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

Thursday Midday Links: Pubs Use POD for Backlist Titles

First off, I have some personal but semi blog related news to share. I have been asked by Berkley to put together an erotica/erotic romance collection of shorts which will then be published in a flip book. The flip book has two covers: one on the front and one on the back. Each cover is reverse of the other. You read half the book and flip it over and read the other half. My goal is to collect twenty authors who will write 5,000 words or so about the topic of pleasure and/or pain. The book will be published by Berkley Heat and will be on shelves December 2011. I hope to include a variety of authors, some unpublished, some recognizable.   If you have recommendations, let me know!

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In disturbing news, I came across a copy of Pursuit by Elizabeth Jennings (published by Grand Central, a division of Hachette) selling for $22.99. This surprised me given that Pursuit was a mass market paperback release in 2008. The digital price is listed at $10.99. Again, for a mass market release put out two years ago.

When I mentioned this on Twitter, I was informed that Pocket is doing the same thing. Roxanne St. Claire’s Hit Reply is listed at $21.99 and the digital price is $15.99. Another person sent me the link to Pamela Morsi’s Courting Miss Hattie listing at $19.00 for print and digital. The actual price of the digital is $9.99 as Amazon is allowed to discount Random House books.

All these books have apparently run through the original print runs. In order to keep the books “in print” and not allowing the rights to revert to the authors, publishers are using Print on Demand technology to keep the books in print.

I think that this is just a crazy policy by publishers. For one thing, it pushes readers to the used market. Who is going to buy the POD version of a book at $22 when she can buy a used copy for $3.99? For digital readers, why in the hell would they pay $15.99, $10.99 for a book that sold as mass market. They are better off creating their own digital copy from a used book. Or some may just decide to pirate it.

This type of pricing doesn’t serve the author and it doesn’t serve the reader.

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Congress held hearings on whether the US Postal Service can eliminate Saturday mail service. Amazon claims the lack of Saturday service will adversely affect rural areas while Netflix doesn’t see much of any impact. I love Saturday mail service but eliminating it supposedly will save billions of dollars.

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Harlequin is partnering with Penguin India to bring the Mira imprint to ndia, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.

Padmanabhan said Penguin-India saw a 'strategic fit with the success of MIRA's list worldwide'.

"The market in India has an ever-growing need for commercial mass market fiction like historical, fantasy, vampire and paranormal romances that are a huge hit worldwide. Indian readers love them too. Anyone looking for a great read, be it in summer or winter, at home or while travelling, is our potential customer,' he said.

I’m kind of fascinated by this cross publisher relationship that is taking place overseas. Is there anything like that in the US or UK?

*******

Laura Miller, of Salon, talks about the up side and down side of increasing amount of self publishing.

Readers themselves rarely complain that there isn’t enough of a selection on Amazon or in their local superstore; they’re more likely to ask for help in narrowing down their choices. So for anyone who has, however briefly, played that reviled gatekeeper role, a darker question arises: What happens once the self-publishing revolution really gets going, when all of those previously rejected manuscripts hit the marketplace, en masse, in print and e-book form, swelling the ranks of 99-cent Kindle and iBook offerings by the millions? Is the public prepared to meet the slush pile?

Readers do complain about the lack of variety and that is one area in which I would hope to see growth but the issue of curation is going to be a big one in the future.

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Finally, the biggest news of yesterday was YouTube’s win over Viacom. Viacom sued YouTube for copyright infringement and argued that YouTube should be actively policing the content it is hosting in order to p

The judge granted YouTube’s Motion for Summary judgment (which is a legal document saying “we don’t have any real dispute over the facts so decide the legal question before you.” All legal questions are for the judge and all fact questions are for the jury (factfinder)). In the ruling, the judge found that the DMCA protects entities like YouTube who might know that users will upload copyright infringing material so long as YouTube (and like entities) remove the copyright infringing material once notified.

Essentially the judge was upholding the plain language of the DMCA statute.

