Thursday Midday Links: Stanza Not Dead, Reviewer Sued for Defamation, Amazon Acquires TTS Firm
In the UK, a self published author is suing a reviewer for panning his book.
Chris McGrath, an online entrepreneur from Milton Keynes, who wrote and self-published a little-known book entitled The Attempted Murder of God: Hidden Science You Really Need to Know, has launched libel proceedings against Vaughan Jones, 28.
He claims Mr Jones wrote damning reviews of is book on Amazon September and October 2010, which he had published under the pseudonym “Scrooby.” Mr Jones also revealed his true identity.
The suit is for defamation rather than invasion of privacy (i.e., revealing the author’s true identity).
Awesome news, guys, Stanza is NOT dead. Apparently, a month after Apple’s iOS update, Amazon has gotten around to releasing a Stanza update so it now works just fine on your iOS devices.
Amazon has acquired YAP, a speech transcription software company. The co founder of YAP helped develop the speech engine that drives Nuance (which drives Siri) One columnist suggests that means that there will be speech enabled books in the future for Kindle users. AllThingsD points out that it can facilitate shopping by voice.
A number of authors really hate the format production process at Smashwords known as the meatgrinder, particularly those authors who go to great lengths to produce a beautifully rendered ePub. In response to those complaints, Smashwords will begin to accept other ebook formats, other than DOC, in 2012.
This is good for readers because the meatgrinder doesn’t always produce well formatted ebooks.
A couple of weeks ago, I saw the debacle on Courtney Milan’s blog where she suggested the language used by Barry Eisler and J A Konrath in support of their opinions regarding authors in publishing was incendiary. Shortly after this, a reader emailed me with a link to Konrath’s blog, a link to a YouTube video, and a link to Amazon.
Konrath and Eisler have co written a book called “Be the Monkey” that is sold at Amazon. “Be the Monkey” title is based on this very graphic video of a monkey orally and anally raping a frog. (Trigger warnings here for those who are sensitive to sexual abuse).
I objected to two white, wealthy men (based on their proclamations of earnings) encouraging people using a metaphor about power through sexual dominance and the binary choice of be the rapist v. be the rapee. “Be the Monkey,” I divined, was a metaphor based on the video of the monkey exerting his dominance over the frog. Konrath took exception to this:
@jane_l We compared publishing to two animals. Two animals are NOT in any way equal to humans being violated and abused.
I pointed out it was a metaphor but Konrath came back and said it was an analogy about monkeys and frogs, nothing more:
jakonrath We linked to a monkey and a frog. The anology begins and ends with a monkey and a frog. Don’t read more into it.
How can I not? Isn’t that the purpose of linking the video with the book and writing a blog post about it? And how can an analogy using monkeys and frogs actually only be about monkeys and frogs? Isn’t an analogy or a metaphor all about using literal terms to express more abstract concepts like, say, power?
Konrath claimed that I should be ashamed of drawing that conclusion from the
jakonrath Sorry, I respect women too much to compare them to frogs. Rape shouldn’t be trivialized like that.
I pointed out that he, himself, applied the frog metaphor to his own marriage:
Barry: Yes! I mean, which of the networks would have broadcast that monkey raping a helpless bullfrog?
Joe: It wasn’t rape. It was consensual.
Barry: I don’t know. I don’t think the frog was conscious. I’m not sure it was even alive.
Barry: After the first five minutes, I mean.
Joe: I’m married. I see this all the time. The frog was conscious. Just not very active.
Konrath replied that I should “Read it again, and try to lighten up.”
But there are far too many rape oriented insults on the internet. Witness the rape language that female gamers suffer regularly and the entire Dickwolf scandal by the Penny Arcade or Laurie Penny’s piece at the Independent about how having an opinion on the internet is akin to wearing a mini skirt or the MMA fighter who tweeted that “Rape is the new missionary.”
The message regarding choice as it relates to publishing, whether one self publishes or traditionally publishes or goes with a digital publisher or does a coop or a mixture of any type of publishing, does not need to rest on rape metaphors. And publishing isn’t a binary choice of being the Frog (the rapee) or the Monkey (the rapist). I’m pointing this out because I’ve quoted Konrath here before with approval. I’ve posted blog posts by Barry Eisler here, with approval. Had I known that these metaphors were being pushed by both as early as May of 2011, I probably wouldn’t have. I’m not sure. I’m regretful today and maybe it is due to my oversensitive and humorless nature.
Globe and Mail has an infographic about book sales and publisher margins. The margin of profit for publishers is declining with digital books, according to the infographic from $8 to $4.24. I’m not certain I believe this infographic. I still remember Michael Hyatt indicating that at $9.99 and under the Agency model where publishers get 70% instead of the wholesale 50%, publishers’ margins weren’t decreasing dramatically. And then there’s the statement from Hachette (read the last piece)
Hachette’s sales are down 8% in the U.S.
The decline at the U.S. Hachette Book Group division was attributed to increased sales of lower-priced e-books and the impact of the Borders bankruptcy. E-books accounted for 21% of HBG’s revenue through the first nine months of the year, compared to 9% in the same period in 2010.
Lagardere said while higher e-book sales contributed to lower revenue, they provide a higher margin, although the company provided no earnings in the quarterly trading update.
Via Publisher’s Weekly.