Friday, October 31, 2008

A List Of Blog Novels

Blog Novels: the definitive list
New Writing International is aiming to compile a definitive list of blog novels.

At the time of this post, there are forty-five listed.

That link might be hinky. It's not for the post, but the top level. The post doesn't have a permalink (yet?). Look to the Top Posts on the right side to possibly find it later.

New Writing International has also undergone a redesign.

Hey, Stupid: eBooks Don't Have Returns

Returned Inventory Fees Shutter Impetus Press
"We have been hit with a procession of distribution-related problems which have put us into a financial situation that is forcing us to close our doors," they explain. "For the better part of the year, we have been paying very high return fees to our distributor — many generated by books being sent back by the currently less-than-stable Borders — fees which have slowly been bleeding us dry... Try as we might, we have been unable to figure a way out of this situation as we have never been long on capital and with the economy being in such a disastrous state, there is no hope of finding any money from an outside source."

I wonder what this venture was capitalized at?

I wonder how much frikkin Internet advertising they could have paid for instead of wasting it on print, paper, and shipping?

I wonder how many eBooks they would have been able to sell if they'd put some hardcore effort behind such a plan?

One more dying dinosaur of print drops dead.

Death by self-inflicted cluelessness.

The Great Book Bank Robbery

At last, there is someone else on the Internet who understands the implications of the Google Book Search settlement!

His punctuation is all hell in this post. I expect he wrote it while holding back.

The Morning After the Great Book Bank Robbery
What will be the relationship between authors and publishers as they become tethered for life with no divorces?

Emphasis added by me.

And:
Forget right reversals Google has wiped that of the agenda in one swoop and some major publishers have got their way, albeit with Google’s considerable help. There is now no ‘reprint under consideration’ only a notice saying ‘Go get it from Google’.

Emphasis added by me.

Oh we'll soon see how hard rights reversals are going to get.

I'm seeking them right now.

And my ex-publisher better recall what a mad son of a bitch I am.

Many other writers might have to turn into mad sons of bitches too.

Reference: Shrink PDFs

WOiP Tip - Reduce PDFs For Quicker Access
Over the past year I have been moving toward a "paperless" work-style. Most of my important documents and text are now in electronic format - most of the time PDF. As a result, I can literally have an entire reference library with me at all times on either my iPhone or iPod Touch. Unfortunately, PDFs can be huge, and that is where the problem begins.

The handhelds seem to be able to handle rather large files but, unfortunately, they can take a long time to load. Try to resize them and you end up waiting a long time. Moreover, flipping from one page to the next is at best, a slow process.

That's where the tip comes in...

Shrink PDFs!

Most PDF programs offer the option to shrink PDFs. Unfortunately, the quality is often rather poor. Apago's PDFShrink for the Mac, however, offers a huge degree of control over the compression and quality. After a bit of experimenting I found a setting that provided excellent compression but maintained the high degree of image quality that I want when reading documents. A 7MB PFD files was reduced to just 1MB. The result? It loads super fast on my iPhone and, once loaded, is much easier, faster and stable when resizing or flipping pages.

I still haven't gotten around to reading the Sony guidelines for optimized Sony Reader PDFs. I wonder if this added step could make them even better?

Quote: Writer Ann Somerville

In a Comment over at Dear Author:
If your site looks like someone threw up in HTML all over it, your visitors might expect your writing is similarly chaotic (and in my experience, truly lousy websites almost always go with truly lousy writing, just as truly lousy publisher sites are the mark of a business with a less than professional attitude.)

FTW!

Writer Nick Belardes Get MSM Press

The novel by tweet
Nick Belardes believes in brevity. He hews close to that hallowed maxim, beloved by middle school English teachers and old-fashioned newsmen alike: Keep it simple, stupid.

“People need to be educated to be more concise,” says Mr. Belardes, a journalist and novelist based in Bakersfield, Calif. “Every day, we get these super-long-winded e-mails. You can communicate more if you say a little less.”

Earlier this year, Belardes was cleaning out his desk drawer when he came across an unfinished manuscript for a workplace novel called “Small Places.”

He briefly considered shipping the thing off to publishers for consideration. Instead, he decided to serialize “Small Places” on Twitter, a popular microblogging site.

You can get this novel by Following smallplaces.

Free eBook: Digital Magic

Apologies and freebies
And the freebie? Well I wouldn't want to leave my WATE listeners out, so here... Digital Magic, the sequel to Chasing the Bard, free and complete. Enjoy and spread the word about it and Double Trouble.

Go there for the PDF file.

Free Book Chapter: Financial Armageddon

Financial Armageddon: Korea and Japan Sign On
I've just learned that my publisher, Kaplan, has sold the rights to the Korean and Japanese versions of Financial Armageddon.

In celebration (or, perhaps, as a final inducement to those English-speaking readers who've not yet gone out and bought a copy of their own), I've just uploaded a PDF version of Chapter One, entitled "Debt," from the hardcover version of Financial Armageddon.

Go there for the link.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Final Sony Reader Revolution Video?

Day 28: Reader Revolution



Hey, where's Day 29 and Day 30?!

At least now I know what the allusion to the "Chuck Norris signs" was about earlier today.

Dave Farrow Has Left The Window!



Dave Farrow -- speed reader and memory expert -- started a read-a-thon thirty days ago in the window of DataVision in New York City at the behest of Sony to promote the Sony Reader and to donate as many eBooks as possible to schools across the country.

Today, around 4:45PM EDST, that mission was accomplished.

Dave Farrow is gone. What remains is a commemorative sign in his former seat.



44,097 pages were turned.

Over 100 eBooks were read.

Sony will donate 4.4 million eBooks to schools.

I have a ginormous number of screensnaps for the final day to sort through to produce the final post for the Sony Reader Revolution cam posts here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Is Another Suit Against Google Book Search Coming?

I think so.

Google has arbitrarily stepped in as an uninvited third-party to put "in print" thousands (perhaps millions) of books that have been out-of-print.

Being out-of-print is grounds for an author to demand a reversion of rights granted in the original contract.

That basically ends the business arrangement between writer and publisher.

The publisher took a commercial chance, it didn't work out, the book was never kept alive, it stopped earning money, and the writer should have all rights reverted and be free to make commercial deals elsewhere.

Google has upset this equation by putting those books back "in print" and has suddenly jeopardized the future livelihoods of thousands of writers as we enter this age of eBooks.

Publishers holding contracts that long ago should have reverted can now claim grounds of works being "in print" even though those damned publishers never did the deed themselves.

And what's more: they probably never, ever intended to do that deed, either!

I really don't give a damn what a limited author's group and a limited collection of publishers have agreed to.

Neither one of them speaks for me. Neither one of them can speak for any other writer who is not party to this agreement.

Google is going to find itself having to negotiate with individual writers for the rights they mistakenly believe they have been granted by this "settlement."

