It’s Amazon And Nobody Else With Online Christmas Sales

From Seeking Alpha:

The Christmas shopping season couldn’t have went much better for Amazon, as it generated more sales than it has in its history, and as important for the long term, boosted its Amazon Prime membership at a record level as well.

According to Slice Intelligence, from November 1 through December 16, Amazon captured just under 37 percent of market share of all online purchases. The data was based upon 1.7 million online receipts it collected during that period of time. Amazon kept gaining momentum during the holiday shopping season, boosting share for the week ending December 17 to 45.5 percent.

More important to me was how it captured more Prime memberships than ever before, and if historical responses are similar, it should be able to keep churn down to a minimum once the trial run is over. That suggests even more consumers will be spending a larger portion of their money on products offered from Amazon’s online store for at least the next year, and probably longer.

. . . .

To give an idea of how much Amazon dominated sales from November 1 to December 16, its closest competitor Best Buy wasn’t even able to grab 4 percent of online e-commerce sales. The rest, including Target and Wal-Mart, weren’t able to even produce a market share of 3 percent, with Target having a 2.9 percent share, and Wal-Mart only able to generate a 2.7 percent share of online sales.

By any measure, this is total domination by Amazon.

Link to the rest at Seeking Alpha

Digital marketing and coping with Amazon are the two big challenges for publishers as we begin 2017

From veteran publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin:

[T]he big challenges for the industry [in 2017] — how to change marketing to hit customers who are mostly learning what to buy online (which, as you’ll see, is well covered) and how to cope with the steadily growing market share that is Amazon’s — remain the ones I would have anticipated.

Although I do actually know other people who, like me, consume just about all their books on screens, we’re a minority who are not really looked upon by those who have stuck with paper as the avant garde. Whatever market share ebooks achieve by evolution (and the data suggest that share has plateaued in the past couple of years), the expectations of revolution are at least temporarily over. I thought we’d be clearly on a path by now to most people reading most narrative books digitally. We aren’t, even though the one precondition I thought was necessary has been met: most people carry screens all the time that would work fine for ebooks. This clearly demonstrates that there is a limit to how much the appeal of convenience changes reader habits when the comfort level with a form is a competing consideration.

. . . .

By anecdotal information gleaned from publishers, Amazon appears to be booking half or more of the print sales for many publishers and many books.

(I told this fact to a former CEO who has been out of the business for 20 years last week. He said, “you mean, if I sell 40,000 books, Amazon will sell 20,000?” I said, “yes”. He said, “wow.”)

One informed estimate I heard is that Amazon constitutes upwards of 95 percent of online print sales. Kindle has outrun its ebook competition, gaining share consistently from Apple’s iBooks, B&N’s Nook, and Kobo and Google. Amazon probably has an ebook share in the mid-60s for most publishers. However, with the ebooks they control and keep off other platforms — Amazon Publishing and many of their top indie authors — and with additional impetus compared to the other vendors from their subscription business, their overall ebook market share is perhaps 10 or more points higher than that.

. . . .

So my expectation this year is that the most important information [Digital Book World] is going to have to deliver will come from Data Guy, Hugh Howey’s collaborator on the Author Earnings website, whom Michael Cader and I introduced to the DBW audience last year.

. . . .

Data Guy has broadened his remit, which was originally about understanding ebook sales, by joining forces with Nielsen Bookscan. That enables him to analyze print, audio, and digital sales through online and physical store channels, and to look at the books both by source (indies, Amazon-published, and “traditional”) and by genre. DBW has published a mini White Paper, available now, that tips to a lot of this information.

. . . .

I am hoping that there will be price breakdowns [in the Digital Book World presentation by Data Guy] as well. I have noticed that the last four or five ebooks I’ve bought have been pretty pricey — well above $9.99. These books are all non-fiction and they are relatively serious and nichey, not aimed at mass audiences. I’m pretty certain that both the publisher and the author are making more profit on those sales than they would on a print sale of that book. The information already revealed by Data Guy through the White Paper would support conjecture that the biggest ebook sales are going to much cheaper ebooks published in high-volume-per-reader genres (like romance, mystery, and sci-fi).

Link to the rest at The Shatzkin Files

Publishing Milo Yiannopoulos’ book is wrong. My magazine is fighting back.

As an introduction for those who are not familiar with Milo Yiannopoulos, he is a gay right-wing political celebrity who has a talent for effective and attention-getting sarcasm directed toward officials and supporters of the Democratic party in the US. He rose to prominence as a backer of Donald Trump during the recent Presidential campaign.

PG has tried to keep TPV from descending into nastiness during the recent political season in the US. Absent the Simon and Schuster publishing connection, he would likely not have posted anything pro or anti about Yiannopoulos.

This article is written by the editor-in-chief of the Chicago Review of Books.

From The Guardian:

Last week, the literary world gasped when one of the largest publishers in the United States, Simon & Schuster, rewarded America’s most infamous internet troll, Milo Yiannopoulos, with a $250,000 book deal. But we probably should have seen it coming. After all, 2016 taught us that ridiculing women, people of colour, Muslims and members of the LGBTQ community can make someone immensely popular.

For Simon & Schuster, it can also be immensely profitable. During Yiannopoulos’s tenure at Breitbart – where he’s told gay people to “get back in the closet” and women to “log off” the internet – he has amassed more than 1 million followers on Facebook. Threshold Editions, the Simon & Schuster imprint dedicated to “innovative ideas of contemporary conservatism”, has a hit on its hands.

