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

Wednesday Midday Links: What do readers want from HP/Riva/Modern

Is Amazon doing some faint quality control? Amazon, in response to customer complaints, request took down a self published title be republished because of grammatical and typographical errors.

Dear Publisher,

Thank you for your submission of “Title Here” (ASIN: ASIN NUMBER HERE) to the Kindle Store through Amazon KDP.
During a quality assurance review of your title, we have found that there are typographical errors within your title.
Please make the necessary corrections to the title and republish it.

If you have further questions, please write to us at [email protected] Please reference ticket number 10118228 when contacting us.

Best wishes,
Amazon KDP

Upon further inquiry, Amazon responded with this:

Thank you so much for contacting us about the errors within the book content of your Kindle title “The Kindness of Strangers.” I checked with our quality team and confirmed that there are a few typographical errors within your book content. Unfortunately, we’re unable to provide you with exact locations the errors reflect, however, our customers feel there are errors like the use of the verbs lie and lay were used incorrectly in various locations.

Hence, our quality team believes that few corrections are required to be made within your book content in order to avoid our Kindle readers coming back with a feedback of quality issue with your book. I hope this helps you in making the necessary corrections to the book content. If you have any further questions or clarifications, please feel free to write to us and we’ll be glad to assist you.

Thanks for using Amazon KDP. Have a nice day!

On the one hand I can see this being abused but on the other, I’m glad that Amazon is taking steps to exert some quality assurance. If anything, this tells me that I need to write Amazon and return any book that I feel is subpar. As a caveat, though, please note that Amazon has suspended accounts where there have been too many returns so readers should be careful when using the the return feature.

However, if Amazon starts doing more of this, even the scare of getting the book pulled down might encourage authors to use editors before self publishing.

*****

Reader Ridley and I had a minor disagreement on Twitter over Harlequin’s inclusion of the Modern and Riva books in the HP line. Mills & Boon Modern and Riva lines are purportedly different than the HP line and some readers prefer a delineation in the US. For me, I prefer them all clumped together because I have an HP subscription (8 books for $25 a month) but Ridley would like a subscription to just the Modern and/or Riva books. What do you readers think?

******

I heard a rumor that there was a publisher who was going to put out 3 books a day, 7 days a week. I received confirmation of that today from Siren/Bookstrand:

Increased reader demand for new Siren-BookStrand titles continues to shift our demand curve outward. In turn, we will release more new titles to shift our supply curve outward.

One or two new releases a day doesn’t seem to be enough for our voracious readers. To accommodate this ongoing change in demand, we are on course to publish 3 books a day, 7 days a week, later this year.

Many of our authors benefit financially from our ability to attract new readers and to retain loyal readers who keep coming back to Siren-BookStrand for fresh titles.

We publish erotic romance in various categories, genres, and themes. One-third of our titles are ménage, one-third gay (man love), and one-third M/F (one man/one woman). The majority of our books are between 30,000 to 45,000 words. Many of our books are between 45,000 and 100,000 words.

I asked whether there would be an increase in staff to accommodate this increased output but haven’t heard back.

******

With the bigger traditional publishers not participating in the digital library market (like Macmillan and Simon & Schuster) or imposing ridiculous limits (like HarperCollins 26 lending limit), libraries are turning to smaller publishers with digital first offerings to supplement the catalog. Libraries are working with NetGalley to receive ARCs of digital first books. The only digital first publishers participating in NetGalley right now are Carina Press, Avon Impulse, and Red Sage. I don’t imagine that Avon Impulse will have different lending guidelines. This could be a real boon for Carina Press whose books are sold DRM free and without library limitations. In other words, library users will have access to Maria Zannini’s latest book but not Kresley Cole’s.

As a result of these restrictions by big publishers, McCormack says librarians are turning to smaller presses, which are generally less restrictive about offering access to their ebooks. Library Journal‘s arrangement with NetGalley will introduce librarians to new titles from many of these smaller e-book-only romance publishers. Angela James, Executive Editor of Harlequin’s Carina Press, estimates that over half of digital-first content is in the romance genre.

*******

Amazon has launched its second imprint. This one is called Thomas & Mercer and will be publishing mysteries and thrillers.