This is a settlement only between Google and those two parties.

The two parties suing Google do not at all have the right to speak for every writer out there.

I foresee writers getting together and filing suits either singly or in groups.

That big 67% to "rightsholder" is still bullshit, when it comes to conventional book contracts. Some of these contracts will not contain provisions for electronic rights and I'd damn well bet money that publishers are going to dole out only the printed book royalty rate -- and the lowest rate they can get away with too.

That 67% should bypass publishers who have kept works out of print -- that money justly belongs solely to the writers.

Google, stop dancing around your desks.

This isn't over.

Sony Reader Revolution Cam #11

This is Day 29 of 30!

Tomorrow Dave Farrow emerges from the window!

This is what he looked like at 2:17PM EDST today:



And right now there's a substitute reader -- using the gorg-o-licious red Sony Reader!



Reader Revolution cam live video!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sony Reader Revolution Cam #10: SMOOCH!

My timing is perfect. 7:40PM EDST tonight:





The Smooch heard round the Internet!

More hot action at the Sony Reader Revolution cam.

Google Book Search: Medialoper FTW

The Google Book Search Deal: Winners and Losers

Two items. I didn't realize this:
Google: It’s hard to overstate how important this agreement is for Google. Google has essentially acquired the digital rights to the long tail. At least the portion of the long tail that’s locked up in out of print books. That’s a VERY long tail.

Emphasis added by me.

And I didn't know this bit at all:
Amazon: Amazon’s 190,000 Kindle titles look puny compared to the millions of books Google now has access to. Granted many of those Kindle titles make up the big head of consumer demand, as opposed to the long tail. Still, Google now has the ability to monetize millions of books Amazon can’t, if for no other reason because they’re out of print. What’s more, under the new agreement Google has the right to sell printed copies of those books via print on demand. And I have a sneaking suspicion that Google still has a few more surprises in store for us. Android may turn out to be more than just a mobile phone platform.

Emphasis added by me.

Holy cow. Millions of out-of-print books are now POD candidates!?

Yes, that's good for Google, but now all those contracts in the hands of the dying dinosaurs of print will never, ever be prised from their greedy, grasping claws!

Amazon lost, yes. But writers have just been screwed again!

Google Book Search: Now Legal

I don't have to link to the settlement stories. Besides, the only one that really matters comes from the Non-Suit Suits over at Pan Macmillan who are -- just like Suits -- on the ball when it comes to the dough:
[. . .] the settlement money will partially be used to fund an independent, not-for-profit Book Rights registry which will work towards ensuring authors and publishers receive the money they are owed under the agreement, and the revenue split between the rights holder and Google is set at 63-37 respectively, which is surely the right way round.

Emphasis added by me.

Unlike Amazon's criminal split: 65 to Amazon and 35 to be fought over tooth-and-nail between dying dinosaur print publisher, writer, and writer's agent (or simply given as chump change in one paltry coal lump to a writer who direct publishes).

I noted Google Book Search once before.

Then I noticed what it was doing to writers -- and I stopped.

Now I can go back to linking to it, since it will mean money in the pockets of writers.

This is going to take some getting used to for me.

And all of this puts Google one more step closer to crushing Amazon's eBook monopoly ambitions.

Book Trailers: Um, No.

Weekend Chat: 3 Reasons Why Book Trailers Don't Work
Every week I receive and search for great book trailers to promote on Christian Fiction Blog. In the beginning I was excited about what I found. It was a new concept, so I was game. However, after a few months of posting book trailers and reading others I've come to a conclusion. Book Trailers Don't Work and here's why:

She's right.

I have in my Bookmarks a site that collects book trailers. I rarely go there.

What's better than a book trailer?

Video of an author reading an excerpt of his work, like Christopher Fowler does here.

Audio of an author reading his work, as Cliff Burns does here.

Look what audio did for Mark Jeffrey:
His first podiobook, Max Quick 1: The Pocket and the Pendant, has received over 2 million downloads to date.

Go on, point me to a book trailer with as many views!

I was initially excited about the idea of book trailers too. But the more I saw, the less I liked them. So many are just so bad, I can't see how they can generate any interest in the book being flogged.

Plus, the very idea of watching a video for something to be read seems, to me, just bizarre. A local talk radio station once spent a great deal of money advertising on TV. That seemed bizarre to me too.

I believe there is a hierarchy:

Reading
Audio
Video

And each one competes against the other. I'd rather read a book than listen to it. I'd rather listen to radio than see it. I'd rather watch video for stuff that's best suited to it. (On this last point, how many of you have read a book based on a TV series and came away with the uneasy feeling that something was simply ... missing?)

Also, since most books being sold have free excerpts available to read, why settle for someone else's poor video advertising interpretation instead? Why, in fact, run the risk of repelling people from a book? Attention is precious on the Internet.

The money being spent on book trailers could be better used hiring a temp to do nothing more than go through the Internet day after day and find likely blogs to market books to via email invites. I really doubt that people going to YouTube, Vimeo, Veoh, et al, are there to find something to read.

Hmmm ... and you know, even hiring a temp isn't cost-effective. Why should each publisher reinvent the wheel? This is a business for someone sharp out there. (And if such a business already exists, the people running it aren't very sharp. Why the hell hasn't my email box been swamped with book stuff? I receive tweets from three publishers. But have they even tried to follow-up with emails? Noooo!)

Generating interest in eBooks as eBooks is going to be even more difficult because the most likely way people will encounter them is via an eBookstore, a promo email from such a store, or a website or blog. There are no shelves to browse. On the Internet, the shelves are invisible.

Just before I was about to post this, I got this via Twitter: Study: When it comes to influence, bloggers beat friend lists
Half of all those surveyed who identify as "blog readers" (people who read more than one blog per month, a fifth of total survey respondents) say that blogs are important to them when it comes to making purchasing decisions. But they don't necessarily find them to be all that reliable: only 15 percent of blog readers, and five percent of all those surveyed said that in the past year they had trusted a blog to help them make a purchase decision.

That's still higher than the number of people who said they used social-network recommendations, though: ten percent of "blog readers," and four percent of all those surveyed.

I have a MySpace account. For a time, I used it daily. Now, hardly ever.

I disagree with the philosophy of such aggregator sites. MySpace has gotten singularly annoying, outright censoring links that are passed on to me via MySpace Mail or Bulletins. Plus, MySpace pages tend to be bloated as hell and I dread clicking links because I never know if that click is going to freeze up my browser and force me to crash-restart it.

I can see the appeal of such sites for those who really want to network with people they actually know. But beyond that, it becomes a very annoying marketing machine with a very high noise-to-signal ratio.

I know that writers and publishers are on MySpace. I'm beginning to think that's a mistake. I don't see it being a good strategy for eBook awareness except to that limited MySpace audience. And if you're going to put that amount of effort into MySpace, why not the larger Internet?

