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

Tuesday Midday Round Up: Winners and Lawsuits

The winners of the CL Wilson, Queen of Song and Souls are as follows:

  • Pamk
  • stephanie
  • Rexe
  • Julie
  • Sharon

I have sent you an email.

****

Inside the Higher Ed blog has another piece on technology and scholarship. This time, Alex Golub laments the shift of readers from paper texts to digital texts arguing that scholarship includes making the texts part of your physical environment, something that the current slate of ereaders do not foster:

Except textbooks. I have to admit I am scared silly by the idea of a generation of students so alienated from material they are supposed to be immersed in that they rent digital textbooks that they do not intend to keep, cannot dog ear and underline, and otherwise feel totally alienated from. Even the current trend of students not underlining in books so as to preserve their resale value strikes me as appalling. Taking ownership of your education — and indeed, just learning how to read closely — means making your books part of your physical environment.

I never marked up my textbooks. I always took notes in a separate notebook and was religious in keeping my texts as clean as possible. The digital textbook would have appealed to me if I had the option because I would have interacted with the text at a higher level. Possibly I never attained true communion with literature and reading as Mr. Golub suggests is achievable. What is an immutable truth, however, is that the current state of the hardware market does not yet meet the needs of students. Dedicated devices are really for the leisure reading market.

***

Jason Boyett pointed out the really restrictive guidelines for the Harlequin Steeple Hill line and author Tess Mallory chimes in about how the Christian Book Association is suppressing good Christian fiction. Funniest comment, to me, was Jen’s who said that her childhood was a Steeple Hill romance. Mine too, Jen. Mine too.

***

Simon & Schuster, who is struggling to get into the black this year, has hit on a new way to sell books: chapter by chapter. Starting with the non fiction book by Dr. Michael F. Roizen and Dr. Mehmet C. Oz, S&S will sell individual chapters for $2 to $3. Best part? Those digital chapters will be encrypted with some kind of DRM. I’m not totally opposed to S&S’s new business venture. There are some craft books in which I would just like one chapter or a cookbook where I want just one recipe. What works for non fiction, though, would be disastrous in fiction.   The serial was lauded for its inexpensive nature.

***

Two things happened to Barnes and Noble yesterday. First, it had a conference call with investors trying hard to convince them that as the reading public moved toward ebooks there was still space for retailers like BN. Second, BN was hit with a lawsuit from Spring Design who had presented an idea of a dual screened ebook – eink on top and lcd on the bottom – reader based on Android operating system to Barnes and Noble under a non disclosure agreement (NDA). If you click on the link you can see how visually similar the two devices are even though there is some difference in functionality. I would think that Spring Design would file for injunctive relief and if successful, it would halt the sales of the nook which is currently the best selling item for Barnes and Noble.

***

Cindy S and Jessica posted about where they get their books. I love these posts and hope I see more of them around the internet.

***

Borders is offering an “in stock guarantee” which means that any book that is not in stock but is listed on the Borders.com site will be shipped to the customer for free. Not sure exactly how this is going to work, but it’s a nice offering for readers and customers.

***

Fun links:

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

34 Comments

  1. JulieB
    Nov 03, 2009 @ 12:07:28

    Think about how cool it would be to mark up an e-textbook on a tablet computer. Or shoot, a reference book of any kind. I would love to be able to do that.

  2. Courtney Milan
    Nov 03, 2009 @ 12:10:43

    I never marked up my textbooks. I always took notes in a separate notebook and was religious in keeping my texts as clean as possible.

    And I loved buying used textbooks from people like you, so that there was plenty of room for my scribbling. :)

  3. Nadia Lee
    Nov 03, 2009 @ 12:44:44

    @Courtney Milan: I was just like Jane, too, except that I rarely sold my textbooks since I usually referred to them constantly. ;) (Was in undergrad biz; couldn’t sell my finance, accounting and IT textbooks and Harvard cases.)

  4. XandraG
    Nov 03, 2009 @ 13:11:51

    I was the opposite. I expressly looked for textbooks marked up to hell and back. Pre-internet crowdsourcing, FTW!

