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Monday Midday Links: Pearson Australia to Become a Retailer

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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

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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.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

17 Comments

  1. library addict
    Jul 04, 2011 @ 12:01:46

    I think it’s sad Amazon seems to have so much power now in publishing. I understand how they got there and I’m not saying the old ways were necessarily better. But it always worries me when one company is so influential.

    Their whole “we’ll promote you if you do this for us” is one of the reasons why their growing monopoly is a concern.

    Thanks for the link to the Chuck Wendig post.

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  2. Dana
    Jul 04, 2011 @ 12:31:09

    Thanks for the updates and have a great 4th!

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  3. Deb
    Jul 04, 2011 @ 14:03:36

    I am increasingly unnerved by Amazon’s actions, and they’re looking more and more like Wal-Mart. I don’t know how much more of them I can stomach.

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  4. LG
    Jul 04, 2011 @ 14:36:15

    Huh. Not a single place I’ve bought books from in the past year reports to the USA Today bestseller list. I just realized that, amazingly, I haven’t bought anything from Amazon in quite some time, unless you count the blocks I had shipped to my niece.

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  5. Courtney
    Jul 04, 2011 @ 15:03:18

    The “author endorsement” on books really irks me when the author hasn’t read THAT BOOK. For example, I saw Lara Adrian’s newest, “Deeper Than Midnight,” at the store today and the cover contains J.R. Ward’s statement of “Evocative, enticing, erotic.” This is the SAME statement from LA’s first book…which makes me pretty sure that J.R. Ward hasn’t read this book, but simply said it about one of the early books. Frankly, as a reader, it reeks of false advertising. I’d be okay if it said, “J.R. Ward describes Adrian’s writing as…” but the publisher evidently enjoys misleading the readers.

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  6. ms bookjunkie
    Jul 04, 2011 @ 15:37:16

    Please God, no change on the Book Depo customer end! I, for one, am absolutely dependent on the Book Depo for life’s necessities (i.e. books), and if that gets messed with it will cause me to drink heavy.

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  7. Abigail Strom
    Jul 04, 2011 @ 15:44:58

    The Chuck Wendig post made me snort iced tea through my nose. Thank you very much for including that link:).

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  8. Danielle D
    Jul 04, 2011 @ 16:07:09

    @Deb:

    That makes two of us. Maybe they will buy Borders!!?!?

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  9. sarah mayberry
    Jul 04, 2011 @ 17:50:02

    If book depository ends free global shipping I am going to start a one woman protest. We get shafted big time on books here in Australia, and Amazon shafts us big time on postage. Only Book Depository makes it possible for readers to pay reasonable prices for books – and no, I’m not counting e-books in any of this because the availability of e-books down here in Australia is bloody ridiculous it’s so limited. Soooo sick of trying to get an e-book that’s been recently released and not being able to find it for the Australian market. How much money are these morons losing? ALOT!!!!!(Sorry for rant.Still recovering from not being able to achieve instant gratification by downloading the latest Meredith Duran.)

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  10. Ritu
    Jul 04, 2011 @ 19:38:47

    @Sarah Mayberry I also have the same problem. Living in Singapore, I can’t buy 97% of the books. So my (probably) illegal solution is to use VPN(hotspot is free), go to amazon/kobo (I prefer Kobo) buy using your credit card but give an US billing address and then voila, you can download! Of course, I strip the DRM immediately.

    I know this will be illegal but I’m sick and tired of waiting for the publishers to wake up to the fact that people in other countries will also like to download and read ebooks.

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  11. Coleen Kwan
    Jul 04, 2011 @ 20:01:14

    I echo Sarah Mayberry’s comments. I live in Australia and I’ve yet to buy a book from Amazon becuase it’s just too damned hard (and why are there geographical restrictions on e-books? Ridiculous!)
    I use Book Depository because postage is included (nothing is free, is it?) and it’s an easy website to use. I fervently hope nothing is going to change!

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  12. Deb
    Jul 04, 2011 @ 20:27:05

    @Danielle D: why does that make me feel like the Facebook or Google proposition we’re currently looking at?

    @sara, Ritu and Coleen, how is the Smashwords market? Seriously, if Amazon can’t reach large foreign markets, what’s the point? You’d think if they could get around sales taxes in this country (which makes me ill), they could also get around whatever international laws are prohibiting sales to your markets.

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  13. sarah mayberry
    Jul 04, 2011 @ 21:32:28

    @Deb Haven’t tried Smashwords, so just went over and downloaded a free read, no problems. So that’s an option. But it doesn’t get us access to any mainstream published novels.(unless I’m missing something here?) I really don’t understand why it’s so hard. Don’t they want our money? I swear, some people are in business despite themselves. Sigh.

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  14. Deb
    Jul 05, 2011 @ 06:13:51

    @sarah, sorry, yes, I think they are mostly indie, but I wasn’t sure how great their penetration was into all foreign markets. And you can’t order from the Amazon UK site either? I know just enough about the law to make me dangerous, but clearly not even that much in this arena. I’d love to know more.

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  15. jody
    Jul 05, 2011 @ 10:12:52

    Re: blurbage
    A while back I read a book whose cover was littered with raves from some of my favorite authors.

    The book sucked.

    Not only will I never read another book by that (prolific) author, I’ve lost all respect for the authors who allowed themselves to be used to con the public. It left a seriously bad taste and I know I’ll hesitate before reading any more of their books. I sure won’t buy any.

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  16. MaryK
    Jul 05, 2011 @ 12:41:27

    I’m sooo glad I live in the U.S., where the books are. My mind has a hard time wrapping itself around the idea of limited book access. My wishlist has one or two M&B books that were never published here so I do have a tiny inkling, but mostly it’s one of those nightmarish things I try not to think about like that horrid Twilight Zone episode with the broken glasses. Y’all have my sincere sympathy.

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  17. Las
    Jul 05, 2011 @ 17:55:08

    I’ve always had a sort of vague, instinctive dislike of Amazon. I can’t explain it, it’s just something that’s there and pops up at times when I’m deciding where to buy something. And then I read crap like:

    “Amazon is also trying to lure authors into giving good reviews by promising increased promotion.”

    And it’s like someone shook me awake and I remember that it’s little stuff like that that leaves a really negative impression in my subconscious.

    That said, I have never in my life taken author recommendations seriously. I’ve always just assumed that they were bullshit and that if I bothered to look I’d find that those authors who were “quoted” on their love for a book just happened to have the same publisher.

    Fans confuse me.

    ReplyReply

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