In the first major overseas legal challenge to its massive book-scanning project, Google’s French division was hit last week with a copyright infringement lawsuit. Publishing group La Martinière, backed by the editors association Syndicat national de l’édition (SNE) and the writers union Société des gens de lettres (SGDL), is asking a Paris court to force the Internet giant to halt its digitization of protected works and to levy a fine of eighteen million euros (about $26 million) as well as a per diem fine of one hundred thousand euros ($146,000).
About a week shy of its first anniversary, online magazine the Daily Beast is getting into the book business. On Monday, editor Tina Brown announced a joint venture with Perseus Books to release a series of short, topical e-books quickly followed by paperback editions. The new imprint, Beast Books, plans to publish three to five titles in the next year.
Steve Rubin, best known as the publisher of John Grisham and Dan Brown, announced yesterday that he is stepping down as executive vice president and publisher-at-large of Random House, effective next Friday. The sixty-seven-year-old Rubin, a former journalist, said he was moving on to pursue other opportunities, including a book deal of his own with “one of the finest publishers in the industry.”
Another wave of layoffs hit Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) last week, with the publisher confirming plans to eliminate sixty-five jobs at its offices in Boston and Orlando. The decision follows a deal signed in July with global outsourcing firm Cognizant Technology Solutions, which will see a portion of HMH’s information technology services transferred overseas.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced yesterday that Bruce Nichols has been appointed senior vice president and publisher of adult trade and reference, filling a position left vacant since Rebecca Saletan resigned last December.
Penguin Group recently unveiled a new portion of its Web site called From the Publisher's Office that presents a range of multimedia features promoting the publisher's titles. The new "Web network" contains content that was created, recorded and produced by Penguin editors and staff specifically for the site.
Michael Stephen Fuchs doesn't seem particularly naive or susceptible to exploitation. The fast-talking writer has a successful day job as an Internet consultant, peppers his conversation with literary aphorisms, and, like many debut authors, can talk with an eloquence borne from personal experience about the iniquities of the publishing business. But according to some in the book trade, Fuchs has been suckered.
Not unlike European explorers five hundred years ago, the United States publishing industry is looking for a route to China. And, like those explorers, each company seems to be setting a different course.
Taking their cue from the film industry, in which a well-produced trailer is infinitely more valuable than a print advertisement or press release, commercial publishers such as HarperCollins and Houghton Mifflin are taking advantage of new technology to offer promotional videos on their Web sites to augment their traditional publicity campaigns.
Last year's book sales rose slightly over 2005, the New York Times reports today. According to a study by the Book Industry Study Group, publishers sold 3.1 billion books in 2006, up just 0.5 percent from 2005, when 3.09 billion were published.