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

Thursday Midday Links: New Blog & State of the Day EBook...

DA Industry NewsFirst, if you haven’t noticed, Dear Author and Smart Bitches have a new joint venture called ToBeRead LLC. Our first feature is a review opportunity. It’s a way for authors to increase their visibility. I urge you to check out our Etsy store. Please don’t be afraid to contact us for a custom package.


A somewhat new blog, The Raving Readers, gave me a heads up that they are hosting contests and giveaways over at their webspace.   Currently they are giving away three copies of Jessica Anderson’s Demonkeepers.   Check it out.


Second, here is what we know about the state of ebooks today.   The Agency 5 pricing structure has gone into effect starting today.   The Agency 5 are as follows:

  • Hachette (Orbit, Grand Central, Forever.   Authors like Gail Carriger, Larissa Ione)
  • Penguin (Berkley, Signet, NAL.   Authors like Nalini Singh, JR Ward, Nora Roberts)
  • HarperCollins (Avon. Authors like Julia Quinn, Victoria Alexander)
  • Simon&Schuster (Pocket.   Authors like Kresley Cole, Jill Myles)
  • Macmillan (St Martin’s Press, Tor.   Authors like Jennifer Crusie, Christine Warren)

Books from these authors are not available for sale at almost every retailer.   Amazon struck deals with HC, and S&S and those books will be available at Amazon in the Kindle format.   Books from Macmialln, Penguin and Hachette are currently unavailable for sale in digital format at Amazon, Fictionwise, Books on Board, and others.   Penguin and Amazon have not come to an agreement.   In an email to authors and agents, Penguin has this to say:

Your newly released eBook is currently not available on Amazon, but all of your eBooks released prior to April 1st are still for sale on their site. We want to also assure you that all of your books are available through other e-tailers and at bricks and mortar stores everywhere–from the large chains to the clubs to the independents and on their respective websites. Also, all of your eBooks are available through Barnes and, Sony, Kobo,, reader applications on the iPhone and soon on the iBookstore for the iPad. Additionally, we’re working with our digital delivery partners (Ingram, Overdrive, and Baker & Taylor) to make your eBooks even more widely available.

Books from Apple can only be purchased through the iBooks App and that App is available ONLY for the iPad.   iBooks cannot be purchased through the iTunes store and cannot be read on any other device, not even a Mac or an iPhone or iTouch.   Limitations on where an ebook is for sale   will remain in place until new deals can be struck.   Will these things change? Yes, I believe so, but in the short run, April authors are missing out on sales and readers are missing out on April author releases.

Books from Random House, Harlequin, Kensington, Dorchester, and the epublishers like Samhain, Drollerie Press, Liquid Silver, Loose Id, are all generally available at etailers.   Whether those books will be subject to loyalty programs or discounts is on an etailer by etailer basis.

The state of ebooks is in real flux. (In fact, by the time this post goes live, things may have changed). The good news is that there will be plenty of good content at decent prices for readers to go to. The bad news is that some books might not be available to you or they may be available to you in higher prices.


Speaking of the iBook App that will only be available to a limited number of users, it doesn’t even have the ability for a reader to take notes.   This is incredibly lame.


Borders may have suffered a 13.7% loss in sales but it has managed to secure new financing and all of publishing breathes a sigh of relief.

Less than 24 hours before it was due to repay a $42.5 million loan to its largest shareholder, Borders Group has arranged new financing that will allow it to pay back the loan and also give it an extra three years on its credit agreement that was set to mature in July 2011.


Nathan Bransford talks about coop and whether publishers have the ability to “make” an author.

The key here is that publishers make co-op  nominations. It’s up to booksellers to decide which promos to accept, and they do that based on their best guesses as well.


Michael, one of the agents over at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management, blogged about the Apple pricing scheme. He’s not convinced its the best deal for authors given that authors will be losing out on every sale.

Assuming the same $25 price list price for the ebook (which is pretty standard) and same 25% royalty for electronic books, the author receives a royalty of $3.13. (The question of why they would receive less than they do on the hardcover in this situation could be a blog post in itself.) If ebooks eventually make up 50% of the market (a number I believe is possible), that royalty arrangement will radically alter author compensation. That, obviously, concerns me. I'd really like to hear more directly and transparently from publishers on this issue.

