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Wednesday Midday Links: Discoverability of Digital Backlist Titles

This was tweeted by Zoe Archer someone (I now forget, maybe Rose Fox?) and I thought it was an interesting article. According to a new book, a female led shoplifting gang was an underworld power to be reckoned with in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Hidden in Britain’s underworld are characters and little known gangsters who have received only fleeting comments on their careers,” he said. “Far from being side men and women, some of these villains – especially the women – deserved starring roles.”

Born in 1896 in Southwark, Annie Diamond became queen of the gang when she was 20. She ruled with military precision, dividing the gang into cells to ransack a single shop or raid a series of shops across the city simultaneously. To the police, she was “the cleverest of thieves” and called Diamond Annie, because she had a “punch to beware of”, said McDonald, thanks to fists studded with diamond rings.

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Here is a short and interesting article about consumer consumption of entertainment/media:

In 2010, consumers spent an average of 4 hours and 24 minutes each day watching TV and video, while being online for 2 hours and 35 minutes. Mobile devices received an average of 50 minutes' worth of attention every day-’the same amount of time allotted to newspapers and magazines combined. eMarketer expects that time spent with mobile devices will continue to increase, most likely taking time away from print media.

I’ve always maintained that the biggest threat to the book is other forms of entertainment such as social media, the internet, games (oh Angry Birds, I love and hate you). Publishers are trying to reach out and garner some of that audience by translating their books into games. Nora Roberts’ wedding series, Marjorie Liu’s paranormals and Harlequin Presents are some books that have made the transition. Avon Romance has made an online interactive game for Stephanie Laurens’ recent releases.

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Gotham Writers’ Workshop is running a Writer’s Wish List Sweepstakes offering an iPad, Kindle, writing classes, books and magazines as prizes. No purchase necessary. Entry deadline is Jan. 1, 2011. To enter visit:

http://www.writingclasses.com/ContestPages/WishList.php

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Mark Coker gave some predictions about publishing in 2011. More authors will self publish and prices will go down because of the glut of supply.

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This article about adults loving kids books kind of rehashes things we already know but I did think that these tidbits would be interesting for our YA lovers:

Dystopian young-adult literature, for one, “is still going strong,” said Angie Lee, the vice president of marketing at Harper Collins, in a conversation somewhere around the hors d’oeuvres table. (See the bestselling “Matched,” by Ally Condie, which has much in common with “The Hunger Games,” minus the children killing children.)

Meanwhile, another claimed the adult trade market was looking for the kinds of stories now being told in the romance and young-adult genres.

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I’m a bit frustrated by the lack of information we readers have about the digital backlist titles. Mike Shatkzin blogged yesterday about the importance of the backlist for publishers and he suggests a few ways to market those books. Avon started doing press releases of its digital backlist titles although I haven’t seen one recently. Harlequin is pretty good about sending me the list of titles that I can post, but it does seem very hard to find this information. One person on twitter noted that Laura Lee Guhrke’s older books are now digitized. Breathless is one of my favorite Guhrke titles. I wish, though, the prices were lower.

Jennifer Horsman’s backlist books are also being re-released. (I remember the zebra heart fondly. Talk about branding.) But holy crap, Kensington, $9.99. You’ve got to be kidding.

Backlist titles don’t compete with frontlist titles for pricing, they compete with used book store prices.

I guess my question is, price notwithstanding, how are readers supposed to discover these books? I suppose I could set up an author submitted site (like lostbooksales but for authors to submit the release of their digital backlists)? Suggestion readers? authors?

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

29 Comments

  1. Tweets that mention NewPost: Wednesday Midday Links: Discoverability of Digital Backlist Titles -- Topsy.com
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 12:15:12

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by BeaCharmed. BeaCharmed said: RT @dearauthor: NewPost: Wednesday Midday Links: Discoverability of Digital Backlist Titles http://bit.ly/ejhL0r [...]

  2. Vi
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 12:17:58

    That would be so awesome Jane if you did that! It’s hard to keep up with whose backlist have been digitized.

    ReplyReply

  3. library addict
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 12:24:46

    Many of the backlist books I want are older Silhouette/Harlequin categories by Nora, Linda Howard (most specifically Midnight Rainbow, Diamond Bay, and Duncan’s Bride), Kathleen Kobel, etc. But Harlequin apparently doesn’t have the “e” rights.

    And then there’s folks who no longer publish as far as I can tell like Carole Buck, Lee Magner, Naomi Horton, Judith Duncan etc.

    It would be nice if there was an actual website listing the backlist titles of all authors. There’s the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/BacklistEbooks but I’m not on facebook and have no plans to ever join. Not sure how updated it is.

    ReplyReply

  4. Jane
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 12:27:55

    @library addict I saw that Linda Howard’s Midnight Rainbow and Diamond Bay was being rereleased, but I didn’t realize that they aren’t available in digital format. How frustrating.

