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Thursday Midday Links: Kindle Too Restrictive for Library Use

Amazon announced its second quarter results on July 26, 2011.  Sales were up 51% but net income was down 8%.

This is consistent with Q1 where sales were up (38%) and net income was down 33%.  Amazon predicts that there will be an even greater reduction in operating income in Q3.

Amazon hasn’t said what it is doing in regards to the tax issue.  More and more states are imposing taxes on online retailers.  According to this article, Amazon’s tax free sales give it about a 10% pricing advantage and Amazon would likely lose 2.7% of its North American sales if it started to collect taxes.

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This librarian won’t be purchasing new kindles for her library given the very restrictive policies of the Amazon Kindle.  Each Kindle must be registered to a single account which, for library purposes, makes no sense.  If one wants a library solution, the school or library has to purchase a subscription with Overdrive which is apparently not feasible in the budget for many institutions.  This is not the case with Nook Simple Touch because the DRM isn’t device specific, but rather account specific and it sounds like there is no limitation to how many Nook Simple Touches can be attached to one account.

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Unbound, a new publishing business model, isn’t drawing much attention.  The problem isn’t that no one wants new books by the authors participating in Unbound as James Bridle suggests.  Rather, I think that readers don’t want to crowdsource the publication of a novel when 50% of the proceeds (or more) go to the publisher.  The whole idea behind Kickstarter and crowdfunded projects is that the majority of the money goes to the artist.

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Publishers are releasing trade paperbacks earlier because of the increase in ebook numbers.

It used to be like clockwork in the book business: first the hardcover edition was released, then, about one year later, the paperback.

But in an industry that has been upended by the growth of e-books, publishers are moving against convention by pushing paperbacks into publication earlier than usual, sometimes less than six months after they appeared in hardcover.
This seems to be true with hardcover to mass markets and trade to mass markets as well.
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I was lamenting that it seems like grammar is sometimes perceived as the enemy of authors, much to my dismay.  I’m not talking about stylistic use of sentence fragments (although I prefer full sentences myself) but misuse of pronouns, overuse of adverbs, and missing words.  Someone pointed me to this thread on the Kindleboards where one writer admits to not knowing grammar but feels that it gets in the way of his creativity.  No, it really does not.  Even after other posters point out that one must understand the rules to effectively break them, the original poster decries this as suppression of his creativity.  I point him out so that readers can know to avoid his books.
I guess the argument is in favor of being grammatically correct. I appreciate the advice, but I won’t be changing my way of writing. For unless I were a grammer major there would be no way for me to be sure of being grammatically correct. But at least I know that I can be creative. I always have been my whole life. I’ll just have to live with whatever I would consider to be insignificant grammer errors I may create while doing it. I’d rather stay the way I am and avoid the anal. Thank you.
How does he even know what are errors when he doesn’t know what is correct? GAH!  Grammatically correct phrases and creativeness can live harmoniously.  I was reading a book that had a lot of pronoun abuse and it was a struggle to understand what the author was talking about.  I had to re-read sentences several times.  This doesn’t make the reading experience enjoyable.
The NYTimes has an opinion article on the price of typos.  There are an increased number of errors in print books because of three things:
a) authors not turning in clean manuscripts (having seen some horrors in ARC format, I can only imagine what the editors must be seeing)
b) speed to market
“Manuscript, galley proofs, revised proofs, blue lines. You marked your changes at each stage, and then the compositor incorporated them and sent you the next stage. Now there are intermediate stages; authors will e-mail in ‘one last correction,’ or we’ll produce intermediate stages of proof — the text is fluid, in motion, and this leads to typos.”
c) reduction in staff
Before digital technology unsettled both the economics and the routines of book publishing, they explained, most publishers employed battalions of full-time copy editors and proofreaders to filter out an author’s mistakes. Now, they are gone.
I’m not sure whether the majority of readers care. I do think it gives readers an easy excuse to not want to pay higher prices for these products.

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So incredible is this tale that it is only believable because it actually happened.  Seemona Sumasar dated Jerry Ramrattan but after their relationship went south, Jerry allegedly raped Seemona.  Jerry then concocted an elaborate revenge plot that set Seemona up as an armed robber of immigrants.  She was imprisoned, separated from her 12 year old daughter, and lost her fledgling restaurant business.  You’ll have to read the article to find how her life unraveled and how the truth just might be coming to light.

