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Wednesday Midday Links: More on digital lending and libraries

The big news in the tech world is that Apple is debuting the iPad 2 today which will be lighter and have better resolution and thus be more attractive to those ebook reading folk. I feel super conflicted about Apple because it is acting like such an asshat about allowing content into its stores. John Gruber, an astute apple apologist (I know, seems like an oxymoron but it is true), says that Apple’s in app policy regarding Amazon and others isn’t feasible. Yesterday, Apple approved a Kobo upgrade so maybe the sky isn’t falling just quite yet.

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From the promo files, we have the following:

From 3/1-3/31, Ashley March will be hosting the 1st Annual March Madness Blog Party to celebrate historical romance readers and writers. Throughout the month, a guest historical romance author will be featured each day with a giveaway. Also, a daily feature will spotlight community sites and blogs that support historical romance. In addition to the daily giveaways by guest authors, other book bundles and prizes will be given away, with more than 40 prizes overall. Aspiring historical romance writers will also have a chance to win a partial critique from super-agent Barbara Poelle and a full critique from Ashley March. For full details and schedule, please visit: www.ashleymarch.com/blog.

Moira Rogers trading card

and from Jeannie Lin, author of the Butterfly Swords, we have romance author trading cards. The image is the card that will be handed out by Moira Rogers.

I think this is pretty cool because in the day of digital books, there really aren’t physical items to connect with. I received an oversized postcard of the awesome Jaci Burton cover “Perfect Play“. She’ll send them to anyone who wants one and I have to say that it is really a magnificent item and not just because of Jed Hill. Part of the appeal is the heavy stock it is printed on. This is a quality piece of promo and one I’ll probably keep. I was thinking that I might actually like to collect these for keepers and put them in a special bound volume or something. Those photobook places will print up bound photographs. Something like that might be neat for readers. What do you guys think? Maybe I will collect a bunch at RT and have them bound for giveaways here at DA? Would you guys like that?

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Barnes & Noble settled its lawsuit with Spring Design (who is now out of business). In return for undisclosed consideration, Spring Design is granting BN “a non-exclusive, paid-up royalty free license for the entire portfolio of Spring Design patents and patent applications. The terms of the settlement are otherwise confidential.”

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Samhain editor, Anne Scott, blogs about the importance of allowing readers a safe place to talk about books. I don’t know if this is in response to the horrible event that Teddy Pig suffered over at Goodreads or not, but I really appreciate Scott’s statements. To sum up, reviews are for readers. Authors shouldn’t read negative reviews if it is too difficult to handle.

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At a HarperCollins site unironically called Library Love Fest, HarperCollins posts an open letter to libraries arguing on behalf of its decision to limit library lends to 26.

Our prior e-book policy for libraries dates back almost 10 years to a time when the number of e-readers was too small to measure. It is projected that the installed base of e-reading devices domestically will reach nearly 40 million this year. We have serious concerns that our previous e-book policy, selling e-books to libraries in perpetuity, if left unchanged, would undermine the emerging e-book eco-system, hurt the growing e-book channel, place additional pressure on physical bookstores, and in the end lead to a decrease in book sales and royalties paid to authors. We are looking to balance the mission and needs of libraries and their patrons with those of authors and booksellers, so that the library channel can thrive alongside the growing e-book retail channel.

HC goes on to say that it sells at a discount to its distributors which really can’t be the case under Agency because, as I understand it, you can’t treat one class preferentially under retail price maintenance.

As is often the case, the comments are the best part of the blog post. One commenter noted that libraries have a finite budget and that when a book is expired, it likely won’t be replaced because libraries can only afford to buy so many books (and they aren’t likely to invest in expiring books). Many of the commenters didn’t appreciate the PR speak of HC when it tried to portray themselves as friends of the library and committed to library access.