[Judge] Stanton ruled that YouTube's "mere knowledge" of infringing activity "is not enough."

"To let knowledge of a generalized practice of infringement in the industry, or of a proclivity of users to post infringing materials, impose responsibility on service providers to discover which of their users' postings infringe a copyright would contravene the structure and operation of the DMCA," the judge wrote.

Stanton ruled that YouTube had no way of knowing whether a video was licensed by the owner, was a "fair use" of the material "or even whether its copyright owner or licensee objects to its posting."

Viacom’s interpretation was that once a company knows that people use it for improper purposes, the company loses its “safe harbor” protection. By looking at extensive legislative history, Judge Stanton determined that Viacom’s interpretation was not consistent with the intent of Congress AND that it would have made the DMCA safe harbor provision meaningless.

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

47 Comments

  1. gwen hayes
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 10:04:20

    Awesome news Jane!

    ReplyReply

  2. John
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 10:29:49

    Awesomeness Jane! Two people at DA are officially getting published in some way. :D I’d love to read what you ended up going with – you always know what’s good from what’s bad with the erotica. ;D

    ReplyReply

  3. Nadia Lee
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 10:33:02

    Congrats, Jane!

    ReplyReply

  4. KMont
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 10:53:10

    Jane, congratulations on your editing deal! Best of luck with it!

    And someone else at DA is being published too? Who? I missed this one!

    ReplyReply

  5. Elyssa Papa
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 11:23:08

    Congrats, Jane! This is fabulous news! Woot!

    ReplyReply

  6. Kate Pearce
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 11:26:33

    Jane, do you have any details for the submission process for your Berkley project or is it by invitation only? Thanks :)

    ReplyReply

  7. katiebabs
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 11:27:45

    Congrats on the Berkley news! Excellent!

    ReplyReply

  8. Michele Lee
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 11:35:54

    Congrats!!

    ReplyReply

  9. Courtney Milan
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 11:38:00

    Congratulations on the anthology! That sounds like a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to read it.

    As for this:

    “Essentially the judge was upholding the plain language of the DMCA statute.”

    I’m traveling and have only skimmed, but it seems to me that some parts of the opinion might render portions of the DMCA superfluous. I need to sit down with both in hand and compare them, but while I think the overall result is right, there’s some wonky weirdness in the middle I need to convince myself of.

    ReplyReply

  10. Courtney Milan
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 11:40:12

    Also, I just have to add this–when your case analysis asserts that something upholds the plain language of the statute, and yet at the same time explain that the district court relies heavily on legislative history, my highly legal, sophisticated response is: Snert.

    ReplyReply

  11. RRRJessica
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 11:50:36

    That is very exciting news. Congratulations, Jane!

    ReplyReply

  12. Caroline
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 13:10:23

    Congratulations! Keep us posted, it wil lbe fun to read about your progress and experiences while you take on this project!

    As for the Postal Service, Canada does not have Saturday Postal Service, haven’t since before I was born. We get along ok, I think. But I do think it would be interesting to propose such a cut in a population ten times the size of ours. Could all the mail get delivered in the same timely matter? Hmmm….

    ReplyReply

  13. MaryK
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 13:33:07

    That is super news! I’m not sure why you think it’s only “semi” blog related though. As if we wouldn’t be interested! (BTW, you should probably be prepared for snide gossip once word gets out.)

    Suggestions? Go through all the stories you’ve liked and contact the authors. :D

    ReplyReply

  14. Lorelie
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 13:54:16

    For My Lady’s Heart is POD at about $22.

    Laura Kinsale said on twitter: “yes, that is the Berkley PID. Don’t buy it. I now have rights back to FMLH and considering re-issue options”

    and

    “for some reason I don’t quite fathom they claim they have the right to continue that pod version oh well”

    ReplyReply

  15. Keri Ford
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 14:10:13

    Hm. I do worry if cutting Saturday mail delivery means cutting more jobs?

    And super hot congrats on the editing Jane!

