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Thursday Midday Links: Double rainbows

Double Rainbow

Why?The Verge

Amazon is trying to fulfill customer needs through its own catalog should publishers try to withhold content. It also helps to strengthen Amazon’s vertical business silo. The next question has to be whether Amazon will acquire HarperCollins after it is spun off from the Fox entertainment division.

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. Kate Hewitt
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 10:04:31

    I don’t understand the appeal of disappearing ink. This is meant to *promote* new authors?!

  2. Loosheesh
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 10:32:17

    @Kate Hewitt: I’m lost also – why would I want to buy a book that lasts only two months? Ok, I’m taking my boggled mind off for a rest …

  3. Mikaela
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 10:47:39

    I am getting a bit worried about Amazon’s fast pace of purchasing publishers. Isn’t the purchase of Dorchesters backlist the third in the last 3 months? Or do I remember wrong?

  4. LG
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 10:52:30

    A while back, I was listening to a vendor call a particularly annoying aspect of their product a “feature.” Another person, one of the vendor’s customers, commented and said something like, “No, that’s not a feature, that’s a design flaw.”

    That’s how I feel about these disappearing ink books. One of the things I like about my print books is that there is a good chance they will still be around years from now – in fact, I’ve owned some for over a decade, and the actually copies have been in existance for longer than that. Why would I want to pay for a print book in which that aspect is taken away on purpose? And then they have the gall to act like the books’ 2-month readability is a big selling point.

  5. Author on Vacation
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 10:59:33

    Disappearing ink? Why on earth? Is this the print book’s nod to disposable technology?

    I am now officially terrified. Any day now I expect a publisher-appointed goon squad to show up at my door with orders to confiscate my print book library because I’ve owned, read, and enjoyed the volumes for too long without re-purchasing them.

  6. Amy Kathryn
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 10:59:40

    I can just see the publishers making special library editions of their books with the disappearing ink.

    That is a much cooler double rainbow than I have ever seen.

  7. Ruthie
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 11:04:01

    I can’t hear or read the words “double rainbow” without thinking of this movie, which makes me laugh so hard, I cry.

  8. TaraL
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 11:04:02

    Disappearing ink books. Yet another example of the cluelessness of print publishing these days. Do they actually sit around and brainstorm how to devalue their product even more?

  9. Ros
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 11:05:10

    Disappearing ink strikes me as an invitation to piracy. Scan the book while you can. Download it once it’s disappeared. Dumb gimmick.

  10. TaraL
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 11:16:52

    @Ruthie: the whole time I was watching that, all I could think was, “Dude, put the bong down.”

  11. Jess
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 11:16:54

    I’m not 100% sure I understand about the Amazon/Dorchester thing, but it sounds like a) this keeps Dorchester alive and b) Dorchester runs its publishing the way it wants and the only change is that it’s under the Amazon name. Okay, this sounds sketchy but we’ll ignore that for now. This write-up also says that authors will get their royalties from Amazon in exchange for staying on Dorchester’s company (or at least, this is how I interpret it. Correct me if I’m wrong). So what about the authors that had their rights reverted back to them and are still waiting for royalties from Dorchester?

  12. Jane
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 11:22:03

    @Jess: No, that is not what is happening here at all. Amazon is buying the assets of Dorchester. Along with the purchase, they are supposed to pay off some of the debts of Dorchester, including the unpaid royalties. Amazon then becomes the owner of the contractual rights of Dorchester (and any inventory left over although I heard that the physical inventory had been bought by Walmart a while back).

    Amazon will then be the “publisher” of the books per the contracts. The contracts aren’t rewritten (although I’ve heard that they are pretty onerous to authors) and are subject to the standard royalties and rights reversions etc.

  13. Ruthie
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 11:28:41

    @TaraL: I know, right?

  14. Jess
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 11:31:15

    Thank you! That clears it up!

  15. MaryK
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 11:45:58

    Maybe they think the prospect of the book disappearing will create an urgency to read the book. As a free promo gimmick, maybe it’d work. Otherwise, somebody doesn’t understand about keepers and TBR piles.

  16. Nadia Lee
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 12:03:50

    @Jane: In that case, they’re super nice for Amazon.

