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Thursday News: Google Street View is Antarctica; eBooks Dominant Single...

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Set up: Conservative journalist spots Senator Sherrod Brown hugging a journalist. He smells scandal. Sends an email to the journalist. Her response is above.  Best email of the week.

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

51 Comments

  1. Nadia Lee
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 04:19:57

    But we want to enhance the novels by adding the ‘missing’ scenes for readers to enjoy.

    “Enhance”? Really? I don’t see how Sherlock having sex w/ Watson can add anything to the original Sherlock Holmes stories.

    It’s just like what a commenter on HP said: Imagine someone splicing some dubstep into a Beethoven symphony in order to make it more current.

    ABSURD.

    BTW — it’s wrong to call what this publisher is doing “The 50 Shades of Grey Effect.” EL James didn’t take some classics, add a few sex scenes and hit it big.

  2. Dani Alexander
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 04:23:26

    Did you read the comments on that Shultz/Brown story? I spit my coffee out at this one: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/2faced/sherrod-brown-wife-blogger_n_1681169_169701325.html

  3. library addict
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 05:27:37

    The Antarctica view looks fun.

    I’m not a fan of the idea of spicing up the classics. Then again I didn’t get the attraction of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies either. Or any of the other Austen reworkings.

  4. Ros
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 05:39:22

    I read the extracts of the spiced up classics and it made me feel nauseous. It’s really, really unpleasant, not to mention outrageously arrogant, to suggest that these truly great books need any kind of ‘enhancement’. But to suggest that what they need are a few common or garden sex scenes is beyond arrogant into deluded. And then putting both authors names as equals on the front cover. Ugh, ugh, ugh.

  5. Jess
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 05:53:08

    On the additions to classic novels: Before reading the blurb I thought it sounded neat, but I should probably explain why. See, I was thinking someone had discovered additional scenes written by the actual authors that they were told to leave out if they wanted publication. Now that would be kind of awesome! This is, well, let’s put it this way…I’m not the biggest fan of classics mostly because I don’t relate at all to those older values and belief systems and the language seems too flowery, but this isn’t going to make the reading experience better either.

    On e-book sales: I’m not surprised. While I can’t speak for everyone else’s reasons for buying e-books, I can tell you that I like the instant gratification of buying a book and seeing it on the e-reader a minute (or less!) later.

  6. Lil
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 06:08:55

    Spicing up the classics? That seems just…tacky.

  7. Ashley
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 06:12:48

    I don’t like the added sexy scenes to classic novels either. The original writers can’t object and they’re all in the public domain so there’s nothing legally wrong with it. But like Lil, I think it’s just tacky. It reminds me of this Sherlock Holmes book I saw yesterday. They slapped a BBC Sherlock cover on it and the name of one of the show’s writers, who only wrote an introduction, is bigger than Doyle’s. http://instagram.com/p/NOyBSoN4r9/. Just tacky.

  8. Jayne
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 06:21:10

    Claire Siemaszkiewicz, founder of Total-E-Bound Publishing, which is releasing the titles from 30 July in digital format, said: “We’re not rewriting the classics. …”

    The hell you’re not.

  9. Noelle
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 06:26:46

    I shouldn’t have read about the “spiced up” classics so early in the morning. Now I’m going to be stewing about it all day.

    As Nadia said above, it’s not at all like 50 Shades of Gray. It’s more like someone republished Twilight exactly as it was originally written, except every few chapters they added long, clunky scenes where Edward, Bella, and Jacob stop what they’re doing to perform an enthusiastic Irish jig. That’s how appallingly arrogant and artistically ludicrous this idea is–not to mention how troubling it is to blithely ignore these authors’ original expression of meaning.

    I can’t help but wonder who they think the audience for these things will be, except people checking them out merely from curiosity.

  10. Meri
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 06:50:48

    If I wanted to read sexed up classics, I’d hit the relevant fanfic/slash online. Why would anyone think this is something that should be published?

    As a positive, at least there won’t be any tampon sex scenes in any of these.

  11. Sheryl Nantus
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 07:13:05

    I’m not impressed with Total-E-Bound Publishing. Not. At. All.

    In the first place the Sherlock Holmes series isn’t about SEX, it’s about MYSTERY. I never read them and thought “Hey, why isn’t there wild monkey sex with Watson?”.

