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

Thursday Midday Links: Borders’ Corporate Building List for Sale

This is really a week’s worth of stuff in one post so excuse the length:

Next week we are going to celebrate National Coming Out Day and the “It Get’s Better” movement started by Dan Savage:

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With all the layoffs and downsizing, Borders has no need for the space its current headquarters offers. Thus Borders Corporate in Ann Arbor has been quietly listed for sale for a bargain $18.439 million dollars. That has to be a blow for the local Ann Arbor economy given that only an estimated 600 people still work there.

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Macmillan Publishers (you know, the company whose CEO won’t allow digital lending of books and thinks readers should have to get out of their house to buy a book) is launching Macmillan Films so that it can package literary projects to Hollywood. I suspect Macmillan will start to want authors’ film rights now.

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On Agency Gatekeeper Blog is a fun rundown of things that drive an anonymous reviewer for a “major book-reviewing outlet” crazy. (no, it’s no one from Dear Author that I know of). While the reviewer holds up the JR Ward series as one that gets it right (which is ironic given that the Ward series is devoid of any female personality and the heroines are distinguishable only by the color of dress that they were), she nails some points like how

#2– A career is something that happens while you’re waiting for a rich man (or in some cases, a rich vampire) to sweep you off your feet. If there is ever a choice between pursuing your career, maintaining friendships and enjoying daylight versus becoming a blood-sucking immortal fiend of the night who forsakes all human contact and can’t practice medicine anymore, a woman will always choose her man.

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Speaking of lists, I particularly enjoyed Stephanie Draven’s 7 Deadly Sins of Paranormal Romance.

GREED: Too Many Speculative Elements. The best paranormal romance takes the world as we know it, or the past as we imagine it, and twists one or two crucial elements, following the repercussions from those changes like ripples on a pond. The worst paranormal romance turns itself into a carnival for every strange and unexplained myth, magic, and phenomenon in the cosmos. Elves and vampires, mining together on Epsilon 4 with space aliens who are ruled by the Wicked Witch of the West in a kingdom called Oz-readers need to be able to focus. In a world where everything is possible, what is truly at stake? (For an example of how too much of a good thing can ruin a series, see the television series LOST which started out with an intriguing premise, but eventually piled so many new paranormal elements onto the stack that the whole thing collapsed under its own weight, bleeding viewers and disappointing long-time fans.)

I refer to Greed as the “No Paranormal Left Behind” syndrome.

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Sourcebooks is launching a new “line” of books called Casablanca Classics. CC will republish old books that have gone out of print. Unfortunately, the price of these new books will be $9.99. I love this idea and hate the price point. After all, I can find most of these used on Amazon for $.99 + shipping.

November 2010
Devil’s Desire by Laurie McBain

February 2011
Fierce Eden by Jennifer Blake
Moonstruck Madness by Laurie McBain
My Love, My Enemy by Jan Cox Speas

March 2011
Merely Magic by Patricia Rice
Legacy by Jeanette Baker

May 2011
Tapestry of Dreams by Roberta Gellis

June 2011
Bride of the MacHugh by Jan Cox Speas

August 2011
Midnight Waltz by Jennfer Blake
Catriona by Jeanette Baker

Given that the only thing Sourcebooks has to do is pay for a new cover and marketing, the $9.99 price point seems excessively high.

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Random House is running at online promotion at Suvudu.com where fans get to vote on the direction of a chain story, in a “Choose Your Own Adventure” style. Here is the link to the page, and the original announcement is below. Lara Adrian, Harry Connolly, Lucy A. Snyder, Kelly Meding, and Stacia Kane are writing this short story of Munira, a "retriever" of magical items in the fictional city of Port Nightfall.

The daughter of a djinn, Munira is contacted by the most powerful sorcerer in the city, the wily Temesis who makes her an offer she can't refuse: steal the Light of Ta'lab from an evil necromancer or he will kill her father! Fans will have the opportunity to vote on the choices Munira makes in the story via Suvudu.com, and each new section (penned by the various authors), will reflect the fans' voices. The short story began on Monday, September 20, 2010 and, once completed, will be available for download as a  ¢99 eBook.

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orbit book dropOrbit has launched The Orbital Drop which is a monthly special ebook deal. Deals will include two-for-ones, digital boxed-sets, and big discounts on some of the best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Urban Fantasy in the known universe. Each deal lasts one month though. You can sign up here. When I signed up, it looked like it might be US only which is a big shame.

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You know who loves happy endings? It might not be who you think. Eva Ibbotson, author of several beautiful YA novels, admits to loving the happy ever after ending. Eva’s childhood

was a “very cosmopolitan, sophisticated and quite interesting” childhood, but it was not a happy one. With parents who were very bad at hiding their dislike of each other living at either end of the country and grandparents in Vienna, Ibbotson was “always on some train, going about and wishing I had a home. When I came to write, consciously or unconsciously I always wanted to make things right for the hero or the heroine.” As a result, Ibbotson describes herself as a “happy endings freak”.

Thanks from Reader Robin F.

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HarperCollins’ CEO says that revenue from digital books, excluding children’s books, is about 20% this year. That’s a hell of a sea change from just a year ago. No wonder publishers are in turmoil.

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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

46 Comments

  1. Maili
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 13:28:21

    Jan Cox Speas? I truly didn’t see that one coming. In fact, I think I’m going to have a black eye. That’s how much it surprised me. She has a cult following for years and I don’t think anyone had ever expected to see her books back in print again. I didn’t.

    Well, if SourceBooks could do that with Jan Cox Speas’s books, then may I suggest Diana Norman’s early works as a possibility? =D

  2. Lisa J
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 13:49:40

    While I agree that $9.99 seems too high for the old books, I will pay it (although not happily)for Bride of the MacHugh. Jan Cox Speas rocked that book.

  3. sandy l
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 13:56:00

    I am so glad to see Jan Cox Speas back in print. What about the her third romance book? My Lord Monleigh?

    Also, totally off this post, but what do you think about B&N’s new self publish service?

  4. Jayne
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 14:23:27

    I’m another Speas fan. She’s awesome. But that price is not.

  5. katiebabs
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 14:25:40

    *Applauds Sarah*

    It gets better!

  6. MaryK
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 14:27:38

    A career is something that happens while you're waiting for a rich man (or in some cases, a rich vampire) to sweep you off your feet. If there is ever a choice between pursuing your career, … a woman will always choose her man.

    I understand this view actually and think it’s sometimes a matter of perspective. Some people work to live and some work at jobs that are fulfilling. I’ve had “a job” for ten years and would’ve gladly given it up for a rich man. ;) Now, I’m on my way to “a career” and couldn’t see giving it up, though a rich man would be great for money worries. :D

    I love Fierce Eden! It’s a definite departure from the Cassie Edwards brand of NA Romance. And I think the ending is awesome. The book is quite easy to find used though, unlike the Jan Cox Speas books. I’ve been trying to collect all (what 3?) of the JCSs. They’re not always easy to come by.

  7. MaryK
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 14:34:41

    Are the Sourcebooks reprints trade paperbacks? I looked one up on Amazon and it has a “Special Price, $9.99″ sticker on it. o_0

  8. joanne
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 14:37:50

    Dr F for the win!

    Laurie McBain brings back reading-memories. I don’t think I would want to re-read them- but at the time, OMG, so good!

    Re: Ward’s books. I dunno, the hated (by me) pseudo street slang aside, I still think the women were interesting and that their stories were significant given that the series was always intended to be about the vampires. We always want the male point of view and then when we get it we want more.

    Beth, from the first book, was a newspaper reporter and dealt with her change into a vamp with a great deal of strength and now she’s the Queen to the blind king. Mary was a suicide counselor and a cancer survivor who was physically scarred from her surgeries, was caretaker to her mother until her mother’s death, and still (the best of being a woman for me) made the beautiful and unscarred Bella her friend. Jane, even after the shot heard round the romance world, was a surgeon and still practices.
    I think the women were more important then many gave them credit for. JMO

    Borders: I’m so sorry to hear about more families about to lose their incomes.

