Wednesday News: Oyster’s new CFO, Goodreads’ new author policy, black authors and self-publishing, and Kindle cover disasters
E-Book Startup Oyster Hires Jeannie Mun As Its First CFO – Jeannie Mun, formerly of MediaMath and Operative, is now CFO of Oyster, which demonstrates the seriousness with which the company is approaching a successful model for the subscription ebook service. That Barry McCarthy, CFO of Netflix, is also going to serve in an advisory capacity indicates the Oyster’s ambition. And Mun definitely has plans to build the company:
Mun suggested that Oyster has been largely product-focused until now, with “relatively little outbound efforts” aimed at increasing the subscriber base — so hiring a CFO is part of a broader shift towards growth mode.
“What I’ve always focused on is helping companies grow, and really thinking about what the future holds, and what scenarios should we evaluate today to really set us up for success to tomorrow,” she said. –Tech Crunch
Goodreads Has Decided That There is No Friendzone for Authors and People – With their usual smooth and straightforward implementation, Goodreads has completely mucked up a change in the way they allow its users to interact with authors (and, of course, users include authors). Ostensibly this is supposed to give users more options in their interaction with authors (the friend, follow, or favorite system), but instead it has redefined authors as “pages” instead of “members,” which has caused a lot of understandable surprise and frustration among readers who had no idea some of their “friends” and “followers” were authors. And for authors, it has basically erased their ability to create a separate author profile. For authors who produce erotic work, for example, there are understandable reasons for not wanting the local PTA to know that they’re writing daddy-daughter sexual fantasies, or whatever.
To start with, the old system had members forming connections with authors, while under the new system members “engage with author pages” – and yes, that is the way GR framed the interactions.
Yes, authors are no longer members of Goodreads; they’re now pages. In other words, Goodreads sees authors as things. –Ink, Bits & Pixels (aka The Digital Reader)
Black Authors and Self-Publishing – I love this piece by Zetta Elliott on why she self-publishes children’s lit featuring characters of color. Not only does she address the problem of diversity within the publishing industry, and the effect that has on what is and isn’t being published, but she also makes some great points about how much longer it takes for stories produced through traditional publishing to reach fruition v. how quickly she can bring a book featuring current events or issues to market:
A friend who is a librarian in Oakland, CA, recently encountered a young patron requesting a book on Michael Brown, and she had to explain that the traditional publishing process will likely take years to produce such a book. Police brutality is an issue of great importance to the Black community—the poet Jordan has called it one of our “urgencies”—yet the publishing industry has failed to produce children’s books that reflect and/or explain this reality. According to Horn Book editor-in-chief Roger Sutton, self-published books “aren’t filling any kind of need that isn’t already being met by established publishers,” as he wrote in a blog post entitled “An open letter to the self-published author feeling dissed.” Sutton finds it “difficult to otherwise think of subjects that scare the mainstream off.”
Really? How many children’s books do we have about police brutality—mass incarceration—lynching—HIV/AIDS? Homelessness and suicide among queer youth of color? How many books show Black children using magic and/or technology to shape an alternative universe? . . .
I am hopeful that more public libraries will embrace a community-based publishing model and assist diverse patrons as they learn how to tell their stories, becoming producers and not just consumers of books. Public libraries have served as a sanctuary for me since I was a child, and I had a library card in this country long before I had a green card. The Brooklyn Public Library sends me into dozens of schools every year, enabling hundreds of kids of color to meet an author who lives in and writes about the magic to be found in their community. Most of my thirteen books for young readers aren’t part of the library’s collection, but perhaps that will change over time. I am hopeful that in the future the bias against self-published books will diminish as gatekeepers realize that it is unfair to punish writers of color for failing at a game that’s rigged. Until then, I will continue to self-publish, and I will offer my “organic” writing to the members of my community. I will find a home where my creativity can flourish. I will insist upon my right to breathe. –School Library Journal
Kindle Cover Disasters – There are no words. Well, there actually are words, and they’re on the covers of these books. But, really, there are no words. –Tumblr
Those covers. I’m scarred for life!
Re: Kindle Covers- yet, again- warn a person who might be drinking a morning beverage about the hilarity of these things- I could have spit up on my laptop! :-)
In an effort to bring the new releases post to DA, I had to page through 60 screens of “romance” books at Amazon. I put romance in scare quotes because “Club of Virgins” didn’t seem very romance-y to me. But the covers, holy heck, the covers are so abysmal.
Wait. I’m confused. Those titles, captions, whatever that are on those covers–those are things the KCD site added as commentary, right? They are not what the author stuck on their own book, right?
Why does Goodreads continually screw up a once-good thing? I refuse to go there anymore. This stupidity cements it.
@Patricia Burroughs [aka pooks]: Yeah, I think they’re commentary. One of my favorites is the one for Old Ladies who Love Porn: “This is one of those instances where Amazon’s ‘Look Inside’ feature comes across as less of an invitation than a dare.” Bwahahahahahaha.
