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

Saturday Link Roundup: AuthorTalk Bares All

Author Talk features nudity and PC and Kristin Cast.

Roxanne St. Claire is at the Borders True Romance blog talking about her latest book (a recommended read by Robin) and giving away three free copies of Hunt Her Down.

emoticon_tongueHuffington Post writes about the efforts of DirecTV to put cable stations TNT and TBS online. More and more consumers want to have access to television shows on demand via the internet. Sounds familiar. One of the reasons I’ve advocated so heavily for ebooks is that the competition for a book is not another book but other forms of media. If books are the only media that isn’t easily accessible on demand, it will lose out to movies, tvs, music and gaming.

ExclamationOur September recommended read list is available now for 20% off the list price at Books on Board. Go forth and buy.

eyeAuthor Shannon Stacey (of the Devlin Group among other books) has a blog post up about ratings for romance books. I believe in an industry instituted rating system because I believe that if the industry doesn’t respond, then a rating system will be forced on it by retailers. For example, Apple has a parental control system and requires all the applications to have a rating for obscenity, profanity, and the like. I don’t think Apple should be rating books or Barnes and Noble or Borders or anyone. It’s better, safer, for the industry to take this step. Stacey is concerned about the ghettoization of books based on ratings. This is a valid concern but I believe that ratings are coming regardless.

emoticon_smileAuthor Christina Dodd (of the Storm of Visions/Storm of Shadows) mocks the concept of writing the book of your heart.

Is your heart commercial? Does it team with interesting characters, fast pacing, and memorable dialogue? Because if it doesn’t, there’s a good chance you can’t sell The Book Of Your Heart. Do you want to write a book no one will ever read? Because every writer I’ve ever met who has suffered through the anguish, the anxiety, the pure put-you-butt-in-the-chair-for-hours-and-days-and-months-on-end agony, wants to publish that book.

emoticon_smileMobileTechReview has a great review of the new Sony Touch Edition (the 6″ screen without the 3G connectivity). The contrast is still not as good as the Sony PRS 505 but the refresh is very quick and the note taking is responsive.

The Touch Edition’s features are excellent and should be captivating enough to tempt Sony Reader 500 and 505 owners to upgrade. Even some Kindle folks might consider defecting given Sony’s more open format support (PDF, ePUB, TXT and RTF are native), easy touch screen UI and advanced note-taking features.

emoticon_smileFor readers in the UK, WH Smith is engaging in a price battle to attract consumers. It is selling the Sony Readers for  £20- £30 less than Waterstones, in addition to selling all of its ebooks at 25% off. Depending the on the exchange rate, shopping at WH Smith may make sense even for US Readers.

eyeMJ Rose argues that publishers have to pay authors differently now that more of the publicity expenses are being born by the author. I’m not sure if Rose is arguing for a higher royalty or a higher advance. Given that publishers are absorbing losses not born by the author, I’m not convinced of her argument. If Rose wants a greater co publishing relationship then authors will need to share in the risk whether it is taking a reduced advanced in favor of the higher royalty (the digital publishing model) or taking a greater role in absorbing losses (such as taking royalty off the net versus retail).

eyeTor editor, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, talks about the future of SFF books and Tor’s plans to move forward into the digital market. Right now, it appears that Tor is playing the wait and see game:

PNH: We’ve been acquiring e-text rights as part of the default contract since the mid-90s. In mid-90s we needed to be sensible and we revised the contract to include electronic text. Now we have that as a clause. We won’t buy a book without e-book rights.

All the way from [Tor parent company Holtzbrinck in] Stutgart down to us, the conglomerate runs on the assumption that there will be changes in the next two decades and we don’t know what they are. We’re not locking ourselves into a platform. We don’t want to let one player become choke point; we don’t want to be a hapless manufacturer in the thrall of Walmart or something.

