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

Wednesday Midday Links: Amazon’s long game

I thought today was Thursday and tomorrow was Friday. I guess I am anxious for the weekend. The big news in publishing right now is the information coming from Digital Book World. Digital Book World is a new publishing conference put on by publishing professionals for publishing professionals. I did not attend but have been reading tweets and blog posts about the conference. The best summaries I have found is at Teleread and I suggest reading these three:

One thing that is rarely mentioned on this blog and I feel badly for it is the negative attitude some publishers have toward libraries, particularly when it comes to digital lending.   Sarah Wendell asked Brian Napack of Macmillan why the Macmillan books aren’t available to libraries in digital form. Napack replied that they are working on a business model that makes sense to them.   What does this mean? Apparently publishers believe that the library patron is not a book buyer.   I am not sure where publishers get this idea as it is well known that publishers don’t view readers as their customers and thus have very little data on consumer spending habits.

The one nugget that really resonated with me is that Amazon is selling most ebooks at cost or less (does this include Agency books that are priced “at cost”).   When I was pulling up links for a review yesterday, I noticed that BN.com had web ads for other companies:

Amazon has no similar advertising. The reason is that Amazon wants to become a fulfillment center for every purchase you make.   Amazon will be expanding AmazonTote which brings grocery shopping to your door. I know other urban centers already have this feature through other providers, but my smaller urban center does not.   There are no fees of any kind (does this mean that Prime is going to be phased out?) The terms are this: buy anything you want up to 50 lbs and up to twice a week, it will be delivered to your door in a weather resistant bag.   You leave the bag on your doorstep with any item you want returned for free.

The idea here is that Amazon is using Kindle and Kindle books to gain readers who obviously have other needs.   Amazon’s apparent promise will be that anything you could ever imagine can be delivered to your doorstep, whether it is digital books and digital movies or a five pound bag of flour and a box of diapers. Right now, it looks like the books are loss leaders.   Amazon doesn’t ever want you to leave its site. Everything you want can be purchased there.

****

I forgot to mention that I am sponsoring a Goodreads giveaway of 15 copies of Thea Harrison’s Dragon Bound, a May paranormal romance that I think readers will really enjoy.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Dragon Bound (Elder Races, #1) by Thea Harrison

Dragon Bound

by Thea Harrison

Giveaway ends January 31, 2011.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

We’ll be giving away copies on Dear Author later in February for those who aren’t and don’t want to be goodreads users.

****

Ursula LeGuin blogs about how she may be too immoral for the HarperCollins given its morality clause.   I appreciated this comment:

This is quite strange! Since when does falling into public contempt and thereby garnering media attention contribute to declining book sales?

Too true.   How do these celebrities pass muster?   Aren’t they a byword for immorality?

****

Karen Scott posted to a link to an “epic ranty review” of Sarah Mayberry’s Amorous Liasons which pointed out that everything that Mayberry could have written incorrectly about ballet dancers, she did.   In February, I’m going to post a piece entitled “When has accuracy ever ruined anything?”   I think you can guess which side of the fence I am on. I understand where a reader, like Karen, will say this didn’t bother me because I don’t know jack squat about ballet.   Essentially Karen is saying “is accuracy important in romances?”   I don’t think that is the right question.   To me, the right question is, would Amorous Liasons been a worse book if Mayberry had been more accurate in her depiction of the heroine’s dancing profession?

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

62 Comments

  1. Joy
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 11:26:23

    As someone who knows barely more than jack squat about ballet (and who read Amorous Liaisons this month)–it doesn’t bother me in the least that a particular dance company was incorrectly portrayed as a ballet company rather than a mostly-modern-dance company. On the other hand, it would bother me a bit more if it is inaccurate to the general craft or profession of ballet, because learning a bit more about something I don’t already know about is a secondary effect of reading a book like Amorous Liaisons.

    ReplyReply

  2. Jinni
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 11:36:49

    I think that e-books and libraries are a natural fit. Libraries could reduce the cost of acquisition (books do have a limited life, esp. paperbacks), they could increase their romance sections, and it could increase the sale of digital readers (not important to publishers in the short term, I know). I read about 3 or 4 books a week – nearly 75% from the library – but I buy many books as well. I’m tired of being treated like a second class citizen by publishers.

    ReplyReply

  3. Tweets that mention Wednesday Midday Links: Amazon’s long game | Dear Author -- Topsy.com
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 11:42:40

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sandra Crowley, dearauthor. dearauthor said: NewPost: Wednesday Midday Links: Amazon's long game http://bit.ly/firiQo [...]

  4. LG
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 11:57:37

    It’s not just publishers that think library users don’t buy books. I’ve had people hear that I work at a library and then ask why I still buy so many books for myself. There seems to be this idea that if you can get something for free (yes, your taxes pay for libraries, or your tuition and fees pay for your academic library, but you don’t have to pay directly for the things you check out and you don’t pay a fee as you walk through the door, so it tends to _feel_ free), you won’t ever pay money for it, and that’s just not true. In fact, sometimes “free” can end up selling more – after all, people still buy DVD sets for shows they could be watching legally for free online.

