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Wednesday Midday Links: BN lending features are disappearing

Apparently publishers really don’t like digital lending even though they want to keep charging us print prices without giving digital readers corresponding print rights for the digital books. In other words, charge the consumer the same price but don’t allow her to trade, resell, or loan the book out. Barnes and Noble launched the nook with a “Lend Me” feature. It was a big deal even though the terms of the loan was for a short period of time (14 days) and the book could only be lent once. Now that Kindle has turned its lending feature on, many publishers seem to have turned lending off at Barnes and Noble. The nook boards over at BN.com, readers complained that formerly lendable books no longer have that feature enabled. In checking my account, I see the same thing:


My guess is that under the Agency model, publishers cannot allow certain features to exist on one retailer but not on another thus if they turned off the lending feature on the Kindle, then the nook lending feature disappears as well.

But removing rights that existed at the time of purchase is a pretty sucky move.

****

Maili sent me this fabulous piece about how one Chinese woman related to the Jane Austen stories. The author of the essay finds reflections of herself in the story as well as reflections of Chinese culture:

Jane Austen did not pretend that the ordinary was anything but, but she created stories and even a world that a person like me separated from her by two centuries can relate to:

● I see myself in the woman who has perhaps lost her bloom.
● I see myself in the book lover who is sometimes carried away by the romance of the fiction.
● I see myself in the daughter who is left with a widowed father.

and

I just don’t see myself in her novels though; I see the Chinese life in them:

 · Every Chinese knows a well-meaning mother like Mrs. Bennett who cannot rest until all her daughters are married.
 · What Chinese family won’t suffer an upheaval should a member do a Lydia? A Chinese father won’t be as civil as Mr. Bennett though to welcome the newlyweds back so soon after such a scandal that has brought the family shame.

****
Blogger Mike Cane brought this fabulous quote to my attention. At the Paris Review, Lorin Stein answers questions about writing and one emailer sent in a question about dialogue:

Real speech deals with whole-wheat crackers. That's what it's for. Dialogue deals with whole-wheat crackers only if those crackers tell a secret-’if they reveal something about the character speaking.

This is exactly right. Conversation or dialogue between the characters shouldn’t just be there to fill space, but to tell us something about the characters. I just finished reading What I Did for a Duke by Julie Anne Long and the dialogue in that book is as Stein says it should be: lyrical.

"I do admire a woman of courage. And it takes courage to deflect a duke."

"I've no courage at all, then," she hastened to disparage herself. "I would never dream of deflecting a duke."

"Perhaps we can discuss this further during the dancing portion of the evening. You'll enjoy waltzing with me later this evening, Miss Eversea. I dance very well, despite the height."

"Your modesty is as appealing as your sensitivity, Lord Moncrieffe. But perhaps a reel other than the waltz? We differ so in height I shall be speaking to your third button throughout the dance. Else you will need to look a great distance down and I will need to look a great distance up. I shouldn't like you to end the evening with an aching neck."

Inevitable at your creaky, advanced age, she left eloquently, palpably unspoken.

He looked down at her for a moment, head slightly cocked, as if he could hear that unworthy thought echoing in her mind.

"My third button is so often a wallflower during balls I doubt it will mind your conversation overmuch."

****

According to Richard Curtis at ereads.com, HarperCollins is inserting a moral clause in its boilerplate language.

New language in the termination provision of the Harper's boilerplate gives them the right to cancel a contract if "Author's conduct evidences a lack of due regard for public conventions and morals, or if Author commits a crime or any other act that will tend to bring Author into serious contempt, and such behavior would materially damage the Work's reputation or sales." The consequences? Harper can terminate your book deal. Not only that, you'll have to repay your advance. Harper may also avail itself of "other legal remedies" against you.

That’s a pretty big and vague morals’ clause.

***

India is the third largest English book market and some people predict that it will become the major English book market in 10 years.

Already, India is the third-largest English book market, according to figures from the National Book Trust of India, and it is expanding every year. K Vaitheeswaran, the chief operating officer of IndiaPlaza.com, a leading online book vendor, said: “Some of it is a function of the fact that books are now available for Rs99 (Dh8), which is a suddenly affordable price point. A whole lot of people are buying books at that price”.

One would think that the increase in India readers would result in diversity of content from publishers as surely the Indian readers would want to see their values and cultural experiences reflected in these stories, even if some values and experiences are universal (see infra Chinese Jane Austen story).

