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

Wednesday Midday Links & Deals: Kobo Has Deep Pockets Too, Nora...

The Bookseller

“Kobo previously announced that it would launch a self-publishing tool, similar to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and Barnes & Noble’s PubIt, but Serbinis said the business had been focused on expanding internationally, launching its tablet device, and closing the sale to Rakuten. But he promised the platform would launch “this quarter” before the summer. “We are currently fine-tuning our offer,” he said. He said the deal with Rakuten, which is a £25bn-a-year business, would help Kobo “mitigate” against those companies with very deep pockets. “We have a nuclear deterrent by having a strong balance sheet.”

“Before we get into the individual items of clothing, it’s important to realize some phrases we use today didn’t mean quite the same thing 200 years ago. For example, when we say “She was in a state of undress.” or “She was caught en dishabille.” The folks of the regency wouldn’t have batted an eye. It was quite common for ladies to entertain guests in their boudoirs while dressed in comfortable, but concealing gowns and robes. The terms “undress”, “half-dress” and “full-dress” were degrees of formality, not coverage.”

News Corp acquired Thomas Nelson for $200 million. Five years earlier the seller had paid $473 million for Thomas Nelson. “This drastic drop in value appears to be due to the fact that as primarily a print product, even with e-book possibilities, Nelson had lost over 50% of its value.” B&N acquired Sterling Publishing in 2003 for $115 million. “Sterling was a significant publisher with revenues close to $100 million. Over the years, Sterling had developed a backlist of more than 5,000 owned and distributed titles. After an intensive search for a buyer, B&N found there were no acceptable bids. Sterling’s CEO and three executives left the company.” In March 2012, John Wiley & Sons offered for sale units like Frommer’s, CliffsNotes, and Webster’s New World Dictionary.

“It’s not like the agency model had to be shoved down the throats of desperate publishers. They wanted to set their own prices. They just needed Apple’s help to create an alternative store and publishing platform and to push the agency model on Amazon.”

“(a) against an Entity that has filed, maintained, threatened, or voluntarily participated in an intellectual property lawsuit against Assignee or any of Assignee’s users, affiliates, customers, suppliers, or distributors. (An assignee would be Twitter. Their employee would be an inventor.) (b) against an Entity that has filed, maintained, or voluntarily participated in a patent infringement lawsuit against another in the past ten years (emphasis added) so long as the Entity has not instituted the patent infringement lawsuit defensively in response to a patent litigation threat against the Entity; or (c) otherwise to deter a patent litigation threat against Assignee or Assignee’s users, affiliates, customers, suppliers, or distributors. Twitter also promises not to threaten inventors to get consent.”

“The country’s largest digital bookseller has acquired the exclusive North American rights to publish all 14 classic James Bond spy titles by the late Ian Fleming in both print and digital form. The 10-year deal, for books such as “Dr. No” and “Casino Royale,” was struck with a company controlled by Mr. Fleming’s heirs.”

“At the C2E2 ComiXology panel it was confirmed that DC graphic novels are no longer being sold through Kindle Fire’s ComiXology app, and CEO David Steinberger said it was intentional. However the reasons are hidden behind many layers of NDAs. This is all odd because you can certainly still buy DC books via Amazon and their Kindle store. You can purchase tons of DC comics from ComiXology, on the web and their IOS app. Apparently, you just can’t buy DC Comics through the Kindle Fire ComiXology app (we don’t have a Kindle Fire handy to check.) The DC/Kindle Fire exclusive GN marriage was announced with great fanfare and promise, but soon resulted in heartache and acrimony when B&N and Books A Million pulled their DC graphic novels off the shelves in spite. While no one is saying anything at all about this glitch, it probably has some weird technical proprietary cause and isn’t very dramatic at all”

“The appeal of Roberts is simple, says Sarah Wendell, co-founder of the romance-review blog Smart B——-, Trashy Books: “She’s consistent. She’s ubiquitous. Readers know that if they take a Nora Roberts on vacation, they won’t be disappointed.” Many critics haven’t been so kind — when they bother to take notice. Like many romance novels, Roberts’s books are typically overlooked in the mainstream media, and the silence is often more complimentary than the reviews. Writing in the New York Times, Janet Maslin dismissed Roberts’s 2001 novel “The Villa” as an example of “feminine wish fulfillment.” Maureen Corrigan wrote in The Washington Post that Roberts’s 2009 novel “Black Hills” “isn’t much of a suspense story, and the romance is so silly that it isn’t even good fantasy fodder.””


