Lots of links this week, so let’s get to it.
First up, there has been a huge controversy sparked by Harlquin’s announcement that they would be forming a self-publishing arm called Harlequin Horizons. Victoria Strauss at Writer Beware wrote a very helpful initial roundup of the plan and controversy, Kristin Nelson wondered if it was exploitation or empowerment, and How Publishing Really Works had similar questions. Following the uproar, the Romance Writers of America took the pretty drastic measure of revoking Harlequin’s “recognized publisher” status, and Harlequin announced that they are dropping the Harlequin name from the self-publishing program in order to distinguish the two.
Setting aside this controversy for a moment and the specifics of Harlequin’s operation, let me just say that in principle I don’t think publishers facilitating self-publishing is necessarily such a bad thing. However, there should be complete transparency, fair pricing, total disambiguation between traditional publishing arms and self-publishing arms, and every good faith attempt made to educate writers about the difference between the two. This industry obviously needs new revenue streams, and provided that the publisher’s program is genuinely nonexploitive and transparent I don’t see the problem, and I don’t see why publishers should continue to cede ground to self-publishing companies when they have every capacity to provide the same service. It just has to be done correctly.
Now then. Other news!
Mike Shatzkin has one of the most brilliant blogs on the future of publishing out there, and this week he had a great post about some conversations he’s had with agents about how our role will be changing in the new publishing landscape. He explores a possible change in the way agents earn money, the challenge of facilitating self-publishing, and his opinion (which I share) that “power is moving from ‘control of IP to control of eyeballs.'”
In e-book news, the NY Times noticed that quite a few people are reading on their smart phones, and raises the question about whether the future of e-books is with dedicated devices or devices people already have (my guess: a mix of both). And in gadget news, a (satiric?) beta tester of Apple’s iTablet spilled the beans to HuffPo/blew my mind, and Engadget released a helpful holiday gift guide for all the different e-readers.
Meanwhile, with all of our recent talk about efficiency and self-publishing and e-publishing, Rachelle Gardner had a really interesting post that worries about what will happen if every novel ever written is published.
Over at Upstart Crow, Michael Stearns noticed an interesting thing about the new Stephen King book UNDER THE DOME: it doesn’t have any jacket copy. He sees this as a sign that instant word of mouth is quickly becoming paramount, and it’s eliminating the browsing process.
As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Oprah is ending her daily talk show, which had quite a few book people gasping with panic. C. Max Magee at the Millions has a terrific recap of the history of Oprah and books.
Reader Eric Laing pointed me to this amazing post by Lynn Viehl where she shares her ledger publicly and shows the financial reality of a NY Times bestseller After taxes, commission, and expenses, Lynn made about $24,517.36 on her mass market bestseller TWILIGHT FALL.
Brace yourself for a month of decade retrospectives and best of lists. Quickly out of the gate is the Times UK, which has a list of the top 100 books of the decade, which is, incredibly annoyingly, spread out over 17 pages. Geez louise, Times UK, I don’t need to click 16 times to know that Cormac McCarthy won.
For all of you needing help with your last NaNoWriMo push, there’s a pretty hilarious widget called Write or Die that punishes you in various forms when you stop typing. (via Neil Vogler)
And finally, as I’m sure you know the second Twilight movie New Moon came out this week. Writing in the Millions, Emily Colette Wilkinson examines the role of wealth aspirations in the TWILIGHT series. io9 has a pretty unreal gallery of the worst/most disturbing TWILIGHT products, and the Daily Beast has a gallery of the best TWILIGHT tattoos, including one of a woman who had an entire paragraph tattooed on her back. Wow. I’d just like to say right now that if anyone gets a tattoo of a corndog I’ll send you a signed copy of JACOB WONDERBAR.
Have a great weekend!