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Thursday Midday Links: 50 Shades plans on destroying every good thing;...

Last week at BEA I spoke with a number of publishing people about 50 Shades. I was beginning to feel sanguine about the book. A book that made women feel more comfortable about their sexuality was a good thing. A book that got people reading was a good thing. The publishing path of 50 Shades was instructive and enlightening. But my equanimity with the book was utterly destroyed when I read this earlier this week:

Louisa May Anonymous’s 50 SHADES OF LOUISA MAY, imagining the secret sex life of an iconic 19th-century American novelist and the Transcendentalists (Thoreau, Hawthorne, Melville) after whom she lusted, to John Oakes at OR Books, by Dan Conaway at Writers House

For many woman, Louisa May Alcott represents a very innocent and precious time in her life. I feel like my childhood is being despoiled with the mere mention of this deal. Worse? It seems like it is now a trend. Pan Macmillan in the UK acquired Jane Eyre Laid Bare: Jane Eyre with an erotic twist. This isn’t the first time Jane has been bastardized in such a manner. There was Pride/Prejudice, the slash fiction version of P&P. But two historical female authors being sexualized in real person fan fiction because publishers think women just want sexed up versions of everything? That’s a trend I want to see die early and yes, I blame this on 50 Shades.

Update: I’ve been told LMA wrote erotica under “A Well Known Author”.  Consider my innocent youth debauched.

PN: I didn’t realize that publishers weren’t making their files available for instant printing. I suppose in the case of new titles, publishers want bookstores to order stock. In the case of backlist titles, though, I’m not sure I see the downside.

PN: Barnes & Noble owns I’m surprised that they didn’t put in a bid for .book. Maybe they will yet.

PN:  Because of the DOJ lawsuit, the government’s no bid contract with Amazon is under a lot of scrutiny. Some are suggesting that there is some shady relationship between Amazon and the government which led to the filing of the DOJ suit. Not sure whether they are going to allege the same thing with the States’ Attorneys General.

PN:  Terry Goodkind has been published by Tor in the past. I think Goodkind has to be the biggest author to self publish. I think it is interesting that he is going to self publishing first when the popular self publishers are signing book deals with traditional publishers. I wonder if the trend for bigger name authors will be to self publish digitally and then move back to traditional publishing for print.

PN:  Is this fantastic or what? Possibly the best “for reader” news I’ve seen in a long time.

PN: This is subscription only link but the shareholder suit arose over B&N’s acquisition of Len Riggio’s college textbook business that the shareholders obviously felt did not benefit the company but instead Riggio’s own pockets. This should not affect the bottom line for BN given that the $29 is coming from Riggio’s personal funds.

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. Joy
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 10:15:28

    So, what are the titles of this LMA erotica and how can I find it? I’ve read some of her early thrillers, of course, and they were actually quite fun.

  2. katiebug
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 10:16:44

    Alcott did wrote both erotica and “sensation” novels. But the funniest thing about this to me is that she had a highly sexualized crush on Emerson (waiting outside his house at night, writing him poetry, etc.) and he’s apparently left out of the book. Ha!

  3. Athena Grayson
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 10:38:20

    I’m uncomfortable about RPF (Real Person Fic) even if the RPs are dead. It blurs the line between fiction and history. If publishers are going to jump on the “50 Shades of everything” bandwagon, they couldn’t be more obvious. Or lazier.

    Also…Expresso Book Machine! Squee! There’s a wonderful little used bookstore that opened up in my little town just a year ago and I would lovelovelove it if they had the capacity to sell new books with a POD machine. The proprietors are wonderful and they really should be able to feature new releases with the nifty used finds.

  4. willaful
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 10:53:12

    Unless they are some I don’t know about, I think it’s really pushing it to call Alcott’s anonymous books “erotica.” Those books are awesome, but being heavily sexually charged does not make a book erotica.

