing so because they like your books, so they’ll be ecstatic to learn about new releases—especially if that new release is on sale for a limited time. Make sure to provide a link where they can go to actually buy the book.

10. Post book trailers

Videos are a great way to catch people’s attention; Facebook even has an autoplay feature that starts a video if it’s showing on the page. Creating a book trailer can be time-consuming, and it should be done well. Only try this if you have the time and talent (or know someone who can do it for you).

11. Promote your ebook on Facebook using ads

Ads can be tricky to get right, but when done properly, they can have amazing effects. An add should have only a small amount of text, with most of it being an eye-catching image. The best ads promise viewers something: offering a free book (could be in return for a newsletter signup) through an ad can be very effective. Make sure the ad links to a compelling landing page on your website or on the website that is hosting your book (like your landing page for your subscriber magnet on Book Cave). When creating an ad, make sure to adjust the audience and the times it runs to reach those you know will like your books.

12. Track and adjust your Facebook ads

Like we said, getting ads right can be tricky, which is why it’s important to check them regularly, track how they’re doing, and make adjustments to the audience, the times, or even the image itself. Please note that any comments, likes, or shares on your ad are removed after you edit it, so give your ad some time before you decide that it’s not working. You may just want to duplicate the ad and make the changes to the new ad, keeping the old ad as a backup. You can easily turn ads off and on.

13. Boost posts on your page

When you boost a post, you pay a fee for it to appear higher on Facebook users’ news pages, which means they’ll be more likely to see it and respond to it. The posts you boost should be those that promote your ebook or bring users to your website in some way.

14. Invite those who have liked your posts and your ads to also like your author page

Facebook makes inviting people to like your page easy: just go to a post and click on the text that shows how many people liked the post. A popup will appear that lists all the people, and on the right of each name will be an invite button. Click on each one to invite all those people to like your page. More likes means that more people will see and share your posts. Also, you can directly advertise to everyone who likes your page, so the more likes you have, the better.

Third-Party Sellers on Amazon Are Outselling Amazon

Don’t feel bad for Amazon, though, because the company makes huge amounts of money regardless.
why axis chart third party amazon sellers

Any reality-TV contestant will tell you that being too good at something is going to make you massively unpopular. Downplaying your wins is the way to go if you want to mitigate the chances that a target will be placed on your back.

Amazon seems fully aware of this tactic with Jeff Bezos’ most recent shareholder letter, which stated: “”Third-party sellers are kicking our first-party butt. Badly.” The company just doesn’t seem to know it’s already the villain of the retail show.

Amazon’s deflection to look at third-party sales, which have grown from $0.1 billion in 1999 to $160 billion in 2018 according to the numbers Bezos released, doesn’t tell the whole story. The company makes more money when it relies on third-party sellers than it does when it makes its own sales.

In the shareholder letter, Bezos touches on some of the ways Amazon is assisting third-party sellers (“tools that help sellers manage inventory, process payments, track shipments, create reports, and sell across borders”) but its help goes far beyond that.

There’s a new Marketplace Growth program that gives sellers an account rep who advises them on all aspects of business. The company also lets sellers participate in Fulfillment by Amazon, which doubled sales for small to medium businesses on the site in 2018. Amazon also lends money to third-party sellers.

So don’t believe what Amazon says so much as what it does when it comes to figuring out who’s really winning this game.

Academic Piracy – Where are we now?

Academic Piracy – Where are we now? 

Written by Matthew Jones

In 2018, e-book piracy websites received over 800 million visits; a number expected to rise by at least a third in 2019. The scale of piracy in academic publishing is staggering, yet one would be excused for assuming it a mere annoyance to publishers. Inevitability haunts any discussion of piracy in the industry and pervades even the most pragmatic. With one in four students admitting that they regularly pirate academic content, the issue cannot be ignored.

Publishers have begun to feel the financial squeeze. Academic publishers, on average, lose over 28% of their potential revenue to piracy. Despite the well-publicized inflation of textbook prices (847% in the past 30 years – Economist, 2014), NACS recently reported a 31% decrease in total spending on course materials since 2007. Most often, decline in textbook revenue is blamed on enrollment stagnation, yet, in reality, students are increasingly being squeezed towards piracy as well as the second hand book market, which accounts for 25% of the total market in book sales (McKinsey 2014).