 

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

30 Comments

  1. Naomi
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 10:06:34

    I am appalled to hear a writer say grammar gets in the way of creativity! Without the rules of correct grammar, punctuation, or spelling in place, it doesn’t matter how creative you are – I can’t read what you’re trying to say.

  2. lisabookworm
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 10:21:34

    Typos have the ability to ruin a reading experience, or at the least, to pull me out of a story.

    Example: I rarely buy Agency books. However, I wanted to read Seduce Me At Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas on vacation, so for the first time ever (and hopefully the last), I paid the same price for the kindle edition as the mass market paperback. While I did enjoy the book, there were formatting errors that kept pulling me away from what was happening in the story. Basically, where there were supposed to be gaps between paragraphs to show that the scene was changing, there were no gaps in around 20 places. I’d be reading, and thinking… ‘what in the world is going on here, did I miss something because now I’m in a completely different scene’. There were also errors where character’s lines ran together. A second character would be speaking in the same paragraph as the other character instead of in a new paragraph.

    This ebook was released in April 2010, so it’s not like this is old book that’s been scanned in. And if a publisher wants to charge the same price for the digital book as the MMPB, these errors are unacceptable (to me). I’ve bought the rest of the Hathaway series from used book stores.

  3. jmc
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 10:32:11

    Re Unbound and crowdsourcing, beyond the 50% to the publisher, I’m still confused about how much each individual reader would need to contribute (on average) in order to bring a book to print. Does the model anticipate reader funding along with lines of regular book prices? More? Less? What happens if the crowdsourcing raises more than initially needed? Maybe I haven’t read the fine print closely enough, but I’m not seeing the benefit to the reader as much as to the publisher for this method of funding.

    Typos and poor grammar* yank me out of a book. I’ve posted myriad complaints about them both in the past couple of years, especially with respect to a couple of ebook publishers whose copy editing seems especially poor.

    As I read that NYT Editorial, I was nodding. Ultimately, I am unwilling to pay $8.99 for an ebook from a publisher with shoddy editing or proofing, no matter how much I might like a particular author. Frankly, there are enough other alternatives out there for my reading budget that after a certain point, a publisher or author whose work is sloppy is put on my “Do Not Buy” list.

    *Some authors seem to like writing first person POV in dialect with narrators whose grammar is unconventional. Even understanding that it is intentional, reading words like “cain’t” for can’t and “should of” for should have makes me cringe.

  4. Jane O
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 10:56:51

    Grammar hampers creativity? Give me a break!

    There are two reasons to write.

    One is to express yourself or give flow to your thoughts and feelings. The other is to communicate those thoughts and feelings to others.

    If all you want to do is vent, feel free to ignore grammar. However, do not expect me to pay attention to the effusions of a writer who cannot be bothered to master one of the fundamental elements of his craft.

  5. Lena
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 11:01:31

    Sounds like the grammar guy is just looking for attention to promote his books. I think he even spelled grammar wrong on purpose. It’s a little too transparent for me. No one’s that dumb.

  6. Kim
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 11:36:11

    @Jane Have you seen what Avon Books is doing? They released Waking Up With the Duke and a few other books in both paperback and mini trade. The mini trade is $2.00 more than the paperback version with slightly larger print. It’s also larger in size than the paperback, but smaller than a regular trade book. Avon must be conducting a marketing study to see which version sells more.

  7. Jane
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 11:40:07

    @Kim I’ve heard of the larger paperbacks (smaller than a Venti, larger than a mass) but I didn’t realize it was being led by HC and that they were testing them both. Interesting.

  8. RebeLovesBooks
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 11:59:15

    I think an author saying that correct grammar stifles his/her creativity is an excuse for laziness. I can’t STAND it when I’m reading a book and pronouns are used incorrectly, or, worse, the author spells “All Right” as “Alright.” It’s two freakin’ words!!!!! Drives me nuts. And don’t get me started on using “impact” or “disrespected” as a verb. Just because Katie Couric or ESPN anchors use it doesn’t make it correct.

  9. Moriah Jovan
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 12:53:05

    @RebeLovesBooks:

    or, worse, the author spells “All Right” as “Alright.” It’s two freakin’ words!!!!! Drives me nuts.