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

12 Comments

  1. Maili
    Aug 29, 2009 @ 13:21:58

    25% off all e-books at WH Smith? I’m going there now! (disappear in a puff of smoke)

    ReplyReply

  2. Shannon Stacey
    Aug 29, 2009 @ 16:14:48

    Who do you see assigning the ratings, though? The publishers? A panel established for the purpose?

    ReplyReply

  3. Jane
    Aug 29, 2009 @ 16:17:09

    @Shannon Stacey: I think the editor has to be responsible for rating each one of his or her books. They are in the best position to know the content and “heat” level. It’s not that I endorse ratings per se, it’s just that I see them as inevitable and would like those that are intimately acquainted with the book assign the rating instead of some algorithm based on use of certain words.

    ReplyReply

  4. Caligi
    Aug 29, 2009 @ 16:34:22

    Why are ratings inevitable? We’ve gone 40 years of open-door scenes without them.

    I hope we never get ratings. Ratings inevitably lead to censorship.

    ReplyReply

  5. JulieLeto
    Aug 29, 2009 @ 16:38:54

    I’m with Caligi. Ratings on film and videogames and such are for the benefit of children. Our books are in no way, shape or form marketed at kids–adults shouldn’t need ratings. Children need ratings! Put ratings on YA books…but then, if they are YA, isn’t that a rating?

    Ratings on adult books will lead to conservative retailers like Walmart cutting out books that have too much adult content. God, why is this issue coming back again? We duked this one out in the RWR YEARS AGO! (I know, because I wrote an “In My Opinion” piece against it!)

    ReplyReply

  6. Caligi
    Aug 29, 2009 @ 17:16:57

    Look what they’ve done to videogames. You can have as much gore as you please, but sex in a game warrants congressional hearings. As a result, there are no videogames with sexual content. My options are limited because of a bunch of ninny parents who found boobies objectionable.

    Ratings allow the ninnies to demand retailers exclude objectionable content. If Wal-Mart decides to not sell the spicier rated books, publishers will stop publishing them, a la the ESRB’s AO rating. Wal-Mart wouldn’t sell AO games, so no one publishes anything racier than M.

    I don’t want my reading options limited. I hope to hell the industry resists content ratings.

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  7. Bev Stephans
    Aug 29, 2009 @ 19:43:27

    I wrote in Shannon Stacey’s blog, “Anything that smacks of censorship should be avoided at all costs. Ratings will encourage censorship.”

    I do hope that ratings are not inevitible. As adults, we should be able to read what we want to without someone telling us “no, no”. It has already been pointed out that many retailers would not stock books that had a high ‘heat’ level. It seems that violence and gore would win out over sex……once again.

    ReplyReply

  8. AQ
    Aug 29, 2009 @ 20:38:02

    Books already have audience, reading level, educational grade, etc. assigned to them by the publisher and/or third party entities.

    Why should an adult need a rating beyond that?

    I see any additional rating system rife with the potential for abuse. It’s possible that Amazon’s snafu last spring could be made to look like child’s play. Yes, worse case scenario.

    Caligi & Julie, I too am sick of the mindset that says we must protect people from sex but they can consume as much violence as they want. The movie The Dark Knight is the perfect example. Overall I enjoyed the movie but it had to be most violent PG-13 movie I’ve ever seen. If it had pushed the sexuality envelope that far I’m sure it would’ve been rated R.

    So I’m firming in the “Just say no” party.

    Want more info on the heat level of the book? I think that’s valid but I think that could be better handled with good cover copy. Samhain, Loose-ID, etc. already have publisher notes with theme content like anal play, menages, bondage. Those notes tend to be much better than any potential rating system would be. Because let’s face it, I probably wouldn’t remember what theme fell into which rating and maybe I’m okay with menages but any type of anal play squicks me out. How would that play out in a rating system? It probably wouldn’t so I’d still be stuck but with the notes I can already make an informed decision. I still might be wrong…

    Edited to add: IF there should ever be a rating system then I want it all: sexuality, violence, profanity, drugs & smoking, etc. And then we will have the “bestest” censorship program on the planet.