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. Aoife
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 10:28:54

    That’s good news about Borders, since they are a major presence in my city. They managed to drive a lot of the indie bookstores out of business, so Borders and B&N are IT for some sections of the city. I’m also happy to hear that B&N have apparently worked out deals w/ the publishers since I have a serious Nook-addiciton, as does my husband.

    Loved the April Fool’s. I have seen stranger things on etsy, believe me..

  2. Christine Rimmer
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 10:53:07

    I want a custom package. A big one. I like them big. And an A review for under 5K. Whatadeal. I’m so impressed!

    Also, did you notice that Google changed their name to Topeka? So many amazing things happening today…

  3. Vic
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 11:03:55

    Thanks! This was very informative.

  4. Janet P.
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 11:17:58

    One thing that has puzzled me is the lack of author outrage over delayed eBooks, reduced author commission from Agency Pricing, and just general reader disgruntlement as a whole. To me it is really hard to view the whole thing in any other manner than:

    “Hey Author! Guess What? We’re going to force all those retailers to raise the price on your book to some of your most loyal readers — you know, those nerdy types who read 2 to 3 books a week and collect digital files faster than limited release beanie babies. You know, the ones who buy … alot of books. On release day, damn them.

    Oh yeah, and because of these higher prices, we’re going to be paying you less money. Because we really care about protecting your interests!” cough cough

    I suspect that many of them are simply too busy putting words together in a pleasing manner to think much about the math, but eventually they are going to wake up to the fact of diminishing royalties and unhappy readers.

  5. Sammy
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 11:25:02

    Everything Janet P said. It’s baffling.

  6. Brian
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 11:37:18

    “Books from Macmialln, Penguin and Hachette are currently unavailable for sale in digital format at Amazon, Fictionwise, Books on Board, and others.”

    I just checked several Macmillan titles at Amazon and they’re available. FW and BoB don’t have them anymore however (of course FW has gotten so bad on availability it’s hard to say if it’s this or something else). What’s strange is that of the titles I checked on Amazon one is at the same old $25 list discounted to $10. The others used to be $14 titles that now have a list to match their paper counterparts, but are still discounted (which supposedly can’t happen anymore) so I wonder what’s up.

  7. Brian
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 11:44:07

    Saw this about Hachette on TeleRead…

    “Publishers Lunch is reporting that Amazon has posted the following: ‘Hachette has disallowed the sale of ebooks except on agency terms effective as of 12:01 am this morning. We came to terms late last night but we cannot be operationally ready to sell their ebooks on agency terms until two days from now -‘ April 3 -‘ when we will also cut over for the other publishers that are switching to agency. If we can get a two day extension from Hachette to continue selling their ebooks under the prior terms, we can have the Hachette ebooks promptly back for sale today. If not, then they will be back on April 3.'”

  8. Tabby
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 11:47:57

    When this was first introduced a few months back a lot of authors supported this move by the publishers–and were vocal about it. They think they’ll make more money this way and who doesn’t want to be paid more? My guess is that the majority of authors are still backing the publishers, since I haven’t heard differently, but don’t want to piss off their readers by saying so. And in the end they might be right.

    Even if every single DA reader decides to never buy another book again if everyone else pays a higher price the publishers could still make more money by selling fewer books. Good for them, I say. But if the authors truely think there’s going to be some sort of trickle down effect and they’ll share in the profits? I think they’re crazy. That’s assuming this move by the publishers is going to pay out, of course.

  9. Lori
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 11:49:40

    Mean girl extreme power activate is LOL!

  10. veinglory
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 11:56:44

    It seems to me that this blog recently had posts about how readers don’t care that much about piracy, it is an author issue. Fair enough, but you can’t have it both ways.

    Authors don’t get as worked up about these pricing issues. You can say we should, but we could say the same about piracy. There have been posts about it by authors making these same points (ditto delayed eformat releases etc), but just not as many or as strident as you might hope.

