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Macmillan Returns to Agency Pricing on E-Books, Plans to Test Subscriptions

In a letter this week to authors and agents, Macmillan CEO John Sargent announced that the publishing company had signed a multi-year contract with Amazon late last week and would be returning to agency pricing on e-books for all retailers, except Apple, starting on January 5, 2015.

Under the settlement with the Department of Justice in the Apple e-book pricing case, the five settling publishers had to allow retailers to offer unlimited discounts on their e-books for the past two years; however, because the publishers were prohibited from negotiating new contracts with Apple for varying amounts of time beyond the two years set by their consent decrees (Macmillan’s term doesn’t end until October 5, 2017), Apple has been free to charge whatever it wants for e-books. Macmillan and Simon & Schuster were in court last week to appeal that decision and are awaiting a resolution.

Pointing to Amazon’s 64 percent market share of Macmillan’s e-book business and the need for broader channels to reach readers, Sargent said that Macmillan would soon begin testing e-book subscriptions despite its previous misgivings that such a move would erode the perceived value of the book.  Though the risk remains, he said, “We plan to try subscription with backlist books, and mostly with titles that are not well represented at bricks-and-mortar retail stores.”

Nielsen Children’s Book Summit Highlights Growing Market

The first annual Nielsen Children’s Book Summit, held on Friday, December 12, brought focus to the developing children’s book market and the driving force children and teens have on book buying. The event was co-chaired by Kristen McLean, editor of Nielsen’s Books & Consumers Children’s research and founder and CEO of Bookigee, and Jonathan Stolper, senior vice president for Nielsen Books America.

Some highlights of the event, as reported by Publishing Perspectives, include:

  • The children’s book market has grown 44 percent over the past decade, while adult publishing peaked in 2008 and is now on the decline.
  • At $151 billion, international children’s publishing is the largest area of content creation.
  • For children aged 2 to 10, reading is the number-one leisure activity.
  • By age 11 to 13, reading as a leisure activity is surpassed by television and games.
  • Sixty-seven percent of teens read for pleasure, with 50 percent preferring print over digital books.
  • Teens spend five percent of their leisure time reading, versus 19 percent watching television.
  • Book-buying teens are the most likely to own gaming devices and electronic reading devices.
  • Forty-four percent of teens report needing to unplug at times.

A group of teens also shared, in real time, their thoughts on books and reading at the “In Their Own Words: Live Teen Focus Panel,” coordinated by Stephanie Retblatt of market research firm Smarty Pants. The teens shared ways to best reach them as readers, in addition to receiving free books: book covers on Instagram, book trailers on YouTube, ads on Facebook, and book covers and highlighted passages on Tumblr.

Cameron Post Wins Again With Help of Kids’ Right to Read Project

Six months after Cape Henlopen School District in Lewes, Delaware, raised issue with The Miseducation of Cameron Post by emily m. danforth (HarperCollins), nearby Sussex Central High School is returning the title to its library shelves following its own controversy.

After a complaint about the book’s use of profanity, a review committee voted unanimously to keep the book in the school’s library. The district’s superintendent accepted the recommendation, but the school board president — Charles Bireley, the original complainant — filed an appeal of the decision, which sent the matter to a December 15 vote.

In a December 12 letter, the Kids’ Right to Read Project stressed to the board that the complainant had “no right to impose those views on others or to demand that the public library holdings reflect his personal preferences,” and urged them to “endorse the recommendations of both the committee and the Superintendent.”

The letter continued: “As a practical matter, acceding to the demands to remove something that one person finds objectionable invariably invites multiple, sometimes conflicting demands to exclude other material.... Nobody has to read something just because it is on library shelves.”

Bireley retracted his appeal just before the vote took place on Monday, ending the controversy and reinstating the book to the library.

Duncan, Ellroy Named Mystery Writers of America Grand Masters

On December 12, Mystery Writers of America (MWA) named authors Lois Duncan and James Ellroy as its 2015 Grand Masters for their achievements in mystery writing. The awards will be presented at the Edgar Awards Banquet in New York City on April 29, 2015.

“I’m stunned and overwhelmed by this incredible honor! To have my own name included on this illustrious list of my idols — Agatha Christie, Ira Levin, Stephen King, Tony Hillerman — is something I could never have imagined,” said Duncan of her win.

Elleroy commented, “This is a splendid honor; it lauds my career to date and spurs me on to stay young, healthy, and productive. The Mystery Writers of America: ever honorable, ever grand in their contribution to the craft of crime writing.”