Friday News: Apple files for used digital good sales patent; B&N announces video licenses; Publisher rails against protection racket of bookstores; Readers beware
At Writer’s Unboxed yesterday (post has since been removed), the blog post was from an author (not a romance author) who was unhappy with the way in which readers interacted with her. She enumerated several questions she didn’t like including the impertinent ones about money (how much do you make) and manuscript review (will you read my own book) but she also took to task readers who asked where she gets her ideas (very dumb question she says even though it is the very first question she answers on her FAQ at her blog).
Worse of all, she posted a reader email in which the reader expressed how much the reader loved the author’s work and how she had gone on to buy all of the author’s titles but that she was impatient that there were no new books in a particular series. She urged the author to “get on with it.” The author took great affront to this, calling the reader entitled.
There were two things that struck me about this blog post. First that she reposted a fan’s email to her. I hope that the fan did not follow the author online and see the way in which the author dressed her down in such a public fashion. But second that the tone of the email’s charge to “get on with it” resulted in such a negative reaction when the entire email was how much the reader loved the author.
I know that writers feel a lot of pressure these days to produce more product, faster, but I promise that a reader who says “get writing” is only saying this because she has a tremendous desire to read more by that author. It’s really the ultimate compliment.
The blog post was ultimately taken down but I have to wonder what the purpose of the post was in the first place. Chastising readers for not crafting their author emails just write in a public forum seems to be in poor taste and if it is designed to give advice to other authors, then it’s really bad advice.
This incident followed on the heels of another disturbing event where author Lloyd Lofthouse took it upon himself to hunt down reviewers/commenters on his blog and call what he presumed to be their place of employment.
If you leave a comment on a WordPress Blog, you also leave behind your IP address and may discover where the person lives and/or works. In this case, I was handed both locations. It seems that Anna Karennina left her first comment from home and the second one from work at the San Mateo County Office of Education where only staff members and teachers have access to the wireless code. I called the office and ended up speaking to the person in charge of internet security for the county and explained the situation.
Overall this is all so ironic because Mary Janice Davidson emailed me out of the blue about a blog post she wrote about author meltdowns. I emailed back that I was trying to avoid those. No such luck. But I had to pass on these warnings.
Readers, be careful where you comment. Do you trust that person’s blog where you are leaving the comment? Be careful whom you email or your email may be posted for critique by an author.
Apple Patents A System For The Resale And Transfer Of ‘Used’ Digital Goods – Apple is working to kill authors too! (This was the charge when it was revealed that Amazon recently received a patent for used digital sales).
Recent patent filings reveal Apple is asking for a patent to sell used digital content. Apple’s patent contemplates an on sale limitation and a minimum price tag set by the original publisher. In some circumstances, the resale of a used good may result in the renumeration to the original publisher or the online store (like a seller’s fee). The patent application references, specifically, the resale of a book. The patent was just filed and it might be too similar to Amazon’s patent which has already been granted. TechCrunch
Barnes & Noble Announces New NOOK Video™ Partnerships with Major Studios Lionsgate, MGM, Paramount Pictures, Relativity Media and Content Providers National Geographic, Little Pim, and Film Buff – Yahoo! Finance – About two years too late, B&N announces major licensing partnerships with Lionsgate (LGF), MGM, Paramount Pictures, Relativity Media, National Geographic, Little Pim, and Film Buff.
Offering instant access to a wealth of digital entertainment, NOOK Video lets customers shop a vast collection of new releases, blockbuster titles, popular television shows, favorite classics and more, available for streaming or download. NOOK’s newly announced content agreements will bring thousands of additional movies and TV shows for all ages and interests to the NOOK Video catalog, including the blockbuster films The Hunger Games, the Twilight movies, Tyler Perry’s Madea Gets a Job, Skyfall, Rocky, Fargo, Flight, Paranormal Activity 4, Act of Valor, Safe Haven, House at the End of the Street; independent films from Film Buff’s catalog including Charles Swan and Exit from the Gift Shop; and TV shows like Mad Men, Border Wars, Great Migrations, Amazing Planet; as well as educational content via Little Pim, the leading foreign language learning program for young children, plus many more. Press Release
Dale: Booksellers have publishers ‘over a barrel’ | The Bookseller – Ian Dale, a publisher and former politician, railed against booksellers at the Independent Publishers Guild conference who charge publishers a “book trade industry of protection money” to place books in their stores. Or coop. Basically, a publisher pays a certain amount of money to get books placed different areas of the store. They can even buy their way onto a bestseller list according to Dale.
Simon & Schuster was having a tiff with Barnes & Noble over what B&N referred to as the perceived lack of support from S&S. B&N in response was “significantly reduc[ing] its orders from S&S.” Amazon takes its pound of flesh differently by requiring publishers to sell their books to Amazon at a 60% discount. Dale suggested that Amazon’s tax avoidance policies are helping to return buyers to their local independent booksellers.