  9. MaryK
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 14:44:01

    @MaryK: I expected the price but didn’t expect to see them bragging about how “special” it is.

  10. Jayne
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 14:50:21

    @katiebabs: I had the pleasure of meeting Sarah for lunch one day and had a blast. I don’t think we stopped talking for over 2½ hours and they about closed the restaurant down on us. Go, Sarah, go!

  11. Susanna Kearsley
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 14:50:30

    I’ve known (and been excited) about the Jan Cox Speas re-issues for awhile now — her daughter, Cindy, who’s a friend of mine, has been determined to get her mom’s books back in print for a new generation of readers to enjoy, and I was thrilled when she emailed me the good news!

    Sourcebooks bought the three historicals: My Love, My Enemy, Bride of the MacHugh, and my personal favourite, My Lord Monleigh. Her fourth book, The Growing Season, which was a more contemporary work, hasn’t been bought yet, as far as I know.

    Since my old Avon paperbacks (and my mom’s even older hardbacks) are showing the wear of a million re-reads, I can’t wait to get new copies.

    BTW, anyone wanting to know more about Jan Cox Speas and her work can check out the tribute page I set up to her on my web site, here: http://www.susannakearsley.com/jancoxspeas.html

  12. Courtney Milan
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 14:57:34

    I don’t think that Borders is selling their building. They are a tenant in the building, and the underlying landlord is selling it.

    This doesn’t change the fact that Borders has a long-term lease in the building, and doesn’t imply that Borders HQ will move.

  13. Jill Shalvis
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 14:59:32

    Sarah, beautiful message.

  14. DS
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 15:50:52

    Odd they picked that particular novel by Roberta Gellis to start with. I’m a huge fan but I couldn’t remember the plot until I looked it up. The Jernaeve books are not my favorites, but I don’t think she has ever written a bad book.

    JCS– yes, lover her books. Never cared for Laurie McBain or Jennifer Blake– I just checked and it looks like Fierce Eden is currently in print for Kindle from something called Ereads.com. (For a hefty $9.99 as well.) I think there might be a bit of optimism about how much people would be willing pay to relieve the Ole Skool Romance experience.

  15. Darlene Marshall
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 16:16:14

    Whatever happened to Laurie McBain? She was one of my favorite authors back in the day, and I’d pay $9.99 for a new book by her. Not sure I’d pony up that much for a reprint.

  16. Darlene Marshall
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 16:18:26

    Oh, and well played, Sarah F! Thanks for helping to spread the word that it gets better.

  17. Grace
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 16:18:54

    I had three of the four JCS books in their Avon reprints and loved them. I read My Lord Monleigh so many times, it fell apart.

    While I wouldn’t pay that price for a book by a current author or one whose backlist is readily available, I’ll probably do so for JCS. I’ll grind my teeth and bitch about being bent over, but this is one of those rare exceptions where my love for a hard to get book exceeds my usual unwillingness to pay that hefty price.

  18. becca
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 17:06:46

    If Sourcebooks were clever, they’d issue these in e-format as well!

    Sarah F, your video made me tear up. Beautiful, and much needed.

  19. Ridley
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 17:23:13

    Dan Savage is one of my favorite media personalities. I love this project of his, it’s just brilliant. As someone who remembers a number of out students and teachers at the public high school I graduated from 12 years ago, I’m amazed this garbage is still an issue.

  20. Sarah Frantz
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 18:09:04

    Thanks, guys. I really appreciate our kind words. I’m glad I can spread the word about the It Gets Better Project and about some amazing GLBT romances at the same time. SUCH an important issue.

  21. Sarah Frantz
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 18:15:55

    That, of course, should read “*y*our kind words” not “our.” Sigh. Tired and at yet another academic conference where they’re pulling out Janice Radway as the be-all and end-all of romance criticism, which is GOT TO STOP, people! OMG!plz.

  22. Merrian
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 18:21:11

    Well done Dr Sarah. The whole ‘it get’s better’ project is a wonderful, heart-warming and heart breaking initiative.

  23. SRS
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 19:13:19

    I’m so happy that ANY Roberta Gellis is being reissued that I’m willing to overlook both the price point and that it is one of the less known/loved titles. I’ve never read Tapestry of Dreams, though I remember reading and likeing the sequel, and will probably buy it despite the cost. Now if someone would only reissue more of her books in e-formats my happiness would be complete.

  24. hapax
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 21:21:45

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, Dr. Sarah.

    I love this whole project by Dan Savage, but yours was one of those that I have been pulling people over to my computer so I can say, “WATCH THIS!”

  25. LauraD
    Oct 08, 2010 @ 01:15:31

    Thank you SarahF, Dan Savage, and everyone involved in the “It Gets Better” project. Or any project like it.

  26. willaful
    Oct 08, 2010 @ 02:00:02

    I’m a little puzzled by your Ibbotson comment. She wrote romances, I would certainly expect her to be fond of happy endings.

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  28. ShellBell
    Oct 08, 2010 @ 02:25:35

    I’d love it if Laurie McBain’s books were released as eBooks.

  29. E
    Oct 08, 2010 @ 04:56:39

    Go Dr Sarah.
    Indeed it gets better.

  30. Rachel
    Oct 08, 2010 @ 07:09:42

    Given that the only thing Sourcebooks has to do is pay for a new cover and marketing, the $9.99 price point seems excessively high.

    I’m a bit puzzled by this. The books appear to be trade paperback, so you have costs for:
    – re-typesetting the book
    – proofreading
    – paper
    – printing
    – shipping
    – storage/warehousing
    As well as, presumably, an advance for the author.

    Even if the book was just being released in ebook format, the publisher would still have costs for re-typesetting, e-book formatting, and proofreading (or, if the book is new enough to have quark/indesign files available, Sourcebooks would have to buy these files from the typesetter – they wouldn’t come free – and then pay for ebook conversion), as well as digital warehousing.

  31. Jane
    Oct 08, 2010 @ 07:24:24

    @Rachel: These are backlist titles. The major cost has already been absorbed and I doubt (given what Sourcebooks is known for paying in advance) that much money was paid for these books. Likely these are POD books (as many publishers use POD for trades with small print runs) so I do think the price is a bit dear, particularly since you can buy many of these on the secondary market for much, much less.

  32. Lisa J
    Oct 08, 2010 @ 08:36:25

    Will the McBain and Cox Speas books be available in ebook? I still have my original copies, but I would love them in ebook.

  33. cindyspeas
    Oct 08, 2010 @ 10:05:24

    “Thanks to Susanna Kearsely for letting me know about the postings here. Isn’t it delightful that my mom’s books will once again see the light of day? I am lucky enough to have the hardbacks, but my mass paperbacks are falling apart, as I imagine they are for most readers. For those of you who have been Speas fans for years, let’s celebrate with the new readers who will discover mom’s well-researched settings, her evocative descriptive prose, her witty dialogue, and, best of all, her strong but feminine heroines sparring and partnering with her strong but sensitive heroes. I may be biased, but I have discovered with great joy that I am not the only one who frequently revisits the worlds she created for all of us. I hope you all find great pleasure in discovering anew or rediscovering Jan Cox Speas.”

  34. lada
    Oct 08, 2010 @ 10:48:22

    Well done Sarah F!!! I hope the “It Gets Better” project reaches everyone and gives all who need it hope.

  35. Stephanie Draven
    Oct 08, 2010 @ 11:00:18

    Sara F, what a moving video! I was very touched by it and I will be sharing it with others.

    (And thank you, Dear Author, for mentioning my post.)

