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

Thursday Midday Links: Thank God It’s October

September seemed to drag on forever. Finally October is here and with it, hopefully, a wonderful set of days. Don’t harsh on my new month buzz. I have a copyright rant below. Authors might want to look away lest it ruin your new month buzz.

Blogger Arachne Jericho points out that the main cost of creating an ebook isn’t the digital creation process but the book creation process. The savings for publishers will be streamlining the book process with the digital creation process and that may take some time.

The main cost of creating an ebook in fact remains the main costs of creating a book, period. The writing. The editing. The fact-checking and cross-checking. The images. The index building, oh gods, the index building. The cover. The marketing. The accounting. Making deals with the distributors. Negotiating with the goddess Ingram, goddess of the bottleneck of publishing. The poor bastards who have to clear copyright issues for, say, song lyrics.1 All of this adds up to the point where the cost of paper printing is dwarfed, as is the cost of creating ebooks (once we get a standardized workflow. Printing sure wasn’t fun before people knew what they were doing).

Keishon blogged about a few of her buried treasure reads.   So often these are really good authors without an audience.   Hey Keishon, how about Joan Wolf’s doomed  medievals.   I saw that they were just released in ebook format.

It seems so unfair that everybody doesn’t love  Roberta Gellis like I do. I just love, love, love her medieval series that features a whore who runs a priory guesthouse in the 12th century London and has no shame about it either. The series, starting with A Mortal Bane, are well written and have a nice and subtle romance in them.

Danielle Steele’s Promises is one of the four books getting the special book plus video treatment from Simon & Schuster and Vook TV. I haven’t watched it and well, I have no desire to watch it. If I’m going to watch video, I’ll watch television or movies. If I want to read, I’ll read. Let me know if you do watch it.

Deveraux’s novel, a romance-mystery set on a 19th-century South Carolina plantation, runs 131 pages, punctuated with 17 short videos, including images of the plantation and of a young soldier running through the woods, Simon & Schuster says.

“This is not a substitute for print, but we see the role of the publisher changing from being a book publisher only to offering different ways to tell stories and convey ideas,” says Ellie Hirschhorn, chief digital officer of New York-based Simon & Schuster, which is releasing the video texts through its Atria Books imprint.

Others believe that the new medium of devices such as the Tablet by Apple or the Courier by Microsoft will change the way that stories are told.   I do believe that.   I’m just not so sure that the telling of stories in straight narrative fiction is going away either.

The Copyright Alliance is circulating a vague petition to be sent to President Obama requesting protection for artist’s endeavors. The petition has almost 7.000 signatures and 700+ are readily identifiable as artists. I’m not really certain what the CA is asking for. Are they asking for piracy to be made illegal because it already is. Are they asking to be vested with the right to control their works for a near indefinite time because that already exists (life of the artist + 70 years). Are they asking to be paid a certain minimum wage for their work? Really?

The state of the copyright law is such that it tilts heavily in favor of the artist. I think, but can’t be certain, what the Copyright Alliance wants is the federal government to start criminally prosecuting individuals. At least one part of the entertainment industry is pushing for the three strikes and you are out law, meaning get caught three times by your ISP for violating a copyright and you could get your internet cut off, be subject to fines and/or imprisonment. I guess everyone will be in prison because casual copyright infringement occurs nearly every day by anyone who is using the web. Watch a YouTube video with music in the background like the viral wedding march? Yeah, that was a violation of Chris Brown’s intellectual property unless a licensing fee was paid to him for each stream of the song. I’m not sure what the Copyright Alliance and its supporters will do when all of its customers have no internet or are imprisoned. Or perhaps the CA is just wanting to unevenly apply the law and will supply the government with the names of those that they want targeted because that would be totally legal (not really).

Wall Street Journal blogs about the Espresso Machine. The article quotes Jason Epstein as stating that in store POD technology dooms traditional publishing and that authors will no longer need publishers because they can go straight to the public. Epstein and WSJ seem to think that the public is willing to sift through a million books to find one to read. Not so fast. I believe that we will still be influenced by filters. These filters might be different than what they are today, but we’ll still need a group of someones to help us cull down the list of published books into a manageable list of readable books.

