Nathan Bransford, Author


Friday, December 11, 2009

This Week in Publishing 12/11/09

ThissssssssssssssssssssssssWeekInPublishing:

We covered the big news yesterday, which is that several of the big publishers announced that they are delaying the e-book release of some of their upcoming titles, even though according to reports they aren't actually making less per e-book copy than with hardcover copies. Mike Shatzkin speculates that this all about taking a stand against a company whose name starts with an "Ama" and ends with a "zon," though what precisely they are hoping to achieve vis a vis Amazon remains somewhat unclear.

Amazon apparently reacted to the news by slashing the prices of the delayed e-books even further, to $7.99. Which, again, doesn't mean publishers receive less money per copy, it just means Amazon loses $2 more per copy sold. So....... yeah.

Kassia Krozser at Booksquare broke out the crystal ball and made some interesting predictions for 2010, including: International rights and territorial control will be a hot issue in the e-book era, $9.99 will become a (sorta) standard, and publishers will begin to experiment with e-book first/then-print publishing. Definitely worth a read.

Mike Shatzkin (have I mentioned how much I love his blog?) also got a look at a new e-book experience via Baker & Taylor's upcoming e-book platform, which features virtual bookshelves, all kinds of options for styles and functionality, and, very intriguingly, a sync option for the audio version of the book.

Reacting to the immense popularity of the late Stieg Larsson's mystery series, some enterprising independent bookstores took it upon themselves to import and sell the UK edition, which has already been released. Only one problem with this plan: it's illegal. Indies, I know times is tough, but let's not turn into bootleggers, hmm?

Jacket Copy has a roundup of the latest rumors on the Apple Tablet: 10" iPhone like screen, $1,000 price point (youch), but perhaps most intriguing of all: a rumored 70% to publishers/30% to Apple nonexclusive distribution arrangement, compared to (according to the article) a typical 50/50 split with Kindle. As Mr. Burns would say: Innnnnnnteresting.

The fallout from Harlequin's announcement about their new self-publishing line continued to fall out, as the Mystery Writers of America took the step of de-listing Harlequin from their approved publishers list, meaning Harlequin books and authors with contracts signed after 12/2/09 are, among other things, no longer eligible for the Edgar Awards.

Editor Alan Rinzler chatted with neuroscientist Livia Blackburne about the effects reading has on our brain. Turns out the words really do shape the brain in an interesting way.

In "E-books Are Going to Destroy Writing" news, an article in the Guardian UK wonders if great writing will end because Don Delillo wrote on a typewriter, attention spans are shortened because of distractions, and a host of other fears. Lord knows nothing good has been written on a computer! (Though, in all seriousness, while I don't share the essay's sense of immense doom/pessimism, it has some interesting speculation that the disconnect from real life and removal from the dangers of in-person discourse afforded by computers results in an elevated and falsely enhanced sense of self-importance. Which isn't a bad theory actually.) (via Combreviations)

In agent news, several blogging agents have announced that they are taking query holidays between now and January 15th: Jennifer Jackson, Upstart Crow, and Rachelle Gardner/Word Serve. I am really intrigued by this idea and ask that people avoid querying around the week before and after Christmas, but am currently too OCD about possibly missing out on something to take a full-fledged query holiday myself.

Almost finally, The Rejectionist offers writing advice inspired by Terminator:Salvation.

And finally, finally, while East Coast Bias will likely preclude Toby Gerhart from winning the Heisman Trophy tomorrow (despite ahem leading the nation in rushing yards and touchdowns while also carrying a 3.25 GPA at Stanford), I'd just like to present Exhibit A through Z for his candidacy. Go Gerhart!!



Have a great weekend!






67 comments:

Anonymous said...

Broadband penetration in the U.S. is at 63% in U.S households as of June 2009. Dial-up access at 7%. 30% other or none. Weren't all that long ago that dial-up dominated at 85%, 2000. 65% in 2003. Wired world. The LEDs winking at me when I turn the lights off are eerie company. Like the baleful eyes of predators peering in from the wilderness.

