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

Wednesday Midday Links: Amazon’s Silk Privacy Policy Satisfies EFF

EFF, a watchdog for internet privacy rights, questioned Amazon about SILK and the use of data to create predictive web browsing patterns. According to the answers given by Amazon to EFF, Amazon does not intercept encrypted traffic and it logs only the URL requested, the timestamp, and token identifying the session. EFF deems this to be good but does have two remaining concerns. First, Amazon keeps a list of the URLs you visit, a history of searches, and may download identifying information (although inadvertently). Read here for more detailed information.

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The National Book Awards became a true debacle on Monday. A NBA staff person was relayed the list of nominations over the phone and heard “Shine” instead of “Chime”. Apparently author names were not included? Thus, last week, Lauren Myracle’s Shine was short listed for the Young Person’s Literature NBA award. When the short list was announced, a NBA judge realized that it should not have been Myracle’s “Shine” announced but rather “Chime” by Franny Billingsley. NBA said that in order to protect “The integrity of the awards” Myracle would have to withdraw.  She agreed to do so.

“Shine” (A | BN | S | K) is enjoying a rise in sales.  It is #522 in overall Books at Amazon and Myracle’s story has been featured in the NYTimes, PW, and Vanity Fair.  I don’t know if that can take away the sting suffered by Myracle.  Frankly, NBA should have kept her name on the list and let the chips fall where they may.

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Harlequin has announced that it will completely cease support for Mobi and LIT files on its site.

The Harlequin Ebook Store will be discontinuing support for Microsoft Reader Ebooks (.LIT) and Mobipocket Ebooks (.PRC). As part of the wind-down process, we ask that you please download and archive any purchases prior to December 31, 2011.

Starting January 2011, past purchases of Microsoft Reader and Mobipocket Ebooks will no longer be available for download from your Harlequin Ebook Bookshelf.

The problem with this is that if you move computers, you will have difficulty reauthorizing these books because of DRM, particularly the MS LIT files because Microsoft will be ceasing support for that format shortly.  If you have a number of LIT files, they may not be accessible in the future.  Because of this, I would urge Harlequin to replace every MSLIT and Mobi purchase with ePub files.

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I received an email from HarperCollins on Monday that it choose its first Avon Impulse title from the non agented slush pile. (Is non agented slush pile redundant?)  Apparently editors rotate on a weekly basis in monitoring the submissions it receives via the electronic submission site www.avonromance.com/avonimpulse.  During Wendy Lee’s rotation, she read a query from Carla Swafford which Lee purchased.  It is called Circle of Desire and is a steamier version of the show “Alias” with spies, double agents, and assassins.  Circle of Desire will go on-sale in digital edition on October 18, 2011 (the print edition will become available on November 8).

Then I caught site of this article over at Paid Content.  Authonomy, HarperCollins’ community based self publishing endeavor, will now have a digital imprint where the best writers will be picked to publish their works as “e-originals.”.  The titles that sell well will get print deals.

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Berkley / NAL will launch its own digital first imprint called Intermix in January 2012.  The initial offerings will be titles from Nora Roberts and other “beloved authors” as well as original works from new authors.

InterMix will launch in January 2012 with the release of eleven classic books from Nora Roberts—titles that have never before been available as eBooks, including such popular series as Cordina’s Royal Family and The Donovan Legacy and several novels featuring fan favorites the O’Hurleys.  Additional Nora Roberts eBooks will be published throughout 2012, with the second group—including seven of Roberts’s beloved novels about the MacGregor family—available in April.

and

In February, InterMix will revive the renowned Signet Regency line with the release of six popular romance titles that have never before been published as eBooks.  Signet Regency, a popular line of Regency-era romances, began in the mid-1970s and became the leading publisher of Regency romances.  Three additional Regency-set romances will be released each following month throughout 2012.  And later in the year, InterMix will bring back four novels in the classic Guinevere Jones series from bestselling writer Jayne Ann Krentz, writing as Jayne Castle, that have long been out of print and have never been available as eBooks.