@S. J. Pajonas: I could just never get into Goodreads. First it was the way they structured their review system so you couldn’t just tag a book “not in a million fucking years” without having to rate it as well. Then it was the whole ‘we’re removing reader content but it’s not censorship,’ thing. Uh, it may not be government Censorship, but they sure as hell were censoring reader content for the benefit of authors, and sorry but NO. Now this. And it’s sad, IMO, because I actually think the “authors as pages” thing has potential to depersonalize the author-reader relationship. But it doesn’t seem like that’s the line of thinking over there. I did manage to open a Booklikes account, but then they dumped all these followers into my account and I haven’t even had the wherewithal to get over there and deal with that.
I’ve never been all that fond of Goodreads, so any recs for an alternative would be appreciated. I need a place to note what books I’ve read so I don’t repeat them, but I’d really like an on-line place for discussions of books, which doesn’t seem to happen, unless your real friends are 1) on GR and 2) interested in the same books as you (in which case, you could discuss them in person)
As an author with no base I’m aware how vital reviews on Goodreads and Amazon are in getting word out to new readers. It has caused me to spend a lot of time on Goodreads, to give books away there in order to reach new readers, etc. I’ve found a number of people whose reviews I follow, a lot of smart readers whose opinions I value. It also has had a bit of a Facebook effect, since friends I haven’t heard of in years show up there and we reconnect via books. Since I haven’t been involved in any of the groups, I haven’t been exposed to the nightmare situations that have exploded from time to time, but I’ve tried to learn from them by following along via DA, SBTB etc. when something is going on.
I also use GR to log my books just to keep up with what I’ve read. That’s often how I figure out if I have read a book or not. I sold a book once because a reader I met at an event opened up her iphone to add my book to her GR least, only to see that one of her close friends and fellow reviewers had given it 5 stars. Instead of adding it to her list, she bought the book on the spot.
I agree with everything negative said about GR. But it has enough benefits for me to continue to use it. I hope this new ‘author page’ instead of just being another reader doesn’t backfire on authors. For all that I said I need GR as an author, my main usage is as a reader and it’s frustrating to have that negated.
I have one friend on goodreads and that was fine. I use it mainly for title/release information. NOW….with this stupid change, “the pages” of authors that I have “followed” are showing up on my homepage. No matter how much I like an author I resent instant content updates to what they are posting…..that’s why I never suscribe to RSS feeds. SHEESH!
Thanks for the link to the Zetta Elliot piece, but those Kindle covers…I cannot un-see them EVER!
Despite the current changes on Goodreads I’ll continue to use it voraciously – it’s the only way I can keep track of the books I’ve already read as I read 400+ books in a year. Plus it’s helpful for me as a reviewer as I can put my review on Goodreads in advance of a book’s release and then just copy it over to sale sites.
There’s 20 minutes of my life I will never get back. That said, my covers no longer look like anything but High Art.
FYI — for all the talk of people leaving Goodreads, I can’t see it. After my recent Bookbub special I thought, well, I’ll finally break 50 reviews on Amazon. I think I had 47? Well, I’ve been sitting at 49 for days. In the meantime, I’ve picked up over 20 ratings and several reviews on GR.
People still like it. People still use it.
At least, that’s my small bit of experience there.
Am I the only one who looked at the covers and was glad there wasn’t a 1-click attached?
I’m still on Goodreads though I haven’t reviewed much due to real life reasons – I do comment regularly and have connected to a nice, manageable group of friends (authors I already knew from LJ and other readers who have similar tastes).
I find that if you keep your friending and following to known people or are a bit cautious on who to friend all those shitstorms tend to pass you by. Maybe I’m just lucky, though -also I tend to just not review dnf books anymore, too much effort. So I don’t tend to get angry reactions, heh.
@Patricia Burroughs [aka pooks]: My understanding as someone who doesn’t use GR is that a number of the people who complained and ostensibly left GR after the controversy ended up coming back several months later. So I think you’re right that people still use it and find it useful.
My main issue with GR is that it leverages reader content, which is provided for free, to draw authors, because authors are where the $$ is for GR.
I wouldn’t have ever shown up there if I hadn’t been advised that it was a good place for an author to be. But even though I read every review, love getting reviews, and even appreciate the bad ones–if that vanished, I’d still be there. I like that I have acquired a habit of listing most of my books there, so can keep track of what I’ve read and haven’t. I like skimming reviews when I want information about a book, because people seem pretty good about using the spoiler tags to hide spoilers.
I’m not sure what the answer is to the problems we face today of valuing convenience and entertainment more than we do privacy and the use of our information.
Just my own experience re: GR use. Ever since they deleted the reviews which mentioned authors’ bad behavior I have not posted a single review there. However, I never completely left – meaning that I have not stopped reading book friends’ reviews and occasionally commenting on them. I have to admit that I almost stopped talking there though. I also know some people who deleted all their old reviews and left and some who left and came back. I definitely think that for those who use GR as database it still works much better than any other site. However for me personally, I was never that interested in keeping track of what I read. I was there to post reviews and blogging format works for that and now I do that on Booklikes and for me it works very well. But once again – for keeping track looks like they are still the best option. Because a lot of my book buds from Amazon board are there and some of them post reviews on GR which they do not post on Amazon, I do not see myself leaving completely. But thats the only use I have for GR these days.