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

Barry Eisler

Thursday Midday Links:  Stanza Not Dead, Reviewer Sued for Defamation, Amazon Acquires TTS Firm

Thursday Midday Links: Stanza Not Dead, Reviewer Sued for Defamation,...

In the UK, a self published author is suing a reviewer for panning his book.

Chris McGrath, an online entrepreneur from Milton Keynes, who wrote and self-published a little-known book entitled The Attempted Murder of God: Hidden Science You Really Need to Know, has launched libel proceedings against Vaughan Jones, 28.

He claims Mr Jones wrote damning reviews of is book on Amazon September and October 2010, which he had published under the pseudonym “Scrooby.” Mr Jones also revealed his true identity.

The suit is for defamation rather than invasion of privacy (i.e., revealing the author’s true identity).


Awesome news, guys, Stanza is NOT dead.  Apparently, a month after Apple’s iOS update, Amazon has gotten around to releasing a Stanza update so it now works just fine on your iOS devices.


Amazon has acquired YAP, a speech transcription software company. The co founder of YAP helped develop the speech engine that drives Nuance (which drives Siri) One columnist suggests that means that there will be speech enabled books in the future for Kindle users. AllThingsD points out that it can facilitate shopping by voice.


A number of authors really hate the format production process at Smashwords known as the meatgrinder, particularly those authors who go to great lengths to produce a beautifully rendered ePub. In response to those complaints, Smashwords will begin to accept other ebook formats, other than DOC, in 2012.

This is good for readers because the meatgrinder doesn’t always produce well formatted ebooks.


A couple of weeks ago, I saw the debacle on Courtney Milan’s blog where she suggested the language used by Barry Eisler and J A Konrath in support of their opinions regarding authors in publishing was incendiary. Shortly after this, a reader emailed me with a link to Konrath’s blog, a link to a YouTube video, and a link to Amazon.

Konrath and Eisler have  co written a book called “Be the Monkey” that is sold at Amazon. “Be the Monkey” title is based on this very graphic video of a monkey orally and anally raping a frog.  (Trigger warnings here for those who are sensitive to sexual abuse).

I objected to two white, wealthy men (based on their proclamations of earnings) encouraging people using a metaphor about power through sexual dominance and the binary choice of be the rapist v. be the rapee.  “Be the Monkey,” I divined, was a metaphor based on the video of the monkey exerting his dominance over the frog.   Konrath took exception to this:

@jane_l We compared publishing to two animals. Two animals are NOT in any way equal to humans being violated and abused.

I pointed out it was a metaphor but Konrath came back and said it was an analogy about monkeys and frogs, nothing more:

jakonrath We linked to a monkey and a frog. The anology begins and ends with a monkey and a frog. Don’t read more into it.

How can I not?  Isn’t that the purpose of linking the video with the book and writing a blog post about it?  And how can an analogy using monkeys and frogs actually only be about monkeys and frogs?  Isn’t an analogy or a metaphor all about using literal terms to express more abstract concepts like, say, power?

Konrath claimed that I should be ashamed of drawing that conclusion from the metaphor analogy:

jakonrath Sorry, I respect women too much to compare them to frogs. Rape shouldn’t be trivialized like that.

I pointed out that he, himself, applied the frog metaphor to his own marriage:

Barry: Yes! I mean, which of the networks would have broadcast that monkey raping a helpless bullfrog?

Joe: It wasn’t rape. It was consensual.

Barry: I don’t know. I don’t think the frog was conscious. I’m not sure it was even alive.

Joe: I–

Barry: After the first five minutes, I mean.

Joe: I’m married. I see this all the time. The frog was conscious. Just not very active.

Konrath replied that I should “Read it again, and try to lighten up.”

I don’t get it, right?

But there are far too many rape oriented insults on the internet. Witness the rape language that female gamers suffer regularly and the entire Dickwolf scandal by the Penny Arcade or Laurie Penny’s piece at the Independent about how having an opinion on the internet is akin to wearing a mini skirt or the MMA fighter who tweeted that “Rape is the new missionary.”

The message regarding choice as it relates to publishing, whether one self publishes or traditionally publishes or goes with a digital publisher or does a coop or a mixture of any type of publishing, does not need to rest on rape metaphors. And publishing isn’t a binary choice of being the Frog (the rapee) or the Monkey (the rapist). I’m pointing this out because I’ve quoted Konrath here before with approval. I’ve posted blog posts by Barry Eisler here, with approval. Had I known that these metaphors were being pushed by both as early as May of 2011, I probably wouldn’t have. I’m not sure. I’m regretful today and maybe it is due to my oversensitive and humorless nature.


Globe and Mail has an infographic about book sales and publisher margins. The margin of profit for publishers is declining with digital books, according to the infographic from $8 to $4.24. I’m not certain I believe this infographic. I still remember Michael Hyatt indicating that at $9.99 and under the Agency model where publishers get 70% instead of the wholesale 50%, publishers’ margins weren’t decreasing dramatically. And then there’s the statement from Hachette (read the last piece)


Hachette’s sales are down 8% in the U.S.

The decline at the U.S. Hachette Book Group division was attributed to increased sales of lower-priced e-books and the impact of the Borders bankruptcy. E-books accounted for 21% of HBG’s revenue through the first nine months of the year, compared to 9% in the same period in 2010.

Lagardere said while higher e-book sales contributed to lower revenue, they provide a higher margin, although the company provided no earnings in the quarterly trading update.

Via Publisher’s Weekly.

Thursday Midday Links: Open Letter to Loretta Chase

Thursday Midday Links: Open Letter to Loretta Chase

Captives of the Night Yost Cover

Dear Ms. Chase:

I don’t have your email address but I had to write you to comment on a note a fan made on your behalf on the Smart Bitches site.  You see, your book Captives of the Night(kind of a sequel to the Lord of Scoundrels) caught the attention of Sarah Wendell.  But not in a good way.  Your cover is poorly designed and it made Sarah wonder if it is was, well, self published.  A reader emailed you to make sure that this was a book sold legitimately. Your response was thus:

BUT, I’m happy to report that the Kindle version of Captives is the first release in the process of an ongoing digitization of my back list—and yes, I’ve authorized it, and I get compensated.  NYLA is my agent.  Yes, sorry about the cover art, but they had to find public domain material, and I didn’t want to drag the process out by micromanaging the design.

I love your books. Love them. I think you are a shining star in the romance genre. I think your books are thoughtful and that you care about your readers and that your care and thought show in the quality of your work.  But this is the problem of publishing with your agent who apparently knows jack all about self publishing.  Nancy Yost is, by all accounts, an awesome agent, but she isn’t doing you any favors putting out a cover like this.  You do not have to use public domain material.  You see you can purchase stock art featuring ladies in historical dress.  You can hire someone to design your cover.  Yes, you do not want to micromanage the design but neither do you have to go with stock art that makes people wonder about the legitimacy of your publication.

P.S.  Someone just emailed me to tell me that the book is not available on any other digital bookstore like nook, Kobo (international readers), Smashwords, or All Romance eBooks.  If that is true, then I’m doubly sad.


Barry Eisler has made an about face from self publishing and has decided to sign with Amazon’s new mystery/thriller imprint for the publication of his next Rain novel.   Eisler brokered the deal himself (and authors, I wouldn’t suggest this at home because Barry is a lawyer who practiced several years in Silicon Valley as an IP lawyer) and received an advance commensurate with what he was offered from St. Martin’s Press which Barry himself said was $500,000 for two books.  The royalties for print are comparable and the digital royalties are much higher.  Eisler said that the face he has creative control as well as the speed to market encouraged him to make the deal.  With Konrath and Eisler going to Amazon for publishing, is self publishing no longer the best thing out there per these two authors?

I had previously presumed that advances weren’t part of the Amazon publishing scheme but I was wrong.  WRONG.  But the way I see it, Amazon is paying an advance, not just for the book, but for marketing services because Eisler and Konrath speak at a lot of conferences and have large writerly followings and Eisler and Konrath are essentially spreading the gospel of Amazon.  That’s probably worth quite a lot to Amazon.

Speaking of Amazon and publishing, Sarah has an excellent piece on Amazon Montlake over at her blog.


I saw a tweet that the president of the ABA (American Bookseller Association) said that they were going to experiment with the hardcover + DRM free ebook in the fall.  I don’t see this as anything as a niche (meaning only a few books will garner this type of interest at a premium price) or as a way to preserve print.  But it fits with the publisher goal of trying to present DRM free as a premium feature and preserving print for as long as possible.  Short sighted, in my opinion, but consistent.

Google says consumers love bundling.  (Not sure which consumers Google is talking about) The impediment to bundles? Publishers not allowing discounts.

Google hopes to offer physical/digital book bundles, but publishers are standing in the way. “We’d love to get there. Consumers love bundling,” Dougall said. “But it’s up to the publishing industry to be more open-minded” about allowing discounts on bundles.


Bloomsbury has announced a new digital division designed to bring readers digital backlist titles.

Bloomsbury Reader, which will be run by digital media director Stephanie Duncan, is similar to Ed Victor’s Bedford Square Books,which he announced earlier this month. Bloomsbury Reader will publish books currently unavailable in print where all English language rights have reverted to the author or their estate and there is no edition currently in print. The books will be sold as e-books or print on demand titles at “affordable prices and to the highest quality specifications”


British women are pirating books at a higher rate than any other demographic in Britain. I suspect that a lot of this has to do with territorial restrictions.  We need to get rid of those.

According to the firm’s annual Digital Entertainment Survey, one in eight women over age 35 who owns an e-reader admits to having downloaded an illegal version of an e-book. That compares to just one in 20 women in the same age group who admits to having pirated music.


Paid Content has a few snippets from the BISG study about readers. (I’m trying to get this through interlibrary loan. Wish me luck).

-“Power buyers” represent about 18 percent of the total people buying e-books today, but they buy 61 percent of all e-books purchased.

-The most influential factors leading to an e-book purchase are free samples and low prices.