Monthly Archives: March 2016

Content + curation + community = a new Apple Books

29 March 2016

From The Bookseller:

Apple is missing the boat on e-books.

And there’s billions of dollars at stake.

. . . .

If you’re buying an e-book, there’s only one place to go: Amazon. It’s not because of discovery; it’s mindshare. Most books aren’t discovered on Amazon – just bought there. Opportunity.But it’s easy to forget how deeply Amazon has burrowed into the online book world. Most Facebook shares or book reviews link to Amazon. Amazon results dominate bookish web searches. Goodreads is the online books community.

Conversely, iBooks is little more than a reader app and a buy link, with no community to speak of. Consider Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield (one of my favorites): Amazon/Goodreads have 2,600 reviews of the book, Apple has seven. A Google Search for “Gates of Fire” has Amazon 1st, Goodreads 4th, and Apple on page four – essentially invisible! The iBooks web experience is an ugly mess.

It’s instructive to look at Apple’s response when threatened by Spotify. Apple launched a major initiative, Apple Music. It was a “Manhattan Project” with internal and external components:  Apple acquired Beats for $3B and re-invented its music experience as Subscription + Curation + Beats 1 Radio. Connect, a centralised artist blog platform, was another unique addition. The result generates at least $1B annually.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Without libraries

29 March 2016

Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.

Ray Bradbury

Self-Published Ebooks Made Up 22 Percent Of Ebook Sales In 2015

29 March 2016

From Bustle:

Although self-publishing sometimes gets a bad rap, it seems that readers are really coming around to self-published books. In the UK, 22 percent of ebook sales came from self-published books in 2015. And in fact, while traditionally published ebook sales were slightly down from the year before, self-published ebooks only gained in popularity.

The major drawback to self-publishing, as opposed to being published through a traditional publishing house, has always been that it’s harder to get your book into the hands of readers — or rather, in the digital age, onto their Kindles. While publishing companies have marketing teams and publicists to create buzz for a book, self-published authors have to promote their books themselves, which is often difficult. But it seems that self-published books are gaining in popularity, at least according to Neilson.

In 2014, self-published books made up 16 percent of all ebook sales in the UK; in 2015, that number shot up to 22 percent as traditionally published ebook sales dropped while sales of the self-published variety rose. In other words, the self-publishing revolution really might be in the works.

Link to the rest at Bustle

Paper World

29 March 2016

WWF Hungary – Paper World from Paper World on Vimeo.

Thanks to Patrice for the tip.

Harvard Sues Elmore, Gets Injunction Stopping Sales of

29 March 2016

From the Maine Antique Digest:

A lawsuit filed in federal court in New Mexico in June 2015 pits Harvard University, which has about a $37 billion endowment, against Steve Elmore, an antiques dealer who patched together $36,000 to self-publish a book. The suit may hinge on the definition of the word “manuscript.”

. . . .

In 2015 Elmore of Santa Fe, New Mexico, self-published a 217-page book, In Search of Nampeyo: The Early Years, 1875-1892. It was the culmination of decades of work and research. His publication was also the result of Elmore’s being rejected by the Peabody Museum Press, the publishing arm of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University.

In its suit, Harvard claims Elmore used photos he took in the Peabody Museum after signing an agreement that specified how he would use the photos and restricted their use. Elmore counters that Harvard released all its rights to the manuscript and wants to publish his decades of research without crediting him.

According to court documents, in August 2010 Elmore signed a contract with the Peabody Museum Press to write a manuscript on Nampeyo. The contract noted that the manuscript was subject to peer review and promised “potential publication,” and Elmore was paid $1500 to conduct research at the museum.

. . . .

“The first version of my manuscript was sent out for peer review, with two out of three reviewers recommending publication with revisions. The editor asked me to revise the book for the more scholarly ‘Peabody Museum Papers’ series. She asked me to explain my methodology and to link my work to art history, which I did. The new version of my manuscript, complete with my photos, took me another year and added 100 pages to my manuscript. In November 2013 I submitted this final version…and it was rejected with little comment in January 2014 by the Peabody Museum Press board of directors,” said Elmore.

The rejection letter’s language is the subject of dispute.

In a letter dated January 21, 2014, Joan Kathryn O’Donnell, director of the Peabody Museum Press, rejected Elmore’s manuscript because it was not a fit with the Peabody’s “editorial and publishing priorities and standards.” Elmore’s approach to the material, the letter said, was “inappropriate” for the Peabody’s scholarly publication series, and it quoted a board member who leveled a stark criticism. “We are an academic press, and this is not an academic book,” the unnamed board member said.

