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Readers’ Rights to Buy When, Where, and in What Format They...


Last month, Sunita sent me a link to a book inspired by a schoolteacher in Paris named Daniel Pennac. Pennac had created a readers’ list of rights to encourage young people to read. This list was combined with illustrations by Quentin Blake and then published. The U.S. version has only black and white illustrations, but the international version can still be had by U.S. and non U.S. readers. She said that each “right” could be the topic of a blog post. So true (if you want to write one, let me know)

The concept is that you, the reader, hold your own reading universe in your hands. You control what you read, how you read, when you read. You control what you say about the book, what you don’t say, how far you read, how much it affects your life. You utterly control your interaction with the book.

I would take that further. I think that readers control where they buy the book, when they buy the book, in what format they choose to buy the book, whether they choose to trade for the book or check it out from the library.

And when a reader exercises her rights to purchase or not to purchase, she should not be qualified as a bad reader or even a bad fan. There are so many decisions that go into purchasing a book and not all of them have to do with the author herself.

Telling readers that if they really care, they’ll buy a certain way and in a certain format is akin to saying If you really love me, you’ll –insert action most favorable to me–. (As an aside, is this a SFF thing? Seanan McGuire purportedly gives helpful instructions on how to keep her writing. Rob Thurman does this too, only she’s more militant and also wrong**).  Gail Carriger says on her blog:

What to do if you really truly want to help an author. (I’m talking specifically first week here.)

I write this, not only for myself, although Gail’s continued subsistence is, naturally, of primary interest to me. I write this for all us authors ~ for the brand spanking new writer with her first book soon to appear, for your old favorite who has been writing for years or decades in a solidly mid-list manner. If that author is alive and kicking, the best thing you can do to keep them writing is the following . . .

1. Buy her new book, dead tree style, from a brick & mortar bookstore, within the first week of that book’s release. Go Indy if you can.

2. If chains are all you have and you can’t find it at Big Chain Bookstore B1, then go to Big Chain Bookstore B2, not B1 in a different area.

3. Remind your friends and fellow readers that the book is out.

4. If you would rather read online or digitally, but have the funds to be kind, buy the paperback and give it to a friend or the local library. Then buy the ebook version. (Often the ebook comes out after the paper copy anyway.)

But you know what really got my dander up about these instructions? The justification is completely wrong, Gentle Reader. These instructions and the explanations lead to comments like this:

I had no idea that eBooks didn’t count! Although it’s such a large part of the market now, it really should. I know when I finished reading Soulless on my Kobo app for my iPhone, I immediately bought Changeless and then Blameless. Instant Gratification! But I will buy Heartless in print now that I know it will help you.


Gail, the author, gives reasons for these instructions.

1. Because paper sales count “most” toward the NYTimes.

WRONG. There are now five main lists in the Times: Hardcover, Trade, Mass Market, eBook, and eBook + Paper. Further, not all indy booksellers report to the NYTimes. Only a select number of indy booksellers are store reporters, those stores that send a list of books to the Times. So buying indy to get on the list could be an utter fail.

2. If the Big Chain isn’t shelving or distributing the book you want to buy, you do need to punish that chain by going to their competitor, rather than online. Of course, you never read it here, but independent bookstores are particularly responsive to your needs. Particularly responsive.

As long time romance readers know, many independent bookstores are not only NOT responsive to our needs, they can be downright snobbishly condescending about our needs. Further, who is paying for my gas as I drive all over town trying to “punish” the chain?

3. Because, under most current active contracts (to which I have been privy), an author’s ebook doesn’t count as much toward primary sales so far as royalties and NYT are concerned (again see comments below for more), and rumor is they aren’t being reported accurately on royalty statements anyway.

Under current traditional contracts, most authors earn 8-10% off the cover price of a mass market sale and 25% off the net (often 17.5% off the cover) of a digital book. Thus, the author’s ebook sale actually earns the author a bigger royalty off the digital book sale. What Carriger may be saying here is that her print run was so voluminous and there were so many returns by the bookstore to the publisher because readers bought digital books, that her subsequent bookstore orders were smaller. Smaller orders often mean smaller advances as publishers haven’t figured out how to best incorporate digital sales into their advance calculations. But more digital units sold means the author gets more on the back end of the contract. And Carriger’s doing all right. According to Publishers’ Marketplace, Carriger’s sale of HEARTLESS and TIMELESS was a “good deal” which is between $100,000 and $250,000 for both books. I think that information should be included in the “BUY HERE, BUY PRINT, BUY NOW” post.

Readers don’t need to be responsible for whether an author gets more on the front end or the back end. That is the job of her agent who seems to be doing very well for Carriger.

Further, the italicized “rumor” bit was added after Gail Carriger and I had a little exchange on twitter. It wasn’t there initially as you can see by the screenshot below.

Screen shot of Gail Carriger post

I found it interesting that Carriger is a client of Kristin Nelson who not two weeks ago claimed that it was FACT that publishers were underreporting royalties.

Screen shot from Kristin Nelson's blog

Carriger admitted that she hadn’t done an audit, that she was waiting for a writer’s organization to do this, and that she was getting her information from one Kathryn Rusch, who, as I pointed out to Carriger, doesn’t even have the same publisher as Carriger.  I’ve sent an email to Hachette asking them about this issue.

ARGH! again. All this misinformation. I had one reader on Twitter ask if she should cancel her Kindle order because obviously she didn’t want Carriger to be cheated out of any money. When authors and respected agents make claims that publishers are cheating authors, readers want to respond positively. They want to be helpful. In light of what happened with digital publishers in the past or with Dorchester, online readers are paying attention and want to know that the money that they spend will go to the author, not eaten up by a publisher in some shady accounting scheme. If authors are going to make the claim that they aren’t getting the money due them from ebook sales let’s have some proof to back up that scare tactic because without proof, it is a scare tactic and a pretty distasteful one.

Apparently authors are comparing their Amazon Kindle rankings for self published books against the rankings for their traditionally published books and finding the sales figures don’t match up. There are so many variables in the rankings, such as who else is being sold at the time, how many digital readers today versus six months ago, and that Amazon and BN haven’t ever told ANYONE how their rankings work and therefore who knows what those rankings mean from day to day, month to month, year to year. If there is underreporting, then contracts allow for an audit.  Readers do want their money to go to the authors. They don’t want authors cheated.

However, the reader is the ONLY PERSON in this transaction that makes NO MONEY. Why are they being the ones ordered about? Why prey on their natural instinct to be helpful?

Readers, don’t feel guilty about where you buy, what format you buy, when you buy. Just enjoy your damn book. Or don’t enjoy it. It’s your money, your time, your book. You can still be a TRUE FAN if you buy in digital and five weeks later. I know I am all lathered up about this, but this whole “buy x at y time because of totally incorrect information that I am passing off as fact” gets me going like few other things. We all have our hot buttons and this one’s mine. Rant off.

Sigh. I feel so much better.

But should authors be able to ask for readers to help them get to the top of the list? Probably but I wish it was done in a more honest way and without the dissemination of inaccurate information. I think  it would not have bothered me so much if it was stated something like “I want to move up the bestseller list and here are the ways that this can be accomplished” rather than couching the plea in the ‘if you really want this series to continue, you’ll need to do x, y, z and jump through a hula hoop.’

I understand wanting a book to succeed. I understand wanting a series to continue. I have those series myself.   We are constantly giving away books to promote those titles because we want the fire of excitement for that book to catch hold and spread.  But I’m not out there telling readers to buy this book right now or else they don’t love me or the books I am supporting enough. These pleas really bother me because there’s no acknowledgment, it seems, of being appreciative of the reader who loves the books, regardless of how those books are obtained whether it be from the library, the used bookstore or in trade, or purchased digitally or in print.

Use the comments to let me know what you think? Am I being too harsh here?

** Rob Thurman once told her readers that presales did not count toward the bestseller list and she also complained that her royalty check put her in a lower earning bracket than the fast food worker:

All right. I received my royalty check (which puts the KFC worker I saw today with her polyester pants so tight I could see her thong in a better earning bracket than me.)

No mention of her advance, of course, and what tax bracket that put her in.

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. Suzannah
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 04:53:26

    There are so many books out there that frankly I think authors should be grateful for any sales at all, instead of whining on about how much more money they could make if only their readers were *better* readers. And if they think ebook sales are robbing them, then they don’t have to sell in the ebook format. They can try their luck with hardback sales in obscure little shops and see how that goes for them. I’ve traditionally been a library borrower, but since ebooks came out I’m spending quite a bit on them – sales those authors would never otherwise have had. (But I AM glad that I got Soulless from the library, as the two chapters I struggled through before wishing I could throw it out of the window were the worst thing I’ve read in years, and I still resent the minutes I lost to them).

  2. Nadia Lee
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 05:14:22

    My money, my way.

    If some authors don’t like it, fine. I don’t have to buy them or even read them. I can always buy others who appreciate that I buy them at all. (For those of you who read my guest blog post on DA, you know I always buy new b/c I’m not able to access UBS and libraries.)

