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

Tuesday Midday Links: New Readers, New Prices

Sony quietly launched its new ereaders with a strategy designed to capture a more global market.   The three models have been revamped to all feature touch screens.   The readers have the same Pearl Ink screen as the Kindle which means better, clearer, crisper text.   They all have touch screens which allows on notetaking on the screen and highlighting.   The price is still high which the lowest version, the Sony Reader Pocket Edition, coming in at $179.   Only the highest end model, the Daily Edition, comes with connectivity (3G and Wifi).   Nate at the Digital Reader notes that Sony is working on apps for Android and iThings for late fall release.

Sony has always manufactured a beautiful feeling product and I don’t doubt that these feel great.   At $179, though, I think the Kindle is a much better deal particularly because the $139 one comes with the same screen (although no touch) and wifi connectivity.   Even the nook at $149 comes with wifi and a small touchscreen.


Borders has cut the prices of the Kobo and Aluretek readers.   The Kobo is now $129 and the Aluretek is $99.   The Kobo at $129 is too high because it lacks any kind of connectivity, has content issues (not enough content compared to BN and Kindle), and has much lower refresh.

Borders is also going to sell Build a Bear accessories in its children’s section.   BN has a large assortment of toys and stuffed animals as well.


After several quarters of struggle, Random House has seemingly turned its ship around with the help of sales by Stieg Larsson.   Digital is also growing.

"In the past half year we have really embraced digital transition throughout our companies, replacing anxieties about the format with forward thinking and with well-executed action," Dohle said with Random on track to generate e-book sales of over $100 million (which will roughly be about 5% of worldwide sales). The majority of sales have come in the U.S., but the U.K. and Germany have also seen good gains. E-book publishing operations will soon start in Latin America and Spain.


Michelle sent me this link to an Amazon discussion regarding the bleeding of paranormal romance into urban fantasy.   What I think is interesting is how proprietary readers are of their favorite genres and how much they dislike any “mislabeling.”   I am the same way for romance.   Some of these readers really dislike romance (which is perfectly fine) but I thought reading the thought processes of other readers was interesting.


Sarah Rees Brennan, author of the highly recommended Demon Lexicon books, talks about why she doesn’t write negative reviews.   For various reasons from not wanting to unintentionally hurt someone’s feelings to understanding that her viewpoint might not be totally objective, Brennan talks about the books she loves but understands and appreciates those that write the negative reviews. Reviews, she concludes are primarily for readers.   (I agree!).

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. Jill Myles
    Sep 01, 2010 @ 11:44:50

    I think the paranormal vs urban fantasy thing is tricky. I thought my books were light urban fantasy, but my publisher markets them as paranormal romance (even though the romance is by no means decided yet). I expected a lot of unhappy comments about the romance but so far, I haven’t really had many? So I wonder if it’s something that romance readers are now getting more used to? I’m not sure.

    There’s not an ideal label for the inbetween stuff and I don’t think ‘urban fantasy romance’ is going to cut it. When people ask me what I write, I just say ‘paranormal’ and then I try to give them comparative titles that have an ongoing heroine and similar tone.

  2. Jennifer Armintrout
    Sep 01, 2010 @ 11:49:43

    A lot of that discussion just smacks of, “I don’t want people to think I’m reading romance novels, because I’m SMART!” and the pearl clutching that inevitably ensues when someone suggests that they might be reading romance instead of ZOMG SMART PEOPLE BOOKS.

  3. Jill Myles
    Sep 01, 2010 @ 11:59:52

    I also find it really fascinating that all the commenters consider Niffenegger and Meyer both “paranormal romance” when I don’t consider them pnr at all. Meyer is young adult, even! But that category doesn’t come up. Everything is either “romance” or “fantasy” and there’s no blurring. It’s an interesting (if a bit irate) conversation.

  4. Moriah Jovan
    Sep 01, 2010 @ 12:27:59

    What I think is interesting is how proprietary readers are of their favorite genres and how much they dislike any “mislabeling.”

    I admit I have a serious issue with this. A good friend of mine’s book (*ahem* Sabrina Darby On These Silken Sheets *ahem*) was labeled erotica (and shelved that way, in the red-headed stepchild section of romance) when it is really romance with the c-word and the p-word and the f-word. I don’t know who decided that hot vanilla romance, but I believe the mislabeling can seriously hurt sales.

