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Thursday Midday Links: FTC, one more time

I’ve seen some people say that I should just wait and see about how the FTC decides to interpret its new regulations. I’ve seen some people reassure me that it wouldn’t apply to Dear Author or it wouldn’t apply to me commenting on other blogs or Twitter or Facebook. I’ve seen other people argue that the FTC isn’t going after bloggers so there is nothing to be concerned about. Let me try to articulate why I am going to strictly comply with the FTC guidelines.

  1. Simply because there is a chance I won’t be targeted doesn’t mean that there is zero chance I will be targeted.   I don’t think I’ll ever be audited by the IRS but that doesn’t give me free reign to ignore the IRS rules and regulations, even if I don’t agree with them.
  2. Even though the regulations do not go in effect until December 1 does not mean that they will change. It took two years to get this revision after periods of public commenting and voting.
  3. I am bound by my oath to uphold the laws of the land. Until the regulation by the FTC is ruled in a court of law as unconstitutionally broad, it is my duty to follow the law.   In a court of law, regulations are deemed presumptively accurate interpretation of the law and if there are two competing interpretations (one that includes bloggers and one that does not) then the agency (FTC)’s rules are binding.
  4. The FTC regulations govern deception and truth in advertising.   Truthfulness is at the core of a lawyer’s legal duty.   My law license could be in jeopardy from a reprimand, suspension or revocation if I was ever found to be violating a rule on deceptive practices.
  5. Ultimately, even though the rule may not be enforced against me does not allow me to disregard the law.   Further, I believe that is what kind of character you would expect from us here at Dear Author.

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Despite the success of Dan Brown’s book, book sales are depressed.

And over all, according to BookScan, book sales were down about 4 percent compared with the same week last year, suggesting that neither of those titles or any of the other big fall books from heavyweights like Mitch Albom, Pat Conroy, E. L. Doctorow and Audrey Niffenegger were helping booksellers to overcome the sludgy economy.

Audrey Niffenegger was famously awarded a $5 million contract for her book, A Fearful Symmetry, a book that managed to only sell 23,000 copies according to Bookscan in the last week.

This decline in sales has shown itself in Barnes and Noble quarterly results. More at Publishers Weekly.

Total sales in the retail group fell 3% for the second quarter, which began August 2 and will close October 31, to $665 million, and comp-store sales were down 4.1% (sales are through October 3). Barnes & Noble.com had a good period, with sales up 8%. Sales in the quarter included sales of The Lost Symbol, which B&N said broke one-day sales records for an adult fiction title. B&N expects comp sales to be down 1% to 3% in the retail group for the entire second quarter and to decline 2% to 4% for the full fiscal year, which will end May 1, 2010 (B&N changed its fiscal year following the completion of the B&N College deal).

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Are ad supported books coming closer to being a reality? Maybe if HotPrints takes off. HotPrints charges zero dollars for a photobook. Instead, they send you a bunch of tear out ads with your photobook (none are printed by your pictures). The limit is one per month, but it’s free. Even the shipping.

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Galley Cat suggests that part of the decline in publishing is the wrong headed focus on the white literary crowd as the mainstay of publishing. The U.S. Census Bureau displays the growing number of minorities in the U.S. and Galley Cat questions whether publishing is missing the mark by not including more multicultural protagonists.

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I’ve been in love with the vintage covers that Harlequin has been showing us and the titles went on sale this week. I admit to being reluctant to try one so I was glad when Keishon announced that she had bought one. Her review of I’ll Bury My Dead by James Headley Chase makes me glad that I hesitated over a purchase.

So how did I like this novel? I didn’t. This story was a chore to read. I tried in vain to engage myself but it just wasn’t hap pen ing. Why wasn’t I hooked into the story? Can’t answer that. Weren’t the char ac ters engag ing? Not really. I read hard boiled mys ter ies all the time and this one bored me to tears. I’ve even read some of Ed McBain’s stuff from the same era and his books hold up much bet ter than this.

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Hold on to your wallets, international readers. Amazon has pinkie swore to abide by terrotorial rights in the sale of its ebooks. Territorial rights confer the right of a publisher to sell a certain book in a certain geographical locale. Currently Random House is not on board with Amazon over some kind of contractual dispute and none of those books will be available. Oh well. It’s not like the UKers or Europeans or Aussies or New Zealanders need books to go with their shiny new device, right?

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

19 Comments

  1. Caligi
    Oct 08, 2009 @ 14:21:13

    Well, the way you’re doing it looks snarky and in the case of the Books On Board sidebar it’s nigh unreadable. I understand the desire to CYA, but there has to be a better way.

    Maybe it’s just my own problem, but all those comments in parentheses rub me the wrong way. Surely the disclaimer in the actual recommendation suffices.

    ReplyReply

  2. Jane
    Oct 08, 2009 @ 14:22:18

    @Caligi: Do you have suggestions?

    ReplyReply

  3. MaryK
    Oct 08, 2009 @ 14:33:05

    I tend to use “book sales are depressed” news as justification for buying more books. Stimulating the economy, ya know. Of course, my bank account and TBR pile suffer for it.

    ReplyReply

  4. katiebabs
    Oct 08, 2009 @ 14:41:16

    Wow, I would think that the Niffenegger would sell much more. Honestly. $5 advance for a sophomore book shocked me, but hey good for Niffenegger. If that were me, I would be jumping up and down.

    Funny, I haven’t seen many reviews for The Lost Symbol on any of the blogs. Only on the reviews site for the newspapers.

    ReplyReply

  5. Caligi
    Oct 08, 2009 @ 15:03:45

    Do I have suggestions? Beyond what I already mentioned, no.

