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Wednesday News: Internet Archive preserves the news; Sir Somebody hates bloggers;...

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“Criticism needs confidence in the face of extraordinary external competition,” the former editor of The Times says. “It is wonderful that there are so many blogs and websites devoted to books, but to be a critic is to be importantly different than those sharing their own taste… Not everyone’s opinion is worth the same.” The rise of blogging has proved particularly worrying, he says. “Eventually that will be to the detriment of literature. It will be bad for readers; as much as one would like to think that many bloggers opinions are as good as others. It just ain’t so. People will be encouraged to buy and read books that are no good, the good will be overwhelmed, and we’ll be worse off. There are some important issues here.” The Independent

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The authors include

Elizabeth Wurtzel sued for $33,000 and interest
Ana Marie Cox, blogger and current writer for the Guardian, sued for $81,250 plus interest. Her contract was for $325,000
Rebecca Mead, sued for $20,000
Herman Rosenblat for $30,000. Rosenblat lied about being his romance during the Holocaust.
Conrad Tillard for $38,000

In the comments, agent Robert Gottleib said that if an author was represented by Trident and Penguin attempted to see redress, Trident would strike Penguin from all its submissions which I actually think is quite a bit of bluster. The Smoking Gun

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

18 Comments

  1. KT Grant
    Sep 26, 2012 @ 04:41:10

    So if the author never delivers the goods, they think they should keep the money? *rolls eyes*. And that is acceptable, why? Of course the agent would side with the author because they get that commission from the advance.

    When the Mayans predicted the end of the world this December, they meant book bloggers because our pathetic criticism on books versus an overpaid reviewer for some pretentious publication is bent out of shape and afraid to lose a paycheck because bloggers do it for no money and for the simple joy of it.

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  2. Deb
    Sep 26, 2012 @ 05:59:59

    Sir Peter also feels “readability” is a side issue. If he’s going for caricature, he’s pretty much there.

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  3. Ros
    Sep 26, 2012 @ 06:58:05

    That video is frankly terrifying. Wow.

    I bow in awe at your power, Wednesday. You are Ruining Books For The World! I’m not sure quite how you are doing that, but Sir Somebody says so, so it must be true.

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  4. LeeF
    Sep 26, 2012 @ 07:28:17

    “The Royal Society will hold an “edit-a-thon” on October 19th,” to celebrate the contributions women have made to science by ensuring that their Wikipedia profiles are comprehensive — or exist at all.””

    As a scientist and a woman, this makes my day!

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  5. sandyl
    Sep 26, 2012 @ 08:57:57

    I’ve been watching the Nook and also waiting for Apple’s announcement about a smaller iPad. I noticed today that B&N has introduced the HD Nook on their website. I will be waiting for the dearauthor review.

    In regards to the B&N video app, how does this compare to Net Flix? It doesn’t sound much different to me.

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  6. Grace
    Sep 26, 2012 @ 10:01:42

    It seems like Sir Peter assumes that everyone reading book blogs treats a blogger’s opinion as gospel. I can only speak for myself, but I use book blogs as a way to retrieve information from a few sources about new books out there. I glean information about the books from a few statements made within the review. In some cases, what a blogger hates is something I’ll love. Since the blogger is a stranger to me, their opinion of the book and its subsequent rating doesn’t matter to me. I don’t really care what they think of it. I’m just interested in what they read. These blogs are resource and information hubs for those of us who don’t want to spend umpteenth hours browsing Amazon or scanning shelves at a brick & mortar store.

    Humanity can be sheeple sometimes, but I think Sir Peter isn’t giving the reader enough credit. I think we’re intelligent enough not to be led blindly one way or the other to or from a book just because some random blogger gave it a yea or nay.

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  7. Rebecca (Another One)
    Sep 26, 2012 @ 10:11:09

    Sir Peter’s argument seems like a classic “think of the children” argument used to ban books. Instead he wants to ban discussion? A little ironic? (Forgive me if I use irony incorrectly, I blame Alanis Morrisette.)

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  8. Liz Mc2
    Sep 26, 2012 @ 10:22:01

    I find the Royal Society’s plans extra heartening since there was a story doing the rounds this week about a study showing gender bias is alive and well in the sciences, despite many scientists’ belief that since they are rational and objective they wouldn’t succumb.

    What’s ironic to me about Sir Peter’s hand-wringing is that though he’s trumpeting the value of literature, he talks as if NO ONE would read it unless there are critics forcing it on us. Really? What’s the value, then? Instead bloggers will just be peddling “good stories” to people. I don’t really believe in the distinction between literature and good story, plenty of people read both, and “difficult” literature has always been a niche market. Blogging changes none of that. It does make it easier to discover good genre fiction, though. Finally, plenty of highly “readable” novels have won the Booker. It’s not exactly a bastion of the avant-garde.