The rejection letter stated that the Peabody Museum Press was returning to Elmore “all rights in the manuscript…including all versions of the manuscript submitted to the Peabody Museum Press.” O’Donnell encouraged Elmore to publish elsewhere, even offering ten to 15 high-quality photographs and suggesting American Indian Art Magazine as a possible venue. “We tried very hard to make this project work,” O’Donnell lamented.

Elmore took O’Donnell’s advice but didn’t go the magazine route, and he didn’t accept the Peabody’s offer of photographs; he self-published the book through Spirit Bird Press, an entity he created.

. . . .

On December 10, 2015, a federal judge granted Harvard’s motion for an injunction, stopping Elmore from advertising, selling, and distributing his book. Elmore had already sold over 900 copies of the book that cost him $36,000 to produce, had a deal with in place, and had media kits ready to promote his book.Maine Antique Digest reviewed the book in the April 2015 issue.

Elmore is fighting back on two fronts: he’s filed a countersuit in federal court and launched legal action in a state court in New Mexico. His countersuit alleges breach of contract, breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, tortious interference with contractual relations, conversion, and more.

. . . .

In an e-mail to M.A.D., Elmore states his case. “Here’s my take on the Permission to Photo agreement. First, that agreement is Harvard’s attempt to strip photographers of their copyright of their work. The intention of the agreement is for Harvard to avoid U.S. Federal Copyright law and for Harvard to assert itself between the photographer and his own copyright, thus placing itself above the law. Right now, Harvard acknowledges I own the copyright to my photos, returned in the ‘all rights’ letter, yet insists I can’t publish them. What else does copyright mean? I’m not denying I signed the agreement, and I would not have published without their returning to me in writing from the Board ‘all rights’ etc. and ‘recommending’ I publish elsewhere.

. . . .

Harvard’s lawyers claim the injunction is necessary. “It is extremely important to the Museum to have control over and approval of any published photographs of its collections, because the quality of those photographs and the way they are presented reflect directly on the Museum, and either enhance or degrade its reputation.” Harvard claims that Elmore’s photographs are blurry, washed out, or inadequately lighted.

Link to the rest at Maine Antique Digest

The girl who stole my book: How Eilis O’Hanlon found out her crime novels were swiped by a stranger

29 March 2016


Last October, I logged on to Twitter to find that I was now being followed by an account with the username @DonnaPatel. Something made me click on this particular link to see who it was. Call it intuition.

Donna Patel described herself as an “aspie” and “Potterhead”, and her most recent interaction had been with an Irish author calling herself “Joanne Clancy”.

Donna had been reading Clancy’s latest book, Tear Drop, a thriller about the hunt for a serial killer in Cork. At the time, it was the 111th biggest-selling e-book on Amazon’s UK division, and the number-one bestseller in Irish crime fiction, and Donna Patel had a simple question for the author: “Are you Ingrid Black?”

Next day, having received no reply to her message, Donna sent another tweet to the same account, saying: “Your book Tear Drop is The Dead by Ingrid Black.” Shortly afterwards, a third: “So you must be one of the authors behind Ingrid Black, or you are plagiarising.” Shortly afterwards, Joanne Clancy had deleted her account.

I found this exchange particularly interesting, and for a very good reason.

I am Ingrid Black.

One half of Ingrid Black, to be precise. She is a pseudonym, adopted more than 10 years ago for a joint crime-writing project between myself and my co-author and partner, Ian McConnell, and The Dead was our first book.

. . . .

By this time, however, the editor at Penguin who had championed the books had left for Australia, and, sadly, our new agent died. Feeling like we were back at square one, and not knowing how to start over, Ingrid Black slipped off the radar. In time, the books fell out of print and copyright reverted to us as the original authors.

At various points over the next few years, we toyed with the idea of releasing the Saxon stories as e-books. It seemed silly not to. They represented many years of work. Why not give them a new lease of life?

We set up a Twitter account in the name of Ingrid Black to prepare for publication. Our first tweet: “Now all I have to do is figure out how you put a book on Kindle, and I’ll be a millionaire by Christmas. That’s how it works, right?” Though, of course, it wasn’t done by that Christmas. Or the next one. Procrastination was our middle name.

We’d only sent six tweets and had less than 100 followers when, in October, we logged on to Twitter to see Donna Patel accuse Joanne Clancy of plagiarising The Dead.

. . . .

The first step was to find out if there was any truth to that allegation. Amazon’s summary of the book in question, which had been released in August 2015, certainly sounded familiar: “The serial killer known as Tear Drop vanished almost a decade ago, and nothing has been heard from him . . . until now. As death stalks the dark streets of Cork City, Detective Elizabeth Ireland must embark upon a frightening psychological journey to uncover the killer’s identity.”