Lisa Dez said...

Great rundown, once again. And I AM important--my computer has nothing to do with it.

Lisa Dez said...

Also, happy (Unofficial) Official Agent Appreciation Day and thanks to Kody Keplinger for the great idea so we can share the love with our awesome agents!

Kat Harris said...

It's Suh all the way baaybee!

Ciara said...

there's an article http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/personal_tech/article3492060.ece from back in 2008 which predicted how e-reading will destroy books! How people will stop writing and just use links to images online to describe where their character is, looks like etc. as if writing will just die out because we have technology.

ciara said...

http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/personal_tech/article3492060.ece

sorry full link there

Anonymous said...

or not? i take it i can't post a link

Bane of Anubis said...

What's Gerhart's major? b/c even a 3.25 GPA at Stanford is fairly easy if he's Sports Medicine. And, yeah, I wouldn't mind Suh winning either (and seeing what he did to the vaunted UT o-line kind of supports his case).

As far as the tablet goes, from everything I've heard, it's gonna be a game changer (ranging in price from $600 - $2000, depending on who you want to believe and possible OLED screen), but we heard that about the Segway, too, so we shall see.

Kristi said...

Happy Agent Appreciation Day, Nathan!

Nathan Bransford said...

bofa-

Management science and engineering. He's also taking 21 units this quarter. The most I ever attempted was 20.

Laura Martone said...

Thanks, Nathan, as always. Have a groovy weekend!

Oh, and Bane, what's wrong with a Segway? I'm still miffed that I don't have one. Poop.

Bane of Anubis said...

Thanks -- seems pretty slick. I took 21 hours once (7 engineering courses, yuk) -- but balanced it out the next semester w/ 13 :)...

And if not Suh, I'd put Gerhart second. He reminds me of John Riggins (before your time, youngster).

Vegas Linda Lou said...

I’ve wondered for a while about the effect e-books will have on the quality of writing since readers who read from a screen tend to scan. I also hear more and more writers brag about their daily word production and how every month they have a new title for the electronic medium.

As someone who labored over every word of my book, I’d hate to see an appreciation of the craft erode to the point where the written word becomes essentially disposable.

Chuck H. said...

Go ahead and take a couple of weeks off. What's the worst that could happen? You'll have a couple thousand queries in your inbox when you come back? Oh! I see.

Word Ver: uncogg - disengage from the machine.

Marilyn Peake said...

So many wonderful links. I thoroughly enjoyed Alan Rinzler’s interview with Livia Blackburne about the neuroscience of reading and writing - Wow! I also found the article by Tim Adams really fascinating.

Nathan Bransford said...

I don't see why computers are going to destroy writing. Is a typewriter really the absolute perfect writing technology? Really really?

Dan Holloway said...

The publishing industry, indeed commerce in general never ceases to amaze me - I remember when it was Levi's jeans that you couldn't import to sell over here in the UK. I still can't quite get my head around trade barriers of any kind. But the idea that importing books from abroad and selling them is illegal is just screwy. And yes, I know there are different forms of royalties and rights involved for the authors and that the response will be the rules are protecting the authors - but as an author I'd like to say that just makes the whole territorial rights thing screwy.

pjd said...

must... resist... temptation...

OK. So I have always thought that the sound of words affects an infant's brain development. Anyone who's ever had to name their baby has read about the meanings of names and the personality traits typical of people with certain names. My theory has been that the baby's name is among the most often repeated sounds the baby hears, and different sounds affect brain development in different ways. Thus, the baby's name actually can have an impact on the ultimate temperament. The Rinzler article lends credence to my theory.

But we still have the Axe.

Dick Margulis said...

No mention of the demise of Kirkus?

Eleika said...

Re: Harlequin - this affects so many authors. So do you think things will eventually settle out, and Harlequin will repent enough to get back into those associations' good graces? Or is this the beginning of the end?

