Friday, May 31, 2013

BEA 2013: Macmillan CEO Says Eric Holder is Incompetent



In a provocative session at BEA 2013, Macmillan CEO John Sargent thinks Eric Holder and the DOJ are incompetent. Here's the reason why. I'm not going into that now, but I did post about it previously. He also made a few comments about Amazon.

What Sargent did say about the pending DoJ suit is that Justice is "extraordinarily myopic. They carried the water for Amazon, when it had 92% of the market." And, he said, they prevented others from coming into the market. "The senior guys, Eric Holder, are just incompetent," he added, to resounding applause. As to the lasting effect of the DoJ case, Sargent said, "There's no way to tell. I have a lot of hope. There are a lot of good signs about the movement to digital." He's been heartened that even with the increase in the number of screens, the growth of e-books is flat. "What is dangerous for us is cataclysmic change. You guys are superb at adapting. You need time to adjust. If it stays flat or declines slowly, we're in good shape."

While I have been following the Eric Holder debacle, and I'm not too thrilled with Holder now myself (far from it), I love when Sargent mentions that the growth of e-books "is flat." I don't know where he gets his info. But I've read a few different things.

Half the time I'm never certain what to believe anymore when it comes to e-book sales in a general sense, but according to the following article the rise in e-book sales seems to be 134% by 2012. This comes from the Publishers Association Yearbook, 2012.

If you check out the above link to my previous post on May 1 of this year I have a quote and another link to the original piece. I'm not saying Sargent is wrong or that he's been misinformed, but I do think that depending on the source these days you're going to get varying opinions on e-book sales that depend on personal agenda. And you're left wondering who's telling the truth.

I have no comment about the DOJ, Eric Holder, or Macmillan. And I'm not thrilled with one huge outlet controlling everything either. But I'm a competitive person and I like the concept of fight to survive. It sounds like Sargent thinks e-book sales are going to remain flat, and then decline slowly. I guess Amazon wasted all that money on the patent for digital resale? I know I'm not handing back my iPad any time soon to read print books. In fact, I purchased six new e-books this week because I've been running low on new titles. My personal library is stocked with affordable e-books all the time.

As to what Macmillan might be up to, Sargent said, "What people want is book-length works that tell a good story. So I don't feel a need to put in film studios in the office, to invest tremendously in the enhanced e-book." Nor does he have any plans to deliver data to glasses. And he affirmed his personal preference for print. "Call me old-fashioned. I prefer a book," he said, to much applause. Sargent also spoke briefly about the ingrained culture of books in Germany, where Macmillan's owners, the two shareholders he has to make happy, live.

Well. I thought an e-book was a book, too. I guess I was imagining things when I finished reading Anne Tyler's last novel on my Kobo. As a side note, I also get a lot of e-mail from German readers who read digital only.

If I'd been in THAT crowd I would have been looking for a back way out of the room. I wonder if Sargent is still listening to records on his HiFi. You know, because that iTunes thing will never take off.





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