    ReplyReply

  16. Lori
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 14:39:49

    Congrats Jane on the editing news. That’s a very cool thing to be given the opportunity to do.

    And could someone please explain why publishers are choosing to price books that consumers won’t buy and then bemoan the failing business model? If you tell customers you don’t want them to buy your product, they won’t.

    ReplyReply

  17. Has
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 14:56:49

    Congrats Jane about the new book!!!! :D

    This PID thing sucks and I wont be paying those prices especially if you can get the books for a fraction of the price.

    ReplyReply

  18. Tweets that mention Thursday Midday Links: | Dear Author -- Topsy.com
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 15:02:19

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by jaciburton and T.J. Michaels Author, dearauthor. dearauthor said: New post: Thursday Midday Links: http://bit.ly/cg3nFF [...]

  19. John
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 15:05:48

    *slightly raises hand*

    Caught me. I’m getting an editorial on being an LGBT teen (anonymous, at the request of my parental units) and reading in the teen section of VOYA (Voice Of Youth Advocates) in August. :P

    Nice reading there KMont. ;D

    ReplyReply

  20. Charlotte Stein
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 16:09:44

    Congrats, Jane! And if I was compiling an anthology of erotic romance stories by awesome authors, I’d go after Emma Holly and Megan Hart. They’d definitely be top of my list.

    ReplyReply

  21. Mireya
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 16:12:46

    Grats on the anthology thingie. I may have to email you in private with my suggestions. Don’t want to be accused of favoring any authors or publishers (anyone that knows who I am, would figure why I’d prefer not to).

    Regarding what Hachette & Penguin is doing can we say piracy? No way in Hell anyone is going to spend that kind of money for an ebook that was published over 2 years ago, no matter how good the author is or how strong her fan base is. That reeks of desperation, btw.

    As to the post offices closing on Saturdays, yes, it will involve a good deal of firings. It was talked about when the news first came out several months ago that the USPS was considering dropping Saturday delivery service.

    ReplyReply

  22. MaryK
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 16:26:03

    I didn’t think I had any recs, but apparently I do.

    Kimberly Dean (like her Black Lace short stories)
    Morgan Hawke

    My brain my churn out some more later.

    ReplyReply

  23. Shelley
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 17:12:39

    No one’s writing could be less “erotic” than mine, but nonetheless, I congratulate you!

    ReplyReply

  24. Tiffany Clare
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 17:30:38

    Congrats, Jane. Can’t wait to read the anthology. I think it’ll be a lot of fun. I love the idea.

    ReplyReply

  25. Suze
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 17:33:08

    Regarding what Hachette & Penguin is doing can we say piracy? No way in Hell anyone is going to spend that kind of money for an ebook that was published over 2 years ago, no matter how good the author is or how strong her fan base is. That reeks of desperation, btw.

    In my union, we frequently have conversations about strange moves by management, and speculate about what machiavellian moves they’re possibly doing. And then we realize that they’re just not that smart, and what looks like multi-layered strategy is really just bumbling around in the dark, hoping nobody will notice how incompetent they are.

    So my question is, what on earth are publishers thinking? Selling wildly over-priced PODs of books whose rights have reverted to the authors. Do they not think authors read their own contracts? Is this some kind of strategy to steal e-rights from authors like Kinsale through a fait-accompli, hoping nobody will sue, or if they do they can out-lawyer them? Or are they just dumb?

    Like, my goodness, our plan to make less money per unit but more volume with the agency model is not working. We must make more per unit. Hey, let’s double the price! That’ll work!

    ReplyReply

  26. Deb
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 17:35:10

    Congrats Jane! Well deserved I think. Dear Author and SB Sarah have contributed much to the romance reading community. Keep us posted. Anne Calhoun would be a suggestion from me. I read her book this past weekend, based on your recommendation and thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Congrats to you John, as well. Likewise, keep us posted!