David Ferretti III said...

Hello Nathan

Yesterdays post and today’s, center on the new wave of e-readers. I see many comments here and on blogs that I follow. One question I have, is how much money does an author make for each digital sale? The only indirect reference I have see talked about a 40% to 60% split. The article failed to mention what percentage went to the author. The answer would make a difference to my opinion on publishing an eBook at the same time my hardback is in print.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

David Ferretti III

Vegas Linda Lou said...

I don't think computers will destroy writing; on the contrary, I think they facilitate creation. I'm concerned about how text presented on a screen is read. Will readers who are used to scanning slow down to savor every word from a writer committed to the craft?

Dan Holloway said...

Wow, pjd - I've just read the Rinzler. It certainly appears to be another entry in the litany of "paying millions of dollars/pounds to some boffin to state the bleeding obvious"

Nathan Bransford said...

david-

I'm afraid I can't really share that information.

Susan Quinn said...

I especially liked Michael Stearn's (Upstart Crow) discussion of taking a sabbatical to think about where they are, where they're going . . . and why. It's important for everyone to pause and reflect and regroup, but especially the creative types.

And you're obviously one of those! Happy Agent Appreciation Day - you're not my agent, but you and your fab blog has done a tremendous service for the unagented (such as myself) - and I appreciate it!

:)

T. Anne said...

Happy agent appreciation day Nathan!
It will be interesting to see what the new year brings in regard to publishing.

Livia said...

Glad you found the Alan Rinzler interview interesting. Although my vote for best writing advice from this roundup goes to the Rejectionist, for "You have to have a plot." Best. Advice. Ever.

Kate said...

Yup, Toby completely deserves it, and that's a hard thing for this Texan to admit. Colt blew his chances with Nebraska.

Nick said...

Well I certainly share DeLillo's sentiments on the typewriter. Everything I wrote in the past was scribbled on scratch and then transferred to typewriter or was done on the typewriter from square one. The only reason I'm using the computer for my writing now is because I've seen some agents who only accept e-mail queries, and even those that take both generally prefer the computerised form. Honestly, though, if I ever do well enough in my career to be able to do so with little to no hassle, I'm going back to using the typewriter. There is no feeling like a cool January morning with snow falling gently outside, sitting at an old oak desk in the corner, typing calmly at the old '52 Sears, wire-frame glasses being pulled on every time you sit down and off every time you take a break...I'll stop myself here.

And I guess if I ever want to join MWA (although not knowing what the benefits would be, I can't decide that at the moment) I'll just have to steer clear of Harlequin. Although honestly if Harlequin were the only people offering, I'd jump on it, probably.

Also, I challenge the "east coast bias". Has no one considered we Easterners are just the better sportsmen?

annerallen said...

I echo Dick M's comment about Kirkus. I'd like to hear what Nathan has to say about the demise of the most prestigious (and snarkiest) print book reviewer.

Re: computer vs. typewriter. I'm sure many 19th cent. folks predicted the demise of good writing after the invention of that newfangled typewriting machine. Probably the same thing happened with the fountain pen vs. the quill. Progress is scary.

Nathan Bransford said...

annerallen, dick m-

Well, you know what they say, when you can't say anything nice...

Munk said...

Love this blog. Typewriter vs. computer? Think back further... quill pen vs. Gutenberg... finger in sand vs. fire blackened stick on cave wall. Media can't kill content, but it can shape it.
Toby Gerhart is a beast. He singlehandedly, beat up on my Ducks. How interesting that last sentence would be if the Ducks weren't a football team... I'll bet that if he could just get his hands on the Heisman statue during the trophy ceremony, he could make it out the door without being stopped.

Chris Garlington said...

a) Your blog looks great!
b) Publishers should take a cue from the recording industry and make the eBook and the pBook different. So the pBook has some stuff the eBook doesn't have, some packaging extra, or a prologue or afterword.

