Monday News: Terry not so Goodkind, ebooks and hardcovers, sexist new video game
Terry Goodkind Apologizes to Artist After Trashing Cover to Own Book – When Terry Goodkind called his new book cover “laughably bad,” he was in no way insulting the cover artist. Of course he wasn’t! Who would ever think that?! If you believe his lame “apology,” he was really criticizing the publisher. I haven’t read the series, so I don’t know why Goodkind reacted the way he did, but to call that cover “bad” is hardly a precise description coming from a writer. To me, “bad” implies objectively awful, poorly constructed visuals, garish colors, discordant imagery, extra arms or clear evidence of photoshopping – that kind of thing. But this cover image is none of that, from what I can tell, which I think makes Goodkind’s reaction seem more like a temper tantrum than a referendum on the way publishers manage cover art.
Eventually, Lecouffe-Deharme responded to Goodkind’s original post, writing on Saturday, “It was nice working with you Terry. What you are doing is totally disrespectful. As if I didn’t create those covers accorded to exactly what I was told to do. In my entire career I have never seen an author behaving like that.” . . .
“In no way do I feel the quality of the art is rendered poorly,” he continued. “For any misunderstanding, I apologize to the artist, his friends, and of course my own community here.” – Bleeding Cool News
‘The ebook is a stupid product: no creativity, no enhancement,’ says the Hachette Group CEO – You may have seen this quote circulating on Twitter, and yeah, it’s bad. But I don’t think Arnaud Nourry was trashing ebooks, per se; I think he was more demonstrating the persistent ignorance and incompetence traditional publishers have when it comes to digital technologies. And I think he was doing that with a combination of insight and defiance, resenting the existence of digital (because it can disrupt the hardcover model and can’t be “enhanced”) while still acknowledging its appeal and even necessity. And although he may not have intended it, I think Nourry’s comments are a great example of how digital consumers may understand the format far more than (some) traditional publishers do.
It’s been a little over ten years since ebooks came to the market in the form of Kindle. You mentioned a small decline – do you think the market has plateaued? Are there formats other than ebooks that publishers should be looking at?
There are two different geographies to look at for this. In the US and UK, the ebook market is about 20% of the total book market, everywhere else it is 5%-7% because in these places the prices never went down to such a level that the ebook market would get significant traction. I think the plateau, or rather slight decline, that we’re seeing in the US and UK is not going to reverse. It’s the limit of the ebook format. The ebook is a stupid product. It is exactly the same as print, except it’s electronic. There is no creativity, no enhancement, no real digital experience. We, as publishers, have not done a great job going digital. We’ve tried. We’ve tried enhanced or enriched ebooks – didn’t work. We’ve tried apps, websites with our content – we have one or two successes among a hundred failures. I’m talking about the entire industry. We’ve not done very well.
I’m convinced there is something we can invent using our content and digital properties beyond ebooks but I reached the conclusion that we don’t really have the skills and talents in our companies because publishers and editors are accustomed to picking a manuscript and creating a design on a flat page. They don’t really know the full potential of 3-D and digital. So we acquired three video game companies in the last two years to attract talent from different industries and see how we can nurture one another and how we can go beyond the ebook on digital. We need to offer different experiences to our consumers. – Scroll.in
Book clinic: why do publishers still issue hardbacks? – Reading Nourry’s comments next to this statement from The Bookseller’s Philip Jones puts both in a clearer context. Jones confirms the persistent preference publishers have for hardback, not only for prestige and literary value, but also because the traditional publishing+sales ecosystem is still viable and comprehensible:
Size also matters: hardbacks are bigger than paperbacks, they take up more space in bookshops and are more visible – whether in window displays or on bookshop tables. The hardback is the prop forward of the book world: it bashes its way through a crowded marketplace giving the book/author a foothold before the pacier paperback races through. Hardbacks are also more profitable for publishers: they will often sell at twice the price of their paperback equivalent but do not cost twice as much to produce. If a hardback becomes a bestseller, the publisher will often delay the paperback release even though that limits the book’s sales potential. – The Guardian
New ‘Pick-Up Artist’ Video Game Teaches Men How to Be Creeps – In some ways this is no shock, since, as the article notes, PUA is sadly but perfectly fit for a gaming platform. But the fact that Steam is apparently going to sell this thing is, well, let’s go with interesting. Based on the work of Richard La Ruina, the game, “Super Seducer,” was actually banned from Kickstarter, and part of the issue is that PUA manifestos are not marketed as fiction or fantasy, but as a philosophy on women and on male-female relationships, sometimes in vengeful terms (aimed at the women who rejected you). La Ruina claims this is a kinder, gentler version of the PUA narrative, and that women in the game and those who have plated it are “cool with it.”