    ReplyReply

  5. Sandra Crowley
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 12:08:46

    Fascinating post. While the thought of Amazon providing one’s every need is somewhat unnerving, I can see a benefit for shut-ins.

    Libraries are awesome! Their patrons are, too, and usually support book stores equally generously. My quota of ly today.

    ReplyReply

  6. Ridley
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 12:13:00

    Karen Scott posted to a link to an “epic ranty review” of Sarah Mayberry's Amorous Liasons which pointed out that everything that Mayberry could have written incorrectly about ballet dancers, she did.

    I have no idea who Karen Scott is, but as soon as I saw this sentence I thought, “I wonder if this is about a Zosia review.”

    It’s worth noting that Zosia’s a huge Sarah Mayberry fan. Huge. Zosia hates kids in romance or any sort of baby drama, yet she read and enjoyed The Best Laid Plans because she figured if anyone could make her like romance babies, it’s Mayberry.

    So I think the ballet rant is relevant. Here’s an author she usually loves and will read outside her thematic comfort zone for, and her enjoyment is wrecked by a lack of research by the author into a field Zosia’s familiar with. It’s a worse book for its inaccuracy.

    It’s no different than Jane disliking lawyer romances that make stuff up, a Navy reader thinking Lora Leigh’s bizarre for setting a SEAL series in Alabama, Sarah F.’s distaste for exploitative BDSM romance or my unmitigated rage for child-like disabled protagonists. We’re all readers turned off a book by its inaccuracies. Getting the details correct would have made them more enjoyable to more people.

    Those unfamiliar with a subject won’t be turned off by more accuracy, so why not go the extra step to make sure you don’t alienate those who are familiar with it?

    ReplyReply

  7. nasanta
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 12:30:30

    @Ridley: Great reply. That’s pretty much how I feel about accuracy in romance books. If it’s something I have passing familiarity with and the author gets it wrong, yes, I will wince and my pleasure in the book will diminish. However, if I have no clue about what the author is writing, ignorance is bliss.

    ReplyReply

  8. Isobel Carr
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 12:30:49

    Those unfamiliar with a subject won't be turned off by more accuracy, so why not go the extra step to make sure you don't alienate those who are familiar with it?

    Couldn't have said it better myself (and this includes getting historical details right and making sure your world building holds up in paranormals IMO).

    ReplyReply

  9. Pat
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 12:35:13

    “Those unfamiliar with a subject won't be turned off by more accuracy, so why not go the extra step to make sure you don't alienate those who are familiar with it?”

    Yes Oh Yes Oh Yes!

    ReplyReply

  10. Tamara
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 12:41:46

    Is accuracy important in romances?

    Accuracy is important in every blessed thing you write. And do, for that matter.

    ReplyReply

  11. Christine M.
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 12:46:40

    What Ridley said. =)

    ReplyReply

  12. Moriah Jovan
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 12:48:04

    Ballet isn’t my forte by any stretch, but I do have enough life experience to have caught some of the more egregious details Zosia pointed out, like en pointe barefoot, and it would have ruined the story’s credibility for me.

    And while accuracy (or facsimile thereof) may not enhance the experience for some readers, lack of it does HURT the experience for others. Really, is it so hard to get some details right?

    ReplyReply

  13. Moriah Jovan
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 12:48:58

    Oh. Ridley got there before I did and much better, too. What she said.

    ReplyReply

  14. Morgan Karpiel
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 12:56:22

    OK, in the “CEO’s View of the Future” I was a little irked to read this from Friedman:

    “As for competing with Amazon, we are the ones who bring the content not Amazon, but are partners and will compete a little bit. If publishers focus on content will do OK. Publisher should be the arbiter of taste.”

    How about the authors? What do they do? Do they not bring the content? How about the A-listers that are dabbling in self-publishing now? Not content? And what about consumers? Are they not fitting “arbiters of taste”? I think that I’ve just been insulted on 2 levels—-Am I off base?

    As an author selling quite well on Amazon right now, I have to question whether he’s really got a handle on how much ground they’ve lost. Maybe I’m being overly sensitive, but it sounds like Friedman still believes that publishing houses will control the industry—Umm how? Through arrogance and overpricing, apparently. Good plan. Wish them luck with that. Meanwhile, I’ll be delivering more tasteless, non-content to Amazon this month.

    ReplyReply

  15. Annabel
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 13:02:22

    The thing about accuracy is that it’s the ONE thing an author knows he or she can get “right.”

    I have seen ranty reviews from people not liking the hero or heroine’s personality or body type, people disagreeing with the h//h’s choices, people feeling the dominants in a BDSM book are “too mean” or the submissives “too submissive”, or that a situation was not realistic enough for their taste, or that book was not long enough or too long. It’s pretty much impossible to write anything that doesn’t irritate/annoy/p*ss someone off. EXCEPT when it comes to research and accuracy.

