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

Wednesday Midday Links: The Amazon Tablet Is Real

Sometimes I forget what news pieces I’ve posted here so if I have posted this, please forgive my lapse in memory.  Tech Crunch has actual details of the new Amazon Tablet. It’s 7″ and supports two finger multi touch gestures (instead of the 10 finger supported by the iThings).

  • Runs on a modified Android platform
  • Has limited memory (maybe only 6 GB). Amazon wants you to use the cloud.
  • May come with a free Prime membership. (This makes a lot of sense as Prime members get access to a ton of free movies and television shows)
  • $250
  • Cover flow like navigation
  • No camera
  • External memory slot
The Times has an article about the decline of mass markets something we’ve discussed on DA a number of times. Retail shelves are being devoted to higher value products like the trade paperback and the hardcover.  Walmart is doing something similar. I was told that Walmart is also reducing the size of the romance department to include more children’s titles that had been stocked in the toys section previously.   Mass market sales are primarily derived from supermarket, drugstores, and big box stores like Walmart.  I believe that the mass market will likely disappear from our book ecosystem replaced largely with ebooks.  Physical stores will focus on selling trades and hardcovers as there is a greater profit margin there.  Mass market books may see a reintroduction via new forms like the dwarsligger which I noticed  back in 2009.  A reader from the Netherlands kindly purchased one for me and sent it to me. It’s actually much nicer than I thought it would be.  Opened fully, it presents about one page in full and is printed on thin paper – much like the paper many Bibles are printed on.
dwarsligger next to iphone
Mills & Boon India books will be available in digital form by the end of the year. I hope that this means that we non Indian residents will be able to purchase those books.
HMBI started its Indian operations in February 2008, printing and marketing books locally. It is currently publishing 20 new romance titles every month, focusing on five series: modern, romance, desire, special moments, historical and the latest one being nocturne.
I’m not certain how much of HMBI is original content from the Indian arm or how much is regular Mills & Boon stuff published in India.  At least it will be interesting to see what titles are being sold there.
According to The Millions, a number of literary authors are shifting to writing genre fiction. Is it because of the money (yes, my cynical side says) or because of the creative freedom?  Mostly because of the money.  The author may have a hard time making a living writing solely literary fiction or the publisher may brand a title genre fiction in order to appeal to a more mainstream audience.
Still, it’s hard to think of very many writers – save possibly Stephen King – who have moved from genre to literary. The floor seems to slope the other way, and Patriarche concedes that sometimes the difference isn’t so much in what the author has written as in how the publisher opts to describe it. “I’ve seen literary books blurbed as something like ‘the thinking woman’s beach read,’” she says. “And that’s a sign that the publisher is trying to appeal to consumers who are more mainstream. In this aspect the change is more industry-driven than author-driven.”
Apparently the psychological affect of fiction is a hot research topic.  The latest paper is published by researchers at the University of Buffalo and the paper suggests that reading fiction can make someone more empathetic.
And “belonging” to these fictional communities actually provided the same mood and life satisfaction people get from affiliations with real-life groups. “The current research suggests that books give readers more than an opportunity to tune out and submerge themselves in fantasy worlds. Books provide the opportunity for social connection and the blissful calm that comes from becoming a part of something larger than oneself for a precious, fleeting moment,” Gabriel and Young write.
While this article focuses largely on the positive aspect of fiction reading it is easy to see how this is turned against the reader as well.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and 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


  1. Heather
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 11:26:05

    I’m always so sad to hear about the decline — and possible disappearance — of the mass market book. The only silver lining I see is that I’ll be saving money.

    I rarely buy hardcover or trade — there’s a part of me that always calculates how many mmp I can buy for that price. I have an ereader, but I only use it for library books, since I don’t want to pay physical book prices for something I’ll read once.

    I guess I’ll just have to hope that my library system stays strong. Or find a new hobby.

  2. Amy
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 12:19:12

    i too hope the library stays strong. Buying a book to read once is just too wasteful.

  3. LG
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 12:21:52

    I’m not wild about the dwarsligger, but then again I’ve never read one before. The closest I’ve come is a “bed book”, which was hardcover and larger in size. It seems like it would take time and a certain amount of annoyance to get used to turning pages a different way.

    I think I would prefer losing trade paperbacks and keeping mass market and hardcover. Almost all of the new print books I buy are mass market. I used to buy hardcover when I was desperate for the newest book by authors who released in hardcover first, but I have no authors right now whose books I don’t feel I can wait for a bit longer. Still, hardcovers last longer in libraries, so I don’t want them to go away. I’ve never seen the point to trade paperbacks – if I want a paperback, I’d rather pay less and get mass market.

  4. Carolyn
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 12:38:46

    I guess this means higher ebooks prices in the future too if Agency pricing prevails. There’s at least a two dollar difference between the price of a MMP and a trade and they price the ebook accordingly.

    Just when I have to cut back on extraneous spending, they find a way to raise prices. Figures, lol.

  5. Sarah J
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 13:15:11

    I really hope the mass market paperback doesn’t disappear entirely. I can’t afford trade/hardcovers very often, and I LOATHE ebooks.

  6. Christine
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 13:35:52

    I can’t prove it obviously, but I feel very strongly that some format akin to the mass market paperback will emerge if the actual m.m. size is printed less. Despite what certain industries plan, the market is consumer driven and there will always be someone willing to create what consumers demand. I cannot imagine that all (paper) book readers will gladly accept trade size books in lieu of the mass market size. Money aside, trade paperbacks are just awkward, heavy and clumsy. I could see a reduction in size of the mm paperbacks but I cannot imagine the average paperback reader willing to transition to trade size. One of the benefits of ereaders was cutting down on bulk. I think one thing the changes in the book market recently has shown us is that if consumers don’t like a product or pricing they will take their business elsewhere.

  7. library addict
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 15:55:11

    I think I would prefer losing trade paperbacks and keeping mass market and hardcover.

    Me too.

    I love my ereader and have been buying most new-to-me authors in epub. But I still buy my autobuy authors in hardcover (for my absolute fave authors) and mmpb.

    Another drawback of trade pb is that with the agency pricing the ebooks are even more expensive. This has already kept me from trying several new authors. I resent paying $6.99-$7.99 for my absolute favorite authors in e. No way would I spend $15.99 on a new-to-me author. So if my library doesn’t get it, I won’t read it.

  8. Jessica
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 19:19:52

    Just tonight I saw the effects of mass market decline. I went into my local Books a Million and the majority of books were hardcover or trade paperback. The display for new mass market books was nowhere to be found. Technically it doesn’t affect me as much it would’ve even a year ago (before I had an e-reader) but it does make me sad.

  9. Brian
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 19:45:26

    I’m 100% digital now (except for the couple thousand paper books I’ve had for years), but you could see the decline in mass market stuff B&M/retail wise around here even back when I was buying paper still in ’07. Back then I’d have a hard time finding stuff I was looking for even at Borders and B&N let alone a big box store and had to order from Amazon a lot of the time.

    Perhaps a POD setup for stores, but in a cheaper mass market size will be where we eventually head with stores just stocking ‘browsing copies’ of really popular authors, but being able to offer everything (or is that to ‘SciFi’).

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  11. DS
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 21:21:15

    The smaller size of the mmpb has made it less handy for me due to vision problems. But I am not going to carry around an armload of hard covers or trade paperbacks. Lets not even think about overweight baggage.They also don’t fit well in a handbag. Where do people’s read them?

  12. Mitzi H
    Sep 08, 2011 @ 00:36:49

    They may be going to Trade’s and Hardcover…but are people buying them? I’ve been to Sam’s Club and Costco weekly in the last few months and have seen them slowly discontinue the MMPs and replace them with the larger more expensive Trades….But I’ve also noticed the shelves are always FULL. I don’t buy them….and I’m wondering if many readers are? When they had a good stock of MMP’s, I always went home with 1 or 2 books…but not any more. I’m simply not willing to pay the price for the Trades and I don’t think I’m the only one???

  13. Rebecca
    Sep 08, 2011 @ 01:21:38

    @Sarah J:

    I am glad I am not the only one! The only ebooks I will read are short stories. I just love the experience of reading a physical book too much.

  14. Jeannie
    Sep 08, 2011 @ 09:06:18

    I’m completely digital now as well but I still check out the shelves at Walmart when I’m in there. They’re still carrying the same amount of romance that they always have, at least in my neck of the woods. There’s also a good-size section devoted to YA.

    Something else I noticed while I was in there was they had three different sizes of paperbacks. There was the “traditional” size, one that was tall and narrow, and another that was wider, almost square. All of those were romance, though.

    As far as the Amazon tablet goes, I’d like to see them integrate it with the Kindle. That would be all kinds of awesome to me.

  15. helen
    Sep 08, 2011 @ 11:07:12

    Now I know why, when I go into my local BN the tables that used to hold MM are practically bare. There is one maybe two copies of the book and that’s it. They used to be piled high. I’ve also noticed they are carrying less and less of the books I have picked out to buy each month. It used to be I’d walk in and walk out with my whole list. Now I am lucky to find one or two. Sad. I buy a ton of e-books but I have tried to stay away from the Agency 6 because I think their prices are not in line with what I want to spend on a product I can’t own, can’t loan, or sell. Soo, I tend to either skip or buy their books at BN but now I can’t do that either!

  16. SAO
    Sep 08, 2011 @ 23:32:13

    Book buyers consist of voracious readers who tend to have or be considering getting into e-reading and those who don’t read much. The new hardcover market has always had a large component of people who don’t read much and don’t buy many books. The average American buys one books a year.

    If you’re only going to buy one or two books a year, you’re probably willing to pay an extra five bucks for it. If you buy as few as one book a month, that adds up fast.

    I don’t think trad books will die, because, unlike music or video, you don’t need a device to read them. However, it may be that as frequent book buyers more to E, the remaining book buyers will be less price sensitive.

    Or, it may merely be that this is what the publishers hope, I don’t place much faith in their actually knowing their customers.

    What will be very sad if this reduces the availability of books to kids, particularly poor kids from underliterate households. Reading is one of the best pathways to academic success.

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  18. Randi
    Sep 09, 2011 @ 14:46:30

    I’m another who abhors ebooks. I like to OWN what I buy, and I like having a paper book in my hands. While I HAVE bought hardbacks in the past, I won’t be buying them going forward. It’s just too expensive, they’re hard to shelve, heavy, and really, I can wait for the paperback to come out.

    But…clearly I’m in the minority. So…I lose out on new authors and/or being able to buy a book in a format I like, because I won’t go digital. My choice, certainly, but I can’t say I’m real happy about it.

    I read a book every other day; sometimes every day, so I have a fairly voracious habit to maintain. I can, and have, easily spend $100 a month, or more, on mmbps; so, booksellers (both the store and the publishing company) will be losing out on that revenue.

    I wouldn’t mind a POD option, as long as it’s in the normal mmpb size so I can shelve it appropriately. Seriously publishing companies: DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE OUR NEED TO SHELVE!!!

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