But Yiannapoulos is not a conservative intellectual leader with a political agenda. He’s a clickbait grifter who has made a name for himself spewing hate speech. As the editor-in-chief of a small literary review, I wanted Simon & Schuster to know that broadcasting his rhetoric would have real-world consequences. So I made a decision that has nothing to do with political ideology and everything to do with human rights and decency: the Chicago Review of Books will not cover a single Simon & Schuster book in 2017.

According to thousands of Twitter and Facebook users, our stance is equivalent to censorship, fascism and book-burning.

. . . .

Some writers, editors and publicists have pointed out that our decision isn’t fair to hundreds of other Simon & Schuster authors who had nothing to do with the publisher’s decision to sign Yiannopoulos. I agree. It’s unfair. Simon & Schuster will publish some wonderful books in 2017 through imprints I admire, such as 37 Ink, Salaam Reads and Touchstone. But I strongly believe the literary community must hold the publisher accountable.

Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to Barb for the tip.

A bit of clarification is in order for those not familiar with the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

This is the portion of the Constitution protecting free speech.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The First Amendment protects speech and religion of all sorts from restraint or prohibition by government through laws or via government actors. The First Amendment applies to state and local governments as well as the federal government.

The Chicago Review of Books is not, to PG’s knowledge, a publication of any government entity. The First Amendment actually protects the right of The Chicago Review to publish or not publish almost anything it pleases.

Writings and discussions about whether the actions of The Chicago Review are correct or moral or wise or detestable, etc., etc. are also protected from government censorship or restraint by the First Amendment.

“Hate speech” is usually defined in the eye of the beholder. Regardless of how offensive, almost all “hate speech” is protected from government censorship or restraint by the First Amendment.

PG says “almost all” because certain narrow categories of speech may be regulated by government without violating the First Amendment. For example, “fighting words” – words which would likely make the person to whom they are addressed commit an act of violence – are not protected by the First Amendment.

Here’s an excerpt from a US Supreme Court case, Terminiello v. Chicago, 337 U.S. 1 (1949), that speaks about the limited nature of the fighting words exception:

[The] function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger. Speech is often provocative and challenging. It may strike at prejudices and preconceptions and have profound unsettling effects as it presses for acceptance of an idea. That is why freedom of speech, though not absolute, is nevertheless protected against censorship or punishment.

While PG is not an expert on First Amendment matters, he is unaware of any court case in which the contents of a book constituted fighting words.

We all know that books burn

We all know that books burn, yet we have the greater knowledge that books cannot be killed by fire. People die, but books never die. No man and no force can put thought in a concentration camp forever. No man and no force can take from the world the books that embody man’s eternal fight against tyranny of every kind.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

The rise of Chinese sci-fi

In 2015, Chinese Sci-fi hit the American literary scene when Ken Liu’s translation of The Three-Body Problem by Chinese author Cixin Liu received a Hugo Award and a Nebula nomination. These prestigious science fiction/fantasy honors see few works in translation, and until now, none had been Chinese. As the general public begins to follow the literary critics in their curiosity towards Liu’s work and others like it, I decided to write a two-part series on the rise of Chinese sci-fi. From the Asia Times.

. . . .

Science fiction has existed in China almost as long as it existed in the West. It began in the late-Qing Dynasty, with scholars translating the works of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells into Chinese. Among such translators was Lu Xun, the father of modern Chinese literature himself. Of course, tales of the strange and mysterious permeate Chinese literature from its ancient origins on, but the first work generally recognized as an original Chinese science fiction story was Colony of the Moon (月球殖民地). It was published as a serial from 1904 to 1905 under the pen name Huangjiang Diaosou (荒江钓叟), which means “Old Fisherman by a Deserted River.” Many other works were published during this early-twentieth-century period. The genre was perceived to have literary merit through its ability to incite interest among readers in the rapidly evolving fields of science and technology, in which China was involved in a game of catch-up.

. . . .

At the beginning of Mao’s Communist rule starting in 1949, the genre still flourished – so long as works reflected the party line. These works tended to be geared towards young readers, optimistic, and educational. Many Soviet era sci-fi works, such as those of Alexander Belyayev, were translated into Chinese at this time and influenced the genre. Major Chinese sci-fi authors of the era included Zheng Wenguang (郑文光) and Tong Enzheng (童恩正). Sci-fi took a blow, however, during the Cultural Revolution as creation of the arts all but ceased from 1966-1976, especially genres associated with the West like sci-fi. Lao She, author of the satirical work Cat Country from the Republic era was among the intellectuals targeted and humiliated by anti-bourgeoisie mobs, leading him to drown himself in a lake shortly thereafter.

. . . .

Sci-fi experienced a major revival after Mao’s death, now with some darker and broader themes from a generation of authors that grew up during the violence and tumult of the Cultural Revolution. This period also saw the popularization of sci-fi magazines, such as  Science Literature and Art (科学文艺), now known as Science Fiction World (科幻世界), one of the most successful sci-fi publications in the world in terms of number of readers. Cixin Liu appears on the scene beside Han Song and Wang Jinkang,“Three Generals of Chinese Sci-fi,” as part of this New Wave of sci-fi authors.