    There are tons of books out there, and I’m actually glad that things like this make it easier for me to prune my to-buy list.

  3. Mikaela
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 05:17:58

    Thank you, Jane. You said it so much better than I could :). As for sales not counting.. Well. That’s one reason I prefer e-books. Because they do count. Since I live in Sweden, the books I buy from my local store doesn’t help getting the author on a bestseller list. But the e-book I buy from Kobo do help. (At least that’s what I tell myself).

  4. Edie
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 05:32:36

    Great post!
    I could understand the request of buying the book, though it would irk me, but the telling people how and when to buy it.. and what format to buy.. you can go get farked.
    That Thurman incident peeved me off no end, she was basically telling off her readers for buying it “wrong”, and I haven’t even stocked her work in the bookshop since, though I did put in a couple of second hand copies I picked up. *whistle*

  5. Rosie
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 05:33:23

    Too harsh? Not at all. I agree completely.
    Over the years I’ve seen readers/fans be scolded for buying books before the release date when a bookseller has dared to shelve the much-anticipated book early. The horror! Instead of saying, “thanks for buying so and so’s book,” it was always, “you know that doesn’t count toward bestseller lists …” I’m thinking, it’s a book sale, it’s a reader who can’t wait to get their hands on the book. That’s a good thing! And we shouldn’t have to be the patient little good reader who resists temptation, walks away and waits til next Tuesday because a bookseller was quick on the draw. It’s always annoyed me.
    Til now, I’ve never seen an author try to steer readers away from ebooks. I’ve never read Carriger’s books and never plan to.
    I’ve got plenty of other authors to read … on my Kindle, by the way! :)

  6. SusiSunshine
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 05:33:49

    Word. So if they think I’m a second class reader I will use my second class money to buy other books. As you said, we remember the names and I know who I will never buy again.

  7. KB/KT Grant
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 05:36:23

    Could it be the authors’ first print runs are way down and because of that, they’re freaking out that a publisher may drop them?

    Maybe someone can help me here, but if you have an initial first print run of say, 200k and then your second book comes out and the bookstores order less than the first book, cutting your print run in half, does that give the publisher a reasons to drop an author then?

    And do airport sales really help books get on the NYT list?

  8. Kerry Allen
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 05:38:13

    I blame “reach out and touch someone” marketing. Isn’t everybody on the internet your buddy? Isn’t it natural to complain about your job to your buddies and ask them to help you out?

    But readers are customers, and customers are not buddies. If I went to a restaurant and the waiter sat down next to me and told me what to order to make his life easier and more profitable, I would be uncomfortable. I would also complain to the manager, leave without spending a penny, and never return. Dumping the dissatisfying elements of your business in the customer’s lap is unprofessional and certainly fails to arouse my sympathy.

  9. Marsha
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 05:39:50

    I recall Karen Marie Moning issuing similar instructions for one of the middle books of her latest series. No pre-orders, buying in certain places, buying at certain times, no libraries, etc. At the time, I was still iffy on keeping up with the books and this business didn’t help, my response being something like, “But I don’t work for you!”

  10. Nancy McGregor
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 05:53:53

    Insanity! I buy a majority of my books in ebook form or paperbacks from charity shops. I love the authors I read but I’m not going to wait two weeks for the local bookstore to order my book in, when I can pop on Amazon and in one click it’s on my Kindle.
    My mother in law was in an airport recently and she said everyone had those “electrical book thingies” and now she wants one. I think eventually the bookshops will disappear from the airport, so what then?
    I would be upset if my favourite author couldn’t write books anymore but lets face it, plenty more authors out there to read and a lot who are getting crap deals are self publishing now and loving it.

  11. Deb
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 06:24:02

    The hubris some people display is amazing. Thank everyone who reads what you write, no matter where they get it from.

  12. Imogen Howson
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 06:24:06

    I find this kind of instruction from authors so offputting.
    Although I totally understand why authors would prefer readers not to buy secondhand, I’ve been really irritated by being told that buying secondhand is akin to book piracy.
    Readers should not steal from authors (or, you know, from anyone), but neither should they feel it’s their job to make sure authors earn what they want to earn.
    I love the restaurant analogy!

  13. Carolyn
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 06:28:57

    I live in a town with no book shops except WalMart. What the hell am I supposed to do? Travel the state on release day to find an appropriate indie? When I can get it in one click on the internet? I think not.

    I read to please myself. If you’re gonna make it hard for me to please you, other than with my hard earned money, well, plenty other fish in the river. I do not like being ‘guilted out’ or strong armed.

    Aren’t authors supposed to be trying to please me as their reader? I’ll be wearing an author’s cap myself soon. I’m getting a real education in what not to do.

  14. Danielle D
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 06:32:17

    Like that one commericial said said — It’s my money and I want it Now! Well, it is my money and I will buy my books where I want when I want. Whether it be in print or an ebook. Whether I buy I buy it at, the Sony Reader store or Borders. It’s my money!

    And no Jane your not being too harsh.

  15. hrwriter
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 06:41:12

    This author has already received her advance so it sounds to me like she’s more interested in making the lists than future royalties. Anyone in this business knows there’s more to be made from an ebook than paper. I find this kind of unprofessional behavior insulting to all of us, readers and authors alike. If I ever instructed anyone about buying my book, I’d expect someone to slap me and tell me to snap out of it. Hell, I always put on a gracious, smiling face when the clueless tell me they’ve bought a used copy, enjoyed it, and have passed it around to everyone in the family. I tell myself, at least they read it. Sometimes, I’ve of the opinion that the social networks have bred too much familiarity, and we all know what too much familiarity leads to.

  16. Merrian
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 06:41:58

    You are saying eloquently what I feel, Jane. Stop blaming readers for the distribution and geo-restriction issues that affect their capacity to buy print books and acknowledge that the author’s job and the publisher’s job is to get a book into the reader’s hands for a fair price. It is not the reader’s job to jump through hoops to get there. I love author’s and their books and want to keep them writing but I don’t love being anyone’s donkey to beat.

  17. Mike Cane
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 06:42:54

    Daniel Pennac! He is also the author of several brilliant and funny fiction books, originally written in his native French and expertly translated into English. You made me whoosh to Amazon, only to again see they are still NOT available in e. Grrrr.

    Writers should not beg. It’s undignified. And they should not boss around their readers. And any that tout print over e are not long for this world.

  18. Keishon
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 06:46:24

    No, not harsh at all. The disinformation is appalling and I’m glad you’re calling them out for it. It’s not the readers job to make sure the author gets on a list, WTF. But you know this has been going on for years and I ignore it. I recommend others do the same.

  19. LG
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 06:56:52

    I can’t ever recall having seen one of my favorite authors issue buying instructions to readers, but then I don’t spend a lot of time perusing author website and blogs. I do know that instructions would probably annoy me. I buy something according to decisions that pertain to me – they have nothing to do with the author. If I like the author’s books, I will probably try to convince friends and family to read them, or at the very least I’ll gush about them on my blog, but I’m not going to change my buying habits.

    If I paid attention to instructions like Gail Carriger’s, I would have to hope that my town’s sole store that sells new books stocked the book. If it didn’t, I could order it online and feel bad that I couldn’t get it at a brick-and-mortar store, or I could drive for a few hours to get to the next nearest brick-and-mortar store, spending money on gas that could have gone towards books. As for the instructions to buy paper format, even if you want digital…I’m guessing that Carriger is assuming her readers only read her books? Why would anyone who was buying in their preferred format want to buy a second copy in a format they didn’t want, when they could use that money to get a completely different book they also want?

  20. Mary Anne Graham
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 07:00:31

    Readers choosing to buy one of their books or ebooks should inspire every author (NYT bestselling royally published or indie) to feel gratitude, joy and yes, humility. I know that in this economy when a reader picks up one of my romances, I mouth a silent thank you. I’d scream it but we leave those noises to be made by the clients at our law firm. (Just kidding – mostly)

    It sounds like Ms. Carriger is jealous of indies. Or perhaps she wants her cake and wants to eat it too. Either way, it sounds like she’s forgotten the fine editing/marketing/publishing team at the house that puts out her work. While I enjoy the freedom of putting out my work my way, I have to do the jobs of the whole team of folks that got Ms. Carriger to where she is today.

    Whatever an author may feel about the business should never effect her relationship with her readers. Readers aren’t children to be instructed, guided or chided. If I’m an author, then I’m writing for my readers. That makes the reader the boss now, doesn’t it? So a little show of respect wouldn’t be out of order either.

  21. romsfuulynn
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 07:18:00

    Thank you! I didn’t have the energy to do a smackdown on that piece. I was thinking that she or her agent were more clueful because she has a Nook bundle of the first three that actually has a significant cost saving. (I think it was $9.99 for all three.) I preordered it and now am wondering if it is what really has her all wrought up.

  22. Jen
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 07:27:11

    What a well written post. I appreciate the information you gave me here. I have always wondered if my ebooks count like paper books do.