Sony Reader: More Distribution

Hmmm ... Sony PR needs to get on the ball here and put me on their email list. I'm finding major Sony Reader news in rather obscure places!

Zondervan distributes Sony Reader (scroll down)



Zondervan is a major in its field. It's clear now that the eBook reading device most Americans are bound to encounter in person is the Sony Reader.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Abominable Kindle And The Oprah Effect

Kindle fanboi site* says: Oprah Effect on Kindle confirmed by Google Trends - Oprah creates highest Kindle interest since launch.

Which, gee, the uninformed might be very impressed by seeing.

However, let me dispel that malarkey.

This first chart is Google Trends for Kindle vs. Sony Reader for all time periods across the entire world:


Click = big

Notice how the Sony Reader is no laggard and has massive interest outside the United States!

OK, well those scores mean nothing, Kindle fanboiz shout, because the Sony Reader has been out longer.

Fine. Let's compare around the world for the just the past thirty days:


Click = big

Again, the daily searches for Sony Reader outpace the Kindle!

And finally, let's just do within the United States for the past thirty days:


Click = big

And there's the Oprah Effect. Without it, the pace would have favored the Sony Reader.

But has the Sony Reader been trumped by Oprah?

No. I'll come back to this chart in the days after Dave Farrow emerges from the DataVision window.

Let's see The Farrow Effect.

I expect the Sony Reader to be higher and the Kindle to have plummeted back to earth.

*(He characterized me as a "Sony Reader fanboy" -- but who's the one with an entire site devoted to one device, hm?)

Update On Sony Reader Sold

Blogging about the Sony Reader from 38000 Feet

I'll quote only a little.
3. The interface is slow and clunky. I said the same thing about the iliad - but the iphone has spoiled everything else. Friends who were with me when I bought it couldn’t get their brains around the lack of a touchscreen and the slow responses of the physical buttons. The PRS-700 seems a lot better.

4. The flash between page turns is pretty annoying. Hard to tell how annoying after only a quick ‘read test’ - and that was going to be what *this* flight was for. Sidetracked by the net instead!!

Once I’ve read a whole book on the Sony, I’ll post more comments. But it seems like a pretty cool toy so far. (And there’s *plenty* at the Borders in Silver Spring if you’re taking this as a recommendation!!)

Go see the rest.

-- Via Twitter from sell_ebooks

Previously here:

One More Sony Reader Sold

eBooks: Rent Or Own?

Are eBooks Wise Dot Com?
An interesting opportunity from the current download ‘buy to own’ is ‘rent to read’. As libraries of works become permanently available why would you want to own digital books, which are hard to share and offer little other than convenience? Why not rent on demand? It doesn’t stop the consumer buying perpetual access, or a physical digital bundle; we merely question why you would buy a download that could be as obsolete as an 8 track in only a short time? The file could be read online with rich functionality, reference linking, multi media materials such as podcasts, videos and even games tied in. Imagine you want a quick read and log on via the mobile, you continue your read in a café via a laptop, then at a friends house via their PC and finally to bed with the physical book itself. The digital access control is not in the device but the centre making it friendlier.

If library can offer digital books for free, why buy them anyway? Now is that wise?

Emphasis added by me.

For me it's still wise to buy and own.

In another post he slams the Plastic Logic device this way:
Imagine carrying a tablet around with you with a screen 2.5 times larger than the Kindle, weighing two ounces more and a third of the Kindle's thickness. It will enable you to read your daily news digitally and is the latest ebook eink device to hit the market. Today many of us get our news feeds free direct to our mobiles and PCs, but that obviously is not seen as the answer for these technology people. Some may say that it is technology for the sake of technology.

Emphasis added by me.

I'd say his argument for rental over ownership is "technology for the sake of technology" too.

How many disasters must we witness? New Orleans after Katrina. Houston after Gustav. And even small personal ones: the missed train, the delayed or canceled flight.

In the case of Big Disaster, no electricity. No WiFi. Sometimes not even cellphone service. Oops. There goes the rental model. Whereas, with ownership, advance notice of possible disaster makes a person fully charge their devices. And with eBook ownership, those books are right there to be read on-demand.

In the case of small disaster, there is no guarantee of wireless access. Will the plaint of the future be, "I wish I had downloaded it!"?

And, oh, notice in the first quote he mentions a physical book. What, a rental? (No, I won't allow you the wiggle room of a library loan. That is premised on "infinite libraries," having every book a person wants. In New York City, the NYPL doesn't have every book I want.)

More On Oprah And The Abominable Kindle

Oprah's Favorite New Gadget

He gets it ...
The problem with the Amazon ebook model is that it is Amazon format, through an Amazon store, at an Amazon price point, over an Amazon connection to an Amazon device – a truly ‘exclusive’. If Amazon were to dominate the ebook market we would have a monopoly where scarcity should not occur and it is illogical to have a monopoly.

... while others don't:
However, some would argue that this ‘exclusive world domination’ approach could be the best thing for the market. The likes of Sony would probably disappear as fast as ‘live book search’ and the others settle for the scraps. Importantly the mobile market would seriously take off and that’s one Bezos has got covered and where there are truly giants at work today. The online offer would become increasingly attractive to many. We may finally understand that downloading is not the only solution and hording loads of titles on a device just to own them is crazy in this networked age.

I doubt Sony would disappear. Don't bet against Steve Haber.

Previously here:

Debrief: Oprah And The Abominable Kindle
Oprah With Kindle In Hand
Sony Reader Items For Oprah Friday
Oprah To Flog Abominable Kindle?!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Free eBook: Casting the Runes

Casting the Runes by M.R. James
A gift from us this week before Halloween, the story that Olivia Laing recently called, "Scariest story ever, so horrifying that to this day I can't keep it in my house"[.]

It's a PDF file available at that post.

-- via Twitter from Hello Kitty terrorist KatMeyer (who now also owns a Triffid, so you better Follow her -- at a distance)

Book Tours 1.0: Endangered Species

Writer Tess Gerritsen:

How book tours have changed over the years
But even as my sales were growing, the tours themselves were getting less bang for the effort.

The media was harder to get. Even if I had some cool new nonfiction hook (corpses who wake up in morgues in VANISH. Or the how-to of shrinking human heads in THE KEEPSAKE) the TV and radio spots weren't there as they used to be. I'm not the only novelist who faces this dwindling of interest; it seems to be a problem for all of us. The publisher pays to fly you into a new town, puts you up in a hotel, all to speak at a bookstore where you end up selling maybe thirty hardcovers. Without any TV or radio or print coverage, does that make economic sense?

Emphasis added by me.

No. It doesn't.

That's why I see Blog Book Tours as one wave of the future.

Another wave is Mini Book Expo for Bloggers.

The third wave is How Our Future Does Things.

And the fourth: eBook Signings: The Postcard Solution?

