Sunday, October 23, 2011

amazon's march to the sea

On the heels of post at that OTHER blog ( regarding the disconnect between technology and publishers, this morning I picked up the business section of my local paper to read that amazon has made a proprietary relationship with DC comics. Although there seems to be a little backtracking on just how exclusive (initially you couldn't even access DC's publications on a Kindle app), the essential bones are that if you're into graphic novels? Buy a Kindle Fire.

Barnes and Noble responded by pulling all of DC's material from their shelves, because they feel that being dissed in the electronic arena is tantamount to an act of war. I get the sense that DC was surprised at the vehemence of their response, but then B&N are fighting for their lives. The debut of the Kindle Fire is smack down competition to their color Nook, and then in a classic one-two punch, amazon delivered the second blow with this sweetheart deal with DC.

I'm not a graphic novel person, but as I mentioned yesterday, you want to capture the demographic below thirty-five, then you'd better provide some visual candy. Of course, graphic novels are so beyond visual candy, but there is a reason why they and manga are so popular. Visuals, my friends. Visuals. Look at the popularity of tumblr. I moseyed on over there and was immediately struck by the lack of words. Although words are my thing, I can't deny that visuals now seem to be a key aspect of social media. Note the lack of graphics here!

So what's a DC fan to do? Buy a Kindle Fire? This brings us to the issue of torrenting, essentially piracy.

(1) There are people who just don't believe in paying for artistic content period. I suspect that few of them produce artistic content, otherwise they might understand why those of us who are victims of torrenting are a little outraged at this viewpoint, even as we are hopeless to combat it.

(2) Then there are those who think that artists charge too much. This is the push behind cheap e-books. There are many legitimate arguments to be made that the actual printing of a book is NOT the gross amount of the final price. Although it's not insignificant, it certainly doesn't support the notion that most people who want cheap e-books harbor: that readers should get an e-book at something less than a cup of coffee because publishers are now not printing them.

(3) There are people who are poor and who bootleg because it's either that or staring at four blank walls.

(4) Now we come to that elusive group that seems to be responding to DC's decision. Those who are perfectly willing to pay for content--and actually WANT to support artists--provided they feel it's reasonable. They don't want to get ripped off. If they feel they are getting ripped off, then then will pirate with glee.

The material is out there. We all know that. I can Google both of my books and find torrenting sites galore that feature my books. But I try to tell myself that most people want to support me as a no-name author. But if you piss people off (witness the reader outrage when Michael Connelly's publisher decided to protect hardcover sales by making the e-book MORE expensive than the hardcover), then you're alienated a group of people who heretofore had been loyal customers--as opposed to scumbag pirates. And most of these people have laptops. And Internet browsers. And they know how to download.

I think we'll see some serious backtracking here from DC. Because they've pissed off an important segment of their market when there is an alternative market. An alternative market that is FREE.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

More frustration in the land of self-publishing

I've updated my self-publishing blog. Read my thoughts here:

I also finished a book last night: Julian Barnes and his Booker Prize winner: "The Sense of an Ending." There is something about intelligent Brits that always makes me feel dumb. I don't feel that way about American writers that I think are brilliant. But a very smart English writer leaves me a little ashamed of my ignorance. In fact, they make me feel ignorant. This book did that. I rant and rave here about how the I.Q. points of most books I pick up have, collectively, dropped about 100 points. This book is not like that at all. Smart. Very smart and beautifully written. I recommend.

It reminds me of two books that I love very much: Ford Madox Ford's "The Good Soldier" and McEwan's "On Chesil Beach." There is the same sense of time and an unreliable narrator and epiphany and sadness and personal tragedy and age and defeat, all wrapped up in gorgeous writing.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Signal Boost

New column on the perils of publishing in the digital age! Check it out:

Sunday, October 16, 2011

State of Morgue

What a grueling few months. It seems appropriate to comment in bullet form because, well, that seems to be how my mind is working these days. In short bursts. Because that's indicative of how much time I have.

  • I have stalled on marketing my romance based on Austen's Pride and Prejudice (my version is called Pen and Prejudice) due to work suckage. Given that my life will not be my own until after the first week in November, my plans of getting this out the door by Christmas is now something of a pipe dream. However, I'm making lists. LISTS! of what I need to do once work has calmed down.
  • I have not read a good book in ages and then I did. Frankly, I'm not very interested in this period of history--I think you have to be into military history and carnage on a level that makes the Tudors look like pantywaists--but I will say that Stacy Schiff's biography of Cleopatra was delightful. It's another one of those histories that is based on very little actual sources, but she wrings as much as she can out of the paucity of sources and does so in such an engaging, humorous, sure voice that the centuries melt away. I admired very much the way this book was written. I can't vouch for the interpretation of the sources, but I can tell you that Ms. Schiff deserved that Pulitzer. It's so refreshing to read a book where the author can write! Eventually I'll put up a formal review on my Goodreads page, but this is really worth picking up and devouring.
  • I decorated the house for Halloween today. I love fall. I love the colors. I love the shadows. I love how the sun has a cool heat about it. Hey, I live in California. We had a high of 80 degrees today, and yet in the shade there were hints of chill.
  • Given the publication of the trade paperback of Roux Morgue this August, I've decided to write another Mary Ryan book. I've been toying with the idea for a few months now. I need to run it by the powers that be at PPP, and at their okay it's going to be full steam ahead.