    In the second place it’s definitely insinuated that Holmes is in love with Irene Adler – but if the original author didn’t feel that it needed more than a mention then I’m going to agree with him. And I’m not looking forward to having some hack bash out sex scenes and slap them in because suppposedly there’s a demand for it and destroy the classics for a few pennies.

    This is nothing but a cheap and tacky way to make sales. As mentioned before I can go find fanfiction if I need this fix.

    They’d be better off spending money publishing original works than this. Not that I’d heard of Total-E-Bound Publishing before hand but I’ll be avoiding them like the plague in the future.

  12. DS
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 07:18:40

    Fantasy sex scenes from classic works have a place– fan fiction. And is this where at least the Sherlock Holmes sex scenes came from? Maybe Mrs. Hudson can join them in a menage? Or Irene Adler.

    This really makes me fume. I agree, while legal it just ain’t right.

  13. Renda
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 07:30:09

    I had friends that pooh-poohed my gloom and doom attitude about the “Greying” of America. They laughed at me when I said, you will, see, everything written for the next 10 years will have a BDSM tinge. Well, I guess they were right. I should have gone back in time instead because I was assuming someone would at least craft prose to set around the “Greying.” They couldn’t leave it alone with vampires and zombie killers.
    Next we will find out what really went on in the 100 Acre Woods and we will find out what happens when you “give a dom a whip.” Ohh, color me miffed.

  14. Lynnd
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 07:30:32

    Jane, thanks for that Google Earth Antartica link.

    As for adding sex scenes to the classics – just no.

  15. Jane Davitt
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 07:31:57

    I saw the release about the Clandestine Classics yesterday (I have some short stories with the publisher so I’m on their mailing list) and was horrified. I read P and P with Z and found it amusing, but there was a certain feeling of wrongness even then and when the flood of similar books arrived, I’d had enough.

    This is worse. I can’t articulate why, but it is. I think perhaps because this is being done with the intention of producing a genuine erotic romance rather than an obvious spoof. Write your own from scratch!

    How much new material is the reader paying for? Is the whole text of the original in there or at least large chunks of it? I’m guessing so.

    Meh. Tacky indeed and I feel guilty that I contributed in even a small way to the trend with that purchase of the zombie book.

    I have no problem with fanfic based on the classics. That rarely uses any of the original text – maybe a famous line here or there to anchor it – and builds upon the original to produce something new, and provide a fresh POV.

    This is more like leeching off it. A parasitical growth.

  16. PatF
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 07:54:59

    Tacky is the word. Ugh!

  17. Lori
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 08:10:32

    So if all it needs is a public domain work, some kinky sex and a willingness to be vilifiled to make scads of cash then I’m all over this.

    My next opus: Thirty Pieces of Silver.

    I thought of it first, bitches.

  18. Violetta Vane
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 08:10:56

    Count me in the minority here. I like the idea, and I might buy the gay Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea one. I’d rather have people adding sex to old books than adding violence. And if I ever get dead and famous, feel free to do it to me! Although people would probably be taking sex scenes out, not putting them in :D

  19. Dani Alexander
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 08:26:25

    @Violetta Vane: makes two of us in the minority then. I am all into this.

  20. Brie
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 08:28:14

    Ugh, even E! picked up the story. http://www.eonline.com/news/331358/Fifty-Shades-of-Sexy-Jane-Eyre-and-Sherlock-Holmes-Getting-Raunchy-New-Twist

    Those books are going to be a success, aren’t they? It may be legal, but it sure ain’t right.

  21. Isabel C.
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 08:35:50

    I have mixed feelings about the sexualized books: the basic concept is no skin off my nose, and I’ve enjoyed it both in fanfic and in books like Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife . But I think they really should draw a clearer distinction between the books with added sex and the originals: the model as described seems weird and deceptive.

  22. LG
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 08:39:25

    I read P&P&Z and, for the most part, enjoyed it. There were times when the attempts to integrate the zombies with the original story didn’t work so well (why did no one notice Charlotte turning into a zombie?), but I still had fun reading it. It didn’t prompt me to read all the other mashups, though, and I had thought that trend had exhausted itself. I’m not even going to touch the Clandestine Classics – adding sex to classic novels isn’t remotely appealing to me. I think the ones that bother me the most are the ones that didn’t even have strong romantic storylines in the first place. Adding sex to those seems to me to be to be along the lines of porn videos based on popular works.