The WSJ blog ends with the lament that with POD we’ll lose the ability to browse the shelves for books we didn’t know existed:

Small, independent bookstores like the one in Harvard hope the Espresso machine will save them from the big chains and the likes of Amazon. But the joy of a small bookstore isn’t that you can download books from the Web. You can do that from home. It’s that you can browse the shelves and discover all sorts of books you didn’t know existed.

To which I say, horsepuckey. The bookstore of the future might be radically different than today, but there will always be ways to discover gems. Bob Stein at the If:book website contemplates what the future of bookstores could look like:

I find myself thinking a lot about what i call the “Foyles” model. in the not too recent past Foyles in London shelved books, not alphabetically by subject or genre, but by publisher such that there was the Penguin section and the Bloomsbury section. For a more recent example, video stores usually shelve Criterion titles on their own — precisely because of the power of the brand.

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

12 Comments

  1. Shannon Stacey
    Oct 01, 2009 @ 12:10:00

    There’s nothing I want more than to be reading a romantic suspense and have the text interrupted by the Running Couple in Silhouette fleeing across the page.

    I’m sorry, but I can’t imagine how a short video clip of a soldier running through the woods in any way enhances the reading experience. I would just like for people to embrace digital books as books before they start trying to make them into movies.

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  2. Courtney Milan
    Oct 01, 2009 @ 12:43:12

    I got an invitation to sign that petition.

    I got the impression from the accompanying e-mail that at least some people thought the DMCA take-down provisions were too cumbersome, and wanted a relaxation of those rules.

    I don’t know if that is the official party line or a pet peeve of the forwarder, though.

    In either case, I am not a fan.

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  3. LauraB
    Oct 01, 2009 @ 13:23:06

    now I’m jonesing for a tablet pc. Both the apple and the microsoft ones look really cool.

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  4. MaryK
    Oct 01, 2009 @ 14:29:21

    But the joy of a small bookstore isn't that you can download books from the Web. You can do that from home. It's that you can browse the shelves and discover all sorts of books you didn't know existed.

    I understand what he’s talking about – the joy of stumbling on a buried treasure. But he makes it sound like every book in the world in going to be on the shelves of that small bookstore.

    I almost never browse bookstores. They rarely have what I know I want. Why should I trust them to provide books I don’t know I want? Amazon does a good job of suggesting books I don’t know I want, and I don’t have to drive anywhere.

    I do all my browsing on the web and my browsing is so successful, I’ll never have time to read all the books I’m interested in.

    ETA: I think I just killed my own buzz. So many books, so little time. :(

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  5. kirsten saell
    Oct 01, 2009 @ 15:52:27

    With the EBM, I actually envision a bookstore with one copy of all recent releases sitting face-out on shelves, along with some of those obscure gems. Customers who couldn’t wait long enough for their copy could purchase the “display copy” and the store could print up another for the shelf.

    And–as with garment patterns in fabric stores–large publisher catalogs of backlists with cover art, blurbs and small excerpts. I remember spending a lot of time sitting at a table with a Vogue or McCall’s catalog, turning pages in search of the perfect blouse, and finding a cool skirt I hadn’t set out looking for.

    I don’t think that would be so horrible, really.

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  6. revdrliz
    Oct 01, 2009 @ 16:39:56

    In middle school I took a required class in state history and government, which consisted primarily of memorization of counties and county seats. Every student traced and labeled a big map of Washington State- the classroom was plastered in them. Every week we were tested on ten counties and county seats. With the maps on the walls. If you looked away from your desktop, you were cheating.
    Copyright infringement on the internet often feels a lot like trying not to look at the maps on the walls. Some of the time, I’m just thinking, just looking around, not aiming to cheat. It’s hard not to indulge my curiosity when youtube is so easy to access. As long as the quality is low and the clips are short, artists are likely better off thinking of it as advertising. Downloading bit torrents, however, is deliberate theft. I’ve seen the excuses about hidebound rich publishers, who have to evolve and get with the times, man. But I have not seen a plan for how they will evolve and still accomplish all the tasks Arachne Jericho mentions, so that we may have good quality books that are also free. Implausible.
    The part I am curious about is the cost of distributing ebooks. I accept that the publisher’s costs are similar for ebooks and print books, but what about the book seller? I usually see the book seller’s cut quoted at 50% of the cover price. Does it really cost Barnes and Noble the as much to upload a digital copy as it does to put a book on the shelf in a physical store? Really?

