Monthly Archives: March 2013

Why Amazon’s Purchase of Goodreads Is A Good Thing

29 March 2013

From the always-helpful David Gaughran:

The doom-mongers have been running wild on Twitter with the news that Amazon is to acquire Goodreads. Much of that nonsense is typical (hysterical) Amazon bashing, or reflexive defense of the status quo.

. . . .

There are some more reasonable fears about what this purchase entails. I would like to deal with these in turn, then discuss how I think this acquisition will be beneficial to writers – particularly self-publishers.

. . . .

1. Amazon will change Goodreads from being an independent home for readers to discuss the books they love

I can understand this fear – particularly if you are a Goodreads user, and spend a lot of time in the site. It’s not unreasonable to be worried about what happens next with a site that you love. I also understand the feeling of ownership that (rightly) develops in a community like Goodreads – especially one that has literally built the site into what it is today.

No-one has a crystal ball here, but all the indications are that Goodreads will retain its independence. That point was stressed in a blog post from Goodreads CEO Otis Chandler.

. . . .

If you are more worried about Amazon’s intentions, here’s Amazon VP Russ Grandinetti in a revealing interview with PaidContent’s Laura Hazard Owen:

Our mentality here is to first do no harm, and make sure that if we’re going to do integrations, users genuinely find it to be a big benefit.

Again, you might say talk is cheap, that actions speak louder than words. Well, let’s look at Amazon’s actions.

Amazon purchased a 40% stake in LibraryThing seven years ago. It bought Shelfari outright five years ago. It bought fifteen years ago. The independence and brand of those communities has not been compromised in all that time.

. . . .

4. Goodreads will become a site exclusively for Kindle owners

The statements above are quite clear that this isn’t going to happen, and that Goodreads will remain a home for anyone who loves books – however they read them.

It’s also clear that Amazon and Goodreads will be working together to provide extra features for Kindle users. Owners of other devices may gripe about that, but I think that’s the wrong way to look at it. This purchase has enabled the new features not prevented them for other devices. Amazon can hardly be expected to provide the technical know-how on how to integrate features onto EPUB devices they haven’t designed or manufactured.

. . . .

How does this acquisition help self-publishers?

I see three primary benefits:

1. More advertising opportunities on Goodreads, and a better return on investment. Goodreads already has an advertising program, but it’s hardly the best ROI in the business. Amazon has the experience and know-how to improve the program – and self-publishers are always looking for more (effective) places to advertise their books.

2. Amazon’s recommendation algorithms will be vastly improved with all the data that Goodreads has been collecting. Anything that makes Amazon a more trusted source for book recommendations levels the playing field for self-publishers – the vast majority of whom make 90% (or more) of their sales at Amazon, despite the Kindle only having around 60% of the market.

Link to the rest at Let’s Get Digital

Is Zorro in the public domain?

29 March 2013

From The Hollywood Reporter:

For nearly a century, the masked outlaw Zorro has been a popular character who, in books and films, has been featured defending against tyrannical villains who seek to oppress the masses. Zorro has been played by Douglas FairbanksAntonio Banderas and others. Next year, 20th Century Fox is scheduled to release Zorro Reborn, starring Gael Garcia Bernal.

. . . .

On Wednesday, a lawsuit was filed that asserts that Zorro is in the public domain, that trademarks on the character should be canceled and that the company currently professing rights on Zorro has perpetrated a fraud and that the masses should be able to exploit Zorro as they wish.

According to complaint, “Defendants have built a licensing empire out of smoke and mirrors.”

The lawsuit, filed in Washington federal court, comes from Robert Cabell, who says that in 1996, he published a musical entitled “Z — The Musical of Zorro,” that’s based upon author Johnston McCulley‘s first Zorro story published in 1919 and the Fairbanks film that was released the following year.

. . . .

“Specifically,” says the lawsuit, “Defendants have fraudulently obtained federal trademark registrations for various Zorro marks and falsely assert those registrations to impermissibly extend intellectual property protection over material for which all copyrights have expired. Defendants also fraudulently assert that copyrights for later-published material provide defendants with exclusive rights in the elements of the 1919 story and the 1920 film.”

. . . .

In a 2001 decision, in a footnote, a federal judge said, “It is undisputed that Zorro appears in works whose copyrights have already expired, such as McCulley’s story The Curse of Capistrano and Fairbanks’s movie, The Mark of Zorro.”

Link to the rest at The Hollywood Reporter and thanks to BS for the tip. to Acquire Goodreads

28 March 2013

From Amazon’s Media Room:, Inc. today announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire Goodreads, a leading site for readers and book recommendations that helps people find and share books they love.