  5. hapax
    Nov 03, 2009 @ 13:52:07

    I’m with XandraG. I loved pre-marked up textbooks. It was like having a conversation with the previous readers.

    The Mishnah and the Talmud (for Judaism) and the Glossa Ordinaria (for Christians) were basically standardized “mark ups” and class notes for the texts of the Scriptures. I’m pretty sure that other religions have the same; and who doesn’t love annotations, from the Folger’s Shakespeare to Martin Gardner’s Annotated Snark?

    (and why don’t e-books utilize hypertext for footnotes, endnotes, and annotations?)

  6. Mike Briggs
    Nov 03, 2009 @ 14:29:35

    I was surprised to find that there were many “tricks” to buying used textbooks. Some students never make a mark, other students scribble all over everything. There are students who prefer to buy both kinds. I was picky. I looked for one with moderate markup, particularly well-written notes rather than just lots of highlighter. Then I’d check to make sure the previous owner had actually kept marking to the end of the book (who wants a book marked up by a flunkie?).

    When it worked right, it was a great experience. As I was trying to learn P-chem or thermo, I not only had a good textbook, but notes written by a previous student struggling with mastering the same material. It was kind of a time-shifted conversation with a kindred spirit. I found a well-marked book far more valuable than a pristine text. Good memories!

  7. Kalen Hughes
    Nov 03, 2009 @ 14:48:15

    I went to a school that didn’t sell used textbooks, which was fine since I fall heavily into the camp of “those who mark up their books”. I love underlining and taking notes in the margin. But just as I've got used to writing and editing in WORD, and reading on my CyBook, I think I'd get used to highlighting and adding comments to eTexts too (so long as Amazon didn't delete them!).

  8. Chicklet
    Nov 03, 2009 @ 15:04:12

    I find it hilarious that a university faculty member is lamenting how often students sell their textbooks. Has he seen how expensive college textbooks are? I’m an inveterate book-marker who kept most of her college texts, and even I’m cutting those kids a huge amount of slack.

  9. The Octopus Gallery
    Nov 03, 2009 @ 15:08:30

    @Mike Briggs: I so wish I could have gotten my pchem textbook used. And does it make me a total nerd that when I read your comment I thought “How very Half-Blood Prince“? :D

  10. Janine
    Nov 03, 2009 @ 15:24:59

    I was like Jane and never marked up my textbooks. I think my mom instilled too much reverence for books in me, for me to mark or dog-ear them. Thus I have also never thrown a book at a wall even when it made me want to tear my hair out.

    I dislike it when people mark up library books because I find the marks distract me in the middle of my reading and make the reading process very frustrating. It seems inconsiderate and until now, it’s honestly never occurred to me that some readers enjoy other people’s marks. But I’m the kind of reader who was elated the day I figured out a system for reading paperbacks without cracking their spines.

  11. Janine
    Nov 03, 2009 @ 15:26:16

    PS The hardest thing about getting free ARCs is that when I’ve read them and don’t want to keep them, I have to rip off the covers and throw them in the garbage. I can’t tell you how much I hate doing that to a book, even a book I didn’t care for in the least.

  12. GrowlyCub
    Nov 03, 2009 @ 15:55:23

    @Janine:

    Couldn’t you donate them to a women’s shelter or nursing home? That way there wouldn’t be any sales, but somebody else might get enjoyment out of them.

    I totally understand that publishers don’t want their ARCs sold, but I can’t imagine destroying them is the only option, is it?

  13. Caligi
    Nov 03, 2009 @ 16:02:20

    I think the worst part of those Steeple Hill restrictions is the ban on Catholics.

  14. GrowlyCub
    Nov 03, 2009 @ 16:31:21

    @Caligi: Wait, what? Tell me you are kidding…

    Just went and read the guidelines… guess there are no Catholics or Episcopalians in the CBA?

    I accidentally downloaded a Christian romance from the online library the other day (by Robin Lee Hatcher). It wasn’t too bad until 3/4 in when I gave up because it became so insistently in your face ‘Christian’ I couldn’t stand it any more. Heroine was a total prig. I decided the hero deserved better.

  15. GrowlyCub
    Nov 03, 2009 @ 16:33:05

    @Caligi:

    Actually, I think the worst part is the ‘only non-Christians are allowed to curse’ bit. That literally made my hair stand on end.

