A Roundup

  • Amazon’s “The Big Deal” sale  — 400 ebooks priced at $3.99 or less —  is ending today. You may be excused for having (almost) missed it; despite the name of the sale, Amazon seems intent on not making a big deal out of this sale. The sale got no mention on Amazon home page nor on any of its various social network pages and no advertising on its Special Offers Kindles. It appears that Amazon does not want too many people to know about The Big Deal. If this is true, that would be rather strange, don’t you think? Did Amazon sign some complicated deals with publishers whereby it makes money from the sale but only if the copies of books sold did not exceed a certain ceiling? Is Amazon losing money on this sale altogether? If so, then why have it? Man, what I wouldn’t give to get access to Amazon book sales and pricing data & be able to fathom the unfathomable.
  • I’m attending the American Library Association (ALA) annual conference this weekend. It’s my first professional conference, and I’m excited! I’ve signed up for almost all of the scholarly communications and copyright sessions and will have the pleasure to listen to such topics as “The Judge’s Ruling in the GSU Case:  What Does it Mean for Libraries?”, “Fair Use, Intellectual Property, and New Media”, “Ending the Big Deal: Truth and Consequences”, “Truth, Lies, and Silly Putty: The Ties that Bind Copyright” . . . etc. The conference this year is being held in Anaheim, the city better known as the home of Disneyland. Indeed, some of the discussions are going to be held at the Disneyland hotel itself. The fact that librarians will be discussing copyright issues — presumably with the tilt that “significant policy developments [have] negatively affect[ed] balanced copyright law” — in the bowels of two of the most vociferous advocates of policies for stronger copyright protections, Disney and Hollywood, is interesting.
  • They do things differently in France. “Since 1981 the ‘Lang law’ . . .  has fixed prices for French-language books. Booksellers — even Amazon — may not discount books more than 5 percent below the publisher’s list price, although Amazon fought for and won the right to provide free delivery . . . Now publishers themselves decide the price of e-books; any other discounting is forbidden,” so the New York Times informs us. One other country, Israel, is currently considering similar legislation to prohibit discounts on books. Do you guys know of other places where such restrictions on book pricing are in place? Any systematic study of their effects?
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