We’re finally seeing some progress on this front. While Amazon is still actively promoting returns as a benefit of subscribing, they did just announce on the ACX blog that they are going to launch a new sales dashboard in March 2021. The new dashboard will break out returns by title. (Previously, Audible had provided no info on returns, instead hiding the info by showing only net sales.)
I have the ACX blog post at the end of this post.
On a related note, last November Audible changed its return policies so that creators would still get paid if a customer returned an audiobook months after buying it.
We’re committed to making Audible and ACX the best experience it can be for our creative community, and we’ve heard your feedback. We have been hard at work building a new reporting system to reflect details on returns, including returned units by title. Starting March 2021, you’ll be able to see this data on your ACX Sales Dashboard. This data will also be included in your monthly financial statements for March 2021 and the following months. We appreciate your patience as we invest the time and resources to make these updates to the dashboard and our backend systems, so that we can expand reporting details for our thousands of creators. As of January 1, 2021, we are paying royalties on any return made more than 7 days after purchase.
We are also making other changes to our ACX policies to provide more flexibility, which we know is important to you. Effective February 1, ACX Rights Holders of DIY or Pay-for-Production titles that have been on sale for 90 or more days can convert their distribution type from exclusive to non-exclusive. In addition, all ACX Rights Holders will have the option to terminate after 90 days of distribution, but Rights Holders with Royalty Share or Royalty Share Plus deals must provide Producer consent when making their request. More details about this update will come in the payments letter that will be sent next week.
This Sunday morning finds me reorganizing my RSS feeds so I can make better use of the limited time I can devote to blogging.
As I was getting caught up on the several thousand items in my RSS feed, I noticed that there were 4 or 5 blogs which I was loath to simply skip. After some thought I realized that this constituted my "read for pleasure list", and I thought it would be fun to share it with you.
Run by librarians, this blog is one of my secret pleasures. Each post focused on a book so terrible or so out of date that it deserves to be weeded from public libraries. I often buy copies of these books just to have them on my shelves simply because they make me laugh.
Remember back when there were many many bloggers each posting about what interested them? Many of those bloggers have since moved to Twitter and other social networks, but Joe is still publishing blog posts.
The probe is one of many into the e-commerce platform’s business practices. Amazon is also under investigation by the attorneys general in New York, California and Washington state and the Federal Trade Commission.
“Connecticut has an active and ongoing antitrust investigation into Amazon regarding potentially anticompetitive terms in their e-book distribution agreements with certain publishers,” Attorney General William Tong said in a statement to Reuters.
The probe comes as technology platforms face a backlash in the United States and across the world, fueled by concerns among regulators, lawmakers and consumer groups that firms have too much power and are harming users and business rivals.
While this does raise my hopes that the agency contracts will be broken, I haven’t seen any evidence to suggest that there’s a case here. This is not nearly the same situation as when news broke of the price-fixing conspiracy involving Apple and five publishers. It was patently obvious to bystanders at the time that the Price Fix Six had conspired, but we have no similar evidence now. (Frankly, publishers hate Amazon too much to enter into a conspiracy with the retailer.)
I would love to be proven wrong, but at this point we have no reason to expect that to happen.
News broke this week that Amazon is being sued for colluding with five major publishers to inflate prices. The case was filed by the same law firm that lead the lawsuit against the Price Fix Six back in 2011.
The law firm of Hagens Berman is accusing the world’s largest retailer of colluding to artificially inflate the retail price of e-books through anticompetitive agreements with the nation’s five largest book publishers.
This is a fancy way of saying that the Agency 2.0 contracts, which gave publishers control over their ebook prices, were negotiated conspiratorially, and that the MFN clauses in those contracts illegally helped keep Amazon in a dominant position in the US ebook market.
This case has been well-covered elsewhere, so I will merely link to various sources before getting into a discussion.
Five independently negotiated contracts does not a conspiracy make.
That, folks, is the Achilles heel of this lawsuit. I agree that consumers were harmed by these contracts, yes, but this lawsuit makes a big deal about a conspiracy without presenting any evidence that Amazon conspired.
Sure, that information could come out later, but it probably does not exist. Amazon is well-known for keeping its negotiations so secret that parties are not even allowed to talk about the process, much less the terms agreed to or the information exchanged.
And these lawyers think Amazon conspired with publishers?
Pull the other one, it has bells on.
Furthermore, while I want this lawsuit to be decided in favor of consumers, it probably won’t result in the contracts getting tossed. That is my desired goal, but I don’t see it happening. (Unless of course Amazon also wants the contracts thrown out, so it settles the suit and switches sides in the lawsuit.)
In any case, we are in for a very entertaining 6 to 8 months.
The Book Designer is a blog which most authors should know. Founded by Joel Friedlander, this blog has been around for over ten years now, and in that time it has dispensed sage advice from dozens of experts (including myself).
For the past couple years I have been an occasional contributor to The Book Designer, which is how I found out that The Book Designer was sold just before Christmas. This has not yet been publicly announced (and I don’t know why not) but I just learned that Chandler Bolt bought it.
I can’t really say I know Chandler, but I have interacted with his staff at Self-Publishing School. A few times now, we have talked about a guest post, but so far nothing has jelled. I am not terribly familiar with that site (it’s way out of my price range) but I did find a couplereviews.
Update: Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware tweeted this when I told her the news. She also directed me to BBB complaints about Bolt’s school.
Whoa, really? I may have to reconsider recommending that blog. I periodically get questions about Chandler Bolt and his "school" (mostly as a result of spam-style solicitations) and I've gotten one pretty serious complaint (person also complained to BBB https://t.co/9NbuGaUwKR )
I was in Best Buy this morning, buying a new laptop when I happened to notice that the store now had digital product labels decorating the shelves.
Best Buy has bought a shelf label system from a company called Pricer, and deployed labels in the 2″ and 4.2″ size. The larger sizes uses a 3-color Spectra E-ink screen (red, black and white), but I can’t say for sure whether the smaller shelf labels uses that screen or just a regular E-ink screen.
One thing I can tell you is that the screens are not as high of a resolution as on your Kindle; the smaller text on the 4.2″ screen was almost illegible due to fuzziness.
But even so, it was pretty cool to see digital shelf labels in widespread adoption. I had almost give up hope of seeing them in the stores I visit. Honestly, despite the obvious advantages (reduced labor, faster turnaround, etc) for a while there it had seemed like retailers had decided to pass on the tech.
Christmas came late this year, but I have a present for you. I just got an email notification that a new ereader cleared the FCC. This ereader was built by Netronix, but carries the brand MobiScribe, and according to the manual, it is called the Origin.
The Origin features a 6.8″ screen with a frontlight that offers color-changing, contrast, and brightness settings. (There’s also a 4th setting which I have not figured out). In addition to the capacitive touchscreen, this ereader also ha a Wacomstylus.
According to the test results, the Origin has Wifi but not Bluetooth. The internal photos show that it is a chip for the stylus, but it’s hard to make out the CPU or RAM.
Virtually all the interesting details were left visible to the public, so I would love it if you would take a look and tell me if you spotted something I missed.
A Korean ebook service has revived the idea of tracking a reader’s eye movements, and using that to trigger page turns. It’s interesting to see it being tried again, but something tells me that it’s still not going to catch on.