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

Monday News Links: Diana Norman/Ariana Franklin passes away

Ariana FranklinAriana Franklin aka Diana Norman passed away on January 27, 2011.   This news came to me on Saturday and I passed it on immediately to Jayne. She’s a huge fan of Franklin’s books and wrote me back to tell me she was “desolate.” Franklin’s historical mystery series ended with a cliffhanger and thus the outcome of the series is unknown.   Franklin was 77 and had been ill and in the hospital.   Our “letter” in the upper right hand corner actually contains text from one of Jayne’s reviews of Franklin’s books.   She will be missed.


Freebies from Samhain this month include:


Amazon reported its first $10 billion sales quarter ever and announced that digital book sales had exceeded the sales of paperbacks for the first time (both trade and mass market).   One person commented to me privately that Amazon had never been a dominant player in the paper book sales market so this shouldn’t come as a surprise.   The official statistic is that for every 100 paper books purchased, 115 digital books are purchased.   Digital books at Amazon outsell hardcovers 3 to 1.

Another statistic that is being bandied about with great hope is that ebook readers are buying more print books but here is what I believe that statistic means.   Amazon is gaining new book purchasers and these individuals are consolidating their purchases in one spot.   So whereas customer A prior to owning a Kindle might have bought books at the supermarket and a brick and mortar store are instead buying everything from Amazon because they are now part of the Amazon eco system.   Thus, at Amazon there is a rise in paper book purchases but it is not an overall industry trend.   The AAP numbers don’t support this.

The stock price of Amazon fell by over 7% despite the big quarter because operating expenses were higher in the 4th quarter and Amazon had experienced an adverse impact due to unfavorable exchange rates. Overall, though, Amazon met the analysts predictions.


Borders did get a $550 million loan committment from GE Capital but it came with strings attached.   One of the requirements is that the publishers accept notes for the delayed payments.   Yesterday, Borders sent out notices that payments would not be made in January.   The conditions are unlikely to be met and I would expect Borders to announce either a Chapter 11 reorganization in a few weeks or complete liquidation. In order to undergo Chapter 11, Borders would have to have sufficient capital to see it through the reorganization period.


At least one industry person believes that Barnes & Noble is positioning itself to be sold.   The Riggios are book people and in order for BN to succeed in the future, it needs to be a technology company.


According to Nielsen, customers have been enjoying a record high percentage of discounts on print books in 2010 (thereby making the digital customer jealous and unhappy).   Print books are not subject to agency pricing model:

Retailers slashed a total of  £600m from the price of books in 2010 as book-buyers enjoyed their best year for bargains since records began.

The average discount given off a book’s r.r.p. last year was 26%-‘ slightly deeper than in 2009, when books were discounted by an average of 25.5%, according to Nielsen BookScan data. This means that for the ninth consecutive year, since BookScan Total Consumer Market records began in 2001, discounts have deepened. In 2001, discounts averaged a much shallower 17%.


I’m sure that most of the savvy readers of Dear Author recognize that the celebrity books, by and large, are ghost written.   For example, LuAnn McLane helped pen the Wynonna Judd “Restless” hardcover romance release.   Globe and Mail looks at a few other celebrity books and their ghost writers. Often a reader will never know the real name of the ghostwriter, but in certain circumstances, like the McLane/Judd book, it is openly acknowledged.

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. Marg
    Jan 31, 2011 @ 14:02:37

    I was very sad to hear of the passing of Ariana Franklin/Diana Norman. I have read books published under both names, and definitely will miss her writing. Will have to make an effort to find some of those hard to find backlist titles under the name of Diana Norman.

  2. AmyW
    Jan 31, 2011 @ 14:06:25

    Very sad to hear about Diana Norman/Ariana Franklin. I was just looking up if there was another Mistress of the Art of Death book scheduled yesterday. Love that series.

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    Jan 31, 2011 @ 14:23:18

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  4. Miss_Thing
    Jan 31, 2011 @ 14:27:18

    I’m so sad to hear of Diana Norman/Ariana Franklin’s death. I join Jayne in her desolation; I really enjoyed the Mistress of the Art of Death series. There are very few ongoing mystery series that I look forward to reading these days so this is definitely a loss. I remember being so disappointed when I found out that Kate Ross had died mid-series – her Julian Kestrel books were similarly well-written.