The pBook is the premiere version. It's the Oxford English Dictionary of the story and comes loaded with cool stuff you can only experience in the book.

The eBook is the bare bones, story only version with some pictures of or selected by the author and links to relevant websites; it could have specialized material not suited for print or audio.

The aBook is the bare bones audio version but has an interview with the author.

Instead of three identical versions in three formats, competing for the buyer, you have three slightly different versions offering three different ways to enjoy the story with three different kinds of bonus material.

Most people will only buy one version but serious collectors or people with enough money who love the author will buy all three versions just to have the extra stuff.

The could go one step further and take a cue from Radiohead and Cory Doctorow and offer a free version. Trent Reznor had four prices for his album Ghosts (ghosts.nin.com/main/order_options) and still made over a million bucks the first day it was out, even though one of the four versions of his album was a free download.

Of course, a novel can't be parted out the way an album can but you get the idea. EBooks can work for the industry, not against it.

Gail said...

Nathan:
Thanks for the heads-up on Alan Rinzler's Livia interview. I totally agree with the principles (as a former 30 yr elem sch teacher I know the importance of brain-based research and used that knowledge for engaging students.
Good post! Have a great weekend!

Dawn Maria said...

I'm not interested in self-publishing myself, but I believe this business with Harlequin and the fallout from their move will affect all of us in the end. No sure exactly how or what the timeline will be, but the times they are a changing.

Thanks again Nathan for a great recap. Enjoy your holiday. I bet your first week of January inbox quota will be huge with New Year's Resolution queries! Rest while you can.

Elaine 'still writing' Smith said...

I'd read several of the articles earlier this week - that never happens :s How much time have I spent procrasting this week? Too much.

Happy Agent Appreciation Day - no matter how unofficial it is.

WV: tylority - a name designed to psychologically disturb any child

ryan field said...

"but am currently too OCD about possibly missing out on something to take a full-fledged query holiday myself."

LOL...I know how you feel :)

Cheryl said...

Nathan, I have to say using "east coast bias" isn't a very good argument for Gerhart not winning the Heisman. After all, three of the last seven Heisman winners came from a Pac-10 school. Of course, Leinart only won because Adrian Peterson was a freshman. Talk about bias. I wonder what the voters think of that choice these days.

Come Dec. 30th, my alma mater will be getting an up close look at Gerhart. Or should I say, Gerhart will be getting an upclose look at the likes of Gerald McCoy, Jeremy Beal, Frank Alexander and Ryan Reynolds? :D

Nathan Bransford said...

cheryl-

We don't count USC. They're kind of like an honorary East Coast team.

And yes, we shall see what happens come New Year's Eve.

Laura Miller Edwards said...

I'm confused... is it not okay to talk about the average an author gets for each ebook sold of their work?

Does that mean that all the blogs I've read about how much an author typically gets from a hardback sale are maybe overstepping their bounds in speaking about it? Or is it just an ebook thing?

I'm intrigued.

Nathan Bransford said...

laura-

The difference is that hardcover and paperback royalties are very much established industry standard, though even there I don't really get too specific about escalators and things. E-book royalties vary more from publisher to publisher and so I don't want to/can't get into specifics because it's much more difficult to generalize.

Although if you're curious about e-book industry standard, you can google "e-book author royalty industry standard" and you'll see what the New York Times has heard.

Nathan Bransford said...

cheryl-

To wit: last non-USC Pac 10 player to win the Heisman was Jim Plunkett, Stanford, 1970.

wendy said...

I admire your deds, Nathan. No wonder so many query you. I feel like sending in a query just for the sake of thinking, 'Oooh, I'll be hearing from Nathan at some point in the near future.';) However with a Stephanie Meyer's similiarity going on in the story, I don't think you'll be interested.

After New Moon came out - the movie version - with a performance from Robert Pattinson in which he seemed to have the energy and fortitude of a rag - even I've gone off paranormal. Suddenly it seems so passe, superficial and unreal. No wonder The Blind Side has eclipsed New Moon at the box office. It's everything New Moon is not.

Sorry if that sounds bitchy and demeaning to the T. franchise. I'll always love the movie version of Twilight. That haunting sound track is...to die for?

However, and speaking of ebooks, I'm going to release the passe para, and others, myself as ebooks. I've spent years on illustrations and orchestrations so it'd be fun, and I want to share. I don't think illustrations and music tempt people in if they aren't attracted by the storyline, but I love multimedia projects and increasing the dimensions of the story world.

Cheryl said...

Well Nathan, my response to that little tibit would be... it's the Pac-10. What do you expect? *snerk*

My pick from the get-go this season was Mark Ingram. And after running all over the Gators and making Tim Tebow cry, well, that's more than enough reason for him to win it IMO. Not to mention Alabama has never had a Heisman Trophy winner. Surprising when you consider what a storied program they have. I believe that will be a fact rectified come tomorrow night.


BTW... thanks for the correction. It is NYE we play, not the 30th. We desperately need that extra day to duct tape what is left of our offensive linemen together. ;)

Linguista said...

I don't think I'll ever be an e-booker :( I still buy CDs and don't own an ipod. I live in Japan and have a phone that can do everything but make breakfast, and I never use the features. I just don't think I'll be swayed by e-books.

I realised thanks to one of Natalie's recent posts that I like paper! And then I read electronic media, I skip over parts...

So I don't really care what they do or don't do with e-books, as long as I can keep getting my paperback.

Mira said...

Thanks for the links, Nathan. :)

Also, happy unofficial agent appreciation day. You should be appreciated! You work so hard to be fair, informative and accessible. Thank you!

Speaking of accessible, the forums are great. It's totally fun to see you there. I can't believe, though, that you're giving feedback! Totally interesting to read, I'm learning alot from your comments on other people's work.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! :)

Oh, and Happy Channuka, too! May light fill your home and heart.

Cam Snow said...

My inner Stanford-ite says that anyone other than Gerhardt winning the Heisman is a crime... He would have had twice as many yards had he been running behind Alabama or Florida's O-line.

Jason said...

Full disclosure...I'm from the South (a graduate of Auburn University) and a firm believer in SEC football supremacy. But I just don't see this kid doing that against the SEC...not that he wouldn't do well. But he looks like he runs the 40 in about 2 minutes.

On the other hand...I'm sure he's a lot smarter than most of our players. :)

Sheila said...

Why didn't they give Toby the ball in the final moments of the Big Game? Why?????

He seems like such a great kid. I was at the Notre Dame game and he was phenomenal. I think I'll tear up a bit if he doesn't win. And I'll probably bawl if he does.

Blogging Mama Andrea said...

If ebooks are the next It thing and we can kiss traditional paper books goodbye, do you think it benefits first time authors to only target epublishers versus traditonal ones?

So agents are taking query holidays. I can expect that rejection around Presidents day then, splendid ;)

pjd said...

Sheila said: Why didn't they give Toby the ball in the final moments of the Big Game? Why?????

I was wondering the same thing. The outcome may have been different in that case. In fact, they didn't use him nearly as much as I expected the entire game.

Which was great, I thought, being an Old Blue myself.

Ink said...

That Guardian article was really quite interesting, it's just too bad they had to stick a few alarmist tags on at the end. Why couldn't DeLillo write Underworld on a computer? And even if he couldn't, who's to say he wouldn't have written something different but equally good? Or even better?

But I quite enjoyed the thoughtful exploration of how the digital medium affects textual creation and reception. It's the sort of stuff that's been on my brain lately. I even wrote an Ode to Paper on my blog yesterday. :) But I did see my first live Kindle a couple days ago, and I admit it's a neat gadget. (Spare me, oh Ebook Overlords!)

Liam said...

If only we lived in a world where eBooks and regulars could live in peace. I personally would rather have the physical book, but also I do want a Kindle. I would still buy the physical book, but load my Kindle with my favs.

Trace said...

~Ch-ch-ch-changes~

2010 is going to be interesting :)

Nick said...

This excites me "falsely enhanced sense of self-importance", because I think so many things are relative that subjective that this phrase is just kind of a passing of the torch moment. Kind of like the Junior High / High School "popular" kids lament moving on to greater lakes, anyone will become defensive who isn't able to adapt to changing conditions.

Anonymous said...

So...basically you're telling us that you hope nobody will query, but that you wouldn't ignore it if it came. I'm sure somebody out there is thinking, "Sweet. I'll be the only query he gets this week so I'm going to send it anyway. Aren't I smart." I hope you don't get a huge pile of queries.

I think people respect you, though. The devious part of me just wished I had a project ready to go is all.

Michael Clutton said...

Reality check. I just realized I'm spending more time on your blog than I am on my own.

Hmmm. Nice work. Keep it up.

Your rundown on the latest "events" is both informative and entertaining.

Enjoy your time off!

And when it's over, brace yourself.

Munk said...

Sorry to hear your man Gerhart missed the Heisman by a measly 15 votes -- a bitter pill. Had Stanford been ranked #1...

Mira said...

Gordon, that was beautifully written, and I agree.

I don't know if everyone has the talent for writing, but I do think that everyone has an important story to tell, and some form of creative talent with which to express it.

I've been in the field of counseling now for a couple of decades. I've listened to a couple of hundred people (at least) tell me their story. I learned two things from that:

a. We are all very much alike.

b. We all have a compelling story. Every single one of us. I have never, and (I believe) will never heard a story of a person's life that wasn't important, poignant and valuable.

We are all of equal value, and all of our stories are of equal importance.

That's what I believe anyway.

I skimmed Dellilo's article. His writing style isn't very accessible, which sort of irritated me. I think he does point to some real dangers - the blurring between the lines of fantasy and reality - but he leaves out all of the wonderful and amazing things that the world wide web has brought to us. Very one-sided view imho.

Ink said...

Don't bash DeLillo! He didn't write the article. :) Though the article did remind me I haven't read Underworld yet, and should. DeLillo's a mighty fine novelist. Though I'm sure he'd be pretty decent if he wrote on a computer, too. :)

Mira said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mira said...

Oh. Whoops. Hmmm. Seems I misunderstood some stuff.

I suppose that I could have read the article, as well as Nathan's introduction, prior to writing my opinion about it...

But that seems like an awful lot of work. I really just want to pontificate about things.

As did the writer of the article. Ha! So, see, we're even.

Anonymous said...

If publishing follows music, then we might see book rental subscriptions in eBooks in the future. We all ready have this option with music via the Zune, and with streaming video, both Netflix and hulu provide us an option to just stream video. The idea of buying to own is becoming a thing of the past. Do I really need to own physical books, CDs, or DVDs? What we appear to give up with rental service is quality. A Netflix stream will not look as good as Blueray DVD, nor will a Zune music file sound as good as a CD. But getting the music and video now has a value that cannot be ignored. Likewise, I can BUY a book with my Kindle, but, I think, the future will be just paying a monthly subscription to download any book I want, but I will not OWN it.

Marla Martenson said...

I just found your blog and I love it. Thanks for all the great info.

Anita3 said...

So, Harlequin has moved to the darkside of the force, shame on them!
I agree with about 90% of Mike Shatzkin pondering. He did make some good points.

I'm Sorry, about Toby Gerhart, but it was so close.
Anita Mann

Kelly Bryson said...

re the Alan Rinzler link, there's a really cool fMRI of a brain watching the trailer to 'Avatar' on youtube. I link to it on my blog in this post- http://bookreadress.blogspot.com/2009/09/question-what-number-am-i-thinking-of.html.

AchingHope said...

I was actually just talking about this with one of my friends, so it was really nice to have some more info on it. Very helpful. Thanks! :)

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