I also asked La Ruina what he thinks about the criticism that is leveled at PUA these days. He told me that Super Seducer embodies an approach that is much more “wholesome,” and that the women featured in the game and others who have played it are “cool with it.”
“PUAs fall into a spectrum from those that legitimately want to ‘get back’ at women who rejected them their whole life to nice guys who are more like Will Smith in Hitch,” he said. “PUA used to be cool in 2006-9, and obviously it’s not well-placed right now with #metoo. Although I named my business ‘PUA Training’ back in 2006, I’m now married and have always taught ‘natural game’ with an honest approach…so don’t really like that I still have that label stuck to me.” . . .
Super Seducer‘s Steam page lists two publishers, RLR Training Inc and Red Dahlia Interactive, but clicking through to the game’s official site leads to PUATraining.com, which hawks La Ruina’s products. Headlines under the “popular posts” section of the site include “How To Get Your Ex Girlfriend Back (Even If She Hates You)” and “How To Make Women Squirt On Demand.” La Ruina’s byline graces a July 25 story with the headline “WHY WESTERN WOMEN SUCK AND HOW TO PICK UP A LOVELY EASTERN EUROPEAN LADY.” – Motherboard
Glad I’m not the only one puzzled by his reaction to that cover art. Looks fairly standard for a fantasy book.
Btw, publishers, maybe stop trying so hard to make ebooks something more than books and try selling them on their obvious advantages?
Goodkind: Yeah, no.
E-books: We don’t need new experiences. Publishers have tried everything EXCEPT removing DRM; offering discounts as they do with physical books; allowing digital lending/resale; removing geographical and library restrictions, blah, blah, blah. I’m as tired of hearing my own voice as I am listening to publishers who can’t figure out why digital books aren’t a bigger slice of their action. My eyes cannot roll back farther in my head.
PUAs: Yeah, no.
“It is exactly the same as print, except it’s electronic.”
Except I can carry thousands of books in my purse now.
Except I don’t have to store or dispose of my library now.
Except I can adjust the font size to my individual comfort level now.
Except, if I’m patient, I can get sales of $0.99-$3.99 at which print will NEVER be offered anywhere but a yard sale.
Ebooks are really convenient books. That’s all people who read books want them to be. The only improvement I’ve heard any reader request is more convenience. Why are publishers of books surprised they haven’t had success turning books into something else? I like movies and games, but I have absolutely no desire to have them in my books because that’s not what books are for.
For libraries, hardback book stand up to circulation wear and tear a lot better than any other format (other than digital, and don’t get me started on publisher restrictions there)
Of course, as publishers skimp more and more on binding, who knows how long that will remain true.
Terry Goodkind is a very bad writer. Laughably bad.
Any author who un-ironically includes a demon chicken, “evil manifest”, to threaten his characters, has no standing to criticize how anyone else might interpret them.
The whole interview with Nourry is really worth reading. I don’t think he means that ebooks are not worth having, I think he means that they have an inherent limitation because they are no more (or less) than the electronic version of the printed book. He goes on to say that publishers aren’t the best people to figure out other ways of developing the platform because they’re focused on the printed page, and that the innovations will come from other types of creative people.
I remember when Suzanne Brockmann hated the cover to her Harlequin book “Get Lucky” because the guy on the cover didn’t measure up to the super good looking, super fit guy she described. I remember feeling bad for the male cover model because she referred to him as “the staypuff marshmallow man” or something like that and offered smiley face stickers to paste over his face for readers if they wanted them. Not the same as Goodkind but it felt kind of mean at the time. Nowadays there would likely be an uproar over it.
I love ebooks but only for novels. Art books and anything with a lot of pictures or illustrations I will continue to buy in “real” book format. Ebooks, as many people have said allow me to carry about my entire collection of books on my phone if I want to. I no longer have to keep a paperback stuffed into my purse for impromptu reading and I don’t have to show the world what book I am currently reading. I can borrow books from the library without worrying about returning them on time or if they are sticky, stained or soiled from the last reader. I do understand why hard cover novels are still made as my paperback books have all deteriorated no matter how well they were kept. Hardcovers are much sturdier and a more worthwhile investment if you actually want to read the books over time.
I wonder if Terry Goodkind was desperate for attention, because I see absolutely nothing wrong with his cover.
@hapax: I have never Goodkind but a demon chicken? Seriously?
@Christine: There was also Christina Dodd’s notorious cover where the heroine had three arms. Dodd had a legitimate reason to be unhappy with that cover, but she turned it into a conversation-starter:
When reading fiction, I don’t need anything more than words on a (digital) page. When I’m immersed, my brain concocts all the necessary imagery and bells and whistles necessary without any further intervention. Reading allows me to create my own movie in my head. As others above have already noted, I wish publishers would embrace ebooks for what they are and make the existing format/product more appealing.
Not knowing anything about the story, I kinda like that Goodkind cover.
A “wholesome” PUA. Just what the world needs now.
I’d hoped the #MeToo movement might, just might, have driven those PUA cretins back into the woodwork, but no such luck.
I can barely read physical books anymore. I have a problem with both of my elbows which makes it difficult for me to sustain a bent elbow posture. With my ereader, I rest it on a bookseat and move my arm to swipe the pages occasionally and it means I can read without pain. Like many commenters above, I don’t need ebooks to be enhanced. I’d like them to have no DRM and have fewer geo restrictions but at base, ebooks being the exact same thing as a physical book but in an electronic format is *why* I love them.
Terry Goodkind: Blyergh.
I’m back to reading paperbacks but only for older works/HTF/classics because most of these tiny publishers don’t put in much effort or have the means in cleaning up formatting errors/issues or typos, errors from scanning. ::shrug:::
Enhanced ebooks, uh, no. I can see why they fell to the wayside on that.
And Goodkind sounds like he had a hissy fit like you or somebody else said. There’s nothing wrong with that cover.
Terry Goodkind IS a terrible writer, and according to rumour also a horrible person, so seeing him behave badly doesn’t come as a total shock to me. Also, Goodkind writes for Tor, and at least some Tor authors definitely do get some input on their covers; I know of at least one Tor author who had issues with how his characters were portrayed in the cover art, and his editor agreed with him and they had the artist redo the whole thing before it was ever published. So… ???
That said… what Goodkind is doing is undeniably poor form, but sometimes authors probably don’t like their covers, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, and it sort of bothers me that they’re more or less obligated to pretend they like the cover when they might not. I don’t know, all these authors gushing about how GORGEOUS their covers are every single time a new book comes out makes me vaguely suspicious.
Nourry used the word ‘stupid’ about a product that actually adds a lot of value to a lot of readers. Even if he had a valid point in what he was trying to argue, he completely derailed it by using the word ‘stupid.’
And I would argue the ebook actually does have enhancements which he seems to be willfully ignoring. Just the ability to change the font size is enough or change the page by a finger press is enough of an enhancement for people with disabilities. But then there is the ability to search the entire text in minutes to find a phrase, or the ability look up not not just the definition of an unfamiliar word but other contextual information about it with just one touch.
@Janine: “a demon chicken? Seriously?”
Oh, yes. https://news.ansible.uk/a233supp.html
Go read it. It’s the (unintentionally) funniest thing you’ll see all day. “Bawk. Bawk. Bawk.”
I doubt there would be any uproar about Brockmann’s comments if they happened today, because nearly everyone in Romancelandia agreed with her. The cover was terrible, and she wasn’t slamming the model–she was slamming the artist. Because this is all on the artist:
That’s just a hideous, embarrassingly bad cover artistically. The face is badly drawn, the body is disproportionate and weirdly angled. It’s just bad. But then, that artist had done a lot of bad covers for Intimate Moments. I was amazed they let him/her continue for so long, let alone assigned him/her one of their biggest authors and one of her most anticipated books. I’m pretty sure that’s the last cover s/he did for them, for good reason.
Does anyone else think that people wanting to “enhance” e-books are people who are not readers? Defining readers as voracious, leave me alone I’m reading, rather read do than anything else – type readers?
@Tina: That’s a great point, that the ebook is already enhanced.
@hapax: It reads like a parody.
I am so glad I gave up on Terry Goodkind after the second book. I don’t think I could have taken the evil chicken.
@LML: Oh, yes, they’re not readers. They probably don’t wear “F**k off, I’m reading” socks, and likely don’t understand the inherent value of what digital books offer.