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


Monday News: Massachusetts finally criminalized upskirting, more on Harlequin’s troubles, a personal reflection on sheikh romances, and @GSElevator loses his book deal

Monday News: Massachusetts finally criminalized upskirting, more on Harlequin’s troubles, a...

Massachusetts bans ‘upskirt’ photos, closes Peeping Tom loophole – A mere two years after the original criminal charge was filed against a man for taking upskirt photos on public transit, the Massachusetts legislature managed to re-write the law so that it explicitly applied to these types of situations. I know people have been cheering the legislature for its allegedly quick response, but if you look back to 2004-2005, you will see that the state had an example of a federal peeping tom law to work from, which explicitly targeted upskirt photos, among other forms of electronic surveillance and image capture. I also find it interesting that the Senate President focuses on the moral dimensions of upskirting, essentially saying that the law jails people for immoral behavior. While there are definitely ethical issues here (and upskirting would certainly qualify as a crime of moral turpitude), can’t we just focus on the idea that women have a reasonable expectation of privacy under their clothes, and that it should be and now is illegal in Massachusetts to deprive them of that?

“We are sending a message that to take a photo or video of a woman under her clothing is morally reprehensible and, in Massachusetts, we will put you in jail for doing it,” Senate President Therese Murray said in a release. –Reuters

Love Affair With Digital Over For Romance Publisher Harlequin? – A more extensive analysis of the declining revenue story about Harlequin, including an interview with Harlequin CEO Craig Swinwood. Swinwood claims that the company is “in transition,” which I sincerely hope is true. As I’ve remarked before, Harlequin’s focus on and willingness to sell directly to readers has made it a valuable player in the Romance publishing marketplace, and I believe that the continued viability of that market depends on the vitality of the greatest diversity of writing and publishing players.

A decade ago, publishers like Harlequin only had to compete among themselves to attract and retain authors; now they have to compete with the option to self-publish, too. For its part, Harlequin, like many other publishers, is scrambling to offer authors more and better service. Swinwood pointed out to me Harlequin’s Author Network, a dashboard where authors can check sales, get market intelligence and have all their questions answered by a concierge service. –Forbes

The Sheikh’s Prize Is Usually White by Natalie Storey – An interesting, honest, and very personal contemplation from a white reader of skeikh romances that does not shy away from the more difficult issues of race, culture, and constructions of the exotic. The way she touches on the problematic fact that the white woman becomes the cultural outsider in these books made me think of Reina Lewis’s wonderful Gendering Orientalism: Race, Femininity and Representation, and Jennifer DeVere Brody’s fantastic work in Impossible Purities: Blackness, Femininity, and Victorian Culture.

But my interest in sheikh romances doesn’t end simply with wanting to believe in their depictions of cross-cultural love. I had never read any of the books before I traveled to Jordan, but their stories were so recognizable to me that I began to wonder if their narrative is so pervasive that it influenced the way I lived and loved without my knowledge or consent. I’m sure this suspicion developed from reading romance novels alongside Orientalism and other writings by Edward Said, which show how some cultural narratives are so deep-seated that we hardly notice them for what they are or whom they misrepresent. But there’s a difference between Said’s orientalism and that in the romance novels. Orientalism demonstrates how stereotypes of Muslims and Arabs have been embedded in popular culture and academia and how they continue to circulate, perpetuating fear and racism. The romances cope with the stereotyped images of fear and hatred of Muslims and Arabs in the popular media by reversing them to love. I think the romance novels’ reaction to hate bears some similarity to my desire to understand the Middle East for myself, the desire that propelled me to Jordan, helped me learn Arabic, and led me to begin a relationship with a Jordanian man. The romance novels seem to contain a positive message, but their reactive love relies too much on a fantasy of racial and cultural difference. Exoticism, in the end, objectifies others as much as hate.–Los Angeles Review of Books

Book News: @GSElevator Author Loses Book Deal - Despite the fact that Simon and Schuster admitted that it knew about the fiction that was @GSElevator’s twitter experiment, Touchstone has cancelled publication of his book. There’s an interesting email from LeFevre posted on the NPR blog, but no real explanation for the cancellation. –NPR

How to read and preserve your ePub library

How to read and preserve your ePub library

The news for the last couple of weeks has been one of frustration and  anger for epub readers as digital rights management continues to thwart readers access to their legitimately purchased ebooks. Adobe announced that it would introduce a “hardened” DRM that most people believe will include some kind of “always on” component.  Initially Adobe planned to move forward with the implementation of its new DRM in July. This DRM was not backwards compatible and some readers reported losing access to older DRM’ed books with the new Adobe Digital Editions upgrade. Sony has announced it is vacating the US and Canadian market and transferring readers’ libraries from Sony to Kobo by March 20, 2014 at 6 p.m. (EST).