As the reading world moves towards eBooks, a shift in the culture will happen too.

eBooks = Internet. Thus the Internet should become the primary pipeline and meeting place for eBook readers.

With no physical copies to sell -- except maybe some POD done for the leftovers and retrogrades -- an author having to be physically present somewhere becomes pointless.

And economically nonsensical.

One More Sony Reader Sold

Via Twitter from top_book came a link to The Book is Dead site, where I also saw this goodie of a post:


Click = big

This is a big one. Sony better pay attention!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

It's Still October


Poster from the American Memory project.

October is also the favorite month of writer M. Dylan Raskin.

So whether you have print or e -- break them out and read!


Modified poster from the American Memory project.

Sony Reader: American HQ

Sony says U.S. sales of Reader are taking off
Sony has consolidated its digital-book efforts at its North American headquarters in San Diego, relocating hardware and software operations for its Reader electronic book device from Japan.

The company declined to say how many employees made the move from Japan.

While consumers in the United States often lag behind their counterparts in Japan in adopting new technologies, in this case it's the opposite, said Steve Haber, president of Sony's Digital Reading Business Division.

Because the device is selling better in the United States, it made sense to merge operations here, Haber said.

Industry analysts say the Reader is being outsold by upstart competitor the Amazon Kindle, which features a wireless link for e-book purchases from Amazon.com.

But Haber takes exception to recent published reports that said the Reader sales are only a fraction of the 380,000 Kindles expected to be sold by the end of the year.

Neither Sony nor Amazon release sales numbers.

“We've sold hundreds of thousands of Readers and millions of electronic books,” Haber said. “We're happy with the sell-through.”

Emphasis added by me.

And here is the crucial plan-for-the-future bit:
Haber said Sony plans to add wireless at some point, but it will not lock readers in to any one retailer.

“It will be consistent with our open platform,” he said.

Emphasis added by me.

Enjoy your abominable Kindle, Oprah. Until the day comes when you ask these questions (and you will!):

1) Why can't I get that book for my Kindle?

2) Why can't my Kindle read that (ePub) book?

3) What do you mean, I'd have to buy my eBooks all again for a Sony Reader?

And as for #3, Oprah, think of all those devoted fans of yours you led into that corner too. How about reimbursing them for your mistake?

-- via Medialoper

eBook Devices: Color, The Final Frontier ...

Browsing but not Reading
We are now delivering a service for magazines in the Dazed group which allows users to browse these magazines for free, but not to read them properly. The browsing is limited to the two-page per screen view, at this resolution most text is unreadable but the pictures are fine. As each new issue is published it will be available in this browse mode until the succeeding issue appears. Here is the current issue of AnOtherMan. The site is simply branded for the magazine's style.

Exact Editions does what its name suggests: digital reproductions of existing print publications (books or magazines).

Click to browse an issue of AnOtherMan.

In my raving advocacy of eBooks, I'm usually tunnel-visioned blinded by what I want to read: digital versions of books. Books of the black type on white background variety.

But there's lots and lots out there (obviously) that's in color. Like this screensnap I stole from the above:


Click = big

I've raised the issue of color twice before -- in eBooks: Game Over When Color Happens and Sony Reader PRS-700: Part Three -- but I'd forgotten about the monster effort that's put into fashion advertisements. That stuff screams for a fast-refresh high-resolution full-color OLED screen.

Own It Now On ... Book!

Could Daniel Craig help books?
Do you know the generic campaign the book trade should have? One that stresses book ownership. Why is it only in the film world that we see signs saying: ‘Own it now on DVD?’ Why don’t we ever see that for books? I’m partly playing devil’s advocate here. We all know the reasons. With very few exceptions – Harry Potter, a new Hannibal Lecter title, perhaps – there just isn’t the ‘must have’ quality to books.

Some days I wonder if what I see on the Internet is actually from a different planet than the one I am imprisoned on am trapped on exist on try to live on.

Let me put things in perspective for all of you.

Walking to the store a few weeks ago (when the weather wasn't miserably cold!), I passed by a guy in his twenties hanging out in front a building. In the hallway was a young girl, perhaps fourteen or so. He saw she had a book in hand. It went like this:

Him: What are you doing with a book?

Her: Reading it.

Him: Reading it?!!?

Her: I like it.

Him: You're a bookworrrrrm? Is that what you want to be? A bookworrrrrm?

Yeah, so that shit about a ‘must have’ quality to books? Where I am, there isn't even a ‘must have’ quality to reading.

Welcome to the real world, jack.

Now deal with that first.

UK's Mills & Boon Goes eBook

According to a report in The Bookseller, over 200 romance titles are available.

At the Mills & Boon site, here are:

The eBooks home page

The eBook FAQ -- the eBooks are in ePub, but they also mention, confusingly, them being in "Adobe eReader" format. (Behind my back, Acrobat has now become the Acrobat eBook Reader!). Adobe Digital Editions is required. Further confusing things, they say the eBooks can be read on a PalmOS handheld! I'm not aware of any ePub readers for PalmOS. Making things even more confusing, the eBooks home page mentions reading them on a Blackberry!

All 221 (at time of post) available titles (scroll down)

Book browsing is done using a Shockwave interface from LibreDigital. It's pretty slick.

Aside from being sold at the Mills & Boon site, these are also available from the Waterstone's eBook store for the Sony Reader.

Friday, October 24, 2008

eBook Notes For October 24, 2008

O futuro pertence ao e-book (Portuguese version)
The future belongs to the E-book (English -- not by machine -- version)
[Frankfurt] Book fair Director Juergen Boos signalled the trend in his opening speech: more and more books are offered in digital form. This year it's around 30 percent of all books, most of them digital versions of books already in print (the so-called tree books

Publishing World Eyes E-Book Readers' Future
Penguin publishers CEO John Makinson told Reuters: "They have become mainstream in the sense that they are a genuine consumer product for which there is real appetite, so this is not the province of geeks any longer."

Makinson said Penguin was now publishing all new titles both as printed books and e-books and was digitalizing its backlist.

Technology research firm iSuppli predicts that global e-book display revenue will grow to $291 million in 2012 from $3.5 million in 2007.

Emphasis added by me.

My God! A dying dinosaur of print acknowledges eBooks!

LCC Conference Considers the Inevitability of the E-Book
However the e-book has achieved enough momentum for continued existence. At the Frankfurt Bookfair there was discussion about the ePUB format, a standard based on XML and also about the role of XML in general. Liz Thompson reported in Publishers Weekly that Mike Shatzin had proposed publishers work in XML for intellectual property as the sun of a new system, with the "book as merely one orbiting opportunity."

The Frankfurt meeting on ePUP organised by The International Digital Publishing Forum heard thst year-to-year wholesale eBook sales are growing at 71 percent and there have now been over 2 million ePUB downloads from Feedbooks. Feedbooks can create a variety of formats for e-books from most web sources.