***

I thought this was a very funny article about men trying to learn more about their women based upon what their women read.   A recently engaged writer hopes to be the best husband possible and decides to read the book on his fiance’s nightstand in order to gain some insight.   The book was Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts.   The writer enlists his groomsmen to read with him so that they can cull out what makes the perfect man.

"Let's go to page 250," The Photographer said. He quoted Brown: "I can't deal with someone who can't talk to me, who can't be intimate with me except physically." The Photographer closed the book. "That may have been the closest to real life for me. I do find that my girlfriend wants to discuss everything and talk it out, and I'm more inclined to keep things in, and that's a constant friction."

"Yeah, I'm a big proponent of that. I think these really deep conversations bring people closer together. I think girls especially are big advocates of that," The Executive said.

It’s a cute and funny article although the ending might not please Nora Roberts’ fans (although I thought Happy Ever After was the weakest of the four bridal books.)

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

22 Comments

  1. Isabel Cooper
    Jan 19, 2011 @ 11:38:42

    Okay, I need to get that Long book now.

    The last link strikes me as particularly funny, because I don’t at all want in RL what I want in fiction. Romance, for me, is like surviving in the wilderness, fighting demons, or living in the 1800s: wonderful to read and write about, but wow, do I ever back away fast when confronted by the actual thing. (I’m assuming in the case of the demons.)

  2. TKF
    Jan 19, 2011 @ 11:51:22

    Our definitions of “lyrical” are clearly not the same . . . Julia Ross is lyrical. Pam Rosenthal is lyrical. Long's writing is, if anything, banal (in an perfectly inoffensive and way).

  3. Niveau
    Jan 19, 2011 @ 12:01:18

    I’m with Isabel – what I want in my fantasy is not what I want in my reality. But that link was pretty funny… even though it said the book was chick-lit, not romance. *facepalm* And, thankfully, most of the really bad comments got thumbs-downed!

  4. Vi
    Jan 19, 2011 @ 12:02:37

    I must read the JAL book. The dialogue sparkles with wit.

  5. Joy
    Jan 19, 2011 @ 12:29:01

    What’s really annoying is that not only are some lendable books being removed from the feature, the icons aren’t updating on my nook. My nook stills shows certain books as lendable (until you actually invoke the LendMe feature), but online they show as not lendable.

  6. Kerry Allen
    Jan 19, 2011 @ 12:41:10

    I have Dr. Seuss, Stephen King, and Jennifer Crusie side by side on one of my bookshelves. I’d love to watch some poor, confused menfolk try to parse that combo into “What A Girl Wants.”

  7. DS
    Jan 19, 2011 @ 14:01:47

    I found this a post on Teleread at the end of December– http://www.teleread.com/paul-biba/amazons-new-lending-feature-is-probably-going-to-anger-some-publishers/

    Yesterday, Amazon quietly updated the terms and conditions for publishers who use its Digital Text Platform to publish to the Kindle Store. It added section 5.2.2, which explains how the Lending Program works. In particular, it explains the following:

    * * *
    * any opt-outs are not retroactive, so anyone who purchased the title while lending was available will continue to have access to the feature.

    There’s a bit of upset in the comments. But at least Amazon thought about what would happen when someone who published through their DTP decided to opt out. Agency however is a horse of different color.

    There seemed to be a bit of upset across the board with lending groups forming.

  8. Ronnica
    Jan 19, 2011 @ 14:19:43

    “But removing rights that existed at the time of purchase is a pretty sucky move.”

    Definitely. Sad to hear that, as I just got a Nook. I haven’t yet bought a book that had Lend Me, but I would hate to think that they could take it away, considering that could be a decision-maker as to whether you would buy the book in the first place. I’d rather see the prices go down (as in $5 or less) than the increase of digital lending. That seems like a much more reasonable price range.

  9. Isabel Cooper
    Jan 19, 2011 @ 14:19:55

    Kerry: Haven’t read quite enough Jennifer Crusie to predict her, but clearly a gunslinger in a hat figures into it somewhere.

  10. Author On Vacation
    Jan 19, 2011 @ 14:35:40

    According to Richard Curtis at ereads.com, HarperCollins is inserting a moral clause in its boilerplate language.

    “New language in the termination provision of the Harper's boilerplate gives them the right to cancel a contract if “Author's conduct evidences a lack of due regard for public conventions and morals, or if Author commits a crime or any other act that will tend to bring Author into serious contempt, and such behavior would materially damage the Work's reputation or sales.” The consequences? Harper can terminate your book deal. Not only that, you'll have to repay your advance. Harper may also avail itself of “other legal remedies” against you.”