That takes us up to Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem, which was serialized in Science Fiction World in 2006 and first published as a book in 2008. It wasn’t until 2014, however, that Chinese-American author Ken Liu tackled its translation and the novel began garnering international recognition. The Three-Body Problem is an example of hard sci-fi, where fantasy is rooted in actual advanced scientific knowledge (the title refers to a physics phenomenon involving the gravitational forces of three celestial bodies). The novel opens with a scene from the Cultural Revolution and then flashes forward a couple decades to a time when the world’s leaders and militaries are faced with a mysterious virtual reality game and an impending alien invasion. Hapless nanomaterials scientist Wang Miao finds himself caught in the middle of it all.

Link to the rest at Asia Times

Here’s a link to The Three Body Problem.

The Murakami Effect

From LitHub:

Translation is a kind of traffic, in nearly every sense of the word. There’s the most obvious sense, in that translations cross borders of time, place, and culture, moving from one language into another.

But traffic’s other meaning—that is, the buying and selling of goods—also applies. Translators themselves can be said to traffic in words, sounds, images, and more; whether what is trafficked is tangible or intangible, it’s implied that what is bought, sold, and bartered is in any case commodified. When we think about traffic we also inevitably think about congestion, about impediments to smooth circulation—of vehicles, of course, but also, by extension, of ideas and things. While translations do cross borders, broadening our cultural knowledge as they present one language in the terms of another, they can also become an impediment to free communication. As a translator of contemporary Japanese fiction, I’ve seen both the flow and the congestion, and have witnessed at close range the unintended consequences—and our lack of control as translators—when it comes to the way our texts move or fail to move across borders.

For the past decade or so I’ve been working on what is essentially an ethnography of the publishing industry, primarily in Tokyo and New York, and the way the intersection—and often the collision—of aesthetic and economic considerations influences what gets translated, how it is translated, and how it is marketed and consumed in another literary context. That is, ultimately, how the traffic of translation is subject to the larger economic concerns of the publishing industry, and how these concerns shape a canon of literature in translation that may bear little resemblance to that in the source literature and culture, but that comes to play an important role in the way that culture or nation is perceived in the national imagination of the target culture.

So, for example, reducing the argument to its simplest terms, in the 1950s and 60s, Yukio Mishima and Yasunari Kawabata were translated, marketed, and read in the US as representatives of a newly docile, aestheticized, Zen-like Japanese culture that was explicitly meant (by translators and publishers and perhaps policy experts as well) to replace the bellicose wartime image of Japan, as Edward Fowler has argued. This was one piece of a general rehabilitation strategy for the country in concert with promoting its new role as a reliable ally in the US Cold War calculus. At the same time, however, this image bore little resemblance to the positions Kawabata and Mishima often occupied in the domestic Japanese literary canon or marketplace.

. . . .

But first it’s helpful to take a close look at the example of Murakami, in order to see some of the ways literary traffic is affected by and, in some cases, radically altered by the economic considerations that accompany the movement of literary products through global markets. Translation, in this context, is no longer the activity of a single individual—the one traditionally known as the “translator”—but is altered and inflected by numerous other actors. I think of all this as “translation discourse”—that is, the tacit conversations between and negotiations among translators and, in no particular order, literary agents, editors, publishers, copy editors, jacket designers, marketing managers, sales representatives, book reviewers, and others who, in one way or another, have a say in what gets chosen for translation, who is chosen to translate it, how it gets translated, how it gets edited, how it gets marketed, and who, ultimately, will be likely to read it—and even how they are likely to react to it.

Link to the rest at LitHub

Amazon promotes Alexa everywhere strategy

From ZDNet:

Amazon’s Alexa is the brain of its Echo and digital assistant efforts, and the company is rapidly beginning to distribute the technology into other products

At the Consumer Electronics Show 2017, it’s clear that Amazon aims to put Alexa everywhere. Google will also look to embed its Google Assistant everywhere too — in Hyundai cars for instance — but Amazon is quickly forging pacts with big-name tech vendors.

Consider:

  • DISH will enable Amazon Alexa voice control on its Hopper DVR. According to a statement, DISH is the first TV provider to offer direct compatibility with Alexa.
  • Whirlpool connecting Alexa to its smart appliances as a skill on Echo and Echo Dot. Given Alexa’s integration with other smart home providers, Amazon is becoming intertwined with in-home connectivity.
  • Lenovo is also integrating Amazon’s Alexa in a series of smart devices. What’s interesting here is that Lenovo sees Amazon as more of a partner than competitor, even as it preps its own artificial intelligence technology.
  • Amazon is ensuring Alexa will have the developer community behind it via integration with Amazon Web Services.

. . . .

On the strategy front, Amazon’s strategy with Alexa rhymes with what we’ve seen from Netflix and Microsoft in the past. Netflix dropped allegiance to hardware and partnered with multiple vendors to distribute its service. Microsoft’s Windows operating system wasn’t the best game in town in the early days of the PC market, but gained distribution to become a standard.

Link to the rest at ZDNet and thanks to Felix for the tip.

Defending Copyright on “A Summer Fling”

From author Sarah Madison:

A lot of people have asked for the details surrounding my current copyright dilemma with Amazon. Here they are to the best of my recollection:

As you can see from the book cover and the banner at the head of this website, there has been a longtime connection between myself and A Summer Fling. It was originally titled Surf’s Up and is part of the 2011 Don’t Read in the Closet fest with the M/M Romance Group on Goodreads. It was a light frothy story written to a photo prompt and included in the anthology produced by the group.

