“Baffling.” That’s the take from the CEO of the American Booksellers Association. “A big win” says Amazon, speaking not for the e-tailer but – it says – for Kindle owners. “An intrusion into the business sector by the federal government in a manner that is designed to bully people,” declares top agent Trident Media Group Robert Gottlieb. And they are all talking about the US Dept. of Justice (DOJ) move to sue Apple and five trade book houses for price-fixing on e-books.
“It is important to note that this case was never about the agency model; it is about how these five publishers got to the agency model. And the settlement is not designed to force fundamental reform on the e-book market, but to punish these five publishers for their alleged conspiracy,” explains Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly features editor. “The real pain is in compliance. Each settling publisher will have to engage in a number of compliance measures.”
As Albanese tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally, three publishers who have reached a settlement with DOJ must “maintain and furnish a log of all oral and written communications, excluding privileged or public communications, between any employees involved in e-book strategy. The feds can also invite themselves over to poke around, and the settling publishers have to furnish copies of all books, ledgers, accounts, records, data, any documents relating to the settlement upon request.”
Also from Washington comes An American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama. PW reviews editor Rose Fox calls it, “a layered, scrupulously researched, and wrenching chronicle of First Lady Michelle Obama’s ancestry. New York Times reporter Rachel L. Swarns takes readers to South Carolina rice plantations, small Georgia farms, and the industrial magnets of Birmingham and Chicago.”
Other books of note from the upcoming PW reviews section include Kingdom of Strangers, Zoë Ferraris’s third novel starring Saudi forensic technician Katya Hijazi, who struggles with the conflicts between her professional life and her culture’s view of the proper role of women; and in children’s nonfiction, The Letter Q, a “thoughtful, humorous, and moving” collection of works (edited by Sarah Moon and James Lecesne) in which 64 queer authors and artists share hope and advice with their younger selves.
Every Friday, CCC’s “Beyond the Book” speaks with the editors and reporters of “Publishers Weekly” for an early look at the news that publishers, editors, authors, agents and librarians will be talking about when they return to work on Monday.