Still, a blurb wasn’t conclusive proof; there are only a limited number of plots. So Ian and I downloaded a free sample and started reading Chapter One. The truth soon became apparent. Donna Patel was right.

Tear Drop wasn’t simply similar to The Dead.

It was The Dead. Everything about it was the same, from the plot to the protagonist’s sarcastic manner of speaking, to the jokes, to the very structure of the sentences and paragraphs.

. . . .

Once more, detail by detail, our book was being raided and filleted in front of my eyes. Tear Drop had been put together by someone who had The Dead open at the side of the keyboard as they typed.

I knew I had to read to the end. Gritting my teeth, I paid to download Tear Drop on to my Kindle. I didn’t have much doubt what I would find, but it was still a shock to find all my worst suspicions confirmed.

. . . .

Not only that, but it was doing well enough to be among the most downloaded books on Kindle at the time, and to be top of the charts in Ireland. It was also being widely, and enthusiastically, reviewed by fellow authors and crime-fiction fans, both on Amazon and elsewhere across the internet, many of whom were hailing it as Joanne Clancy’s best book to date.

“Personally, I really do not know how she came up with the superb storyline,” said one.

We did.

. . . .

Google searches discovered a few more facts about Joanne Clancy. There were a number of photographs purporting to be of her, which could be found online. She was listed on the professional networking site LinkedIn, where she was described as an “Amazon bestselling author and creative entrepreneur”. She had a Facebook page, which I bookmarked for later reference, but within 24 hours that, too, had been taken down.

. . . .

A few days after emailing the mysterious Joanne Clancy, I checked the email account we had set up for Iseult O’Malley and found that Clancy had replied to our fictional student: “Thanks a million for contacting me. My apologies for not replying sooner, but my website’s been having a few glitches, which have just been fixed.”

She agreed to an interview, but only by email, adding: “I look forward to hearing from you. Best wishes, Joanne.”

We began to feel almost bad for tricking her. This was one of the strangest aspects of the whole affair. What Joanne Clancy had done was devious, and yet, without knowing why she’d done it, it was hard to know how we felt about her. We kept changing our minds. What if she genuinely had no idea that she was doing anything wrong?

. . . .

Within hours of the publication of Insincere, we finally submitted a complaint to Amazon on the grounds of copyright infringement.

Link to the rest at and thanks to Craig for the tip.

Reading Literary Fiction Improves Empathy

28 March 2016

From Scientific American:

How important is reading fiction in socializing school children? Researchers at The New School in New York City have found evidence that literary fiction improves a reader’s capacity to understand what others are thinking and feeling.

Emanuele Castano, a social psychologist, along with PhD candidate David Kidd conducted five studies in which they divided a varying number of participants (ranging from 86 to 356) and gave them different reading assignments: excerpts from genre (or popular) fiction, literary fiction, nonfiction or nothing. After they finished the excerpts the participants took a test that measured their ability to infer and understand other people’s thoughts and emotions. The researchers found, to their surprise, a significant difference between the literary- and genre-fiction readers.

When study participants read non-fiction or nothing, their results were unimpressive. When they read excerpts of genre fiction, such as Danielle Steel’s The Sins of the Mother, their test results were dually insignificant. However, when they read literary fiction, such as The Round House by Louise Erdrich, their test results improved markedly—and, by implication, so did their capacity for empathy. The study was published October 4 inScience.

The results are consistent with what literary criticism has to say about the two genres—and indeed, this may be the first empirical evidence linking literary and psychological theories of fiction. Popular fiction tends to portray situations that are otherworldly and follow a formula to take readers on a roller-coaster ride of emotions and exciting experiences. Although the settings and situations are grand, the characters are internally consistent and predictable, which tends to affirm the reader’s expectations of others. It stands to reason that popular fiction does not expand the capacity to empathize.

Literary fiction, by contrast, focuses more on the psychology of characters and their relationships. “Often those characters’ minds are depicted vaguely, without many details, and we’re forced to fill in the gaps to understand their intentions and motivations,” Kidd says. This genre prompts the reader to imagine the characters’ introspective dialogues. This psychological awareness carries over into the real world, which is full of complicated individuals whose inner lives are usually difficult to fathom. Although literary fiction tends to be more realistic than popular fiction, the characters disrupt reader expectations, undermining prejudices and stereotypes. They support and teach us values about social behavior, such as the importance of understanding those who are different from ourselves.

The results suggest that reading fiction is a valuable socializing influence.

Link to the rest at Scientific American and thanks to Will for the tip.

When I got my library card

28 March 2016

When I got my library card, that’s when my life began.

Rita Mae Brown

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