Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday Morning Thoughts

Wish I had them. This morning is truly one of those brain dead mornings. Put it up to the fact my furnace is acting up -- hopefully, it is just the thermostat. I'll be checking that as soon as I have enough coffee in me to be able to see straight. Any way, a couple of links and then I think I'll throw the floor open to you guys.

First of all, Sarah has posted a free short story over at According to Hoyt. The story first appeared some months ago when she was invited to take part in an online steam punk symposium of sorts. It's a fun read and written in the 'voice" of the main character in Heart of Light, the first of her Magical British Empire series. The other two books are Soul of Fire and Heart and Soul.

On the e-book front, Google launched its e-bookstore this week. As a writer, and as a fan of the local indie bookstores, I'm glad to see this. Here's what the L. A. Times had to say about it: More than 200 independent bookstores nationwide will be able to sell Google eBooks. This is good news for independent booksellers, which for the first time will be able to offer a coherent, competitive e-book alternative to Amazon's. Bookstores that currently use the American Booksellers Assn. Web platform, including local retailers Skylight Books, Vroman's and Book Soup, will be able to sell Google eBooks.

From a publishing point of view, however, I'm less thrilled because of the number of kinks that still need to be worked out. The interface you have to use to sign up and then upload your books is anything but intuitive. For example, once you've created your account and have gone through the steps to upload your book -- and one of their uploaders kept crashing on me -- you can't see if the file actually made it to them for at least several hours. Then you wait...and wait...and wait to see if there are any problems with your file. You can wait, according to Google's own documentation, up to several months before finding out if your file transferred properly or not.

If that's not enough to give an author or editor an ulcer, Amazon has taken steps to complete the process. If you have an Author Central account with Amazon, you can now access Bookscan's weekly geographic sales figures for your titles. A couple of thoughts came to me when I saw this. The first is my biggest concern and complaint about Bookscan -- it doesn't give you a full picture of sales. So far, it doesn't report electronic sales, although that will soon change. It doesn't reflect sales from, iirc, Amazon, Walmart, etc. Still, this may also help. I know authors who have been told by their publishers that they have sold X-number of any given title, a number so low you know it has to be wrong, simply because of the number of copies of the book the author has autographed at cons. Then there are the reports I've heard from a number of authors where they are told they have sold exactly the same number of e-books reporting period after reporting period. With access to bookscan numbers, well, now authors can keep track themselves. My only question is how detailed this free access happens to be.

I do love some of the reactions Galleycat printed concerning this news from Amazon, especially the comments from Ginger Clark (“Authors: I’ll be the 1st to say ‘knowledge is power.’ But Bookscan numbers do not tell the whole story and need context.”) and young adult author Christine Johnson (“Amazon gives authors access to Bookscan numbers. In other news, thousands of authors go on automatic suicide watch.”).

Now it's your turn. What publishing news struck you this week? Do you have any questions or comments for us? The floor is now yours.

4 comments:

MataPam said...

How can time pass so fast (How long till 2011? Eek!) and yet the things we wait for (contracts, rejections) take so long to arrive?

This biased time passage must stop!

Either that, or I need a day job to make ordinary time drag. What do you think?

Kate said...

It would seem that the monopoly on information is crumbling. Bookscan data may be incomplete and not necessarily accurate, but I strongly suspect there's a reason why there's been such opposition to making the data available.

No, not conspiracy theories. Just human nature. Those with power are rarely if ever willing to share - and in publishing, knowledge is power.

Of course, there could be some rather startling names showing up on that author suicide watch...

MataPam said...

Oh, I dunno about suicide. Could be some publishers hiring body guards if they've been seriously under-paying large numbers of authors.

Release of past Amazon.com sales number could bring a blizzard of lawsuits. Or possibly red faces, as the writers learn how honest their publishers have been to them.;)

Synova said...

I don't suppose it's actually publishing news in any sense but I bought a color Nook for my husband for Christmas. He's really excited about the whole electronic reader idea but I'm a skeptic. I simply wouldn't pay real money for something like that for myself at this point.

No doubt I'll have new ideas about the future of electronic publishing once I've had a chance to play with it a bit.