    I can’t say I was ever feeling guilty for how I bought my books. I mean come on, I was still paying $7.99 for most of them on my kindle and now I am not able to loan them, but this makes me feel a tad better.

    I am interested to hear what larger more successful authors have to say about this topic.

  23. Has
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 07:31:16

    This This This This This.

    My local bookstore barely offers the books I like, the ones they do are all womeny fictiony, and I am not a huge fan of that genre. The next store that does is in the city and its difficult to get to especially if you are disabled. I love and heart ebooks, its instant and gratifying and the Book Depository who DO STOCK the books I like. I love visiting bookshops/libraries but seriously, I hate the fact that this pressure by authors where to buy books and how to buy them. Its my choice. I choose what books to buy and in what format.

  24. Janet P.
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 07:32:48

    My favorite part is … if you really want to read it in eBook, maybe you could buy it in eBook and paper too!

    Yes, we’d all like our customers to by double the amount of product that they really need. Nifty trick. LOL

  25. KMont
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 07:41:09

    **As an aside, is this a SFF thing? Seanan McGuire purportedly gives helpful instructions on how to keep her writing. Rob Thurman does this too, only she’s more militant and also wrong**

    I have seen Rob Thurman’s tirades against readers at her own blog, for daring to buy a book early. And this was a reader that was so excited to get the author’s book. Needless to say, Thurman lost any money she might ever have gotten from me. It was her tone, attitude, etc. that did it. The entitlement that went into her words.

    I’ve seen other authors giving advice on how to help authors. Seanan McGuire’s short post didn’t bother me – don’t some readers ask authors how they, the reader, can help authors? This advice that some authors give, the buying books in first week, etc. is nothing new. Some authors just give out the advice in less bitchy and pretentious ways.

    Carriger’s post did rub me the wrong way. It was definitely pretentious with her Victorian tone and the first couple of paragraphs were grating. I didn’t see anything different in her actual advice – until that bit about the ebooks popped up (well, and the call to buy more than one copy if you must buy ebook – w.t.f.). She may not have meant to sound “ebookist”, but when you write something like that, telling folks not to buy ebooks and only print, I can’t believe anyone would be surprised a reader would feel that way.

    Being online more these days does tend to bring this kind of stuff to the forefront for the reader, and it’s gotten really old for me personally. I’m with you and have always felt that readers (and by extension, book bloggers with their blogging), should just read the way they want to.

  26. Sheryl Nantus
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 07:42:53

    I’ve gotten quite tired of the “we’re being ripped off by the publishers!” screech – if it’s true, then get some hard facts and give names.

    The problem is that it’s almost fallen into the urban myth catagory by this point where people are quoting it as fact when there’s never been, to my knowledge, a single actual case documented.

    I’m not saying it can’t happen. But I wonder what’s behind this, whether it’s an effort to keep people from buying ebooks or to push them away from NYC publishers and their ebooks or giving a reason to buy self-pub books because no one wants to rip off an author… or all three. I just don’t know and I wish someone would deliver some actual facts and numbers instead of just tossing stuff up in the air.

    Any contract I’ve signed has an audit clause. If I thought I was getting ripped off I’d use it to get an audit, not wait for any group to come to my rescue.

    Give me details. Tell me which publishers are doing this so writers can avoid them.

    And I’d rather be writing.

  27. MaryK
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 07:54:08

    That Pennac book has been on my wish list for a long time. The twitter discussion prompted me to go over to Book Depository and order it so I could be sure to get the color illustrations. :) There’s a downloadable poster somewhere too.

  28. nitnot
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 07:55:21

    I’m sorry but all that just sounds like complain complain complain complain complain. If it’s a problem with your publisher, complain to your publisher! She’s making it sound like the readers are the ones responsible for their getting ripped off, when to my ears it’s just all MOAR MONEY MOAR.


  29. Chelsea
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 07:56:58

    I saw that post by Gail Carriger and it did give me a case of the guilts. I live at school, and school is a good 40 minute’s drive from the nearest bookstore.That’s a lot of gas. Yet I go through two or three books a week. The solution? My fiance bought me a Kindle, so I could get the books I crave instantly without wasting time or gas money. This has made me very, very happy.

    But to think that all those ebooks didn’t count for my beloved authors, that they were unable to survive because of people like me? How horrible! Of course, reading through it a second time I now realize how inaccurate it sounds.

    In any case, I don’t like when articles like this try to make their readers feel bad. Shouldn’t the goal be to make readers feel good? Happy readers buy more books. Just saying.

  30. PG
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 08:06:03

    Really disappointed to see Carriger saying such things. I think it’s legitimate for authors (and musicians, moviemakers and other creative folks) to fight hard against piracy of their works. Indeed, intellectual property products (books, movies, music, software) are the biggest money in U.S. exports, so in a globalized economy it’s in America’s interest as a whole to support IP rights. And I recall Jennifer Crusie and other authors I like saying, We are super grateful that you read us at all, but if possible, we’d really appreciate your buying our books new, and maybe telling Amazon to stop selling the used copies on the same webpage. If that doesn’t work for you, it’s all cool, thanks for reading!


    I also thought Soulless was not well written at a technical level (e.g. lots of head-hopping), but it was so fun that I went ahead and read it all, and the sequels evidently have had much more editing because there’s a dramatic difference in the technical quality of the writing.

  31. Darlynne
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 08:11:33

    You’ve made me think about the instances that a favorite author has requested that readers wait until release day to purchase. That part I actually understand, but I am stunned at the number who insist that pre-ordered books–digital or dead-tree–don’t count toward first-day/week sales. I’m not charged for a pre-order until it’s delivered to me, one way or the other, so where is this information coming from and why?

  32. Mireya
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 08:18:34

    Emotional blackmail is what I call this type of attempt at manipulation.

    Frankly, and I am going to be horridly blunt, I don’t give a rat’s ass. I read because I like to and I use my hard earned money as I deem fit. Author doesn’t like it? tough. It is what it is. Stop writing then if you find the whole business so stressful . And by the by, one of my best friends is a published author and NEVER has she tried to pull that kind of crap on her reader base. Then again, she’s a class act a and a true professional..

  33. DS
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 08:19:42

    All this concern to make sure I buy the right books, at the right price (yesterday’s links), in the right form and at the right time. Actually I have bought a couple of Carriger’s books– in audio form. Clearly I am not a TruFan.

  34. Ros
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 08:45:15

    I am a reader. You know what that makes me? A customer. And the CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT. Because without me and my money (and yes, all the other customers and their money), no one else in this whole industry, whether author, editor, publisher or agent, makes any money at all. So, you know what would be in the best interests of everyone in the publishing industry? Start thinking about what your customer wants. Not just what books they want to read, but in what format and in which countries (hint: not just America) and MAKE IT AS EASY AS POSSIBLE for them to hand over their money. The money that pays for everyone else’s salary. Because without us, you got nothing.

  35. Jessica
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 08:48:57

    Wow, I’m disappointed by Carriger’s stance on e-books! You are most certainly not being harsh in reporting/quoting.

    I read her entire post just to see if it got better than these excerpts and I read the comments and I am not loving what I read. To suggest that if a reader absolutely wants the e-book version they must also buy the print, whether said reader wants to spend that money or even wants a print version, is unfair.

    If you are an author that doesn’t like e-books, talk to your publisher and say “Well, publisher, I don’t like my books coming out in e-book form. Can we stick to physical paperbacks in the future?” Don’t tell your readers “All formats are good EXCEPT e-books, so don’t buy e-books.”

    And as for the comments, I believe this one commenter’s quote was even screencapped in this post. They said they felt guilty about owning an ereader and taking money away from the authors with e-books, and would definitely buy Carriger’s upcoming releases in “dead tree” format. You can tell they weren’t happy about it (“dead tree” format is never a positive term) and…they said it anyway. Reader, don’t feel guilty! You have an ereader that you (or a family member or friend) spent good money on. If you wanted it, if you like it, use it! Don’t let authors bully you into buying other formats you don’t want!

    If Carriger is reading these comments, I’d like her to know she may have lost a fan. I viewed her post as a harsh, “Thou shalt read paperback only…unless you read paperback/e-book and then it’s okay!” stance and that is disappointing in itself, but I could ignore that. I think every writer says something stupid/misguided once in their career, so I could say that was hers. My problem is that this long blog post was directed at a specific group of readers (rather than just stating she didn’t like the e-book format followed by “But thank you for buying my work! I appreciate the support!”) and wasn’t grateful that there are folks buying and enjoying her work, maybe in e-book form, but still buying and enjoying it.

  36. McheleKS
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 08:58:30

    I think authors like Carriger are in the minority and obviously haven’t left high school mentally and emotionally. This also smacks of politics (vote for me!) and I hate politics. And if people wanted to make huge sums of money they sure wouldn’t choose writing because writing is anything but a sure thing career-wise.

