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Tuesday Midday Links: Sad news in Romancelandia

Jennifer Haymore announced some terribly sad news. She has been diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. We all wish you the very very best recovery, Jennifer.

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Bantam Dell and Ballantine have been merged into one division under Libby McGuire. She will handle the hardcover (Linda Howard) and mass market (Tessa Dare, Mary Balogh, Stephanie Tyler).

The Ballantine, Del Rey and Bantam editors will report to [Jennifer Hershey] while Ballantine editorial director Linda Marrow and Bantam editorial director Kate Miciak will report to [Libby] McGuire.

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Nook news:

1. Nook is going to be sold at Best Buy beginning on the 18th of April. (Best Buy is an electronics store for our international readers)

2. Best Buy is installing BN’s ereading software on select laptops, computers, and smartphones (I actually think this is bigger news than #1)

3. Barnes and Noble is offering Nook owners more exclusive content from writers such as Mitch Albom and Jim Cramer. It looks like these are shorts written just for BN. You can only get this content by going to a BN store.

4. The BN app has still not been approved by Apple while the Kindle and Kobo book app (not to mention Wattpad) has. My speculation is that BN coded in app book purchasing and learned that either Apple wasn’t going to allow it or that it wasn’t going to make any money on book sales that way. (In app purchases are entitled to the same commission fee structure which would mean that BN would have to pay Apple 30% out of BN’s own 30%).

In app purchasing is where you buy from within the application. Kobo and Amazon make you leave the application and open safari, the web browser.

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Kindle news

Canada has given the green light to Amazon to open a distribution center. In exchange for the right to build a warehouse in Canada, Amazon has promised to”invest more than $20-million, including $1.5-million for cultural events and awards and for promoting Canadian-authored books abroad.”

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Lit news

1. Pulitzer Prizes were announced yesterday. Sarah Weinman talks about the publishing boon a Pulitzer brings.

2. Jane Dystel blogged about an article in New York magazine about an editor who lost the right to publish a recent work by J.D. Salinger. My take away? Salinger is a bit nutty.

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iThing news

1. Apple had a press conference last week to announce its iPhone 4.0 Operating System to be released into the wild this summer. The iPhone OS full upgrade will only work with 3G and 3Gs phones and the third generation iTouches. The rest of the iThings will either get no upgrade (first gen iPhones) or crippled upgrades. What’s so great about the update? It brings things like modified multitasking and ability to attach a bluetooth keyboard. An iPad software upgrade won’t be available until the fall. The takeaways I had from the press conference was that the iPad had sold 450,000 units by last Thursday and 85 million iPhones and iTouches have been sold. I wish more authors would get mobile enabled sites.

2. Another thing that iPhone 4.0 OS is bringing is Apple’s own Ad platform and Teleread.org speculates about how that will affect books. Yes, ads are coming to books. But guess what, publishers? You put ads in there and I’m not paying one penny for them.

3. Cody Brown guest blogged at TechCrunch that an author’s next book should be an app not an iBook. I guess Cody is thinking of this sort of thing? Honestly as I watched the Alice on the iPad video, I kept thinking about where all the words were for the Lewis Carroll book. I think that there is a place for transmedia storytelling which is what I think the Alice on the iPad and The Death of Bunny Munro, but I think its a companion piece to books and not a replacement for long form narrative fiction.

4. Simon Owens of bloggasm asked a couple of publicists how they thought the iPad would change book publicity. It’s even more important than ever to have a big web presence.

5. Andrew Savikas of Tools of Change urged publishers to reimagine digital publishing and learn from the mistakes that they made when they produced CD books.

have an informal filter on how interesting and innovative a new content-related development or device is — if a large number of people from incumbent companies (especially big ones) are excited about it, then it’s not actually interesting or innovative enough to matter much, because that means it’s too similar to the current way of doing things. That’s why the industry loves “enhanced ebooks” at the same time they’re totally missing opportunities to re-imagine the “job” their product does for the customer. (In all fairness, we struggle with this a lot at O’Reilly too!)

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Pricing news

Kristin Nelson was told that Apple was going to allow the returns of digital books. This surprises me a bit because you can’t return digital movies or music that you purchased at Apple (I have gotten a refund when I accidentally pushed the Buy Button one too many times).

Deisel eBook store blog expounded on the tax issue. Apparently at least one publisher thinks that tax needs to be collected in every state because they have a sales person “everywhere”.

With Agency, the publisher – not the retailer – now becomes the seller of record. Since we are an agent in the transaction, that means we have to do the collection. (Interestingly, one of the A5 publishers we talked to today said that they think they are required to pay sales tax because they have a very large sales team, and therefore "sell" everywhere.) At this moment, we have not received confirmation from all of the A5 publishers as to whether they will be charging sales tax in each US locality.

Get your act together folks.

Editor Ann Patty suggests that perhaps editors should get royalties. Welcome to the world of digital publishers, Ann. Samhain, Ellora’s Cave, and several other smaller epublishers already have this model in place.

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AAR Rachel has resigned from AAR. Whether this is a mutual parting or whether she was asked to leave is something we may never know. How it came about is a matter of public record. Jane O posted a piece on the AAR blog. In the comments, AAR Rachel gave her perspective. It was a perspective that offended a great deal of people. Her viewpoints are one’s that I find personally offensive but I didn’t feel so much anger reading them as sadness. AAR had been my go to place in the late 90s and early 2000s and Rachel’s reviews were some of the best on the site. I looked forward to her reviews and followed her recommendations. When I read her comments on the AAR blog and her subsequent postings on her blog, I felt like I had lost a friend.