    ReplyReply

  9. Shannon Stacey
    Aug 30, 2009 @ 08:38:42

    @Shannon Stacey: I think the editor has to be responsible for rating each one of his or her books. They are in the best position to know the content and “heat” level. It's not that I endorse ratings per se, it's just that I see them as inevitable and would like those that are intimately acquainted with the book assign the rating instead of some algorithm based on use of certain words.

    I agree the editor would be the best person to rate each book, though I worry about that having consistency across publishers. I’m sure readers would catch on pretty quickly, though, to how publishers judged their own books. A content label, such as Samhain uses, would probably be the easiest system to implement for readers, but I’m not sure that would work for booksellers. (I seem to recall an early Aphrodisia title having a small warning as to the explicitness of the sex at the bottom of the back cover, but don’t quote me on that. I remember the warning, but I can’t swear it was an Aphrodisia.)

    I’d like to deny ratings are inevitable, but I remember being a little surprised recently to see a mass market by a well-known erotic romance writer (whose sex scenes raise eyebrows) on the shelf at Walmart. I thought, at the time, that there was no way in hell anybody at the home office had ever read that author. Then I wondered how many women not accustomed to finding erotic romances at Walmart wrote nastygrams to the company. With the kinkier/more explicit stuff being published in mainstream mass market romance now, I can definitely see retailers wanting some kind of a rating from the publisher.

    Sadly, there’s a good chance that will lead to retailers such as Walmart not buying certain ratings at all and Borders/etc shelving them separately.

    ReplyReply

  10. Christine M.
    Aug 30, 2009 @ 08:54:59

    …Here what my first thougt was. “With those ratings I’d be able to pîck sex-free books, yay!”

    Not that I don’t like sex in my books, it’s just that I don’t remember the last book I read that did NOT have any. I received a book a couple of weeks back from a contest, some chick lit and the blurb sounded good and all and one page into the book BANG h/h have sex. Five pages later BANG h/h have sex again. And so on, and so forth. Or perhaps we just need a single sticker for sex-free books? Would that make is easier? At least I’d know what to expect.

    “This books contains sex scenes.”
    “This book is sex-scenes free.”

    Just a thought.

    ReplyReply

  11. sybil
    Aug 30, 2009 @ 17:44:32

    @Shannon Stacey
    I bought my copy of Passion from Wally world, which was published 100000 years ago. And they carried Cheryl Holt’s titles (last I think was over two years ago?) They have been selling Lora Leigh for a while now (although not her tradesize) and recently reissued her SEALs at a discount price but had carried each title when they were released.

    I would ‘hope’ if they were going to have a charge of complaints they would have already happened but that could be because I HATE the idea of ratings.

    And it is the aphros that have WARNING HOT book or some such on the back (or did).

    ReplyReply

  12. RStewie
    Aug 31, 2009 @ 07:31:09

    I”m firmly against ratings on books. Any books. If it’s Romance, it’s probably got some sex. If it’s YA, it Might have some sex. If it’s a Thriller or a Suspense, there’s probably gonna be some gore.

    It’s up to parents to be involved enough with their kids to restrict their reading, because ratings and censorship (that’s what it is) is such an individual thing when you’re dealing with kids. Some kids are ready for a Romance as 14…some are NOT.

    But I’m an adult. My books don’t need a rating.

    OTOH: movies are rated, games are rated, TV shows are rated–maybe it just makes sense that books (as another form of media) are rated as well. I agree, though, that it’s the publishers that should provide the rating, but through a centralized board, with defined rating standards. And I’d prefer generalized standards:
    General Audiences: little to no sexual content, little to no violence, few adult themes
    Young Adult: some sexual content, some violence, some adult themes
    Mature: sexual content, violence, adult themes
    Xtreme: ANAL!!! OMG! BDSM!! Just Kidding! …but my point is that I don’t want ratings to be biased because the sexual content is not “vanilla”.

    ReplyReply

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