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


Wednesday Midday Links: Another Woot Deal

Wednesday Midday Links: Another Woot Deal

classic, a division of Amazon, is selling the original classic nook 3G for $99. This is a real bargain. While I don’t love the original classic nook, the 3G capability at $99 makes up for a lot of ills.

These deals can sell out fast.


A former Random House editor blogging at the Atlantic writes about the changing landscape of publishing. Advances weren’t always the norm:

At Random House, however, the biggest-selling authors were the incomparable Dr. Seuss as well as James Michener, whose regular blockbusters of historical fiction were huge bestsellers. Neither author took advances. Their revenues were so large and steady that they had a permanent drawing account and relied on the publisher and their financial advisers to see that the money was properly invested.

The digital publishing model is built on no advances and it will be interesting to see if advances become a rarity in publishing.   This makes sense, I think, only if speed to market is also part of the digital publishing model.   Authors have told me that advances are important because it can take up to two years or more between sale and publication and the advance represents, in part, payment for lost opportunity sales.


When I was RT, I sat in on a panel about social reading. One topic that came up was how print traditions weren’t necessarily carrying over into the digital arena.   An example given was highlighting and marginalia.   Few genre readers that we knew took notes in the margin or highlighted pages.   Heck, I didn’t even like to crack the spine whereas with digital books I am highlighting and note taking like a freshman at college, high off of white out fluid.   I explained that romance readers came online in droves because so many of us didn’t have supporting readers around us who read romance and that we were often judged adversely for admitting to our reading tastes.   A mystery bookstore owner looked at me and said that mystery readers suffer the very same self doubt.   It appears that all genres feel slighted.   This is all building up to my link. Wait for it.

Rob at Excuses and Half Truths blogged about his outrage that the BBC coverage of World Book Day completely excluded Science Fiction/Fantasy.

Apart from a brief mention of Philip Pullman's Northern Lights as a YA crossover, SF, fantasy and horror were not represented. No Pratchett. No Rankin. No Tolkein or Lewis. No Iain M. Banks, no JK Rowling. No China Mieville or Joe Abercrombie. No Clive Barker, no Christopher Priest. Genres that between them take between 20 and 30% of the UK book market were roundly ignored.


Author Sean Hayden had a hilarious piece about the worst job ever. I don’t know if Hayden writes humorous fiction but if he did, the blog post would be a great exemplar.

Believe it or not this whole tale starts with my sons underpants. He was 7 or 8 at the time and lets just say he wasn't the best "wiper" in the world. We actually went so far as to call him "Skidmarks" for a few days, hoping to embarrass him into being a little more "thorough" (if you know what I mean). I mean trying to break a kid of 8 who's philosophy has always been "Wipe twice and get on with your life" wasn't easy. But we did it. Much to our dismay. Most of my hard earned salary went to the Charmin Corporation. The kid would use a roll each time he had a movement. We went through a twelve-pack a day. We were broke, his ass was clean, and our sewer thingy out front of the house took a shit (pun intended).


Ah, the perils of most favored nation clauses.   Amazon, and probably PubIt! and others, have a clause in their contracts with authors (and publishers) that states something like “in the event of a price decline at another online site, you agree to sell the same product at our site for the same reduced price.”   Kobo, through a software pricing glitch, lowered the price of several Smashword books and this made Amazon immediately decrease the price for those books published at Amazon to the same discounted price (this is why you don’t need to shop around as a reader because Amazon invariably will have the lowest price available).

This is price matching is done without notice to the author which Lee Goldberg learned last night, much to his dismay.   Here is one of the dangers of self publishing. You need to read your contracts and understand the terms and how they might affect you in various situations.

As much as I like Mark Coker, I don’t agree that this is Amazon’s fault.   Coker wrote at the Kindleboards:

Someone on the thread made a comment about Amazon’s predatory price matching practices. I would agree. Amazon knows that these titles are distributed by Smashwords, and they know what the true correct price is because they’re spidering the web site where the author-set price is always displayed.

This means Amazon has the data to realize that the price change at Kobo was not the author’s fault.

Yet Amazon punishes the author.

Last year, I even offered to share our price list with Amazon so they could use it to satisfy their price parity needs, as opposed to punishing authors for glitches that can occur between us and the retailer.

Amazon doesn’t know what the contracts are between Smashwords and Kobo. Deals can be renegotiated and terms are often confidential.   It is not the responsibility of one retailers to make sure that another retailer doesn’t make pricing mistakes.


Remember Jessica Verday and her withdrawal from an anthology wherein the editor wanted to degay the story?   The “shame on you” post at Publishers Weekly by the publisher of Running Press?   The Wicked Pretty Things anthology has now been canceled.

Tuesday Midday Links: Crowd Based Patronage

Tuesday Midday Links: Crowd Based Patronage

This is a quite hilarious ad by Verizon mocking AT&T’s pathetic coverage (I am an AT&T customer via my move to the iPhone). Watch until the end.

Guardian asks whether crowdsourcing author advances is legitimate. Deanna Zandt wanted to write a book on using social networking for social change and action, specializing in often marginalised subsets such as women, people of color and queer folk. She wanted to write full time and not work and asked for “investors” who would send her money that she could use to support herself while she was writing books. She raised about half of the money that she had targeted.

The article calls this asking for the crowd to source an advance but because investors don’t get anything back, I see it more as a modified patronage system. It was one of the experiments that Cory Doctorow wrote about. I don’t think it’s chutzpah, necessarily, as the Guardian author suggested. I wouldn’t donate to Deanna, but I did donate money to Ann Marie Cox when she was laid off in the midst of covering the presidential election. The note I sent was that I hoped she used my donation expressly for something frivolous. I had received a lot of enjoyment from following Cox during the election period and wanted to give back.

There are definitely some authors that I would donate money to simply for the pleasure of keeping them writing. Whether there are enough of us to do that, I can’t rightly say.

Another article in the Guardian notes that George RR Martin has completed over 1200 pages in his next installment of the Song of Fire and Ice series. I some concern that this series will never be completed so I am not going to reinvest time to revisit this series until is actually finished.

Media publishers (not book publishers…yet) are upset with Apple over Apple’s refusal at this time to give up any consumer data information.

Media executives fear Apple will have unprecedented control over their readers’ information, one of their most valuable treasures to attract advertising, and will take almost a third of their subscription revenues “forever,” according to the Financial Times.

Keishon writes about how ebook quality control is important to her.

Lack of covers -’ most annoying. But the argument always circles back to well, you're not even reading on a device that sports color anyway so what's the big deal. It's a big deal. In color or not, I would like to look at the original cover versus looking at a mock-up with book title, author name and publisher name. Its an eye-sore and it looks tacky. Besides, Stanza and eReader apps for iPhone sports color covers.

Kassia Krozser admits to having entitlement issues.

A recent meme in publishing is that some readers are exhibiting a sense of "entitlement" about buying ebooks. I'd like to humbly offer myself as Exhibit A. It is true: I feel entitled to buy books. I insist upon it, actually*.

Seriously, is it ever a good idea to disparage your customers? To treat them like they are annoyances? To suggest that they simply don't understand how things work, when, really, why should they? Especially when, in at least one instance, the publishers were the ones who changed (or attempted to change) the rules?

So, as a person who happily pays for books, this is what I feel entitled to: the book in the format I prefer at the time my awareness in said book is sufficient that I go to make the purchase at the price I deem reasonable based on my extensive experience as a book consumer.

Jessica takes on the scholarly article on romance and feminism by Rochelle Hurst in Australian Feminist Studies, Vol. 24, No. 62, December 2009. Hurst apparently posits that BJD is more feminist than the Mills & Boon books:

I am not going to comment on Hurst's points about Bridget Jones' Diary, except to note that her argument for BJD's feminist superiority to romance, depends largely on her faulty take on the romance genre. I want to focus instead on Hurst's portrayal and dismissal of romance, and her "scholarship".

James Grimmelman, a professor at New York Law School, found this interesting tidbit in the Google Book Settlement filing. It comes from the statement of Paul Aiken, Executive Director of the Authors’ Guild, and suggests that the contracts that were submitted by the Author Subclass cover digital editions:

Counsel also advised me from their review of such contracts that in the late 1980s many of the major publishing houses' form contracts began to include electronic rights grants to the publisher.

From the Authors’ Guild website, however, is this statement:

The misunderstandings reside entirely with Random House. Random House quite famously changed its standard contract to include e-book rights in 1994. (We remember it well — Random House tried to secure these rights for royalties of 5% of net proceeds, a pittance. We called it a “Land Grab on the Electronic Frontier” in our press release headline.) Random House felt the need to change its contract, quite plainly, because its authors did not grant those rights to it under Random House’s standard contracts prior to 1994.

A fundamental principle of book contracts is that the grant of rights is limited. Publishers acquire only the rights that they bargain for; authors retain rights they have not expressly granted to publishers. E-book rights, under older book contracts, were retained by the authors.