    Probably because, frankly, publishers don’t give a flying fig what authors think about this and we will still send them our manuscripts–pricing will only change due to consumer demand. Pricing is more of a reader issue that an author one. Such is life.

  11. GrowlyCub
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 12:20:41


    That may be as it may be. But it’s not readers trying to get authors to buy things, it’s the other way around.

    Never forget that pissing off your customer base, either by action or inaction, will bite you in the butt big time.

  12. Vic
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 12:47:24

    You are absolutely correct, you should never piss off the customer base. Savvy ebook readers already know what they are willing to pay for content. It’s the newbies that the industry is trying to sell the new price point to.

  13. Janine
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 13:17:06

    @GrowlyCub: I think authors are often in a tough spot. They can’t afford to offend publishers or readers. That’s why many keep silent, IMO.

  14. GrowlyCub
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 13:30:40


    I think what got my goat more than the keeping silent now was the smirking accolades for Macmillan after they ‘bested’ Amazon. While I by no means think that Amazon has any interest in anything but their own bottom line, the misguided glee and the opinions expressed that Macmillan is looking out for ‘us authors’ really made me question the reading ability and smarts of a large number of authors.

    And anybody can see that the authors are NOT the ones gaining from this agency model; if anybody is, and that’s still left to be seen, it’s Apple and possibly the pubs.

    Both readers and authors are getting screwed, certainly where April releases are concerned and quite possibly into the future. I have no doubt it’s hard to stand up to your publisher and say in public that their decision to go to bed with Apple was foolhardy, but at some point in time one needs to stop laying down to be trod upon, not because one is partisan with readers, but because one is looking out for oneself.

    Maybe authors don’t care whether or not their readers are happy with the price of their books, but they sure ought to because no sales means no money for them and surely authors care about whether or not they receive payment for their efforts.

    So anybody who tells me ‘I don’t care about your problems because you didn’t care enough about mine’ and at the same time wants me to give them money is gonna wait a very, very long time.

  15. GrowlyCub
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 13:37:53


    Definitely true with regard to establishing new price point with not-yet-adopters.

    But in the meantime they aren’t selling any books, because most people don’t have an ipad yet, you cannot buy the books via Apple unless you have one, and the other big retailer aka Amazon can’t sell the ebooks.

    I’d posit that pubs, authors, readers are all losing equally in this equation. Who profits? Nobody, except maybe Steve Jobs is getting a sick kick out of ruining things for the poor authors who have April releases. I’m not sure whether e- is large enough yet to totally derail a new or mid-list author’s career, but as somebody who doesn’t have a bookstore within an hour’s drive, if I can’t buy it in e- and not find it in my travels, chances are there will be lost sales.

    Wasn’t the Anderson disaster in April as well? I’m starting to think the publishing ghods don’t like you if your book is slotted for April.

  16. Janine
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 13:53:34


    I think what got my goat more than the keeping silent now was the smirking accolades for Macmillan after they ‘bested' Amazon.

    I missed that (sometimes I’m glad I miss these things). It seems short-sighted to say the least! I agree that authors and readers are both going to suffer as a result.

  17. Tabby
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 13:55:35

    “I have no doubt it's hard to stand up to your publisher and say in public that their decision to go to bed with Apple was foolhardy, but at some point in time one needs to stop laying down to be trod upon, not because one is partisan with readers, but because one is looking out for oneself.”

    I’m with you for the most part GrowlyCub but who are you to tell authors what they need to do? Seriously. Buy their books, don’t buy their books–heck, campaign so OTHER people don’t buy their books but that’s it. Your $8 doesn’t buy you a say in how they live their life or manage their careers. It’s not your job on the line. And like it or not a lot of smart people are behind this move by the publishers and think it’ll make more money for the industry in the long run so I think the downtrodden adjectives are a bit premature.

  18. GrowlyCub
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 14:03:30


    Perfectly correct, naturally… except for that part where we got taken to task earlier for not caring enough for authors’ concerns. If that’s a valid argument, then me requesting authors care about my concerns that also heavily impact whether or not they can make a living or even buy a spa day with their writing is equally valid.