    Me, too, but there is at least one e-publisher out there whose house style is “alright.”

    Grammar, if used skillfully, can be used to help tell the story better–broaden and/or deepen it–than it would be if simply used correctly. A lot of those tricks are decried by people who kinda sorta know grammar (but think they’re experts) as bad grammar. People who know grammar might not get it, but they understand that it’s a stylistic choice and learn to go with the rhythm of the writing.

    But then, most readers just don’t care unless the storytelling plain sucks.

  10. MaryK
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 13:12:07

    I don’t want to have to stop reading a story to figure out what a sentence is trying to say.

  11. joanne
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 13:17:52

    If I read a fictional story along the lines of Seemona Sumasar’s real life I would toss the book at a wall. That it is a true story makes me incredibly sad and very angry.

    @Moriah Jovan: Re grammar: I agree that I will accept an author’s stylistic choices. Alright is all right with me but if the story isn’t alright then I’m not going to be all right with the author’s work.

  12. Daedala
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 13:23:27

    Amazon will take back books with major formatting errors, even after the seven-day no-questions-asked return period. I returned a textbook that was missing images, had misformatted tables, screwed up the paragraph indentations, etc.; they just asked for some location numbers, and said the information would be forwarded to the publisher. I’m not sure it would work every time, of course, but they were perfectly nice about it.

  13. Lisa J
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 13:29:49

    Incorrect use of their/there/they’re and your/you’re makes me crazy. Why is it so hard to use the proper one?

    I blame poor grammar on schools. My foster son’s teacher scolded me for correcting his spelling/grammar in the papers he handed in. She told me it wasn’t important to spell correctly if she could figure out what they were trying to say. While that may have worked for her, it did not fly with me.

  14. cayenne
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 13:31:27

    Correct grammar stifles creativity? PUH-leeze.

    Part of creativity is using form and technique to express oneself. As a person with a fine arts background, I can say that technique helps me to express what I feel or to implement a design because technique creates a way for me to “see” my subject, to focus my vision, and to plan my output in a way that takes media into consideration. In writing, words are the medium, not paint, chalk, wax or metal, but the principle is still the same.

    Creativity is not spontaneous. Ideas are. Creativity is the process of expressing the idea in the form the artist wants it to be in, and the end result takes work and skill. Skill implies that technique and process are learned and used to enhance the idea. If a person can’t express an idea in a way that’s coherent and cogent, their output isn’t going to be readable, and I think that an author who can’t be arsed to learn grammar, vocabulary, and even how to use the bloody spell check is unlikely to be an especially creative writer.

  15. Chelsea
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 15:22:25

    I am the reason spell check exists, and I am the reason that grammar check exists. A lot of times my fingers type faster than my eyes can read, and I don’t catch myself using the wrong “there/their/they’re”. It’s not that I don’t know the difference, it’s that I make mistakes. A lot of mistakes. Since I care about my work, however, I proofread. More importantly, I find other people to proofread for me. When an error is pointed out to me, I don’t complain that my creativity is stifled. I fix it. I don’t see what the big deal is.

  16. DS
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 15:43:44

    @Daedala: Amazon treats these books as “returns” so the loss of the sale goes back on the publisher, which is where it should lie. That is why Amazon is so nice about refunding messed up ebooks and why they have a line on their royalty report for returns on digital items.

  17. kzoet
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 16:18:13

    I am trying to figure out ways to use “I’d rather stay the way I am and avoid the anal. Thank you.” in casual conversation today.

    How, exactly, does grammar stifle creativity? It’s a tool to help writers effectively communicate that precious creativity they’re trying to convey to their readers, right? Oy.

  18. Sandra
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 18:22:59

    I’m reading “The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton” by Miranda Neville on my Kindle. It has repeated replacements of the word unmarried with “uarried”.

  19. Joy
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 19:01:30

    Sandra: I saw the same error in the nook ebook.

  20. Andrea
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 20:06:12

    You can break rules if you know them. At least enough to recognise that you’re breaking them.