    If the contracts have been amended prior to the bankruptcy, the payment for e-edition is 25% of net until they earn out, and 35% of net afterward. That’s much much less than what AMZ pays to authors on its self-pub program. (The amendment went out around July 2011, IIRC)

  17. Patricia
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 12:11:46

    If I want to read a book and don’t mind losing access to it after a handful of weeks, I’ll check it out from the library. Heck, with renewals I can check out a book from my local library for longer than it sounds like the disappearing ink would last, and after I’m done someone else gets to check it out too. The whole point of buying a book, rather than borrowing it, is to make it mine forever and ever and ever, or until I (not the publisher) decide I want to sell/donate/delete it as I see fit.

  18. Meljean
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 12:30:53

    @Ruthie: I showed the rainbow-from-space photo to my 9-year-old daughter yesterday, and she immediately began singing the auto-tuned version of the video you posted (which is really quite catchy.)

    Since I can’t sing, I just have the t-shirt. :-D

  19. Jackie Barbosa
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 12:42:59

    The disappearing ink thing sounds like a great way for publishers to “time out” the physical copies of books they sell to libraries, just like they want to “time out” the digital ones. *facepalm*

    @Nadia Lee: If the contracts have been amended prior to the bankruptcy, the payment for e-edition is 25% of net until they earn out, and 35% of net afterward. That’s much much less than what AMZ pays to authors on its self-pub program.

    But the corollary Amazon publishing program here would be Montlake/Thomas & Mercer/et al. From what I’ve heard, 35% of net is pretty standard on those contracts (though some authors get better terms). And because Dorchester’s advances were generally very small, it shouldn’t be hard for most authors to sell past earn-out. (I hope!)

  20. Jackie Barbosa
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 12:44:34

    Meh, I forgot that for italics, I have to use the em tag, not the i tag. My kingdom for an edit button!

  21. Brie
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 13:30:45

    @Ruthie: That dude is high as a kite. I can’t stop laughing. Double rainbow all the way! I must get one of those t-shirts.

  22. Ruthie
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 13:39:06

    @meljean — I love you.

    @Brie — Me, too! I will wear it to RWA.

  23. library addict
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 14:12:21

    The disappearing ink idea may have won an award, but it doesn’t take the reader into account very much IMO. And how many people will actually recycle the blank book once the ink disappears? Or is it meant to then be used as a notebook or something?

    Thanks for the rainbows picture. Guess I’m the only one who hears Kermit the frog when I see rainbows.

    I wonder if Amazon will make the Dorchester ebooks available at other vendors. I really dislike the whole Kindle Only concept.

  24. Danielle
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 14:29:52

    Disappearing ink?

    Clutches cookbook/household guide handed down from generation to generation in my family since the year 1800, in which my ancestors have carefully pencilled notes in the margins and on the endpapers.

  25. Jackie Barbosa
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 14:52:49

    @library addict: I wonder if Amazon will make the Dorchester ebooks available at other vendors. I really dislike the whole Kindle Only concept.

    Amazon is almost certainly only interested in buying Dorcheste’s backlist as a way to increase its Kindle-exclusive list. In other words, I would not hold my breath hoping they will make these books available digitally on other retailer sites.

  26. Isobel Carr
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 15:30:07

    Disappearing ink = massive resource waste. I can’t imagine many readers reacting positively to something that is so counter to the environmentally friendly ideal most businesses are now aiming for.

  27. Readsalot81
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 15:55:02

    Disappearing ink = a very stupid gimmick and an excellent way to ensure that I never buy anything from that publisher.

    Part of the fun of books is acquiring as many as you like.. then having them disappear? PFFFT. Bite me.

  28. Courtney Milan
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 11:30:10

    Also, if I were one of the debut authors whose book was printed on disappearing ink, I’d be PISSED. Not only is the book broken, not only is the book guaranteed to be off the shelves in a few months because it stops being worthwhile, but my publisher’s running the campaign by declaring to the world that they’re not invested enough in me to put out a second book unless they magically get lucky.

    Whoever thought that was a good idea needs to be fired.

  29. Gwen Hayes
    Jul 01, 2012 @ 19:38:53

    Now if the book sent up a message “This book will self destruct in 10 seconds” and then SPLODED, that might be cool.

    Seriously, what about the environment? And for heavy readers, we all know we have books in our TBR that have been on there for years…and non-heavy readers often take more than 2 months to read a book.


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