  • The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt * $3.99 * A | BN | K | S * Recommended*
  • The Leopard Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt * $3.99 * A | BN | K | S * Recommended*
  • The Serpent Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt * $3.99 * A | BN | K | S * Recommended*
  • Once Upon A Wicked Night by Jennifer Haymore * $0.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Daring by Dee Davis * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • To Surrender to a Rogue by Cara Elliott * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Love Is in the Heir by Kathryn Caskie * $0.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Pursuit by Elizabeth Jennings * $2.99 * A | BN | K | S * Recommended*
  • That’s Amore by Wendy Markham * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Lady’s Choice by Amanda Scott * $3.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Out of Time by Samantha Graves * $2.99 * A | BN | K | S * Recommended*
  • Stronger than Sin by Caridad Piñeiro * $1.99 * A | BN | K | S

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. Brian
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 12:18:00

    I would love it if Kobo would use some of that money to provide decent customer service.

    Yes, this would be nice.

  2. Darlynne
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 12:48:02

    @Brian: Seriously.

  3. Suze
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 13:01:47

    As much as I respect La Nora’s business sense, work ethic, and accomplishments, heralding any author’s average production of a book every 54 days (according to my calculations) doesn’t do much to dispel the perception that the genre is as formulaic as a romance novel Mad Lib.

  4. JoanneL
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 14:21:28

    Congratulations to Nora Roberts. She continues to be a dependable advocate and representative of all that can be good in the writing of romance novels.

    Even though she hasn’t given us heroes with a double barbed neon penis or heroines who can shift to owls while getting a manicure her readers know that her books are well crafted and carefully researched.

    We know that she has respect for those of us who buy her product and that she always has a (publicly) classy answer for those that disparage the romance genre. I think her private responses might be fun to hear but it will never happen. She leaves the wanks to those who have the time.

    Rock on Ms Roberts!

  5. JoanneL
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 14:24:11

    Congratulations to Nora Roberts.She continues to be a dependable advocate and representative of all that can be good in the writing of romance novels.

    Even though she hasn’t given us heroes with a double barbed neon penis or heroines who can shift to owls while getting a manicure, her readers know that her books are well crafted and carefully researched. We know that she has respect for those of us who buy her product and that she always has a classy answer for those that disparage the romance genre.

    Rock on Ms Roberts!

  6. library addict
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 14:27:39

    I liked Nora’s response to the criticism

    Roberts claims not to care about what she calls the “literati war on women.” Just because many women “like to read about emotions,” she says, “doesn’t mean we don’t have intellect.” And anyway, she adds, “Why is it not healthy to believe in love? Why is it not valuable to write about strong, healthy women finding a strong, healthy relationship?”

  7. library addict
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 14:28:27

    Oops,hit send too soon.

    Any customer service from Kobo would be an improvement.

  8. rebyj
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 14:52:43

    Congrats on the 200th Nora Roberts!
    I wonder how many of the 200 I’ve read? Easily more than half over the years.

  9. MaryK
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 15:36:33

    @Suze: At one time, I’d’ve agreed that formulaic is bad, distinctly visible formula anyway. My opinion has changed though, and I do think books written to a strong formula have their place.

    NR contemporaries have never appealed to me so I can’t speak to whether or not her books are formulaic, but I can talk about Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick. When I first started reading Romance, I read a lot of JAK/AQ. As my reading branched out and my tastes developed, I more or less abandoned her books as simplistic and basic. Now, at a difficult time in my real and reading life, I find myself building a JAK/AQ collection and searching out the backlist titles I never read because they’re reliable and focused romances. My perception of the value of simplistic and basic has changed with my current needs. The value I place on other people’s perceptions has also changed.

  10. lucy
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 16:55:16

    Ugh, yeah, Kobo has terrible cs; I contacted them a few weeks ago and they still haven’t answered back. Thankfully it wasn’t a very important matter. Say what you want about amazon, but they at least have great cs. If it wasn’t because they only offer azw, I would say screw it and just stay with them.

  11. Shiloh Walker
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 17:01:34

    Man, if Kobo would be a little more proactive and a little more on the ball, maybe they could become a major player in things.