  5. Ursula Whistler
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 10:54:47

    I read Terry Goodkind’s comments on the Publisher’s Weekly article about his self-publishing venture. He has another book coming out from Tor that is a continuation of the Sword of Truth series. The book he is self-publishing is called The First Confessor and is more of a prequel. It appears that he isn’t completely abandoning his publishing house.

  6. Nicole
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 10:59:35

    I understand why people would crave erotica novels — I mean, those couples are fabulous — but I just can’t even. *shakes head*

  7. Annemarie
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 12:12:11

    “That’s a trend I want to see die early” – Agreed. I enjoy erotic adaptations of classic works (done well, that is) but this is going to get ridiculous really quickly, much like adding zombies and vampires to every classic work turned into a pointless and boring cash grab. I suspect the success of Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter also has something to do with it.

    I’ve never come across LMA’s erotica, but “A Whisper In The Dark” has a whiff of naughtiness to it in the first half with the heroine sitting on her adoptive uncle’s lap while they smoke up and his later attempts at seduction.

  8. Darlynne
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 13:04:49

    The Espresso Book Machine does sound like a great opportunity for booksellers, provided they can afford one and publishers will let go their fears long enough to try. The possibilities–the potential–are huge. What a concept: nothing would be out-of-print (assuming rights, etc. are dealt with). Without knowing how the machine works, I can envision something as simple as a wireless transmission of the data to the machine, where no human hands need touch (or steal) it.

    What a world it would be if publishers would just get out of their own–and our–way for a change. They should be all over this idea, as well as having brick-and-mortar stores, not just BN, selling digital books.

    And then we have the State Department with a no-bid contract with Amazon in the middle of the DOJ lawsuit. How incredibly stupid.

  9. katiebug
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 13:11:55

    Erotica may be taking it too far, but A Whisper in the Dark, A Modern Mephistopheles, Perilous Play, and The Inheritance all feature non-normative sexuality and drug use and are far more daring, even, than the fairly well-known “thrillers” Behind a Mask, A Long and Fatal Love Chase, etc.

  10. SAO
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 13:28:38

    What about the non-native English speaking world, Harper-Collins? English is the most popular second language in the world and there are people all over the world who want access to English language books. There was no English language bookstore in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, but a thriving English language section of the street used-book market. You may not find many English readers in any one of the hundreds of millions of small towns across the world, but add all the readers up and you get a substantial market.

    Out of curiosity, what’s the cost and quality of an espresso POD book?

  11. Jane
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 13:31:26

    @SAO: I’m not sure what the cost is, but the quality is pretty high. The pages are thick and the glued binding seems strong but I’ve only paged through and not read an Espresso published book.

  12. Lazaraspaste
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 13:58:49

    @willaful: Testify! Yes, just because it has sex in it or talks about sexuality & sexual desire frankly doesn’t make it erotica.

  13. Brian
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 14:50:24


    …and publishers will let go their fears long enough to try

    Harper Collins has their (or some of their) books available via Espresso. Hopefully they’ll have good results and the price of the machine will come down to a more affordable level.

  14. sarah Mayberry
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 17:26:17

    ” Authors published in the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, India, and Canada will be listed, published, and available to booksellers and consumers in the U.S. through the HarperCollins global print and digital platforms that include regional warehousing with on-site printing machines.”
    So this work in reverse, too, right? Authors published in US will be available in all those other places? Because that’s the biggest problem for anyone who isn’t American and loves books rights now….Geo restrictions.

  15. DS
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 18:42:03

    Add me to those who do not care for rps stories–and that includes dead persons.Hope this dies a quick death. Wonder why female authors are usually picked on for this? No one has written David Copperfield and vampires yet? What about Mont Dick the zombie whale?

  16. DS
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 18:44:03

    That was supposed to be Moby. Hats autocorrection.