The concept of e-book ownership is flawed within academic publishing. Publishers rely upon outdated DRM technology to safeguard a product that is completely relinquished at point-of-sale. DRM is now so laughably simple to crack that it undeniably exacerbates the issue, with cracked titles being widely distributed online.

Pirate search engines like LibGen and SciHub have thrived for years; SciHub facilitated over 1 billion illegal downloads of academic content last year alone. Even Scribd, a legitimate partner of most major publishers, retains it’s document sharing feature that – at best – turns a blind eye to textbook copyright infringement.

Yet, for such an existential threat, academic piracy has surprisingly been met with seemingly quiet resignation.

LibGen finally provoked (well-publicized) legal action from a publisher in 2015. Predictably enough, this action has proven singularly ineffective. But then, this reactive ‘whack-a-mole’ approach to anti-piracy always will be. When industry innovation extends only so far as automated cease-and-desist letters and designed QR codes as ‘certification tags’, a simple domain change will allow the pirates to continue with relative impunity. These reactive approaches fail to account for content consumers that view this as a victim-less crime, if even a crime at all.

Rather than concede to doom and gloom, we must more fully understand and eradicate the root cause of piracy. There are two fundamental and alienating issues: students feel they are neither offered affordable solutions, nor the desired accessibility and convenience they have come to expect. 7 in 10 students now forego textbook purchases; perceiving them to be overpriced (US PIRG). The model of ownership is so clearly broken, that 73% of students would far prefer an access model instead. Students crave affordability and accessibility that have simply been unavailable.

There is a chasm between the value placed upon academic content by the publishers and the students. No statistic is perhaps more damning than Science Magazine’s 2016 survey which showed that 88% of students do not equate the piracy of academic content with criminality. It requires only a cursory glance at social media to see that student’s opinions of publishers are at best ambivalent, and at worst vitriolic.

How can publishers possibly repair this disconnect? There is a pressing need to re-acquaint students with the value of this content and the work of publishers. This can’t happen by inflating prices – counter to some beliefs in the industry. Equally, albeit admirable, publishers that are now reducing textbook prices won’t succeed. Price action alone, without changing the method of delivery won’t result in sustainable change. Whilst students are forced into a flawed ownership model, accessibility won’t improve. Increasingly, the solution points towards access models, specifically ones that allow third parties to act as mediators between publishers and consumers.

Disconnects between the publishers and consumers of content have been dealt with well in other industries, namely the music industry. The infamy of Limewire and BitTorrent will be familiar to many – as will the laborious task of finding the right content and eventually uploading to an iPod. With an affordable, and far more convenient option, streaming services like Spotify managed to better serve this this market need. An NDP study showed that in 2012 as Spotify grew, illegally downloaded music files from P2P services fell by 26%. Consumers flocked to the streaming service offering instantly accessible, aggregated content at a fixed affordable price.

Notably though, there is a cautionary tale. After Netflix’s pivot to aggregated digital subscription, they experienced a meteoric rise. The streaming service penetrated the global market so successfully that piracy in the film industry fell by over 50% between 2011 and 2016. In 2018, however, with the segmentation of the entertainment industry, and the rapid growth of Amazon Prime, Hulu and now Disney, for the first time in years, piracy actually increased. This shines a light on the universal truth in the provision of content: the convenience and affordability of aggregation are key. In the pursuit of coverage, the consumer must subscribe to ever more platforms, their convenience is ultimately hindered and they are lead inevitably to increased piracy.

Publishers can learn key lessons here. Whilst single-publisher subscription services like Cengage Unlimited are laudable and monetize market segments lost to piracy and second hand sales, they aren’t sustainable. As other publishers emulate, consumers will be forced towards subscription saturation, where once again piracy becomes the affordable and convenient choice. Publishers must think longer-term, shedding any sense of hubris. With the added issues of academic freedom, no single publisher can possibly win a subscription arms race.

A third-party aggregated subscription service is far from novel in academic publishing, yet it has also never truly been tested. Despite this being the logical, proactive solution to piracy, it is too often met with unfounded fears and reluctance to change. To successfully provide the convenience and affordability required, this service has to have buy-in from the leading publishers, for all of their content. Data already exists to show that cannibalisation of other sales revenue is a totally unfounded fear. Any marginal impact on other sales channels is recouped (and more besides) from previously untapped market segments.

Academic publishing now finds itself at a juncture. Subscription has arrived, the ownership model is irreparably broken – publishers must now embrace aggregated subscription platforms for a sustainable long-term return to growth.

 

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