I didn’t think the “get on with it” was the reader expressing a sense of entitlement at all. I also hope that reader doesn’t ever see the way the author rewrote her email. Talk about a lack of manners! And the so-called apology the blog posted is not an apology at all. Sorry you were upset or offended isn’t the same thing as an actual I’m sorry I was a total jerk and what I wrote was offensive.
Is there anything Amazon and Apple don’t have a patent for?
@library addict- I’m with you. “[S]orry if her post upset or offended anyone” is not ‘I was wrong and I apologize’.
I find the follow up by the blog was just as half-assed. Berating readers not to write anything “offensive or inappropriate”, and to “refrain from personal attacks and digs” is also not ‘we’re sorry and our authors should be held to the same or higher standards than the readers, and we failed here’.
That said, one of the links within one of the articles went to an old SBTB post by Candy in which she said that it’s not worth swearing off asshat authors, because it just deprives her of reading material. I’d ammend that because I won’t pick up authors who make racist/sexist/homophobic/etc. comments, but otherwise, not worth the effort. (Although if I was that reader whose email was published…)
Oh man, the author whose blog post was removed is Juliet Marillier. I’m so disappointed, I am a fan of her works.
I am really sad that Juliet Marillier’s post caused the ruckus, as like Katie, I am a fan of her books and have bought every book she’s written so far except Shadowfell. I agree with Jane’s points , though. However irked one is by a fan mail which seems demanding and “entitled”, it sounds as if her reply was inappropriate (I have not been able to read her post as it’s been taken down). Perhaps her point was that readers, even those who love her work so much, don’t “own” her and for a reader to demand that she write faster maybe struck her the wrong way. She may write as slowly as she chooses, or not at all forever more. I hope she still continues to write for all our sakes as her books are generally wonderfully crafted.
And learn how to use those privacy tools that are available for browsers when you visit places that might be a bit iffy. It does not hurt to be cautious. And Lofthouse has gone way beyond the pale there.
It’s dangerous to give someone as sheltered and solitary as a writer free access to the internet. These days when I get angry or frustrated, I go to ebay and buy something rather than vent where somebody else can see it. I give myself time out. But like a lot of other people, authors or not, I learned the hard way.
I have far too many electronic tablet cases and I’m bringing a lot of jewelry to give away at RT this year.
If I came across a book I really liked, I always took the time to sit down and pen an email telling them so because I thought that authors probably didn’t hear from readers all that often. I will think twice about doing this the next time if they’re going to take it as an insult.
Wait a minute…this is a young adult author?? How does she know the emailer isn’t on the younger side of her fan base which come to think of it, shouldn’t matter one way or another.
I am a reader whose choices are influenced by author behavior. I find no lack of good reading material by chosing not to spend time and money on authors who bash their readers.
JM has chemo during 2011. I’m amazed she has had time and energy to write during her treatment and all my hats are off for her.
I dimly recall her blog at the time she explained that there would be some slippage of deadlines because if her treatment.
So for that reader urging her to “get writing”was insensistive – JM’s chemo was not exactly a secret as she regularly provided short updates on her blog at that time. If that reader was such a fan surely the writer’s own blog would have been one of the first ports of call for info about JM.
She’s actually not that slow; she publishes a book at least once a year. how many of us can do that?
George MM Martin’s response to a similar question from a fan was a real slasher. But i also recall most of the commentary sided with GMMM (at least onthe sites thatt I read at the time).
Will try to dig out a link on the GMMM reaction.
my ipad pecking is bad.
It’s GRR Martin
You forgot to mention that not only did Juliet Marillier post the email, she also re-wrote the email for the reader so the message would be “conveyed more tactfully.” I found her post extremely arrogant and am relieved that I can’t stand her books anyway (I’ve only read one, the first SEVEN SWANS and found it terrible).
The vitriol GRRM receives and the letter JM posted are not even remotely in the same league, and I say this as someone who complains about GRRM’s extremely slow pace.
This blog and its commenters come to mind: http://grrrm.livejournal.com/
When a group regularly says things like “Finish the book you fat fuck,” the author is allowed to call this behavior out as rude. I think I can definitively say that anyone, anywhere, who refers to a person by weight-related nicknames like “Chubbles” and “the Duke of Donut,” is an asshole. Even if the person they are talking about is an author who is not writing very quickly.
This is not at all what happened to JM, and I hesitate to compare the two for that reason.
@Kbum: Men aren’t expected to be gracious, unfailingly polite, and available to all callers 24/7/365/infinity the way women are.
