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

AAR

Dear Author

Monday Midday Links: More RaceFail in Media

File this under “where have I been” but apparently Paramount is engaged in some egregious whitewashing in the Airbender movie. Aspiring author, Ellen Oh, writes about how whitewashing is racist. There is a site devoted to the Airbender casting fiasco (all the heroes are white and the bad guy and secondary characters are ethnic characters). This is one movie I’ll be avoiding.

(Thanks for the heads up Nadia Lee)


Reader Elizabeth sends this article in over at Bookslut by Colleen Mondor on the issue of kids of color and publishing’s attempt to erase them on the covers and in the text. Mondor asks the big question of why publishing is engaged in whitewashing. Who has sold these marketing folks, the execs, etc., on the idea that a) caucasion kids are the only market and b) that caucasion kids won’t relate to the kid of color.

This industry runs very much with the knowledge that there are sixteen writers waiting to take your place, who are willing to shut up and be agreeable, so they openly treat writers with contempt.


Pearson is engaged in experimenting with different forms of digital books. First is the short book.

FT Press, a unit of Pearson, has introduced two series of short, digital-only titles for professionals who want quick snippets of advice for $2.99 or less.

The publisher, through a new imprint named FT Press Delivers, has quietly begun selling what it is calling Elements and Shorts through the Kindle electronic bookstore on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble's e-bookstore. The Elements, which the publisher has priced at $1.99, are stripped-down, 1,000- to 2,000-word versions of already-published books, while the Shorts are newly written essays of about 5,000 words, priced at $2.99.

Second, it has released ebook apps for “the home and office and technical and professional communities.”

In addition to the fully-populated iPhone Developer’s Library App , Pearson also offers free reader Apps that contain one sample chapter from various best-selling Pearson books, and allow customers to purchase the remaining chapters through a convenient “in-app purchase” feature.

The CEO of Penguin had a rambling op ed piece in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. I couldn’t quite understand the gist of it but two other people take it on.

Marion Maneker of Big Money says:

For Penguin, which has a lot of its brand (if not revenue) tied up in publishing books that are in the public domain, there’s an important message here about the future of the company. It’s a shame that Makinson didn’t address those issues.

Bookseller sums it up as follows:

Makinson invoked Penguin’s past, calling the e-book a “direct descendent of the 1930s paperback” on the back of which Allen Lane began the publishing company in 1935.

I thought Bookseller was more closely aligned with my interpretation by Marion Maneker’s insight was interesting.


All About Romance rolls out its 2009 Reader Poll results. You would have thought the DA crew made it up, with all the Sherry Thomas and Meredith Duran mentions. Alas, I did not fill out a survey (can’t vouch for the other DA reviewers though).


HCI, the publisher of Chicken Soup books, is launching a new line of romance books that are “reality-based.” Apparently this is some sort of fictional memoir? based on interviews the authors do with a real couple? I’m not certain. The launch authors are Judith Arnold, Alison Kent, and Julie Leto.


Reader Merrian sends in this audio interview. I haven’t listened to it yet. I have a number of them that I am collecting and maybe I’ll listen to them on the way to New York in a couple of weeks.

Stephen Page heads the literary publishing house Faber and Faber which, perhaps surprisingly, is embracing the digital future of electronically published books. Stephen Page says the e-book will include all kinds of extra goodies – like author interviews and readings.


Online retailers are looking for Congress to overturn the Leegin decision which found that retail price maintenance (minimum prices with no discounting) were to be examined under the rule of reason. Under the new law, RPMs would not be legal which was the law for 97 years.

On some pages of e-commerce sites selling products like televisions, digital cameras and jewelry, a critical piece of information is conspicuously missing: the price tag….

The missing prices are part of a larger battle sweeping the world of e-commerce. Wary of the Internet's tendency to relentlessly drive down prices, major brands and manufacturers -’ and now, book publishers -’ are striking back, deploying a variety of tactics and tools to control how their products are presented and priced online.

The House Bill has made it out of committee and is recommended to be considered by the entire House for a vote. The Senate version is still in committee.

Of course, even if Leegin is overturned, manufacturers can unilaterally refuse to do business with a dealer. This is known as a Colgate policy. See United States v. Colgate, 250 U.S. 300, 307 (1919). Under the Colgate rule, a manufacturer can set the retail prices, the retailer can discount and the manufacturer can terminate the dealer’s right to sell those products directly. (The dealer could buy those products from a secondary market and resell)


Courtney Milan makes a good argument that a hard price ceiling would reduce the availability of books that need to be priced over $9.99.