    Authors want me to buy their books; while that doesn’t mean I have a right to tell them what to do, it does give me a right to comment on their public statements or lack thereof in matters that concern me as a consumer.

    Btw, ‘downtrodden’ and ‘trod upon’ are not the same thing.

  19. Mireya
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 14:20:41

  20. Has
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 14:27:48

    I agree with the views that both readers and authors are the ones who are getting screwed in this whole mess.
    But if the Agency pricing is so fantastic why hasn’t Random House one of the largest publishers which coincidently is ‘claiming’ backlist books that they dont have clear rights to, but they previously published. Although this is another matter but I suspect it will become more of an issue – they know ebooks are important in the future.

    Like Harlequin, Random House seem to ‘get’ and embrace ebooks, they haven’t signed up. I dont think smart people are behind this it’s CEOs who refuse to change the incoming tides of change that ebooks will hold a large percentage of sales in the future and they are trying to dictate and control the rights to distributing ebooks without understanding the full picture. They may get their way in the midterm.

    But after the fallout clears up and I hope there isn’t any losers but there will be, like independent e-tailers which means less competition and choice for us readers. But I think in the long term those publishers will soon learn to their detriment that going to bed with Steve Jobs is not a good thing – this is the CEO who brought Non DRMED MP3s and Itunes to the music industry and changed how music is sold, which may be a good thing if Jobs manages to do the same for ebooks.

    The Agency 5 haven’t learned from the mistakes of the Music industry but are making the same ole’ mistakes they made. And instead of embracing a new medium which they could profit on – authors and readers will have to face a lot of uncertainty in the next few months/years.

  21. Tabby
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 14:48:17

    Thanks for the link–it was nice to see an author thinking along the same lines as readers are.

    “But if the Agency pricing is so fantastic…”
    I don’t think it’s fantastic. I’ve said elsewhere screwing with ebook prices and release dates is going to lead to an increase in piracy and a decline for the whole industry. I also said in this thread that authors are crazy if they think they’ll share in the profits if the publishers manage to pull this off and actually make the money they’re hoping to.

    My opinion doesn’t give me the right to demand authors “stand up” to their publishers or threaten their own lively hood on the basis of my opinion though just because I’m a potential customer. That’s ridiculous.

  22. Michelle
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 15:31:03

    I think what they are saying is ridiculous is that authors are giving high fives to a decision that will earn them less money. So they are excited that they will be having less profit per book.

  23. Mireya
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 15:52:48

    Would it be possible that the lack of reaction from authors may be because many are not sure of how all this is going to affect them? The whole thing feels like a whirlwind from a reader’s perspective. I can only imagine how it must be from an author’s POV.

  24. Tabby
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 15:53:55

    “I think what they are saying is ridiculous is that authors are giving high fives to a decision that will earn them less money. So they are excited that they will be having less profit per book.”

    They might be saying that’s ridiculous too (and I agree) but what I’m saying is ridiculous was this portion of GrowlyCub’s post:

    “I have no doubt it's hard to stand up to your publisher and say in public that their decision to go to bed with Apple was foolhardy, but at some point in time one needs to stop laying down to be trod upon, not because one is partisan with readers, but because one is looking out for oneself.”

    Or do you agree? Maybe tomorrow you’d like to go into work and tell your boss the last change the company made was wrong AND you’re going to speak out about it publicly so no customers will want to buy what your company is selling?

    I’m all for standing up for what you believe in but don’t ask or expect someone else to risk their lively hood so you don’t have to pay a couple bucks more for that book you want to read. That’s a bit much, imo–even if you think it’s for their own good.

  25. Ridley
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 16:07:57

    It’s “livelihood.” One word, no y.

    Not playing gotcha, just saw you’ve done it twice and would like to know, like toilet paper on a shoe.

  26. Tabby
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 16:25:48

    lol Thanks, Ridley. I do appreciate it.

  27. Bonnie
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 16:25:55

    Yeah, here’s the thing:

    I don’t blame authors for not speaking out about this. It’s just too hot at the moment. And extremely uncertain for us all. Just like the music industry a few years ago.

