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

Text to Speech

Dear Author

Tuesday Midday Links: Amazon’s Charm Offensive

The new draft of the Google Book Settlement was due yesterday but the parties asked (and was granted) until Friday to present a new settlement agreement. Given that the biggest part of the GBKS were orphan works and that was what drew the biggest complaints, I wonder how any new settlement could address this.

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Amazon engaged in a “charm offensive” by flying out a number of top flight agents to its Seattle headquarters last week, as reported by Crains.   This wooing of the agents seemed quite odd (has it ever been done in the past).   One nugget was that agents and Amazon seem to be in agreement that publishers can make more money selling ebooks than hardcovers.   I don’t know if that is true but it seems like publishers may be headed that route regardless.   Certainly Harlequin has been able to be profitable without a hardcover division.   But what to make of Amazon wooing agents? It means something.

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Speaking of Harlequin, Quill & Quire wrote up a piece about Carina Press.   It notes that authors for Carina Press will need to play an active role in promoting their books and included this line about DRM.   Q&Q, DRM doesn’t prevent authors’ works from being copied or downloaded illegally either.

And Carina does not offer digital rights management to prevent authors’ work being copied or downloaded illegally.

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The nook is so popular that Barnes & Noble doesn’t have enough stock to meet demand. Therefore, if you order one now, it won’t come until December 11.   Of course, this presumes that the Spring Design suit doesn’t result in some injunction.

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Richard Nash asks why the sponsors for BEA don’t want to include the public. You know, the people the sponsors sell books to.

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Blogcritics makes the case why you should read debut novels. I thought this was a great blog topic and we’ll have a “best debut novel” recommendation thread later this week.

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A visually impaired gamer sues Sony for not making its games more accessible.   The gamer had sent several emails to Sony requesting “reasonable accommodations” (that’s the legal language of the law) for people with similar disabilities.   I can’t help but think that ebook readers will be subject to this type of legal scrutiny as well.    Of course, the suit would have to be directed at the publishers. If the suit is directed toward Amazon or the nook, they would open up access but the suit cannot impact those not a party, i.e., the publishers who are requiring Amazon to turn off Text to Speech.

Dear Author

Wednesday Midday Links: JA Konrath Posts a Must Read Article and...

Last night, author and reader Nadia Lee, tweeted me a link to JA Konrath’s most recent blog post. It is incredibly illuminating and a must read for anyone interested in publishing and ebooks. Konrath has been experimenting with releasing his own fiction (mostly short stories) on the Kindle. He had shared his success earlier this year. You’ll need to go and read the entire post to get a full sense of what is going on with Konrath’s Kindle sales. Suffice to say that in the first half of 2009, he’s sold 1237 ebooks of his New York published books netting him $2008. Of his self published titles, he has sold 9800 ebook netting him $6860. Konrath does the math to figure out what he would be earning if he sold his NY published titles directly on the Kindle and well, read it for yourself.

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Booklist Online is hosting a FREE webinar about the state of the romance genre in libraries and the marketplace.

Romance is hot . . . in the library, that is. Join Donna Seaman, Booklist‘s romance fiction editor, and a panel of librarians, authors, and publishers to discuss the state of the genre-’in public libraries and in the marketplace. Panelists include John Charles, Reference Librarian, Scottsdale (AZ) Public Library; Shelley Mosley, Adjunct Librarian at Glendale (AZ) Community College; Madeline Hunter, best-selling author of 17 historical romances; Kayleigh George, Library Marketing Coordinator at HarperCollins Publishers; and Cheryl Herman, Library Marketing Director for Books on Tape and Listening Library (Random House).

Did I mention it was free? The date is November 12 from 3-4 pm CST. Thanks to Jennifer Estep for this link.

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Jane Friedman’s new venture is fleshed out in greater detail over at the New York Times. Motoko Rich writes that Freidman will be partnering with Grove and Kensington to re-release books digitally that have been out of print or not previously available in digital format. Friedman’s group is also going to look to publish new authors in digital format first.

Together with Jeffrey Sharp, a film producer of features including "Boys Don’t Cry" and "You Can Count on Me," Ms. Friedman, 64, has founded Open Road Integrated Media to focus almost exclusively on digital publishing. The company will also seek new authors willing to be published in the electronic format first.
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Ms. Friedman said that between the backlist titles, new works and joint marketing agreements, which will include some self-published works, the company will help to market 750 to 1,000 titles in its first year.