    I love buying books online because I know I’ll get them when I want them without driving around to a bookstore that might not stock them (the chains near me and Wal-Mart fall short on this more often than not).And I’m sure I’m like a lot of book buyers who don’t have a lot of money to spend on new books so yes, I’ll try an author new to me used or through the library. If I like them then I’ll buy new.

    For me, if an author wants to get on my auto-buy-new list they better knock my socks off. And if they don’t like how I buy their books then that’s their problem. Would I stop reading an author who does this? Unless their writing turned bad, probably not.

  37. elaine mueller
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 09:08:40

    i’m sorry. i didn’t read all the comments so maybe i’m echoing what someone else has already written. the best way imho for a reader to support an author is to have a wonderful book in her hands that she tells all her friends about so they run out and buy it. oh, wait, part of that depends on the author, too, doesn’t it? she/he has to write that compelling book, don’t they. i don’t like emotional blackmail in my personal life (been there, done that) or in my books. i sure as hell don’t like it coming from whiny authors.


  38. Ciar Cullen
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 09:09:01

    Hey, if someone wants to buy any of my books in any format from any outlet, I’ll send you a free puppy and a cabana boy.

    Long ago, I used to buy Nora Roberts’ books in hardcover because I couldn’t WAIT for the next one to go to paperback. That is the only reason I would ever buy a certain format, because I loved the author’s work that much. Now I would buy something electronically to get it quickly. The customer is king, in every area. Or should be.

  39. Lorenda
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 09:14:00

    Thank you for this post. To be honest, I have over 250 books on my kindle right now, after only 5 months of owning the device. And I can tell you right now, there’s no way I would have bought that many paperbacks. With electronic copies, I’m more willing to try new authors, new genres, and especially the self-pubbed. So they way I look at it, authors (and publishers) are getting more money out of me BECAUSE of ebooks, not despite them.

  40. Stephanie Beck
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 09:20:40

    Well done! I just heard about this yesterday and was thinking along the same lines of that person overstepping. When I put up buy-links, I do put up the one that will give me the best royalties, but I don’t push it as that because it’s not the reader’s business how my business works. I’m grateful for sales and for word of mouth and it’s sad that the cottage industry of small bookstores isn’t strong anymore, but dictating to book buyers how they should buy doesn’t help anything.
    Thanks for an interesting read!
    Stephanie Beck

  41. dick
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 09:23:30

    I don’t owe writers anything at all. On the other hand, isn’t this fiasco but one more indication of just how unhealthy the overly close relationship between reader/writer in romanceland is?

  42. Lynne Connolly
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 09:29:43

    As a writer – I get more money per copy sold if people buy off the publisher’s website. And since I’m digital first, Carriger’s information is all wrong.

    Will I try to push readers to the publisher website? Hell, no. As long as they buy my book, I’m happy. If readers want to help me, they can talk about my book and spread the word if they feel so inclined. That’s all and I’m very grateful to people who do that.

    As a reader (and I read a lot) I’ll buy the book in the way most convenient to me, and in the format I want. The only thing that burns me is geographical restrictions, sometimes. If I love the book, I’ll say so, in public and often (Caitlin Crews’ new one, Loretta Chase’s new one, buy them!) That’s how I pay the author back for the pleasure she’s given me.

  43. Courtney Milan
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 09:30:44

    On the other hand, isn’t this fiasco but one more indication of just how unhealthy the overly close relationship between reader/writer in romanceland is?

    Since Gail Carriger doesn’t write romance, I don’t see how it could be.

  44. LVLMLeah
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 09:31:39

    Personally, when I saw Carriger’s post being discussed on Twitter yesterday and went to read it, I couldn’t get past the first few paragraphs with the condescending “Gentle Reader” and my “dears.” It’s the typical sugary sweet smile to the face before getting passively aggressively dumped on.

    I went back and read the full post later. Frankly, I don’t even take this kind of thing from authors seriously. I will buy what I want, in the form I want, where I want and it’s not even something I feel is even worth defending or getting up in arms about.

    Of course, when I have a favorite author I do what I can, buy ebooks direct from epubs, etc. And sometimes I’ll even buy a few copies just to be supportive. But it’s my decision to do so and frankly if it’s not convenient due to being in paper only or I have to go through hoops to buy direct instead of through a distributor, then I do what’s easiest.

    I think it’s always better I even buy the book than not no matter how I bought it.

  45. Sirius
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 09:46:51

    I will admit that math had never been my strong suit, but putting aside the obnoxious tone and the fact that I generally findd the instructions like that off putting, what I did not get the most is how preordering the book is going to harm the author? I preordered Josh Lanyon’s latest about two months ago and was so delighted when it came today on my Kindle. That means I am not helping the author I enjoy?! The fact that I want to buy his books before the book is even officially out??? Eh, okay then at least I am pleasing myself.

  46. Cranky Reader
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 09:52:26

    Sometimes I get so sick of authors. I really do. DON’T tell me when/how/where to buy your books. SO SORRY if my reading and purchasing habits don’t support you adequately in your chosen profession (or avocation). But you know what? YOU chose the profession — I didn’t choose it for you — so don’t gripe to me if it doesn’t pay as well as you want it to. You could go out and get a “regular” job any time.

    I don’t owe an author ANYTHING. I’m not obligated to bend over backwards and jump through hoops to support their professional success buy buying books on certain days or from certain stores or in certain formats. That’s on them. They have no business providing guidance to the “gentle readers.” Or rather…I guess they can provide all the guidance they want, but what I hear is Charlie Brown’s teacher in the background. Wah-wah-wah. (And you know what?? If I’m waiting on one of your books and I see it in the store a day or a week early — I’M BUYING IT RIGHT THEN! I’m not waiting for release day!)

    You want me to buy your books? Then write something I want to read, KEEP THE TECHNICAL/GRAMMATICAL ERRORS TO A MINIMUM regardless of format, and don’t overshare about your personal life/politics in your books, your FB page, your blog, your website, or your Tweets.

  47. Ying
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 09:53:27

    As much as I enjoy Miss Carriger’s books, I do not want to be told which format, when and where to purchase the books. Especially the topic of ebook / dead tree royalty came up before and most readers who follow blogs would know that ebooks earn the author a higher royalty. As a reader I want to help my favourite authors and make sure they are rated highly but please don’t tell me what to do and please don’t give me misleading information.

  48. Dana S
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 09:55:56

    This is why I fangirl Ilona Andrews so much. They have such a sane attitude toward book sales.

    How does all of this silliness affect the reader? It doesn’t. You shouldn’t have anxiety when you go to a book store or when you preorder. You shouldn’t worry about when to buy the book or how it will affect the author. If you like the book, get it. A sale is a sale and we thank you for it.

    Reading’s my main form of entertainment and if I become stressed over how/where/what I should buy, I usually just stop reading the author instead of buying more books.

  49. Sirius
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 09:59:37

    I will go all the way for my favorite authors. If I loved ebook like a lot, I will get the paperback, even if I basically have no space for them now, if author consistently pleases me with their work and they are an autobuy for me, I will keep recommending their works over over because I want to share the joy I get from reading what they wrote with my friends. I repurchased several books of my favorites from sony for kindle, even though my sony is still working, I just wanted to please myself and I did not think it would hurt an author either to earn double royalties on the book. I will tell you that for two or three of my favorites (I cannot afford to do it for every author whose works I love) I purchased some of their books, ebooks and paperbacks and sent them out as gifts.
    In other words, I DO support the authors I like a lot, but please spare me the obnoxious directions of how I can do it even more.

  50. Jane
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 10:03:05

    @Sirius I think some authors believe that pre orders to do not count for sales in the NYTimes list, but I’ve asked editors about this and they believe that the pre orders do count toward sales by the NYTimes list. I’m not sure where the information that pre orders do not count is coming from.

  51. Chelsea
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 10:16:50

    @Dana S wow, that is a remarkably sane and understanding position. I too heart Ilona Andrews.

    It so much more encouraging to hear an author say “Hey, thanks for reading. I’m glad you’re enjoying my books. Please continue to do so, in whatever (legal) manner makes you happy.”

  52. eva
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 10:17:27

    IMO you’re not being harsh at all.
    Isn’t it enough that the pesky DRM and geo restrictions are making our lives difficult. Should we really buy how, where and when the author/publisher tells us to?
    While I understand that authors want to make a living doing what they love and that they want to be recognized for it, at the end of the day that doesn’t give them, or anybody else in the industry for that matter, the right to order readers about. It’s our money and we should spend it how we see fit.
    How would the authors feel if readers started telling them what, when, where and how to write. Or better yet, setting the price for their books.
    On second thought, I’ll buy hardback and paperback. I’ll buy it how they want me to. But I’ll also demand a free bookcase with every 100th book bought. And after I run out of room I’ll demand free storage space. Oh, and someone to dust the bookshelves regularly.
    Thanks for bringing this issue to my attention.
    The way I see it, the only thing authors can accomplish with such demands and lies is to put readers off their work.

