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

Charlaine Harris

Thursday Midday Posts: DRM Efficacy Questioned by Game Theory, Amazon Launches New Imprint, Kobo + WH Smith

Thursday Midday Posts: DRM Efficacy Questioned by Game Theory, Amazon Launches...

Amazon launched its science fiction, fantasy and horror line called 47North. It’s lined up some big names in scifi with the launched of 15 books “including ‘The Mongoliad: Book One,’ the first in the ambitious, five-book, collaborative Foreworld series led by Neal Stephenson and Greg Bear. All of these books will be available to English readers in Kindle, print and audio formats at , as well as at national and independent booksellers. 47North will publish original and previously published works, as well as out-of-print books.”

There is no word on whom the acquiring editor is.


Kobo is making serious international moves. It has announced partnerships with FNAC, the number 1 book retailers in France, and with W.H. Smith. Through both partnerships, the book sellers will obtain access to Kobo’s digital catalog as well as its devices. This means books bought at WH Smith enjoy the same cloud storage and synchronization in Kobo’s App platforms and devices.

In addition to its global store, Kobo already offers stores in the US, Canada, Germany (localised), UK, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong. The Kobo store offers a selection of over 2.5 million eBooks, newspapers and magazines with bestselling titles, the hottest new releases, thrillers, romance and over a million free books.

Kobo’s European stores offer customers a rich assortment of local content, merchandised to the tastes and preferences of readers across Europe, Kobo has partnered with European publishers to offer a wide range of titles. With this launch, FNAC will deliver a large content catalogue, making it the largest eBookstore in France – the new store will feature the latest releases and bestsellers from popular French authors.

and from the WH Smith site:

From 12th October 2011, all the eBooks you buy through will be provided by our partner, Kobo. These eBooks will all work with your eReader just like those you’ve previously bought from us.


Amanda Hocking’s Hollowland will be published as a graphic novel series.

In Hollowland, Nineteen-year-old Remy King is on a mission to get across the wasteland left of America, and nothing will stand in her way – not violent marauders, a spoiled rock star, or an army of flesh-eating zombies.

Charlaine Harris is collaborating an original graphic novel series for ACE, based on her Sookie Stackhouse series.

Cemetery Girl-a collaboration between Harris, author Christopher Golden, and illustrator Don Kramer-is a planned trilogy set to debut in 2013… Cemetery Girl will mark the first foray into original graphic novels for Harris, whose bestselling Sookie Stackhouse books are the basis for HBO’s hit series True Blood. Harris recently announced that the Sookie Stackhouse series will conclude with the publication of the thirteenth book in May 2013.


With elements of fantasy and paranormal mystery, Cemetery Girl will tell the story of a teenage girl with amnesia who has grown up living alone in a cemetery. As the series unfolds, the truth of who the girl is and how she came to be there will be gradually revealed both to the reader and to the character herself.


Three economists from Rice and Duke Universities have used game theory research to challenge the efficacy of DRM.

Via Ars Technica.

Thus, removing DRM represents a good deal for consumers in all segments of the market: “In particular, traditional consumers of CDs benefit from a lower price; consumers of legal downloads get higher utility with a DRM-free version even though the price of the legal version may increase; and, interestingly, consumers who obtain pirated versions benefit because it is easier to steal music when there is no DRM.”


“Attributing abnormally high piracy levels to DRM is consistent with the analysis in our paper,” the marketing experts conclude.

Ars breaks down the game theory hypothesis and it’s fairly interesting read.


According to Nielsen Book, print book sales declined 5.7% in the US.

For those looking to head to the bar and drown their sorrows, Nowell had at least some positive thoughts: no downturn lasts forever, “value” was going to be an increased priority for consumers, and the rapidly aging population should present publishers with opportunities to sell to “those book-loving baby boomers who finally have the time to read.” Let’s hope they don’t forget where they put their glasses.

I suspect the aging baby boomer population will flock toward digital because every book can be in large print with digital books.


James Patterson has one. So does James Frey. Dennis Lehane is the latest author to get his own imprint. HarperCollins has implemented “Dennis Lehane Books” which will “issue ‘a select’ number of literary fiction works each year that have ‘a dark urban edge.’”


I’m fascinated with the Indian market for books. I think that given its status as the largest English reading population, it’s influence on books could be enormous. According to this writer, the current state of Indian fiction represents something from the Helen Fielding imprint, if there was one.

To read much of the recent fiction, you would think that the whole population, all 1.2 billion of them, have nothing else to do but worry about arranged marriages, whether they could have a romance with the man their family had chosen for them, and whether it was possible to eat rice crispies without chili powder.

The author would like to write about grittier topics such as the impoverished and barely literate:

So here’s my main contention about the stories published about India in the last few years. Where are the stories of the under class? Why are all the novels focused on the well to do, or the middle class? Where are the tales of these working kids?  The stories of servant boys, and domestic maids, the homeless children? In a country where so many serve as domestic help, where is the Indian version of The Help? In India, much more than anywhere else I have traveled to, the lives of the privileged and the underprivileged blend with and underline each other until it’s impossible to tell them apart. So why is it, that the fiction of today, the maid’s story is silenced, while the mistress’ tale gets all the attention? Is it our fault, as readers? That we are only able to crave the light, frothy tales of marriage and caste wars? In the thousands of books written by Indian authors that are getting published now, only the White Tiger reaches into the complexities of India. Why is that?


Sarah Wendell was on the Gayle King show Monday and Ms. King was apparently pretty dismissive of romance as a genre but Wendell held her own according to all reports. Ms. King thought only lonely women read romance and KMont responds that women can be lonely and have cats and still not be pathetic because they read romance. Everyone feels lonely and some lucky people also have cats.


From the inbox:


Art Mills, award winner author of The Empty Lot Next Door, is stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan and requesting print books for himself and his fellow troop members. He tells me most of the books are old and worn-out, indicating people read them and hand them to others.

I sent him a box of 12 books and he wrote me:

I placed the books on a book shelf and people rushed right to them. It’s nice to know people back home still care after ten years. Thanks!!!!

Yes, we do care! Please donate a copy of your book (or ARC) so Art can put it on their barren shelves. If you send more than one copy it will be donated to another troop through Books for Soldiers.

And, it’s okay to enclose a letter of thanks, or if you have a child have her or him draw a picture or write a letter. It is a lonely world in Afghanistan and if we can bring a smile or tear to our soldiers it will be a reminder to them that we do care.

Please send your donation to:

Reader Views
Books for Soldiers
3267 Bee Cave Road, Ste 107-380
Austin, TX 78746

We use candy for packing so if you’d like to donate a bag of candy as well, that would be terrific. The candy should be something that is wrapped individually, e.g. tootsie rolls, mints. (Not chocolate – it melts while sitting on the tarmac.)

Thanks! I know your book will be well received!


PS – if you have any military/war themed books, either your own or those you have read, please send them as well. Surprisingly those themes are well received.

REVIEW: Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

REVIEW: Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

Dead in the Family  Charlaine Harris Dear Ms. Harris:

The first time I read Dead in the Family I felt almost hypnotized by the emotional aftermath of the horror Sookie faced in the last book, Dead and Gone. Enthralled by the effects of her trauma and the painfully slow steps she was making toward recovery, I could barely summon my critical faculties to the task of reviewing the book. It took two reads for me to reflect, analyze, and evaluate the book beyond an inchoate awe at what registered to me at the time as a perfectly rendered narrative. My second time through provided some necessary distance, but it did not dim my appreciation of Dead in the Family as one of the most powerful and thematically coherent novels in the series.

First a warning: this review will contain spoilers from Dead and Gone and perhaps some mild spoilers for Dead in the Family. I will do my best to minimize their appearance, but I cannot discuss the current book without revisiting some of the momentous events of the last.

Now that the Fae War is over, the door between realms apparently shut and locked tight, and Sookie's recently discovered fairy great grandfather Niall reigning on the other side, Sookie is just barely beginning to heal from the wounds she suffered at the hands of the insane, tortuous fae couple, Neave and Lochlan. She marks as progress the fact that the parts of her body that were chewed out are now covered over completely with fresh skin, thanks in large part to the substantial amount of vampire blood she has been receiving from Eric, who remains, at least for now, her "husband" according to vampire law. Whether Sookie will ever recognize their relationship in that way is part of her struggle in this book, as she tries to sort out her feelings for him and copes with the reality that Eric did not (could not, he claims) come to rescue her, even as she called and called and called for him during her horrific experience.

Eric, in the meantime, is facing his own challenges, namely with Victor, the new vampire king's eyes and ears in Louisiana, who appears to want more than mere oversight of the territory as Felipe's right hand vamp. Eric, being the most powerful sheriff of the most important territory, is now a target of Victor's simmering ambition. And if that situation was not unsettling enough, he must accommodate an unannounced – and unwanted – visit from a very influential figure from his past.

As the title implies, family is the prominent theme of this book. A clever echo of death in the family, the small change makes a big difference here. Superficially, both Sookie and Jason have suffered from several family deaths over the past few books. The Fae War impacted numerous members of Sookie's circle, both human and supe. But this is a book that also deals with whether and how the dead live on in a family, as vampires, as memories, as legacies, as burdens, etc. And it considers, on many levels, how families are comprised, connected, experienced, remembered, avenged, and honored.

When we first met Sookie Stackhouse, we knew her as she knew herself: a human woman with an extraordinary ability who felt more alone than embraced by her lifelong home of Bon Temps. Her parents were long dead, her grandmother a death she suffered in our first months of acquaintance with her, and her brother a somewhat estranged, unreliable presence. She was close to her boss at Merlotte's, unaware he was a shifter, best friends with a woman who would soon betray her brutally, and smitten with a somewhat taciturn vampire named Bill Compton, who was not only her first love, but her first experience with the supernatural kind. Now, eight books later, Sookie has increased her family in both blood relations and emotional bonds, and her own touch of supernatural heritage connects her to more communities than she ever knew existed. The bittersweet experience of not feeling loved has been replaced by the bittersweet knowledge of how many people now connected to her have died:

Probably that should have made me long for peace above all else.   But instead of turning into the Bon Temps Gandhi, in my heart I held the knowledge that there were plenty of people I wanted dead. I wasn't directly responsible for most of the deaths that were scattered in my wake, but I was haunted by the feeling that none of them would have happened if it weren't for me. In my darkest moments-’and this was one of them-’I wondered if my life was worth the price that had been paid for it.

The lighthearted Sookie who always tried to see the best in people and knew a better day was just around the corner has paid her own price for being alive and for the complex relationships she is continually struggling to negotiate and manage. It's not merely a loss of innocence, but rather an acquisition of experience that has shaken the foundations on which her whole world had previously been built:

"You've changed," [Bill] said.

"Sure, I have. I thought I was going to die for a couple of hours. I hurt like I've never hurt before. And Neave and Lochlan enjoyed it so much. That snapped something inside me. When you and Niall killed them, it was like an answer to the biggest prayer I'd ever prayed. I'm supposed to be a Christian, but most days I don't feel like I can even   presume to say that about myself any longer. I have a lot of mad left over. When I can't sleep, I think about the other people who didn't care how much pain and trouble they caused me. And I think about how good I'd feel if they died.”

Her greatest moments of happiness now often come from Eric, with whom she shares a blood bond, which makes her both relish and distrust her growing attachment to him. However, it is clear that he cares about Sookie, although his new vulnerability extends not only to his feelings for her but to his increasingly precarious safety under Victor's middle management and other complications from his past:

"If they stay until Tuesday, I'm going to see you no matter what they're doing," Eric told me. He sounded a little more like himself. "We'll make love. I feel like buying you a present."

"That sounds like a great night to me," I said, feeling a surge of hope. "I don't need a present, just you. So I'll see you Tuesday, no matter what. That's what you said, right?"

"That's what I said."

"Okay then, until Tuesday."

"I love you," Eric said in a drained voice. "And you are my wife, in the only way that matters to me."

Across generations, species, centuries, and emotional bonds, the complexity and depth of the relationships Sookie has seem constantly to be shaping and re-shaping her, defining her strength, outlining her vulnerabilities, altering her expectations and desires. Her moral and ethical values are in flux, even as she becomes bolder and more fleshed out as a character and a person. For me, Dead in the Family is the book in which the cost of Sookie's maturation has not yet been set, but like her, we would be foolish to believe that it is not quite high. As one of the many supernatural beings in her circle remarks to her, "Dead things love you… They're pulling on you." At no point in the series has that been clearer than in this book, where Sookie's fuller presence in the world around her has both grounded and shattered her. The genius of this book, in my opinion, is the way it so deftly ties together the sometimes seemingly disconnected pieces of earlier books.

One thing I have noticed about these books is that time is marked off in very specific, discrete pieces, and Dead in the Family is no exception. But here that narrative structure takes on even more significance, because it feels that time is counting down to some ultimate crisis point, and because we can see powerfully the way Sookie's own life is built on so many moments and events that she may not have a part in making but which will require an action or decision or reaction from her. Where some books feel stuffed with action and others feel like virtually nothing occurs, looking back I am already beginning to see how every encounter Sookie has had in these books is shaping both her character and her ultimate fate. And quite honestly, I am a little scared for her.

From the beginning of this series I have been engaged in Sookie's journey toward true independence and fulfillment. Whatever she is moving toward, it will likely be beyond her own imaginings, and for me, as a reader, that is both an exciting and frightening prospect. Where Sookie once yearned for a sweetheart, now she has several males in her circle who desire and care for her. Where she once wanted to be accepted by the people of Bon Temps, she now has deep ties both human and non-human communities, and it seems sometimes she has little peace in her life. She has a cousin she will finally get the chance to know, and a brother who has a very different view of family after his own recent losses. She has a current lover, a good friend who is most likely in love her, and several past lovers who still hold deep feelings for her and will move to protect her when necessary. She has some new friendships and is enjoying the revival of some old friendships. She has fae relatives on both sides of the door to Faery who are still reaching out to her.

In many ways Sookie's life is incredibly rich in family from whom she receives comfort and support. But as Dead in the Family demonstrates with incredible emotional poignancy and thematic cogency, "dead things" are "pulling on" Sookie. And even when their love is a gift, it is a burden and a risk. In some ways I feel that this series is the same, but like Sookie, I cannot bring myself to give up. A-

~Janet aka Robin

| Book Link (excerpt) | Kindle |Amazon | Nook | BN | Borders |
Sony | Kobo |

This is a hardcover published by ACE, a division of Penguin. Penguin has not come to an agreement with Amazon and therefore there is no Kindle version. Pricing is set by the publisher for the digital book.