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Wednesday News: Amazon scores a point against Hachette, the Pentagon is watching us, Torstar shareholders okay Harlequin sale, and re-visioning the ‘bodice ripper’

Wednesday News: Amazon scores a point against Hachette, the Pentagon is...

Amazon Offers Authors 100% of eBook Sales During Dispute with Hachette – You’ve got to give it to Amazon and Hachette – both are doing a good job of keeping attention focused on the dispute. Frankly, I think Amazon is winning the public relations aspect of the battle, and it’s because of strategies like this. Apparently Amazon floated a letter to a number of Hachette authors asking their opinion on prospective strategies to solve the dispute. There’s a lot of legitimate speculation that Amazon isn’t really serious with this letter, but I don’t think it really matters, because they knew it would be leaked, and it does a pretty competent job of making it look like Hachette is the stalling, uncooperative, insensitive party. Your move, Hachette.

We agree that authors are caught in the middle while these negotiations drag on, and we’re particularly sensitive to the effect on debut and midlist authors. But Hachette’s unresponsiveness and unwillingness to talk until we took action put us in this position, and unless Hachette dramatically changes their negotiating tempo, this is going to take a really long time. –The Digital Reader

The Pentagon Funded Study of Lady Gaga’s Tweets – Despite the execrable title of this post, it’s a worthy read because of the revelations about the way in which the US government is both studying and potentially manipulating social media for reasons that may be even creepier and more troubling than Facebook’s. I don’t think anyone really believes that world governments are oblivious to or uninterested in social media and in the online communication patterns of people more generally, but it’s starting to feel like we’re just beginning to crack the seal on all sorts of icky, intrusive experimentation in the name of ‘science’ or ‘critical knowledge.’

It’s not just Facebook who’s interested in studying your status updates. The Pentagon, it turns out, has been studying social media use with a series of research projects reminiscent of Facebook’s controversial emotion manipulation study for years.

Some of these programs, described in a Guardian report on Tuesday, were funded by the Pentagon’s cutting-edge research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), mostly known for far-out ideas such as mind-controlled robotic arms, dystopian-looking war robots and laser weapons worth [sic] of Star Trek or Star Wars, [sic] –Mashable

Torstar Corporation Special Shareholders’ Meeting – Torstar has taken another crucial step toward closing the sale of Harlequin to Harper Collins by securing the approval of its Class A shareholders to move forward with the transfer (different classes of shareholders have different types and levels of voting and other rights). I sure hope Harlequin’s sale doesn’t portend the end of everything unique and reader-focused the company has brought to the Romance genre.

The transaction remains subject to certain customary approvals and closing conditions, including certain regulatory approvals. The parties continue to work towards satisfying these conditions and obtaining the necessary approvals. –Yahoo Finance

Bodice Ripper: Dress made from romance novels. – Now here’s a clever, even beautiful, re-visioning of the “bodice ripper.” –Open Road Media

Tuesday News: Retail in the online marketplace, Omnific + Gallery Books = ?, that odd Amazon self-publishing petition, and 10 useful facts about the penis

Tuesday News: Retail in the online marketplace, Omnific + Gallery Books...

Gap’s former social chief: Retail has shiny-new-object syndrome – An interesting little Q&A with Rachel Tipograph, who used to be the Gap’s digital and social media director, on how retailers are managing the online marketplace. While the focus here is on retail, there are some implications for authors, too, especially in regard to the way content is used to sell products (and books are a natural for that), and the persistent power of email marketing:

Are you seeing, generally, retailers missing out on opportunities — whether through social or other digital tools like content?

First, it’s the ‘non-shiny object’ list that retailers miss out on. Email is still the holy grail of e-commerce, so many retailers miss basic email segmentation and investing in great content and design for their emails as this is the No.1 place people are experiencing your brand. For example, check out the startup Custora. They also miss out on the unsexy cart abandonment, millions of dollars are left on the table for not imposing simple solutions like Bounce Exchange; companies doing it well are Canvas Pop and Agoda.

On the slightly-more-shiny-object list, integrating user-generated product content into your e-commerce site is proven to drive higher sales lifts. There are easy solutions from Curalate or Second Funnel to do this. –Digiday

Gallery Books in Deal with Omnific – Gallery Books, imprint of Simon and Schuster, is “co-publishing” (with Simon and Schuster serving as distributor) a number of title. Omnific describes itself as an independent publisher of “Romance . . . without rules,” whatever that means. I have no idea what to expect from this partnership nor any idea of how/why it has been formed.

Founded in 2009 in Los Angeles, Omnific is a romance publisher whose titles are aimed at the “modern sensibilities of today’s readers.” Areas it publishes in include contemporary, historical, paranormal, suspense, and erotic romance, –Publishers Weekly

THEORETICAL AUTHOR-PUBLISHER COALITION RESPONSE TO AMAZON PROTEST – I’m all about buttering some popcorn, cracking open a nice bottle of Chianti, and enjoying the show. Feel free to discuss the issues, however — whatever they may be.

Of course, if you’re really truly confident that self-publishing is the way forward, then I don’t know why you’d need to write this response letter at all. You’d just drive by on your blinged-out jet-skis, throwing up devil-horns and spraying the stodgy old trad-pubbers in their dinghy with a mist of Cristal. Somewhere, the news would report on graffiti seen all over the world:

AUTHOR-PUBLISHERS RULE

TRAD-PUBBERS DROOL

WOOOOOOO

*jet-ski vroom* –Terrible Minds

10 Things You Don’t Know About Penises – We talk a lot about how unrealistically the female body is often portrayed in Romance, so in recognition of gender equality, here’s a somewhat useful list of demystifying facts about the penis, including an interesting comparison to the boomerang I don’t remember seeing in any Romance novel sex scene. No NSFW pictures, but the post itself is pretty explicit.

The penis isn’t exactly a mysterious organ. Most of it’s right out there in the open, and most guys are far from ashamed to bring it out should the right occasion arise. But macho grandstanding and fallacy (or should we say “phallusy”?) aside, there are plenty of things you probably don’t know about this important piece of the male reproductive system. Check out these interesting factoids about man’s best friend. (If you haven’t already, be sure to read 10 Things You Don’t Know About Vaginas too!) –Kinkly