The four launch titles are Resuscitation by D M Annechino, Stirred by J A Konrath and Blake Crouch, The Immortalists by Kyle Mills and Already Gone by John Rector.

*******

19th C Kindle

And under the category of too cool for words, is Rachel Walsh’s 19th Century explanation of the Kindle. She is an an Illustration student studying at Cardiff School of Art & Design and her project was to “Explain something modern/internet based to someone who lived and died before 1900”. Go and see it.

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

34 Comments

  1. Sunita
    May 18, 2011 @ 10:19:50

    Siren/Bookstrand? Really? The same publisher which just pulled a debut book because it plagiarized a well-known m/m writer? This does not fill me with confidence.

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  2. Sunita
    May 18, 2011 @ 10:39:18

    I should have included links with my comment. Teddy Pig posted about it here and here. I piled on here.

    ReplyReply

  3. Chris
    May 18, 2011 @ 10:47:24

    Am I the only one thinking:

    1) Montlake Romance and Thomas & Mercer…who’s naming these imprints?

    2) JA Konrath, the King of Self-Pub Kool-Aid, is one of the launch authors for a new publishing imprint? Even if it is Amazon, that’s kinda funny, no?

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  4. Darlynne
    May 18, 2011 @ 10:52:49

    Rachel Walsh is brilliant.

    Three books a day, seven days a week at Siren/Brookstrand: Will there be any time spent on editing?

    Finally, from the Irony Department:

    Unfortunately, we’re unable to provide you with exact locations the errors reflect, however, our customers feel there are errors like the use of the verbs lie and lay were used incorrectly in various locations.

    Amazon, heal thyself.

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  5. SH
    May 18, 2011 @ 11:06:13

    I am so incredibly confused by all the Mills and Boon and Harlequin imprints. I’m not American, so it’s Mills and Boon where I am, but I buy most of my books online from Harlequin. I’d like things kind of standardised, but then American romance readers (sorry for the massive generalisation) tend to be a different beast to readers in lots of other countries, and it seems the division works in other places.

    I don’t know what the best thing to do is, as these are not lines I’m particularly fond of.

    I’m not sure about Amazon’s way of handling ‘quality control’, but they should do something. There’s so much unedited crap for sale over there, much of it so poorly-written I don’t even understand what’s going on in the plot. I stick to mainstream books now – it’s not worth the gamble with the little guys.

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  6. Suzannah
    May 18, 2011 @ 11:22:12

    I live in the UK, but agree that putting Modern and Riva into one category as “Presents” is confusing. They’re very different types of books. I love Moderns but I’m not a Riva fan at all. Therefore, a subscription that included both of them would annoy me. But ebooks may help here – you can buy a bundle of Moderns or Rivas every month from the M&B site, and as far as I know you don’t have to be in the UK to do it. Certainly I buy from Harlequin all the time with a UK credit card and no problems (they have a lot more backlist ebook titles than M&B, bizarrely) so I’m sure it works both ways. Even if it cost a bit more to buy from M&B with the prices in pounds, you’d probably save by not getting books from the line you didn’t want.

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  7. Mireya
    May 18, 2011 @ 11:23:23

    whoa… and that person thought she was not going to get caught…obviously neither she nor her publisher seem to have any sort of knowledge about the fact that in this environment, everyone knows/writes/edits/reviews everyone else. You have to be incredibly naive (and I am being kind here) to try and pull something like that involving work from a rather known and reputable epub.

    As to the soon to be factory, I feel sorry for any authors working there who are actually good at what they do. Seems like the company believes that they have a brand name to rely on, like EC. If they succeed good for them, but this is going to be quite interesting to watch.

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  8. willaful
    May 18, 2011 @ 11:37:56

    I really dislike random M&B books being published as Harlequin Presents. (I even have a GoodReads bookshelf for them — faux-hps.) Nothing against those books, but when I pick up an HP, I’m not looking for chicklit or career stories or medical themes, I’m looking for HP drama. The whole reason I put up with so much of the crap associated with these book is that I know what I’m getting and it bugs the hell out of me that they’ve muddied the waters so much.

