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

Wednesday Midday Links: Another Woot Deal

classic nookWoot.com, a division of Amazon, is selling the original classic nook 3G for $99. This is a real bargain. While I don’t love the original classic nook, the 3G capability at $99 makes up for a lot of ills.

These deals can sell out fast.

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A former Random House editor blogging at the Atlantic writes about the changing landscape of publishing. Advances weren’t always the norm:

At Random House, however, the biggest-selling authors were the incomparable Dr. Seuss as well as James Michener, whose regular blockbusters of historical fiction were huge bestsellers. Neither author took advances. Their revenues were so large and steady that they had a permanent drawing account and relied on the publisher and their financial advisers to see that the money was properly invested.

The digital publishing model is built on no advances and it will be interesting to see if advances become a rarity in publishing.   This makes sense, I think, only if speed to market is also part of the digital publishing model.   Authors have told me that advances are important because it can take up to two years or more between sale and publication and the advance represents, in part, payment for lost opportunity sales.

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When I was RT, I sat in on a panel about social reading. One topic that came up was how print traditions weren’t necessarily carrying over into the digital arena.   An example given was highlighting and marginalia.   Few genre readers that we knew took notes in the margin or highlighted pages.   Heck, I didn’t even like to crack the spine whereas with digital books I am highlighting and note taking like a freshman at college, high off of white out fluid.   I explained that romance readers came online in droves because so many of us didn’t have supporting readers around us who read romance and that we were often judged adversely for admitting to our reading tastes.   A mystery bookstore owner looked at me and said that mystery readers suffer the very same self doubt.   It appears that all genres feel slighted.   This is all building up to my link. Wait for it.

Rob at Excuses and Half Truths blogged about his outrage that the BBC coverage of World Book Day completely excluded Science Fiction/Fantasy.

Apart from a brief mention of Philip Pullman's Northern Lights as a YA crossover, SF, fantasy and horror were not represented. No Pratchett. No Rankin. No Tolkein or Lewis. No Iain M. Banks, no JK Rowling. No China Mieville or Joe Abercrombie. No Clive Barker, no Christopher Priest. Genres that between them take between 20 and 30% of the UK book market were roundly ignored.

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Author Sean Hayden had a hilarious piece about the worst job ever. I don’t know if Hayden writes humorous fiction but if he did, the blog post would be a great exemplar.

Believe it or not this whole tale starts with my sons underpants. He was 7 or 8 at the time and lets just say he wasn't the best "wiper" in the world. We actually went so far as to call him "Skidmarks" for a few days, hoping to embarrass him into being a little more "thorough" (if you know what I mean). I mean trying to break a kid of 8 who's philosophy has always been "Wipe twice and get on with your life" wasn't easy. But we did it. Much to our dismay. Most of my hard earned salary went to the Charmin Corporation. The kid would use a roll each time he had a movement. We went through a twelve-pack a day. We were broke, his ass was clean, and our sewer thingy out front of the house took a shit (pun intended).

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Ah, the perils of most favored nation clauses.   Amazon, and probably PubIt! and others, have a clause in their contracts with authors (and publishers) that states something like “in the event of a price decline at another online site, you agree to sell the same product at our site for the same reduced price.”   Kobo, through a software pricing glitch, lowered the price of several Smashword books and this made Amazon immediately decrease the price for those books published at Amazon to the same discounted price (this is why you don’t need to shop around as a reader because Amazon invariably will have the lowest price available).

This is price matching is done without notice to the author which Lee Goldberg learned last night, much to his dismay.   Here is one of the dangers of self publishing. You need to read your contracts and understand the terms and how they might affect you in various situations.

As much as I like Mark Coker, I don’t agree that this is Amazon’s fault.   Coker wrote at the Kindleboards:

Someone on the thread made a comment about Amazon’s predatory price matching practices. I would agree. Amazon knows that these titles are distributed by Smashwords, and they know what the true correct price is because they’re spidering the Smashwords.com web site where the author-set price is always displayed.

This means Amazon has the data to realize that the price change at Kobo was not the author’s fault.

Yet Amazon punishes the author.

Last year, I even offered to share our price list with Amazon so they could use it to satisfy their price parity needs, as opposed to punishing authors for glitches that can occur between us and the retailer.

Amazon doesn’t know what the contracts are between Smashwords and Kobo. Deals can be renegotiated and terms are often confidential.   It is not the responsibility of one retailers to make sure that another retailer doesn’t make pricing mistakes.

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Remember Jessica Verday and her withdrawal from an anthology wherein the editor wanted to degay the story?   The “shame on you” post at Publishers Weekly by the publisher of Running Press?   The Wicked Pretty Things anthology has now been canceled.