    I have a Kindle and I am getting screwed. That’s life. I opted to buy the new technology, knowing full well how these things can pan out.

    Today it’s not working out for me. Tomorrow… we’ll see. And this is going to go on for quite some time, I imagine.

    It’s the risk you take when you buy into new technology.

  28. Maisey Yates
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 18:33:03

    I would like to purchase a D review. A touch of snark with a side of ‘she must have been on crack to write this’ with accompanying examples of text snippets (which I will provide) also, if you could make it just insulting enough that when I respond with grace it makes the commenters say ‘that Maisey Yates, such a class act!’ I would appreciate it.

    The check is in the mail.

  29. Vi
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 18:37:24

    Bravo ladies, on the joint venture! Well done fun!

  30. library addict
    Apr 01, 2010 @ 18:41:33

    That’s good news about Borders. At least their rewards program is still in place for print books :P

    As for Fictionwise, I guess I will just wait a few months to see how the agency 5 book availability shakes out. I am not very hopeful.

  31. SandyW
    Apr 02, 2010 @ 06:50:02

    The best part about the reviews? The lower the grade – the higher the price. Setting up an Etsy store was fabulous.

    I guess I don't really have a head for business; the Agency Model makes no sense to me. I have never understood the theory of selling fewer units at a jacked-up price. The only person I see making a profit here is Steve ‘people don't read books anymore' Jobs. I would imagine that we aren't hearing much from authors on this because most of them think of the publisher as their ally. If the publisher makes money, the authors make money, right? I'm just afraid that things may not work out that way.

  32. Christine Rimmer
    Apr 02, 2010 @ 08:13:01

    Speaking of price points, Harlequin’s answer in terms of non-ebooks is to keep making the books shorter so they don’t have to kill so many trees and the price point can stay the same. Then readers complain–understandably–that the books aren’t meaty enough. And, of course, ebooks have to be whatever length the paper book is. So ebook readers are asking “where’s the beef?” as well when it comes to series. I do get why Harlequin has made this decision, that readers probably want a more reasonable price most of all. But still…

    And Harlequin won’t give authors more than their usual mass market 6% on ebooks, claiming that they have high costs opening the ebook markets. But 6%??? ARgh. And a precedent is being set, so it will be all the harder later to say okay, the markets are opened. Can we please have a bigger bite of that apple now?

    All that to say, I think the ebook price SHOULD be lower to the reader. And the royalty higher to the author. But for some reason, no one is taking my sage advice.

  33. Kathleen D
    Apr 02, 2010 @ 10:52:23

    @Christine Rimmer: But Carina Press, which is HQ in digital clothes, is acting like a regular epublisher – i.e., no advance, larger royalty. And the books are going to be priced based on length.

    It’s a grand experiment for them, and I suspect reader behavior is going to have huge impact on HQ’s choices down the road.

    (Full disclosure: I sold a short novella to Carina and have a vested interest in that end of the experiment going well. ;))

  34. Maisey Yates
    Apr 02, 2010 @ 12:05:47

    Wanted to add that the category romances with Harlequin are short by design. They’re intended to be a quick, emotionally satisfying read. In fact I believe Presents is longer now than it was ten years or more ago.

    Also, Harlequin does have longer single titles.

  35. Christine Rimmer
    Apr 02, 2010 @ 12:07:27

    @Kathleen D: Will be very interesting to see how the Carina experiment pans out. My ebook sales get larger all the time–but they remain a fraction of mass market.

  36. Christine Rimmer
    Apr 02, 2010 @ 12:09:05

    @Maisy Yates: I didn’t know Presents was longer. I do know that Special Edition used to be 70-80K and now is 55-65k. That’s quite a cut in word count.

    In fact, the shorter word count in category is the reason RWA lumped them all together in a single category (excluding suspense and adventure) for the RITA. Now Desires and SSEs and Supers are all reasonably close in word count.

  37. Maisey Yates
    Apr 02, 2010 @ 12:14:24

    @Christine I definitely don’t know the past word count on past Presents for sure, but I have a decent stack of older presents that were a bit shorter, larger text.