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  9. Christine M.
    May 18, 2011 @ 11:47:31

    Another bit of (‘older’) news since I think it’s of interest, publishing-wise and it’s (at least partly) romance-oriented:

    Amazon has been censoring yaoi manga titles (about 20 have been identified so far) from the Kindle store/people’s accounts recently but yet the print editions are still up for sale.

    http://theyaoireview.com/2011/05/09/kindle-yaoi-censorship-updates/
    http://publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/digital/content-and-e-books/article/47102-amazon-removes-some-explicit-yaoi-manga-from-kindle-store.html

    Another AmazonFail, if you ask me.

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  10. Sunita
    May 18, 2011 @ 12:04:59

    @willaful: Interesting! For me, the Moderns provided a gateway back to the more OTT HPs. I agree the Medicals don’t really fit, but I don’t think they don’t do that many now, since they have a US Medicals line.

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  11. Nadia Lee
    May 18, 2011 @ 12:40:59

    Amazon, in response to customer complaints, took down a self published title on the basis of grammatical and typographical errors.

    Hey Jane,

    Just to let you know, they didn’t pull the title. They just told the author to make necessary editorial changes and re-upload. (BTW — she received the notice because she was trying to update her book with a new version.)

    So even if the author gets the “fix your book” note from Amazon, s/he doesn’t need do anything so long as the old version has been published by Amazon already.

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  12. MaryK
    May 18, 2011 @ 13:16:48

    the Modern and/or Riva books. What do you readers think?

    I haven’t really noticed. But then I read by author mostly so I don’t get all the HPs only certain ones. Honestly, I have enough trouble figuring out which HP title corresponds to which M&B title; I rarely notice which M&B line it came from.

    HQN/M&B are so big on connecting with readers I don’t understand why they create such confusion by delaying publication and retitling. I mean, I keep track of certain authors through social media and will get excited about a book somebody has coming out except, oh, it doesn’t have a HQN release date and, by the way, the title might change. I end up waiting on this vague, nebulous book that maybe I’ll recognize by the similar cover image.

    Anyway. Do the Modern/Riva books all come out as HP Extras? If so, they could offer an Extra only subscription. The least they could do, IMO, is have a cross-referenced list on their website.

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  13. S. Buck
    May 18, 2011 @ 13:31:37

    @Mireya:

    I don’t think it was a matter of being ‘caught’ as you suggest. It was more that it was an issue with editing. The author posted everywhere that her book was ‘unedited’ and didn’t make any secrets about it. Her title was never removed. There are more posts and an updated one stated the complaints were based on an old version she had released back in 2010 (the complaint was over 11 months old or based on an older version of the book). The author had it edited recently.

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  14. Jill Q.
    May 18, 2011 @ 13:41:35

    What MaryK said. It’s very frustrating to try to keep track of books when the UK and US release dates are so far apart and the titles can be different. Some authors are good about keeping this kind of info up to date on their websites. Others are not.

    I actually like the Harlequin Presents Extra better than (most) Harlequin Presents and would love a Riva equivalent in the US. B/c it’s hard to tell, I tend to just stick to authors I know, but it would be nice to try new authors too!

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  15. Kate Walker
    May 18, 2011 @ 14:33:21

    The Modern/Presents/Presents Extra/Riva thing is perhaps more confusing because it has been changed several times in both UK and USA. Presents titles used to be sourced from the Mills & Boon Modern publication list. That was when there was a line called Temptation here in UK . Then Temptation was modernised (sorry about the pun) and became Modern Extra. The Modern Extra books were brought out in Presents Extra. Then Modern Extra became Modern Heat – are you keeping up with this? Me neither! Ok so Modern Heat books were published in the main run of Presents for a while and some of the Modern/Presents sourced books were brought out as ‘Extra’ Presents . .
    Then it all changed again – some of the Modern Extra/Heat books became RIVA and the Extras – that’s the Presents Extras – are now divided into 2 collections – two books are sourced from the main run of Presents/Modern authors (authors like me, Sarah Morgan, Abby Green, Robyn Donald . . . .) and are what you could call Classic Presents – and two other books are sourced from the UK RIVA line (authors like Kelly Hunter, Heidi Rice, Natalie Anderson . . .) The two themed ‘collections’ have separate names – just to confuzzle things even more – so that my The Proud Wife, together with Jacqueline Baird’s Picture of Innocence (Classic Presents/Modern) is in ‘Italian Temptation’ in April while Natalie Anderson and Heidi Rice (RIVA) are in ‘One Hot Fling’. And I’m sure everyone who has read even just these will see they have a distinct and different atmosphere, intensity and conflict style – where you probably prefer one to the other.