    My pet peeve involves words and phrases that people have heard spoken verbally, but obviously never seen written correctly. If I read “my interest was peaked” one more time…

    I will buy books despite spelling errors, depending on how much I want the story. But I will notice. I’ve been working through the books of Rex Stout (a master of language) now that the ebooks have been released for his out of print work. For the ones where Bantam holds the copyright, they’ve plainly been scanned and run through a spellchecker, but not read. So “Miss Rowan” becomes “Bliss Rowan” and there’s occasional patches of “Ms” instead of “his” which anyone even casually scanning the book would pick up.

    But I’ll still pay even the high amount Bantam is charging (for books published in the 1930s-60s) because I want to read those books.

  21. sarah mayberry
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 20:08:26

    My take on grammar and writing: I consider my first duty as a writer is to be clear about what I am trying to convey. I am, after all, trying to create in the reader’s mind an image, thought or feeling. To do this we must be able to share a common language, and grammar is an integral part of a shared language. Grammar isn’t a set of arbitrary rules, it is a set of conventions with generally agreed upon meanings and purposes that allow us to communicate clearly with each other. I really don’t understand why anyone who purports to want to write and be creative would be so dismissive of the tools of his/her craft. As for the Ramrattan story, it beggars belief that this guy could stitch an innocent person up so easily and for so long. Scary stuff. May he rot in a particularly nasty prison for an extended period of time.

  22. Courtney Milan
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 20:24:28

    @Sandra: This kind of thing happens because of converting a print book to an ebook without proofing.

    What probably happened is that in the print book, the font used a ligature–a character that was both n and m together–to look just a little cooler. When the book got converted to e, the ligature was translated as a non-printing character.

    Hence the error, and because authors don’t get to proof the digital format, no way for her to catch and correct it.

    Moral of the story: Someone needs to proof the digital format.

  23. Moriah Jovan
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 20:46:28

    Ligatures are the bane of my formatting existence.

  24. SAO
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 22:25:43

    Grammar conveys meaning. Misusing it means you confuse people.

    My pet peeve is using simple present in place of the past tense. Simple present is used for habitual, repeated or timeless actions (ie I rise at 7 every day) not for completed actions.

    My college’s alum magazine recently switched to present tense to make their prose more “lively” “Active.”So, they use present tense to write about the illustrious alum’s past.
    But then when they get to the present day, because we need to know the difference between what the engineer is working on and what he’s achieved, and this isn’t conveyed by simple present tense, they switched to past tense.

    So, we were treated to a whole magazine where the past was written about in present tense and the present in past tense.

    I thought a little more grammatical knowledge on the part of the editor would have realized why the choice between simple present and past isn’t just a matter of “Creativity” and “Style” but of correct versus just plain wrong.

  25. SAO
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 22:27:46

    The publishers want to hold the line on price, but they are reducing costs and, with the frequent and obvious lack of proof-reading, it shows. But why should I pay full price when someone hasn’t even bothered to skim page one?

  26. MaryK
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 22:31:43

    @sarah mayberry:

    Grammar isn’t a set of arbitrary rules, it is a set of conventions with generally agreed upon meanings and purposes that allow us to communicate clearly with each other.

    Yes. Capitalization rules are taking a hit, too. I guess because of cellphones and texting. I have trouble reading all upper case because the letters are all the same size and harder to distinguish, and I have trouble reading all lower case because my eyes/brain aren’t receiving the start-a-sentence, proper name, etc. signals.

  27. sarah mayberry
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 22:44:16

    @MaryK I read somewhere that the educational authorities in New Zealand had had a case presented to them to allow students to submit essays using txt speak because that was the vernacular of the young generation. Awesome idea if you want to create a generation of inarticulate kids who can’t communicate with anyone in the professional world. Not sure what the outcome was…

  28. MaryK
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 23:23:51

    @sarah mayberry: GAH! When did education become about keeping people as stupid as possible?

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  30. MicheleKS
    Jul 29, 2011 @ 06:48:12

    @sarah mayberry: GAH! When did education become about keeping people as stupid as possible?

    - My answer to that question is stupid people can’t think for themselves. Which is what some people in power (or who aspire to power) want from the populace.

    Years ago, I was helping my younger sister with her homework and she was telling me apostophes were not necessary. She said her teacher told her so and would actually mark off if they were used. My sister had to do some seriously fast talking to keep me from going to the school and chewing her teacher out. My sister also dropped out of high school in the 10th grade and I have to wonder if poor teaching was a factor in that.

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