  16. MaryK
    Nov 03, 2009 @ 17:01:23

    @Janine:

    I was like Jane and never marked up my textbooks. I think my mom instilled too much reverence for books in me, for me to mark or dog-ear them.

    I dislike it when people mark up library books because I find the marks distract me in the middle of my reading and make the reading process very frustrating. It seems inconsiderate and until now, it's honestly never occurred to me that some readers enjoy other people's marks.

    I fall into both the mark up textbooks and the don’t dog-ear camps. To me, textbooks are learning tools and you do whatever it takes to get the material into your head. “Books” are a completely different animal and should be as pristine as possible. :D

  17. Janine
    Nov 03, 2009 @ 17:24:01

    @GrowlyCub:

    I don’t know. That’s a good question. I can tell you that destroying them really hurts.

  18. Evangeline
    Nov 03, 2009 @ 18:12:15

    Ooh…I hate marked textbooks and I don’t write in my own. I even dislike buying my textbooks used because I like brand new books (though the outrageous prices for new books push me away from that line of thinking, lol).

  19. Elly
    Nov 03, 2009 @ 20:29:40

    Hero and heroine sleeping in the same house without a third party, even if they’re not sleeping together or in the same room

    Not the worst in terms of omg-I-think-this-publisher-is-crazy-and-possibly-sociopathic, but still – I just read “A Very Special Delivery” by Linda Goodnight (one of the 16 books Harlequin is giving away for their anniversary) and I was truly baffled by the ridiculous plot that required me to believe a Christian woman would ask a half-frozen Christian man and his Christian baby to go out in a snowstorm to sleep in an unused (eg, not warmed) RV rather than offering them the spare bedroom in her house…It all makes sense now! The book was over the top and overly in your face in other ways too. Dear Author has reviewed some Steeple Hill books here that sounded pretty good – I still can’t understand why Harlequin picked this one to represent the line.

  20. Suze
    Nov 03, 2009 @ 22:11:12

    (and why don't e-books utilize hypertext for footnotes, endnotes, and annotations?)

    Yeah! That would be so very much less intrusive.

    I write in my textbooks AND take notes (and then never refer back to any of it). In Komarr (by Lois McMaster Bujold), Miles scans through the electronic library of an engineer whose death (among other things) he’s investigating, and comments to himself on the handwriting of the marginalia. In the e-book, from the extensive library that took up a shelf on the wall. When I read it (WAY before I’d ever heard of e-books, ’cause I’m a late bloomer like that), I thought, Cool!

    You know, if textbook publishers were on the ball, they could have live on-line communities of students using the same textbook, note-taking, discussing, potentially interacting with authors and teachers. Erk! Something just broke in my brain…

  21. DS
    Nov 04, 2009 @ 06:41:46

    I marked up my text books, kept several them, especially the post graduate ones, moved about three times then one day looked at them and said “It’s Goodwill for the lot of you.” The only one I kept was Jackson on Real Property which was the treatise that actually helped me understand exactly what seisin was. Come to think of it, that was a term that used to show up in Medieval romances in the past but I haven’t seen it in an age.

    The S&S thing is interesting. When I am doing research there are times I just want a chapter or two. Amazon “Look inside” and Google have become great shortcuts to make sure that a book actually discusses what I need before I order it or hit the library.

    And why would “Bishop” be on the do not use list? Does it have a salacious meaning that I don’t know?

  22. HeatherK
    Nov 04, 2009 @ 07:01:37

    I was the mark up some in the text book, use a notebook for notes the rest of the time kind of college student. But I NEVER dog-eared a page. Bugs me too badly to do that. My English grammar book is filled with stickies that I opted to use instead of a highlighter, which are still in it four years later. The English and English Lit. books are the only two I still have. I Freecycled the Sociology and Psychology books. I bought used except for the English and Sociology books ($70 bucks a pop) because they were sold out of the used copies.

    Note taking on ebooks would really help with editing as well as enhancing the reading experience. I love proofing my books on my Sony eReader since I catch more errors that way, but it makes correcting any mistakes found a bit tricky and time consuming to relocate in the actual text on the computer screen. Yes, with PDF the page numbers are basically the same, but it’s still not that easy to find which line you were on when it comes time to fix those errors.