    Now in the UK it’s getting one more complication in that some of the books published in RIVA here are actually by authors like Liz Fielding or Nina Harrington or Jessica Hart – who used to be published in Romance and will be in Harlequin Romance in America!

    Clear as mud? It’s not been easy to keep up even when you’re in the middle of it all and actually being published in one of the lines yourself! Sometimes the only way is to buy by authors you like first and foremost and for other/newer writers check out the Modern Romance and RIVA sections on the M&B site. Or the Harlequin Presents authors web site that gives you the Classic Presents authors booksor the RIVA authors on sensationalromance.blogspot.

    And then of course there are the books that suddenly change name when they cross the ocean to America . .. Sometimes the author’s web site is the only source for the info on this.

    Now I just hope I’ve got all this right and up to date – of course it could all change again next week!

    Hope this helps – or doesn’t confuse you totally

    Kate

    Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Best Presents Extra – The Konstantos Marriage Demand

    The Good Greek Wife? M&B Modern July 2010/Presents Extra October 2010
    Mediterranean Tycoons (Alpha Collection) February 2011
    The Proud Wife M&B Modern March 2011 Presents Extra April 2011
    One Night in Madrid Collection May 2011
    The Return of The Stranger M&B Modern September 2011/Presents Extra October 2011

    12 Point Guide To Writing Romance – Now on KINDLE

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  16. Ros
    May 18, 2011 @ 15:04:02

    I’m in the UK, so I get to see which books are Modern and which Riva. As far as I know, Modern and Riva books both turn up in the US as Presents. Though some Rivas are from what used to be Romance, so they might appear in the US as Romance instead.

    I like the way it’s divided in the UK. I like both Riva and Modern, but they do have a very different feel and I like to know what I’m getting with each.

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  17. Lynn Raye Harris
    May 18, 2011 @ 15:04:18

    What Kate said. ;) I try really hard to keep my readers informed about books having different titles in the UK and the US. Believe me, the authors are just as frustrated with trying to sort it all out as the readers are. We don’t want you to buy the same book twice (if that’s not your intent!) and we also don’t want you confused as to what author writes which type of book. If you like the lighter RIVA reads, you probably won’t like me. And if you like my books, the opposite may be true.

    The best way to keep up is by author. If a book was released as RIVA in the UK, it will be a Presents Extra here (for now). Assuming it isn’t a Romance. Sigh. And I have an Extra next month that is definitely not a RIVA — it was a Modern with a different title (Prince Voronov’s Virgin is now Behind the Palace Walls — I know, I know).

    Sorry, I know you asked for reader comments, but I just wanted to say that it frustrates us too. I try to make it clear on Goodreads (and my site) which book is which, but if anyone ever wants clarification about one of my books, email me.

    And to answer your question as a reader, yes, I think it should be clear. Mills & Boon Modern has always been Harlequin Presents. Putting other types of books in the mix frustrates me as a reader. Before I became a Presents author, I was not happy to pick up a book and get a totally different story than I wanted to read. As an author for the line, I now understand who writes what and which books are which. But readers shouldn’t have to jump through those hoops when all they want is a good story of the type they prefer to read. The subscription service could be either/or or both. Different tiers with different prices to make everyone happy.

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  18. Ros
    May 18, 2011 @ 15:07:53

    *waves at Lynn*

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  19. Lynn Raye Harris
    May 18, 2011 @ 15:18:34

    @Ros: Hello, Ros! :)

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  20. MaryK
    May 18, 2011 @ 15:19:26

    @Kate Walker:

    Sometimes the only way is to buy by authors you like first and foremost

    That’s pretty much what I do. It wasn’t long ago though that all the M&Bs didn’t make it to the HPs. There was an Abby Green title in His Irish Bride (a collection?) that still hasn’t made it to the US. (She does a good job of showing all versions on her website.) I think they mostly all end up in the US now but I’m not completely sure so I always wonder if I should buy from M&B so as not to miss one I’m interested in.