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  7. HeatherK
    Oct 01, 2009 @ 17:33:16

    I did not sign the copyright petition because as you said, it was vaguely worded. It offered up no solutions to the piracy issue, so what was the point? I refuse to put my name on something that didn’t even make sense to me. I’ve seen others talk about it and say that they signed but it didn’t cover what they felt it should. Then why sign? I just don’t get it. Perhaps if it were clarified and possible solutions were suggested, I’d be more inclined to add my name, but as it now stands, I’ll pass.

    Youtube. Thanks to that website, Lady Gaga made $$ off me, because after watching the clip of her video awards performance, my husband went out and bought me the CD. I just love that Paparazzi song.

    I have no desire to have anything other than text in the books I read (True Crime and reference the exceptions and only pictures then). Video has its place, but it ain’t in a novel. Besides, the images in the video never compare to the images in the reader’s mind when reading the words on the pages, so why bother? Just doesn’t interest me at all, sorry.

    Oh and I’ve stated before, I so want one of those new Courier devices. I’ve already been working on my pitch to the hubby to justify getting one when they become available. He says that so far, I’ve made a very good argument for why I should have one. *grin*

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  8. Moriah Jovan
    Oct 01, 2009 @ 17:54:45

    @kirsten saell

    The Perfect Bookstore. I’m going to write a followup post now (almost a year after I wrote this) how my vision has evolved.

    @HeatherK

    He says that so far, I've made a very good argument for why I should have one. *grin*

    Yeah, that only means he’ll pluck it out of your hands the minute you get it and you’ll never see it again. (Ask me how I know!)

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  9. Helen
    Oct 01, 2009 @ 20:35:32

    I have long thought (long before amazon had recommendations) that there should be an employee of the store who is a superreader (me for example!,) who could direct readers towards the books of their dreams. Whenever I am in the Sci-FI, Fantasy, Mystery or Romance sections and see someone looking like they need a fix….I whisper ‘PSssst, hey, you, over there, have you read the new…” I swear I sell more books in that store than any other type of advertising does. The fact is that people WANT to find something they enjoy reading and are thrilled when they find a new (to them) author. If POD could glom onto that somehow… away we go.

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  10. Maili
    Oct 01, 2009 @ 23:30:55

    It sounds as if The Copyright Alliance is asking for an official or government version of the Copyright Alliance?

    Frankly, they would be better off working with education (schools, colleges, etc) on teaching the copyright basics to children and young adults, because I really do believe the biggest cause of piracy and plagiarism is ignorance.

    I’m not saying that pirates and plagiarists are young people (the majority of pirates’ ages is in between 20s and late 30s), just that it’s better to start educating a new generation that may cut down the growth somehow. And perhaps the new generation will educate older generations.

    I had a chat with a lovely ebook author who isn’t understandably happy about piracy, but she had no idea she was just as bad as them by posting photos, illustrations and such on her own blog. She sincerely believed all images online were free for all. (When she learnt this isn’t true, she removed them from her blog.)

    Same with ebook cover artists who didn’t use paid or royalty-free stock images for their covers. Some of them used unauthorised images to trace or digitally paint over to create “illustrations” of their own. So I think the Copyright Alliance is better off working with schools by starting teaching children or young people on copyright issues and creators’ rights.

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  11. Patrice
    Oct 02, 2009 @ 09:43:39

    Well at least S&S is thinking of ways to distinguish their digital offerings, blended media for some things might be good. Seems to me some epublishers have already experimented with computer generated pictures in their digital files, Jet Mykles stories come to mind. Not sure I want to see a video embedded in my eBook – especially if I can’t bypass it or turn it off!

    And I agree that ignorance of copyright infringement probably causes a good deal of the abuse. Seems to me I had a class that touched on copyright and plagerism and oh things like ethics… Of course I’m so old I went to school with Ben Franklin! LOL However, I firmly believe education is key. (for a lot of things actually)

    :)

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  12. HeatherK
    Oct 02, 2009 @ 15:03:09

    ****Yeah, that only means he'll pluck it out of your hands the minute you get it and you'll never see it again. (Ask me how I know!)****

    LOL He might want to play with it, but he won’t dare touch it until I’m done. He might insist on opening it and being the first to turn it on, but I’ll be the first to actually play on it. How do I know? He does this every time a new computer or any other tech gadget is ordered. He’ll just wait until I’m asleep for his turn to play.

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