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  9. Isobel Carr
    Sep 26, 2012 @ 10:58:18

    I find myself unclear as to why Robert Gottleib of Trident (or anyone else) would think authors were allowed to keep advances for books they never delivered. The terms of the contracts are pretty clear. And yes, publishers often don’t go after advances for books THEY change their mind about, but failing to deliver the book at all is pretty egregious.

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  10. Anthea Lawson
    Sep 26, 2012 @ 11:18:31

    Oh yes, those ‘hefty’ $20-38k advances. Why, an author might even manage to live for part of a year on that, after taxes and the agent cut!

    Awesome on the wiki idea. Chilling video, though – what a great ad.

    And Jane, you ignorant snake! How dare you lead us all down the path of destroying literature. Stop covering our eyes with the silken blindfolds of well-written genre fiction!

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  11. Angela
    Sep 26, 2012 @ 12:26:49

    Bloggers killing literature now? I can’t help but laugh!

    @Anthea Lawson:

    Oh yes, those ‘hefty’ $20-38k advances. Why, an author might even manage to live for part of a year on that, after taxes and the agent cut!

    I can’t figure out what you’re trying to say here. Should they get to keep these advances for books they never delivered? That doesn’t make sense to me at all. And I’m not sure how Robert (of Trident) would support that, ethically.

    If you’re saying that’s ridiculous to live on for ‘part’ of a year, well, I guess that depends on perspective. I gross less than that and manage – it’s not always comfortable, but I’m doing, and delivering, the work I’m getting paid for too.

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  12. Anthea Lawson
    Sep 26, 2012 @ 13:12:00

    @Angela:

    No, of course the authors should not get to keep those advances.

    But I’m calling BS on the word choice of the headline. The only advance I’d call ‘hefty’ on that list is the 325k one. But I see this as an indicator that big publishing wants authors and the public to believe that a 20k advance is big! 30k is hefty! That 5k average advance for a genre book – quite respectable for a year’s worth of work, you silly little author. Everyone knows there’s no money in publishing…

    Also, that 20k advance will be knocked down by 15% (agent cut) and then split into 2 or 3 payments (on signing the contract and on acceptance of the MS, which can easily come a year or more apart). So that comes out to $8,500 a year. Not too hefty, in my book.

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  13. Angela
    Sep 26, 2012 @ 13:18:19

    @Anthea Lawson: Ahh. Thank you. I knew I was missing what you were going for there. That makes much more sense. :)

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  14. Anthea Lawson
    Sep 26, 2012 @ 13:33:54

    @Angela:

    :) Yes, my grouchy author feathers were showing there~

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  15. Lisa FicTalk
    Sep 26, 2012 @ 15:09:46

    @KT Grant:

    I wish I could like your comment, KT.

    The end of the world is caused by book bloggers. I actually kind of like that new theory.

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  16. Jody W.
    Sep 27, 2012 @ 09:03:25

    Perhaps, instead of stars or grades, we need a rating on how likely a book is to add to the destruction of the world? Some sites use little kisses or flowers and such; it could be a little icon of the Mayan calendar. “This book only rates one half of a Mayan calendar because it was difficult to slog through, had tonnes of bigge words, included the POV of 18 extraneous, unnecessary characters, and a whiny old white male protag who ended in the same place he began. But it still gets a half of a doomsday because we are blogging about it.”

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  17. Moriah Jovan
    Sep 27, 2012 @ 10:15:52

    @Jody W

    protag who ended in the same place he began

    But this is the very definition of LITRACHOOR. A pretentious relative tried to school me on that point once.

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  18. Hell Cat
    Sep 27, 2012 @ 20:15:44

    Well, it’s a good thing as an English major, I hate Literature. Loathe it for the most part. Give me genre. Hey, does that mean I can’t help bring down the fall of the world? Shall we tell him of the critics that lambasted what we call classics? Of the discourse because of an ‘outside the box’ sort of mentality that inspired entire genres and subgenres of Literature? Without Zora Neale Hurston we wouldn’t have Alice Walker, and Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God” was completely torn apart by critics of the day. Doesn’t mean it was any less bad or good. We’re not the world’s predictors of future classics. We’re simply discussing what we like or don’t like, as any critical thinking objective does. I don’t need a degree from NYU to know my own opinions.

    ReplyReply

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