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  21. Merrian
    May 18, 2011 @ 18:26:28

    @Christine M.:
    It reads like an amazonfail to me as well. I am very concerned about the lack of transparent process too, with no recourse or explanation offered. This isn’t just about whatever mad judgement someone has come to re yaoi manga content but about the exercise of arbitrary control over what we have access to read by the dominant e-book retailer. I don’t own a kindle and events like these help keep me ‘open source’.

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  22. Kaz Augustin
    May 18, 2011 @ 19:52:41

    That’s “Zannini” not “Zinnini” and a link to her site is here

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  23. Ridley
    May 18, 2011 @ 20:40:20

    I read straight-up HPs only sparingly and only after Jane pre-screens them for me. The Riva/HP Extras/Modern Heats/Samophlange books, though, I’ll grab on blurb alone and in handfuls.

    I have no life and can easily cross-check them on Goodreads, but it’d be a hell of a lot easier to just have a separate tab at eHarlequin to browse from.

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  24. Niveau
    May 18, 2011 @ 21:34:25

    I’ve been annoyed by the lumping of different M&B series into HPs for ages now. I like some Moderns, and I like most Modern Heat/Riva/whatever it is now, but the two are very very very different and any time I pick up one expecting the other, I get really mad at Harlequin. (And generally dislike the book, no matter how good it is, because it’s not what I wanted.)

    ETA: Also, on the topic of things that annoy me about the Harlequin/M&B differences, I am madly in love with my UK copies of the Bad Blood collection, which are beautiful and fabulous and I would SO TOTALLY BUY from Harlequin. Why do we only get cheap quality mass markets over here? (Also: way better covers. Way better.)

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  25. MaryK
    May 18, 2011 @ 22:22:04

    @Ridley: Uh, I kinda didn’t realize Goodreads had that info. :*)

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  26. Moriah Jovan
    May 19, 2011 @ 00:08:37

    I downloaded the sample of that book. Yeah, there were quite a few proofing errors and misuse of hyphens. They were not things an algorithm could’ve picked up; a human would have had to do it.

    That said:

    1) It was pretty nicely formatted. I wish a lot of the NY pubbed books that are $7 more expensive were that nicely formatted.

    2) I would have noticed the errors even if I hadn’t been looking for them, but I still didn’t find them taking me out of the story.

    3) I believe this was complained about by a customer, which is a customer’s right; however, it was a 99c book, so I have to wonder why anybody would bother to complain.

    So to me, the whole situation looks like a one-off.

    The author said she had had it professionally edited and proofed and proofed again, so I think the lesson here for self-pubbers is to be very, very careful of the qualifications of those you hire.

    Of course, the author’s problem here is that she doesn’t know what she doesn’t know, so it’s kind of a vicious circle. I don’t know a good solution to that.

    Anyway, I’ve returned one ebook for horrible formatting, but it was $9.99. For these little things in a 99c novel that was nicely formatted and fairly interesting despite the fact I was looking for errors? All I can say is…really?

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  27. Julie
    May 19, 2011 @ 04:01:08

    The Modern/Riva/Presents thing doesn’t really bother me, but I can see how it can cause problems for other readers – especially those who don’t spend much time online. I knew since the Riva series was launched as a Modern Extra, that the stories where going to be different from their Modern/Presents equivalent and more fun and flirty in tone. But I can see how it can confuse some readers.

    I think the Riva line is a great idea. In the UK, the Romance line has been divided into Cherish and Riva, which makes much more sense – although sometimes I do think that some titles that have been published as RIVAs could easily have fitted into Cherish. But I guess M&B know what they are doing…

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  28. Sally
    May 19, 2011 @ 07:03:04

    But Jane, there are 10 HPs that come out each month: 8 classic Presents and 2 Rivas. Since you get 8 books from your subscription I assume they’re all the classic Presents. Therefore if the Rivas were separated from HP Extras it wouldn’t affect your subscription at all…or am I reading this wrong? :O

    First of all, I don’t even understand how the Modern Heat books became a subcategory of Modern in the first place. I’ll admit, some of them read like a classic Modern/Presents book but with characters in normal professions, but others read like a Blaze, Desire, chick lit, or some new category. Totally different and I sure was not amused when I came across them when they were first introduced as a Presents a few years ago.