As an FYI, I was invited to acquire for this new line but decided against it because of time and other projects.  I confess being ridiculously excited about the reprinting of the Guinevere Jones books however, the pricing of these books aren’t going to make me happy. According to Sarah at SmartBitches, the Nora Roberts books will sell for $6.99 and I suspect that the Guinevere Jones will also be in this price range.

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Jennifer Porter of Romance Novel News posted about her score from Borders.  It wasn’t books, it was bookshelves.

So, my husband had a brilliant idea when Borders went into liquidation – rather than buy books, why not get discounted shelving units. We purchased 12 3-foot sections that are roughly 7 feet tall. My husband went to one of our local stores right before they closed for good, took the shelves apart and carted them home. He was like a man on a mission, getting them set up in one of our spare bedrooms.

That is awesome.

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Nina Bruhns writes about self publishing on the Happily Ever After blog.  Bruhns believes that a mix of self publishing and traditional publishing has allowed her to earn a “fair living” from her writing for the first time:

HEA: How do your e-pub earnings differ from your print earnings?

Nina: The best difference is that as an indie publisher, I get a paycheck every month instead of just twice a year. That is wonderful!

Bottom line, I will probably earn as much this year for each book as I have earned over the entire life of its print publication. With any luck that will continue for many more years! And I really look forward to seeing what will happen when I start indie-publishing new novels directly to e-book. Obviously, that’s where the true potential lies.

I can’t tell you what a huge relief it is to know that I am finally able to earn a fair living, without constantly having to worry about if and when the next contract — or even paycheck — will come. Instead of my livelihood being totally dependent upon the fickle tastes and whims of the N.Y. publishers, I am now in charge of my own career. If I write a good book, I know the readers will find it.

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BN is selling pre owned Nook Colors for $149.

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

44 Comments

  1. jmc
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 10:23:49

    Jane, I don’t know if you check out Carla Kelly’s blog, but in a recent post she mentioned contact with NAL/Signet for reissues of some of her old trads. I’m wondering if they will be part of or through InterMix.

    ReplyReply

  2. Jane
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 10:27:37

    @jmc: I suppose 6.99 is better than 10.99 from her Cedar Fort reprints.

    ReplyReply

  3. Brian
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 10:36:04

    Because of this, I would urge Harlequin to replace every MSLIT and Mobi purchase with ePub files.

    This is what Simon & Schuster did with books bought direct from them for folks when they went straight ePub. Hopefully Harlequin will follow suit.

    ReplyReply

  4. Gwen Hayes
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 10:50:40

    I don’t understand why they don’t want to sell mobi? How will Kindle users read their books?

    ReplyReply

  5. Jane
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 10:51:53

    @Gwen Hayes: DRM’ed Mobi isn’t readable on the Kindle without running each file through a python script. The only way that Harlequin readers have been able to buy and then read on their kindles is by stripping the DRM. (easier than running the python script which may not even work anymore).

    ReplyReply

  6. Gwen Hayes
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 10:55:30

    Ah…but now they can’t even do that. Bummer.

    ReplyReply

  7. Nadia Lee
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 10:57:00

    @Gwen Hayes: I guess you have to strip DRM (if any) and convert the file yourself.

    Or from now on, just buy directly from Amazon…

    ReplyReply

  8. Becca
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 11:04:01

    who else other than the kindle reads mobi? did the Harlequin drm’d mobi cut out the kindle, or did it use the same drm that the Amazon does? (it makes me want to buy a harlequin book from them, just to test it out, except that I don’t as a rule read harlequins.)

    I wonder whether other companies will stop offering kindle support? will this make Amazon finally support epub?

    ReplyReply

  9. Mina/SpiceBites
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 11:09:45

    Great compilation of industry news. Thanks! :)

    ReplyReply

  10. ms bookjunkie
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 11:17:25

    Bookshelf pr0n FTW! Seriously, I love looking at other people’s bookshelves. And I have a case of bookshelf envy.

    ReplyReply

  11. Nadia Lee
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 11:21:10

    @Becca: will this make Amazon finally support epub?

    I don’t think so. I think it’ll just make Kindle users to buy directly from Amazon.

    ReplyReply

  12. cecilia
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 11:49:03

    @Becca: I have an old Cybook that reads mobi – I haven’t been using it for the last few years, but I’ve got tons of files, some of which are from Harlequin.

    But I don’t think you can still buy mobi from Harlequin – the last books I’ve bought from them haven’t had an option other than ePub.

    ReplyReply

  13. library addict
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 11:51:20

    It is a bummer to lose access to redownloading books. Fictionwise cut off support to all of the LIT files. It doesn’t say that on your bookshelf page, but when I emailed them I was told my books were no longer available.

    I have a bunch of old LIT books I bought direct from Harlequin, too.

    When will publishers wake up and realize DRM just makes things frustrating for customers who actually buy books and does nothing to prevent piracy?

    I wonder which MacGregor books we aren’t getting since there should be 11. $6.99 for what was originally a category romance is a total bummer, especially if they are Agency priced. I won’t mention how much I paid for print copies of the Guinevere Jones books – LOL.

    Harlequin is reissuing the Nora Roberts titles they have for $6.99 as well. Only difference is you can buy them discounted since they aren’t Agency. I would say I refuse to pay $6.99 for what was originally a category length book, but there are some early Nora and JAKs I really want in digital.

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  14. Brian
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 11:55:33

    @Becca: They aren’t dropping Kindle support. Some of the Bookeen readers support DRM’d Mobi and I know some folks who read on older Palm and Pocket PC devices that use it. The Kindle DRM is slightly different (not by much) and the Kindle won’t read Mobi’s bought directly from HQN you’d have to remove the DRM first like you would with an ePub (there’d just be no need for conversion afterward).

    This likely won’t effect most Kindle users at all as they either buy directly from Amazon or buy ePub’s (or eReader when Fictionwise has a good coupon) and deDRM and convert. AFAIK HQN hasn’t actually sold Mobi’s for a while now so where this is going to hurt is folks who have been compiling a bookshelf over the years at HQN. Luckily deDRMing is now basically drag and drop so that may be an option to explore for folks who don’t want to lose their stuff.

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  15. Brian
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 12:18:18

    @library addict:

    It is a bummer to lose access to redownloading books. Fictionwise cut off support to all of the LIT files. It doesn’t say that on your bookshelf page, but when I emailed them I was told my books were no longer available.

    Some of mine were still downloadable when I tried a few weeks ago and others not. The only ones I asked FW about were my Tolkien titles (which I wanted to re-download because some/all of the errors in the original issues were supposedly fixed) and they said they were no longer available and switched mine to eReader so I could still download something. In the old days FW would have told us we were losing access, plus tried to get us and alternate format so we had something, since B&N bought them from the Pendergast’s it’s gone way down hill.

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  16. Kim
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 12:23:58

    Contractually, how long does Harlequin get to keep the rights to a category romance before they revert back to the author? With the rise of e-books, Harlequin is losing a huge monetary opportunity by no longer having the rights to some NR classics. Why wouldn’t Nora self-publish these books instead of sharing the profit with Berkley? I’m assuming the rights reverted back to her and she then sold them to Berkley/NAL & not that Berkley bought them directly from Harlequin.

    ReplyReply

  17. Sunita
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 12:29:16

    I’ve been buying Harlequins for years, and my early purchases were all mobi. So I have to make sure to re-download all of those. Thanks for the heads-up. I really hope they substitute ePub files, but I’m not counting on it.

    ReplyReply

  18. Mireya
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 12:32:07

    I am among those that read Nina Bruhn’s early work under the pen name Nikita Black. Back then I could only get them saved to a CD, via her website. Wow, feels like it was centuries ago. Very glad to hear she’s doing well, I do consider her a pioneer in digital self-publishing. I haven’t read her work as Nina Bruhns, I think I am going to be taking a look. And I think she’s right, she has a reader base, that reader base will, indeed, look for her self-published titles. It’s the same deal as with, for example, Courtney Milan. These are authors that can most definitely pull it off.

    ReplyReply

  19. cecilia
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 12:41:48

    @Brian: What’s a good way to do the deDRMing, for a beginner?