(As an aside, if you choose to read her blog posts, please don’t leave a bunch of personally attacking comments and please don’t leave them here. They won’t change Rachel’s mind but would serve to cement a belief about how women exist just to tear down other women).

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

63 Comments

  1. Angela James
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 10:10:52

    Having worked as an editor under both the royalty model and the salary model, I would love to write a response to that Ann Patty piece. I may need to think about that.

  2. Shannon Stacey
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 10:22:41

    My very best wishes for a full recovery to Jennifer.

    You can only get this content by going to a BN store.

    I paid $260 for their damn device. I shouldn’t have to drive two hours round trip for access to “special for the nook” stuff. I’m sure it’s a way to get me, the digital reader, into their brick & mortar store, but in reality it just annoys me.

  3. Joy
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 10:42:59

    @Shannon Stacey: If it helps, everything I’ve gotten in-store “special for the nook” has been kind of disappointing, like a 2-page excerpt from an article I had already read on Eloisa James’s website. Yet you have to archive these little things to get them out of your library.

  4. Stacy Boyd
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 10:45:47

    Would love to hear Angela’s response–or a response from any other editor with royalty experience–to Ann Patty’s piece. I’ve heard good and bad about the royalty model, and have mixed feelings myself. When an editor has as many blockbusters as Ann Patty, royalties probably sound really good.

    Thanks for the link round-up, Jane.

  5. Shannon Stacey
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 10:49:48

    @Joy: That does make me feel a little better. Not missing out on much. And that’s the only thing that drives me nuts about the nook–not being able to delete/archive from the device.

  6. Stacy Boyd
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 10:58:59

    Can you post a link to AAR Rachel’s personal blog? I would like to read what she said outside the AAR debate.

  7. Ridley
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 11:02:30

    Huh. That’s an interesting little brouhaha over there at AAR. I don’t agree with Rachel’s post, at least not completely, but if they pushed her off the boat over it, that’s weak.

    Huge flaming controversy is a lot of fun. You need one on a board or blog periodically to get the hearts pumping. Underneath all the ad hominem and tears is a bunch of people thinking really hard about a topic for the first time and learning something.

    I hate to see that squashed.

  8. Amy
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 11:08:28

    Sorry to see that she deleted her whole blog. And resign from being a reviewer.

  9. Jennifer Estep
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 11:09:38

    Best wishes to Jennifer for a full and speedy recovery.

  10. Aoife
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 11:10:13

    My best wishes to Jennifer Haymore for a quick and complete recovery. I had just sponsored some friends in our local breast cancer Run for the Cure, and urge everyone else to do the same.

    I have avoided the Nook special content offers because what I’ve seen so far hasn’t really interested me.

    I’m actually sorry to hear that Rachel has resigned. I found her views abhorrent, but, frankly, it’s not the first time someone whose posts I’ve occasionally enjoyed or found valuable said something that upset/irritated/enraged me.

  11. Mari
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 11:28:38

    Yes, Rachel’s viewpoint seems a little….extreme. But its her opinion and she’s entitled to it. Huge flaming contrevesies are alot of fun, but I think people do tend to take them too seriously. I don’t blame the writer for posting her POV (ever) but I do tend to get angry when people seek to censor that POV, seek to shut down her voice. And I found the Karen Knows Best blogger annoying in this respect. She seems to think the original piece that started this whole thing should never have been written. Sorry. Can’t agree with that.

    I really hoped Rachel left voluntarily, and not becasue she was forced to go. Who knows, maybe she wanted to go anyway and preferred to go out with a bang.

    I wouldn’t feel as if you lost a friend, Jane. Many writers whom I like as writers have expressed opinions or done things I find offensive. I am thinking of Charles Dickens who was beyond cruel to his wife of many years, to name just one. Or Christopher Hitchens with his extreme hatred of Mother Theresa (?!). If you subject every writer you like to a political /moral litmus test, you are bound to be disapointed, besides severely limiting your reading options.

    So if Rachel continues to post good reviews somewhere else, why not read them? Does this one column, whom many find offensive, mean her reviews will be less insightful or interesting? I checked out her reviews at AAR, interestingly enough she did review a “hot” romance wherein sex takes place outside the bounds of matrimony. And she gives them positive reviews. Which leads me to suspect she understands the difference between real life and her own morality and the fictional life and its various permuations.
    So read her reviews and ignore the rest.

    SO where’s the link to her blog?

  12. Joy
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 11:32:16

    @Shannon Stacey: I’ve archived from the device with no problems, the user guide is just wrong on how to do it. Highlight the book and go to “View Item Details and Options” and there is an option there to archive. Then there is a setting on the Library in general to Show/Hide Archived Items.

  13. Raelene Gorlinsky
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 11:37:33

    “Editor Ann Patty suggests that perhaps editors should get royalties. Welcome to the world of digital publishers, Ann. Samhain, Ellora's Cave, and several other smaller epublishers already have this model in place.”

    Your blog post was mentioned to me, and I just wanted to clarify that Ellora’s Cave editors are not paid royalties. Staff editors get straight salary and benefits, freelance editors are paid on a per-project basis depending on size of book.

    Raelene Gorlinsky
    Publisher, Ellora’s Cave

  14. Jen X
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 11:46:25

    My thoughts and well wishes to Jennifer Haymore.

    As for AAR Rachel, I read a couple of her postings (not reviews). She knows her opinion that’s for sure and she’s entitled to them but her approach is rather…hammer-like. I read blogs to discuss, share, absorb NOT to be lectured.

  15. TKF
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 11:54:09

    For me it comes down to the simple fact that just having an opinion does not create a right to have said opinion published.