I'm not saying that Macmillan is right-far from it. I'm not saying that Amazon is wrong-far from it. I am saying that we need to avoid categorical statements. Some books really  do need to be priced over $9.99, or it simply won't be profitable to produce them. And if we drive those books out, publishing will adapt by not selling them.

It should be noted that there are literally thousands of books in Kindle format that sell in excess of $9.99 and I don’t really think that is what the fight is over.

Dear Author

Once Upon a Desert Isle Keeper

Back in June or so, some bloggers formed a group blog called DIKladiesrule. It’s a fun place that features interviews with authors and alot of book chat about the bloggers’ favorite books. About late June, Dear Author started a feature called “If You Like” based upon the shelftalkers at bookstores. It came to my attention last week that Laurie Gold was unhappy about the use of both phrases because we did not give proper attribution to her site, All About Romance. But, really, I thought nothing of it. It did not seem like a big deal to me.

On Thursday, Laurie put up a post on her personal blog frustrated that she and AAR were not getting the proper attribution for the term DIK. If You Like was left out. Feeling like she hadn’t gotten enough responses, she then posted at the AAR board. She did not gain universal support there either. Not leaving enough alone, she is now asking for a web campaign to drive other bloggers and sites to dun the DIK ladies into . . . something. This is my response, since Laurie feels like this issue is important.

***

“Ohhhh!” Mary let out a cry of frustration and tossed the book she had been reading across the room.

“What’s wrong?” Her flatmate said, peeking her head up over the sofa. “Another wallbanger (tm unknown)?”

“Yes! How many TSTL (tm AAR discussion lists) heroines does it take to change a lightbulb (tm Edison)?”

“Five, if they are sisters,” Greta joked. “What about the hero, though, isn’t he alpha (tm unknown) enough? I saw the clinch cover (tm Fabio) and there was plenty of mantitty (tm Smart Bitches).”

Before Mary could respond, a knock sounded at the door. Greta hauled herself off the sofa and walked over to open the door. Another knock sounded before Greta could reach the door. “Hold your horses (tm unknown),” Greta shouted through the wood and steel.

Another knock sounded and a muffled voice stated “Attribution police. Let us in.”

“The attribution police!” Greta gasped with such violence that her bodice ripped (tm Non-Romance Reading Public). “But…sir…we haven’t done anything…(tm Barbara Cartland) I swear!”

“Open in the name of the law!”

Mary stepped around their towering TBR pile (tm romancelandia (tm unknown)). “Let them in, Greta,” she said. “We have nothing to fear.”

Greta held back another gasp as she opened the door and six feet four inches of lean, hard muscle (tm Romance Authors) strode into their flat, followed by a second male, whose rippling six pack (tm Budweiser) was apparent even through his uniform shirt. “What is the problem, officers?”

The second officer’s piercing blue eyes reminded Mary of a vengeful Italian billionaire's (tm Harlequin) she'd once known. Unfortunately, she hadn't gotten her HEA (tm Cinderella) and Care Bear (tm American Greetings) epilogue (tm Mrs. Giggles) full of precious babies named after their grandmothers (tm Stephanie Meyer). She just hadn't been enough of a Mary Sue (tm Star Trek (tm Paramount) fanzine (tm unknown) readers), she often thought. If she had been, everyone would have loved her, and as a bonus, she'd have had purple eyes (tm Elizabeth Taylor).

"We've received a complaint, miss," he said. "A complaint about how you've named your flat."

"Oh." Greta relaxed. "You mean the name we've put over the door. We've read so many romance novels, talked about so many of them, naming our "estate' in a way that demonstrates our love for the genre seemed like a fantastic idea."

The gorgeous officer smiled condescendingly. "But you've named it "DIK Court.'"

"So? It's about the romances we like best. A DIK is a keeper (tm unknown) book, the kind you'd want with you if you were stuck on a desert island (tm unknown) — you know that classic question? So, they're desert isle keepers, get it? It's a word that is all around the Internet (tm Al Gore), or at least in romancelandia. Just like TSTL, HEA, OMGWTFBBQ, LOL, and TBR. It's shorthand that anyone familiar with the community knows."

"Yes, but do you know where it originated?"

Greta shrugged. "I just saw it used around blogs (tm unknown) and message boards. I asked what it meant, and someone told me that it was one of those books that you just can't bear to part with."