  5. Moriah Jovan
    Sep 01, 2010 @ 12:30:18

    Oops. Need to finish the thought.

    I don’t know who decided that hot vanilla romance turns into erotic the minute “cunt,” “pussy,” and “fuck” are introduced, but it’s annoying as hell.

    If I were looking for erotica (as I occasionally do) and expect it to be erotica, I would have been seriously pissed. And romance readers who don’t look for erotica will never discover it.

  6. library addict
    Sep 01, 2010 @ 12:40:45

    I really do not want a Kindle or Nook and was hoping the Sony prices would come down in time for Christmas. Like the fact the new Reader edition now comes with a memory card slot, but $179 seems pricey given the competition.

    I don’t mind not having 3G or Wifi and having to sideload my books. But I don’t want to have to pay more for a reader which does less, even if I like it the most out of the big 3 choices.

  7. Shannon Stacey
    Sep 01, 2010 @ 13:00:47

    Borders is also going to sell Build a Bear accessories in its children's section. BN has a large assortment of toys and stuffed animals as well.

    This annoys the crap out of me. Our Borders already has as many toys as it does books in the children’s section. Trying to get my 9 yr old to focus on books when he’s surrounded by Legos and Webkinz and every other damn thing is already a challenge (and he’s an avid reader). Sure, let’s throw in some more non-book-related junk.

    I try to get my family to the book & mortar store on a regular basis even though, more often than not, I leave empty-handed because I’m digital-only. I think browsing bookshelves is important for developing readers because seeing the covers and exploring the offerings helps them move up into new genres and reading levels without nagging from mom. But there’s no sense in it when the kids would rather have the toys they had to wade through in order to get to the books. If I wanted to buy Legos, I’d take him to a damn toystore, not a bookstore.

    Ugh. Rant rant rant.

  8. Kerry Allen
    Sep 01, 2010 @ 13:13:57

    I read UF and PNR, love them equally and without shame, and remain pretty touchy about the distinction between the two. When something has “romance” printed on the cover, I have genre-romance expectations (primary focus on the relationship, HEA, etc.). If those expectations aren’t met, the book is a failure, as far as I’m concerned. Colleen Gleason, for example—I might have enjoyed the first Gardella book more if I hadn’t had to keep checking the spine to confirm it clearly advertised “paranormal romance” and then asking, “When exactly is this going to become a romance?” I must have liked the writing because I finished it despite that distraction, but all I remember about that book is “not as advertised,” which translates to “gets no more of my money and none of my word-of-mouth”—solely as a result of mislabeling.

    And no, I don’t like it any better when UF is kissykissy-googoo, particularly when a series with a well-established reputation of badassitude suddenly veers off in that direction. There are several UF love interests I’m hoping meet a tragic end so the protags can get back to battling evil. Once I accept they’re headed for a permanent address in Picketfenceville, though, I dump those series, too.

  9. MaryK
    Sep 01, 2010 @ 13:18:23

    LOL I’m picky about the labeling for Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. Not because I have proprietary feelings, though. It’s because I read both and mislabeling confuses me. I like to know what I’m letting myself in for – is it really Romance or is it UF with romantic elements? Don’t label it Romance if they don’t get together by the end, please! The Romance label is a promise that there will be a romance. A successful one. If there isn’t one, it’s false advertising.

    A while back, Nalini Singh was preparing for a conference and asked for comments about Paranormal Romance on her blog. Several commenters complained about what happens to Mercy in Patricia Briggs’ series saying things like, “I don’t read her anymore b/c that kind of thing shouldn’t happen in a romance.” People! PB writes UF! The romance is just a bonus; you’re not entitled to it!

    And PB’s books are clearly labeled. If she gets that kind of reaction, what will happen when a mislabeled PR veers back into UF territory? There are differences more subtle than a successful romance (like violence level and who can and can’t die) that can stop Romance readers cold. Blurry labeling can end up biting writers in the butt down the road.

  10. Carin
    Sep 01, 2010 @ 13:21:48

    I agree with Shannon – more toys in BN? Why? Well, I know why, because of sales, but still. When grandma sends a BN or Borders gift card it’s because she wants them to buy books. And I make them buy books, but it’s painful because of the toys we have to walk through to get to the books. Ugh.

    I’m sad about Sony. I was really hoping they’d come up with something in the <$150 range.

  11. meoskop
    Sep 01, 2010 @ 13:43:38

    @Moriah_Jovan Pretty much readers decided that. When I worked in a bookstore if I had shelved a book with ‘bad’ language in romance, I’d have gotten in it back as returns with some angry rants included.

    @Sony – I was going to buy a new e-reader today and give my 505 to my cousin. Now I’m not. Now I’m either waiting for a retina display iPad or ordering a Kindle. Trying to decide. So sad, love my 505.

    @Borders – I used to have them as a budget item. Now I give them maybe $50 a year. Decades of business over.

  12. MaryK
    Sep 01, 2010 @ 14:07:03

    @Moriah Jovan: @Moriah Jovan: Now that I’ve ranted about PN/UF, I’ll switch over to ER/Erotica. ;D

    What Moriah Jovan said! Absolutely! I rarely to never read Erotica. I’ve read some and disliked most of it. (Have some psychic scars, even. o_0 ) If it’s labeled Erotica, I skip over it completely. But I like ER and am as likely to read it as I am to read HR, PR, or UF. The ER/Erotica labeling has been an issue for me lately because I’ve come across confusing labels. I’ve also seen a few authors talking about how they write “Erotica” and I have doubts because that doesn’t seem to match their normal style. And I wonder if they’ve read any Erotica. And I don’t look at their books.

    I know I’m more overtly sensitive to labels than most people. But, as in the PR/UF case, I think there’s a point where other readers will balk as well. I just do it up front to save time. :)

  13. kri542
    Sep 01, 2010 @ 17:57:47

    Jane – my husband just sent me a link to an interesting article at ZDNet about Sony’s e-reader and its impact on the global market. It discusses Sony’s choice between Wi-Fi and touch navigation. If you or your readers are interested, it can be found at:

  14. DS
    Sep 01, 2010 @ 18:25:54

    I can understand the possessiveness about UF and PR. I feel that way about Steampunk. If an author is going to write Steampunk romance then label it Steampunk romance. And learn what makes a book Steampunk– has a tag for Things That Are Not Steampunk– for items that are “Not Remotely Steampunk”, but have been tagged as such by the seller. I’m thinking I need a similar tag for books.

  15. Moriah Jovan
    Sep 01, 2010 @ 18:27:36


    Oh my good heavens. *sigh*

  16. becca
    Sep 01, 2010 @ 19:47:00

    everything is going touch screen these days – even the new iPod Nano is totally a touch screen. But I don’t like touch screens!

    I’ve heard good things about the new Sony readers, that page turning is faster on them than on the Kindles, but I’d gladly trade off a slower page turn to not have to deal with a touch screen.

  17. Katy M
    Sep 01, 2010 @ 23:48:47

    Touch screens = smudges.
    I still love my (non-touch) Sony 505!

  18. Estara
    Sep 02, 2010 @ 06:47:12

    Well, now I know what I’ll buy when my 505 dies – if I’m lucky that’ll be sometime next year or later so this price will have gone down.

    I really like the idea of a bigger, crisper screen with more refresh and 16 bit greyscale and 6 different fontsizes, still supporting my SD Card and Memory Stick. Also, there are still page turn buttons when I want them at the bottom, but the highlighting and writing is definitely of interest to me (and they have dictionaries as well).

    I much prefer sideloading as it cuts down on overly impulsive buying (I have a about 100 ebooks I bought or got for free that I haven’t read yet anyway).

    I love the sturdiness and the quality of the metal and the size of the Touch edition is a bit larger than my 505.

    And I can read manga on it, ftw!

    @kri542: Thanks for that link! I saw that Waterstones UK already offered the new models yesterday. I’m sure there’s a German store now where they are also available (I’m happy as long as I get my EU warranty).

  19. Estara
    Sep 02, 2010 @ 06:49:30

    @ Katy M: The Endgadged link show they have integrated styli to write on the screen if you want to write ^^ and they still have those few buttons at the bottom if you prefer pressing buttons.

    The thing I miss most without touch is the bookmarking, highlighting, commenting bit.

    As long as it was clear that the touch screen compromised the clearness of the contrast, I didn’t want it, though.

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