  36. Leah Hultenschmidt
    Oct 08, 2010 @ 11:03:21

    Love the Paranormal Greed syndrome! So true!

    @Jane – The Casa Classics *are* backlist books, but they weren’t originally published by Sourcebooks, so Rachel’s right about all the costs associated with putting out these titles. Generally trade paperbacks are at least $12.95, so while it’s true you can get used copies pretty cheap, the $9.99 is still a nice price for a new book that’s going to bear up better than a mass-market. Most of these are also a lot longer than your average mass-market on the shelf today, clocking in over 450 pages. I love that some of these meaty, epic historicals are finally seeing the light of day again–but then, I’m a bit biased. ;-)

  37. MaryK
    Oct 08, 2010 @ 11:15:04

    @Leah Hultenschmidt:

    Generally trade paperbacks are at least $12.95, so while it's true you can get used copies pretty cheap, the $9.99 is still a nice price for a new book that's going to bear up better than a mass-market.

    I looked up Devil’s Desire on Amazon after reading Jane’s post. There’s no indication that the book is trade paperback. It’s listed as “paperback” without even product dimensions to indicate size. In the absence of size designations, I always assume mass market.

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    Oct 08, 2010 @ 11:17:53

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  39. Has
    Oct 09, 2010 @ 07:26:23

    @Darlene Marshall:

    I think she stopped writing when her father died- I think they actually co wrote the books together.

    I loved her books! Glad they are being reissued – although I hope the ebooks are cheaper than the print version.

  40. Angela James
    Oct 09, 2010 @ 15:55:38

    Given that the only thing Sourcebooks has to do is pay for a new cover and marketing, the $9.99 price point seems excessively high.

    I haven’t read the other comments, so someone may have said this (if so, I apologize) but I think saying they only have to pay for a new cover and marketing is probably oversimplifying. Do I agree with that price point? No. But I think it’s important to note that cover art and marketing are also probably accompanied by refreshing the material (many places will send it through a copy editor just to catch typos it went through the first time), writing back cover copy (because the author doesn’t own the original copy, the original publisher does) and perhaps even paying an advance (I have no idea if they did or not). They’ll also have to pay for formatting it, possibly scanning it from it’s original version into a new digital version they can format for print/digital, and that formatting for print/digital also costs money. And…there are probably other things I’m forgetting. Much more than just marketing and cover art though.

    Does that make the price defensible? I’m not saying that, I just don’t want a conversation about the price to go forward without interjecting some reality about the process so next time someone wonders about the price of a reprint they don’t say all the publisher has to pay for is cover art and marketing.

  41. Jane
    Oct 09, 2010 @ 16:09:59

    @Angela James Point taken but given that new books can sell for less than 6.99 and have a great deal more costs, paying nearly $10 for a reprint particularly when they can be had at a legal venue for far, far, far less, makes me cringe.

  42. Angela James
    Oct 09, 2010 @ 16:15:16

    It is a high price point (and I did note I wasn’t defending it, just providing some factual insight for future conversations). It would be interesting to hear the reasoning behind it. You should email them and ask!

  43. Jane
    Oct 09, 2010 @ 16:20:40

    @Angela James My guess is that it is because these are POD (no print run or limited print run). It will be interesting to see whether these are going to be put out in digital at any point because a POD print run for a backlist title that can be purchased used for far less seems to be targeted to a small crowd but I could be totally wrong on that.

  44. Isobel Carr
    Oct 10, 2010 @ 13:50:20

    I just had a very strange realization: both my best friends from college are gay. It’s not a big deal (and they were both still closeted when we met and bonded), but watching Dr. SF, it just sort of went off in my head like a gong.

    I mean, I grew up in San Francisco (and the nearby environs) and it was just always normal to have gay men and women around. I’m still always surprised that anyone CARES anymore.

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  46. ShellBell
    Nov 18, 2010 @ 12:43:48

    Yipee! Laurie McBain’s Devil’s Desire has just been released as an eBook.

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