  17. Ros
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 18:55:32

    Assuming the answer to Sarah Mayberry’s question is positive, HarperCollins360 is the best publishing news I’ve heard in a long time. Hope other publishers are quick to follow suit. I can’t wait to be able to buy some of the books that I’m currently not allowed to.

  18. Brian
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 19:10:59

    @sarah Mayberry:
    It sounds like that’s the eventual goal.

    Our vision is to have the entire HarperCollins book catalog available for customers in all major territories for which we have rights.

  19. Wahoo Suze
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 20:38:20

    @sarah Mayberry: Exactly what I was going to say!

  20. Kaetrin
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 20:42:50

    @HarperCollins360 – I think I love you.

  21. Tez Miller
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 20:45:14

    Could LMAnonymous be M. J. Rose? I know Dan Conaway at Writers House is her agent…

  22. Nadia Lee
    Jun 15, 2012 @ 01:29:54


    And then we have the State Department with a no-bid contract with Amazon in the middle of the DOJ lawsuit. How incredibly stupid.

    Actually not really.

    The State Dept is going to prefer to buy from a US company, and if you look at American companies big enough to support what the SD wants to do, we have BN and Amazon.

    Unfortunately, BN does not provide international support for Nook. Amazon does. According to the article Jane quoted, they want to use Kindle overseas. So Amazon is the only one who can do this.

  23. Nadia Lee
    Jun 15, 2012 @ 01:31:50

    Grr. I meant, use EREADER overseas, not Kindle.

  24. Isabel C.
    Jun 15, 2012 @ 07:53:30


    My first reaction to the LMA thing was “…the fuck? NO,” and the feeling that writing fiction about the sex lives of real people, albeit dead real people, was just not okay.

    On the other hand, we do have The Tudors , and Elizabeth and Shakespeare In Love , which I liked, and a whole bunch of movies about CS Lewis and JM Barrie and so on, which I haven’t watched but didn’t have the same reaction to. So maybe it’ll be better than it sounds?

  25. aleksandr voinov
    Jun 15, 2012 @ 10:11:21

    Time then to finally pitch my new project “50 Shades of Moby-Dick”. It’s going to be a gay take on Captain Ahab and his plus-sized True Love.


  26. Isobel Carr
    Jun 15, 2012 @ 11:04:43

    I have quite a few Xpresso books (you can order historic public domain books from Google Books digital collection this way!). The paper quality varies depending on which bookstore I went though (yes, I’ve been testing them), as does the price.

    I’ve honestly been waiting for POD inside bookstores to be the norm since I heard about the machines what, eight or ten years ago? It just seemed like a perfect fit. No stock. No shipping. No returns. Nothing ever OOP. The store could have new releases out for browsing and quick purchase and an endless catalog available for almost instant gratification. THIS could be the way to save B&N if they and publishers are brave/smart enough to do it.

  27. LG
    Jun 15, 2012 @ 11:11:47

    @Isobel Carr: “No stock. No shipping. No returns. Nothing ever OOP. The store could have new releases out for browsing and quick purchase and an endless catalog available for almost instant gratification.”

    Very appealing, considering how, the last few times I visited my local Hastings, I couldn’t find the particular books I had gone there for the purpose of finding. “We can special order it for you, no extra charge” doesn’t work when, also for a wait, I can order the exact same books on Amazon, get free shipping if I have them shipped together, AND get a lower price on the books themselves. I was willing to pay a slightly higher price to get the books right then, but not if I had to special order them. Espresso book machines would solve that problem. And if I could get manga through one of those machines too, I’d be in heaven. Well, except for the war between “I want!” and the limits of my bank account.

  28. Moriah Jovan
    Jun 15, 2012 @ 11:18:08

    Is this where I step in and say “Hey, I wrote about that Espresso do-hickey-thingie here, here, and here!”?

  29. Joy
    Jun 15, 2012 @ 14:01:49

    152 pages into A Modern Mephistopheles, had I been expecting actual erotica I would have been sorely disappointed.

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