What HC is trying to do, is my guess, is create more sales by limiting access to libraries. HC believes, perhaps incorrectly, that by not allowing the library to have access, patrons will then purchase more books independent of the library. Sarah Glassmeyer suggests that if each patron bought one more ebook than they ordinarily do that would, the market loss of libraries would be covered. Which gives rise to the question of whether publishers trying to do away with libraries altogether?

SUMMARY: U.S. Libraries circulate about 2 billion items per year. This means each person that has a library card averages about 13 checkouts a year. Given that the average price of a book is about $20 (low estimate), that means the value of materials circulated by libraries is 45 Billion dollars or $270 to each borrower.

If each borrower changed one checkout to purchase – $3,750,063,240
If each borrower bought one eBook at $6.00 – Publishers would get $1,001,352,000.

Overdrive is moving the entire digital catalog of HarperCollins to a different catalog.

Beginning March 7, we are making changes in the eBook ordering process. HarperCollins eBooks and their catalog of titles will be moved from our general eBook catalog to a separate collection. Until we have time to review the effect of these new terms with our library partners, HarperCollins eBooks will not be listed in our Library Marketplace. You will be able to review and order HarperCollins eBooks from a separated catalog, if you so choose.

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Agency is not likely to come soon to the UK or EU. It’s kind of shocking to see that UK and EU have stricter antitrust laws that the US. Way to go FTC. Anyway, this morning, EU readers woke up to the news that the European Commission RAIDED European publisher offices looking for evidence of price fixing.

DG Competition has launched an investigation yesterday and simultaneous raids in several editors of the Union, including all the major French publishers, suspected to agree on the price of digital books through the contract term.

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

37 Comments

  1. MaryK
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 11:45:27

    romance author trading cards … Those photobook places will print up bound photographs. Something like that might be neat for readers. What do you guys think? Maybe I will collect a bunch at RT and have them bound for giveaways here at DA? Would you guys like that?

    That would be so cool! And now I’m going to be doubly resentful that I don’t get to go to rom cons. Actually, you wouldn’t even have to bind them; if you can find the right size sheet protector [ http://tinyurl.com/4w3rvg3 ], your collection can be endlessly expandable. :)

  2. MaryK
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 11:55:39

    Oh, I was distracted by the trading card idea.

    I’d really like to have an iPad but it’d just be an expensive toy for me at this point, and I already have a noticeable increase in eye strain since getting my iTouch. I am in the market for a netbook though and I know you said you gave yours up for an iPad. I’d be interested in a useage comparison between the two. I can’t wrap my mind around the idea of an iPad being a satisfactory netbook replacement.

  3. Teddypig
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 12:42:36

    Latest on the iPad 2

    2x Dual Core CPU power

    9x Graphics power

    1.3 pounds and thinner than the iPhone.

    Front/rear camera

    So so so so mine!

  4. Brian
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 13:03:26

    From the info I’ve seen the iPad 2’s screen rez is the same as the old one. Doesn’t look like there will be any Thunderbolt connectivity. It will be available in black or white. Staring @ $499 for the 16GB WiFi version. HDMI output capable of 1080p with $40 dongle. iOS 4.3 will release on the same date (March 11th in the US).

  5. library addict
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 13:11:32

    I hope authors take Anne’s blogpost to heart.

    Harper Collins is “undermining the emerging e-book eco-system” enough on their own.

    Why is the FTC not doing anything about Angency pricing?

  6. Joanne
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 13:16:39

    I’ve never seen a dust-up like that on Goodreads before, did I just miss them?
    I think it’s so funny (or ironic or stupid or ridiculous) that authors came to tell the reader that in over 200 pages of a book published as Gay Romance that he ‘missed’ the gay romance part of the book. Rock On Teddy Pig.

    I’m sort of excited about the March Madness Blog Party… I hope it features some new and new-to-me authors and blogs.

    And speaking of March Madness:
    DA BWAHA!!!!

