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Friday Links of News & Deals: Amazon the Bully, Readers in need of help (me), and How to get an ebook refund

Friday Links of News & Deals: Amazon the Bully, Readers in...

News

Bayou Arcana Promises

Bayou Arcana is due out in the UK shortly. I can’t find it in the U.S. but it is a “southern gothic” horror anthology that brings together an all female team of artists and all male team of writers. From the Guardian:

“There is a certain sensitivity that you find in women’s art that just does not appear in a lot of guys’ work,” says James Pearson, who edited the anthology, which follows the story of escaped slaves taking refuge in a swamp.

“The way that they interpret the horror has an added depth to it – and that is part of the experiment. It’s actually a really sensitive approach to quite visceral subject matter.”

The article is worth a read as it addresses the marginalization of women in comics and what people are doing to try to change that, including big mainstream publishers.

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Branko Collin’s translates part of a Dutch academic paper wherein researcher’s study the unrealistic portrayal of medicine in medical romances:

Cornelis Langeveld has looked at medical romances and whether they “give a realistic picture of medical practice”.

“The doctor novels which were studied give an unbalanced and distorted view of medical practice. The medical information was sometimes incorrect, partly due to lack of knowledge by the author, partly due to incorrect translation from English. The reality of medical practice was not represented accurately in either of the series investigated, although the medical information in the ‘Doctor novels’ [Harlequin] series appeared to be accurate more often than that in the ‘Dr. Anne’ [Favoriet] series.”

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An inquiring reader emailed me looking for recommendations:

 It seems to me that any romance that mentions the French Revolution deals with the horrors of the Reign of Terror. But what about the wonderful, heady, sexy early days of the revolution–Liberte, fraternite, egalite, before everything went pear-shaped?

Other than Janet Mullany’s “Dedication” (rewritten/reissued in 2012 from Loose-Id) and Pam Rosenthal’s “The Bookseller’s Daughter”, are there any romances that specifically treat the French Revolution as something other than an opportunity for sexy aristos to lose their heads (French) or perform heroic rescues (English)?

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On Tuesday, Robin posted a rebuttal to John Scalzi’s claim that readers who complain about price are mean and entitled. Oh and Scalzi argued that publishers have always viewed their readers as customers. Of course they haven’t and nothing supports this more than the Publishers Weekly post with quotes from the CEOs of major publishers identifying that the biggest effort will to be get in touch with the reader directly:

David Young of Hachette:

Connecting with consumers by understanding consumer behavior, deepening the connection with readers, and engaging them in new ways around books through effective social media and digital marketing campaigns. The launch of Bookish in early 2012 will be instrumental: a first-rate destination for book lovers, a powerful marketing platform with an original editorial voice, great content, and a sophisticated recommendation engine.

and Robert Gottleib of Trident Media:

Publishers have never had to interact directly with consumers; they have traditionally relied on retailers for handling this relationship. That will have to change in the new business model.

and Susan Kantz of HarperCollins Childrens Books:

Traditionally, we have known very little about the purchaser of our print books. In today’s digital world we can communicate directly with our readers, and they can respond and reach out to us directly.

And of course Jed Lyons of Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, and National Book Network takes the time to characterize ebook devices as the brown paper bag of books:

Right now, it appears that fiction is by far the most popular category, with bestselling novelists leading the charge, closely followed by what used to be called “bodice rippers,” but is now better described as soft-core porn for both male and female readers. The electronic device is today’s substitute for the brown paper bag serving as a dustjacket.

What surprises me is the lack of focus on globalization. If there is anything (beyond going direct to readers) that I would focus on is globalization, leveraging the larger English reading population abroad with no geographic restrictions and reasonable prices.

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Over in comic and gaming land, a public relations disaster was taking place when one PR representative sent increasingly hostile and threatening emails to a consumer, Dave, and then to Mike/Gabe at Penny Arcade.  The whole debacle is well summed up here.

“I want to clear my name. I want to get these people to stop bothering me.”

That was the main message from Ocean Marketing’s Paul Christoforo, a former representative for N-Control’s Avenger controller attachment. He gained immediate infamy among the Internet gaming community after a hostile customer service email exchange went viral after landing on popular gaming webcomic Penny Arcade.

In a matter of hours, Christoforo went from being just another customer service agent to a focus of ire for thousands of gamers. Christoforo was featured in mocking images and videos, and the Avenger product he was representing was hit with widespread derision and negative Amazon reviews, forcing the company to publicly drop Christoforo as its marketing representative.

For me, this debacle brings to mind  Dickwolves. Summary of the dickwolves incident was that there was a comic featuring a rape and a guest blogger of Penny Arcade objected.  Rather than acknowledge that the content could be offensive to some, the founders of Penny Arcade (Gabe/Mike) ratchet up the tension by announcing that they will be selling Dickwolves t shirts. Writes Alexander Bevier:

It wasn’t the Dickwolves that were offensive. It was Penny Arcade’s mockery of those offended by the passive reference of rape. The Dickwolf had become a symbol; a metaphor for mocking those sensitive to rape culture.

As Penny Arcade kept producing Dickwolf garments, industry members starting feeling uncomfortable about the company and what the merchandise represented. In turn, PAX–the hub of the gaming community–also was being affected. Would the convention reflect humor over rape culture? Would gaming be perceived as something that makes fun of rape and rape culture?

Penny Arcade does not back down. Someone makes an unfunny joke about targeting Mike’s family. Mike doesn’t think this is so funny (yet is unperturbed that Paul’s family is implicated. You reap what you sow? )  But Mike still says he’ll be wearing his dickwolves t shirt at the gaming conference.