  23. Tina
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 09:38:36

    I know it seems bleak now, but I think the ‘greying’ of America will spike or peak or whatever and then decline so that something else will come along and whip the book-reading world into a frenzy.

    While I think piggy-backing is normal in anything (tv shows, movies, books) the original ‘thing’ is that which captures the people. The imitators may benefit in the short term but they don’t really grab the moment like the original ‘thing’ did.

    It is like Twilight. In the wake of it, i began to notice a lot of YA books that copied the colors and composition of the cover and tried to recreate the dark angsty-ness of it. But none of them began to even approach the success of Twilight because no matter how much they were like Twilight they simply weren’t Twilight. And the fact of the matter is, it was such a massive break-out success not because people who normally read and buy books read them, it is because people who don’t normally read or buy books read them. I think this is the same kinda of thing that happened with The Da Vinci Code — remember all those copy-cat books that came out in it’s aftermath?

    And I honestly think this is the same deal with 50 Shades. Completely, anecdotal ( and a super tiny data set) — but all 10 of the women in my office have read 50 Shades. None of them are what I would call habitual readers. The last time most of them read a book was …wait for it….Twilight. One of them is also reading A Game of Thrones. But that is it. I also don’t see them running out to get ‘Bared to You.’

    So while 50 will probably pique the interest of some non-readers enough that they may seek out and look for more books like it, I think the lion’s share of those non-readers will fade back into their normal non-reading and wait for the next big thing.

    I think once people start to notice that nothing is going to match or even approach the success of 50, the offerings will dry up.

  24. ancientpeas
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 09:43:52

    I’m not for adding sex to classic books. I’m oldfashioned and think that books should stay the same as the author intended. Just like I’m not for the rewriting of Mary Poppins or Tom Sawyer.

    However, I do think the first time a grade 12 english teacher comes accross an student book review of, say, Wuthering Heights and the student extols the virtues of the sex scenes it could be comedy gold.

  25. Meljean
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 09:57:16

    Total-E-Bound is behind the times for P&P and Wuthering Heights, at least; they both already have a “Wild & Wanton” edition that I remember seeing on the shelves at my local B&N — an author simply inserted the sexy bits in the midst of the original text (in bold text, even, so it’s easy to skim to those parts).

    The P&P version is here at Amazon and the Wuthering Heights version is here (and both are free to Prime readers, apparently.)

  26. Anonywriter
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 10:13:17

    I’ve published with TEB, and I am beyond embarrassed by this. Yes, they’re going to be a success. But they’re going to be a success the way a train wreck might be considered a good example of vehicles smashing together. It’s just…nightmarish. The excerpts are horrendous, and the sheer arrogance of the writers involved! What sort of person thinks they can match Jane Austen, seriously-not like a joke, like P&P&Z? The character arcs have to be horribly mangled to make it work, too-see the Jane Eyre excerpt. “I need freedom…after you’ve roughly dominated me, of course!”

    What? What?

    Sorry. Had to get that off my chest. Not all authors at TEB are happy about this by any stretch of the imagination.

  27. Gillyweed
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 10:31:44

    I’m in the minority here as well. I’m an art history person and art has a fascinating tradition of emulation, manipulation, and outright copying. In theory, I think this is a neat idea.

    I did read the excerpt from Jane Eyre w/ bondage and thought the new writing was anachronistic and slightly ridiculous. Sigh. But I don’t think this is a violation of the author any more than Andy Warhol violated Jackson Pollack or Manet violated Titian and Georgione.

  28. Danielle
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 10:48:48

    Well, pornographising classics has to be one of the laziest ways ever of earning notoriety. And here I thought bowdlerising texts like The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer was idiotic.

  29. Gillyweed
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 10:51:57

    Er, I meant Pollock. *blushes

  30. Tamara
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 11:09:53

    Total-E-Bound Publishing’s plan to vandalize the classics is graceless, disrespectful, and as despicable as slapping vinyl siding on a hundred-year-old house. It’s worse than publishing fan fiction (and I wasn’t sure if publishers could stoop much lower.)

    A while back, there was an article in the WSJ advocating removing archaic words in old novels and replacing them with the modern equivalent. Is the United States so devoid of a sense of history, so lazy and apathetic that this is acceptable? I want to maintain a sense of optimism about this country, but it’s difficult when small but incredibly discouraging incidents like this keep happening over and over.

