News and Musings

Sometimes, instead of one long blog post, I find myself with lots of smaller things I want to share. Today is one of those days.
- Earlier this week, I read an interesting piece in Forbes comparing Harlequin with Harvard Business Publishing. What could they have in common? Well, according to Nick Morgan, both have put lots of time and effort into community building. There are folks that just buy the occasional book here and there, but the most dedicated readers I know love to talk about books, so I’m all for having communities where we can do that. Reader-oriented sites and publisher sites obviously offer different things, but I know I’ve visited both and I suspect many readers have as well. Personally, I first discovered the online book world just as I was emerging from the free time-less fog known as law school and I’ve so enjoyed the people and ideas I’ve encountered there. Things have evolved a lot, particularly in the past few years, and I’ll be curious to see where publishers go in their community building. I think Harlequin has a headstart on most, but I see others getting into it as well, with blogs, Facebook pages and sites such as Heroes and Heartbreakers.

- And speaking of Harlequin, right now they are having their end of summer clearance sale. You can find all the sale books here.

– On the issue of community, I’ve enjoyed using Goodreads to keep track of my own reading, but it’s impossible not to be aware of some of the site’s shortcomings as well. Anyone spending time on book sites has probably heard at least a bit about dramas old and new as well as the existence of different sets of guidelines for readers as opposed to authors. And then there’s Goodreads’ policy with regard to “hiding” certain reviews. If you haven’t seen them, VacuousMinx has a couple of posts dedicated to some of the percolating issues at Goodreads, and they’re very helpful. You can find them here and here. Personally, I continue to use my Goodreads account because I find the organization aspect of it helpful (and because Librarything is blocked on my work computer for some unknown reason), but I do find the evolving issues over there relevant to watch.

– As a reader, I tend to focus more on books that actually make it shelves rather than analyzing the minutiae of deals and keeping track of which ones never make it to print. However, if you’ve ever wondered what can happen to authors who receive an advance and don’t deliver a book, check out The Smoking Gun to see what Penguin is up to. As a fairly basic proposition, the idea of suing someone for breach of contract after you pay them for work and then never receive the work for which you contracted makes sense. From what I understand, the court filings include copies of the contracts at issue, so I’d certainly be curious to see them.

– Guess what’s going on next week? It’s Banned Books Week! Have you ever been touched by a book censorship challenge? I’ve loved reading for almost as long as I can remember, so book censorship issues tend to pop on my radar. When I was a senior in high school, there were book banning challenges going on in our county. The week before some bans were to take effect, my English teacher gave us a list of the books to be yanked, told us to pick the book of our choice, read it and write about it. That was probably the most fun I had writing a report. Check here for more ideas about “celebrating the freedom to read.”

– Much has been said about the Wild West that is self-publishing among readers of romance, and now the Literary Review of Canada weighs in, wondering what the blurring of the lines between mainstream publishing and self-publishing will mean for the future. I’m glad to see the author recognizing that self-publishing is different now, and not to be dismissed, even if I’m not sure I see the death of literature looming on the horizon.

– This has actually been out there for a while, but I haven’t had an excuse to put it on the blog. But hey, today’s Friday and I want a good laugh to start the weekend! Books such as Fifty Shades of Grey and The Siren have made more people curious about BDSM. In this hilarious piece, the folks at Jezebel unpacked Cosmo’s BDSM guide. This is probably not worksafe for all offices, but we just about died reading it in mine.

– Lynn Spencer

9 thoughts on “News and Musings

  1. Thank you for the link to the Jezebel piece, I think. I should have heeded your NSFW warning – I am now laughing so hard that I’m crying and my colleagues are looking at me like I’ve lost my mind. Happy Friday!

  2. You know lately Goodreads seems like a breeding ground for controversy. What is up with that? I honestly go there, save books I want to read on my shelves and read my friends recommendations. Every once in a while I register for a give-away book but since I haven’t won, I not really motivated to continue.

    I have no problem with potential authors being sued for not delivery the goods? Why should they be paid for it?

  3. For the piece about Penguin suing authors – some say that is unprecedented and also it’s the cost of doing business. I’ve been told the latter in a lot in my career, didn’t stop me from doing eye rolling. Publishers lose money on some of those huge advances so it shouldn’t be any surprise if they pay advances on projects never finished? I’m not an insider, just a reader speculating.

    I rarely use Goodreads but reopened an account there. I mostly stay in my little area with reading friends recs and adding books to my shelves. That is the extent of my use there.

    • That’s mostly what I use Goodreads for, too. It helps me keep track of what I’ve read, books I’ve liked, etc…, and I’ve found some interesting-sounding books on there.

      With regard to Penguin, I’m not surprised to hear publishers lose money on some of those big advances, but I’m also not shocked that someone would decide enough is enough, and start taking on possible breaches of contract. I haven’t read the actual court papers, but I’d be curious to see what’s in there.

  4. Just curious: Where are you on Goodreads? I didn’t know any of the AAR crew was up there ex Lea with audiobooks.

  5. Thank you, Lynn. I enjoy book news and really appreciate the variety of areas you pointed out for further reading and thought. Ta!

  6. I, too, use Goodreads to track my own reading and to write reviews so that I can remember how I felt about the book. So far I’ve steered clear of the mess and intend to keep on doing just what I do. I enjoy reviewing and reading my Goodreads friends’ reviews. Even though I get ideas from my friends’ reviews, I get more new book ideas from other review sites (such as AAR) and from my real-life romance book club friends.

    I’ve pretty much stopped entering any free-book contests from Indy writers. I generally will only enter contests when I know the site well or have already read the author. I can afford to buy my books, and I refuse to be obligated, subtly or overtly, to review a book positively. I review almost every book I read, my own habit, but I don’t want to feel like my review has to be a positive one.

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