The officer turned to Mary, his gaze stroking her from head to toe. "And you?"

"Maybe the All About Romance (tm AAR) site, because I've seen that they call their A-rated books and favorite books Desert Isle Keepers (tm AAR), and for a long time they were one of two romance-centric websites.” Mary said.

Greta interjected, ” Yes, but The Romance Reader was the first romance-centric website and it went by a three letter acronym too.”

Mary replied, “It might have started at AAR, though, and all of the people on the discussion boards just started using DIK to describe their keeper books."

"That's exactly right!" The officer gave Mary a cookie and another smoldering look (tm Rhett Butler). "Laurie Likes Books — LLB — first used the term in an At the Back Fence — ATBF — column in 1996. Yet you have been using it as the name of your house without permission or offering due credit to the history of the term. So LLB has issued a complaint, and has demanded that you either cease and desist in your use of DIK or inscribe a line into the front of your house that explains the term's origin and gives AAR proper credit."

Mary and Greta stared at him. Mary repeated, "Inscribe a line that says LLB coined the term and that it is historically "owned' by AAR?"

"Yes."

Greta began giggling (tm teenage girls). Seeing that her friend could not help, Mary challenged, "You're kidding me, right?"

The ruggedly handsome officer scowled, and got an erection that a cat couldn't scratch (tm Linda Howard.) "No."

"But you don't have to give attribution for words and phrases. Those aren’t copyrightable."

"No, but there’s still trademark law, ma’am."

"But, these words, they are so ubiquitous," Mary argued. "So…common."

"Are you calling me common?" The officer stalked closer to Mary, like a werewolf after his Mate (tm Paranormal Romance.) "Because I can tell you, miss, that I’m very unique. One of a kind, even."

"No, no!" Mary protested heatedly, and wondered if he could smell her arousal. "I’m saying the words that you are trying to enforce for attribution are so common. ”

“You could have put it in Google, found out the history, done the research.” The officer demanded. Mary sighed both over the issue and in frustration with the officer’s mullet (tm unknown) (How could an officer be so hot yet still have such a bad hair day (tm unknown)).

“But, Officer, we’re just fans, reading fans, and just trying to enjoy our books. Plus, Google? Srsly (tm Urban dictionary)?”

“My name is not Srsly and yes, Google. Google is now the affirmative source of all attribution. The first source that shows up on Google is the source who owns the term. That’s internet law.”

“Srsly is shorthand for . . . well, forget it. That’s not important. If you put DIK into Google, there are thousands of references to DIK from thousands of different sources. And, the reason that one blog post shows up before someone else’s blog post in Google Search results is dependent on so many things, including popularity. Can popularity equal ownership?”

The handsome officer scowled at her. “Don’t try to confuse the arguments with the facts. That’s not important here.”

“What is important then? It's not as if we're a journalistic site. We're just two fans of romance who love talking to people about the genre, inviting authors over to our place, and generally having fun.”

"It’s a morality issue, ma’am."

Mary placed her hand on her hips, arms akimbo. "Are you questioning my morals (tm God and/or gods)? Because I can promise you, big boy, that I have no morals." Mary paused, looking the officer up and down. She could bounce a quarter off that hard body (tm unknown), she realized. "Why don’t you come inside," she suggested throatily, "and tell me more about your…rules."

"Please don’t give me any backchat, ma’am, or I’ll be forced to restrain you (tm Marquis de Sade)."

Mary shuddered, “You promise?”

The officer's eyes narrowed dangerously. "You don’t seem to be taking this very seriously."

Mary unflinchingly met his dangerously narrowed eyes. "You would be right on the money then, because these words and phrases that you want certain people to be given credit for have become part of the everyday lexicon in romancelandia, and to parse out and give attribution for the use would make it nearly impossible to have discourse."

"Uh, but–"

"I'm not finished," Mary interrupted. "I think it’s great that someone coins a term and that term becomes commonly used that it is actually part of our everyday language, or raises a term out of print obscurity into online fame, but that person isn’t entitled to attribution for every use, not legally or ethically. At least, in my opinion."

The officer stared at the feisty wildcat, his sensuous mouth hanging open.

Mary cocked her hip and tossed her hair back over her shoulder. "Once you’ve gotten over that problem, handsome, why don’t you come up and see me some time (tm Mae West)?"

***

Btw (tm unknown), I checked and both DesertIsekeepers.com and desertislandkeepers.com were domains available for sale. And I bought them. These are now owned again by the internet as I refused to pay the renewal fees.