    So yes I’m all for giving them a new category.
    I’d also like for M&B and Harlequin to agree on one title for their books and stick with it. Harlequin/M&B, if you’re reading this, please don’t make it so hard on your readers.

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  29. Sally
    May 19, 2011 @ 07:09:53

    P.S. Last year Tell Harlequin sent two Modern Heat/Riva books with blank covers for their surveys. I was hoping that meant they were considering separating them from Presents.

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  30. Ros
    May 19, 2011 @ 08:01:23

    Sally, I don’t think it’s quite that straightforward, sadly. Some of the Presents Extra books are Modern, not Riva, like Lynn Raye Harris’s book she mentioned in an earlier comment. And some of the Presents books started life as a Riva, or a Medical, or something else.

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  31. Hannah
    May 19, 2011 @ 08:33:12

    I checked out the current options for HP subscriptions. I’m wondering with the 4 or 6 book option, do you still get the HP Extra titles?
    I prefer the HP Extra aka Modern Heat Riva titles but I still read some classic HPs especially certain authors.

    Regarding the ebook formatting, I was happy to see that some issues had been fixed in a Kindle book that I had sampled a few months ago (The First Love Cookie Club by Lori Wilde) and had reported typographical issues–every other paragraph or so a few words would run together. While this is something I would ignore in an egalley, I certainly wasn’t going to pay $7.99 for a book with so many errors.

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  32. Sally
    May 19, 2011 @ 17:19:01

    @Ros: Please forgive me if I am reading your comments wrong.

    Yes I know, but before the Riva books became part of Presents Extra, they were regular Presents (back when Harlequin released 8 of them and 4 Extras). To me, the Presents Extra aren’t any different from the regular presents, hence you have Lynn Raye Harris’s books sometimes published as a Presents or a Presents Extra. I look at Presents Extra as…”you want moar Presents? Here you go, Presents Extra.” Then Harlequin cut down on the number of Presents released each month and moved the Rivas as the last two Extras. I don’t see why Harlequin can’t move them again to whole different line.

    Moving to what Kate Walker said above, what I don’t understand is why M&B Temptation became Modern Extra.

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  33. Jamie Michele
    May 19, 2011 @ 22:00:25

    @Chris: Montlake is a neighborhood of Seattle just south of the University of Washington, and Thomas and Mercer are both streets downtown. “Mercer” and “Montlake” immediately evoke Seattle for me, and since Amazon is a Seattle-based company, that all makes sense.

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  34. Lynne Connolly
    May 21, 2011 @ 07:11:18

    another UK reader piping up here.
    I’m getting confused. The Riva line is an uncomfortable mix of the steamy Modern Extras and the milder Romance lines. You don’t know what you’re getting unless you read the blurb.
    Also – they are starting to change the titles of the books they are publishing and since I buy from both the UK site and the US one, I’ve two times bought the same book twice, if you see what I mean. That annoys me beyond reason, a real hot button for me.
    I used to buy the books I couldn’t wait for from Modern, but wait for most of them from Presents. Since I review some of them for a US based site, that made more sense. But now I don’t know what’s coming out where and with the change of title, that’s getting even worse. and with the change of cover design, you can’t even tell from the cover any more. They used to use the same shot of the hero and heroine on both covers, so you could tell more easily. And the titles have never been a selling point, so I rarely took any notice of them.
    Recently I bought the Bad Blood series. The titles of all eight books in the series, and the title of the series itself is being changed for the US market. So there’s another one to watch for. (And Kindle users, beware. If you buy the series in a bundle, what you get is one ginormous file, not the books in separate files).
    In a way, it’s good for the authors, because I am now taking much more notice of the authors of the individual books and checking up on them. Fantastic Fiction is a great site for this, btw. They tell you alternative titles and formats.
    So I like what used to be Modern Heat and Modern. I dread to think what they’re planning to do with the Desire line, another favourite. At the moment they’re distinctively different in design, and none of the authors are bleeding over into other lines. Long may that continue.
    I know there is a new editor at Mills and Boon who is ambitious and wants to make her presence felt. Perhaps this is her way of doing it.

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