    ReplyReply

  20. library addict
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 12:45:20

    @Kim: Nora Roberts and Harlequin did a trade of titles, some of which Silhouette had the rights to, some she did, in order that series could be kept together.

    I think the problem with many of the late 80s/early 90s titles is the contract language wasn’t as specific as it should have been and so the digital rights are in dispute. But that’s just speculation on part.

    ReplyReply

  21. Brian
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 12:45:39

    According to Sarah at SmartBitches, the Nora Roberts books will sell for $6.99

    I wouldn’t mind picking up the O’Hurley books, but @ $6.99 I’ll borrow them from my public library who I’m sure will get them. I’d think around $3.99-$4.99 would be a more ideal price point for these.

    ReplyReply

  22. library addict
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 12:49:26

    @Brian: The ones I wanted to redownload were the first 30 or so In Death books. And I was unable to redownload any of them, except the odd one which wasn’t available in LIT and I bought as Mobi.

    I miss the heyday of Fictionwise. They had such wonderful customer service to go along with the micropay and buywise club.

    ReplyReply

  23. Becca
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 12:53:48

    @cecilia – download Calibre and then google Apprentice Alf’s Guide for the Perplexed.

    ReplyReply

  24. Brian
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 13:00:23

    @cecilia: Follow Becca’s advice. The Calibre plug-ins are probably the easiest way to do things for most folks.

    ReplyReply

  25. Brian
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 13:02:31

    @library addict:

    I miss the heyday of Fictionwise. They had such wonderful customer service to go along with the micropay and buywise club.

    I miss that too. The combination of B&N buying them and the introduction of agency pricing really killed them.

    ReplyReply

  26. Sunita
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 13:09:26

    @Brian: Yes, definitely. Although I find the desktop option pretty handy as well.

    ReplyReply

  27. Lisa J
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 13:13:17

    The $6.99 with no coupons/discounts will keep me from buying the Nora Roberts backlist. There are too many new books to pay a premium for backlists, even if Nora’s Harlequin titles are some of my favorites.

    ReplyReply

  28. SAO
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 13:18:52

    So, e-reading has been in for what? 5 years? And already people are losing their libraries to format issues.

    ReplyReply

  29. Jackie Barbosa
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 13:26:07

    @Kim: I can’t speak to NR contracts, but back in the days before digital books existed (when most of her original contracts were signed), publishers bought the rights to book for an initial 7-year period with that period pretty much indefinitely extendable* if the book remained in print. In the case of an author like Roberts, publishers have tended to hold onto their rights by reissuing the backlist titles every 5-7 years to retain the rights under the “in print” clause. Of course, now there is speculation that being available for purchase in digital format may be seen by courts to constitute being “in print” (unless the contract specifies an actual minimum print run, as mine with Kensington fortunately does).

    *I say “pretty much indefinitely” because I understand publishers can only retain rights for 35 years, even if they continue to meet the “in print” clause. I gather copyright law includes this limitation independent of whatever is stated in the contract. But I’m not a lawyer or even highly educated on this point, so I could be wrong.

    ReplyReply

  30. Brian
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 13:36:57

    @Sunita: I use the deDRM drag ‘n drop personally (as opposed to Calibre), but it can be tougher for some folks to setup.

    ReplyReply

  31. Kim
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 14:00:37

    @Jackie Barbosa: Thank you for the explanation. No publisher could have forseen the rise of ebooks when they allowed certain books to revert back to the author. Future contract negotiations are going to be interesting with the income that can now be derived from backlists through e-books. Publishers can fight it all they want, but they’re going to have to eventually raise their e-book royalty rates or lose huge chunks of income to self-publishing.

    ReplyReply

  32. Courtney Milan
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 14:02:11

    “@Kim: Contractually, how long does Harlequin get to keep the rights to a category romance before they revert back to the author?

    It depends on the contract.

    Elaine English did a write-up for NINC (scroll down to “contract reversion”) that will give you some idea of the complexity involved, and the differences.

    http://www.ninc.com/writers_resources/digital_rights_answers.asp

    ReplyReply

  33. cecilia
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 14:03:25

    Thanks for the Calibre suggestion – I’m easily puzzled today by directions because of a bad head cold, but I managed to figure it out.

    ReplyReply

  34. Brian
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 14:03:46

    @SAO:
    Personally I really went digital in a big way in 2007, but had bought ebooks going back many years before that. In general I’d say 2007-2008 was when digital started gaining momentum (when eInk devices really hit the market) so say 3-4 years.

    This won’t be the first time for a lot of folks potentially losing their books. Amazon & B&N both offered ebooks before nook/Kindle and when they dropped them (B&N dropped them in 2003, iirc it was in 2005-06 for Amazon) folks lost the ability to re-download their stuff. Paperback Digital and CyberRead both went out of business (one without warning one with) severing access to stuff bought there as well. I forget when HQN first started offering ebooks, but it was a long time ago so some libraries could be quite large. It’d really be nice if they did the right thing and at least gave folks an option to switch what they bought to ePub so they can still access them.

    Thank goodness for deDRM software and multiple backups!

    ReplyReply

  35. Ridley
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 14:58:19

    @SAO: The only people losing books are the ones who play by the rules.

    The rest of us who strip DRM or even pirate will be just fine.

    It’s not an ebook format problem, it’s a publisher DRM problem.

    (and add me to the list of people turning their nose up at Penguin’s egregious ebook prices. $6.99 agency for a category-length novel = shove it.)

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  36. Moriah Jovan
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 16:10:41

    @Ridley:

    @SAO: The only people losing books are the ones who play by the rules.

    Ridley’s right.

    Plus, when I purchase an ebook, it goes onto my hard drive, then cracked/converted when I get around to it. But I DO NOT depend on etailers to keep copies for me.

    ReplyReply

  37. Brian
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 16:28:34

    @Moriah Jovan:

    But I DO NOT depend on etailers to keep copies for me.

    That’s definitely the best policy IMO.

    ReplyReply

  38. jmc
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 17:09:25

    @Jane: I would probably pay $6.99 (unhappily) for the few books of Kelly’s backlist that I have not read. But the ones that I have read and want as ebooks in order to replace the frail, used versions on my shelf? Nope.

    ReplyReply

  39. Kim
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 17:10:43

    @Courtney: Thank you. I’m off to read it now.

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  40. MaryK
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 17:12:12

    I haven’t heard of the Guinevere Jones books and was going to ask about them even though 6.99 sounded high for backlist titles then somebody pointed out that they were originally category books. Even today, categories aren’t priced that high. Should I preserve my ignorance?

    I bought a couple of big book shelves, not fancy but big, when my beloved local UBS closed. I’d have bought more if I’d had the room.

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  41. Mireya
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 20:16:01

    I have been reading in electronic formats almost exclusively, since 2003. But it only started turning “mainstream” when Amazon introduced the Kindle. Mobi and Microsoft Reader are among the oldest formats, along with Adobe Acrobat. Mobi itself “morphed” at least once, before it was bought out by Amazon. Sony had it’s proprietary format when they first introduced their readers, but switched to epub, however, they did provide replacements as well. This is just another reason why I totally HATE DRM of any sort.

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  42. Mireya
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 20:18:43

    Mariah, that is exactly what I do. I download, remove, save to different spots (PC HD, cloud storage, and external HD). Who knows where any of the ebookstores are going to be in the future, plus files can get corrupted, erased by accident, etc.

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  43. Jessica
    Oct 20, 2011 @ 10:37:49

    Talking about self-pub sales, I was reading on Facebook where Gennita Low posted about her self-pubbed books earnings that she made over $1000.00 last month from sales of one of her ebooks, Big Bad Wolf, and is doing okay with her new children’s book. Anyway, she seemed encouraged enough with the sales to have two more new ebooks coming out by end of this year, saying that she’s actually making money. So that’s similar to Nina Bruhn’s experience.

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  44. Nadia Lee
    Oct 21, 2011 @ 06:31:49

    $6.99 for a category ebook reprint? O.o

    ReplyReply

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