    ReplyReply

  5. Vi
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 12:28:27

    @Library Addict- they now have a website:
    Backlistebooks.com

    ReplyReply

  6. Vi
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 12:31:27

    I don’t understand why Nora won’t allow her categories to be digitized. Oh, the money I would spend to own those books on my Kindle.

    ReplyReply

  7. library addict
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 12:43:10

    @Vi: Thanks. I guess the site is for authors who are self-publishing the OOP books where the rights have reverted back to them. Doesn’t help with the newly in e-format books issued by publishers.

    ReplyReply

  8. MaryK
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 13:19:08

    Oh, I loved Jennifer Horsman. Some were very bodice ripper-y so I don’t know how they’ve held up. They were out of print when I discovered them, but I hunted them all down at UBSs.

    She had one medieval I thought was excellent; it was based on an incident in the historical record. Widow of bad guy brother disappears and good guy brother brings home mysterious new wife, with much angst along the way of course.

    ReplyReply

  9. Zoe Archer
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 13:43:30

    Oh, hey, I was the one who tweeted the girl gang article. I first read about it on Jezebel.com.

    Someone has to write that romance!

    ReplyReply

  10. Jane
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 13:43:34

    @library addict: The backlistebooks.com site is a good start, but it is woefully underrepresented. I think, in part, because it focuses on the author self pubbed backlist.

    ReplyReply

  11. Jane
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 13:44:23

    @Zoe Archer: Sorry Zoe! Will make the correction. I instapaper all these articles and forget who first pointed out the article.

    ReplyReply

  12. Suze
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 13:47:02

    I’m amazed at how my own feelings about self-published books have changed just in the last year. I suppose there will always be the religious rants ALL IN CAPS put out there, but self-pubbing for fiction writers is looking more and more sensible.

    I bought and read Moriah Jovian’s books The Proviso and Stay. I can see why a mainstream publisher would find them problematical, but they were quite good. The writing was skilled, the stories were engrossing. And now that The Proviso has broken even (I think I read her writing that somewhere), any sales are pure profit, which she doesn’t have to share and most particularly doesn’t have to take in little, unpredictable, unverifiable 5 – 15% sips.

    I could be wrong about this, but I think that editors have always been the gatekeepers of publishing. I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t continue to be. If, for instance, Cindy Hwang went freelance and worked for self-publishing authors, and had a website (or belonged to a coop of freelance editors who shared a website), readers could search out books she’s edited and buy them.

    I’ve enjoyed every book I’ve ever read edited by Hwang, by various authors.

    To corral my rather rambling thoughts, yes! That was a very interesting set of predictions by Coker, and rang true to me.

    ReplyReply

  13. Keishon
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 13:50:30

    I guess my question is, price notwithstanding, how are readers supposed to discover these books? I suppose I could set up an author submitted site (like lostbooksales but for authors to submit the release of their digital backlists)? Suggestion readers? authors?

    That is the million dollar question. When will I know that Kathleen Eagle will release her back list in digital? Or Judith McNaught? I wish they would digitize their books and that there was some way to know about it without having to search each and every time I think about it.

    I do know that V.C. Andrews back list titles like Flowers in the Attic, etc is coming in digital soon so that even more teens can discover her work.

    Judith Ivory’s Beast is coming soon do a ereader near you. That’s all I got.

    ReplyReply

  14. Suze
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 14:03:30

    When I discover a new author and want to find their backlists, I go to their website (if they have one), wikipedia, and fantasic fiction.

    I’d love for there to be a central location where I could find:

    - author name
    - pseudonyms
    - list of books
    - ability to sort by genre
    - link to buy or download

    I could see this easily becoming a huge, unwieldy beast of a website, though.

    ReplyReply

  15. MaryK
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 14:07:12

    @Suze: Try fictiondb.com. They have a lot of that, though I don’t think they show ebook info.

    ReplyReply

  16. Statch
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 16:29:23

    For Harlequin back list ebook releases, I’m still finding the best and easiest way to find them is watching Fictionwise’s ‘new ebooks’ list. For some reason I no longer get email notification from them (did they stop doing those?), but I check their new ebooks list every Monday, and it has any Harlequin new and back list releases (and that’s just about all it has).

    I’m still in mourning over what happened to Fictionwise. They really did advertising right. The weekly e-mails with lists of new books had enough text on each book that I could figure out what the story line was. That’s all I need, just a list with the title, author, and a few lines about the story, but I haven’t found any other group that does it as simply and as well. Most of the sites I look at make me page through multi-page lists and have to click on each to get descriptions.

    It would be great to have a blog that did for digital back lists what Books on the Knob does for free and discounted ebooks. I’d think that once the blog got established, publishers and authors doing back-list self-pub would provide the information.

    ReplyReply

  17. Hannah
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 17:24:15

    @Jane I had emailed you about Laura Lee Gurkhe’s earlier books being released digitally and wanting a resource for more info about similar books. I check the Kindle store often to see which titles are newly available for pre-order. Still, it would be nice to have a place to see all the titles at a glance. I have emailed RT Book Reviews to see if they’d ever consider adding this to their publishers’ previews section. But if the publishers are cagey about releasing the information, maybe we’ll have to wait until digital publishing is the norm for this to happen (then it would not be relevant anyway).

    ReplyReply

  18. KarLynP
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 17:43:57

    If you know of a specific out of print book you want in eformat, you can enter and track it at http://www.ereaderiq.com/kindlewatch for free. I am tracking Danelle Harmon, Pamela Morsi and even some old Julie Garwood historicals that have yet to be converted. I know Lorraine Heath finally added some of her old westerns to eformat recently (but the formatting is terrible!). This site also lists ‘new to kindle’ books too if you just want to browse (it lists all genres).

    ReplyReply

  19. Ell
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 17:45:39

    @library addict

    I’d been waiting for Midnight Rainbow and Diamond Bay myself, and noticed yesterday in the grocery store a Linda Howard named Trouble. Huh? Never heard of a book of hers called Trouble… Yup, omnibus. Had a very happy evening last night.

    I wonder if anyone else has the e rights to those books–my guess would be no. Missing a bet if so.

    ReplyReply

  20. brooksse
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 18:22:57

    According to this post, Harlequin doesn’t have the digital rights to books published prior to 1995, so they have to acquire the e-rights before they can e-publish older categories:
    http://harlequinblog.com/2010/05/catch-up-with-your-favourite-harlequin-with-the-backlist-ebook-program/

    I don’t know if they’re still monitoring the comments on the post (it’s from May), but there were a couple suggestions posted as recent as last month, so you might give it a try if you’d like to make suggestions.

    ReplyReply

  21. Liz M
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 21:25:20

    @Zoe Archer: Darn, when I saw you’d tweeted it, I hoped YOU were writing the romance!

    ReplyReply

  22. Moriah Jovan
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 21:50:00

    @Suze: I just saw this and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    If, for instance, Cindy Hwang went freelance and worked for self-publishing authors, and had a website (or belonged to a coop of freelance editors who shared a website), readers could search out books she's edited and buy them.

    I’ve been thinking that for quite a while. My editor for Stay is an extraordinarily talented editor and I’m trying to build his brand as much as possible. (Eric W Jepson, in case anybody needs the name.)

    There was a line of books in the mid-90s that had an editor’s name on it. Denise Little, IIRC. I don’t know how long it lasted, though…

    ReplyReply

  23. Suze
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 22:00:32

    @Moriah Jovan: The excerpt from Stay at AllRomanceEbooks was what convinced me to buy your books, and I’m so glad I did. You’re really the biggest impetus in my becoming more open to self-published books.

    One of my English teachers pointed out a few years ago that a lot of the books that have won the Governor General’s award over the past decade had the same editor (and can I remember the name? No. Am I going to google it? Nah), and our class had this big discussion about the value of a good editor.

    ReplyReply

  24. ka
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 22:22:34

    @Hannah: Did RT respond to your email?

    ReplyReply

  25. ShellBell
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 22:25:41

    I’d love to have a site that listed which backlist books would be becoming available. There are so many backlist books I would love to have as eBooks (Shirlee Busbee, Johanna Lindsey, Elizabeth Elliott, Judith McNaught, Elizabeth Vaughan, Janet Dailey) and a lot of the older Harlequin books by Carole Mortimer, Anne Mather, Lynne Graham etc.

    Overpricing is a big concern for me. I am only missing 2 earlier Christine Feehan novellas as eBooks (Dark Descent and Dark Dream), but quite frankly won’t be purchasing them any time soon. At this stage the only place I can buy them is ebooks.com and they have them listed at US$11.99 each – a total rip-off for novellas. As far as I am aware they haven’t been revised and expanded so I can’t believe that they are listed at that price and I don’t know how that price can be justified.

    ReplyReply

  26. Stumbling Over Chaos :: Should auld lang linkity be forgot…
    Dec 30, 2010 @ 02:06:52

    [...] linkity from Dear Author and [...]

  27. DS
    Dec 30, 2010 @ 11:11:28

    @Moriah Jovan: I remember Denise Little’s romance line. She went on to edit science fiction and fantasy. (Due to the reputation of romance it was a step up) You can find books she edited that are available on Amazon by searching for her name.

    ReplyReply

  28. Moriah Jovan
    Dec 30, 2010 @ 11:24:40

    @Suze: Again, thank you. If you’re interested and/or haven’t read them yet, here are a couple of self-pubbed titles that I adore:

    Do the Math by Phil Persinger

    and

    Waiting for Spring by RJ Keller

    Neither of those are romance, but they are love stories.

    @DS: A step up from romance? Huh. Interesting… I read some of them back in the day. Her taste and mine weren’t…compatible.

    ReplyReply

  29. MaryK
    Dec 30, 2010 @ 11:33:29

    Weirdly, someone just recommended a Phantom-esque romance to me that turns out to be a Denise Little Presents book.

    ReplyReply

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