Kensington is noted to be a romance publisher with strong African American and gay and lesbian lines. Does that mean Friedman will be stepping up digital publishing in the gay romance fiction market? I can’t wait to see. Friedman presided over 10 years of growth at HarperCollins.

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Speaking of Kensington, Publishers Weekly had the news that Victoria Alexander has left Avon to join Kensington in a 5 book deal. I’ve heard of another major author who has jumped ship and will be moving to a new house soon. Does it seem like that is happening more and more? Liz Carlyle leaving Pocket to go to Avon. Teresa Medeiros leaving Avon to go to Pocket. Roxanne St. Claire leaving Pocket to go to Grand Central.

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LA Public Library is demanding equal access for its disabled readers. It will refuse to buy any new ebooks from Overdrive, a fulfillment service, for its patrons until Adobe turns Text to Speech back on.

Some 30 million Americans potentially rely on software accessibility features to access library materials, according to the Reading Rights Coalition (RRC). So last spring, when text-to-speech (TTS) stopped working on OverDrive ebooks because of a software change from Adobe, millions of print-disabled patrons found themselves with fewer options for accessing digital library materials.

I’m not sure whether TTS stopped working on ebooks because of a software change or whether it was something Adobe did under pressure from the Authors’ Guild? Remember the Authors’ Guild is the entity who pressured Kindle into turning off its TTS feature.

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Google has announced in Frankfurt’s Book Fair that it would be releasing its “ebooks in the cloud” early next year. While Google claims that it is device agnostic and will allow anyone, with any device, to buy anywhere, I’m doubtful. Here is why. First, to allow offline reading, Google would have to have some kind of app for the platforms out there. Second, unless Google is magically resolving territorial disputes, readers access will still be limited. I’m unenthused about yet another format and DRM.

Existing retail and publisher partnerships that the company has through its Google Preview programme are expected to pave the way for groups to sign up. W H Smith, Blackwell and The Book Depository are existing partners, as are thousands of UK publishers.

Edmonds said it was “definitely” Google’s intention to partner with device manufacturers, but declined to give names. She added she “doubted” Kindle would be on board.

Given the favorable terms for publishers under the Google probram, I perceive the rush for pubs to sign up with Google and stick it to Amazon will leave treadmarks.

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If you are looking for a new ebook reading device, the Barnes and Noble one might be what you are looking for. Gizmodo has the scoop that the new device (to be announced next week) will feature both an eInk screen and an lcd touchscreen and that it will not only sell BN books but also allow access to the Google Books Project (will that include the buy anywhere, everywhere, anything cloud access?) The BN device also has some kind of light built in. I’m getting kind of excited about it even though I hate the ereader format. (I did note that someone suggested that it might read ePub, but I think we’ll have to wait until next week to confirm).

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A reader, Kim, wrote me to report a happy customer service incident at GoodReads. A reader had written up a negative review of a book. Two of the author’s rabid fan girls wrote some very nasty comments and then followed up by writing up reviews targeting the initial reader. The author came in to publicly thank the two rabid reviewers (cue eyeroll). The incident was reported to GoodReads who retrieved the comments and reviews. The two rabid fan girls got their accounts deleted for harassment.

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Still with me? Dear Author has some very cool (at least to us) news. A few months ago, Harlequin Books contacted Dear Author and asked if we were interested in suggesting a few out of print titles to put into a digital bundle. Other bloggers have been invited to do this as well. In January, the first Blogger Bundles will be released including the one from Dear Author. The titles that we have chosen are the following:

  • Jo Leigh- Arm Candy
  • Kathleen O’Reilly -  Just Kiss Me
  • Kay David -  Obsession
  • Kathryn Shay - Code of Honor

We’ll do a review of all the books in late December to whet your appetite.   We hope that you buy the bundle and enjoy the books and if you don’t, you should come back and tell us so!   Obligatory FTC thing here. We are not getting any money from this (unless you buy it through an affiliate link) but Harlequin did buy me dinner at RWA where I joked with Malle Vallik about doing a Dear Author Presents Presents bundle of all Susan Napier backlist titles…