In 2013, I edited the story and bundled it with a short story I’d written for the Just One Bite contest, using the fictional character Mikhail Frost created by my fictional author, Ryan McFarland. I thought it would be fun to put the two stories together–kind of like Rick Castle writing the Nikki Heat stories. I created a cover based on my website’s banner and submitted the new combination to Smashwords on July 28th, 2013. A short while later (the actual date is unclear–I can’t access it any longer on the websites in question), I submitted the story to Amazon and ARe. The story has largely been a permanent freebie ever since.

Over the weekend, I modified my bio within the story to include a link for my website. When I went to upload the new version on Amazon, I could no longer set the price to zero. I didn’t worry too much about it–I’d pulled it from Smashwords and ARe had folded. It was my intention to place it in KU (though in retrospect, its previous incarnations would prevent that) so I left the price as 99 cents and went on with my day.

That evening I received an email from Amazon. At first, I thought it was just a glitch, a red flag triggered by something I did in the update. But here’s the crucial statement that belies that:

“Prior to your submission, we received a notice and takedown for a book that matches to yours, from a third party claiming that the distribution of the book above was not properly authorized due to copyright infringement.”

So someone out there is ACTIVELY claiming this work belongs to them, not me, and though I provided Amazon with all the information they requested, it’s not good enough. Moreover, this attempt to snag the book took place prior to my making changes, so it isn’t that I did something to trigger a red flag. Someone is trying to steal it, but Amazon is laying the burden of proof on me and refusing to publish something that’s been on their website under my name for years. At least they are no longer threatening to ban me for life. I’ve asked for more information, but I have not heard back from them yet.

Process of elimination and the unethical behavior of All Romance Ebooks makes them the most likely suspect in my mind. Not just because they closed their doors with little warning, offering 10 cents on the dollar in owed royalties, but only if we promise not to take legal action. Not just because of the timing–within 24 hours of ARe’s closure. But because whoever this third party is laying claim to my story, they have a strong enough stance that Amazon is taking them seriously–despite my sending them all the information they requested to prove my copyright.

Link to the rest at Sarah Madison and thanks to P.D. for the tip.

Here’s a link to Sarah Madison’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Kobo becomes new technology partner at the tolino alliance

From the Kobo Newsroom:

  • Deutsche Telekom sells the tolino ecosystem to Kobo
  • The tolino alliance welcomes leading global e-reading provider Kobo as its new technology partner
  • tolino remains eReading brand for the German-speaking region

Augsburg, Bonn, Hagen, Munich, Toronto, 2 January 2017 – The book retailers in the tolino alliance have a new technology partner. Rakuten Kobo Inc. from Canada, one of the world’s fastest-growing eReading service providers, will acquire the tolino technology platform from Deutsche Telekom at the end of January 2017 to become the new technology partner of the tolino alliance. The corresponding contracts have been signed. The founding book retail partners of the tolino alliance – Hugendubel, Thalia and Weltbild – are delighted to welcome Kobo as their new partner. It means that two of the leading providers in the global market for digital reading will be working closely together in future.

Deutsche Telekom looks back positively on the excellent collaboration with the book retailers. “We are proud to have contributed to tolino’s success as its technology partner. Together, we were able to make the tolino product an established name in the eReading market with its open ecosystem and tolino devices, which rank highly in many recognized tests. Having successfully developed a digital eReading ecosystem on an equal footing with strong US-based competitors, it is now the right moment for Deutsche Telekom to divest the platform business that we have built up over the last four years with substantial investment and effort. We are therefore delighted that the founding partners of tolino stand fully behind our decision to sell the tolino ecosystem to Kobo as the alliance’s new technology partner,” said Felix Wunderer, Vice President of ePublishing at Deutsche Telekom.

“Together with our partners from the German book trade, we intend to continue to enhance the tolino ecosystem for its many dedicated customers,” said Michael Tamblyn, CEO of Rakuten Kobo. “This acquisition allows us to bring Rakuten Kobo’s experience with collaborating with book retailers around the world to the tolino alliance. This is the coming together of two strong pure-play eBook platforms, and we look forward to bringing even more capability and competitiveness to the tolino offering. We look forward to working together as their technology partner to attract even more people from German-speaking countries to digital reading.”

Link to the rest at Kobo Newsroom

One example of PR speak that struck PG was:

Having successfully developed a digital eReading ecosystem on an equal footing with strong US-based competitors, it is now the right moment for Deutsche Telekom to divest the platform business that we have built up over the last four years with substantial investment and effort.

Even after making allowances for German-English translation, Deutsche Telekom appears to be saying:

  1. We spent a whole lot of money to build an ebook system as good as Amazon’s.
  2. So we’re selling it.
  3. Because this is the right time to dump this turkey onto Kobo.

Here’s a bit more from the press release:

“The handover of the ecosystem to Kobo is a sign of the advanced market development: Having found a perfect partner in Deutsche Telekom to establish the business, our next step with Kobo is to grow further and in particular to uphold and expand the international eReading standards,” according to Nina Hugendubel.

Of course, press releases are always crafted to put the best face on everything, but this seems strained. Should “upholding and expanding the international eReading standards” be a key goal for a profit-making enterprise?

Certainly, this is a shot at Amazon’s proprietary ebook format, but do readers care?

Is it a great burden to install a free Kindle app and a free Kobo app on a smartphone or tablet?

Plenty of consumers seem to be able to handle Pokémon GO and Candy Crush Saga at the same time.

