Jul 4 2011
Today is supposed to be a holiday but the news is coming thick and fast. I hardly know what to lead with. First up, though, is Pearson Australia striking a deal to buy REDGroup’s online book business and to partner to sell ebooks with Kobo. This is the first time we’ve seen a major publisher attempt to get into the retail market. If Pearson Australia is successful, those new competencies might be brought over to Pearson UK or Penguin USA. This isn’t just developing a direct to consumer relationship like Harlequin has. This is direct competition with Amazon to create a vertical supply chain of publishing content to selling content directly to the end user. Currently this sale only affects Australia and not New Zealand. Via Nate The Digital Reader.
Amazon isn’t sitting on its hands. No, it continues to dodge taxes by severing its affiliate relationships. (BN mocks them for this to which I say, BN your affiliate program is so terrible that it might as well not exist). And today comes the news that Amazon has bought Book Depository. It’s hard to know what this means for the folks abroad, many who use the BD service to get books that haven’t been released in their country. According to Paid Content:
The Book Depository has referred all press questions to Amazon, but it has also told customers via Twitter that it intends to continue operating as an independently. It’s not clear what impact that will have on pricing.
This would be consistent with what happened to Woot and Zappos when they were purchased (basically nothing on the consumer end).
Amazon is also trying to lure authors into giving good reviews by promising increased promotion. The commenters in the article are outraged at this. But even we readers here at Dear Author know that blurbs from fellow authors aren’t always ethical. Some authors don’t even read the books for which they give blurbs, or give blurbs reluctantly because they don’t feel like they can say no. Jenny Crusie wrote an interesting piece on blurbage a while back.
For this reason, some of my friends are Quote Whores, and I say this with affection because they’re good people who like giving other authors a boost in sales. “Don’t send me the book,” they tell people, “just put on ‘I loved it!’ Melinda Q. Whore.” And everybody wins, the author, the quoter, the publisher . . . Well maybe not the reader. I did this once, just once, many years ago, for an author I really liked as a person, without reading the book. Then I saw a reader post online that she’d bought the book because my quote was on it and hadn’t liked it at all. She was very nice about it, she said, “Well, everybody’s tastes are different.” So I went out and bought the book. I didn’t like it, either.
And really, Amazon’s blurbage plan might run afoul of the FTC guidelines.
Chuck Wendig has an epic and funny post about writer myths that need to die. My favorite is about how characters don’t really control the authors:
So it always amazes me when writers speak of their fiction — and, in particular, the characters within that fiction — as being somehow alive, as if they’re real people running rough-shod over your story because these characters just don’t give a raw red fuck what you, the writer, want. Does that mean I’ve never been surprised by my characters? Of course I’ve been surprised by my characters. But I don’t attribute it to them being real. Instead, I high-five my subconscious mind and say, “Nicely done, part of my brain, I approve of your decision.” I mean, it’s not like comic book writers are like, “Yeah, I don’t know why Superman just took a Kryptonian Super-Shit on Hawkman. It’s just, hey, that’s Superman. I don’t control him. That crazy motherfucker does what he wants. The underwear on the outside? His idea.”
Last week, USA Today announced that Kobo booksales are now being counted toward the USA Today bestseller list. This link gives what looks to be an exhaustive list of providers who report to the USA Today list. Not included? Walmart.
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Bookland and Books & Co., Borders Books & Music, Davis-Kidd Booksellers (Nashville, Memphis), Hudson Booksellers, Joseph-Beth Booksellers (Lexington, Ky.; Cincinnati, Charlotte, Cleveland, Pittsburgh), Powell’s Books (Portland, Ore.), Powells.com, R.J. Julia Booksellers (Madison, Conn.), Schuler Books & Music (Grand Rapids, Okemos, Eastwood, Alpine, Mich.), Sony Reader Store, Target, Tattered Cover Book Store (Denver), Waldenbooks
Buyers beware of self published author Angela Priest. Moira Rogers has reported that one of their works has been plagiarised and resold under someone else’s name. Priest has since pulled the books and has promised new original works, but readers probably want to know this piece of information.