Emphasis added by me.

ePub for the win!

Sony Reader Gets Review Luv

Forbes: Gadgets We Love - Sony Reader
What about the Amazon Kindle, you ask? To my taste, the putative advantages of the Kindle--Wi-Fi, a keyboard--are in fact its weaknesses. (Sony says Wi-Fi will come in future Reader models; the latest one, released earlier this month, has an onscreen keyboard.) I know myself well enough to realize that given Wi-Fi connectivity, I will take advantage of it and wander off to TMZ.com when I should be paying attention to Jane Austen. It takes maybe 15 seconds to buy a book using my PC and download it to the Reader. Such gratification is instant enough for me.

He has the same fear of wireless I do: it would tempt me away from reading!

Computer Shopper UK: Sony Reader (4 stars)
The Reader is more refined and user-friendly than the iLiad and, although smaller, it's just as comfortable to read, much lighter and feels more sturdy. It isn't cheap, but it's almost half the price of the iLiad. However, £200 is still a lot to pay to read a book, and we hope to see prices come down as more eBook readers are released.

Well, it's not £200 to read one eBook, sport. It's to read jillions of eBooks. But you liked it, so a pat on the head to you.


The Sony Reader: Not ugly. And available in red!

Debrief: Oprah And The Abominable Kindle


Click = big

Oprah was given a Kindle this past summer by Kate Forte, who she described as a friend. Forte is actually president of Harpo Films in Los Angeles.

The entire audience -- as well as some mothers gathered in San Diego (I think it was) connected via Skype video -- was given a free Kindle.

Oprah said the Kindle can store 200 books and then held up an SD card and stated that using one of those (the cards you use for cameras), you can store four thousand books.

Oprah said on her last vacation she packed fourteen books. She won't have to do that again.

She's currently reading The Story of Edgar Sawtelle on her Kindle and gave everyone a free copy of that as well as other eBooks on their Kindles. The audience was invited to download any book they wanted during a commercial break (I wonder how that worked, since each Kindle is tied to a user ID?).

Am I the only person to notice that while Oprah held the Kindle and waved it around, it kept turning pages?

Bezos came on from the front row of the audience. He described the development of the Kindle as if no other eBook devices had ever before existed. He said it was like a cellphone and any book could be bought within sixty seconds.

Oprah recounted how she bought the book about Warren Buffett, Snowball, while her jet was still zooming down the runway for take-off and the download was completed before the wheels left the tarmac. (Hey, don't gripe to me about "Turn off all cellphones during take-off"!)

During a rainy Sunday, she didn't want to go out to buy the newspaper. She remembered she could download The New York Times to her Kindle, and did.

Oprah raved about the Lookup (dictionary) feature. And about the Ask A Question feature. This is a video snippet I stole from someone on YouTube who disabled embedding, who stole it himself from Oprah's show (so don't complain about my thievery, thief! Ha!):



Oprah mentioned, cryptically, that she "had eBooks before" (???) and that what made the Kindle so great was the wireless feature and how she didn't have to use a computer. (I wonder if she uses a Mac and if that put the kibosh on a Sony Reader? Sony!!)

Bezos mentioned people could download music to the Kindle for background music. And the Kindle could also do audiobooks.

Bezos and Oprah compared the list of eBooks on their Kindles.

Bezos mentioned that if a Kindle is lost or broken or stolen, Amazon retains copies of all purchased eBooks which can be re-downloaded for free. Oprah said she didn't know that.

Oprah again raved about the Lookup feature.

She also mentioned her school in Africa and wanted to get their textbooks on the Kindle. She said it'd be great for students. She said you could go from first grade to adulthood and have every book you've ever read on one. (Better pray for format-swapping of eBooks if ePub triumphs, Oprah. Which it will!)

The Kindle $50.00 discount code was announced by Bezos (click graphic above for it), good for the next seven days.

Oprah made my Model T argument for me: "If you can afford it." (Are you listening Jim Malcolm and Steve Haber of Sony? Hint!)

Oprah mentioned how "green" it was. No more paper and how books cost less with it. Bezos chimed in to mention that all best-sellers are "$9.95 or less."

Thus ended the coverage on her show. (If she did anything afterwards, I missed it.)

Related:

The Kindle vs. the Sony Reader: Which is better if you want future access to the max number of books?

Previously here:

Oprah With Kindle In Hand
Sony Reader Items For Oprah Friday
Oprah To Flog Abominable Kindle?!
Sony Reader PRS-700: Part One
Sony Reader PRS-700: Part Two
Sony Reader PRS-700: Part Three

Oprah With Kindle In Hand

Oprah likely to kindle big interest in digital books

It's there at the link. It's just too gruesome for me to steal and put here.
In an email to subscribers, Amazon says its founder Jeff Bezos will be appearing on Oprah to talk to her about her new favourite gadget.

Oy vey. I have to watch him too?

Let's all see if these are mentioned:

1) How people can buy only from Amazon's Kindle Store
2) The DRM lock-in of Kindle eBooks (and subscription items)
3) The lack of free eBooks from public libraries
4) How Bezos abandoned all the people who paid for DRMed MobiPocket eBooks
5) How Bezos got petty with print publishers
6) How ugly Kindle II will be
7) How the iPhone can do eBooks
8) Any mention of the Sony Reader at all


"I've got Oprah, Sony! What do you got?"

Steve Haber (The Habernator!) of Sony:

"A better product that can do ePub, borrow from public libraries, reflow PDF text, and that doesn't look like ass!"

All you people who will flock to Amazon to buy a Kindle, there's something I want you to consider. Do you think next year Oprah will ever announce if she gave up her Kindle and switched to something else? After making such a big stink about the Kindle, would she dare to recant if she changes her mind?

-- via Twitter from BookNet_Canada

Related:

The Kindle vs. the Sony Reader: Which is better if you want future access to the max number of books?

Previously here:

Sony Reader Items For Oprah Friday
Oprah To Flog Abominable Kindle?!
Sony Reader PRS-700: Part One
Sony Reader PRS-700: Part Two
Sony Reader PRS-700: Part Three

Sony Reader Items For Oprah Friday

On this day when Oprah will announce her love for the abominable Kindle, I think some Sony Reader items are needed as a counterattack tonic.

YouTube introduction to The Reader Revolution:



The Reader Revolution has a YouTube Channel.

The Reader Revolution has a Flickr page with a daily photo of Dave Farrow.


Dave Farrow on Day 23(!) of his incredible 30.

The Reader Revolution has a Facebook page.

From Day 21:
Today was great because I have a visitor in my bedroom/window, the author Diana Spechler who wrote “Who By Fire.” I just started reading it at the time of this blog and I have to go back in the window to finish it. So far though, I like her humor and her wit. It is a great tale.

The Reader Revolution has a MySpace Page.

From Day 23:
Guest blog post from author Diana Spechler

I was thrilled to be invited into Dave's "room" yesterday to read my new novel from the Sony Reader. An event coordinator put up a sign to attract attention (Now reading Who By Fire by Diana Spechler), and set up a speaker on the sidewalk, so that Midtown pedestrians of all ages could hear me read a few scenes.

And, of course, there's the SonyStyle page for the Sony Reader itself.

Plus, I'm throwing a previously-unpublished photo from the PRS-700 launch, showing the Reader Revolutionary T-shirt:



Oprah, you are leading your flock astray! Repent!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Writer Cliff Burns: Podcast Of His eBook

“So Dark the Night” Podcast–Episode 1
Thanks to the technical acumen of my lovely wife, we now have the first 20 minutes or so of So Dark the Night available for your listening pleasure. In all, we’ve recorded the initial 75 pages as a teaser and, depending on feedback from readers and listeners, we may do the whole novel.

Well, dahhhyum.

When I wrote about Harlan Ellison, I stated:
I’d finally read Spider Kiss in the past year. But I understood only after the film that it would have been better if Harlan had read it to me. I couldn’t pick up on his cadences. He read a passage from it — a passage I recalled reading and thinking about at the time — and was shocked that I didn’t really get it until the words came out of his mouth. The emotion he imbued the words with were lacking in my own mind.

The same thing just happened to me listening to Cliff read his free eBook, So Dark the Night.

Again: Dahhhyum.

It's frikkin terrific! It's like listening to an Old Time Radio broadcast. He parses his sentences in ways my brain wouldn't. And I listened, astonished.

Go get the podcast!

And Cliff? More!

iPhone: Classics, A New eBook Reading App

Things are beginning to get wild and woolly in the eBook reading area of the iPhone.

How many programs are there now?

Well there's one more to come: Classics (animated QuickTime demo at that link).

This is the main interface:



This is what it's like to use -- there is page turn animation:



What's apparently being done here: public-domain classics are being redesigned to make them more like period printed books, complete with contemporaneous illustrations (or verisimilitudes thereof).

I don't know what's going on here. Is animation a function of the reading program or is it built into each eBook?

Here's a posting by someone who participated in the app's design.

Classics is projected to cost, at introduction, $2.99. I don't know if that's for a collection of eBooks, the reading program alone, or what.

This space is beginning to get crowded. Are people going to get confused or just fed up with having to use a specific program to read a desired book? And if someone has many books, how will they easily remember which book is stored in which reading program's library?

-- via Twitter from raminf

Oprah To Flog Abominable Kindle?!

This is probably the most disturbing tweet I've received:



Of course I clicked the link: Oprah’s Favorite Gadget - Oprah’s Kindle crush will boost Kindle sales

There are screensnaps there.

I did my own investigation.

Although he mentions Amazon video, I couldn't find that.

So, I ripped the video from Oprah's site (sue me!). I had to convert it due to my crappy PC. Then I carefully went through it. It's ambiguous for the most part, but I think I did catch a glimpse of white plastic near the bottom edge of the screen as she was handling it:



Best snap I could get.

I've posted about Oprah here before:

Today’s Oprah: Women And Money Is Repeating!
Oprah Uses Skype
Reminder: Free Suze Orman eBook
Today’s Oprah: Women And Money
Today’s Oprah Is Worth Watching

The key one being this: Oprah, Get A Sony Reader!

I even wrote to my then-contact at Sony at the time, telling him to get a Sony Reader into Oprah's hands. I was told:
We have tried many times with her. We will continue.

Apparently, it was all FAIL.

Now Oprah is going with the abominable Kindle!

All of you Oprah fans who are going to be hitting this site, read this post.

And hey, when all your eBooks go south on you due to DRM issues or Amazon switching to a different file format, remember that Oprah told you to buy it.


Enjoy The Lockdown!

One eBook Issue

Regular readers will know what I think of the abominable Kindle. I won't post about it as a thing in itself, only to highlight broader eBook issues, such as in this post:

Can the Kindle Save the L.A. Times?
After my initial infatuation with the LAT Kindle edition wore off, I began to focus on some rather annoying limitations.

* No images of any sort. No diagrams, tables, or illustrations. No photos. No comics. NO COMICS!? No wonder the Kindle edition is cheaper than the print edition.

* Limited skimming. The top stories display a very brief summary. Many of the stories below the virtual fold display only the title. A surprising number of titles are not self explanatory (journalism 101, anyone?), meaning you have to click through to find out what the story is about. The Kindle is not exactly what I would call speedy, so this process can get tedious.

* Paging through the news as opposed to scrolling through the news. The first week of reading the LAT on the Kindle I found myself attempting to scroll through stories using the Kindle scroll wheel. Instead, I had to train myself to use the page buttons. It’s like reading a paperback edition of the LAT, which is something that I find to be completely unnatural.

Strangely, I have no trouble flipping pages on the Kindle when I’m reading books. This scrolling preference is clearly something I’ve developed from reading news online. I suspect this small interface quirk speaks volumes about the Kindle’s suitability as a replacement for reading news online.

* The Kindle is wireless, but it’s not connected. Reading the LAT on the Kindle is like reading an ebook of a newspaper. It’s a straight analog to digital conversion (minus the images and tables) with none of the benefits traditionally associated with digital news distribution.

These are very interesting issues that apply to all eBook devices.

The last one specifically: Don't mistake an eBook reader for, say, an iPhone. eBook readers are best for things that are not -- or have no need to be -- dynamically updated. Such as eBooks!

I don't know about the rest of you, but when I read something, I like to it remain that way for the next time I go back to it. I've read several entries in wikipedia over the years and the changes to those entries have sometimes been dramatic. Now imagine an eBook like that: "Oh, I just read about that. Here let me find it for you ... oh, um, uh, where did it go? Wait, here it is. No it's not. The same title but none of it is what it was before! It doesn't have the passage I remember!" (In fact, I go through that all the time with online news from Bloomberg.)

I think this distinction in function needs to be made clear.

Personally, I don't want things to change in eBooks I buy. The very word "book" implies an unchanging permanence.

If everything we read is going to be dynamic, why bother with the concept of "book" then? No files to download. Everything can stay on the Net and portions downloaded a bit at a time for reading. For free. Infested with ads too.

Won't that be great? Sitting there, quietly reading, then turn the page, and get slapped by an all-dancing, all-Flash, all-talking ad!

I don't think so.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Writer M.J. Rose On Free eBooks

Why Is My Book Free?
It's because trying something for free is the best way of discovering it. And free doesn't mean sampling a quarter of a cookie - it means the whole cookie. It doesn't mean someone spraying my wrist with perfume - it means them putting a small bottle of the fragrance in my shopping bag. It means spending a weekend in a hotel and taking two showers using the same soap. It doesn't mean reading the first five pages of my book online - it means reading my whole book for free as a way of discovering me as an author.

I agree with the sentiment. Just not the method.

This guy got screwed:
What a colossal ripoff.

I went to the site, clicked the link, and I was required to give a lot of personal information (which I did). When I finally clicked the "download PDF" link, (after entering the free code) there was no PDF, only a 1 k file called "ebx.etd". NO PDF, NO BOOK.

So basically I just wasted a lot of time and gave away my personal information to your publishing company... FOR NOTHING.

Glad I didn't.

Not-Free Free eBook By M.J. Rose

Via Twitter from book_blog:


Dear Reader,

I want you to discover the worlds I'm exploring in the Reincarnation series so much, I'm offering you the first in the series - THE REINCARNATIONIST - free.

No strings, just the free book — all you have to do is click on either of the links above and download the entire novel and start reading THE REINCARNATIONIST (which has just been released in paperback) now! Readers and reviewers say it's "un-put-downable."

The series continues with THE MEMORIST (which is out now) - and early reviews and reader reactions is the same - it seems I've tapped into a universal interest with these books that explore who we were and who we are while at the same time giving you a page turning read. I hope you'll agree.

I would have liked to have gotten this to read. But proceeding with the download brought me to the eHarlequin eBook Store where I could not complete anything for free. It wanted me to create an account.

FAIL!

I lambasted Sony for this with its Reader Revolution free classics promotion.

All of you out there: Free means no strings attached. Stop calling it free if it requires creating an account at a store!

(Yes, Tor asks for you to create an account for its free eBooks too -- but that has the significant benefit of making you aware of more free eBooks to come.)

There's also a link for owners of the abominable Kindle. I suspect, for those who already have an Amazon Alcatraz account, that version will indeed be free for real.

Free eBook: Spaceman Blues

Free e-book from Brian Francis Slattery
My preposterous (but hopefully effective) cover copy for Spaceman Blues called it a “literary retro-pulp science-fiction–mystery–superhero novel.” But when I think back to why I first picked up this book and started reading it, I can’t help recalling a line Brian wrote on his cover letter when he first submitted the book to us a bit over five years ago: “This book is painted in browns and grays, sparked by sudden fires. I suspect it is not for everyone, though I hope it is for you.” Here’s your opportunity to find out which camp you fall in.

These are the eBook formats available:



But there's a catch:
As usual, the links above will only work if you’ve registered for Tor.com and are logged in, so if you haven’t joined the site, you might want to do so now. In return, you’ll get access to this book, many other useful site features, and more free e-books in the months to come.

But click this for your incentive:


Click = big

That amount of money saved should compel you to register!

Thanks for another freebie, Tor!

Direct Publishing FTW: Urban Fiction

Urban Fiction Makes Its Way From Streets to Public Libraries
Urban fiction’s journey from street vendors to library shelves and six-figure book deals is a case of culture bubbling from the bottom up. That is especially true in New York, where the genre, like hip-hop music, was developed by, for and about people in southeast Queens and other mostly black neighborhoods that have struggled with drugs, crime and economic stagnation.

Writers
like Mark Anthony — who at 35 is Ms. Miller’s contemporary and the author of “Paper Chasers,” based on his youth in Laurelton — found themselves being rejected by agents and publishers. So they paid to self-publish their books, with rudimentary design and cheap bindings, and sold them on 125th Street in Harlem, or on Jamaica Avenue in Queens, around the corner from the borough library’s main branch. Soon, a stream of people — high-school students, first-time library users, the library’s own staff — were asking for the books. And the librarians went out on the street to buy them.

Emphasis added by me.

I've seen a ton of these books for sales on the streets of Manhattan for at least ten years. I wondered if they were all self-pubbed or small press. Now I know.

One frightening thing. I got to read over the shoulder of someone waiting for the ferry and my hair stood on end. The page was blasted with bad spelling and punctuation. (And no, I don't mean bad spelling as in jargonistic dialogue, I mean bad spelling!) If these are now being picked up by the dying dinosaurs of print, I hope they're all undergoing remedial editing. I think I'd pass out if I saw a book in a public library that was like the one I saw.
Mainstream publishers saw dollar signs and jumped in. St. Martin’s Press now publishes authors from Mr. Anthony to the rapper 50 Cent — another Queens native, born Curtis Jackson — and a subgenre of black erotica led by the writer Zane.

Zane has been prominently featured in bookstore windows too. Zane has a monster following.
“There are black librarians who hate the genre, because they feel like it’s an embarrassment culturally,” said Vanessa Morris, an assistant teaching professor of library sciences at Drexel University.

But she says the genre tells the stories of African-Americans who survived the 1980s drug wars: “This is about documenting history, or, I should say, collective memory.”

Librarians point out that Harlequin romances, the Bobbsey Twins and even paperbacks were once considered too lowbrow for libraries — and that Stephen King and Ms. Collins also trade in sex and violence.

Well those objections are just stupid. As long as the books have all the words spelled correctly and the punctuation is correct too, put them in the damned libraries! Have these librarians never read crime fiction at all?! I think Derek Raymond would make them reach for some calming pills. And yes, Derek Raymond is in public libraries here in NYC.

Publish these as eBooks! Watch the market for eBooks and eBook readers explode!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sony Reader: Germany In Spring 2009

Sony to offer e-reader in Germany from spring 2009
Frankfurt - Sony is to offer its e-book reader, a replacement for paper books, in Germany from the spring of next year, the Japan-based media company said Wednesday at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The Sony Reader device went on sale in the United States in 2006 and in Britain last month.

Sony said it would link with a German book wholesaler, Libri, and a retailer, Thalia, to market the device, which downloads books from personal computers.

And:
Libri, which is to oversee sales of books in German that can be read on the device, said it aimed to have thousands of titles available at launch. No euro price for the 260-gram device was announced.

At the time of this post, the Libri site wasn't up.

Thalia site.


Previously here:

Price-Fixing Germany Laughs At eBooks
eBooks In Germany: Price-Fixing And Sony Reader

Free eBook By Charlie Huston!

I'm gobsmacked by this.

Ken Bruen has recommended Huston. So Huston is in my Endless Backlog.

But now I can get one of his novels for free in PDF form!



Plus, two more are coming as free PDFs too!

Go here for the details and link: Charlie Huston returns to book shelves, and M&C is getting fans ready

-- via Grasping for the Wind via Twitter from John Ottinger

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Writer Mark Jeffrey: Sony Reader eBooks!



Win!

Previously here:

Writer Mark Jeffrey Interview

Free eBooks: In French!



Mozambook
mozambook publie les grands textes de la littérature. Les ebooks sont au format Microsoft Reader (PC et PocketPC) et pdf (lisibles avec Adobe Acrobat Reader et Acrobat Ebook Reader). Ebooks et lecteurs sont gratuits. Le catalogue compte à ce jour 117 titres. La lettre d'information vous tient régulièrement au courant des dernières parutions (inscription au bas de cette page).

N'hésitez pas à nous contacter si vous voulez contribuer à l'enrichissement de la bibliothèque.

eBooks are in .lit (MS Reader) and PDF file formats.

They have, among others, three by Baudelaire and three by Nerval!

-- Via Twitter from top_book

eBooks: The Invisible Worm



Over at Dear Author is a post and discussion about the effectiveness of advertising eBooks.

Ouch.

This is an essay in itself, which I don't intend to do today. But I want to touch on some things.

How have I discovered books?

Bookstores and the public library.

I'd go into a Barnes & Noble and browse the new books in fiction, non-fiction, and several genres. I'd note the titles and authors in my PDA. I'd then check to see if I could get them from the NYPL. (Shut up. I've already said why I can't buy print.)

At the library, sort of ditto. I'd see New Releases in several sections. But I'd also browse the shelves. That's how I came across the first Ken Bruen book I ever read.

The trouble with the Internet: No shelves!

How will I -- how will everyone -- find eBooks? Or even writers?

This is an interesting list from my Bookmarks. These are writers I did not encounter until I came across them on the Internet (list is in reverse alpha order by surname because that's how I lazily copied & pasted them):

Zoe Winters -- via a blog post mention somewhere, and she left a Comment on this blog

Anthony Neil Smith -- via Victor Gischler (a writer recommended by Ken Bruen)

Jimmy Lee Shreeve -- I don't recall, probably a blog mention somewhere

L.J. Sellers -- via a Blog Book Tour post somewhere

John Scalzi -- his classic Being Poor post (via MetaFilter at that time)

Jason Pinter -- via MySpace

Melanie Phillips -- don't recall, probably a blog post mention

Martin Millar -- don't recall, probably a blog post mention

J.A. Konrath -- a blog post mention somewhere

Simon Haynes -- via Twitter free eBook offer from a third-party (I think!)

Matthew Gallagher -- don't recall, which is odd, as his blog is very new

Joseph Devon -- via a blog post mention somewhere

Cliff Burns -- he left a Comment at this blog in its first month

Matthew St. Amand -- via MySpace

Notice how only one of these came about because of the writer seeking attention! (Cliff Burns -- and the attention wasn't for himself, it was indirectly as part of a discussion here.)

Most were absolutely indirect. The Internet equivalent of Word Of Mouth.

This is why I mention writers all the time here. This is why I post what books I've read (Category: Reading). This is also why I've changed my Internet habits and have mostly dropped what I used to do daily: visit mostly tech sites. I can't find books to read that way. (Plus, technology qua technology mostly bores the shit out of me these days.)

Do you have a blog? Do you mention what books you've read? Do you mention writers by name and link to their blog or site or a post that inspired you?

That's the first step to helping writers get noticed.

The rest I'll have to save for another time.

Cogito Ergo Unsum

I've gotten a small wee teeny-tiny glimpse into an entire genre of fiction I never even knew existed: romantic erotic fiction (different than this). There are many writers doing this. Some of them are even making money selling eBooks. There seems to be an entire blogdom devoted to this genre, with blogs that cover the genre as well as blogs from individual writers.

It's not the kind of thing I'd read. I have no interest, for example, in fantasy books (despite the fact I think Patricia McKillip is one of the best writers of it and I love her writing, but I can't stop the fantasy elements from annoying me) and I rarely read SF now, either.

So all of my comments are from the point of view of the outsider.

Writer Ann Somerville left a Comment at this blog. I went to her blog and came across two posts: this one and this one.

The subject being one I addressed -- again -- in fury last night: Writers: Just Effing SAY It!

This being the Internet, I quickly went from link to link. Yeesh.

I came across a post by a publisher musing about the behavior of writers (and an infamous "morality clause" that's been inserted into contracts by one British dying dinosaur of print publisher).

I also came across a really bizarre post that seems to hold publishers responsible in a sleazy guilt-by-association way for the behavior of its writers. (But it also makes an on-target point about how ePublishers must have websites that inspire transactional confidence in potential buyers.)

And there were many other links that referenced past battles that have erupted in this writing culture.

But there was one post that lit the bulb over my dim head and put it all in perspective: The Erotic Romance & Epublisher Comparison blog (EREC) takes a look at publishers' sales figures.

Here is the problem:
The "average" in question is an arithmetic mean. So the average EC book is selling 796 books a year. I thought that was fairly clear but I live and learn. Whether that is enough for any given author is up to them once the info is made available.

And here's an explanation of the figures for ebooks out for a year or more from another reader:

EREC has received information on sales for 24 seperate EC titles.

Averaging out those sales for the 24 books (total number of all 24 titles sold divided by 24) equals, on average, an EC book sells 1206 copies in its first year.

That's not a market. It's a club!

I'm not disparaging it. I think it's great that writers have paying readers for their work. It underlines the point I made here and which I repeated here.

I call it a club because the number of readers is so small that everyone is bound to know everyone else. It's like a stifling small town in the midwest that intelligent young people grow up in, finally take a real look at, and then flee.

I think its writers must flee.

For those toiling in that field, take a look at this: Sony eBook Store: A $2.38 eBook!.

I bring up that point because sales on the Sony eBook Store are one way to go beyond the boundaries of a small town/club. Looking at its bestseller list illustrates that the audience isn't genre-heavy, but brick and mortar general bookstore-like. (Let me pre-empt one future Comment: Yes, I see the ePublisher. Yes, I see it's a member of The Club. Still: it's the Sony eBook Store.)

Flee. Get creative about marketing yourself and your work to places other than the expected. I first heard about William Gibson's Neuromancer -- shortly after its publication -- not from SF addicts, but from people who consulted in the technology field. And these people were not SF addicts (and, for a litmus test, regarded Star Trek as just another TV show; blasphemy, I know!).

There has to come a point in every life where an assessment is made of present surroundings and a decision has to be made: Do I continue to wallow here or do I get the hell out and take my chances?

Take your chances!

All of you must live near radio stations or TV stations or newspapers. Have any of you sent out press releases to them? Positioned yourself as any sort of authority on topics they might cover (cheating spouses -- hey, I know about that! fantasy lovers -- ditto! Sex on the Internet -- have I got tales to share!)? You must find a microphone outside of the The Club. It's the only way to attract readers and the only way to tell the moralistic groupies to go Fuck Off.

Let me tell you: This is work. Hard work. But every writer has to reach a point between books, when writing isn't being done. Or even burnout. Or the frightening writer's block. There is time to do This Hard Work.

It's a decision every writer who wants a career is going to have to make.

For all those writers out there feeling the press of a bluenose's thumb, make the decision to get out from under.
Your life is your life. Don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.

-- Charles Bukowski

(Note: Writer Zoe Winters might disagree with some of the above.)

(Further note: Erotic fiction writer Mitzi Szereto went before a bigger microphone. Scroll down for MP3 of radio interview.)