  23. maraobj
    Nov 04, 2009 @ 12:28:06

    I’m pretty tired of all the people out there who are “romanticizing” paper books. It’s just a case of life-was-better-when-ism. Life was better when women stayed home to look after their families. Life was better when schools taught the basics. Life was better when blah blah blah.

    To a whole new generation the ebook is just a book. Not something to not feel connected to, to not love and cherish, to not covet and re-read.

    Here’s something that’s comforting to me about my ebooks- they’re always with me. I take my books everywhere I go. My entire library. At my fingertips. All the time.

    Enough about how ebooks are less than paper books, there will always be a place for both. Just move on already.

  24. hapax
    Nov 04, 2009 @ 15:26:34

    I'm pretty tired of all the people out there who are “romanticizing” paper books. It's just a case of life-was-better-when-ism.

    Life was better when we all used scrolls instead of those new-fangled codices?

    Because that, when it comes down to it, is my problem with e-books (and I do have an e-reader and occasionally use it.) It just doesn’t suit my reading style. I like to jump around. I like to re-read bits. I like to peek at the end. I like to skip long sections of anatomically impossible sexual gymnastics. And I don’t like to have to punch a button, guess at a page number, poke at a tiny keyboard, punch more buttons, guess another number… to do so.

    Oh, I guess that’s just because I’m Ooooollld, not a cool and acceptable member of “a whole new generation.” That makes my opinions illegitimate. I should “just move on already.” Or maybe just die, so I stop cluttering up your way cool planet with my outdated ways.

  25. Elly
    Nov 04, 2009 @ 15:54:37

    @hapax:

    Or maybe just die, so I stop cluttering up your way cool planet with my outdated ways.

    Seriously??

    I can’t even begin to understand why paper book readers feel threatened by e-books. Do you honestly think paper books are going to disappear in your lifetime? What’s wrong with a little choice?

  26. SandyW
    Nov 04, 2009 @ 16:30:20

    And why would “Bishop” be on the do not use list? Does it have a salacious meaning that I don't know?

    I'm guessing that Bishop just means Bishop and is an interesting way of saying they don't want any Catholics in their Christian fiction.
    Boggles the mind, doesn't it?

  27. maraobj
    Nov 04, 2009 @ 18:31:55

    Or maybe just die, so I stop cluttering up your way cool planet with my outdated ways.

    I think your skills for the dramatic need to be used in local theatre or some other similar outlet. Seriously.

    I did, afterall say that I thought there was room enough for both paper and electronic formats, did I not?

    It’s this kind of over reaction that drove my comment in the first place.

  28. hapax
    Nov 04, 2009 @ 18:51:47

    Perhaps my response was over the top. But really, equating anyone who doesn’t agree with your enthusiastic acceptance of e-books as just whining

    Life was better when women stayed home to look after their families. Life was better when schools taught the basics. Life was better when blah blah blah.

    doesn’t really do your case any good, either.

    And yes, I have been told in all seriousness by younger, more freshly-degreed librarians, all enthused with the Brave New World of e-libraries and Library 2.0, that old fuddy-duddies like me who believed that the collection should still contain dead trees and that not all patron interactions were best conducted via keyboard should just go ahead and quit (and, presumably, starve, lose our homes, and die without health insurance) because we were just “deadwood” who were cluttering up the profession by not handing over our jobs to the “new generation.”

    Especially when the specific topic under discussion was the clunkiness of the annotation and bookmarking functions of e-readers, rhapsodizing about their greater storage capacities and portabilities is irrelevant.

    So I find such generalized “just get over it already” arguments as yours to be condescending and insulting.

  29. Jane
    Nov 04, 2009 @ 19:04:44

    Perhaps we can all work harder to not be condescending and insulting.

  30. hapax
    Nov 04, 2009 @ 19:10:07

    I can't even begin to understand why paper book readers feel threatened by e-books. Do you honestly think paper books are going to disappear in your lifetime? What's wrong with a little choice?