    So for that reason, you would think every author would be going for 100% accuracy. It takes a little extra time but it’s literally the one and only thing an author can get right for every reader who picks up her book. (says Annabel, who has suffered through some ranty reviews…)

    ReplyReply

  16. whome
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 13:44:53

    Amazon has no similar advertising.

    Sorry, not true. Amazon has ads. It’s just that it’s much harder to find them in the mess that is their webpage. In fact, they had ads first. Many, many, many years ago.

    ReplyReply

  17. Dana
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 13:48:31

    I agree with everyone who says that inaccuracies drive them crazy. I will forgive small things that only someone truly in a field would know, but I do often encounter large gaping inaccuracies in books, tv, and movies in things that even a non-expert who has some knowledge of the thing would recognize. And the worst, worst of all is the inaccuracies as to locations. I live in NYC, and it sometimes seems like writers just make up things without even doing a basic google search. The show Castle is really bad about that, we love the show, but it’s like none of the writers have even ever visited NY. Couldn’t they get one native NYer proof those things?

    But, I also must say that for someone who really is intimately involved in a field, even a book written by someone who does know quite a bit about the field can ring false. For example, I am a lawyer in a big NY law firm. Whenever anyone writes a book about a lawyer in a big law firm, I find that it is nothing at all like my experience, or that of my friends, as to details. Even when it is written by a lawyer. So, I am aware that sometimes getting things exactly right may be impossible if the reader is really really picky or really really knowledgeable about something very specific.

    ReplyReply

  18. Evangeline Holland
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 13:56:49

    What Ridley said. Plus, if Mayberry were a debut author, rather than a veteran who has written a number of excellent romances, would the ho-hum response to the inaccuracies be the same?

    As for DBW Conference, I disagree with the notion that Independent bookstores are the wave of the future. Not only do Indies tend to shut out genre fiction (especially Romance!), but they have no leeway for the steep discounts one can obtain from Wal-Mart or Amazon.com–or even the coupons Borders hands out–, and (correct me if I’m wrong), they are stuck in the same returns system as major chain bookstores.

    I definitely disagree that library patrons are not book buyers; libraries do not only stock new releases, they are also filled to the brim with OOP books! Unless the publisher has reissued/reprinted an OOP book, the library (or a used book store) is the only resource available. Also–VHS tapes? Expensive audiobooks? Albums music sections at Wal-Mart don’t stock? Microfiche? The typical library patron isn’t using their local library because they don’t buy books.

    ReplyReply

  19. Estara
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 14:04:16

    This topic seems to quite popular, too ^^. The Book View Cafè Authors had a bit of a spat about this which I found fascinating to follow.
    Steven Harper set it off
    http://blog.bookviewcafe.com/2010/12/06/swriting-nowadays-when-to-get-it-wrong/
    And reacted to the comments
    http://blog.bookviewcafe.com/2010/12/13/writing-nowadays-were-keeping-the-quantum-your-highness/
    Madeleine Robbins put it into perspective
    http://blog.bookviewcafe.com/2010/12/17/but-oh-its-heaven-now-a-days/

    This discussion is concerned more with historical accuracy than facts about a current special interest, though.

    ReplyReply

  20. Ridley
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 14:29:10

    I admit I actually really dislike independent bookstores. As if their disdain for romance and other genre fiction were not bad enough, their total disregard for disabled access hardens my heart further. All those rugs, accent chairs, narrow aisles and tall bookshelves may look quaint, but they make browsing in a chair or with a walker impossible.

    They seemed to work very hard to be exclusive. I’d say turnabout’s fair play.

    ReplyReply

  21. Isabel Cooper
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 14:30:10

    If I notice accidental inaccuracies, they bug me. Not having any particularly specialized field of knowledge, though, and not being attached enough to any one place to really notice geographical issues, I get thrown out by weird and random things–like college acceptances coming in a thin envelope without anyone saying that’s unusual.

    ReplyReply

  22. Isobel Carr
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 14:39:08

    @Dana: They do this with San Francisco too. They can’t even be bothered to look a map (some show I was watching the other night had people arranging to meet at the intersection of two streets that run nowhere near each other; spun my brain for a couple seconds as I tried to figure out where they were going).

    I get thrown out by weird and random things-like college acceptances coming in a thin envelope without anyone saying that's unusual.

    Is it? That’s how mine came (single page letter signed by the college president) and it’s probably how I would write it. Since that's my actual experience, I would never even think to question it.

    ReplyReply

  23. Janet P.
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 15:25:25

    Oh heck. When my son went through it a couple of years ago most of his Universities notified by email or computer log-in via the internet. By the time the snail mail reached the house the info was out of date.

    I wonder if Macmillan truly is trying to find a way to supply libraries or if that’s just smoke and mirrors? I can’t imagine it is ever good for PR to position yourself as anti-library to people who love books.

    I’m curious as to how the “Publishers” meaning the large publishers plan to hold their market lock by producing fewer and fewer books while the competition (small and Indie) are producing more and more?