  53. Jill Sorenson
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 10:31:39

    I’m not bothered by a lot of eccentric author behavior, but this kind of thing really turns me off. I can’t imagine doing it myself. I feel embarrassed asking readers to like me on Facebook!

    Obviously, Ms. Carriger has a bold personality. Anyone who’s seen her in person can attest to that. As a writer, I know we are capable of intense hubris (on those days we aren’t hating ourselves!). That self-confidence is what makes us daring and/or decisive storytellers. But it can also lead to trouble.

    In trying to understand this author’s mindset, I thought of one of my recent books. I’ve had a modest number of requests from readers for a connected story. I imagine that a NY Times bestseller like Ms. C has thousands of fans begging for the next book. She wants to deliver for them. The more readers, the more pressure.

    Which is not to say she should dictate buying rules to readers. Perhaps her series is in danger and she wants to stick with her current editor/publisher but is worried they will pull the plug.

    Again, this is an author problem, not a reader problem. I’m just saying that her motivation might be all about the series, not the $$$.

  54. Cally J
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 10:32:14

    I find it interesting from a purely personal perspective that all three of the authors in question are ones that I have stopped buying books from in the last 18 months. For me, their quality is variable, and the things which made them worth reading anyway have dwindled into trite predictability. Rob Thurman’s outburst made certain I cancelled all my pre-orders for her books. Gail Carriger’s step by step guide certainly hasn’t inspired me to start buying her books again.

    The sense of entitlement and control freakery displayed by some authors — whether on sales, or on interpretation of their works — just makes me think they are afraid to let the books stand on their own merits. Perhaps they are right to be concerned. But that doesn’t make their attempts to dictate to their fans right or appropriate.

    Unfashionable though it might be, perhaps a little reading of Barthes would not go amiss.

  55. Ying
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 10:35:15

    @Dana S:

    Dana, I completely agree. Ilona and Gordon Andrews are the best! All they ask from the reader is to obtain the books by legal means (purchase, borrow from friends/library, 2nd hand,…) as long as we don’t involve with piracy.

  56. May
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 10:37:57

    From where I come from (not US), I would be lucky to get my hand on physical book within one week of its released. To buy ebook would cost me extra 2$ from Amazon. Even now I still have to try to convince my friend not to download piracy version of ebook.

    So frankly I do not really care, which format I can get my hand into as long as it is legal I consider I do my best for my favorite author.

  57. Being a “Good Reader” & Trial by Fire by @jenlynnbarnes « scarlettspace
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 10:41:59

  58. Lynn S.
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 10:45:01

    And transparency becomes more opaque by the minute.

    It is disappointing when you find out that clever doesn’t always mean wise but even through the film I can see the potential for someone to make a tidy sum teaching author etiquette in the digital age. That KFC comment tells me things about Ms. Thurman that she probably wishes I (and more than a few others) didn’t know.

  59. Darlene Marshall
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 11:22:17

    Thank you, Jane. I’ve had readers approach me and say they’re worried if they buy the Kindle editions I won’t get anything. I assure them that I get paid every time someone buys my books, digital or paper, and whatever’s easiest for the reader is fine with me.

    Digital sales are a sizable percentage of my paycheck and I want to encourage, not discourage, readers. It’s your money! Spend it as you see fit.

  60. Tina
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 11:23:18

    Wow. I read both the Carriger and the Thurman blog entries. I kinda understand where they are coming from. They obviously have a lot of anxiety when it comes to sales. And it can’t be easy to have to also be a salesperson in addition to being a writer. But frankly the tone in both cases is very off-putting.

    How a publisher conducts business, the byzantine way the NYT configures it bestseller list, or how the pay is figured for sales for a a writer should not be the reader’s responsibility. It strikes me kinda shitty how those posts seem to be making it so. Rather than lecturing us on the best way for writers to get paid, why not agitate for change in your own industry?

    I actually like Thurman’s Trixa series. But it is a text-book case of a series of books that can get simply lost in the noise. There are so many PNR and UF books that look and sound so much alike that readers simply get overwhelmed wading through the sameness — the covers alone are numbing in their monotony. In this case the issue may not be with the reader at all. Maybe she should look pragmatically at the product she is delivering and determine that this is one that isn’t going to be one that can break from the pack and move on.

    In Carriger’s case, Soulless was a very buzzed about book that had, imo, a unique look and feel and was something that did come out the gate running. But the follow up books have not delivered on the promise of the first book, imo. I know that my enthusiasm for that series has sharply waned so that I am not in any hurry to get the fourth book.

  61. Christine Rimmer
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 11:27:32

    Back in the day, authors crusaded against used bookstores as thieves of their income. I always thought that was really dumb. Readers want books. And they want the best deal possible. And they would prefer, if they are taking a chance that a book might be crap, not to pay for it, if at all possible. Or to pay a minimal price to give it a try. Makes total sense to me. As an author, I just try to be good enough that readers will want my books new and even pay the new book price–digital or dead tree-style. Oh, and guess what’s happening to used bookstores now ebooks are making a reading revolution? Bye-bye used books stores.

    When Amazon angered authors, I was told by a number of authors I respect to boycott them as a reader. I just didn’t. Sorry. To my mind, Amazon provides the best service all around to me as a reader. Even if they still piss me off as an author. I like them the best in terms of giving me what I want when I want it at the best price I can get it for.

    As to WalMart, a lot of my income as an author is generated at WalMart. I write the books that busy moms throw in the cart as they wander past the book aisle on their way to buy school supplies. Please. Buy at WalMart.

    About the whole “publishers are stealing ebook income from authors” dustup: When I first read about that, I got all outraged. I lectured my DH about those big, bad publishers. He laughed at me. He said, “If its true, there will be lawsuits. But chances are it’s just paranoia in a new age.” So I’m waiting for the lawsuits.

    I don’t really blame authors for trying to control their readers’ buying habits. It’s a totally scary time out there in bookland as the ebook revolution is taking place. I do think it’s silly, though, and self-defeating for authors to tell readers how to get their books. It falls in line with one of my favorite Mark Twain quotes: “Nothing needs reforming so much as other people’s habits.”

    Readers, come on. Fuggetaboutit. Don’t worry about it. Go about your business getting your books the way that works for you. I certainly will.

  62. MarieC
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 11:27:52

    Thank you Jane! Well done! I agree that books should be got by legal means, but I don’t believe that it is the right of the author to dictate the method…especially to help the author reach a specific tax bracket.

  63. Sunita
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 11:34:08

    @MaryK: If you follow the link at the top of the post (to my blog, Vacuous Minx), I’ve linked to the book depository page as well as the publisher page. The latter will take you to the download link for the poster.

    Great post. And, what everyone else has said. I haven’t had the opportunity to use the word “crass” in a while, but yesterday was one.

  64. Vinity
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 11:46:41

    ITA her post offended me. Fortunately I gave up on that series on bk 2. I am a fan of Rob Thurman but I do think she does herself damage on twitter and her blog.

  65. Cara
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 11:48:55

    Okay, I’m sorry, but apart from everything that’s been said here, I followed the link to Ms. Carriger’s livejournal. She lost me with all the “dear reader/gentle reader” crap and referring to herself in third person. Bitchy of me to say so? Maybe. But if you want me to take anything you say seriously, those are two of the quickest ways to do the very opposite. Eyeroll and hurl.

    On a more serious note, Jane I completely agree with everything you said here, especially your rage. Frankly, it’s times like this that I think these sorts of authors are no better than a bunch of self-inflated fanfic writers. This really smacks of “I’m not updating again until I get at least _x_ number of reviews.” The only difference is that the names and storyverses are “original” and someone decided to pay them for it. But the behavior is just as obnoxious and unprofessional. No matter how froufrou and saccharin the wording is, it’s still the same – woe is me, I don’t get enough recognition for my hard work, if you really cared about me or my stories you’d prove it by doing _x_.

    Writing is hard work. Very hard. But you know what? That worker at KFC is doing something he/she undoubtedly hates in order to make a living. These people could stand to be a little more gracious about the fact that they even get the opportunity to be paid for something they love. Most of us have to settle on hobbies.

    *grump* I don’t think I can really comment much more without just…ranting.

  66. Rebecca WS
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 11:50:35

    I really appreciate your post. I love my Kindle and am seriously addicted to it, but I’d hate to “cheat” any author out of earnings by buying digital or by purchasing a book pre-release date! There’s a lot of conflicting information out right now, but I find it encouraging that now e-books are released at the same time as print, when only a year ago we had to wait.

    Ilona Andrews had a long, interesting blog post about this a few months ago:

  67. Pamela {Spaz}
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 11:52:54

    Thank you, Jane!!!!! That is all.

  68. Pam
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 11:55:26

    Thank you Jane, because I *was* feeling guilty about buying ebooks even though I have only bought from indies for two years now and have not ordered any book offline I was made to feel guilty and I didn’t like it. I thought I was being a responsible book buyer and that article by Carriger shattered my stance.

