Publishers, sellers, authors form Creative Economy Coalition

NEW YORK (AP): Organizations representing book publishers, booksellers and authors have formed a coalition to protect copyrights and oppose legislation across the country that it fears could drive down e-book prices and damage writers’ ability to support themselves

The Association of American Publishers, the Authors Guild and the American Booksellers Association are among the members of the Protect the Creative Economy Coalition. Their current focus is proposed legislation in Connecticut, Kentucky and elsewhere that sets boundaries on what publishers can ask for when negotiating with a given state’s library system.

Libraries and publishers have long battled over terms for e-books, which in principle are far easier than printed books for libraries to loan out repeatedly. Publishers often charge libraries double or more the average retail price for e-book rights and limit how often they can be made available to patrons.

Supporters of the state laws have contended that they want books to be more affordable for libraries, and by extension, consumers.

“Writers’ incomes have become precariously low, forcing talented writers to leave the profession; as a culture, we lose their books and their important insights,” Mary Rasenberger, CEO of the Authors Guild, said in a statement Wednesday. “By forcing pricing limits and other restrictions on not just publishers but thousands of self-published authors, the bills exhibit total disregard of the reality that authors in the commercial marketplace have to earn enough money to stay in the profession.”

Last year, a federal judge in Maryland struck down a law that would have required publishers to make e-books available on “reasonable terms” to libraries if they were also being offered to the general public. The Association of American Publishers had contended that the bill violated the United States Copyright Act by allowing states to regulate publishing transactions.

Maria Pallante, president and CEO of the publishers association, said in a statement Wednesday that the current bills under consideration “would subject authors and publishing houses of all sizes to serious liabilities and financial penalties for exercising the very rights that the Copyright Act so clearly affords them.”

The new coalition also includes the National Music Publishers Association, the News Media Alliance and the Copyright Alliance.