Facebook Faces Copyright Issues Amid Video Explosion

From Copyright and Technology:

It’s fairly well established by now — thanks to court decisions like Viacom v. YouTube and UMG v. Veoh — that online service operators have no legal duty to proactively police their services for potential copyright infringement.  But that doesn’t mean that some services don’t do it anyway.  The biggest example is Google’s Content ID system for YouTube, which uses fingerprinting technology to flag uploads that contain copyrighted material.

The reason why Google implemented Content ID (in 2007) is simple: Google figured out a way to make money from it.  Copyright owners can choose to allow their content to be uploaded and take a share of revenue from ads that Google places in or alongside the video clips.  The major record companies participate in this arrangement for the vast majority of their content.  They aren’t thrilled with the per-stream revenue they are getting, but both sides agree that it’s better than having YouTube just block everything that matches.

Enter Facebook. Over the past couple of years, Facebook has become a bigger and bigger video-sharing service, one that is starting to rival YouTube in audience size and arguably exceed it in audience engagement.  This has led to “freebooting,” or capturing video streams from YouTube and re-posting them on Facebook.  And not just major record label or Hollywood studio content, but any popular YouTube video.

After a crescendo of complaints from native YouTube stars as well as the music industry, Facebook announced that it would be building a “Rights Manager” system based on the Audible Magic fingerprinting technology that it has been using for years to scan uploaded audio.  (YouTube also used Audible Magic before Content ID was implemented based on its own technology.)

Facebook’s Rights Manager allows copyright holders to “claim” their content and decide what they want Facebook to do with it.  Yet unlike Google’s Content ID, Rights Manager ultimately allows only two options: just allow the upload (and offer usage statistics to the copyright owner), or report it to the copyright owner as a potential violation.  There is no option to block the upload automatically.  Instead, rights holders must receive notices of matched content and then issue takedown notices to Facebook using Facebook’s DMCA process; then Facebook will “promptly remove those videos in response to valid reports.”

. . . .

The NMPA (National Music Publishers Association, the trade group for U.S. music publishers) has raised concerns about the growing amount of videos of cover versions of copyrighted songs (compositions) being uploaded on Facebook without licensing.  Recording a cover version of a song that’s in copyright normally requires a mechanical license from the music publisher.  Under the law, the publisher can’t refuse to grant the mechanical license, but the performing artist must notify the publisher (if the publisher is known), and the artist must pay a standard royalty.

This requires that Facebook detect cover versions of musical compositions.  Audible Magic can’t do that. Acoustic fingerprinting technology is good at matching recordings, but it’s not designed to match cover versions of compositions.

Link to the rest at Copyright and Technology

Looking Back at 2016: Important Publishing Developments Authors Should Know

From Jane Friedman:

The market for adult fiction is primarily a digital one

It’s commonly said that in the United States, overall trade book sales are divided about 70-30 print-digital, and that ebook sales at traditional publishing houses are flat to declining. (You’ve probably heard the celebratory and misleading claims that “print is back!”)

But the latest analysis from Author Earnings shows that when you factor in “nontraditional” publishing sales, the digital share of overall US consumer book purchases changes significantly:

  • 45% of all books purchased in the US in 2016 were digital
  • In adult fiction, sales in the US are roughly 70% digital
  • 30% of all US adult fiction purchases are books by self-published authors

“Nontraditional” sales include self-published work, Amazon’s own imprints, and other sources outside of big trade publishing.

. . . .

Amazon’s market share is growing—across all formats

Industry consultants such as Mike Shatzkin observe that Amazon now has at least 50% of the overall book retail market across print and digital formats. When you study industry reports of print’s buoyancy, and look closely at where the sales are happening, it’s fairly clear that Amazon is stealing away print market share from bricks-and-mortar retailers like Barnes & Noble. And of course Amazon continues to dominate ebook retail, especially as Nook ebook sales continue their decline.

Furthermore, Amazon owns Audible/ACX—the No. 1 audiobook retailer in the US—and has been putting more investment behind the marketing of audiobooks and original audio programming. Over the last couple years, audiobooks have been the top growing format for trade publishers, with about 20-30% growth year on year. Amazon is primed to take advantage of this growth, whether the content comes from traditional publishers or self-publishers.

Finally, there’s Amazon Publishing. Amazon now has 13 active imprints and is the largest publisher of works in translation. In 2016 alone, it’s believed Amazon Publishing will release more than 2,000 titles. (Remember: This isn’t their self-publishing operation—it’s their traditional publishing operation.)

A data point that is unlikely to surprise anyone with knowledge of Amazon: eight of the top 20 Kindle sellers in 2016 were from Amazon’s own publishing imprints.

. . . .

There wasn’t a new blockbuster for publishing in 2016

If you look at the overall bestsellers from last year, many of them weren’t even published in 2016, such as The Girl on the Train. The dry spell was noticed as far back in July, by Publishers Weekly, who pointed out that no new novel had cracked the top twenty print bestsellers in the first half of 2016. Industry observers speculate that current events (the election cycle, terrorist attacks) may have squeezed out book coverage, but also that the division of sales between print and digital formats may be a factor.

But what about the new Harry Potter book, you might ask?

The release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child lifted sales for its US publisher, Scholastic, as expected. While the power of Potter is real enough and undeniably impressive, what makes this less than boffo news for publishing is that, as Michael Cader writes, “the Potter gain was more of a movement of inventory dollars from new adult books rather than any kind of overall boost to the trade.”

Link to the rest at Jane Friedman and thanks to Alexis for the tip.

