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Tuesday News: Karen Wheless passes away; Amazon and the public library...

The Cover Cafe announced that Karen Wheless had passed away due to a recurrence of her cancer.  I’ve “known” Karen for many years. Maybe over a decade.  She participated at the All About Romance message boards and on a private reader group that I belonged to (as did some of the DA reviewers).  She was an insightful reader and had wonderful recommendations. She went on to be huge part of the Cover Contests at the Cover Cafe.  Karen really loved the CoverCafe and would email me whenever the contest geared up each year.

I was gutted when I read the news.  RIP, Karen.


What Feeney does is give big money to big problems–whether bringing peace to Northern Ireland, modernizing Vietnam’s health care system or seeding $350 million to turn New York‘s long-neglected Roosevelt Island into a technology hub. He’s not waiting to grant gifts after he’s gone nor to set up a legacy fund that annually tosses pennies at a $10 problem. He hunts for causes where he can have dramatic impact and goes all-in. “Chuck Feeney is a remarkable role model,” Bill Gates tells FORBES, “and the ultimate example of giving while living.” Forbes

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. library addict
    Jul 23, 2013 @ 04:34:00

    RIP Karen

    In the rare instances my library doesn’t have ePub and I check out a Kindle/mobi book, Amazon sends me multiple “reminders” to buy the book. I find this super annoying.

    Yay for Check Feeney. But “only” $2 million is hardly broke.

  2. Sally W.
    Jul 23, 2013 @ 05:58:11

    I’m so sad about Karen. I didn’t know her cancer was back. She was such a warm, wonderful person. We are here such a short time.

  3. Jayne
    Jul 23, 2013 @ 06:33:39

    @Sally W.: I “knew” her as Jane did. I never had the pleasure of actually meeting her face to face but another friend did and said Karen was delightful. I’ll miss her insights into books and her thoughtful analysis and discussion of our favorite genre. RIP Karen.

  4. Keishon
    Jul 23, 2013 @ 07:26:42

    Sorry to read this news. I didn’t know her well like you and Jayne did but I do know who she is and we’ve had brief exchanges but that was years ago. RIP Karen.

  5. It's Me
    Jul 23, 2013 @ 08:33:28

    I have a kindle touch and love being able to check out books from my library. It’s so easy, to check them out through Overdrive and download them right to my kindle. Being able to get ebooks from the library doesn’t mean I don’t still spend money on books. In fact, I still spend everything I have alloted for books :). Even if every book I wanted to read was available from the library I would still buy books. So far, I haven’t had any reminders or emails from Amazon to buy any of the books I have checked out, maybe I have something turned off in my settings?

  6. Laura Florand
    Jul 23, 2013 @ 09:13:12

    I just finished a round of talks for THE CHOCOLATE TOUCH (kind of an advanced premier) in what were primarily fairly rural libraries, and I spent a lot of time talking with the librarians there and the readers that came for the talks. (I had one town where about 25 people came, and I realized that was nearly 10% of the town’s population. It was a really fascinating trip that way.)

    I came away thinking that it would do publishers–and those authors who are anti-library, although I hope there are not that many of them–a world of good to actually go into some of these libraries themselves and get a better understanding of the reading population outside the publishing-base of New York, and a better understanding of the way libraries help nurture their market base (readers–they don’t grow on barren ground, people).

    Plus, you know, just because that book gets shared 50 times doesn’t mean you “lost” 50 sales. You probably gained 5 directly (the library will buy all your next books if you’re that popular) and who knows how many indirectly from the people who fell in love with your writing and will buy all the rest (I, for example, tend to be lazy & just buy the book for my iPad these days, but back when I was counting pennies more carefully, I would often try first at the library and then tend to buy afterward; I hate owning books I dislike, but I also hate having to give good books back).

    I guess this is a little off-topic, really, but the Publisher/Bookseller/Author vs. Library thing really drives me nuts. I notice the article had to reiterate that Amazon itself never presents libraries as rivals, which might mean they have some brains in that company. :)

    As a side note, the librarians I talked to said Overdrive was extremely, extremely expensive for their budgets, as well as limiting, and that they were shifting to other sources. I would be interested in more statistics on use of Overdrive versus other sources; people talk as if it’s all Overdrive, and according to these librarians, Overdrive has just priced itself beyond what most systems can do.

    And there’s very minimal access through any of these options for ebooks to self-published books, really, which is a whole new field for most of these library systems. In fact the director of that system and I are kind of hyped on the idea of putting a panel together on this question for ABA or even RWA, so we’ll see…

    My condolences to Karen’s family and friends. I did not know her, but I’m so sorry for your loss of her.

  7. Laura Florand
    Jul 23, 2013 @ 09:23:49

    Oh, here’s the great Publishers Weekly article on libraries & publishers. I love the publisher-author-library love in it, as opposed to the “rivals” representation. Jane, you might have already posted it at some time; it came out in June when I was traveling a lot. In their discussion of ebooks in this article, they say the exact opposite to what the librarians I talked to are saying (about Overdrive use). Perhaps it’s just that the rural libraries have much tighter budgets than those mentioned in this article, although they said it was statewide. But statistics on use would be interesting.

  8. cleo
    Jul 23, 2013 @ 10:13:16

    That “All my exes live in texts” article made me profoundly, profoundly grateful to be in my 40s and happily married. Wow. I guess I am facebook friends with a couple misc exes from college, but mostly when I broke up with someone, I ended all contact. And that worked for me.

    I would like to see better ebook access in libraries. I just don’t believe that ebooks in libraries would really hurt sales in the long term (not that I have any proof, just my intuition and my personal experience). My library uses Overdrive and I find it hard to deal with – the search is clunky, the interface is clunky, I don’t like having to do a separate catalog search for ebooks. Which means that in the 2 years since I bought my Nook, I’ve only checked out 2 or 3 ebooks. I would like to use my library more, but right now I don’t.

  9. Janine
    Jul 23, 2013 @ 11:52:35

    I’m heartbroken over the loss of Karen Wheless. I did have the opportunity to meet her in person once (at the RWA in DC a few years ago) and she was gentle and lovely and thoughtful — all the things she was in her online conversations.

    In addition to all the romance genre activities Jane mentioned, Karen was also one of the organizers of the now defunct Celebrate Romance conference, which she blogged about for DA here.

    And she made valuable contributions offline too, working for the FDA’s veterinary medicine division. She kept a romance reading blog called What I’m Reading and Other Tales which I visited periodically and always enjoyed.

    Yesterday Linnae from Cover Cafe (@CoverCafe on Twitter) reported that Karen had passed away from a sudden recurrence of the cancer we thought she’d beaten four years ago. Like Jane, I was gutted. Karen brightened every conversation she participated in and made a difference in my life, but I never told her that and now I won’t have the chance.

    Rest in peace, Karen.

  10. Patricia
    Jul 24, 2013 @ 23:10:31

    I met Karen through the yearly conferences for Celebrate Romance! (how I miss those). She was a lovely woman: quiet, gentle & kind, & so knowledgeable about all genres of books. I wish her peace.

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