  16. Moriah Jovan
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 12:10:09

    @TKF:

    For me it comes down to the simple fact that just having an opinion does not create a right to have said opinion published.

    Why not?

  17. jmc
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 12:12:25

    @Stacey Boyd

    @Mari

    The link to AAR-Rachel’s blog appears above…but it appears that she’s taken her archive of posts down.

    I can understand why she may have done so, but think it’s a shame, since her blog covered a variety of topics, most of which were not as inflamatory as the comment on the AAR boards.

  18. TKF
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 12:48:23

    @Moriah Jovan: Are you joking? Can you first please explain to me why you think a newspaper (or magazine, or blog, etc.) has an OBLIGATION to publish every opinion, no matter how asinine or offensive?

    Editors exist for a reason, and one of them is to decide what is worthy of publication and what is not. It’s not a free for all, not even in the “letters to the editor” section.

  19. Melissa Blue
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 13:14:33

    @Moriah Jovan:

    Completely agree, Mojo.

    We’re all adults. We choose what we decide to read. We choose what we decide to write. I’m more than sure before Rachel or that grad student sent off their opinions they KNEW what they had to say was controversial.

    People have been fired from paying jobs for saying less on Facebook or Twitter. Doesn’t make it right or wrong. You say or do something that is unpopular or abhorrent to others you will have to deal with the consequences. That’s the society we live in. Good or bad.

    @ TFK “Editors exist for a reason, and one of them is to decide what is worthy of publication and what is not. It's not a free for all, not even in the “letters to the editor” section.”

    Well that would mean Editors edit with political correctness in mind. Worthy or not worthy has nothing to do with an accepted or unpopular opinion. I’m not saying I agree with what was said. But newspapers are the last type of industry that would be for censorship.

  20. Melissa Blue
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 13:22:45

    Let me add, my heart goes out to Haymore and family. May she fight the battle against cancer and win.

  21. Moriah Jovan
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 13:56:42

    @TKF:

    Are you joking? Can you first please explain to me why you think a newspaper (or magazine, or blog, etc.) has an OBLIGATION to publish every opinion, no matter how asinine or offensive?

    I am absolutely not joking.

    A) We aren’t speaking of magazines or newspapers; we are speaking of a blog wherein one of the principals has a say in what gets published.

    A.a) Magazines and newspapers are not obliged to print anything. They print what they think will make them money, which is, right now, not much of anything at all.

    A.b) Most media outlets have a bias/agenda/market. Catering to that bias/agenda/market is in their best interest financially, although, again, that interest is waning.

    B) With very few exceptions, freedom of speech is guaranteed in the United States. It does not guarantee the listeners/readers freedom from being offended nor does it guarantee the opinionator freedom from catching flak for stating his/her opinion.

    C) The answer to offensive speech is more speech not less.

    The idea that speech should be stifled because someone doesn’t like it is utterly, completely abhorrent to me.

    “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” (I’d have attributed Voltaire, but he didn’t really say it.)

  22. jessica
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 13:59:29

    I feel like AAR Rachel’s posts were misunderstood. Way to go LB for summing them up. I actually agree with her. But like with most opinions people hear (or read) what they want to. Especially if they are passionate about the subject. In the end I think everyone had good points but I didn’t like the catty way quite a few of them were delivered.

  23. MaryK
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 15:22:23

    Barnes and Noble is offering Nook owners more exclusive content from writers such as Mitch Albom and Jim Cramer. It looks like these are shorts written just for BN. You can only get this content by going to a BN store.

    “Exclusive content” irritates the heck out of me. There’s nothing like forcing people to buy your proprietary digital content if they want a complete author collection. That’s what scares me about ebooks – the potential for splintering of content across different platforms.

    It’s like a favorite author publishing a book exclusively in German which pretty much insures that I’ll never be able to read it. Unless I come across an underground translation.

  24. Robin
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 15:22:36

    So sorry to hear about Jennifer Haymore, but at least she said her prognosis is “very good,” so I will keep good thoughts of a happy ending for her in that regard.

    As for Rachel Potter, count me as another who is sad she resigned. And concerned about whether or not it was voluntary.

    Yes, I know her views are inflammatory and they make me see red. And no, this is not a First Amendment issue (no government censorship). But as abhorrent as some of the things Rachel said were, I found some of the ad hominem assaults on her character equally so. And while I’m sorry she didn’t have the chutzpah to keep her posts up (if someone believes that strongly in something, it’s disappointing to see the erasure because they’re feeling ganged up on), I understand her feeling overwhelmed by the attention she got for her views. I’m not even certain I completely understand them, as some of the more offensive ideas are wound through with what seems a profound, sincere fear of male violence, which makes them appear to me more complicated than the garden-variety anti-feminism.

    One thing of which I’m sadly convinced, though, is that AAR will be diminished because of Rachel’s absence. She wrote wonderful, thoughtful reviews; she championed provocative, controversial books; she treated every commenter respectfully and kindly; and she believed strongly that a diversity of conversations should be welcomed at AAR (even the so-called “intellectual” ones, ha!). As a librarian, she truly loves books and while I do find it difficult to square her views expressed recently with many of the things she has written about the genre, I know she has been a champion of thoughtful, smart, envelope-pushing Romance.

    AAR is going to be a different place without Rachel, and IMO her absence is not in any way going to make the site more progressive or inclusive.

  25. Tabby
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 15:32:29

    I don’t think airing fucktarded opinions does anything to enlighten people. It just gives the fucktards a chance to hone their arguments and increase their numbers.

    Using the AAR blog as an example Leigh and Laura Vivanco actually provided links and quoted studies that suggest “date” rapists are predators like any other and not nice guys who made a mistake because they were drunk and the slut was asking for it. But that wasn’t really all that interesting so the conversation re-focused on how of course it’s not the victims fault they were raped but girls who drink and dress like hookers send mixed messages to guys who were, after all, turned on and drunk themselves. So then you have people like LB chime in with their asinine “yeah, and those sluts make it so boys pressure good girls like me” and then jessica (here) sees those posts and jumps on the girls-can-act-like-sluts-if-they-want-to-but-don’t-come-crying-to-me-when-you’re-raped band wagon too. And another MariaRachelNancy is born. I don’t think anything of value came out of that blog post except that it was entertaining in an infuriating, shocking sort of way.

  26. Robin
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 15:45:16

    @Tabby: But there’s a substantive and substantial difference between saying ‘there was nothing of value in that conversation for me’ and ‘that conversation is not valuable so we should not have it.’

    For every person who walks away thinking a woman deserves to be raped, there’s no reason not to believe that another one walks away convinced of just the opposite.

    That’s why when true censorship is at stake (i.e. by the government), anything that suppresses speech must pass the most rigorous test to ensure that it is not attempting to suppress a certain viewpoint (viewpoint/content neutrality) that is perceived to be unpopular, offensive, controversial, or contrary to some majority view. And if we don’t allow these debates to be aired, how can we ever trust that the so-called “right” ideas will be publicly available?

  27. meoskop
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 15:55:52

    Is it not ok to tell girls that while they don’t deserve it, placing themselves in dicey situations can lead to bad outcomes? We can’t say that anymore because other people will conflate that into short skirt syndrome?

    I think I will still tell my daughters to be careful where they let their guard down, and who they do it with, because the world can be dangerous for women. And Frat Culture is not exactly protective.

    Haymore has a rough road ahead – that was me a few years ago and it completely sucks, no two ways about it. But it’s ok, eventually, if you make it to the other side.

  28. Stacy Boyd
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 16:04:22

    @amy, @jmc
    Thanks for pointing out that Rachel’s blog archive was taken down. It’ll keep me from Googling in vain.

  29. Nicole
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 16:18:44

    I had read Rachel’s comments and I was angry after I read them. They went well beyond just saying that girls should not place themselves in dicey situations and into the realm of you should expect to get raped if you go to a frat party and drink. Blaming the victim is not acceptable and it’s not an issue of being politically correct. Yes, all women need to be aware of situations that can go wrong, but if something does happen, it should not be automatically her fault.

    So, I can see why the responses were emotional, although attacking her personally is not acceptable either. Does that mean that she deserved to be pushed out because of one blog entry? I don’t know all the circumstances, but I don’t think it should be the case.

    However, one needs to be careful of what one posts, especially if it presumed to be done on behalf of an employer or blog. The AAR attached to her name certainly could lead one to believe that her opinions were in fact the opinions of the blog, and they can consider that inappropriate behaviour for an employee. I wasn’t aware of anything happening after that one entry, but perhaps apologizing would have helped the situation.

    People tend to get overly heated on the internet because almost everyone is anonymous and it is easier to attack a person when you are not face to face. And while there is freedom of speech, there is also freedom of living with the consequences of your actions.

  30. Karen Scott
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 16:41:06

    I don’t blame the writer for posting her pov (ever) but I do tend to get angry when people seek to censor that POV, seek to shut down her voice, and I found the Karen Knows Best blogger annoying in this respect. She seems to think the original piece that started this whole thing should never have been written. Sorry, can’t agree with that.

    @Mari Do you see the massive irony in the above comment? Invariably, you’re doing the exact same thing I was doing, offering an opinion about something you weren’t happy with. What makes your point of view so much more noble than mine? The fact is, you’re giving an opinion, on what you thought about my opinion. See how that works? Nobody has the higher ground here hun, so the next time you go on a free-speech mini-rant, you need to make sure that your own glass house is in tact.

    As for you never limiting anybody’s right to speak freely, let me ask you this; if you ran a grocery store and one of your workers was racist/homophobic, and he put up a sign that said ‘Niggers Not Allowed’, are you telling me that you’d let him leave that sign up in an effort to protect his right to speak freely?

    That’s a hard one right? Because if you let him leave his sign up, then your patrons will assume that those sentiments are yours. If you ask him to take the sign down, it means that you’re acknowledging that there are certain instances where letting people exercise their right to free speech would be a no-no.

    So Mari, what would you do? Enquiring minds would like to know.

  31. Janine
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 16:45:38

    So sorry to hear the news about Jennifer Haymore, and I wish her a speedy recovery.

    Re. AAR Rachel, I know I will miss her presence at AAR. She has always been unfailingly friendly and kind to me despite the fact that our social and political views are miles apart and despite the fact that some AAR posters view DA as a rival/competitor to AAR.

    No, I didn’t agree with her views, and I understand why her most recent posts pushed so many people’s buttons, especially since rape is so sadly prevalent in our society. But I also wish the disagreement had been more respectful. It’s a challenge of internet communication that it makes it all too easy to post things that we wouldn’t say to someone’s face.

    Rachel had a history with AAR that went back about a decade, a history that includes writing some of the best reviews. I would not have discovered Kathleen Gilles Seidel without Rachel’s reviews, and we also shared a love of Sharon Shinn’s early books.

    She wrote wonderful, thoughtful reviews; she championed provocative, controversial books; she treated every commenter respectfully and kindly; and she believed strongly that a diversity of conversations should be welcomed at AAR (even the so-called “intellectual” ones, ha!). As a librarian, she truly loves books and while I do find it difficult to square her views expressed recently with many of the things she has written about the genre, I know she has been a champion of thoughtful, smart, envelope-pushing Romance.