  69. Vi
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 12:10:21

    I had going to buy Heartless to read on Kindle. I guess I won’t be buying it all.

  70. Susanna Fraser
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 12:15:11

    As a writer I get more money per copy sold if people buy off the publisher’s website. And since I’m digital first, Carriger’s information is all wrong.

    Will I try to push readers to the publisher website? Hell, no.

    So very much this. When I get a chance to talk to someone about my books who’s interested enough to ask how to buy them, I figure my job is to make it easiest for them, not most profitable for me. I usually just say, “they’re available wherever ebooks are sold,” and see how they respond from there. This being Seattle, they often already own a Kindle or Nook and just want to know if they can get my books at Amazon or B&N, which I’m happy to assure them they can. Sometimes they’re a print-only reader who seems open to buying an ebook (or just anxious to support me personally, since I’m their niece/neighbor/college roommate/etc.). Then I’ll suggest trying out a free Kindle or Nook app on their computer or smartphone–but that’s as pushy as I’ll ever get.

    Authors telling readers to privilege one format or type of non-pirate bookseller over another remind me of this gas station where I often fill up because it’s halfway between my office and my daughter’s school. They have these really annoying signs on the pumps begging customers to use either cash or a Chevron credit card because they make more $$ on those transactions than on regular credit/debit sales. They even have pie charts showing who gets how many cents of your gas-buying dollar. And it’s so annoying, because I’m not buying gas there because I feel some personal connection to keeping them in business, I’m there because it’s convenient, and I’m using my regular debit card because I don’t WANT a Chevron card, I don’t like carrying $50+ in cash, and anyway, paying cash takes longer and if don’t make it to the school before aftercare closing time they start charging me $1/minute.

    Now, I like to hope my books provide more satisfaction, fun, and/or meaning to my readers than a tank of gas. But the principle is the same. It’s not their job to support me; it’s my job to give them a good read in exchange for their money and time. If I do my job well enough, they’ll want my next book, and it’s a win-win transaction.

  71. Elise Logan
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 12:20:04

    Hm. As an author, I cannot imagine giving a reader instructions like that. Well, I can imagine it, but I can’t imagine why I would think it was a good idea to do so. As a reader, my thought on any author giving me those instructions on how to spend my cash when I am spending that cash on him/her can be summed up in the extension of a single finger.

  72. Moriah Jovan
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 12:23:37

    I may be in the minority on how I read Ms. Carriger’s post. It was slightly amusing because of how she used her persona’s vocabulary (I don’t read her blog, so it may be that she does it all the time). But mostly I found it totally clueless as to a) how publishing is changing (has changed) and b) how to interact with readers, which is really rather pitiable.

    I didn’t read the whole thing (vocabulary was cute and then it got cloying really fast), but as far as I can tell, she didn’t call readers names. She was just…clueless.

    A writer’s dream is to be able to stay in her garret and write and not have to mess with all that marketing hullabaloo. And if comments I’ve read about the line blurring between authors and readers are anything to go by, readers would like that, too. She may have been pushed out of her garret.

    I’m going to do what I’m going to do, regardless of what she wants. Thus, I just feel sorry for her. Today. Tomorrow I’ll have forgotten all about it.

  73. Annabel
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 12:32:20

    Since I’ve become an author, I feel guilty buying from Amazon because now I realize how much less authors make when I do. With that said, I still do it. *blush* It’s just so much more convenient for me.

    So I would never be a hypocrite and tell readers the best way to buy my books. Every so often a reader writes to me specifically to ask me where to buy my book so I get the most benefit. Of course I LOVE that and I’m thankful, but I consider that kind of consideration a special favor, not a right.

    To be honest, most authors I know are so grateful just to be bought, they don’t care where a reader gets their book. I hope this type of Carringer silliness proves to be more the exception than the rule. The desperation aspect of it makes me wonder if it’s a symptom of the craziness and shifting landscapes in the publishing industry right now?

  74. Lea
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 12:32:46

    Ms. Carringer’s article is best described as narcissistic, patronizing, mercenary, psychobabble. Bottom line: I’ll never buy any of her books in any format.

    It reminded me of an incident many years ago when a certain very famous, critically acclaimed, award winning author visited a shop in an international airport that sold magazines, books etc. The author proceeded to give the clerk hell because no books written by said author were stocked in the store.

    I don’t buy that author’s books either.

  75. Felicia
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 12:39:42

    Great Article!

  76. Lynda the guppy
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 12:45:17

    Excellent post! And one more reason I love Nora Roberts. She has always said she had no problem with used bookstores because it’s a way for new readers to discover her backlist, and maybe start buying her new. Also, she’s had fans post about feeling guilty because their local bookstore put her books out early and they bought it. Her response has always been (paraphrasing here) that it’s the BOOKSTORE’s responsibility to make sure the street date is observed, not the reader’s. And if the reader finds it early and wants to buy it? Go ahead. No guilt.

    I don’t read Ms. Cruciger’s books, but if I did, I would have stopped after the condescending “Gentle readers.” Blech.

  77. library addict
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 12:49:32

    Not too harsh at all, Jane.

    I guess I’ve gotten used to authors like Nora Roberts and Christine Feehan who are happy to make the NYT list, but also appreciate libraries and used bookstores. And are happy when readers buy their books in whichever format the readers prefer.

  78. Laura Hunsaker
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 12:53:41

    I’m normally a lurker here, but this is just one of those posts that makes me want to comment.

    Well-written, Jane. I was on twitter last night for the fall-out and just wow. I am grateful to anyone who buys my book. Whether it’s ebook directly from the site, or borrowed from the library, or bought off ebay. I don’t care. Thank you for reading.

    I buy what is convenient for myself at the time. As my husband hates my book habit, I buy paperbacks, I buy ebooks, I buy cheap! Cheap is the big factor for me. Authors should just be grateful readers are buying. I know I am.

  79. Kerensa
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 13:04:15

    It’s all been said above, but my first reaction was this: I spent roughly FIVE times as much on books last month as I did in all of LAST YEAR. Guess what version? Guess which etailer behemoth? (HINT: I lurve my Kindle. ;))

    Carriger, I will never buy your books now. You clearly don’t have my back. Why should I have yours?

    Oh – and I’m starting to lose respect for her agent as well. The times, they are a-changin’. That doesn’t mean scare tactics and disinformation are suddenly acceptable business practices.

  80. Delle Jacobs
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 13:05:23

    THANK YOU! (Imagine that said in CAPS, bold, underlined and italicized, with additional exclamation points.) As an author, I want fans, not groupies. It’s my job to please them with my books, not theirs to assure my income. And as a reader, I don’t want anyone instructing me on any supposed obligation to support them. No, that’s NOT my job.

  81. Lori
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 13:08:40

    Just wow.

    Excellent post Jane. And I have to wonder what kind of customer service it is when someone asks their customer/reader to buy more than one copy. Her book should have been called Clueless, not Soulless.

  82. Lynnd
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 13:14:23

    Thank you Jane. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  83. Susanna Kearsley
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 13:22:11

    ARGH! indeed. This is one of my hot buttons, too, Jane, and I don’t think you’re being harsh in the least. I thought your whole post was a rational, reasoned and classy response that showed much more respect to the people you’re calling to task than they’re showing their readers, IMHO.

    I didn’t think I had anything to add to what you’d already so eloquently said until I read through the comments and saw Chelsea, at #29, confessing she felt guilty and saying: “But to think that all those ebooks didn’t count for my beloved authors, that they were unable to survive because of people like me? How horrible!”

    I couldn’t just keep quiet, after that, because I have to tell you, Chelsea, you’ve got nothing to feel guilty for. Absolutely nothing. And you’re really not responsible for shouldering a burden so ridiculously heavy and unfair as the survival of an author.

    Here’s the way it works, in my view. Here’s what I, the writer, owe you, Chelsea, as a reader:

    1. The very best book I can give you–my best writing, no half efforts, every time.

    2. My respect for your opinions, your reviews, and your frustrations. Full stop. Whether I agree or not, or whether I can fix the things that bother you or not, you have a right to speak your mind.

    3. My thanks for taking time out of your life (which doubtless has much more important things to do in it) to choose to read my story, out of all the many other books you might have chosen.

    Here’s what you, the reader, owe me in return:

    1. Nothing.

    Couldn’t be more simple, really.

    In another century, I would have been one storyteller among many others in the village marketplace who spread my blanket down and told my tale, and if you’d had the inclination and the time you might have stopped to listen. If you’d liked my story and you’d thought that it was good, you might have come back the week after that, to seek out my small corner of the marketplace and hear another story. You might even, if you’d liked it well enough, have tossed a coin or two my way if you were able to (and then, as now, not everyone who gathered round to listen would be able to) (which then, as now, would NOT mean that they didn’t like the story, or deserve to hear it). Others might have heard my stories while they passed, or shopped for something in the next stall over, and still others might have heard them second-hand from those who’d sat there listening.