  5. LizC
    Jan 31, 2011 @ 14:51:29

    No! That’s so sad about Ariana Franklin/Diana Norman. I was just going to look up this weekend when the next Mistress of the Art of Death was going to be out and I forgot.

  6. Jayne
    Jan 31, 2011 @ 15:19:01

    @Marg: I wish her backlist would be released as ebooks. It’s criminal that the prices for used copies are beyond the reach of many fans.

  7. Jayne
    Jan 31, 2011 @ 15:20:16

    @Miss_Thing: I’ve been in a funk over this since Jane emailed me Saturday morning and get redepressed each time I think of it.

  8. Liz M
    Jan 31, 2011 @ 15:33:47

    Can I say how annoyed I am by the headline on the story about Diana Norman’s death? “Barry Norman’s novelist wife”?!? I realize that Barry Norman (of whom I have never heard) may be better known than she is in Britain, but surely a woman ought to be named in the headline of her own obituary. What century is this? She didn’t publish as “Mrs. Norman.” OK, rant over, I was very sorry to hear this too.

  9. Lynnd
    Jan 31, 2011 @ 16:02:02

    @Liz M: My thoughts on the Obituary as well.

    I am very sad to hear of her passing. I enjoyed her “Adelia” books and was looking forward to the next in the series. She will be missed.

  10. Marg
    Jan 31, 2011 @ 16:14:59

    @Jayne: I was hoping that at some point a company like Sourcebooks might see their way clear to rereleasing some of her older books. Don’t know if that is likely now.

    I thought I was okay because my library had quite a few of her books, but last time I checked they had removed them off the catalogue. Hopefully some reasonably priced copies will turn up soon.

  11. Merrian
    Jan 31, 2011 @ 17:25:05

    I too will miss the Mistress of Death books and am glad to have read them. When someone does something as well as Arianna Franklin/Diana Norman it is a gift. I wish her family well.

  12. Joy
    Jan 31, 2011 @ 17:35:51

    I’m also very saddened to read of Diana Norman/Ariana Franklin’s death. Her books are remarkably good and I pick them up whenever I can find them.

  13. elizabeth
    Jan 31, 2011 @ 18:32:11

    @Liz M: Thank you! Could not have said it better myself.

  14. Nicole
    Feb 01, 2011 @ 00:16:40

    How sad about Diana Norman! She got me into mysteries again. She wrote such consistent, yet complex characters. I would love to know how she’d planned to end the Mistress of the Art of Death series.

  15. RachelT
    Feb 01, 2011 @ 09:47:20

    @Liz M: I agree – I am British, and Barry Norman is very well known here. But it seemed to me that if her death was notable enough to be reported, it should have been reported in her own name, with all her achievements acknowledged.

  16. MB
    Feb 01, 2011 @ 12:12:15

    I too am very saddened to hear of Diana Norman/Ariana Franklin’s deaths. I love her series and got my sisters hooked on it as well. She will be missed. My sympathy to her family.

  17. Estara
    Feb 01, 2011 @ 12:41:07

    I can recommend J.R. Langley’s Without Reservations as a really good character driven paranormal m/m romance with a good plot and interesting side characters, too.

  18. JeanneTops
    Feb 02, 2011 @ 10:48:38

    According to this article:

    she had just finished her latest novel and the family intends to publish it posthumously. I hope that’s true – it would be a final gift to her devoted readers to not leave Ariana’s life in limbo.

  19. JeanneTops
    Feb 02, 2011 @ 10:53:29

    @JeanneTops: Adelia (the main character) not Ariana (the author’s pseudonym)

  20. Jayne
    Feb 02, 2011 @ 12:16:20

    @JeanneTops: Thank you for that news. I will miss her writing terribly but am glad we might get a final wrap up for the Adelia series.

  21. whome
    Feb 03, 2011 @ 09:28:32

  22. Mamfie
    Feb 19, 2011 @ 06:42:48

    There is one more “Mistress” book to come and it will be published posthumously. Please look out for it.

  23. Jane
    Feb 19, 2011 @ 09:26:42

    @Mamfie Thanks. I am pretty sure you made Jayne’s day.

  24. tirzah mason
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 18:15:55

    Just learned of the author’s death a bit over a year ago- so sad! I also just finished book four in the Mistress in the Art of Death series. Has another book been published posthumously or is it coming our soon? My best wishes to her family and hopes that they do indeed publish an continuation of this series; it is hard not to know what happens next…

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