    That.

  32. Courtney Milan
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 16:45:50

    @Moriah Jovan: B) With very few exceptions, freedom of speech is guaranteed in the United States.

    I disagree with your comment on the principles, though not on the specific application.

    One of the “exceptions” is that freedom of speech is not guaranteed when the person doing the suppression is not the government. I don’t think there is even a colorable claim that this is a First Amendment issue. With very limited exceptions in the broadcast spectrum or commercial speech, there is no guarantee, anywhere, that requires a private party to continue to publish ideas it disagrees with.

    Institutionally, I think that a rule that a nongovernmental entity is REQUIRED to sponsor speech that they vehemently disagree with is just as bad as a rule that says that a nongovernmental entity is NOT ALLOWED to say certain things. Forcing sponsorship of ideas is every bit as much a violation of free speech ideals as forcing silence.

    Nobody was actually forcing Rachel to stop speaking. At best, you can conclude that she was required to stop speaking using a particular soapbox, but she was certainly free to continue blogging.

    This is not to say that you can’t criticize a certain soapbox when they don’t allow people to speak about certain issues, of course–if, for instance, a website only allows people to post if they are Democrats (or if they are Republicans), I think you can safely say that it’s a partisan site, and dismiss it as such.

    But I think it’s just wrong to say that a private site can’t determine what speech it will and won’t sponsor: Of course it can. Having seen private sites that have gotten over run with hateful, anonymous commenters to the point where all reasonable discourse comes to a grinding halt, I think that some degree of censorship is even necessary to maintain interesting discourse, and every site with a reasonable size readership absolutely MUST practice censorship either by explicitly deleting objectionable posts, or by using some form of community moderation to hide them.

    This is not to say that I either know what happened with Rachel, or that I think that if she was forced out it was a good thing–because the question of what forms of censorship/moderation occur are central to the question of “what kind of community is this?”

    And that’s what the disagreement really is about: what kind of community is it? And I think Robin’s points in that regard are very well taken.

    There are a thousand different kinds of communities online. Some practice extreme censorship. Some, none at all. IMHO (and obviously others disagree), the “none at all” and “extreme” versions both have significant problems with getting to a rich, viable discourse–it’s literally impossible to have a conversation if someone keeps throwing in things that, even if you never respond to, utterly repulse you. For instance, disgusting embedded pictures; racist diatribe; or dismissing all opinions of women by calling them by extremely derogatory names. All well and good to say that “more speech” is the solution to such statements, but in all honesty, the practical result on a website afflicted by such comments is that the people who are reasonable leave and go somewhere where there’s a bit of moderation, and you’re left with the trolls baiting each other.

    When we’re talking about the internet, I think the question is not WHETHER there is moderation on sites run by private entities (a moderation that I think is necessary at least to some degree), but WHAT that moderation looks like.

    So, yes, I think the discussion about censorship and such high-minded ideals is really a red herring. This isn’t about censorship, and citing hard-line free speech ideals doesn’t really get at what makes this problem a hard one.

    The real question is: What sort of disagreement can a romance community sustain and still remain a viable romance community? And, given that, what does it say about a romance community when it casts out a certain perspective?

  33. LB
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 16:50:58

    @Tabby:

    Wow, you know I really appriceate you boiling down everything I said to focus on the one sentence which was later negated when I admitted to being an obsessive worrier, and then adding the words slut and good girl because it was really missing some spice there, and yeah, even though I made constant refrences to society as a whole it was really just about me. Yeah I wasn’t at all trying to bring the conversation back to what the original post was about open discussion sparked by controversy, it really was just an all out bitch fest on my part, you must be really good at interpretation, cause I never would have gotten that.

  34. Danielle D
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 17:25:06

    My prayers go out to Jennifer Haymore. I hope she has a speedy recovery.

  35. Tabby
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 17:33:43

    LB, you did have more to say–a lot more but frankly it all read like Charlie Brown’s teacher to me except for a couple sentences. But if you don’t think the sexually irresponsible (sluts) are making it hard for the girls who aren’t willing to have sex (good girls) to get along and be safe with a guy anymore good for you–I missed your retraction.

    I also see it when I talk to a guy at a club or in class and have to wonder and worry what his expectations are because so many of the other girls my age are so willing to have sex fast, what reaction am I going to faced with when he realizes that I won't.

    there are girls who act sexually irresponsible and lead guys to think all girls act that way, which does lead to girls who aren't willing to have sex to be painted with the same brush, to be pressured or forced, it's scary and confussing out there

  36. Kaetrin
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 17:57:33

    Best wishes to Jennifer Haymore for a full and quick recovery, surrounded by supportive friends and family who magically know when to do stuff and when to leave it alone.

  37. Moriah Jovan
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 18:21:32

    @Courtney Milan:

    One of the “exceptions” is that freedom of speech is not guaranteed when the person doing the suppression is not the government. I don't think there is even a colorable claim that this is a First Amendment issue.

    I understood that, but wrote in haste and didn’t make my point deeply enough, which was to say (and agree with you) that no, a private entity isn’t obligated to do anything.

    What I’m objecting to is the blanket concept/thought/language of saying people “shouldn’t be allowed to say X.”

    Allowed? Allowed by whom then? Who is the arbiter of what people shouldn’t be allowed to say and who is the enforcer?

    It seemed to me that the romance community did a right fine job of policing what Rachel said without the need for some vague authority figure to swoop in and save everyone from her opinion.