  7. DS
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 14:39:16

    I want to hear more about the raids on publishers. This has me a bit bug eyed. I found this from the Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnologyandtelecoms/media/8357983/EU-raids-publishers-in-ebook-price-fixing-probe.html

  8. Jane
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 15:01:50

    @DS I know. A raid. Can you imagine? Here is an article at the Register.

  9. Darlynne
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 16:09:29

    Loved the comments over at HC’s ridiculous and insulting library website. I’m stunned that even two, possibly three, people agreed with HC. Idiots.

    Mostly, though, the comment from one librarian about the fallout at the HC booth during the upcoming ALA show? I’d break out the popcorn for that one.

  10. meoskop
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 16:19:40

    “Baby, you’re making me do this, really.” That’s all I hear when H/C talks these days. I stand by my prior assertion that I feel for all the authors, editors and publicists caught in the middle of this.

  11. DS
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 16:43:27

    @Jane: Could they seriously think that Amazon would be the only one who would complain? I was also wondering if “raid” might be a bit strong until I read, “In some cases laptops and smartphones of senior executives have been seized.” http://www.futurebook.net/content/european-publishers-offices-raided-ec-inspectors-over-price-fixing That sounds a little more than a friendly conversation.

  12. sarah mayberry
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 16:48:47

    I love the idea of a book of romance covers. I think romance covers are some of the best examples of commercial art out there – some of them are so beautiful and evocative, and in the case of Jaci Burton’s Perfect Play, just plain old delicious. (Jane, I have The Perfect Play on my fridge. I look at it every day. Every. Day.) I have a book of vintage Mills and Boon cover art that I bought at last conference. It’s awesome, and we “borrowed” one of the covers to make our wedding invitation. The book was called “Married in Haste”, which we thought was pretty funny since we’ve been living together for nearly 18 years, and my hubby’s sister photo-shopped our faces onto the cover models. Still makes me giggle.

    Re: Good Reads. It’s for readers, not writers. We get our say when we write our books. Yes, it’s tough when people review badly or even review inaccurately and badly, but as an author I’d rather live with a crappy review than start up some kind of stupid shit storm with the people I count on to keep me writing. It’s called biting the hand that feeds you, I believe. Readers are entitled to their opinions, and you can’t please all the people all the time. I try to learn from my bad reviews, if I can, and if the criticism in a review is about something beyond my control, like cover art etc, I pass it on to the publisher. Then I sit down at my computer and keep writing, because that’s what I love to do.

  13. Lindsey
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 17:08:19

    Hmmm. Looks like the author on Goodreads deleted all her comments to TeddyPig (I can see TeddyPig replying to things she said, but not what he’s replying to). Did anyone happen to take screenshots?

  14. orannia
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 17:28:38

    I received an oversized postcard of the awesome Jaci Burton cover “Perfect Play“.

    I so want one! A lovely friend of mine picked up a…trading card at Yaoi Con of Javier from Ginn Hale’s Lord of the White Hell. I’ve had it laminated and I love it. I wonder if Jaci would post to the bottom of the planet?

    HC believes, perhaps incorrectly, that by not allowing the library to have access, patrons will then purchase more books independent of the library.

    Just as libraries have finite budgets, so do readers. If I can’t borrow the book from my library and it is not on my finite list of purchases, then it just won’t be read. How can HC not see that? Do they really think, in the current economic climate, that consumers will be spending more?

  15. Jen X
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 17:52:28

    I think there is something wrong with me. I am the only one who isn’t crazy about that Perfect Play cover! I guess he’s not my type, LOL.

    I don’t like to hurt anybody’s feelings so as a reader, I really hate it when an author comments on a review, negative or positive, it just creates an environment of posturing when there really shouldn’t be.

  16. MrsJoseph
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 19:11:41

    I noticed that the authors removed their comments. I wish there were screen shots so I can know who not to buy from. Way to Go Teddy Pig!

  17. Carin
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 20:45:19

    I just wanted to add my vote to the “yes, please! Bring me back some trading cards!” pile.

  18. eggs
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 21:02:42

    If HC institutes a ’26 reads’ limit on library ebooks, I imagine they are also planning on instituting a similar limit on the number of times a privately purchased ebook can be read before it locks up or deletes itself. It’s the next logical step for them, once they have people accepting it in library books. I wonder how happy the HC ‘supporters’ will be then? Especially the ones who like to re-read ‘the good bits’ over and over again?

  19. Ridley
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 21:20:07

    @MrsJoseph:

    There were three authors who were involved. The book’s author, the poster named Julie and a third named Diane. Only Diane deleted her posts, or was flagged and had them removed. She’s Diane Adams who writes for Dreamspinner Press and Silver Press. I added her to my brat author list after reading that thread last week.

  20. Christine M.
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 21:27:44

    @MrsJoseph: “Julie” is Julie Hayes. RJ Scott (the author of the book reviewed) also deleted her comments on TeddyPig’s review.

  21. Kaetrin
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 21:50:19

    Re the trading cards:

    yes please!

  22. Sylvia Sybil
    Mar 03, 2011 @ 00:53:31

    @MrsJoseph: Teddy Pig has a PDF of the entire exchange at his blog post http://www.teddypig.com/2011/02/using-goodreads-to-wash-out-the-strange/

    I think my favorite part is how Diane insists over and over that one should read reviews before purchasing a book. Because trusting the cover copy and genre to provide you with that information isn’t good enough, you must “research before you invest” (comment #6). Apparently she missed the part where Teddypig is providing that “read reviews before you buy” service to others.

    Although towards the end when RJ says “I for one want this review and all it’s comments in entirety to stay, I think the review and associated comments paint a very interesting picture and one that should be left.” (making the same it’s/its mistake her(?) supporters bashed Teddypig for) and then deletes her comments – that was pretty hysterical too.

  23. Merrian
    Mar 03, 2011 @ 02:27:31

    Re the nastiness aimed at Teddypig on goodreads.

    I have also been intrigued by the commenters who while telling authors not to read ‘bad reviews’ come off as implying that Teddypig and other reviewers write ‘bad’ reviews. Bad is such an elastic word and clearly means in these instances ‘not what the author wants to hear’ not ‘there is something wrong with the review’.

    This wasn’t a bad review it was an honest statement of the readers experience with the book – that is not bad, it just is what it is.

    I am also interested in Teddypig’s issue which is the expectations he was given about the book were not met. The DNF was because the expectation that this was a m/m romance was not met half way into the book (200 pages into a roughly 400 page story).

    Expectations are set up by the author and the publishers with the excerpts, descriptions, blurbs and meta data. All of this information is especially important in e-books because we can’t browse the book on a shelf and put it back when we see that the book might not work for us. This issue needs to be considered by authors and publishers, not ignored because it is an inconvenient truth. I think we will be seeing more instnaces of these reader experiences with e-books.

  24. Kerry Allen
    Mar 03, 2011 @ 05:10:58

    @Jen X “I think there is something wrong with me. I am the only one who isn't crazy about that Perfect Play cover! I guess he's not my type, LOL.”

    You’re not the only one. It pushes muscle definition to a bodybuilder level I don’t find appealing at all.

    We might be the only two, though.

  25. DS
    Mar 03, 2011 @ 07:39:54

    @eggs:

    If HC institutes a '26 reads' limit on library ebooks, I imagine they are also planning on instituting a similar limit on the number of times a privately purchased ebook can be read before it locks up or deletes itself.

    That never even occurred to me until I read your post, but I think you might have an idea there. HC may be testing the water.

  26. Jane
    Mar 03, 2011 @ 07:56:23

    @Kaetrin Have you seen Meljean’s trading cards? I promise to pick up as many as she will let me grab.

  27. Brian
    Mar 03, 2011 @ 08:37:32

    Have you seen Meljean's trading cards?

    Very nice!

  28. Angela
    Mar 03, 2011 @ 08:46:32

    I love the trading cards idea! I wish I was able to go collect some. Beautiful, and having something to get signed as I move into the digital age is a great idea.

    Regarding the attack on Teddypig on Goodreads – all I can say is that was horrible. It’s that kind of behavior that moves an author strictly on my ‘never buy’ list.

  29. Jody W.
    Mar 03, 2011 @ 09:34:11

    Ouch — considering how slow I read sometimes, how I hop from book to book, if HC decides consumers can only open their ebooks 26 times, I might not even get through the book once! I don’t see how they could possibly instate HellDRM like that, but I don’t know of any other way to say you can only READ it 26 times besides basing it on how many times the file is opened.

    What would everyone think if they said the library could loan the book out a much larger number of times, like 100 or 150? Would that more closely approximate paper book shelf life?

  30. Milena
    Mar 03, 2011 @ 10:09:14

    @Kerry Allen: Make that three — that kind of body always makes me think the person spends way too much time on their body, and not enough time on anything else.

    As for HC, if this crazy limiting thing goes on, I’m sure they are going to be very surprised and offended when people start pirating books, simply so that they can have books that work for more than whatever arbitrary number of times they decide to allow.

  31. MaryK
    Mar 03, 2011 @ 11:30:48

    @eggs:

    If HC institutes a '26 reads' limit on library ebooks, I imagine they are also planning on instituting a similar limit on the number of times a privately purchased ebook can be read before it locks up or deletes itself. It's the next logical step for them

    @Jody W.:

    What would everyone think if they said the library could loan the book out a much larger number of times, like 100 or 150? Would that more closely approximate paper book shelf life?

    I hate hate hate the idea of approximating paper book shelf life. That idea needs to be killed swiftly and definitively. Because it isn’t possible. Paper books can last a loooong time. I own paperbacks that were printed in the ’50s and ’60s. I will not buy books with a self-destruct feature. Show me someone who thinks books should expire and I’ll show you someone who isn’t a book lover. I don’t care who they are.

    In the case of libraries, I understand publishers’ fear of “eternal” ebooks, but I don’t think the fear is well founded. Hardware changes, software changes, ebook formats change – that’s why tech savvie consumers take extra steps to safeguard their ebooks. Libraries don’t have that option. And anyway by the time most books have been in the library for a couple of years, I imagine there’s a sharp decrease in demand for them.

    [If an author’s books expired after, say 5 years, she’d be a perpetual “new” author. “My” authors who I read consistently and buy automatically are “my” authors on the basis of their body of work in my personal library. That body of work is a reminder of why they’re “my” authors. If you take that reminder away – perpetual newbie. Do you really want to negate the collector mentality in readers?]

  32. Heather M
    Mar 03, 2011 @ 22:14:55

    They seriously think that people who can’t get them from the library will just purchase it themselves? I don’t know about you guys, but for me and everyone I know, libraries tend to be the place we go when we simply do not have the money to purchase new books. It’s usually not a matter of not purchasing or purchasing. It’s a choice between not reading or reading, and if we’re not reading their authors in the libraries, then we won’t recognize them in the bookstores when we can afford to purchase, and will instead go with a known quantity.

  33. Kaetrin
    Mar 03, 2011 @ 23:36:55

    @ Jane – oh, they’re pretty!! I want. Nom Nom.

    BTW, I went to Jaci Burton’s site yesterday after seeing this post and emailed her via the contact page asking if she could maybe send a postcard of the The Perfect Play cover to me here in Australia and she’s already responded that she will – how excellent is that? *big grin*

  34. Jane
    Mar 04, 2011 @ 07:13:14

    @Kaetrin I don’t think you will be disappointed. ;)

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    Mar 06, 2011 @ 07:58:27

    Peer-to-peer ebook lending adds another angle to the discussion of ebook lending. At BookLending.com, we have gathered over 16,000 Kindle owners who are borrowing and lending Kindle books with one another using Amazon’s one-time-per-book personal lending feature. Only some publishers participate; HC is not one of them …

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