    These books are a reflection of their times. Their authors spent long hours over them, *crafting* them, creating works of lasting beauty and appeal. To alter and republish them in this fashion (or any fashion) is not only a blow to the authors’ legacy but a total disregard of the books’ quality and historical value.

    It’s an act of disgraceful destruction. Total-E-Bound is not worthy of the term “publisher.” They should be ashamed of themselves.

  31. Jane
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 11:10:48

    @Tamara: Total E Bound is a British publisher.

  32. Kelly
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 11:16:47

    @Dani Alexander and @Violetta Vane:

    I cringed when I saw the headlines, but then I saw that Marie Sexton is one of the authors and now I’m all wishy-washy about it.

    I read a free P&P spinoff that went on and on about Darcy’s pre-Lizzie mistresses. NO THANK YOU.

  33. Tamara
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 11:24:14

    @Jane:

    Thank you, Jane. I didn’t realize that.

    Let me rephrase, then. It’s not just the United States going to hell. It’s apparently the whole world.

  34. Sirius
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 11:36:28

    Kelly – Marie Sexton only published two books (I think) with this publisher – hope she won’t anymore ( her business obviously, I am just expressing my wish) because I completely avoid this publisher otherwise. Her books though is a must buy for me no matter what publisher she is working with.

    Hate the idea of sexing up classics absolutely hate it . I liked Sherlock Holmes slash – some of it anyway, but no books are not about sex. You know what the main reason is though? I genuinely love some classics I grew up with – Russians mostly and honestly believe that I can count on the fingers of my two hands the writers whose talent comes anywhere close to say the genius I consider Leo Tolstoy to be. No, you cannot write better than he did ( whoever will decide to sex up War and Peace for example), and all I will think of you ( generic you) and your publisher is how dare you touch the masterpiece you arrogant twits. Anyway, I love fanfiction and will certainly read one and read a lot and some were classics fanfiction. If for any unfathomable reason I will decide that I want to read sex between Natasha Rostova and Andrey for example. To stress – I am only talking about my tastes and there are classics I hate too, obviously there is a demand for that if they decided to do that. But I have this attitude – do nor touch the masterpiece which as far as I am concerned you will never make better. Sorry for the rant, again I am ranting against the idea, not saying that it should not be done for people who love it. Just expressing how I feel about it.

  35. Brie
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 12:13:20

    @Sirius: there’s a third one: http://www.total-e-bound.com/product.asp?P_ID=1759 And now I feel sad because I love Ms. Sexton’s work and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea was my grandfather’s favorite book, so it’s an extra special book to me. This is wrong. Why not write a retelling? Just leave the classics as they are.

  36. Sirius
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 12:20:38

    @Brie: Thanks. I love Jules Verne too and the trilogy which involves Captain Nemo, which this book is a second one is by far my most beloved one.

    Write fanfiction, write retelling, but leave the original alone as far as I am concerned.I am aware that I do not have to read those books (and I most definitely wont), but it just feels wrong to me.

    There is also always a possibility of writing your own book instead of “improving’ somebody else’s.

  37. SonomaLass
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 12:46:06

    @Meljean: I thought I remembered something like those. “Wild and Wanton,” hmm. On the new ones, I just have to say that I never find “explosive sex scenes” an attractive phrase. Sounds dangerous and painful, and not in a good way.

    I understand that for these purposed, ebooks are considered one format, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s not really true yet. When I can buy one book and read it on any device, I will call that a “single format.” And that time can’t come soon enough, IMO.

  38. Wahoo Suze
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 12:47:32

    I really don’t like the idea of sexxing up the classics. It’s not really Bowdlerizing them, but it’s doing something to them. It’s awkward and intrusive and recidivistic, and I don’t like it.

    Honestly, if you want to sex up a classic story, write a new version. Write Pride and Prejudice and Penises. Don’t pollute the original with something the author *absolutely* never intended to include. It’s not only anachronistic, it’s disrepectful.

    And you just know that there’s going to be a huge swack of people who think that the revised edition IS the original, and there will be huge arguments about historical accuracy and context, and somebody’s going to trot out one of these updates as proof of some misguided idiocy. Gah.

  39. Janine
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 14:14:36

    Count me as another one who hates the notion of sexing up classic books.

    On another topic, I loved Battlestar Galactica. Even though I’m not an Outlander fan, I may have to tune in to this television series.