Not that the dickwolves controversy in any way excuses Paul’s behavior but in light of the dickwolves incident, Mike/Gabe appears cluelessly hypocritical.   Fear not Paul, Mike notes that any kerfluffle on the internet will be gone in a couple of days.

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According to Smashwords, 65,000 books were pulled from other retailers when Amazon offered placement in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library plan.  Not to fear, says Mark Coker, only 5,000 of those titles were on Smashwords.  Coker also notes that the sales of digital books were high on December 25 and 26:

I’m looking at the early sales results for December 25 and December 26 for the titles Smashwords distributes to Barnes & Noble. For these first two days, sales are running about 225% higher than the daily sales average for November through mid-December.

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Demand for eink only devices remains high:

Despite the loss of LCD-based products (relocated into the media tablet category), ePaper-based eReaders continued to see strong shipment growth. In 3Q11 the worldwide total improved to 6.5 million units, up from 5.1 million units in 2Q11, representing quarter-over-quarter growth of 27% and year-over-year growth of 165.9%. IDC expects growth to continue in the fourth quarter thanks to new products introductions and price cuts from the major vendors.

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Speaking of Amazon, M-Edge has filed suit against Amazon for being a bully and an infringer.  Amazon was able to strong arm M-Edge into a contract with increasingly unfavorable terms because Amazon referrals represented about 90% of the company’s revenue. As for the infringement part, M-Edge claims that Amazon ripped off the lighted case design for its Kindle Keyboard lighted case and other Kindle cases.  Reading the litany of Amazon’s bad behavior toward M-Edge should be required for anyone who thinks it is smart to put all their publishing eggs in the Amazon basket.

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Deals

None of these are new but a better curated list of interesting and low priced books.  I’ve noticed that there is a sad lack of contemporaries and paranormals being discounted and it is primarily historicals.  What gives with that?

Read for Free misleading

Another note of caution, in the December 25 post, I listed a number of freebies. Some of those have switched over to being “$0.00 (read for free)”.  The title is actually free, but part of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library and you can only borrow one book a month through that program.  If you accidentally buy it thinking it is free, you can easily request a refund.

Refund option

Go to Manage Your Kindle page (you might want to bookmark this page).  Select the title you want to return and click “Request a Refund”.  It’s that easy.

 

Recommended Books:

  • To Love a Thief by Julie Anne Long * $0.99 * AMZ | BN
  • The Orchard by Theresa Weir * $1.99 * AMZ | BN | S | K

Orbit Books on sale until January 31:

  • The Black Prism by Brent Weeks * $2.99 * AMZ | BN | S | K *highly reviewed*
  • Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells * $2.99 * AMZ | BN | S | K
  • Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey * $2.99 * AMZ | BN | S | K * This e-book edition of Leviathan Wakes includes a free copy of the book (not a sample or a novella)  The Dragon’s Path (The Dagger and the Coin) by Daniel Abraham
  • The Innocent Mage by Karen Miller * $2.99 * AMZ | BN | S | K

Multi pack books

  • Samantha Moon: All Four Novels by J.R. Rain * $1.99 * AMZ | BN
  • Bootscootin’ and Cozy Cash Mysteries Boxed Set by D. D. Scott * $2.99 * AMZ | BN

For our crafter crowd:

  • Knitting Under the Influence by Claire LaZebnik * $1.99 * AMZ | BN | S | K

Famous Authors:

  • Mystic River with A Bonus Excerpt by Dennis Lehane * $1.99 * AMZ | BN | S | K
  • Justice by Karen Robards * $1.99 * AMZ | BN | S | K
  • Luring a Lady (The Stanislaskis) by Nora Roberts * $1.99 * AMZ | BN | S | K *This is a BN Daily Deal and pricematched at Amazon. I suspect it is a one day only price*

Some low priced backlist titles:

  • Yours Until Dawn by Teresa Medeiros * $1.99 * AMZ | BN | S | K
  • Return of Black Douglas by Elaine Coffman * $1.79 * AMZ | BN
  • Wonderful by Jill Barnett * $1.99 * AMZ | BN | S | K

Indie books that I have purchased:

  • Under Her Skin by Jeanienne Frost Ilona Andrews Meljean Brook * $0.99 * AMZ | BN | S | K * I haven’t read this one yet*
  • Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire * $2.99 * AMZ | BN | S | K * Note: this book contains a ragey hero who, in real life, is likely to start beating the heroine at some point.  The book is total wish fulfillment and I have a review for next week planned.  My question to the DA crowd is whether they have any recommendations for pure romance books in a college setting. I really liked the setting in this book.  Further note, I bought this at Kobo using the $1 coupon code: “KoboDollarOff

Updated to add commenters suggestions:

  • Changeling Moon by Dani Harper * 0 * A | BN | K | S
  • The Unidentified Redhead by Alice Clayton * 0.99 * A | BN | K | S
  • Generational Sins by Samantha Blair * 0.99 * A | BN | K | S  * I just read this on recommendation from commenter Amber Skye.  The opening was really shocking for me but it ended up being interesting. Just … be prepared for a very off-putting beginning.  *
  • Flat Out Love by Jessica Park * 3.49 * A | BN | K | S
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 www.amazon.com , 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.

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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 WHSmith.co.uk will be provided by our partner, Kobo. These eBooks will all work with your eReader just like those you’ve previously bought from us.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.’”

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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?

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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.

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From the inbox:

CALL FOR BOOKS FOR MILITARY IN AFGHANISTAN

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!

Irene

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.