    St. Martins Press have been keeping their digital edition prices higher than the mmpb. Really shabby treatment to the authors and readers. It’s easy for us readers to just say no with our wallets, but this sticks it right to the authors who loose their rights. Really, Really shabby. There are alternatives, Carina Press, along with HQ, Samhain Publishing to name a couple.

    Readers may flock to the self pub digital books. It beats the snot out of Agency 5 price gouging.

    I actually remember when Saturday delivery was a dream, not reality. Really not a big deal, does require planning when sending payments in (my parents still use postal service for their bills). I just wish we could get rid of the spam paper mailing we don’t ask for and resent like hell. The amount of paper delivered and tossed is sad and infuriating. Unfortunately, big $$ to the postal service.

    ReplyReply

  27. Ciar Cullen
    Jun 24, 2010 @ 20:09:03

    Congrats, Jane! Very cool :o)

    ReplyReply

  28. SAO
    Jun 25, 2010 @ 00:22:55

    The prices on POD books are self-explanatory. The publishers don’t want the rights to revert to the author. After all, the author might pull a Dan Brown and suddenly the backlist will be solid gold. Further, it costs them nothing and they might get some sales.

    They don’t want to encourage e-books over print books, so they keep that price high, too. The last thing they want is a customer expecting that a 22$ book will be a 5$ e-book.

    All of this is about protecting a business model, not about selling books to readers.

    ReplyReply

  29. Mina Kelly
    Jun 25, 2010 @ 03:00:26

    Congrats on the anthology!

    I kinda understand the POD thing for books that have been out of print a while, where even the secondhand market is hit-and-miss (I have a soft spot for 50s sci fi currently fulfilled solely by a local charity bookshop) but not for something that only came out a couple of years ago. I applaud it when it comes to rare and hard to find books, but like SAO says, this move it all about clinging to the backlist. They don’t want to sell the books now, they just want the option of still being able to sell them later.

    ReplyReply

  30. SarahT
    Jun 25, 2010 @ 03:20:10

    Congratulations, Jane! That sounds like a fun anthology.

    I’m pretty sure Elizabeth Elliott’s books are also print-on-demand, although they are far more reasonably priced that the ones you listed. I recently purchased ‘The Warlord’ and ‘Betrothed’ and they have a definite POD look about them.

    ReplyReply

  31. Laura Florand
    Jun 25, 2010 @ 04:34:58

    @SAO: Yes.

    Congratulations, Jane! That’s wonderful news for you and I think for those of us who will read it, too. :) Who better to select some great stuff?

    ReplyReply

  32. KMont
    Jun 25, 2010 @ 04:40:48

    @John:

    That’s great, John! Congratulations. :D

    ReplyReply

  33. DS
    Jun 25, 2010 @ 05:34:06

    Congratulations,n Jane. I’m sure you will do a good job. And congratulations, John. Great for both of you.

    As for rural mail delivery, most of the routes near where I live are serviced by underpaid employees of contractors. Where’s Moist von Lipwig when you need him?

    ReplyReply

  34. Jane
    Jun 25, 2010 @ 07:39:27

    Thanks for all the congratulations guys! I hope to do the Dear Author community proud.

    ReplyReply

  35. Mireya
    Jun 25, 2010 @ 08:15:49

    @Sao: Understood, however, the vast majority of the readers, who are not business people will not see that as a move to protect anything, but rather yet another slap on the face by a bunch of greedy bastards. Know what I mean? It’s really stupid, no matter the reasoning behind it.

    ReplyReply

  36. Mireya
    Jun 25, 2010 @ 08:25:49

    @Sao: I understand the reasoning, which I didn’t even consider at all until you mentioned it. However, the vast majority of the readers, who are not business people will not see that as a move to protect anything, but rather yet another slap on the face by a bunch of greedy bastards. And take this comment from someone who actually has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing though I never worked on that field. Know what I mean? It’s really stupid, no matter the reasoning behind it.

    ReplyReply

  37. Jessica
    Jun 25, 2010 @ 12:44:31

    Congrats, Jane! An excellent author to include would be Gennita Low. She did a great novella for The Mammoth Book of Special Ops.

    ReplyReply

  38. John
    Jun 25, 2010 @ 17:35:29

    Thanks for the congrats.

    Jane, you’ll do amazing. You are one of the most trusted romance reviewers for a reason. :)

    As to the mail delivery, ugh. Saturday mail is great, and I’d like to see more jobs appear instead of less. >.>

    ReplyReply

  39. Heather Massey
    Jun 25, 2010 @ 18:31:13

    Amazing news about the story collection, Jane. Congratulations!

    ReplyReply

  40. Mireya
    Jun 25, 2010 @ 18:53:43

    I would not put Gennita Low in the erotic romance category at all. Examples of erotic romance authors: Lora Leigh, Emma Holly, Cheyenne McCray, Joey W. Hill, Jasmine Haynes, Megan Hart, Diane Whiteside, Angela Knight and Allyson James. There are many more but these are some examples of authors that were first published as erotic romance authors by small epublishers (with the exception of Angela Knight and Allyson James) who are now making it big in print, hence, most readers are familiar with their names. These are also authors who continue writing with the “hot” button set to high. Another two names that definitely write excellent erotic romances (though I find their print material very tame in comparison to her erotic romances, no offense) are Shiloh Walker (yes, THAT Shiloh Walker) and Sarah McCarty.

    Anyway, there are many fantastic erotic romance authors out there. The majority of the best erotic romance authors are, in my humble opinion, published by small electronic publishers. Yes, there is a lot of trash out there sold as erotic romance, but there are a lot of gems as well. It’s a matter of knowing where to look. Oh, and not all the gems are published solely by one or two epublishers, don’t believe all the hype.

    ReplyReply

  41. Mireya
    Jun 25, 2010 @ 19:20:20

    P.S. Quick correction: Emma Holly was not first published by an epub. Sorry for the mistake.

    ReplyReply

  42. Jane
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 06:45:18

    @Mireya I have to agree that the best erotic romances authors started in small epublishing. I don’t know if they are all still there, but my favorites have always started there.

    ReplyReply

  43. Estara
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 06:56:14

    @Mireya: Right. I discovered her via her Black Lace erotica, even then there was more story and character development in those books than in most others of the Black Lace line. Though I was surprised when she suddenly had a regency on the shelves (and even more surprised when that contained a bit of bondage, heh).

    I’d like to throw in another erotic romance author name who was first published in e: Lauren Dane! And then there’s Denise Rosetti, whom I actually made an account at Ellora’s Cave for, as I couldn’t have read her great fantasy erotic romance series that begins with Gift of the Goddess otherwise.

    Addendum: as I’ve just realized you’ve added the html code comment buttons plugin to DA – THANK YOU!!!

    ReplyReply

  44. Ridley
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 09:57:49

    You know, I think Victoria Dahl got lost on her way to being an erotic romance writer. I love her books anyway, but I think she writes sex spectacularly well. That erotic short she did, The Wicked West, was fan-freaking-tastic, and I thought Lead Me On was borderline ER, since the plot relied rather heavily on sex and sexual hang-ups, but in a good way.

    If you finagled an ER short out of Ms. Dahl for your book (and grats BTW) you’d be a hero[ine].

    ReplyReply

  45. Jane
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 11:46:29

    @Ridley I love The Wicked West short as well.

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  46. MaryK
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 15:39:53

    I guess I’ll have to break down and buy “The Wicked West” for KindlePC. It’ll be the first DRM’d book I’ve bought since I learned better. :( I’ve been hoping they’d release it in an anthology or something.

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  47. Stumbling Over Chaos :: Lost lands of linkity
    Jun 28, 2010 @ 18:10:49

    [...] good linkity posts from Dear Author this week, particularly this bit about how publishers are keeping books in print by making them print-on-demand (and thus very expensive) so that rights don’t revert back to [...]

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