    But. Apologies for the shorthand. It was laziness on my part.

  38. Deb Kinnard
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 18:23:38

    My household’s thoughts & prayers to Jennifer Haymore.

    As far as this Nook business — I went into the local B&N and saw a demo in progress. When my turn came, I asked the demo guy if his Nook could get content from any digital pub.

    “Oh yes. Give me a title.”

    So I did. He tried to make it happen. It didn’t load or even show the book as available (it was my e-pub but not my title). He asked for a couple more titles. None of them came up as available, only “guesses” that didn’t even come close.

    So much for “all digital content.” I went away satisfied with my decision not to buy one.

  39. Courtney Milan
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 18:58:53

    @Moriah:

    I think we totally agree, then.

  40. Vi
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 21:38:15

    I may be wrong, but I don’t think 3g iPhones will get the multitasking upgrade.

  41. Sherry Thomas
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 22:11:36

    Best wishes of a speedy and complete recovery to Jennifer.

  42. Anonymous 2
    Apr 14, 2010 @ 02:33:40

    No private entity has an obligation to post hate speech. Yes, I think that’s exactly what Rachel’s comments were — hate speech against women. We covered all of the bases in the first comment, though there were many more that echoed the same sentiment: ‘slut’-shaming, moral hypocrisy, religious dogma used to justify a standard of morality that she desires imposed on all women, victim blaming, putting the lion’s share of the burden to change society on the victims instead of the perpetrators, dismissal of legitimate rape claims (is it only ‘real’ Americans who experience ‘real’ rape?), worshiping at the mythical altar of chastity, and the continuation of a rape culture in which survivors question whether anyone will believe them.

    Just because you can say something doesn’t mean you should. I definitely think this is one of those times when a blog serving a female audience that is bound, by statistics, to have abuse and assault survivors reading it, should exercise editorial discretion in allowing comments from an editor to appear. All she had to do was blog about it on her own blog, yet Rachel chose to represent herself with her editor title. I think that was inappropriate.

    It is possible that some people will come away from such discussions ready to make a positive impact in the area of social justice, but it is more likely that everyone will read polite disagreements and some agreements (!) with what Rachel Potter said and realize that there are lots of women stuck in the 19th century.

    I don’t think there was enough of a noticeable reaction in the blogosphere (as of yet) to say that this was a ‘teachable moment.’

    In the meantime, survivors like me look at mothers who will brainwash their sons into the insidious cult of misogyny, where everyone judges women for demanding equal treatment but no one ever calls anyone to account for doing so, and wonder if our daughters will end up on dates with these ‘Nice Guys’ of the Old Boys Club.

  43. Jessica
    Apr 14, 2010 @ 03:04:22

    Rachel never said that anyone deserved to be raped. I really can’t see where people are getting that from. What I got from her comments were that women should be careful of the positions they put theselves in.

  44. Mireya
    Apr 14, 2010 @ 06:35:16

    @Jessica: no, she said much more…sweeping generalizations and the fact that she considers women responsible for the doom and gloom of society were among the many other things she either said or implied. And, no, I am not going back to search for specific examples, I read the whole thread. Once was more than enough. Thank you very much.

  45. Jane
    Apr 14, 2010 @ 06:41:02

    @Vi No, you are right. Thank you.

  46. Jane O
    Apr 14, 2010 @ 06:48:59

    “Jane O posted a piece on the AAR blog.”

    Er, I think you meant Jane Granville.

    But it really bothers me that this controversy has led to Rachel’s departure from AAR.

  47. Moriah Jovan
    Apr 14, 2010 @ 07:20:24

    @Anonymous 2:

    No private entity has an obligation to post hate speech.

    No private entity has an obligation NOT to post it (whatever IT is), either.

  48. DS
    Apr 14, 2010 @ 08:48:24

    @Robin:

    I'm not even certain I completely understand them, as some of the more offensive ideas are wound through with what seems a profound, sincere fear of male violence, which makes them appear to me more complicated than the garden-variety anti-feminism.

    This had me wondering a bit. I went back and reread the posts and I agree with you on this point.

  49. Donna Lea Simpson
    Apr 14, 2010 @ 10:44:00

    “I'm not even certain I completely understand them, as some of the more offensive ideas are wound through with what seems a profound, sincere fear of male violence, which makes them appear to me more complicated than the garden-variety anti-feminism.”

    “This had me wondering a bit. I went back and reread the posts and I agree with you on this point. ”

    I got this too… the comments had a whiff of paranoia to me.

  50. Robin
    Apr 14, 2010 @ 11:01:16

    @DS and @Donna Lea Simpson:

    Having now read everything on the personal (anti-feminist) blog and that AAR thread, it strikes me that there’s a potent mix of anger and fear. Anger at feminism and at “modern women” for taking their freedom “too far” and fear of some giant backlash from men who feel they’ve been victimized by these “modern women.” And a big dollop of conviction that feminists (of which I am certainly one!) have “ruined” it, somehow, for the whole of womanhood, with our brazen disregard for, well, all sorts of things. We women who have abused our freedoms are now somehow inciting men to strike back, whether it be by not listening to “No” or something even darker.

    FWIW, I don’t think she intended to imply that any woman deserves to be raped, but I do think she expresses a strong belief that the sexual revolution is responsible for many societal wrongs, from single motherhood to date rape — that in search of sexual freedom “modern women” are ignoring their responsibilities as wives and mothers, disregarding morality and feeling “entitled” to freedom at any cost.

    I realize that for many those distinctions between “blaming the victim” and what I think Rachel is saying won’t matter — and perhaps at a practical level they don’t. But the way so much fear comes through her comments was really, really striking to me.