    Er, did you miss the part where *I* said I had an e-reader and use it? I don’t feel “threatened” by e-books. I feel insulted when people dismiss legitimate concerns about them as “romanticizing” paper books.

    I think choice is *great.* I wish that every book was available in every format: hardback, paperback, large print, audio [cassette, CD, digital, etc.], Braille, e-book (every format, without DRM), whatever. But when students are required to purchase their textbooks in digital form (which was, I believe, the subject of the original complaint), where is the “choice”?

  31. hapax
    Nov 04, 2009 @ 19:49:21

    I am sorry, Jane, for contributing to a hostile tone.

    In an effort to make amends, I do urge everyone interested in the issue to click on an read the entire article briefly quoted above. It is a very nuanced and (on the whole) positive assessment of e-books, and very thoughtful about the different ways that people (especially) scholars interact with books.

    And yes, I do very much fear that “paper books are going to disappear in [my] lifetime”, although I don’t directly blame the advent of digital books for that. I think that any number of very poor decisions by the publishing industry — including their shortsighted attitude towards ebooks — will lead eventually to traditional publishing becoming economically unsustainable.

    While individualized “print on demand” and luxury hardcopies will probably always be available (after all, it’s still possible to get illuminated manuscripts if you’re willing to pay for it!) I think that that the gatekeeping and editing functions of publishers will be lost, at least for a while. In fact, in many ways they are already in steep decline, and I don’t see epublishers stepping up to take that role.

    Right now, I don’t believe that the pricing and technological capabilities of current e-readers are capable of reproducing the more tactile and image-intensive capabilities of paper books (e.g. detailed illustrations, note-taking, the ability to easily flip from main text to appendices, etc.) Some of these are also among the more expensive features of paper books, and are subsidized by the type of sales most susceptible to e-readers (e.g., popular fiction) and the price of such hard copy books may be driven up as a result to be essentially unavailable.

    This may be an acceptable trade-off in terms of greater availability of greater amounts of texts, for cheaper prices. It was certainly a trade-off we were willing to accept in the switch from, say, manuscript to printed books. But I think it is valuable to consider seriously what may be lost along the way, without dismissing it as merely clinging to the past.

  32. JessicaP
    Nov 04, 2009 @ 20:19:51

    I don’t see how not marking up your textbook means you’re alienated from the material. That doesn’t comport with my definition of “scholarship.” The acquisition of information, thinking about that information, and transmitting ones conclusions don’t require having marked up the sources to make them legitimate.

    I had someone ask me one time if the white parts in amongst the sea of yellow were the important parts in my textbooks. If nothing else, it proved to me I’d been there before, even if I couldn’t precisely remember it.

    My entire house is a to-be-read-pile. I went a little off the deep end about ten years ago, while working for a world-class b*tch, and buying entire backlists of many, many authors was one of the forms it took. My husband recently stated that he thought I should take my week of leave at Thanksgiving and sort through my books, since the shelves are sagging again. Sigh. They may have to join their friends in the plastic tubs in the basement, but those books were bought for a reason, and it may be that I won’t be able to get to them until I retire, but I’d like to think I’ll read them eventually. However, I do have to acknowledge that my husband knows me too well, and he lives in the house, too.

    Unfortunately, new books keep coming out that I feel the same way about. I love my Kindle because there are currently 118 books sitting on it, and they’re all in my purse, not in a bag in the reading area, waiting for a space on a shelf to open up for them. I love “regular” books, but I’m coming to love my ebooks as well, largely for portability and access. And I hate the fact that Amazon has figured out that I’m an impulse buyer if given half a chance. I felt somewhat guilty (not much) lying in bed shopping for books while my husband was beside me sleeping, blissfully ignorant.

  33. Helen
    Nov 06, 2009 @ 22:45:39

    Nooooooooo does that mean no nookie for me? I had finally decided between getting a kindle and the nook. Dang!

  34. Wednesday Midday Links: More on digital lending and libraries | Dear Author
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 10:01:19

    […] them bound for giveaways here at DA? Would you guys like that?*****Barnes & Noble settled its lawsuit with Spring Design (who is now out of business). In return for undisclosed consideration, Spring Design is granting BN […]

%d bloggers like this: