Saturday, May 26, 2012

Week In Review (May 26)

Bit of a mix this week: an article about authors and Library eBook loans; Amazon & Waterstone’s; Special Needs in Strange Worlds (the series just keeps on going strong); a mini-article by S.G. Browne; a great review of Railsea by China Mieville; and an article by Sarah Pinborough.

The Guardian: “Pay us for Library eBook Loans say Authors” by Alison Flood [Article]

I am quite interested in this, actually, as I wasn’t sure how royalties worked with regards to library loans. I have no idea how it works in the United States, and this article only deals with the British situation.

“Authors are calling on the government to remunerate them when their ebooks are lent from libraries, calling it ‘patently unjust’ that digital titles are currently borrowed with no payment made to the writer.

“Authors are paid 6.05p every time their physical books are borrowed from the UK's public libraries, up to a maximum of £6,600, under the government-funded Public Lending Right scheme. But ebooks and audiobooks, a growing sector for library users, are not currently included in the scheme, even though the Digital Economy Act of 2010 paved the way for this to be done.”

Nicola Solomon, of the Society of Authors pointed out that

“It’s very important to understand that authors do rely on PLR – it’s not just a nice little bonus. Many authors get PLR who are not bestsellers but do very well in libraries. People borrow very different books from the book they buy… And authors can’t continue to write if they are not paid for their work.”

Flood also writes about the issue of lending eBooks period, outlining some of the arguments for and against:

“The issue of eBook lending from libraries is proving to be a thorny one for the books industry. Many publishers have yet to sign up to the practice, believing that libraries should ‘concentrate on delivering physical books to those least able to afford them, rather than offering eBooks to users who can afford eReaders’.”

This above point is, actually, something I agree with. Booksellers are also expressing concerns, arguing that eBook lending will be a “disruptive force” (James Daunt, Waterstone’s MD). Said Daunt, “If you can download a book for free and read it, why would you want to own it?” Some authors have also expressed more general fears that eBook lending “could undervalue retail pricing and increase piracy.” One thing that bothers me about this article is that Flood constantly refers to “authors” without naming a single one.

Amazon & Waterstone’s

Not a link to any article, as it was pretty widely reported, but I do find this really interesting. Daunt’s comments about eBook lending from last week (above) take on a bit more nuance when you couple them with Monday’s announcement that Waterstone’s has made a deal with Amazon to sell Kindles and eBooks through Amazon. I’m not sure how this is going to work in the long run, but I do have one pretty big question: what about people who bought ePubs through Waterstone’s? Will they have the option to convert them to Kindle editions? Will there be some kind of merging of the two eBook services? I bought quite a few books for my Sony Reader through Waterstone’s, and if they are now switching to Kindle, it would be nice to be able to do the same – that is, transfer my eBooks across.

“Sugar Paper on the Tongue” by Sarah Pinborough [Article]

Author Sarah Pinborough writes about… happiness.

“I’m not a naturally happy person. I’m prone to being an internal Eeyore and someone once told me that they thought my dopamine receptors were off – I never take a moment to stop and celebrate achievements but am always, always pushing on to the next thing.

“But you know, I don’t think that’s got anything to do with happiness. Maybe we’ve just forgotten what happiness actually is or should be.”

It’s a really nice article.

Bastard Books: “Lucky Bastard” by S.G. Browne [Guest Post & Giveaway]

I’ve only read one of Browne’s novels (Fated), which I thought was pretty good. His latest, Lucky Bastard (not about his host blogger’s fortune), sounds pretty interesting, too.

Staffer’s Musings: “Railsea” by China Mieville [Review]

I thought this was a particularly good review of Mieville’s latest novel, from a fan of the author’s work. The book didn’t really work for Justin, and I think the review is a good example of how to approach books that disappoint without a) frothing like a loon, or b) contorting oneself to make it seem like you still love the beloved author.

Bookworm Blues: “Special Needs in Strange Worlds” [Article Series]

Sarah has continued her excellent series of guest posts on the subject of special needs in fantasy and science fiction, and over the past week has posted articles and commentary by Jeff Salyards (author of Scourge of the Betrayer), Niall Alexander (the Speculative Scotsman), Sue Bricknell (blogger at Coffee, Cookies & Chili Peppers), M.D. Lachlan (author of Wolfsangel and Fenrir, and CR favourite), and Bryce Lee (Only the Best Sci-Fi and The Stamp of Approval)


And on Civilian Reader this week, it’s been pretty busy. Two book reviews – Ari Marmell’s False Covenant (Pyr) and Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s The Emperor’s Gift (Black Library); the usual comics round-up; an interview with author Rod Rees; and two graphic novel reviews – The Unwritten Volume 1 and Fables Deluxe Volume 2 (both Vertigo). In addition, Mieneke interviewed me for her excellent blog, The Fantastical Librarian.

Next week, there will also be plenty of posts and reviews – hopefully a couple of book reviews (The 500 by Matthew Quirk and Redshirts by John Scalzi), as well as a few graphic novel reviews (Superman: Birthright, Fables Deluxe Vol.3, and possibly American Vampire Vol.1), and an interview with author V.M. Zito.

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