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

14 Comments

  1. Kerry
    Apr 13, 2011 @ 11:21:05

    Coker’s tone toward Amazon has become decreasingly friendly, leading up to a recent announcement on the Smashwords update page that Amazon is now cockblocking a distribution deal that’s been in the works for what seems like forever.

    Speaking from the author side of the fence, however, Kobo screws up a lot.

  2. Isobel Carr
    Apr 13, 2011 @ 12:18:56

    If advances become a thing of the past, publishers are going to have to do a LOT more publicity for authors (esp debut authors). A lot of us wouldn’t be able to fund all the promo stuff (as well as attend stuff like RT and RomCon) if we didn’t have an advance to fund it all.

    Once the wheel is rolling and there are royalties coming in regularly, this might not be a huge issue for some, but it will always be an issue for a debut author.

  3. Moriah Jovan
    Apr 13, 2011 @ 12:21:37

    A lot of us wouldn't be able to fund all the promo stuff (as well as attend stuff like RT and RomCon) if we didn't have an advance to fund it all.

    IMO, this is where publishers lost the war before it was begun. Their value-added was PR. If you get an advance, but you’re spending it on promo, you’re starting out in the hole.

  4. Nightwriter
    Apr 13, 2011 @ 12:35:54

    @Moriah Jovan
    I agree. I want to gag every time I see an author get on my chapter loop and whine about the possibility of not getting an advance in future. Their reason for distress is always, “But I must have that money because it all goes toward promo. Whatever would I do without it?”

    Since the advance is often the only money many of these authors see from their work, why bother?

  5. Isobel Carr
    Apr 13, 2011 @ 13:23:19

    A) Most authors I know are certainly not spending anywhere near their entire advance on promo. That would be nuts (unless your advance was so small that you might as well not be getting one).

    B) The advance is rarely, in the current market, all you ever see from your work (it used to be that if you ever got a royalty check, that meant your advance was too low, but advances are now much less than many new and mid-list authors will make on a book or series; and this is true even for most of my friends who are getting six-figure advances).

    C) I agree that publishers lost ground when they shifted so much of the promo onto the authors, and I think this is something they’re going to have to make up if they want to stay relevant in the new publishing paradigm.

  6. Joanne
    Apr 13, 2011 @ 14:00:58

    Apologies Jane for going so far off topic (it was the mention of Random House) – and as much as I hate promoting one of ‘those’ publishers – I’m so pleased that RH is releasing a new Dr Seuss book with 7 stories previously only published in magazines in the 50s.

    http://url2it.com/eklm

  7. MaryK
    Apr 13, 2011 @ 14:29:15

    One topic that came up was how print traditions weren't necessarily carrying over into the digital arena.

    I saw that in a recap or something and thought it was weird. Social reading? Print traditions? It wasn’t til I got online with like minded people that I started talking about books. I sure don’t go through everyday life advertising the fact that I read Romance. And I don’t remember getting any flak back when I read Mystery.

  8. Phoebe
    Apr 13, 2011 @ 15:35:46

    Aw, still a little bummed that you guys are still down on the nook classic. It’s not a perfect piece of hardware (were I to buy an eReader again, I’d probably go for a Sony Touch–almost entirely because of highlighting difficulties on the nook classic), but the price point here makes it a steal, and the wide range of usable file formats mean that this is the perfect eReader for the price for those who want to take out library books, etc.

  9. Isobel Carr
    Apr 13, 2011 @ 15:58:20

    I’ve become addicted to the Kindle ap on my Droid. ADDICTED, I tell you. I haven’t used my eReader in months . . .

  10. MaryK
    Apr 13, 2011 @ 16:31:56

    @Isobel Carr: The Kindle system is magic. You press a button and it zaps you a book. ‘Course it also zaps your wallet, but as we all know true magic exacts a price.

  11. Isobel Carr
    Apr 13, 2011 @ 16:55:39

    I’m pretty much ok with the wallet zapping . . . we all have our vices, mine is books.

  12. MaryK
    Apr 13, 2011 @ 17:07:49

    Oh, it’s mine too. I have to be extra careful so as not to zap my wallet empty.

  13. brooksse
    Apr 13, 2011 @ 20:12:40

    That’s one of the reasons I use gift cards to feed my kindle’s appetite. It makes me pause before pushing the button since I have to check the remaining balance before purchasing. And depleting the balance means waiting until the next trip to the store before it can be replenished.

  14. kzoet
    Apr 16, 2011 @ 19:46:24

    Ummm, am I the only one turned off by the Sean Hayden blurb above where he uses humiliation to try to embarrass his 8 year old son into better hygiene? That doesn’t make him humorous; that makes him an abusive a-hole in my book. No, thanks.

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