    The disclaimer in the reviews makes sense, but the running commentary in that BoB sidebar looks awful and a few of the DA tweets were eyerollers, too.

    I only mention it because I liked the site a lot as it was – free of the snark and sarcasm Smart Bitches earns their hosting fees with (not that I hold it against them, since I like that site too.) I’ll get over it.

    ReplyReply

  6. RStewie
    Oct 08, 2009 @ 15:06:20

    I am in the business of CYA, so I am completely down with it.

    I wish the blurb at the bottom weren’t so long, though…but that’s because I hate giving in to The Man (or The FCC).

    Thanks for the heads up about the Facebook app…I’d LOVE to get some of those pictures off the computer and onto my wall.

    ReplyReply

  7. ReacherFan
    Oct 08, 2009 @ 15:19:01

    An abundance of caution is not a bad thing when dealing with new regulations. When any new regulation hits, you know there will be a test case that most move thru the courts for many years to get the rule invalidated, restricted, or allowed. I’d say the one thing no one wants to be is that test case. The time, money and emotional wear and tear just isn’t worth it. It doesn’t matter if you’re right or wrong, you will lose a lot regardless. I’d say the blanket disclaimer is a damn good idea.

    ReplyReply

  8. Jayne
    Oct 08, 2009 @ 15:32:25

    I've been in love with the vintage covers that Harlequin has been showing us and the titles went on sale this week. I admit to being reluctant to try one so I was glad when Keishon announced that she had bought one. Her review of I'll Bury My Dead by James Headley Chase makes me glad that I hesitated over a purchase.

    I checked them out too but didn’t find any blurbs which interested me. And even these covers weren’t all that great, IMO.

    ReplyReply

  9. Jocelyn
    Oct 08, 2009 @ 15:33:33

    It drives me nuts when people say “legal issues aside…” which seems to be the crux of the argument against the new disclaimers. You can’t shove the legal issues aside in the real world, especially not if you’re an attorney! I don’t even practice and never have (law degree was a waste of time and $), and I still follow all laws I’m aware of to the letter.

    I hope that in the end, you’ll have displayed an over-abundance of caution. But I certainly think you’re smart to do so.

    ___________________________________

    In other news, I think you should put a line break between your news segments. It took me a while to figure out that declining book sales didn’t relate to the FTC in any meaningful way at all.

    ReplyReply

  10. Jane
    Oct 08, 2009 @ 15:50:13

    @Jocelyn a line break is a great idea. I’ll employ that (or something).

    ReplyReply

  11. Jane
    Oct 08, 2009 @ 15:51:28

    @Caligi Well, the running sidebar is a simple copy and paste from the post itself. And the DA tweets? Those have to have disclaimers and yes, I probably will try to have fun with it since I find it an irritant. I’m sorry that it irritates you.

    ReplyReply

  12. DS
    Oct 08, 2009 @ 18:06:33

    I read the disclaimers once then ignored them ever after. I can’t think of any other way you could do it, especially since it should be prominent and in the same font size as other information.

    Hopefully the FTC will clarify the issue in the future.

    But as for:

    Oh well. It's not like the UKers or Europeans or Aussies or New Zealanders need books to go with their shiny new device, right?

    I should think publishers would want to sell books, but it doesn’t appear they do. At least they keep putting every possible block in the way of selling books.

    ReplyReply

  13. Suze
    Oct 08, 2009 @ 18:13:22

    To be honest, I had to go looking for the disclaimer, because I hadn’t noticed it. And I wouldn’t have gone looking if the FTC discussions hadn’t drawn attention to it. I don’t find it (the one on the DA blog main page) snarky or sarcastic at all. I wonder if my sarcasm circuits have burnt out…

    I’m not on Twitter, so forgive me if this is a stupid question, but does your tweet disclaimer cut into your 140 characters? Because THAT would be stupid.

    ReplyReply

  14. Sandia
    Oct 09, 2009 @ 06:53:50

    Book sales are depressed – sure, I’ve quit buying ebook editions that are priced higher than the MMP. It truly pisses me off that either publishers and/or amazon thinks that’s okay. I will not be finishing Jocelynn Drake’s Dark Days series because of this stupid pricing policy.

    ReplyReply

  15. Karen S.
    Oct 09, 2009 @ 10:32:41

    I was surprised when I looked at the Harlequin Vintage line that most of the books (if not all, my memory of the blurbs is sketchy) didn’t seem to be romance novels. Harlequin doesn’t only publish romance novels, but it does make up the majority of what they publish, they’re celebrating 60 years of doing so, and they’re mostly known for publishing romance. What the hell, Harlequin?

    That and I was hoping for some old-school romances featuring librarians. :D

    ReplyReply

  16. Jane
    Oct 09, 2009 @ 11:34:45

    @Suze Yes, Cleland thought you could make a disclaimer in 7-8 characters. Sonoma Lass suggested #compcopy which I liked.

    ReplyReply

  17. Jane
    Oct 09, 2009 @ 11:35:12

    @DS I sometimes think publishers are actively working to kill the ebook industry.

    ReplyReply

  18. MaryK
    Oct 09, 2009 @ 15:25:47

    Okay, this might be a stupid question. How is this FTC stuff going to affect your old reviews? If I google for a book review and the link brings me directly to an old DA review, I’m not going to see the disclaimer; there isn’t one in the review, because it’s old, and the site disclaimer is only on the main page. Are the guidelines going to be retroactive?

    ReplyReply

  19. Caligi
    Oct 10, 2009 @ 09:57:26

    Like I said, I’ll get over it. Sarcasm/snark and text are notoriously misconstrued anyways. Sorry if I made you feel on the spot, you do a wonderful job with DA.

    ReplyReply

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