  12. MaryK
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 17:20:37

    @Shiloh Walker: That’s what gets me about people blaming Amazon for being big and powerful. Amazon has put a lot of time, money, and tech into its business. Everybody else should have success handed to them?

  13. Kaetrin
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 19:19:58

    Nora Roberts’ The Witness is excellent. What a way to celebrate her 200th book.

  14. azteclady
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 20:21:09

    @Suze: Well, I don’t know. Asimov published over 500, between those he wrote in their entirety and those he edited, and I don’t hear many people saying that the quality of what he published suffer because he was prolific.

  15. Brian
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 20:46:06

    @Kaetrin: I just finished it and thought it was good too.

  16. Wahoo Suze
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 20:58:24

    @Suze: I’m not really sue what you’re getting at.

    According to what Malcolm Gladwell wrote in Outliers, experts agree that it takes about 10,000 hours of practice at something to master it (chess, music, whatever). If Nora Roberts has been writing 8 hours a day, 365 days a year since she started writing in 1979, she achieved mastery in about 1983 or 1984.

    Master craftspeople who work at something 8 hours a day, every day of the year, produce a prodigious amount of masterful work. Nora may be producing about 6 books per year, but they’re good, competent books.

    Should she slow down and write fewer books so as not to give non-romance-readers, who will never read her books anyway, the wrong impression?

    (An aside: take it from somebody who figured it out the hard way, you have a very common name. It took me a few years, but I eventually realized I was one of about 3 Suze’s here and at SBTB, so I modified my handle.)

  17. Kaetrin
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 21:33:21

    I don’t know how Nora Roberts has managed to write so many books in such a short time but I don’t see the correlation between being prolific and being inferior. Sure, some of her books work better for me than others but I find her books at the very least, to be a reliably good read and some (quite a few actually) of them are gems. Whatever she’s doing, it works. More power to her.

    Besides there are plenty of books out there which took a long time to write and which are still crap.

  18. Wahoo Suze
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 21:42:27

    BWA! I’m not really SUE! (I’m really not, I hate being called that). I meant, I’m not really sure.

  19. SAO
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 23:12:27

    The people of the Regency period also had profoundly different ideas about public and private. Those great houses were open to the public much of the time. Remember Eliz. Bennet being embarrassed because she bumped into Darcy while touring his home, Pemberley? So, when someone was caught in a “state of undress” it would be in a private place like a boudoir, which was really a sitting room and there was a whole etiquette of who could be admitted to such an intimate space (ie a sitting room with a woman dressed in something that covered her from neck to toe.)

    Regency England was a place of rigid social norms. What makes the romances interesting for me, is how do you forge a real relationship in those circumstances? Also, I like the high stakes of marriages at a time when divorce was all but impossible, and never without a high cost. Unfortunately, too many Regency writers write romances about 21st century couples wearing Regency clothes, which, as Jane pointed out, they often get wrong.

  20. SAO
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 23:16:56

    On a totally different subject, here’s a link about a drug company manipulating patent law to protect high drug prices after their patent expired.

  21. eggs
    Apr 19, 2012 @ 04:41:23

    I thank Nora with all my heart for her 200 books! I haven’t read all of them because sometimes just the blurb is enough to know it’s not a story that will float my boat. Some of her books, however, hold a very special place in my heart and I have reread them many times. Others have simply been a very pleasant accompaniment to a bottle of wine and a block of chocolate. Either way, I have *never* bought a Nora Roberts and thought, “Well, that sucked arse.” Thanks, Nora! Keep them coming.

  22. eggs
    Apr 19, 2012 @ 04:50:02

    @Darlynne: Darlynne, can you (or any other American) please explain what Americans mean when they use the single word “seriously” as an entire response?

    In my experience (Australian), someone making a one sentence response of “seriously” would be meaning “Are you seriously such an idiot that you hold such an asinine opinion to be true?”, yet I am seeing more and more American’s using it in a context that seems to mean “I could not agree with you more, my dear. Excellent argument”, which is the complete opposite in meaning. Explanations would be welcomed.

  23. Angela
    Apr 19, 2012 @ 06:08:49

    @eggs: For myself, I only use ‘seriously’ (as a single word sentence) in the first context you mentioned. However, in person, I’ve heard it used the other way. Without any other dialogue, it really depends on tone to figure out which way it’s being used.

