We can now say that self-published authors earn more in royalties than Big 5 authors, combined. This may reverse itself by the time February rolls around, but it adds weight to a recent story in The Guardian about the unsustainability of traditional publishing if authors continue to earn less while their publishers earn more. It bears putting a number here and stressing what we are seeing: Self-published authors are now earning nearly 40% of all ebook royalties on the Kindle store. The days of looking at self-publishing as a last option are long gone. A lot has changed in six months.

July 2014 Author Earnings Report – Author Earnings

Publishing is one of the most ballyhooed metrics of scientific careers, and every researcher hates to have a gap in that part of his or her CV. Here’s some consolation: A new study finds that very few scientists—fewer than 1%—manage to publish a paper every year. But these 150,608 scientists dominate the research journals, having their names on 41% of all papers. Among the most highly cited work, this elite group can be found among the co-authors of 87% of papers.

The 1% of scientific publishing | Science/AAAS | News

Amazon is not evil, but it is ruthlessly, ruthlessly efficient,” said Andrew Rhomberg, founder of JellyBooks, an e-book discovery site. “As consumers, we love Amazon’s efficiency and low prices,” he said. “But as suppliers, it is a toad that is hard to swallow.

Amazon, a Friendly Giant as Long as It’s Fed - NYTimes.com

But getting to a sustainable new world order requires a thorough overhaul of academic publishing industry. The alternative vision – of “open science” – has two key properties: the uninhibited sharing of research findings, and a new peer review system that incorporates the best of the scientific community’s feedback. Several groups have made progress on the former, but the latter has proven particularly difficult given the current incentive structure. The currency of scientific research is the number of papers you’ve published and their citation counts – the number of times other researchers have referred to your work in their own publications. The emphasis is on creation of new knowledge – a worthy goal, to be sure – but substantial contributions to the quality, packaging, and contextualization of that knowledge in the form of peer review goes largely unrecognized. As a result, researchers view their role as reviewers as a chore, a time-consuming task required to sustain the ecosystem of research dissemination.

Incentivizing Peer Review: The Last Obstacle for Open Access Science | Science Blogs | WIRED

The reason for the mass retraction is mind-blowing: A “peer review and citation ring” was apparently rigging the review process to get articles published. You’ve heard of prostitution rings, gambling rings and extortion rings. Now there’s a “peer review ring.”

Scholarly journal retracts 60 articles, smashes ‘peer review ring’ - The Washington Post

Amazon has proposed giving Hachette’s authors all the revenue from their e-book sales on Amazon as the parties continue to negotiate a new contract. Hachette’s response on Tuesday was to suggest that the retailer was trying to make it commit suicide. “We call baloney,” the retailer fired back.

Amazon Angles to Attract Hachette’s Authors - NYTimes.com

With a 12-month, $80,000 Sloan grant, the association will develop an online platform that scholarly publishers can use to upload metadata about new titles as well as digital versions of the books themselves. Once a journal editor identifies a reviewer for a particular book, the reviewer will be given access to the e-version of the title to work with.

Anthropology Group Will Test a Faster, Digital Approach to Book Reviews – Wired Campus - Blogs - The Chronicle of Higher Education

The AAU/ARL task force describes its plan as a “prospectus for an institutionally funded first-book subvention” that would shift the burden of payment to authors’ home institutions. That would “address the principal causes and effects of the market failure for monographs,” the prospectus says. It envisions that colleges and universities would agree to pay for an openly available “basic digital edition” of some faculty members’ first books; scholarly publishers could offer those titles for sale in other formats too. The plan also envisions that universities with a high level of research activity would offer subventions for three or four books a year, with an “annual subvention exposure” of roughly $68,000 to $73,000. Small colleges would pay for one or two books a year, and offer more modest subventions.

Who Ought to Underwrite Publishing Scholars’ Books? – Wired Campus - Blogs - The Chronicle of Higher Education

“If we could work together with the publishers, we would be even better able to judge if the content that is being offered to us is offered by the legal holder,” van Hoorn said. “It would be great if we could work together with the publishers to make the ebook market more healthy for them and for the consumer. “In the end it would be the best situation [where] if you want to read the latest book you need to buy it new from the publisher, and if you can wait you can buy it from Tom Kabinet as a secondhand ebook for a little bit lower price. That’s the normal way of things and that’s the way it should be.”

The right to resell ebooks — major case looms in the Netherlands — Tech News and Analysis

New contracts are also said to include MFN clauses, whereby effectively books cannot be sold for a lower price than Amazon’s anywhere, including on a publisher’s own website. Amazon is also understood to want matching terms where a publisher enters into a new business arrangement, for example with a subscription service. Publishers told The Bookseller that MFN clauses had disappeared from contracts, but were now making a reappearance. Another clause of particular note requires publishers to guarantee they have books in stock, allowing Amazon to do print-on-demand editions to customers – with extra terms benefits – should books be out of supply. The clause has echoes of a demand made in 2008 that small publishers use its POD service, with Amazon arguing at that time that it could “provide a better, more timely customer experience if the p.o.d. titles are printed inside our own fulfilment centres”. Publishers are worried that the clause would allow Amazon to effectively take over their stock-control.

Amazon pressing for new terms in UK | The Bookseller