“Amazon and Goodreads share a passion for reinventing reading,” said Russ Grandinetti, Amazon Vice President, Kindle Content. “Goodreads has helped change how we discover and discuss books and, with Kindle, Amazon has helped expand reading around the world. In addition, both Amazon and Goodreads have helped thousands of authors reach a wider audience and make a better living at their craft. Together we intend to build many new ways to delight readers and authors alike.”

“Books – and the stories and ideas captured inside them – are part of our social fabric,” said Otis Chandler, Goodreads CEO and co-founder. “People love to talk about ideas and share their passion for the stories they read. I’m incredibly excited about the opportunity to partner with Amazon and Kindle. We’re now going to be able to move faster in bringing the Goodreads experience to millions of readers around the world. We’re looking forward to inspiring greater literary discussion and helping more readers find great books, whether they read in print or digitally.”

“I just found out my two favorite people are getting married,” said Hugh Howey, best-selling author of WOOL. “The best place to discuss books is joining up with the best place to buy books – To Be Read piles everywhere must be groaning in anticipation.”

Link to the rest at Amazon Media Room

PG thinks this probably makes sense for Amazon, but his first thought was that he hopes that Amazon fixes Goodreads’ miserable user/author interface.

10 of the Coolest Librarians Alive

28 March 2013

From Flavorwire:

Face it: most librarians are probably cooler than you. After all, their job is to wrangle books, attract readers, and then get the two together — one of our own favorite activities. Though for many years, the librarian stereotype was a severe old lady who couldn’t stand excessive noise, the mold has changed (to the extent that even the New York Times has noticed). Now, many librarians are punk-rock agents of social change, complete with tattoos, tech savvy, and new ideas to get books to the people. After the jump, meet just a few of the very coolest librarians alive.

. . . .

Who could be cooler than an official riot grrrl librarian? Lisa Darms, a onetime zinester herself, is a senior archivist at the Fales Collection at NYU’s Bobst Library, which houses the famed Riot Grrrl Collection.

. . . .

Now here’s a librarian with personality to burn. “I would like to see a librarian on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine,” Porcaro says. “I want to see a librarian on Jersey Shore, in Kanye West’s entourage, and on the coaching staff of the New York Jets. I want to see the first librarian elected President of the United States. Don’t forget, Casanova was a librarian.”

Link to the rest at Flavorwire

Our character

28 March 2013

Our character…is an omen of our destiny, and the more integrity we have and keep, the simpler and nobler that destiny is likely to be.

George Santayana

Oddest Title Prize

28 March 2013

From Publishing Perspectives:

In a near landslide victory, a “supernaturally tinged barnyard manual” has triumphed, winning Britain’s oddest literary award, the Diagram Prize given for the year’s oddest book title.



Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop won an astonishing 38% of the vote, beating out such sure-fire competitors as How Tea Cosies changed the World and God’s Doodle: The Life and Times of the Penis.

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives and thanks to Eric for the tip.

A tale of a rejection, and the straw that made the cup run over, or something

28 March 2013

From author Marko Kloos on The Munchkin Wrangler:

Somewhere out there is a literary agent (who shall remain unnamed here) who asked for science fiction submissions on Twitter the Friday before last. I was in bed at the time, reading my Twitter feed on the iPad (as one does), so I got out of bed again to send that agent a query letter that followed the requirements of the agency in question.

I woke up the next morning to find a form rejection in my inbox.

. . . .

I said a very naughty word at the computer screen and felt something in my head go SNAP. Then I had Scrivener compile the ebook files for the novel, bought some cover art, made a book cover, uploaded everything to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing service, and told people on my blog that the novel is available for sale.

Right now that novel is #245 on the Kindle Store, #2 in Military SF on the Kindle, and #13 in the entire Science Fiction category (all print, Kindle, and audiobooks) on Amazon.

Link to the rest at The Munchkin Wrangler, thanks to Jeff for the tip and here is Marko’s book.

Some days you just need a little nudge

28 March 2013

From Shared Worlds:

Some days you just need a little nudge…

a simple reminder that you’re not alone on this path you’ve chosen. Maybe you simply need to know that someone else has been there before–behind a different keyboard, holding a different pen.

For Shared Worlds 2013, we have asked some of speculative fiction’s finest artists, editors, and writers to write advice on their own hands and send us a picture.

. . . .

[Here’s Neal Gaiman’s hand]


Link to the rest at Shared Worlds and thanks to Kingly for the tip.

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