The PC Police Crack Down on . . . Kids Books

From The Wall Street Journal:

Ranking high among the surrealities of 2016 was the meltdown at a literary festival in Australia when the American-born novelist Lionel Shriver defended the freedom of fiction writers to conjure characters unlike themselves.

“Taken to their logical conclusion,” Ms. Shriver warned, “ideologies recently come into vogue challenge our right to write fiction at all.” Among the concepts she skewered was “cultural appropriation,” the notion that members of one ethnic group mustn’t use (or eat or wear or write about) things emanating from other ethnic groups. The illogical impracticality of the idea, especially with fiction, hasn’t impeded its spread, and the resulting umbrage was a wonder to behold: An Australian writer of Egyptian and Sudanese origin stormed out of the speech, later blaming Ms. Shriver for celebrating “the unfettered exploitation of the experiences of others, under the guise of fiction.” The officials in charge of the event disavowed their keynote speaker’s remarks.

Such exquisite sensitivities put a lot of well-meaning people into terrible predicaments in 2016. In the children’s literary realm, where “diversity” has become the lodestar, the year began and ended with choler, indignation and the repudiation of books.

. . . .

That controversy was reminiscent of an earlier one, when ignominy befell author Emily Jenkins and illustrator Sophie Blackall, who are white, for their 2015 picture book “A Fine Dessert,” published by Schwartz + Wade. The story traces four centuries of social and domestic change by showing the evolving ways in which families have prepared a sweet dish called blackberry fool. The book’s crime, to its detractors, was what one called the story’s “degrading” depiction of an enslaved mother and daughter in 1810 enjoying themselves as they make and taste the dessert.

In July, controversy swirled around Lane Smith’s picture book “There Is a Tribe of Kids” (which publisher Roaring Brook did not recall) for representing children in a natural setting with feathers in their hair (see below)—as if, critics said, they were “playing Indian.” In August, Candlewick recalled copies of E.E. Charlton-Trujillo’s young-adult novel “When We Was Fierce.” Early critical praise had morphed into social-media wrath over the author’s use of an invented urban dialect that was, in the words of one prominent fault-finder, “deeply insensitive.”

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)

PG says fiction is fictional. It’s made up from thoughts in the author’s mind.

Fictional stories don’t belong to anyone other than the author. Most historical fiction involves the author trying to imagine what life was like during a time before the author was alive. PG doesn’t believe that an author of the same ethnic group as a fictional character who lived 200 years ago has any better idea what that ethnic group’s daily life was like than an author of a different ethnic group.

In any case, it’s fictional and the author can include or create any components of characters or settings the author thinks will make for a good story.

These are fictional characters, not somebody’s actual great-great-great-great grandparent. Even in stories, fictional or nonfictional, that include actual people, those stories are not the property of the descendants of those people.

Are Mexican Americans to be prevented from writing about George Washingon? Can British authors write stories that include American characters? How long would the Western world have waited to read about the challenges of rural Chinese life before World War I if Pearl Buck hadn’t been permitted to write about it?

On a related note, it’s a long-established tenet of American law (descended from English common law) that you cannot defame a dead person.

The rationale is relatively straighforward. Defamation is defined as an act or statement that damages one’s reputation. The dead do not have reputations to damage. As the English jurist Sir James Stephen said in 1887, “The dead have no rights and can suffer no wrongs.”

(PG will note that some states recognize a right of publicity that prevents others from commercially exploiting the image or likeness of a celebrity without consent. Under some state laws, this right (which is a property right akin to a trademark, not a personal right) continues for a period of time after the death of the individual.)

Even under rights of publicity, only Michael Jackson’s heirs, not any African-American, can prevent the use of Michael Jackson’s image for commercial purposes. Similarly, Jay Silverheels’ heirs, not any Native American, could prevent the use of his image or commercial persona. (For those who may not know of Silverheels, he was the actor who played Tonto, the “faithful Indian companion” of The Lone Ranger in a television series created during the 1950’s.)

Furthermore, if one author writes a story, another author can write another story about the same subject or person. The idea that a story is “appropriated” by an author of a particular ethnicity implies that, by writing the story, that author has somehow prevented another author from writing about the same subject.

There are a great many biographies of George Washington. There are also a great many biographies of George Washington Carver. Nothing prevents any would-be author from writing another biography or work of fiction about either of these extraordinary individuals.

End of PG’s pontification.

Here’s looking at you

Although this is January 2, in the US, it is a holiday because January 1 occurred on a Sunday. It is also the last widely-recognized non-working holiday for awhile.

So far as PG is able to ascertain from online activity, the entire publishing and self-publishing industry is off duty. PG will probably go off duty pretty soon.

So, he’s posting some items that interest him which he might consider a bit far afield on a more normal day.

From Aeon:

About 25 minutes into the action film Iron Man 2 (2010), there is an explosive sequence in the middle of an auto race through the streets of Monaco. The scene is a technical tour de force, with explosions, cars flipping and fire everywhere, all in front of thousands of panicked race spectators. At a 2014 event at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the film’s director Jon Favreau got to see the eye movements of audience members who watched the clip. He told us he was thrilled – and relieved – to see that everyone was watching the actors Robert Downey Jr and Mickey Rourke, particularly their faces and hands, and that nobody was looking at the crowd – because the crowd was all computer-generated, and if you look closely they don’t look all that real. As long as you don’t look closely, Favreau (who was also an executive producer) could go a little cheap on these effects and save the money for where it would really count.

