Now, Keene is calling for a boycott of Dorchester. (Not only did this make Galleycat and Publishers Weekly, but it even made Huffpost Books.) Not only is Dorchester not paying authors, which is bad enough, but they are also selling books to which they no longer have the rights. Say what?! In Keene’s case, even after the rights were returned to him, Dorchester continued to sell editions of his books for the Kindle, Nook, iPad, and other devices. Dorchester kept making excuses, none of which he believed. However, most authors, like Keene, don’t have the means, let alone the time and patience, to sue Dorchester. Besides, they might have better luck getting blood out of a turnip.
Without realizing it, I reached a tipping point recently. Have you seen those newsletters from booksellers that alert you about books you might be interested in? Last year, I subscribed to a number of those. Imagine my surprise when I opened a Borders newsletter with the subject line “New from an Author You Love.” It was announcing a James Patterson release. (Do I really need a newsletter to know James Patterson has a new book out? He always has a new book out.)
Sheesh. You buy one James Patterson thriller (hey, it was on sale), and they think they’ve got your number. I also got similar messages announcing new books by P. C. Cast, Nora Roberts, Iris Johansen, Stieg Larsson, and others. At least those made sense. I also subscribed to newsletters from Amazon and B&N, not wanting to miss out on news books or discounts. Of course, I also checked the recommendations on Amazon and B&N (“Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought…”).
According to techie news site Ars Technica, Selena Kitt, a self-published author of erotic fiction and a publisher, reported that Amazon removed some of her stories from the print store and from the Kindle store. Other authors affected include Esmeralda Green and Jess C Scott. Amazon did not give an explanation to the authors, but the stories had one thing in common — they all contained erotic incest fantasies.
Kitt’s non-incest stories seem unaffected. Early reports that Amazon was removing the stories from readers’ Kindles were wrong. However, they did remove the stories from readers’ archives, so if those readers want to read the stories later, they are out of luck. They may be able to get a refund, but that depends.
If this is Tuesday, there must be a new controversy about eBooks. Recently, the Technology section of the Washington Post reported that both Amazon was selling Project Gutenberg titles in their eBook stores. This was picked up by other sources, including the Huffington Post. Amazon bashing ensued. People quickly found similar titles available on Barnes and Noble. Of course, B&N bashing ensued as well.
As usual, the blame, if there should be any, was misplaced. Many people were pointing fingers at Amazon and B&N, forgetting that in most of these cases, they aren’t the publishers. These titles were put up by people selling PG titles through CreateSpace at Amazon or PubIt at B&N. Just copy the text from Project Gutenberg, reformat it, and upload it for sale at Amazon and B&N. Presto, you’re a publisher. It’s not illegal, and it is allowed by the Project Gutenberg license, but some argue that it’s unethical. After all, the PG volunteers put a lot of effort into scanning and proofreading the eBooks, only to see someone selling the very same editions.
Many long-time romance readers didn’t know what to make when Harlequin announced that they were changing the name of the Silhouette line to Harlequin in April of next year. Until the details became better known, there was even fear that the Silhouette lines were being discontinued. Luckily, as it turns out, this was simply a name change.
I should have seen it coming. In June of this year, Harlequin announced that the Silhouette Nocturne was now the Harlequin Nocturne line. According to a post from a reader on GoodReads, Harlequin announced, “If you’re looking for the Nocturnes on eHarlequin, be advised that starting in June Nocturne is making a slight switch from Silhouette Nocturne to Harlequin Nocturne. Don’t worry, the authors, books and elements you love about Nocturne aren’t changing, they’re just trying it make it a bit easier for Harlequin fans to find more paranormal romances! There is now a page for Harlequin Nocturne on eHarlequin.com, and the backlist titles still under Silhouette are available here. ” As far as I can tell, this text is no longer visible on the eHarlequin site.
I have a confession to make. In the past month, I bought more collectible anthologies than I should from Cemetery Dance, a small press specializing in horror. When I signed up for their newsletter, I wasn’t expecting this, not when so many publisher newsletters give me the doldrums. Whoops. Before you knew it, I had ordered several gorgeous hardcovers. They enticed me from right off the bat with phrases words like “72% off” and “Free book” right in the subject lines. Usually, I hate it when companies fill my inbox with lots of offers, but I couldn’t wait to see what they were offering next. Who wants to be left behind?
Bookstores all over the world are feeling the pinch, just like all other retailers. Many of the bigger chains are coping by selling nonbook items. Today’s B&N or Borders customer can see everything from a funky coffee mug to stuffed animals and Japanese treats. Oh, and don’t forget the coffee and cookies.
This summer, my favorite Barnes & Noble started remodeling, making room for a new section selling educational toys and games. This happened all around the country. All brick-and-mortar bookstores are competing with Amazon as well as stores such as Wal-Mart and Costco that carry fewer books but discount what they sell. They are also competing with the growing eBook field. In the article, Carolyn Reidy, the chief executive of Simon & Schuster (talk about an industry expert) predicts that eBooks could make up 40% of her company’s revenue in the next 3-5 years. Yet publishers are worried that as more brick-and-mortar bookstores close, fewer people (eBook readers included) will be exposed to the latest books. Without the displays, customers won’t know what’s out there.
Publishers Weekly is a trade journal read primarily by booksellers and librarians (although some authors subscribe because of the industry news, and book geeks like me will spring for a copy now and then). They review releases from large and small publishers alike, and their reviews are respected by industry professionals who use them to determine which books to order.
Last week, their reputation took a hit because of a new program, PW Select. PW describes it as “a quarterly supplement announcing self-published titles and reviewing those we believe are most deserving of a critical assessment.”
Authors have to pay to be included – without promise of a review. The listing will include include author, title, price, description, etc., which is not a lot to go on if you’re a bookseller deciding which books to order. PW explains “We briefly considered charging for reviews, but in the end preferred to maintain our right to review what we deemed worthy.” They also promise that at least 25 of the titles will get reviewed, but for now, there is no way to tell how many books will be listed. Will that be 25 out of 100? Or 25 out of 500? Or 25 out of 1,000 or more?
In the wake of this news, one of Dorchester’s most popular horror writers, Brian Keene, announced on his blog that he was leaving Leisure Books, a division of Dorchester. In the horror field, this is big news because the only mass market press that puts out
horror on a regular basis is Leisure Books. Horror is like traditional Regencies or Westerns — always on someone’s endangered species list.
Enhanced e-books sound like yet another “wave of the future” that most readers never asked for. Yet it seems that every few weeks, there’s another story where a mainstream journalist waxes poetic about how the future of e-books is enhanced e-books. Continue reading →