    They’re 50-55K now. If anyone knows differently about previous word counts, I shall be happily corrected.

    But really, I can only speak for Presents on a lot of things, since that’s where I’m at. So I suppose I should have said ‘most’ categories. Presents is certainly the length it is by design.

  38. Christine Rimmer
    Apr 02, 2010 @ 12:55:48

    Maisey, not surprised when I hear someone is a big Presents fan. Presents are the bestselling line. I think Desire is second. And SSE third. It used to be that SSEs and Supers were considered the longer, “fuller” category reads. Not so much anymore, though they still have more focus on family and community than the sophisticated, International-flavored Presents and the hot, fast, hero-centered Desires. Interestingly the recent push by Harlequin to make Desires into a sort of “Presents, American-style” with hotter, more macho heroes and an insistence on external plot rather than angsty, more internalized conflicts has really worked out. Desire sales are much stronger than they were a couple of years ago.

  39. Maisey Yates
    Apr 02, 2010 @ 13:01:25

    @Christine I AM a Presents fan. But I write for them as well. :-) I’m just a newbie so my books aren’t released yet. Most of my focus has been in my own category, although I have a general knowledge of the others, just not of the history of each line.

    But I didn’t realize the Supers and SSE’s used to be SO much longer. That’s quite interesting. With Presents there isn’t much in the way of secondary characters (generalizing, of course).

  40. Christine Rimmer
    Apr 02, 2010 @ 15:42:54

    @Maisey, how exciting for you. And so nice to be in such a popular line. Here’s to much success.

    History, yep. I’ve got it. I’ve been writing for HS since…well, for a very long time.

  41. Maisey Yates
    Apr 02, 2010 @ 15:47:18

    @Christine Thanks! I’m very excited. First book is in the UK in August. I’m having a blast with it. :-)

  42. XandraG
    Apr 03, 2010 @ 20:41:38

    Disclaimer: I am, and will remain, unimpressed by the iPad, and Cory Doctorow knows why. If you’re looking to get rid of the PITA DRM in your reading life, Steve Jobs is not your savior.

    I can understand why most authors won’t or can’t speak out against the publisher actions in ebook pricing and release dates. Every author has a different contract with their publisher. Publisher actions rarely affect all authors equally across the board, nor do they affect each author with the same consequences. At the time of the Macmillan/Amazon showdown, there was an excellent case made in favor of Macmillan being the lesser of two evils because of the sheer enormity of the power grab attempted by Amazon.

    Of course we want you to buy our books, and of course we want those books to be available to you to buy at a reasonable price, a reasonable fraction of which returns to us after all the middle men. But we also want you to continue to be able to buy our books in a way that allows us to see some of the money you spent in the future, and that ability rests on the way our rights are managed and granted.

    It’s a scary time to be an author right now. One of the staples of author livelihood, the advance, seems to be fading away. The tiny percentages most authors get as royalties have been all but ironclad up to now, and while it may not have been much, it was a stable not-much. The epublishing model has shown that can change, and digital royalties from print publishers are in a flux state, where the solid payoff now has a serious likelihood of biting an author in the butt later, and the times are changing so quickly that what seems like a minor concession at contract turns out to be a major giveaway by the time release rolls around.

    No, I don’t blame authors for not speaking up and speaking out loud and long–most of us just don’t know how this will all turn out. We have even less of an idea how it will affect us personally. Delayed ebooks might mean a hardcover author sees more hardcover sales, and that’s great for him/her. But another author might lose more if his or her books are only in mmpb or trade. Not so great for author B. Author C might have a large online following, while Author D might be a nonentity on the internets.

    For authors, publishers, and yes, readers, too, it’s like playing roulette. Blindfolded. On a table whose numbers change randomly while the wheel is spinning.

  43. Article | Sony Reader store and US only titles :( « Pisces Muse
    Apr 07, 2010 @ 19:54:09

    […]  I just found this blog link:…Which to me suggests that this is more publisher based than reader based.  However, why they are […]

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