  40. SAO
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 14:32:22

    Playboy Russia once had a series of famous historical women drawn in typical playboy poses. Since this was for Russians, they didn’t have Jane Austen with her skirts up, her legs spread and her knickers missing but that was the general idea for Russian cultural icons. Needless to say, it was not popular. Men who wanted to look at underclad women didn’t want to look at a drawing of a Jane Austen type and people who value Jane Austen types didn’t want to look at an artist’s rendition of her private parts. Total-E-Bound sounds like the same thing.

    If it became popular, it might drive a movement to extend copyrights for another several hundred years. Who’s to say when Shirley Temple movies finally go off copyright, someone doesn’t do a pedophile-porno pastiche. There’s a lot you could do with the lollipop kids.

    One hopes that society’s taste would prevent this kind of stuff from being worth doing, but maybe that’s too much optimism.

  41. Wahoo Suze
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 16:35:06

    Who’s to say when Shirley Temple movies finally go off copyright, someone doesn’t do a pedophile-porno pastiche. There’s a lot you could do with the lollipop kids.

    **shudder**

  42. Susan
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 17:28:30

    I’m hereby outing myself as an Outlander fan. I think I may be one of 5 on this site! If they do come out w/ an Outlander series, I might just have to get cable. And a TV. That said, I always expect the worst when I hear about a favorite book being made into a movie/series, and I’m rarely off the mark. It could be good, but methinks the potential to be horrendous is greater. You ken?

  43. Jane
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 17:31:54

    @Susan: I doona ken what the quality will be of these movies but I woan judge ya for liking them, lass.

  44. Emily A.
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 17:32:07

    Count me in as to be annoyed with new sex scenes! I would hate any added material except for sidenotes in a classic book. Also one thing no one has mentioned so far, but Watson was married. He met his wife Mary during The Sign of Four and remained married for the rest of the series. I suppose this is why whoever is making the new Sherlock Holmes coming out this fall is casting Lucy Lui as “Joan” Watson.

    I really like television and books so I found the Outlander news interesting.

  45. Ann Somerville
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 18:59:07

    “But we want to enhance the novels by adding the ‘missing’ scenes for readers to enjoy.”

    That’s what fanfiction is for, duh.

    I can’t see how this is plagiarism. For what it’s worth (not much), it’s adding to an original piece of art, say in the way Andy Warhol did. That’s a recognised (and copyrightable) process.

    I just don’t see why anyone would *pay* for this when fanfiction of undoubtably higher quality is available for free.

  46. Heidi Belleau
    Jul 20, 2012 @ 08:51:55

    @SAO: “There’s a lot you could do with the lollipop kids.”

    Glad to see you’ve given this a lot of thought.

    (PS: You can argue for how tacky/disrespectful/immoral/money-grabbing/etc. this is without making a stupid pedophilia slippery slope argument that you describe in a really uncomfortable level of detail. js.)

  47. Little Red
    Jul 20, 2012 @ 13:03:07

    Definitely not a fan of adding sex scenes in literary classics.

    And Ron Moore was also responsible for the phenomenally good Star Trek:Deep Space 9, my favorite of the modern Treks.

  48. HollyY
    Jul 20, 2012 @ 14:54:11

    @Nadia Lee: No, you’re right. EL James wrote fanfic of Twilight, added sex and made it big. Twilight is definitely not a classic.

  49. Jennifer Armintrout
    Jul 21, 2012 @ 13:15:54

    @Nadia Lee: You don’t understand how Sherlock having sex with Watson would enhance, nay, improve the story?!

    I kid. This idea horrifies me, no matter how much Sherlock/Watson fanfic I read. I have no problem with people retelling public domain stories and sexing them up, but I draw the line at keeping the original authors’ prose. A line or two, as a nod to the source material, fine. But not the entire book.

  50. Sirius
    Jul 21, 2012 @ 23:17:55

    @Brie: I just want to apologize for my extreme slowness, because I went to check Marie Sexton’s blog right now and only now realized that she is the one who will be writing sexed up version of this book. I know you provided the link and I know I clicked on it, I have no answer for why I did not connect the dots.

    Oh well, in the past her book was the only book I have ever bought from this publisher and I love her books and will continue buying her books, but most definitely not this one. And as Wahoo Suze said, I can absolutely see some people who would decide that it is too hard to read real classics arguing that those versions are indeed the original ones.

    Sob, go read original Jules Verne – it is worth it, I swear :)

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    Aug 25, 2013 @ 16:10:46

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