This phenomenon – the audience’s eyes moving in unison – is characteristic of film viewing. It is not typical of real-world vision. Rather, filmmakers use editing, framing and other techniques to tightly control where we look. Over 125 years, the global filmmaking community has been engaged in an informal science of vision, conducting a large number of trial-and-error experiments on human perception. The results are not to be found in any neuroscience or psychology textbook, though you can find some in books on cinematography and film editing, and in academic papers analysing individual films. Other insights are there in the films themselves, waiting to be described. In recent years, professional scientists have started to mine this rich, informal database, and some of what we have learned is startling.

To understand how the eyes are affected by movies, you need to know a bit about how they work outside the theatre. When we are just living our lives, our eyes jump from one location to another two or three times per second, taking in some things and skipping over others. Those jumps are called saccades. (Our eyes also make smooth tracking movements, say when we are following a bird in the sky or a car on the road, but those are somewhat rare.) Why do we do this? Because our brains are trying to build a reasonably complete representation of what is happening using a camera – the eye – that has high resolution only in a narrow window. If any visual detail is important for our understanding of the scene, we need to point our eyes at it to encode it.

The way people use eye movements to explore a scene has a consistent rhythm that involves switching between a rapid exploratory mode and a slower information-extraction mode. Suppose you check into a resort, open a window, and look out on a gorgeous beach. First, your eyes will rapidly scan the scene, making large movements to fix on objects throughout the field of what you can see. Your brain is building up a representation of what is there in the scene – establishing the major axes of the environment, localising landmarks within that space, categorising the objects. Then, you will transition to a slower, more deliberate mode of seeing. In this mode, your eyes will linger on each object for longer, and your eye movements will be smaller and more deliberate. Now, your brain is filling in details about each object. Given enough time, this phase will peter out. At this point, you might turn to another window and start all over again, or engage in a completely different activity – writing a postcard or unpacking.

. . . .

In these initial studies, Hochberg and Brooks documented the switch from an exploratory phase lasting a few seconds at most to an information-extraction phase. The duration of each exploratory phase depended on the complexity of the slide being viewed. When presented with more complex pictures, people explored for longer before they settled down. And when they were given a choice between looking at more complex and less complex images, they spent more time looking at the more complex images. Later researchers investigated which visual features specifically draw the eyes, finding that viewers tend to look at parts of an image with edges, with a lot of contrast between light and dark, with a lot of texture, and with junctures such as corners.

. . . .

One difference between real-world scenes and film is that movies move. How does this change what people look at? In a recent experiment, Parag Mital, Tim Smith, Robin Hill and John Henderson from the University of Edinburgh recorded eye movements from a few dozen people while they watched a grab-bag of videos, including ads, documentaries, trailers, news and music videos. A number of effects carried over from looking at still pictures. People still look at places with a lot of contrast, and at corners. However, with moving pictures, new effects dominate: viewers look at things that are moving, and at things that are going from light to dark or from dark to light. This makes good ecological sense: things that are changing are more likely relevant for guiding your actions than things that are just sitting there. In particular, the eyes follow new motion that could reveal something that you need to deal with in a hurry – an object falling or an animal on the move.

Motion onsets are known to powerfully capture attention, even more quickly than the eyes can move. For example, when we first see Edward Scissorhands in the 1990 Tim Burton film of the same name, he is attempting to hide in shadow in a complex scene. It is the involuntary movement of his scissors that gives him away, attracting the viewer’s eye at the same moment it attracts the eye of Peg the Avon Lady.

. . . .

People also tend to blink at cuts. This might be a response to the sudden change in brightness that can occur at a cut. Or, it might reflect that our brains are taking the visual change as a sign to take a very quick break, and using the opportunity to wet our eyes. Last but not least, when we watch edited movies we make more eye movements. Whereas eye movements happen 2-3 times a second when we are looking at naturalistic stimuli, when watching unedited videos, eye movements happen at a rate of about four per second; when you add in editing, this rate increases further to about five per second.

Link to the rest at Aeon

French workers win legal right to avoid checking work email out-of-hours

PG acknowledges this is not exactly about books, but relevant to staying plugged-in vs. unplugging from time to time.

From The Guardian:

From Sunday, French companies will be required to guarantee their employees a “right to disconnect” from technology as the country seeks to tackle the modern-day scourge of compulsive out-of-hours email checking.

On 1 January, an employment law will enter into force that obliges organisations with more than 50 workers to start negotiations to define the rights of employees to ignore their smartphones.

Overuse of digital devices has been blamed for everything from burnout to sleeplessness as well as relationship problems, with many employees uncertain of when they can switch off.

. . . .

The measure is intended to tackle the so-called “always-on” work culture that has led to a surge in usually unpaid overtime – while also giving employees flexibility to work outside the office.

“There’s a real expectation that companies will seize on the ‘right to disconnect’ as a protective measure,” said Xavier Zunigo, a French workplace expert, as a new survey on the subject was published in October.

“At the same time, workers don’t want to lose the autonomy and flexibility that digital devices give them,” added Zunigo, who is an academic and director of research group Aristat.

. . . .

Some measures include cutting email connections in the evening and weekends or even destroying emails automatically that are sent to employees while they are on holiday.

