Today in publishing and literature: Pottermore now plans to launch in early April, the Harry Ransom Center acquires T.C. Boyle's papers, and what a possible settlement in the e-book pricing antitrust case means for readers.
Pottermore, J.K. Rowling's much-delayed "online experience" and would-be sole vendor of Harry Potter e-books and digital audio downloads, is now set to go live in "early April." We'll believe it when we see it, considering the site was supposed be go live back in October but remains in beta, and went down entirely for three days in November. According to a company blog post, the delay stemmed from the decision to "move Pottermore to an entirely different platform set up" after initial testing (uh-oh). As for the Pottermore bookstore, a spokesman for the company says, somewhat vaguely, that the plan is open the shop "at a similar time," though that's not “totally confirmed as yet.” The good news is, nobody has to line up at midnight for it. [The Bookseller]
The Department of Justice reportedly informed Apple and publishers Simon & Schuster, Penguin, Hachette, HarperCollins, and Macmillan that it plans to sue them for colluding to raise the price of e-books. Sources tell The Wall Street Journal that already "several of the parties have held talks to settle the antitrust case" and avoid a potentially lengthy and costly trial, though apparently "not every publisher is in settlement discussions." Publishing executives stress a deal if far from imminent, but what would a settlement -- even one that doesn't include all parties -- mean for book-buying public? Cheaper e-books, for a start. Depending on the terms of the settlement, the current "agency model" of selling books (in which publishers set the price of a book, and retailers take a cut of the action, 30% in Apple's case) could be scrapped entirely for a return to the "wholesale model" the industry traditionally used. Publishers are concerned a return to the wholesale model would allow e-book juggernaut Amazon to price competitors like Barnes & Noble out of existence by selling e-books for peanuts and making up the difference on sales of e-readers, so some publishers have suggested a settlement that will "preserve the agency model but allow some discounts by booksellers." Still, the operative word is discounts. [The Wall Street Journal]