    Today, it works in much the same way. I, the writer, tell my story in the best way that I can, and you, the reader, choose to stop and read it if you want to. You will notice I say “read”, not “buy”. I can’t speak for all authors, and I’m fairly sure I don’t, but if you buy the book in any format, new or used, or find it at your library and borrow it, or swap for it, I’m equally as happy. And sacrilege it may be, but with geographical restrictions being what they are, if you find it impossible to get the book in any other way and you feel that you have to use a torrent site, that’s fine, it really is. I still consider you my reader.

    Chelsea, don’t let anybody guilt you into thinking you’re responsible for anything besides your own enjoyment of the books you choose to read. You’re not. If any author ever tries to tell you otherwise, please feel free to remind said author, paraphrasing (and perhaps reversing) the succinct words of Neil Gaiman, that the reader’s not their bitch.

    Go load your kindle up, and read with a clear conscience.

  84. Las
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 13:27:26

    Reason #23 why I rarely follow authors beyond book release dates…I can avoid being disappointed when an author I like says something that makes her sound like an idiot. Fortunately I’ve never read this author, and since I will now associate her name with this b.s. I doubt I ever will.

    Seriously, authors, don’t guilt readers for they way they choose to spend their money. You’re income is not our responsibility.

  85. elaine mueller
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 14:01:08

    what susanna kearsley said x 10,000.

    madame, you have brought tears to my eyes.

    thank you so very much.

  86. KarLynP
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 14:06:53

    Even if Gail C’s facts were straight, the solution she proposes is just wrong. When any system is flawed, you don’t pander to it.

  87. Dear Readers: It’s not you, it’s me | The Book Pushers | Book Reviews | Book Chatter
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 14:24:27

    […] ebook sales, the New York Times bestseller lists, and how it all gets reported. Jane over at Dear Author has a great post up today about what is and is not verified with these issues. I also want to point […]

  88. Terese Cascio
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 14:51:55

    years ago I was a frequent visitor to JR Ward’s boards. After being chided by other members for daring to buy a new release at Walmart the day before its official release I gave up. I mean, really? The book was there. I was there. I was anxious to read said book. Why should I pass it up just so an author would have one more tick toward the best sellers list? You’d think an author would be thrilled that a reader wanted to read their work.

    Possibly this sort of post will help authors understand that the readership has changed dramatically sicne the advent of the internet. No longer can an author huddle in their writing cave, a glamorous mystery to their fans.(not that authors are necessarily glamorous …) A comment on Twitter or Facebook can have lasting impact on their fans. And sales. maybe it’s nort fair that an offhand comment can causes that kind of trouble, but that is the world we live in, and writers have to know that and behave accordingly.

  89. Caroline
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 15:02:05

    Um….I’m an author, and if you bought my book, in any format at any retailer at any time, thank you! I hope you like the story. If you got it from a UBS or library, I still hope you like it. Life is too short to read bad books.

    Re: publishers underreporting e-sales. I would like to see the proof, or even the incriminating analysis. Individual authors have a right to audit their publisher’s accounts, for their own books, but I find it hard to believe SFWA or RWA or MWA can say the same. They have no contract with the publishers, and why should they be empowered to dig through the data of authors who aren’t even members of their orgs? And writers aren’t leaping to audit their publishers because it costs a lot of money. Frankly, most of us are waiting for someone who has money to do it…someone who makes six figures a book, maybe…someone like Gail Carriger, perhaps? It seems a bit cavalier to toss out phrases like “publishers are absolutely underreporting e-sales” which get everyone worked up, but not offer a shred of evidence.

  90. Anthea Lawson
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 15:21:31

    Frankly, I think this comes from a place of FEAR. Not power-tripping or money-grubbing or reader manipulation. NY Publishing is in trouble, which means that many authors who rely on that model are in even deeper trouble. Unless you can ‘prove your worth’ as a moneymaker by hitting lists, your career (with traditional publishing, anyway) may well be headed for the chopping block. It’s happened over and over, and it’s happening to more and more authors. I understand the motivation to try and do whatever it takes to keep the writing career afloat, but I certainly don’t approve of all the methods some authors use.

  91. Sherry Thomas
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 15:44:04

    I get nearly three times as much royalty per ebook sold than I do per paperback book sold.

    If anyone wants to buy me in e, please, go ahead. And thank you!

  92. kzoet
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 15:49:49

    I’m seeing more as an entitlement issue rather than one of fear. While publishers love when authors make it on a bestseller list, I think most houses are happy with their authors that have strong, steady sales that make back their advance. A list mention is a bonus, not a requirement.

    What I’m taking away from Carriger’s post is that she wants/deserves to be on a list and she’s entitled to tell you, the reader, how to make it happen for her regardless if it benefits you, the one shelling out the money, or not.

  93. Cassiel Knight
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 16:09:58

    I agree with everything everyone is saying. It’s completely wrong for authors to be telling readers how and where to buy their books. They should be grateful readers are buying their books at all. Even if things are changing in the publishing world, I guarantee you there are enough unpubblished authors behind them grateful for a chance to be in their shoes. While I stopped after Soulless (could not get into the voice), I do read Thurman’s Leandros brother series but with an attitude like written about (I don’t read many author’s blogs – I think I find out more than I want to know about them in too many cases), I’m thinking I’ll exercise my rights as a reader and NOT purchase her latest Leandros book. Won’t hurt me – there’s tons of other awesome books by non-pushy authors waiting for me to discover.

  94. Courtney
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 16:27:50

    As a newly published author, I’m happy when anyone, and I mean ANYONE, wants to and is willing to read my book in any format that suits them, ebook, print, or from their public library. That said, I have a certain amount of sympathy for authors who are trying to make any bestseller list-be it the NYT (e/trade papaerback/mass market/hardcover fiction), USA Today, etc. and to the extent certain buying patterns assist in making those lists, I don’t think I have a problem with authors “suggesting” certain buying patterns. I’ve seen a lot of authors imploring readers to buy during the first week the book is out for bestseller lists. If it helps them and it doesn’t hurt the reader, I don’t have a problem with it.

  95. Ridley
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 16:41:34

    What this reminds me of, actually, is the Curious George Bookstore in Harvard Sq. They’re struggling in the economy and with the changing book market, and are probably going to go out of business soon. As a last ditch effort, they made themselves a non-profit and appealed to the city for help to keep their doors open.

    Where this ties into these authors’ attitudes is with this idea of books being more than an entertainment medium. They’re not a commodity, they’re a cultural institution. Buying books and shopping at small bookstores is like supporting the ballet. Your enjoyment is a bonus. The real good is in patronizing the arts.

    I think it’s classist bullshit to privilege one form of entertainment over another, but it’s a popular line of thinking. Books > TV/movies/videogames, ergo supporting their creation is a noble move.

  96. April (Books&Wine)
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 16:41:56

    @Susanna Fraser:
    I just bought a copy of A Marriage of Inconvenience for my Kindle because A) the gas analogy and B) I like your stance on writing a book that is good enough that the reader will want to buy the next one instead of insisting that we buy a certain format.

  97. j3nny
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 16:45:34

    [Readers, don’t feel guilty about where you buy, what format you buy, when you buy. Just enjoy your damn book. Or don’t enjoy it. It’s your money, your time, your book. You can still be a TRUE FAN if you buy in digital and five weeks later.]

    =] I love this.

  98. Susanna Fraser
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 17:00:57

    Thanks! I hope you enjoy it.

  99. MaryK
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 17:16:49


    I’ve seen a lot of authors imploring readers to buy during the first week the book is out for bestseller lists. If it helps them and it doesn’t hurt the reader, I don’t have a problem with it.

    I think it can give the impression that the first week is the only time buying matters.

  100. Darlene Marshall
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 17:31:21

    @MaryK–I especially like people to buy during the first week of release so I don’t curl up in a little fetal ball on the ground sobbing that no one loves my baby.

    But that’s just me. I’m sure other authors are more rational and adult about these things. And honestly, I just like it when people buy my books anytime, anywhere, anyhow and enjoy them.

  101. Eden Bradley/Eve Berlin
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 18:30:57

    Wow. Not terribly articulate for an author, but I find myself speechless. Of course, that only lasts a moment…
    Must be such a hardship for those authors who make such large, lovely advances to have time to bemoan their paltry royalties as a result of readers daring to buy the book format that is most pleasing and affordable for them. And dare I disagree with Ms. Carriger regarding where any given author makes their money. Most of my income comes from e-books, both those written for the e-book market specifically, as well as the royalties earned on the e-book editions of my NY print books. So please, dear reader, continue to buy e-books! Actually, dear reader, please continue to buy books any way you want to. I’m happy to make my living, even from dirty e-book money, as long as someone is reading my work-and hopefully-enjoying it.
    The moral of the story is, you can fool some of the pigeons some of the time…but the rest of us authors just want to pay our bills…

  102. KittyKelly
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 18:34:42

    @Eden Bradley/Eve Berlin:

    I will happily send my dirty ebook money your way any day of the week!! Oh wait I already do! :) If I bothered to read her books in the first place that post would have made me stop. Thank God I am not one of her Gentle Readers.