    The other thing that gets me is nearly everybody agrees Gatekeeping is the key to success in the future. I still see very little innovation in regards to Publishers developing that role. The opposite in fact. Finding talent and development is turned over to Agents and Marketing is becoming an Author’s role.

    ReplyReply

  24. Julia Broadbooks
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 16:08:37

    One of the things that Mayberry’s ballerina got wrong was the lack of warming up. That seems a small thing, but it’s something so revealing about the persona of a dancer. Most arrive early for the company class and do there own exercises and stretches before class begins. The air usually smells like shoes and icyhot. They do the same thing every morning six days a week. It’s a level of dedication that reveals so much about how committed dancers (not only ballet dancers) are to their art. So it’s more than just details.

    ReplyReply

  25. Sarah Langlais
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 16:13:55

    @Ridley: It sounds like you’ve had horrid experiences with Indies – I wish you lived near ours! We’re very genre friendly (although getting the romance section going has been arduous – the problem is just that the majority of our readers aren’t reading romance right now, but I’m working on attracting them to it). Mystery and Sci/Fi do INCREDIBLY well for us, and we promote them all the time.

    We are also VERY concerned about disabled access – staff regularly checks to make sure tables aren’t put too close together, that chairs aren’t blocking aisles, etc.

    I hope you get to experience a great Indie bookstore in the future! :)

    ReplyReply

  26. Joy
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 16:26:17

    And, again, from a layman’s point of view–what bothers me is not that factual errors break me out of my suspension of disbelief–I’d have no way of knowing that those errors are there. But if 29 is not truly old for a ballerina and the book states that it is (IIRC I certainly got that impression from Amorous Liaisons)–I won’t know the difference. Maybe I go around the rest of my life thinking that it is. There’s something kind of wrong about that.

    ReplyReply

  27. Isobel Carr
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 16:37:23

    29 isn’t “old” if you’re in good physical condition (meaning not hurt) and you’ve already broken out of the chorus. But it’s a bit long in the tooth if you’re still just a Sugar Plum Fairy . . . and anyone who's ever danced even a little (which is almost everyone, isn't it?) knows you can't dance en pointe barefoot.

    ReplyReply

  28. orannia
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 16:42:59

    …publishers believe that the library patron is not a book buyer.

    Hmmm. Not sure about libraries elsewhere, but here (Auckland, New Zealand) library patrons can ‘suggest’ books (and other items, e.g. DVDs) for purchase. You have a give a reason why (which IMHO is perfectly justified) and they tend towards more recently published books…but will also consider reprints or replace books missing in a series. So…indirectly, by my suggestions, am I not influencing the library’s purchases?

    I always used to feel…like a cheat when authors were discussing their new release and everyone would pipe up and say they would be buying a copy and I’d be saying I would check my library catalogue. That is, until an author informed me that libraries make up about one-third of book sales. I’m not sure how true that is now (this comment was made to me a couple of years ago), but I know my library system (which now numbers 55 libraries – there was an amalgamation :) buys numerous copies. For example, they ordered 23 copies of Archangel’s Consort and *checks* have received their copies already! (I love how efficient my library system is :)

    I know a little about ballet, so am off to read this review!

    ReplyReply

  29. Kaetrin
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 16:56:44

    I’m another one for whom accuracy matters (pretty much in everything actually). If I don’t know it’s inaccurate, it will bother me less (until I find out) but when I do, it drives me up the wall. I had an issue with a different Mayberry – Her Secret Fling when she set the AFL grand final in Brisbane. It would never happen.

    *She very kindly posted (I’m pretty sure it was on DA in response to a comment I made) that she knew the GF wouldn’t be there but wanted to have the h/h in Brisbane for the plot. She had meant to put a author note in the front but wasn’t able to for some reason (which I forget now). With the greatest respect to Ms. Mayberry, I still think she should have found another reason to get the h/h to Brisbane. Cause you just don’t mess with the AFL grand final. Ever.

    To be fair, I think Amorous Liaisons is one of her older books so maybe she would do it differently now.

    Different things are going to push people’s buttons – as Jane doesn’t like inaccuracies in romances with lawyers and Kristie J doesn’t like inaccuracies in baseball themed romances.

    Authors: I would prefer accuracy, even if I wouldn’t know any different. KThx.

    ReplyReply

  30. Andrea K Host
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 17:18:49

    @Morgan Karpiel
    “How about the authors? What do they do? Do they not bring the content? How about the A-listers that are dabbling in self-publishing now? Not content? And what about consumers? Are they not fitting “arbiters of taste”? I think that I've just been insulted on 2 levels-’-Am I off base?”

    Some (not all) publishers have a particularly odd attitude toward their ultimate consumers. However that publisher is not wildly inaccurate in styling him/herself as an ‘arbiter of taste’ (or, rather, gatekeeper who controls what books readers get to see). The vast majority of what is purchased and read are texts which have passed these ‘arbiters’. They DO control almost everything which comes to the notice of a reader looking to buy because books without the support of a publisher are generally not in stores, not reviewed, and if noticed, dismissed on the grounds of the high likelihood of being bad.

    Matters are changing a little, but how many self-published unknowns gets read? Most review sites have a “no self-published” clause in their review policy and with a plethora of books stamped with the approval of an “arbiter of taste”, why would readers waste their time and money on an unknown? I went into self-publishing eyes wide open, and it still makes me blink when someone expresses their delighted surprise that a book they thought would be bad turned out to be good. The only reason for them to think it's bad is that it's from a self-published unknown – and that is an attitude which is not going to go away any time soon. And I have to admit that in some cases it's not unearned – the ‘arbiters of taste', while it's an annoying way to phrase it, are sparing the average reader the excesses of the slush pile.

    While some established authors can and do branch out into self-publishing (which is a great thing and hopefully will eventually banish the horrid situation of favourite series going out of print), self-publishing is not something the majority of established authors appears to want to do (it’s a lot of work!).

    As an aside, there's also an attitude that I've noticed the past couple of years that most published authors' work would be so much less/near unreadable without the assistance of their agent and publisher. I often wonder how the authors feel about that. Better, perhaps, as feedback is a great help, but surely not as bad as they make out.

    ReplyReply

  31. ka
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 17:20:58

    @Ridley: Thanks, Ridley, for hitting the bullseye. I can understand how an inaccuracy would impact a reviewer’s perception of the book, especially if the reviewer is passionate about the subject which is being portrayed inaccruately. I tend not to read any books with miltiary heroes because in reality service personnel are not all alpha males or rippling rakes. Indeed, they are heroic in their own ways, some even every day Joes that do their job quietly but do it well.

    ReplyReply

  32. Lynn S.
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 17:32:36

    Please don’t shoot me for this. I’ve already had my hand slapped earlier this month. On the issue of accuracy in fiction, has anyone looked up the definition of fiction lately? I’m going to stop now before I dig my hole any deeper.

    ReplyReply

  33. MaryK
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 17:46:06

    @Andrea K Host:

    I went into self-publishing eyes wide open, and it still makes me blink when someone expresses their delighted surprise that a book they thought would be bad turned out to be good. The only reason for them to think it's bad is that it's from a self-published unknown

    Eh, I disagree with that actually. I, personally, never assume any book is good. My first question about a book is usually, “Is it any good?” I always expect it could go either way.

    Library patrons who don’t buy are just at one point in their lives. Maybe they used to buy and now can’t or maybe they’ll be able to buy in the future. At the very least, libraries support reading. Publishers won’t make any money off of a non-reading public.

    I love the comment that library patrons have already paid with their tax dollars. Publishers don’t like that though. They want everyone to have to buy their own, and people without money are just out of luck.

    Heavy Cynicism alert: Maybe we’re headed back to medieval times when only the rich could afford books.

    ReplyReply

  34. Andrea K Host
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 17:57:53

    At least there’s always Project Gutenberg.

    ReplyReply

  35. MaryK
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 17:59:06

    @Andrea K Host: Supposing you have the tech for it.

    There, I think I’ve used up all my negativity for the day. :)

    ReplyReply

  36. Ridley
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 18:02:29

    @Lynn S.:

    Since you’d like all of us to check the dictionary, I have to ask:

    Have you looked up the definition of “willing suspension of disbelief?”

    ReplyReply

  37. MaryK
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 18:08:28

    @Lynn S.: See @Joy‘s response above. If books are set in our world, past or present, readers tend to pick up factual trivia even when suspending disbelief. It’d be kind of crappy if you couldn’t believe anything you read because things that seem likely tend to get added to the factual database, at least in my case. I tend to avoid fictionalized histories and biographies for that reason. I’m afraid I’ll “learn” some “fact” that the author fudged on and then trot it out in front of somebody who really knows.

    I’m not sure a completely fictional, as in every single thing is made up, book would be readable (at least to most people – probably some SpecFic readers could take it). Surely there has to be something real grounding the story so the reader is able to connect with the book. I don’t know, just my two cents.

    ReplyReply

  38. Joy
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 18:17:57

    @Isobel Carr: if you’ve danced only a little, you haven’t danced en pointe at all, so what do you know about it? I could, actually stand on the very tips of my toes barefoot when, um, less heavy, so I may have assumed it was possible…

    ReplyReply

  39. Joy
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 18:23:19

    I think it’s clear, but the 3rd you in my sentence above doesn’t refer to Isobel Carr, but to me–1.5 years of kiddie ballet, not a clue in the world about pointe or how it works, at least not that I didn’t get from a Noel Streatfeild book.

    ReplyReply

  40. AmyW
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 19:25:50

    Borrowing ebooks from the library is awesome. I hadn’t been in a public library for years…until I went in to renew my card so I could borrow ebooks. Toronto Public Library’s selection of ebooks is rather spotty–maybe 1 in 5 books I look up are available. Somewhat oddly, they have “copies” of downloadable audiobooks to borrow more often than ebooks. However, I was able to borrow the digital version of a book I wanted that is only available in hardcover (which I HATE), even though I intend to buy it in paperback later for a keeper copy.

    ReplyReply

  41. brooksse
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 19:42:37

    Re: Macmillan’s comment about working out a model that makes sense to them, that goes hand-in-hand with what their CEO said last year:

    “With ebooks, you sit on your couch in your living room and go to the library website, see if the library has it, maybe you check libraries in three other states. You get the book, read it, return it and get another, all without paying a thing. ‘It’s like Netflix, but you don’t pay for it. How is that a good model for us?’

    “If there’s a model where the publisher gets a piece of the action every time the book is borrowed, that’s an interesting model.”
    http://go-to-hellman.blogspot.com/2010/03/ebooks-in-libraries-thorny-problem-says.html?m=1

    ReplyReply

  42. Brian
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 19:55:54

    Sarah Wendell asked Brian Napack of Macmillan why the Macmillan books aren't available to libraries in digital form. Napack replied that they are working on a business model that makes sense to them. What does this mean? Apparently publishers believe that the library patron is not a book buyer.

    To the best of my knowledge Macmillan’s stance on library ebooks is the same it was earlier this year when their CEO, John Sargent, said…

    “That is a very thorny problem”, said Sargent. In the past, getting a book from libraries has had a tremendous amount of friction. You have to go to the library, maybe the book has been checked out and you have to come back another time. If it’s a popular book, maybe it gets lent ten times, there’s a lot of wear and tear, and the library will then put in a reorder. With ebooks, you sit on your couch in your living room and go to the library website, see if the library has it, maybe you check libraries in three other states. You get the book, read it, return it and get another, all without paying a thing. “It’s like Netflix, but you don’t pay for it. How is that a good model for us?”

    “If there’s a model where the publisher gets a piece of the action every time the book is borrowed, that’s an interesting model.”

    ReplyReply

  43. Brian
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 19:57:27

    Oops, I see brooksse beat me to it. :-)

    ReplyReply

  44. Lynnd
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 20:26:15

    My library has allowed me to try out many new-to-me authors that I never would have tried otherwise. A good number of those authors are now on my auto-buy list. I would never have purchased many of these books if my library didn’t have them for me to try first. I am very happy that my library is now building its ebook collection because I can now borrow books when the library is closed or when I don’t have time to get there. I think that Macmillan’s attitude demonstrates, once again, that they have no idea of who their customers really are and how we read and acquire books.

    ReplyReply

  45. Isobel Carr
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 21:13:25

    @Andrea K Host:

    As an aside, there's also an attitude that I've noticed the past couple of years that most published authors' work would be so much less/near unreadable without the assistance of their agent and publisher. I often wonder how the authors feel about that. Better, perhaps, as feedback is a great help, but surely not as bad as they make out.

    I wouldn’t say that the books would be “near unreadable” (my Kalen Hughes books were basically unedited except for copy edits, and they were well received and reviewed), but my new series certainly wouldn’t be as good without my agent and editor. I think they’ve pushed me to a whole new level and they’re great for catching things that you’re too close to the book to see.

    ReplyReply

  46. Isobel Carr
    Jan 26, 2011 @ 21:16:47

    @Joy: Well, dancing a little means you (I) observed and likely know actual ballerinas (or at least older girls who did make it to the point of toe shoes). I know several professional ballerinas and I can assure you that standing on your toes is not the same as dancing en pointe barefoot.

    ReplyReply

  47. willem
    Jan 27, 2011 @ 00:12:58

    Put this comment up at SmartBitches. In my quest to make myself even more unpopular…

    From a business point of view I see nothing wrong with the decision from Macmillan. Is there actually any studies done to show that library use stimulate sales, or is at least not a net negative? Above all for digital goods?

    I've read some of the tweets from DBW and the arguments offered do not impress. Other than personal anecdotes there is a confusion of correlation with causation. The fact that there is some overlap of heavy book buyers that are library users does not establish what library defenders seem to think. It is the same confusion evident with some defenders of the ‘piracy is a net positive' argument.

    Then there is Amazon's seeming total lack of interest in library lending. The one thing Amazon does not lack is a nose for business. Perhaps they do not appear to hold the view that libraries are much good for stimulating sales? I would not hold my breath for them offering library support any time soon, see:
    http://ireaderreview.com/2011/01/14/will-kindle-ever-add-support-for-library-books/

    choice excerpt:' Do you feel there is any hope at all that Kindle will ever allow library books?
    The quick answer would be – No, not really. Not unless Amazon loses its head. Not unless another company starts beating it on the basis of library book support. Not unless there's a gun put to its head.’

    ReplyReply

  48. Liza Lester
    Jan 27, 2011 @ 03:14:38

    @Joy: I second your concerns about absorbing wrong “facts” and generally constructing a misguided image of an unfamiliar world. When I read an unrealistic depiction of my own personal reality–my profession, or hobbies, or cultural microhaven–I am filled with rage. Rage! Perhaps my reaction is unreasonable. But I’m bothered, not just because I know the depiction is wrong, but because other readers don’t. The story becomes a vector for misinformation, borne along by good characterization or emotional satisfaction or whatever it is that the author is getting right. Often, the author bolsters stereotypes that likely lodged in her head through repeated viewing in other books, tv, movies.

    Points of fact are not mere details if points of plot or characterization are built upon them. And if details are wrong, then the author does not know enough to generate the full sensesurround feel of the setting. It makes me unhappy when fans dismiss criticism with the non-argument that the book is “just fiction, just fantasy”. That position feeds the idea that Romance is a lesser genre with no purpose beyond emotional porn. Fiction does sway hearts and minds. It matters.

    ReplyReply

  49. FiaQ
    Jan 27, 2011 @ 04:23:48

    I pretty much gave up caring about accuracy in Romance now. It’s, frankly, a lost cause. There are too many established universes in Romance for readers and authors to let go. Regency, Scottish, Greece, Contemporary, professions, disabilities, cultures, languages, and whatnot. Almost all are about loving stereotypes, historical myths, cultural appropriation and more.

    I don’t know if it’s common with other genres but – there seems a tendency among authors to use feature films, TV series and romance novels as research. And often, it shows.

    How many times have I seen authors and readers using novels by Heyer, Austen, Gabaldon, Kinsale, Shakespeare, Judith Ivory, etc. to *validate* factual details of the past? Quite a lot.

    There are readers who often proudly said they learnt history from historical romances. Authors tend to be influenced by these popular novels, too. Certain elements of those show up in their works. When it shows up often enough, it becomes part of an established universe under Romance. The traditional Regency universe is a classic example.

    It can be highly uncomfortable to see this happening. These authors are amazing writers, yes, but they shouldn’t be seen as acceptable sources. Their novels are novels, not history textbooks. It’s great when they do their research well, but it’s still part of fiction.

    I worship Dorothy Dunnett (who gave a fantastic portrayal of Scotland and its people, and she’s also superior to Gabaldon in the research department by 10,000 miles), but I don’t accept her novels as “history books”. There are some elements that are purely fictional and why not? It IS fiction, after all.

    I don’t get fussy if there is an error or two in a book. It’s only human. It’s when it’s recycled often enough to make it a fact *to* readers and authors, I’m not a happy bunny. This is one of things that depresses me about Romance.

    It’s horribly depressing when readers, authors and reviewers reject those by authors who DID their homework because their portrayals didn’t fit their idea of what they believe is true.

    At the end of the day for most, it doesn’t matter as long as there is HEA. I came to realise this last year, so I pretty much gave up caring.

    My policy these days? I’ll pay more attention to authors who try their best. Those authors who constantly get it wrong or show disrespect when portraying a culture, country or whatnot? It doesn’t matter. I just simply don’t buy their future books.

    ReplyReply

  50. FiaQ
    Jan 27, 2011 @ 04:45:35

    @Lynn S.:

    Please don't shoot me for this. I've already had my hand slapped earlier this month. On the issue of accuracy in fiction, has anyone looked up the definition of fiction lately? I'm going to stop now before I dig my hole any deeper.

    lol. Don’t worry. There are loads of readers who share your view.

    Fiction is a lot like art. When you look at a portrait, you expect a person to resemble a person in real life, regardless of art style. Like fiction, art isn’t factual. It’s the person in the portrait and the artist’s interpretation that make it factual.

    So it’s down to whether we could agree with the artist’s interpretation or not. Just as much as whether readers could agree with the novelist’s interpretation of a reality used as part of her/his story.

    Hm, I should get off meds.

    ReplyReply

  51. Laine
    Jan 27, 2011 @ 06:50:53

    If a book is worth reading, the reader needs to believe in a character while they are immersed in the book. Inaccuracies can shock you out of reader trance.
    I recently read a book where the lead character was opening an embroidery shop and had arranged all the embroidery threads by colour. That just ruined it for me. I just couldn’t accept this character.
    (For those who don’t embroider imagine trying to find a thread you need. Your pattern gives you the number but you have to search over 450 different threads to find that number. Embroidery flosses are always arranged by number.)

    ReplyReply

  52. ami
    Jan 27, 2011 @ 10:02:57

    Eh, I take some offense at the reviewer saying that no one could be inspired by the old classical ballerinas. I mean, really? That’s stretching it a little too far.

    On the other hand, I do like for books to have some historical accuracy, but if there isn’t, I would like the author to mention something(not that I would catch it). Or even the opposite. I did like the thing about gin at the end of Elizabeth’s hoyt book, and it set the context of the story(even if it was a tad kinda realistic but I could accept it) I read a fiction book about female gladiator in Rome(which I thought was untrue but accepted it as a thing that the author was playing with), and some reviewers on Amazon trashed it for being unrealistic and untrue. However the author had a PHD in history of that era…and had proof and done her research.

    ReplyReply

  53. Jen X
    Jan 27, 2011 @ 10:35:16

    I think it’s easier to forgive inaccuracies in historical romance than in contemporaries because with historicals you can usually play the “what if” game. NOT so much with contemps.

    This digresses a bit but…One of the reasons I like reading contemps is that there is an immediate acknowledgement of what is correct, “true to the times”, pop culture refs, etc.

    I’ve read that some authors do not like to “date” their books so they write in generics. Awful. I hate that type of contemporary read. I felt that way about Linda Howard’s, Mackenzie Mountain. I couldn’t figure out if it was the 1950s or the 1980s. Mary the heroine sounded like one-part Ma Ingalls and another part Hillary Clinton. All I knew was there was a car and it wasn’t a Ford Model T.

    But back to occupational & factual inaccuracies. It’s inexcusable really. I don’t know ballet so I would not have picked up on it but I think the integrity of an author hinges on believability and they should strive for accuracy as much as possible.

    BTW, doesn’t an editor have some responsibility in checking facts?!

    ReplyReply

  54. Ridley
    Jan 27, 2011 @ 11:05:59

    @Liza Lester:

    …I'm bothered, not just because I know the depiction is wrong, but because other readers don't. The story becomes a vector for misinformation…

    THIS is exactly why disabled protagonists can enrage me. When I finish a book like Phantom Waltz where the paraplegic heroine is treated as though she were no more than a talking doll, I’m angry the book perpetuates the myth that this is what cripples are like. The book’s on many people’s favorites list, but their enjoyment doesn’t make my anger irrelevant.

    ReplyReply

  55. whome
    Jan 27, 2011 @ 18:42:57

    @FiaQ:

    I don't get fussy if there is an error or two in a book. It's only human. It's when it's recycled often enough to make it a fact *to* readers and authors, I'm not a happy bunny. This is one of things that depresses me about Romance.

    It's horribly depressing when readers, authors and reviewers reject those by authors who DID their homework because their portrayals didn't fit their idea of what they believe is true.

    THIS!!!!!

    ReplyReply

  56. DianeN
    Jan 27, 2011 @ 19:44:11

    One of my favorite romance novels had a few scenes set at a college the author obviously didn’t research, and she got several factual details wrong in those scenes. This probably should have bothered me much more than it did because not only do I live a mile away from the college itself but it’s also my alma mater. But it actually didn’t bother me at all because they were very brief scenes and the inaccuracies honestly weren’t important to the story. I think I view such mistakes on a sliding scale–i.e., inaccuracies involving the profession of one of the main characters and the world he or she lives in would definitely slide that scale much farther toward the unacceptable level for me.

    ReplyReply

  57. Nadia Lee
    Jan 27, 2011 @ 21:26:19

    @ami: Eh, I take some offense at the reviewer saying that no one could be inspired by the old classical ballerinas. I mean, really? That's stretching it a little too far.

    I don’t think that’s what she wrote. The heroine was inspired by watching Pavlova, and the reviewer was pointing out that it was highly improbable.

    Go to YouTube and search for Pavlova. The quality of video recording, etc. is horrible, and that was the best they could do back then.

    ReplyReply

  58. Stumbling Over Chaos :: Long ago, in a linkity land…
    Jan 28, 2011 @ 02:02:39

    [...] Dear Author, a post from Ursula LeGuin mocking the new morality clause HarperCollins has added to its author [...]

  59. FiaQ
    Jan 28, 2011 @ 05:36:39

    @ami: @Nadia Lee: I’m thinking the heroine might be referring to a biographical film of Anna Pavlova (with dancer Galina Belyayeva as Pavlova).

    I can’t remember the title, but it was made during the 1980s. It has British actor Edward Fox or his brother James Fox in it.

    ReplyReply

  60. FiaQ
    Jan 28, 2011 @ 05:39:18

    @FiaQ: Um, the title is Anna Pavlova.

    My face is on fire. I have no idea why I didn’t think to check Belyayeva’s filmography. Let’s pretend this little cock-up didn’t happen, okay? Thank you.

    ReplyReply

  61. CupK8
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 23:25:56

    I dance, and never made it to pointe, but I cringed when I even thought about going en pointe without shoes. Ouch! Those kinds of inaccuracies would throw me out, and if the author is okay with losing those readers, then fine. But I won’t be recommending the book to my dance friends, which I might have if it had been accurate.

    Everyone I know in the fine arts loves to be of service to those who are writing about our art form. I’m sure if Ms. Mayberry had called around to some dance schools and asked to just meet an instructor for coffee with some questions, or asked to sit in on a rehearsal or class, they’d be thrilled to do it for the sake of accuracy.

    ReplyReply

  62. Wednesday Midday Links: Amazon's long game | Dear Author
    Jan 31, 2011 @ 19:53:02

    [...] post: Wednesday Midday Links: Amazon's long game | Dear Author Tags: ballerinas-and, january, know-several, not-the, quest, same, smart, standing-on-your, toes, [...]

Leave a Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

%d bloggers like this: