Nathan Bransford, Author

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Last Few Weeks in Books 5/14/12

Apologies for being inconsistent with the link roundups lately, I've been quite busy finishing up the last few changes for Jacob Wonderbar and the Interstellar Time Warp.

The good news is that I've been saving links like a hyperactive squirrel stores acorns. Here we go! Rapid fire style.

First, I was recently interviewed for a San Jose Mercury News article on Facebook's cultural impact, in which I touch on the way social media enforces transparency and honesty, something The Next Web tackled recently as well.

Author Matt Myklusch is starting a new podcast, which I hope to guest appear on in the new few weeks.

Mathew Ingram wrote an interesting article for GigaOM in which he summarized Clay Shirky's argument that Publishing is No Longer a Job or an Industry, It's a Button. Like Ingram, I think Shirky was being a bit cheeky here -- distribution is becoming a button, but there's a lot more that goes into making a book than distribution. Someone's got to take care of those other pesky tasks, and publishers are still pretty good at most of them. Shirky argues that publishers have to find a way to add value to the equation.

And speaking of adding value, J.A. Konrath kicked off a good debate by featuring a post by a veteran Harlequin author, who opted to self-publish because of the paltry royalties Harlequin pays.

If you think your critique partner is rude, check out this letter Jack London wrote to an aspiring writer. London: "Honestly and frankly, I did not enjoy [your story] for its literary charm or value. In the first place, it has little literary value and practically no literary charm." (via JES)

Mike Shatzkin has a typically erudite and insidery take on where the publishing industry stands vis a vis Amazon, in an article called Amazon's Growth and Its Lengthening Shadow. Meanwhile, summarized the juicy bits from an interview with the head of Amazon's publishing imprint, Larry Kirshbaum.

Oh, and Amazon will be publishing the James Bond backlist. Shaken, surely, not stirred.

In case you're curious about where we go from here in the wake of the DOJ lawsuit, my colleague and fellow author David Carnoy has an awesome article on the future of e-book pricing.

So the golden era of reading is in the past and no one reads anymore, right? Um. Not so fast. Seriously, check out this chart.

Children's and YA book sales are surging! They're up 72%. A quiet sleeper called The Hunger Games might have something to do with that.

Need to procrastinate? The Rejectionist has some ideas on things you can do instead of writing.

McSweeny's has a funny guide to writing better than you normally do. (via Holly Burns)

And my wonderful company CNET has an awesome ode to NASA's first astrochimp.

Comment! of! the! last! few! weeks! A few weeks back I had a post on what the book world would look like after the DOJ lawsuit, and Doug had some more specific details on where things could go:

The transition period could be a mess. E-book stores can't sell e-books without a contract. If those three publishers have to cancel their contracts with all of the e-book stores, it's going to be mid-2010 all over again, when only a few sellers had Agency titles, most of them didn't have all of the publishers, and it took even Amazon six months to get a Penguin contract in place.

Random House wasn't sued, and their Agency Model will continue on as before. The DoJ wasn't concerned about the Agency Model but rather how it came about.

The settling publishers are permitted to continue using Agency Model, but for two years they can't control retail prices other than having a contract clause forbidding sustained sales below cost. (And no Most Favored Nation clause for five years.)

The "no sustained sales below cost" clause could be bad news for mid-list authors. It says that the total discounts offered by the seller on the publisher's titles over the course of a year cannot exceed the seller's commissions on that publisher's titles over the course of the same year. So if Amazon chooses to lose $2 on each of the bazillion e-book copies of JK Rowling's A Casual Vacancy that they sell, they're going to have to make up that $2 bazillion with increased prices on Hachette's other e-book titles. And I can pretty much guarantee you that it won't be on other front-list titles.
And finally, my friend Rakesh Satyal, author of the fantastic novel Blue Boy, was one of the many illustrious contributors to the Scholastic anthology The Letter Q: Queer Writers' Notes to Their Younger Selves. Here's the book trailer:

Have a great weekend!


Anjali said...

Loved Blue Boy and will be definitely checking out the anthology.

Great list of links. They'll be keeping me busy for days to come!

Steven J. Wangsness said...

I'd love to be in a position to tell Harlequin (or any publisher) to go suck it. Right now, that publisher would be me...

Matthew MacNish said...

We can (almost) always count on you, NB!

Matthew MacNish said...

Oh, and I hope OKC keeps it up. I do miss the Supersonics, but I'm glad to see anyone whip the Lakers.

Marla Warren said...


I think you may have forgotten a link:

Barnes & Noble in Digital Partnership with Microsoft

Any thoughts?

Kristi Helvig said...

Holy cow--I just read all 240 comments on J.A. Konrath's Harlequin post, and then read his other post about the ebook pricing/DOJ debate. I'm shocked at how many unhappy traditionally published authors there are out there. I know there are always two sides to an issue, but it's definitely food for thought.

Mira said...

Thanks so much for hyper actively squirreling away these links, Nathan! (Great visual, btw).

I'm slowly working my way through them. That was pretty cool that your post about your divorce was picked up by a major news source. I think you really touched alot of people with that post, Nathan.

I've been following Konrath lately, he's been a busy bee, taking on both the AAR and some agents who are defending Harlequin. Pretty interesting stuff.

I want to say that Jack London's letter was terrific. I loved the combination of brutal honesty with warm affection. Quite a read.

Good comment of the week!

So, that's as far as I've gotten so far. I did notice the Shazkin link seems to be broken.

Congratulations on wrapping up the edit! What an accomplishment. :)

Anonymous said...

Kristi said:

"I just read all 240 comments on J.A. Konrath's Harlequin post, and then read his other post about the ebook pricing/DOJ debate. I'm shocked at how many unhappy traditionally published authors there are out there."

I had the same reaction.

Donna OShaughnessy said...

Thank you Nathan for all the great links, they took some time on your part. Now, how do I revise my novel again looking for literary charm? Hmmmmmmm.

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

"I just read all 240 comments on J.A. Konrath's Harlequin post, and then read his other post about the ebook pricing/DOJ debate. I'm shocked at how many unhappy traditionally published authors there are out there."

I love Konrath's blog, but I can't say that I would consider his frequent posters to represent a consensus among traditionally published authors. That said, there's obviously discontent among both schools of thought, and we shouldn't expect anything else -- nor should we expect it to change. Debating traditional publishing versus non-traditional is becoming a bit like talking about politics. Things are reduced to black and white when they shouldn't be, flames are stoked when they're totally irrelevant to the topic, the main issues are probably more complex than anybody wants to admit, and all that contention leaves you either red in the face or blue. Oh, and there are often donkeys and elephants, in one form or another. Sometimes both. The bottom line is this: Both systems present a compromise of some sort. That’s why no one is satisfied with either.

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