    If I hadn’t “known” Rachel through her posts at AAR and her other blog, I would probably dismiss it all as Krazy talk. But honestly, it just seems so far removed from the woman who wrote such impassioned, intelligent things about To Have and To Hold, for example, that I’m actually pretty alarmed at what — to me, at least — seems like kind of an abrupt shift in her online presence.

  51. Las
    Apr 14, 2010 @ 11:30:52

    “Just because you can say something doesn't mean you should. I definitely think this is one of those times when a blog serving a female audience that is bound, by statistics, to have abuse and assault survivors reading it, should exercise editorial discretion in allowing comments from an editor to appear. All she had to do was blog about it on her own blog, yet Rachel chose to represent herself with her editor title. I think that was inappropriate.”

    DING DING DING! Exactly. Look, she has every right to write whatever the hell she wants. And everyone else has the right to comment on what she says. It’s ridiculous to me that we have to just nod our heads and treat every single opinion, no matter how asinine, as valid. She didn’t provide a well thought opinion on the issue of date rape, she got on her moral high horse and ranted about women she considers immoral. Not one thing she wrote was in anyway backed up by any real facts. At no point did she try to have a reasoned discussion.

    Should she have been forced to resign (if that’s what actually happened and she didn’t just leave in a snit because she got more dissenting opinions than she could deal with)? Eh, that’s a business decision and up to the other owners of the site. They could have lost a lot of readers if she had remained; or, they could lose a lot of readers now that she’s gone. Personally, I would have given up on the site if she had stuck around, because knowing that one of the owners thought that way would have forever ruined it for me. That doesn’t mean that I assume the other owners or the general readership feels the same way, but I won’t support any business run by people who I know think like that, just like I wouldn’t support a business run by a known racist or homophobe.

  52. Anon76
    Apr 14, 2010 @ 12:11:34

    @Robin:

    I totally agree with your recap in your first two paragraphs. That’s exactly what I came away with from Rachel’s comments. And to take it even further, that women, as a whole, are to blame for most of society’s ills.

    Perhaps too, I can now see the fear. At least I’m trying very hard to do so. The whole “boys will be boys” may very well be in reality “don’t poke a cornered animal.”

    In either case, I find the mindset disturbing. One is flippant, the other places blame in a twisted way onto the victim. We ARE discussing human males, not a lower life form.

    Sigh. Verra complicated.

  53. Anon76
    Apr 14, 2010 @ 12:19:50

    Tried to add an edit to my last comment but couldn’t scroll down.

    So, ETA: However, as complicated or as simple as the rationale behind Rachel’s comments, she did come full force, in your face, with the morality issue. Hard to give her the benefit of the doubt in such an instance.

  54. Robin
    Apr 14, 2010 @ 12:21:00

    @Anon76:

    The whole “boys will be boys” may very well be in reality “don't poke a cornered animal.”

    I think it’s very clear here:

    Women can not count on absolute safety no matter the situation. They still need to exercise common sense. What makes me so impatient about this failure to comprehend reality is that women ARE actually vulnerable to assault and rape. Real rape, not fuzzy participatory “rape.” I'm not very big and I'm not very strong, and that makes me feel vulnerable in parking lots and certain other places. So I'd just as soon not have women teasing men into a frenzied rage and looking to vent that rage on a bystander to this sexual chaos (me).

  55. Robin
    Apr 14, 2010 @ 12:34:22

    @Anon76: To me it’s not about giving her the benefit of the doubt — it’s about parsing through the mass of stuff to understand what is actually being said, what any of us thinks that means, and whether/how all that functions in a larger discussion about women and sexuality in a Romance reading/writing community.

    While some may be content to shrug it all off as completely inappropriate or ridiculous (and therefore worthy of suppression or reflexive repudiation), I don’t feel that way. I think it’s important that we talk about these things, because I have encountered all sorts of anti-feminist implications and statements within this community, most glamored by softer words and more moderate personae.

    In fact, I was seeing red not too long ago over Ellen Micheletti’s review of Patience, in which she overtly invoked the “I’m not much of a feminist” defense so casually as to, IMO, presuppose agreement by her intended audience.

    We talk all the time about how women are harder on other women, etc., and there are more than a few women in this community who believe, to greater or lesser degree, that feminism IS a dirty, liberal, man-hating state of being. So to me, the explosion over Rachel’s comments (and those of several others) can provide an opportunity to think a little bit more about women’s sexual freedom and its relationship to genre Romance and a largely female community bound in a shared love of reading it. So I’m not quite ready to condemn and be done with it all.

  56. Melissa Blue
    Apr 14, 2010 @ 12:59:32

    @Robin:

    You have a point to some extent I can agree with. Though throughout my first reading of her first comment I saw how little she thought of men. May not have been intentional. It appeared to me she believed–if you just looked at her first comment–any man has the potential to become a rapist. His prick is hard and he will find anything to stick it in.

    And that is just as disturbing to me as all the things stated and implied about feminism’s harm to our society as a whole i.e women are to blame.

    Now I think that would have been an interesting viewpoint. Did feminism emasculate men somehow? Can our society ever have an even balance of power between men and women? *Especially if you’ve read A Room of her Own which talks heavily about this imbalance* BUT bringing up these questions or opinions while talking about rape was bound for disaster.

  57. LB
    Apr 14, 2010 @ 17:40:37

    @Robin: 55 50

    It’s good to see that there are people who are willing to try to understand something that they completely disagree with. The more I hear about Rachel’s other blog, the more I worry I may have been wrong to defend her, because I like you read fear and anger and I also read frustration. Because I never considered hate I guess some of the more unkind things she said I took as simply not fully thought out comments or twisted them to meet my own feelings about the youth culture (which I feel is generaly toxic for young people) when perhaps she was saying something else.

    Anyway what I really wanted to comment on was the idea that letting things be shrugged off is a bad idea. I agree with this, it is why I wanted to draw the date rape blog back to the topic of letting a contorversy inspire open discourse. An example of why you can’t shrug these things off is the case with “Big Ben” (can’t spell his last name) from the Stealers. Not sure how many people know he jsut got off a rape accusation because the girl who accused him didn’t want to testify. It’s assumed she didn’t want to be put up on the stand and face a lawyer who would try to blame her or make it appear that she gave consent because she had been spending the whole evening with him, and pretty much acted like Rachel described. What is key here is that while so many people where shocked that anyone would even suggest blaming a woman for being raped, or that there was any way a woman could give consent when drunk, lawyers get paid to do that, and to make people like you believe it. And because there’s such thing as reasonable doubt when it’s he said she said, they are often succeful, which means the girl is victimized once when it happens, then by the lawyer. I am sick by this, but I’m not going to lament that it’s just horrible that it happens and shouldn’t, then walk away and feel like a better person then the people who think something els, I’m going to listen to why those people think this way, I’m going to talk about it when I see an opertunity and I’m going to try to get a conversation started so that we as a society can clearfy everyone’s stance on these things. Just yelling at someone that they are an awful person because of what they believe or do doesn’t advance the converstation. Anyway, Robin, if you think it’s important to talk feminism do it, otherwise we’ll continue to be a community where some people look down on those who disagree with them as beneath consideration and the rest look up at you with all sorts of loathing and discontent.

  58. Anon76
    Apr 14, 2010 @ 23:35:45

    @Robin:

    You quoted:

    “Women can not count on absolute safety no matter the situation. They still need to exercise common sense. What makes me so impatient about this failure to comprehend reality is that women ARE actually vulnerable to assault and rape. Real rape, not fuzzy participatory “rape.” I'm not very big and I'm not very strong, and that makes me feel vulnerable in parking lots and certain other places. So I'd just as soon not have women teasing men into a frenzied rage and looking to vent that rage on a bystander to this sexual chaos (me).”

    See, this whole section bothers the heck out of me. As I’m sure it did others.

    Most disturbing to me:

    Real rape, not fuzzy participatory “rape.”

    And then it was followed by:

    “So I'd just as soon not have women teasing men into a frenzied rage and looking to vent that rage on a bystander to this sexual chaos (me).”

    I’m not exactly sure if this was a post from Rachel, but still, the thought process expressed places blame on anyone other than the perpetrator. Yes, those thoughts were couched within reasonable arguments, but the basis seems to be…”the guy just couldn’t help it. You loose women did this to him and I don’t want to pay the price.”

    A total blame shift IMHO.

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  61. Robin
    Apr 15, 2010 @ 11:07:10

    @Melissa Blue:

    Though throughout my first reading of her first comment I saw how little she thought of men. … Now I think that would have been an interesting viewpoint. Did feminism emasculate men somehow? Can our society ever have an even balance of power between men and women? *Especially if you've read A Room of her Own which talks heavily about this imbalance* BUT bringing up these questions or opinions while talking about rape was bound for disaster.

    I noted the low opinion of men, as well, Melissa. And I totally agree with you that the way any potential questions about the relationship between feminism and contemporary masculinity were overshadowed by the inflammatory attacks on women and the overt blaming of feminism for myriad social ills. But I always have a difficult time understanding how smart, sensitive people develop these extreme opinions and think them rational. So I’m still puzzling over the whole thing, frankly.

    @LB:

    The more I hear about Rachel's other blog, the more I worry I may have been wrong to defend her, because I like you read fear and anger and I also read frustration. Because I never considered hate I guess some of the more unkind things she said I took as simply not fully thought out comments or twisted them to meet my own feelings about the youth culture (which I feel is generaly toxic for young people) when perhaps she was saying something else.

    I don’t know how you would have responded to Rachel’s other blog, but I found quite a lot of it *extremely* disturbing and, quite honestly, baffling. And it was attracting followers like this: http://counterfem.blogspot.com/2010/04/army-outside-their-door.html, whose views I find downright scary.

    That said, I still have such fond memories and impressions of another Rachel, a kind, literate, passionately bookish woman, that I don’t know what to think right now. To me, it’s like two completely different people inhabiting one persona.

    @Anon76: Of course it’s a blame shift – I don’t think that’s even disputable. But what strikes me hard there is, as Melissa pointed out, the low opinion of men. I see the fear there, too, and besides the irony of being anti-feminist while suggesting men are mere animals, I am just completely taken aback by the IMO extreme sense of fear and rage in her words.

  62. DianeN
    Apr 15, 2010 @ 12:57:59

    One of the more interesting details involving Rachel’s resignation from AAR that I’ve not seen mentioned by anyone is that the reason she gave in her farewell post was that she was in a reading slump. More of a WRITING slump, imo. And what is honestly baffling to me about the entire situation is that if she felt compelled to air her views about everything from date rape to the evils of feminism, why not just take off her AAR hat first? She could have done it as some unaffiliated Rachel. It wouldn’t have changed the responses she received, but at least the backlash wouldn’t have tainted AAR in any way.

  63. Fidelbogen
    Apr 15, 2010 @ 15:37:09

    “And it was attracting followers like this: http://counterfem.blogspot.com/2010/04/army-outside-their-door.html, whose views I find downright scary.”

    Who me?? A FOLLOWER??

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