Same old “if you can’t say something nice, you’re not allowed to speak” tactic that varies in favor based on who’s being smacked with it.
Acknowledge rude reponses are best deleted and not posted. I also understand JM’s response. my point is still the same – it is hard to write under deadlines and fans urging those who write occasionally need to be reminded the writer has other things to do.
JM has had a strong reason for not writing as fast as fans would like. In her blog (i dimly recall)she has asked fans to be patient, so it looks like the fan was simply one of many hassling her. It is surprising – in the age of the internet – that the fan called on JM to get on with it given her realtively recent chemo and that JM’s priorities shifted to accomodate her health. So, for me, the fan’ s unrealistic expectations allows reasonable comparison with GRRM’s letter to his fans (I’ve reread that link now , and it and looks reasonable rather than the slasher response I thought it had been).
Neil Gaiman and john scalzi commented on the GRRM response -much better than me.
disclaimers. i’m a reader not a writer but i do work under deadlines. plus i didn’t see the JM reply.
@Ren: I absolutely agree with you that women are often wrongly held to different standards than men, (both in that women are held to ridiculous standards of politeness, and men are not called on being jackasses), but from what I’ve read, I don’t think that’s the case here. Posting a private letter crossed a line, and even though the reader was rude, we all learned in nursery school that two wrongs don’t make a right.
And I’m pretty sure there’s no good excuse for calling readers dumb for asking where she gets her ideas. (That’s an asshole move, male or female.)
@kbum: You’d be surprised at what people do and do not know how to do, or think to do, or are willing to do. On a regular basis, I help 20-somethings who are able to send basic emails and do basic internet searches but who have no clue how to attach something to those emails or modify their search if their initial attempt fails or doesn’t have good results on the first few pages. I used to be surprised by this (“they’ve always lived with computers and the Internet, how can they not know this stuff?”), but I’ve learned to no longer assume that a person who can do one thing knows how to do another. Or that a person of a certain age does/does not know how to do something.
And there’s always the possibility that this particular fan never spent much time on the author’s website or blog. Yes, it’s possible to love all an author’s books and eagerly look forward to their new releases without gobbling up everything they write on social media. If fan mail upsets an author for whatever reason, the best response is no response. I’ve only ever written to an author maybe once. Even though I asked her a question (“Do you have a sequel in the works for this novella I just finished? Please say yes.”), had she not responded, I would simply have assumed she was busy. If I had learned she’d posted my email online and been outraged by the question I’d asked, if I hadn’t immediately dropped her as a favorite author, at the very least every book and story of hers I’d read after that would have been tainted by the knowledge that she’d publicly picked apart the fangirly excited email I’d worked up the courage to write. Instead, we had a very nice exchange in which, after I expressed disappointment that a sequel might only be published in the far future, she helped me figure out which of her other works might be to my taste. It was awesome.
The extraordinary and offensive nature of JM’s reply is only clear if you actually read the fan email, which is available in some places as a screencap. The “get writing” was one sentence in an email about having recently discovered the author, and loving her work. It was clearly a joke and I am amazed that an author could be so blind to tone.
I fully support the “GRRM is not your bitch” post. This was something else. Like everyone else, I hope the fan didn’t see it. I’d be heartbroken.
By All The Ducks In The Pond! Seriously?
What was lacking in that post by the author, was the same thing that must’ve been lacking in her email exchanges with readers — RESPECT. An author/reader exchange should be no different than a business/customer exchange. If any business I patronized treated me with a lack of respect when I emailed, the business could find another customer.
That author would’ve been better served by dishing out a little respect, a smattering of appreciation that the reader bothered to read her work, and – a lot more respect for her reader’s privacy. I hope the reader runs her own blog and has posted her thoughts on the whole thing somewhere.
Here’s a cached version of J. Marillier’s blog post:
Wow – just wow, after reading the cached link posted above.! Hand her a shovel I say – she must be tired of digging this hole for herself with her bare hands.
And this was her response to fan mail???
@Willa: And this was her response to fan mail???
If I got a “rude” letter like that I’d wet myself with happiness. The bulk of my “fan” mail — like 99-percent — is generated by a fan fiction story and NOT by my original work. And, honestly, I’m pretty flipping happy to even get the fan fic correspondences. Some of which are weird, and most, nagging me to write the next chapter. On a free project, no less.
But, so long as the message isn’t abusive, stalker-ish, or otherwise creepy, I don’t get bent by “tone” or assumptions the reader is making. If you put a creative work in the public sphere and include some sort of contact info, you will probably eventually get feedback. And it may not be phrased exactly in a manner that you like.