When the transfer happens Sony does caution that “highlights, bookmarks and annotations you made in your Reader Store eBooks will not be available after you transfer your library to Kobo” and “in a few rare cases, ebooks purchased at Reader Store may not be available at Kobo for re-download. In these situations, it is recommended that you download a copy of these titles from Reader Store before April 30, 2014.”

I want to be clear before I go on that the only people who are adversely affected by this issue are individuals who have paid money for these books.  This post is for them. To preserve access to your ePub library, particularly from Sony, you need to take the following steps.

1) Download and install Calibre. Calibre is a free ebook cataloguing system. I highly recommend its use to ANY digital reader.

2) Google Apprentice Alf.  Apprentice Alf keeps a collection of DRM related plugins that work with Calibre.

3) Install the plugins.

Step 1: Open Preferences

Preferences Calibre

Preferences icon is found in the upper right hand corner of the main navigation bar. You can also access preferences by using CTRL P (PC) or CMD P (Mac)

Step 2: Open Plugins.

Once the Preferences screen is open scroll to the bottom and click on Plugins:

Plugin button Calibre

Step 3:   Browse for Plugin.

Click on the little blue icon on the bottom right.

Screenshot 2014-02-08 19.04.09

This should launch a dialog box where you can navigate to find your plugin. Highlight the plugin you want to add.   Click the “open” button and then the dialog box will close.

If you are preserving your ePub library, there are no other actions you have to take at this time. In other words, there are no customizations you need to do the plugins you have just added. Simply click the green “APPLY” arrow in the upper left corner and then restart Calibre.

4) Download and install Reader software. It should open in the “My Library” tab. Click on the arrow next to the dropdown box and select “Purchased from local Reader Store.”

Screenshot 2014-02-08 19.08.21

You will be asked to sign in to your Reader Store account. Once your Reader credentials are accepted, another popup screen appears asking for your Adobe ID (use the same ID that you used for Adobe Digital Editions. If you don’t have one, then go ahead and  get a new one).

Screenshot 2014-02-08 19.09.54


(Note: If you don’t remember your Adobe ID then open Adobe Digital Editions and  go to the HELP menu and select “Authorization Information”. A screen should popup and give you the email address associated with your Adobe ID. Often the email address is your Adobe ID.)

Screenshot 2014-02-08 19.11.56

I fought with the Adobe ID screen several times knowing I entered the password correctly. I don’t know if the server was done or what but I had to abandon the process.

5) Once Sony has allowed you to access your purchases, you should have a screen like this. Double click on the covers to download. If Sony says your books have been downloaded by another user, then you’ll need to make sure you’ve entered your Adobe ID credentials correctly.

Screenshot 2014-02-08 19.19.47

Your ebooks will be saved in a folder on your harddrive called “My Books/Reader.” This is usually found in the My Documents (PC) or Documents (MAC) folder.

If you have problems authenticating your Adobe ID (which I did) you can go directly online and download the books there.

Screenshot 2014-02-08 19.26.00

What downloads is a license, not the book. It’s called an ACSM file (and will be unhelpfully named “URLLINK.acsm”) and basically calls back to the server holding the books and says, this computer is okay to deliver the book to. Then the computer gremlins push the book down the internet line into the folder of My Books/Reader. UNLESS! You have Adobe Digital Editions as your primary ebook software, then it will download into My Documents (PC) or Documents (MAC)/Digital Editions.

6) Once you have downloaded the ebooks it is now time to drag and drop. For ease of use have Calibre open on one side of your screen and your folder of ebooks open. Simply drag the ebooks onto the Calibre window. Your books are backed up, preserved and able to be read on nearly any device.

Screenshot 2014-02-08 19.35.06

That’s it. I know it seems like a lot but it’s really not. To make life easier for you, you can learn how to use automating scripts so that when you download an ebook, it automatically gets imported into Calibre. Check out our posts for Macs and PCs.

I also recommend you check out our posts on backing up your digital library.