    That's a pretty big and vague morals' clause.

    So if an author’s conduct (conventional or no) is shown to impact sales for the better, does the author receive a bonus?

  11. Tweets that mention Wednesday Midday Links: BN lending features are disappearing | Dear Author -- Topsy.com
    Jan 19, 2011 @ 14:48:35

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Vampire Book Club, Mina Kelly and others. Mina Kelly said: Lending feature disappears on some BN books. I'd be pissed if i purchased s'thing with a feature that later disappeared http://bit.ly/hMX4Fi [...]

  12. SylviaSybil
    Jan 19, 2011 @ 19:09:17

    It is pretty sucky to take away rights from the consumer, especially as quiet and sneaky as this is. I hate to cheer Amazon, but good for them for ensuring that won’t happen to their customers.

  13. jmc
    Jan 19, 2011 @ 21:36:39

    It's a cute and funny article although the ending might not please Nora Roberts' fans (although I thought Happy Ever After was the weakest of the four bridal books.)

    I was entertained by the article, and since the last book was DNF for me, the last line made me laugh. (I’m a huge fan of NR/JDR generally but the bridal quartet didn’t thrill me.)

  14. Suze
    Jan 19, 2011 @ 23:55:25

    That author morals clause is very interesting. I do wonder if they’ve been able to link Authors Behaving Badly with a decrease in sales. And if so, which ones?

    Other than that, the wording is very very vague, and problematical. It could lead to some serious overreach by publishers, and put authors into the position of having to defend lifestyle choices that are really nobody’s business but their own.

    I’m wildly curious about what prompted such a clause.

  15. Anita Chax
    Jan 20, 2011 @ 03:02:21

    @ Jane
    Your bio mentions Kristina Bliss. Do you mean Karina Bliss (who I discovered via DA and currently adore)?

  16. FD
    Jan 20, 2011 @ 05:16:25

    The morals clause is not news to me – I recall Random House wanting to add one to their boiler plate a couple of years back now. Don’t actually know if they managed to push it through though.

    Guardian article from 2008

    It was suggested at the time that their attempt followed an author published by them, (William Mayne) being convicted of child sexual assault, but I don’t know if that is actually accurate or not. The connection I mean, not the conviction – that was all too too real.

    I thought then that it was an overly broad overreaction, but the HarperCollins one is even worse.

  17. Moriah Jovan
    Jan 20, 2011 @ 07:37:39

    Other than that, the wording is very very vague, and problematical. It could lead to some serious overreach by publishers, and put authors into the position of having to defend lifestyle choices that are really nobody's business but their own.

    Smacks of an employer-employee relationship, doesn’t it?

  18. SAo
    Jan 20, 2011 @ 11:27:08

    The real killer in the book business is that so few people read. Something like 40% of Americans haven’t read any book in the last year.

    In terms of hours of entertainment enjoyed by my family members per buck, unshareable 10$ books are a bad bargain compared to the cost of our internet connection, DVD rentals, and cable TV.

  19. nasanta
    Jan 20, 2011 @ 23:17:52

    Wow. I definitely want to get What I Did for a Duke. I really liked what I saw of the dialogue. It definitely sparkled with wit. :)

  20. Stumbling Over Chaos :: Brrr! Linkity from subzero (Fahrenheit) land *insert plentiful shivering*
    Jan 21, 2011 @ 02:03:18

    [...] news from Dear Author and Book Lovers [...]

  21. MikiS
    Jan 22, 2011 @ 22:04:42

    @DS: I don’t know what to think when I see comments like this, and when I see comments in forums I belong to where authors act like “book sharing” will be the end of the world as we know it.

    Up until ebooks came out, I *routinely* shared books with friends. Often. I buy SO MANY authors today because someone I knew shoved one of their books into my hands and said “You HAVE to read this book!”

    In today’s setting, ebooks can be shared ONE TIME only – nothing like I do with paper books.

    Authors should be worried that their most consistent method of being recommended to new readers is being limited!

  22. Mike Faraday
    Jan 23, 2011 @ 09:18:33

    Why do ebooks trigger so much fuzzy thinking?

    Ebooks come with rights that are different than paper books. You lease ebaooks and can’t lend them. You buy paper books but can’t carry 250 of them with you or have them zapped to you at will. Two different bundles of benefits, and if the price of one bundle of benefits isn’t acceptable to enough of us, that price will change – but if it is acceptable, then our whining is just that – ours, without support from many others.

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