  103. Chris
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 18:45:34

    Annnnnnnd… that’s why I’ll not be buying/reading anything else by Rob Thurman.

  104. Lynnd
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 18:46:38

    @Susanna Kearsley: Thank you for the lovely comment.

  105. Chelsea
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 19:54:18

    @Susanna Kearsley:

    Thank you for such a sane (and somewhat selfless) viewpoint on the issue. I guess as a reader I assume that I’m rewarding good authors when I buy their books new, in whatever format. No one likes to be told that they aren’t doing enough as a fan. It’s very upsetting.

  106. brooksse
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 20:25:23

    Ms. Carriger’s ebooks are agency priced. Anyone who’s willing to pay for her books in digital format is already paying a premium for the privilege to read in her books in the format they prefer since her publisher does not allow retailers to discount her books or offer loyalty rewards on them. She should be grateful her ebook readers are willing to pay the premium for her books.

    I don’t read Ms. Carriger’s books, but if I did I would be tempted to tell her that if she wanted me to keep buying her books, she should stop with the unreasonable demands (buying two formats and driving all over town to purchase from a B&M store that’s more to her benefit than mine).

  107. DS
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 22:17:10

    @Caroline: The audit I can remember are the 1970’s audit of Ace Books by SFWA. By the time it was done the new owners had already paid the (way) overdue royalties. And in the 90’s to the author’s Guild paying to audit some royalties. I can’t remember what happened and don’t feel like digging into the bowels of the Internet to find out the result. I think in both cases the organizations were asked by authors to do the audit.

    If an individual does a royalty audit I doubt if the results would be revealed. It’s not always or even usually malfeasance.

    I read the Rusch article back in April and her suggestion was that the ebook royalty issues were arising from publishers using outdated accounting systems when dealing with royalties and also had cut their support staff to the bone. She did suggest that authors contact the groups they belong to hoping to achieve a group accounting which would (if problems were found) force publishers to update their systems and practices.

    I’m not sure now, but it seemed that it also had something to do with Amazon giving some authors 6 months access to Bookscan.

  108. Owen Kennedy
    Jun 14, 2011 @ 22:30:28

    Thanks for the article. Hopefully we all won’t be judged by a few. Sad to see such a self-focused ‘me’ attitude. A much needed perspective.

  109. Rebel
    Jun 15, 2011 @ 03:35:30

    I agree. I dislike the guilt trips about how, when, where and in what format I can buy a book! I think in the drive to hit the best seller lists, it can be forgotten that there is a lot more to a book, and the reasons for buying it than the format it’s bought in and where it was bought…

  110. Kaetrin
    Jun 15, 2011 @ 04:44:37

    I agree with most of the other commenters here – it’s my money and I’ll buy when and where it’s most convenient for me. Oh, and I heart Ilona Andrews too! :)

  111. Nonny
    Jun 15, 2011 @ 04:54:17

    I haven’t actually minded Seanan McGuire’s posts on the matter, because she’s usually up-front about not expecting readers to do this, but that she’s had folk ask how they can help, and if they want to, here’s how.

    Unlike Rob Thurman, whose post was so fucking offensive that my household agreed that we’d only be buying her books used from then on. Mind that she used to be an auto-buy.

    Carriger’s… mmm, I really dislike the “if you want us authors to keep writing” guilt trip, and it’s terribly full of misinformation. If you’re going to tell readers how to go out of their way to help you, at least get it right. *sigh*

  112. PG
    Jun 15, 2011 @ 07:07:45

    Having read Carriger’s Twitter comments on the negative reaction to her post, I think the basic mistake she made here was putting something that a few readers asked her for (advice on the method of purchase that would most benefit her) onto a public LJ. Authors commenting here have mentioned that they’ve gotten similar requests from readers, but they sensibly responded directly to those readers rather than to the world at large. I’m going to chalk Carriger’s post up to “Some folks still are negotiating how best to use various forms of communication,” rather than attributing various negative traits (greed, crassness, desperation, etc.) to her. For most human beings, “didn’t think it through” explains a lot more behavior than “is evil.”

  113. Merrian
    Jun 15, 2011 @ 07:13:59

    I can hear what you are saying PG but that still doesn’t address Carriger’s misinformation and errors of fact and the way these are being spread about as if they are true – as Jane points out in her blog post. I think that this is as much an issue as the the telling readers what to do and what authors are being called on

  114. Mia
    Jun 15, 2011 @ 11:22:41

    Honestly? I haven’t bought new for myself in quite a long time. I buy new as gifts, I shop used bookstores because I love old covers and figure re-using already existing product isn’t a bad way of looking at things, and most primarily, I patronize my local library because libraries are in serious need of love these days. Those are my priorities, and I’m not sorry. I’m still young and don’t always have a lot of money, so I support where I can and leave the rest up to someone else.

  115. Sirius
    Jun 15, 2011 @ 11:40:02


    AHA Thanks Jane, but yes I find it hard to believe that preorders will not count, I mean it is a sale as any other, right?

  116. elaine mueller
    Jun 15, 2011 @ 15:23:05

    perhaps this should end on a note of humor.

    just because i’m really anal about details and i wanted to share this discussion with a f2f friend, i reread the entire thread including — especially — the screen shot from the original carriger post. and something i hadn’t seen, one of those little silly typos that normally mean nothing other than fingers too fast for our brains,just jumped right out at me —


    bellow, indeed, ms. carriger. ;-)

  117. Patricia Rice
    Jun 15, 2011 @ 16:06:28

    I’ve only read today’s comments but it seems there’s enough misinfo to go around.
    For the record, I don’t care where readers buy books as long as they read. Period.
    “Pre-orders” are just that. Orders. Not sales. B&N and Borders order their books well in advance of actual sales in the store. Pre-orders determine print runs. Sales in the actual store determine whether an author will be around to finish a series. If books aren’t purchased, they’re returned. These days, returns are probably 50% and more of pre-orders. If sales drop drastically from the previous print run, that author is unlikely to get a contract to write another book in the series.

    The ugly truth is that because of rapidly declining sales (and I’m not about to address all the cause of that), advances are dropping rapidly, especially for midlist and beginning authors. Publishers are afraid to hand out cash not knowing whether there will be stores to sell books in next year. Yes, ebooks are growing, but they aren’t replacing the sales from even a few years ago. And when publishers do hand out advances, they’re divided into so many tiny parts that writers can’t possibly live on them.
    So what you’re hearing isn’t arrogance or ignorance so much as desperation. Authors WANT to continue writing their series. The sad fact is that many of them will be unable to do so because the market has shrunk to a point that publishers won’t take chances on offering new contracts unless they’re sitting on huge sales of the current release.

  118. Maili
    Jun 15, 2011 @ 18:03:11

    @Patricia Rice: So, basically, non-book entertainment and the Internet may be the true cannibals of book sales nowadays?

  119. JenM
    Jun 15, 2011 @ 18:14:47

    What I don’t understand about this whole kerfluffle is that if there are problems with the way sales and royalties are reported, and with the way the bestseller lists are put together, why aren’t the authors and their agents addressing these issues directly with the publishers?

    As readers, we are the low man on the totem pole as far as the publishers are concerned – hell, we aren’t actually even on their totem pole since WE ARE NOT THEIR CUSTOMERS!!! Booksellers and middlemen are their customers, a fact that they’ve proven over and over again by completely ignoring the desires of the actual readers of books. Since we have NO relationship with the publishers, we can’t get them to change anything. However, since the authors are the suppliers of the product they sell, authors actually do have some leverage. Every time this subject comes up, I shake my head and wonder when these authors will get smart, band together, and start demanding that the publishers change their ways and get with the times.

  120. Note from Hachette Regarding eBook Sales | Dear Author
    Jun 15, 2011 @ 18:38:08

    […] I mentioned previously, I had emailed Hachette about these concerns Ms. Carriger had posted about the underreporting of […]

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  122. Another Post About Buyer’s Rights and My Thoughts on Book Piracy « Can't Put It Down
    Jun 20, 2011 @ 17:27:12

    […] ebook sales, the New York Times bestseller lists, and how it all gets reported. Jane over at Dear Author has a great post up today about what is and is not verified with these issues. I also want to […]

  123. Sar
    Jul 03, 2011 @ 22:12:33

    You seemed rather bent out of shape about this. If you don’t care to use your money to support your author in the best way possible thats fine. If I had the cash to do it more often I would. I can’t help being happy that authors will tell us what they need. As for the under reporting of earnings bit I think she has the right to speak out about it if she thinks its going on. I doubt she was intentionally lying or trying to be manipulative.

  124. Jane
    Jul 03, 2011 @ 23:48:05

    @Sar You are absolutely correct that I was bent out of shape by this. I felt like the original post by Ms. Carriger was misleading and I was grateful for the clarification that we received from Carriger’s publishing house.

  125. The Limits of Marketing: When Does Manipulation Go Too Far
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