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Thursday Midday Links: Steve Jobs Passed Away

This should be Apple's new logo. Dope. #SteveJobs on Twitpic

I don’t have any beautiful eulogy to give Jobs and it’s not that I don’t believe that he deserves a beautiful eulogy. He does.  He transformed our collective lives. But I have neither the connection nor the knowledge from which to give voice to a remembrance.  I’ve read several and these are few I thought were amazing:

*****
Tim Cook gave the keynote address on Wednesday of the new iPhone 4S.  Sadly it was uninteresting to most although Apple probably had more important things on its plate.  There was an empty, front row reserved seat at the keynote. It’s faster and it has a digital assistant called Siri.  Siri can set your alarm, make appointments, find restaurants close to you.  Unfortunately, Siri has a woman’s voice.  Maybe that will change in the future and people can choose the sound of the voice.  Assistants aren’t always women.
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There have been a couple important copyright decisions of late:
  • UCLA won the right to stream DVDs to its students without permission of the original copyright owners.  The judge in the case also appeared to hold (although without explicitly reasoning) that anticircumvention of DRM is appropriate if you had a legitimate purchase of the item such as ripping the DVD that you purchased.  Via Ars Technica.
  • Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of a software company that sued to prevent the resale of software.  The software company asserted that software purchase was a license and not a transfer of ownership but the lower appellate court ruled in favor of the consumer and allowed the resale of the software.  Vernor v. Autodesk, Inc., 10- 1421.
  • Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of music artists who wanted to be paid a performance fee everytime someone downloaded a song.  The lower appellate court ruled that the download was not a public performance and the artists were not entitled to a performance fee.   A download is considered a reproduction rather than a public performance according to the lower court.  ASCAP v. United States, No. 10-1337
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Romantic Times reported on the  US Publishers Marketplace semi-annual look at the reported publishing deals. As with all data compilations about publishing, the deal marketplace reports are incomplete. Many authors don’t report their deals, particularly the biggest names.  However, according to the report, publishers are buying more and spending more than they did in previous years.
Statistics are showing that out of the seven most popular sub-categories, only mystery and crime book sales have been increasing. Categories including debut novels and general fiction have held steady. Romance, women’s fiction, science fiction and fantasy have had a slight decline. But the real news — sales for thrillers and inspirational novels have decreased sharply which means there will be fewer of these types of novels on the bookshelves in the upcoming years.
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Vook, an enhanced ebook production company, will no longer be selling content. Instead it is looking to license a digital publishing platform.  In January of this year, Vook announced it had raised over $5 million in investment capital.
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I’m still trying to wrap my head around this business venture.  Perseus announced that it has created a self publishing distribution platform called Argo Navis. It will only work with agented authors.  The author will receive 70% of the proceeds of each book whereas the distributor keeps 30% of the net.  For this fee, Perseus will distribute your ebook to Amazon, BN, Google, Kobo, Sony and Apple.
In an effort to solve the problem of how to help readers discover e-books without print counterparts on tables in bookstores, Argo Navis will provide basic marketing services, like placing product pages on retailer Web sites. It will also make more extensive marketing services available for a fee.

Seriously?  Basic marketing services is getting a product page on a retailer web site?  Isn’t that what happens as a result of uploading the content?  Publishers Marketplace ran the numbers and said the following (reg required):

That means an author publishing via Argo Navis with a title priced between $2.99 and $9.99 would gross just half of the roughly 70 percent proceeds they would get directly from Amazon (and 65 percent proceeds from B&N). The math is simple: Perseus pays 70 percent of 50 percent (the wholesale price) — which equals 35 percent.

At 35% off the cover, an author, particularly a genre author, would be better off going with Samhain or some other established digital publisher.

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Audible is hiring some major stars to narrate some big books. I think this is a great move.  I’ve been enjoying the heck out of the Richard Armitage narrated Heyer books Sarah Wendell recommended.

Actors lending their narrative pipes will include Kim Basinger for “The Awakening,” Anne Hathaway for “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” Samuel L. Jackson for “A Rage in Harlem,” and Nicole Kidman for “To the Lighthouse.” Others slated to perform include Annette Bening, Jennifer Connelly, Colin Firth, Dustin Hoffman, Meg Ryan, Susan Sarandon, Naomi Watts and Kate Winslet.

I love Susan Sarandon’s voice.  I’d buy any book just to listen to her.

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Reviewers make mistakes. We do it all the time. The more books you review, the more mistakes you’ll make.  Harriet Klausner has written in one a gem for Meljean Brook’s Heart of Steel:

Mercenary Lady Corsair airship Captain Yasmeen leads her crew to Fladstrand, Denmark. Their arrival frightens much of the townsfolk as the lady Corsair has a merciless reputation. She is here to meet with author Zenobia Fox to inform her she killed her brother treasure hunter Archimedes Fox by dumping him into a Venice canal amidst zombies for his concealing who his late sire was.

…..

The latest Iron Seas steampunk thriller (see The Iron Duke) is a great tale starring two fascinating protagonists in what may be the strangest courtship in years. The story line is filled with action as the Heart of Steel and the roguish treasure hunter make for an endearing couple. Fans who relish something different in their novels will want to read Meljean Brooks’ Yasmeen and Zenobia’s excellent adventure.

No, readers, the romance is not between Yasmeen and Zenobia.

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

20 Comments

  1. MaryK
    Oct 06, 2011 @ 12:25:29

    And Archimedes isn’t killed, right? Yeesh, that could tick off some Archimedes fans if they think Brook wrote him out of the series. I hope there are lots of reviews pointing out the error.

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  2. anna
    Oct 06, 2011 @ 12:43:56

    I just wish she’d stop reviewing. Every time a see her name attached to a book blurb, or a review on an author’s website, I lose respect for the author.

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  3. DS
    Oct 06, 2011 @ 13:01:20

    Re: Vook, I was looking around the other day to see if enhanced ebooks were any more available than before. I haven’t actually read one, but I had been reading magazines on my android tablet and thought it might be interesting to try an enhanced ebook just to see– The only one that seemed to have much publicity was Pillars of the Earth and I did not think I could force myself to read it again– the enhanced part seemed to be clips from the mini-series.

    Stars doing audiobooks: I love audiobooks, which is why I drag them into conversations as much as possible, but my pleasure in a book turns as much on the reader/narrator’s skill with voices as the text. Phil Rickman’s Merrily Watkins books wouldn’t be same to me without Emma Powell’s voice. And I accidentally bought an abridged version of His Majesty’s Dragon read by David Thorn who nailed the period/feel so well that when I did get the chance to hear the unabridged version (Simon Vance who I generally like a lot) I thought it quite lackluster.

    Then there was the person (can’t remember her name) who narrated one of Karin Slaughter’s novels using for the voices an accent that was far more eastern Kentucky than Georgia. Put me quite off the book.

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  4. Brian
    Oct 06, 2011 @ 13:24:30

    I listen to audiobooks while working most days so I’ve heard a lot of them. The narrator can really make or break the book no matter how good the story itself is, this includes books I’ve listened to that were narrated by big names. Do we know if thw Audible stuff will be unabridged? I hope so and AFAIK they haven’t done any abridged stuff (that they’ve produced) yet, but a lot of the audiobooks narrated by “stars” tend to be abridged (which is usually pointless).

    On a side note I’m kind of liking the narrator Audible got for Unveiled and Unclaimed by Courtney Milan. (Rebecca De Leeuw narrates both despite what Audible’s site says)

    ————————–

    Argo Navis sounds like a non-starter to me unless there’s more to it.

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  5. Danielle D
    Oct 06, 2011 @ 14:01:50

    RIP Steve!

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  6. Janet P.
    Oct 06, 2011 @ 14:35:37

    Steve and Harriet. One who was a true visionary, who stood for excellence and who literally changed the world.

    And the other who is …. a total fraud.

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  7. Joy
    Oct 06, 2011 @ 14:49:16

    I doubt Klausner reads the majority of books she “reviews.” Perhaps she skims them or does them from blurbs. The only thing that keeps me from thinking she’s a bot is that I’ve actually seen her picture. Because she never says anything negative about a book, her reviews are worthless.

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  8. Klio
    Oct 06, 2011 @ 15:08:53

    Sad to hear about Steve Jobs. I lost my father to cancer when he was only a little bit younger. I heard this poem on the radio this morning from the new Nobel laureate poet and it was very moving under the circumstances. I hope you don’t mind if I quote it, in lieu of Jane posting a eulogy. I never know if I’m interpreting a poem “the right away,” but the last line was particularly striking.

    AFTER A DEATH
    by Tomas Tranströmer (tr. by Robert Bly)

    Once there was a shock
    that left behind a long, shimmering comet tail.
    It keeps us inside. It makes the TV pictures snowy.
    It settles in cold drops on the telephone wires.

    One can still go slowly on skis in the winter sun
    through brush where a few leaves hang on.
    They resemble pages torn from old telephone directories.
    Names swallowed by the cold.

    It is still beautiful to feel the heart beat
    but often the shadow seems more real than the body.
    The samurai looks insignificant
    beside his armour of black dragon scales.

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  9. DS
    Oct 06, 2011 @ 16:08:08

    Dean Wesley Smith has a post about what he calls rescue companies because he believes that agents who want to be publishers will need rescue because the agents won’t have the expertise or personnel to handle all of the things that need to be done to put their client’s ebooks online. He also does the math although I don’t know if it comes out the same as that behind the pay wall.

    Look about half way down the page here: http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/ under “The Math Again”.

    He makes it sound like a very bad deal indeed.

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  10. JenM
    Oct 06, 2011 @ 16:29:03

    We are in mourning at my house today. Love Apple or hate it, I think everyone can agree that Steve Jobs was one of the most influential visionaries of the computer age.

    RIP Steve.

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  11. SHZ
    Oct 06, 2011 @ 21:16:22

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  12. Cara
    Oct 07, 2011 @ 00:25:42

    Gah – will someone please get Jeff Bridges to read EVERYTHING for me? LOL seriously, though – I’d definitely listen to Susan Sarandon, Colin Firth, or Samuel L. Jackson. And I don’t really “do” audiobooks. But Jeff Bridges… mmmmm.

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  13. Stumbling Over Chaos :: Linkity leaves you in the lurch as SOC prepares for reduced services during vacation
    Oct 07, 2011 @ 05:44:04

    [...] Publishing news from Dear Author. [...]

  14. Tamara Hogan
    Oct 07, 2011 @ 06:58:45

    When I heard that Steve Jobs had died, I found myself…unexpectedly verklempt. His contributions to the personal computing field cannot be overstated. Heck, the field didn’t EXIST before he, Woz and Bill G. started tinkering in their garages, imagining ways to make computers portable, to bring technology to the individual. (I am old enough to remember having to go to the computer room – and it took up the whole freaking room – to word process a paper while I was in college.) During my adulthood, computers have gone from taking up whole rooms, to being sized to the desktop (huge jump in convenience and productivity) then down to the sexy gadget that can be carried in a purse or pocket. Like President Obama said in his remembrance, “…there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented.” This week, humanity lost a visionary, one of its towering intellects. And I am sad.

    Peace and light, Steve.

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  15. SAO
    Oct 07, 2011 @ 10:09:14

    I don’t much care about the voice, but could people make audiobooks shorter? Does it really take 20 hours to say what I can read in 3?

    And if the book is longer than 30 minutes, it needs separate tracks “Songs” for each chapter. My phone is designed for songs and it assumes you want to fast forward a few minutes, not several hours.

    I’ve given up on audiobooks a few hours in because they were so unmanageable.

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  16. MaryK
    Oct 07, 2011 @ 10:25:00

    @SAO: LOL Some of us listen to audiobooks to fill time while commuting or doing boring tasks so, in those cases, shorter isn’t always better. :)

    I’m fairly picky about narrators because my brain doesn’t process spoken language as well as it does written language. I need a narrator who can perform the text to some extent and definitely one who differentiates voices.

    My favorite ever audio performance is Lloyd James reading Bujold’s Curse of Chalion.

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  17. Elizabeth56
    Oct 07, 2011 @ 11:32:16

    Like MaryK, the narrator can make or break a great book. I usually buy the unabridged books on Audible, so the good ones last. It’ll be interesting to see how well these actors can do, if (as it sounds) they are narrating the whole book — all those different voices.

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  18. Klio
    Oct 07, 2011 @ 15:42:44

    The most pleasant surprise I had in audiobooks was a collection of short stories read by Roddy McDowall, Nana Visitor, Alexander Siddig, and Wil Wheaton. All of them were sterling narrators, but Wil Wheaton was actually the best. He brought a lot of life and energy to it. I wish I could remember the collection; but Roddy McDowall read “Fat Farm,” and Wil Wheaton’s was “Why I Left Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers.” I’ve gone back and listened to his reading several times on trips. Not surprisingly, the collection is all science fiction.

    The worst narration was Brendan Fraser reading a book the Inkspell series. He decided that one character, the brother of one of the protagonists (who I think was given a Scottish accent of some sort), should be read with a modern, “ghetto,” “urban” accent, in spite of the High Fantasy mediaeval setting, because the character is darkskinned, so…

    It destroyed the book for me, and since then, even though I still love them, I’ve been very cautious about audiobooks.

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  19. DeeCee
    Oct 07, 2011 @ 19:59:25

    Re: Audiobooks
    Narration is key. Patrick Lawlor (think that’s his name) read the Brockmann books and I could listen to him do all the male voices forever. Ditto for Phil Gigante doing Moning’s highlanders.

    @ DS
    The woman that did Slaughter’s narration drove me batshit crazy. I loved Slaughter’s Blindsighted and Kisscut but the woman’s accent was intolerable.

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  20. jeayci
    Oct 10, 2011 @ 00:58:06

    @SAO: yup, I think that’s the biggest reason I’ve never been able to get into audio books!

    Definitely not an Apple fan, but appreciate Jobs’ contributions to technology. RIP, Steve.

    ReplyReply

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