@RebeccaJ – This year I lost a very dear friend unexpectedly and violently. After his death, I wrote to two authors whose work had either been really enjoyed by my friend or was comfort reading for me after my friend’s death. One author responded so kindly and gently that I still tear up thinking about the generosity of that brief response. The other had an assistant respond saying “author can’t respond, author is superbusy writing, we know that you would rather author wrote than respond and btw sorry for your loss” (and that’s damn close to verbatim) Before anyone makes the obvious assumption, the kind author is published by one of the big six, and the dismissive author is (very successfully) self-published.
In neither case did I expect a response, and the responses I got have permanently shaped my opinion of those two authors as people, as well as influencing my corresponding/recommending/commenting/purchasing behavior going forward.
@Anne V: Maybe authors who can’t or don’t want to respond to reader email should remove the contact form on their web site. Would that be better than using an assistant? If the author can’t respond nicely/personally, perhaps no response is best.
@Anna V, the responses I’ve gotten have all been very nice and positive, too, but now I’m just a little leery about how ppl are taking things.
@Kbum, there are writers that I absolutely LOVE like Rachel Gibson and Jennifer Cruise, and yet I know ZERO about them. I don’t read blogs. Maybe it was the same for this person. Maybe they just don’t know that much about her personal life?
@Jill Sorenson – yes. No email would’ve been better than the response I got. There’s a customer service adage that it takes 25 direct contact good experiences to make up for a single bad experience. Realistically, authors don’t have time to provide those 25 good experiences once there’s been a bad experience, so when authors choose to make contact information available, it’s better to respond not at all than to respond badly – neutral is always better than negative.
I’m terrible about answering reviews because I never know what to say. Plus, I have no idea how to respond on Ff.net or FictionPress (they make it needlessly difficult.) I’ve gotten several nice emails and it takes me days to craft a response because I’m so nervous about coming across rude, then it takes me longer to click the send because of my social phobia.
I know how hard it is to get up the courage and write something more than “Loved the story, thanks,” which is my fallback comment. So I can’t imagine responding to someone brave enough to write me by posting their email or stalking them across the Internet.
It makes me feel as though the authors in question are the ones that are entitled. Sure, the “WRITE MOAR!!!” comments are a little startling, but to get one that’s accompanied with a bunch of gushing love… Why be a jerk? It’s better not to say anything at all.
Ahhh, Melissa Cutler of The Trouble With Cowboys Cutlers?! What a SUH-WEET cover that was!
If I really like a book, I try to take the time to write the author and let them know. Most of the time they have respond with a simple thank you and a brief answer about their next book(s) if I asked if certain characters would be getting a sequel. Even authors who publish multiple books per year have taken the time to reply. But if I don’t get a response it’s no biggie to me. I just figure they’re busy.
I can only imagine how frustrating it is for an author to receive email complaining they shouldn’t use bad words in their books. I’ve heard of more than one author who get emails of this nature regularly and don’t understand why someone would write an author something like that. I don’t bother writing authors if I didn’t enjoy their books. But I will still probably write to authors when I do enjoy their book if they have a contact form or email address on their website (assuming they even have a website, I still can’t believe the number of authors who do not). Maybe I am wrong, but I figure they’d want to know their work connected with a reader. And I have never had a bad experience via email with an author. Guest Q&As are another matter, but that’s a different kettle of fish. So count me as another reader voting that no response if better than a rude/bad response.
“Readers, be careful where you comment. ”
I put a blog post up yesterday with information on how you can mask your IP, if anyone’s interested. I also link to a blog post discussing how a law professor is using IP addresses to out and stalk non-tenured staff who disagree with him. It’s all just horrifying.
@kbum “JM has chemo during 2011. I’m amazed she has had time and energy to write during her treatment and all my hats are off for her.”
She’s obviously got enough time and energy to write a long-ass, snotty, and entirely unnecessary commentary on a piece of squee mail, so not so much with the hat doffing here.
I get the frustration, I do. When I wrote fanfiction, the number of times I or other writers just posted a very long, multi-chapter epic often in the hundreds of thousands of words, and the response from readers would be (literally) “Great. Where’s the next?” would horrify you. Some writers complained we were being treated like coin-operated story machines.
But that was *amateur* writing. Marillier is a professional, presumably paid advances and royalties. She’s compensated for her time. So she has put herself out there with the expectation that new stories will be forthcoming.
No, not all readers understand how hard writing can be. Most readers don’t know about what private stresses are in a writer’s life. Why she couldn’t just send a polite thank you, maybe with a ‘When I’m over the chemo, I hope writing will be easier’, defeats me.
The blog’s moderator response was maddening. Putting the blame on the readers for their understandable anger, rather than the author for showing her arse so egregiously, shows a profound disrespect for the book-reading public. No wonder so many readers don’t think authors deserve thanks, feedback, or respect. Over and over, too many of us have shown we’re not worth it.