  24. Christine M.
    Apr 19, 2012 @ 07:52:03


    In my experience, both meanings you mentionned are used all around (on the internetz and in Canada, at least). It’s mostly a matter of context, I think. There’s also the incredulous!Seriously? (‘are you pulling my leg?)’ and the loss-for-words/deadpan!srsly (or at least that’s how me and my friends use the shortcut. ).

  25. LG
    Apr 19, 2012 @ 08:39:13

    @azteclady: However, I think the science fiction genre currently has a better reputation than the romance genre. So, I do see what she’s talking about.

    I do think a lot of Nora Roberts readers (myself included) would admit that she has, at the very least, certain character templates (not sure if that’s the right word) that she works from. I’ve always thought that’s part of what allows her to write so prolifically. That’s not to say I think her books are bad – in fact, she’s one of my comfort authors. I like her characters, I like the emotion she puts in her books. I just can’t read too many of them in a row without becoming over-aware of the similarities between them.

  26. MaryK
    Apr 19, 2012 @ 08:50:11

    @eggs: It’s all about tone which is hard to duplicate in text. If I were going to use it to mean “Are you seriously such an idiot that you hold such an asinine opinion to be true?” I’d use a ? mark or follow up with something like “Where’d you get that idea?” With a . or ! I read it to mean “I could not agree with you more, my dear. Excellent argument.”

    It’s similar to how we use “no kidding” if you have that expression.

  27. becca
    Apr 19, 2012 @ 09:25:09

    @Brian: I just finished The Witness too, and thought it one of her best. But yes, Black Hills was weak. Still, weak Nora beats strong other writers sometimes.

  28. Sunita
    Apr 19, 2012 @ 09:57:56

    @Wahoo Suze: Oh no, please let’s not use Gladwell’s pop-whatever books as evidence for anything. Even if you believe the results of that 10,000 hours study, it is about becoming expert at something, i.e., mastery in the sense of high competence, not mastery in the sense of genius-level output. And no one disagrees that Nora Roberts has achieved the former. But even Paul McCartney points out (in response to Gladwell’s use of the Beatles in Hamburg as an example) that there were a lot of other bands who put in 10k hours and didn’t become the Beatles.

    And you don’t develop the cognitive richness to be really really good at something like writing in a handful of years. You’re either most of the way there when you start or it takes you longer (which is probably why Gladwell used 20 hours/week, not 8/52/365 as you are).

  29. Mireya
    Apr 19, 2012 @ 10:05:54

    For those not knowing and who are fans of Lisa Marie Rice, Elizabeth Jennings IS Lisa Marie Rice. Just an FYI. Her titles as Elizabeth Jennings are not considered erotic though.

  30. RowanS
    Apr 19, 2012 @ 11:15:47

    Re: Azimov: I had read an interview with him years ago where he said it took him about twenty-four hours to write a nonfiction book; he then went back and checked his facts, which might take him a day or two longer. Fiction took him “twice as long” because he had to come up with stuff out of whole cloth. And all on a manual typewriter!

    Re: Amazon: I’d be willing to bet that 99% of their success is firmly based on their excellent customer service. I’ve never once waited more that two hours for a response from them, whether it’s regarding physical objects or Kindle-related questions. It’s really one of the major things that keeps me coming back to Amazon.

  31. Courtney Milan
    Apr 19, 2012 @ 11:58:31

    Nora Roberts is one of the authors I pick up when I know I can’t handle reading something incompetent. She’s written some amazing books that would be in my top; she’s written a handful that don’t connect with me. But I never read a book of hers and get angry because I’m left with the impression that she gave up and turned in crap because, oh well, she was sick of the book and the deadline had passed.

    I trust her to respect my reading time. Even if I don’t connect with a book of hers I always feel that it is done well. I think that’s one of the reasons she is so incredibly popular–because she has built up that trust (over the course of 200 books!) to the point that if someone wants something well done, they’ll pick up a book by her.

  32. eggs
    Apr 19, 2012 @ 17:25:22

    Thanks everyone for the ‘seriously’ explanations. I’m seeing the ‘I couldn’t agree more’ usage a lot around the interwebs and it was seriously confusing me! For a while I thought I must just be getting really old because I couldn’t understand why people were mocking what seemed like entirely reasonable statements. Dangnabbit, don’t understand a word these young folks say, what with all their new fangled slang and all …

%d bloggers like this: