Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Monday Midday Links: More RaceFail in Media

File this under “where have I been” but apparently Paramount is engaged in some egregious whitewashing in the Airbender movie. Aspiring author, Ellen Oh, writes about how whitewashing is racist. There is a site devoted to the Airbender casting fiasco (all the heroes are white and the bad guy and secondary characters are ethnic characters). This is one movie I’ll be avoiding.

(Thanks for the heads up Nadia Lee)

Reader Elizabeth sends this article in over at Bookslut by Colleen Mondor on the issue of kids of color and publishing’s attempt to erase them on the covers and in the text. Mondor asks the big question of why publishing is engaged in whitewashing. Who has sold these marketing folks, the execs, etc., on the idea that a) caucasion kids are the only market and b) that caucasion kids won’t relate to the kid of color.

This industry runs very much with the knowledge that there are sixteen writers waiting to take your place, who are willing to shut up and be agreeable, so they openly treat writers with contempt.

Pearson is engaged in experimenting with different forms of digital books. First is the short book.

FT Press, a unit of Pearson, has introduced two series of short, digital-only titles for professionals who want quick snippets of advice for $2.99 or less.

The publisher, through a new imprint named FT Press Delivers, has quietly begun selling what it is calling Elements and Shorts through the Kindle electronic bookstore on and Barnes & Noble's e-bookstore. The Elements, which the publisher has priced at $1.99, are stripped-down, 1,000- to 2,000-word versions of already-published books, while the Shorts are newly written essays of about 5,000 words, priced at $2.99.

Second, it has released ebook apps for “the home and office and technical and professional communities.”

In addition to the fully-populated iPhone Developer’s Library App , Pearson also offers free reader Apps that contain one sample chapter from various best-selling Pearson books, and allow customers to purchase the remaining chapters through a convenient “in-app purchase” feature.

The CEO of Penguin had a rambling op ed piece in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. I couldn’t quite understand the gist of it but two other people take it on.

Marion Maneker of Big Money says:

For Penguin, which has a lot of its brand (if not revenue) tied up in publishing books that are in the public domain, there’s an important message here about the future of the company. It’s a shame that Makinson didn’t address those issues.

Bookseller sums it up as follows:

Makinson invoked Penguin’s past, calling the e-book a “direct descendent of the 1930s paperback” on the back of which Allen Lane began the publishing company in 1935.

I thought Bookseller was more closely aligned with my interpretation by Marion Maneker’s insight was interesting.

All About Romance rolls out its 2009 Reader Poll results. You would have thought the DA crew made it up, with all the Sherry Thomas and Meredith Duran mentions. Alas, I did not fill out a survey (can’t vouch for the other DA reviewers though).

HCI, the publisher of Chicken Soup books, is launching a new line of romance books that are “reality-based.” Apparently this is some sort of fictional memoir? based on interviews the authors do with a real couple? I’m not certain. The launch authors are Judith Arnold, Alison Kent, and Julie Leto.

Reader Merrian sends in this audio interview. I haven’t listened to it yet. I have a number of them that I am collecting and maybe I’ll listen to them on the way to New York in a couple of weeks.

Stephen Page heads the literary publishing house Faber and Faber which, perhaps surprisingly, is embracing the digital future of electronically published books. Stephen Page says the e-book will include all kinds of extra goodies – like author interviews and readings.

Online retailers are looking for Congress to overturn the Leegin decision which found that retail price maintenance (minimum prices with no discounting) were to be examined under the rule of reason. Under the new law, RPMs would not be legal which was the law for 97 years.

On some pages of e-commerce sites selling products like televisions, digital cameras and jewelry, a critical piece of information is conspicuously missing: the price tag….

The missing prices are part of a larger battle sweeping the world of e-commerce. Wary of the Internet's tendency to relentlessly drive down prices, major brands and manufacturers -‘ and now, book publishers -‘ are striking back, deploying a variety of tactics and tools to control how their products are presented and priced online.

The House Bill has made it out of committee and is recommended to be considered by the entire House for a vote. The Senate version is still in committee.

Of course, even if Leegin is overturned, manufacturers can unilaterally refuse to do business with a dealer. This is known as a Colgate policy. See United States v. Colgate, 250 U.S. 300, 307 (1919). Under the Colgate rule, a manufacturer can set the retail prices, the retailer can discount and the manufacturer can terminate the dealer’s right to sell those products directly. (The dealer could buy those products from a secondary market and resell)

Courtney Milan makes a good argument that a hard price ceiling would reduce the availability of books that need to be priced over $9.99.

I'm not saying that Macmillan is right-far from it. I'm not saying that Amazon is wrong-far from it. I am saying that we need to avoid categorical statements. Some books really  do need to be priced over $9.99, or it simply won't be profitable to produce them. And if we drive those books out, publishing will adapt by not selling them.

It should be noted that there are literally thousands of books in Kindle format that sell in excess of $9.99 and I don’t really think that is what the fight is over.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and 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


  1. jmc
    Feb 09, 2010 @ 11:14:59

    I’m shocked to see that my ballot actually included one winner and one honorable mention: Brockmann’s Dark of Night for Best R/S, and Carla Kelly’s The Surgeon’s Lady as honorable mention in Best Series.

    One of the winners is actually the book I voted as worst. /shrug

  2. Keishon
    Feb 09, 2010 @ 11:22:14

    I didn’t finish reading The Surgeon’s Lady. I was bored with it. I’ll finish it one day.

  3. Kalen Hughes
    Feb 09, 2010 @ 11:39:12

    I’ve been bent out of shape about the casting of The Last Airbender for ages . . . it’s a wonderful cartoon, with an entirely Asian cast of characters (the various “nations” seem to be roughly Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Inuit).

    I'm really bummed about the whitewashing of the cast, and confused because several major characters seem to be missing entirely. Oh, and it's being directed by M. Night Shammashit. That alone would likely have kept me away.

    @Jane: If you haven't seen the cartoon, rent it. It's really a lovely series.

  4. jmc
    Feb 09, 2010 @ 12:03:06

    @Keishon: Marrying the Captain was a better book, TBH. I would’ve voted for it instead, but I thought it was a 2008 book. Oh well.

  5. Las
    Feb 09, 2010 @ 12:28:39

    The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie as best romance? Really? I am truly surprised, even though I know I shouldn’t be…I rarely agree with most AAR readers on things like this.

  6. meopta
    Feb 09, 2010 @ 15:53:50

    My kids were told at casting that Airbender the movie was not going to be seen by them. It’s sad when people defend the casting and other choices the filmmakers have made. Sad in a “Really dislike you now” way.

  7. Jessica Andersen
    Feb 09, 2010 @ 18:43:40

    Ack! I totally missed the Airbender fiasco. Thanks for the heads up– my twenty bucks and popcorn money can go elsewhere…

  8. Industry News: 2/14/10 | RWA-WF
    Feb 14, 2010 @ 10:03:19

    […] Leto announced it to the RWA-WF group already. Now Dear Author has made the announcement on their blog: “HCI, the publisher of Chicken Soup books, is launching a new line of romance […]

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