A study published by French research group Eleas in October showed that more than a third of French workers used their devices to do work out-of-hours every day. About 60% of workers were in favour of regulation to clarify their rights.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

Self publishing is about self respect, not vanity

From author Darcy Conroy via Medium:

As a woman, a writer and recently published author, I read Kamila Shamsie’s “provocation” calling for 2018 to be a year of publishing only women with great interest. I admit that my gut response to the headline was one of concern — Do we really need to exclude male authors? — but I know headlines can be misleading so I read on with an open mind. Her summary of statistics showing that the publishing industry is not serving women well was familiar. I need no convincing that we are second-class citizens in the publishing industry as writers, readers and even characters, so when she began her crescendo toward her challenge, I was right there with her.

“Enough. Across the board, enough. Let’s agree that things have improved over the last 50 years, even over the last 20, and then let’s start to ask why. Was it simply the passage of time? Should we all sit around while the world continues on its slow upward trend towards equality? Or should we step outside that fictional narrative of progress and ask what actually helped to change literary culture in the UK? Two things come to mind: the literary presses of the 70s, of which Virago is the most notable; and the women’s prize for fiction. In part, what both the presses and the prize did was to create a space for women in a male-dominated world, giving voice and space to those who wouldn’t find them elsewhere.”

Yes! I thought. We do need to take example from the suffragettes, we do need to stop being so polite and seize our own power, raise our voices and… That’s when she lost me. Because what Shamsie suggested we raise our voices to say to the publishing industry was, essentially, “Please let us in. You’re being unfair. Just for one year without any boys in the way and see if the readers like us. It doesn’t have to be right away, 2018 is fine, but give us a go? Please?”

I don’t see the spirit of the independent presses of the 70s and 80s in that. What I see is a spirit of dependence on an industry that infantilizes writers, making them grateful for any morsel of approval and attention, convincing them that a publishing house is the only way to ‘real’ publication.

Link to the rest at Medium and thanks to Joshua for the tip.

Here’s a link to Darcy Conroy’s book. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Fridges and washing machines could be vital witnesses in murder plots

From The Telegraph:

High-tech washing machines and fridges will soon be used by detectives gathering evidence from crime scenes, experts have forecast.

The advent of ‘the internet of things’ in which more devices are connected together in a world of ‘smart working’ could in future provide important clues for the police.

Detectives are currently being trained to look for gadgets and white goods which could provide a ‘digital footprint’ of victims or criminals.

Mark Stokes, the head of the digital, cyber and communications forensics unit at the Metropolitan Police told The Times: “Wireless cameras within a device, such as fridge, may record the movement of owners and suspects.

. . . .

The new Samsung Family Hub Fridge has cameras that carry a live feed of its contents, so shoppers can tell what they need when they are out at the shop. The dates and times that people logon to the fridge, therefore could provide alibis or prove people were not were they said they were.

Mr Stokes said detectives of the future would carry a ‘digital forensics toolkit’ which would allow them to analyse microchips and download data at the scene, rather than removing devices for testing.

Link to the rest at The Telegraph and thanks to Dan, who says, “Nothing to do with publishing, except new story ideas. Not only Alexa sits on the cutting edge of crime investigation.” for the tip.

The Best Writing Advice of 2016

From The Atlantic:

2016 was not an easy year to be a writer. Not just because of the constant, concentration-wrecking pull of our devices, their glowing screens beckoning with the promise of fresh horrors.

. . . .

For the past three years (see 2013, 2014, and 2015), I’ve compiled the best writing advice from this series. In 2016, as in the past, authors shared some great insights—Alice Mattison explained how to structure a short story without a traditional plot, for instance, while Ethan Canin unpacked the art of the last line. But the bulk of the advice writers offered this year was not about “craft,” so much, as about the work of becoming a better person. In order to overcome their creative challenges, the authors I interviewed didn’t need to write prettier sentences: They needed to become more disciplined, more generous, braver.

. . . .

2016 has been filled with ugly reminders of how factional humans can be. This year’s writers suggested that their work demands something different: openness, plasticity of thinking, the ability to entertain and evaluate multiple points of view. Canin, the author of A Doubter’s Almanac, described how writing is a process of self-questioning, a method of backing away from what you’re most convinced you know. As he put it:

I’ve seen plenty of students come in and say, I want to write a novel about blah blah blah. But you just can’t do it. You can only write a novel about a character who does something wrong, and see what happens from there. Novels are compendiums of bad behavior, and literature is the gossip about it.

In other words, if you’re writing a piece of fiction, I’d urge you not to try to show anything—instead, try to discover something. There’s no way to write anything powerful unless your unconscious takes charge.

With characterization, you have to let go. You’ve got to release yourself from your grandiose intentions, your ambitions, your ideas about humanity, literature, and philosophy by focusing on the being-another-person aspect of it—which, by the way, is freeing, delightful, and one of the few real joys of writing. Stop worrying about writing a great novel—just become another human being.

In his discussion of Borges’s great short story “The Aleph,” Michael Chabon, the author of Moonglow, spoke at length about detail and description—the process by which he chooses the right words from a sea of possible choices. Writing a convincing character, he said, is an act that requires a kind of radical empathy:

Infinite pity, I think, is the proper attitude to have towards your characters. Not pity in the way we mostly tend to understand it—which is the condescension of a superior looking down at an inferior and feeling sorry for them … It’s a much more self-implicating pity, where you see and understand the tragic and routine flaws people have, the ways in which your characters fall short of the marks they set for themselves—just as you fall short of the marks you set for yourself.

. . . .

Alexander Chee, the author of The Queen of the Night, made a similar point about following what gives you pleasure. A famous writing teacher warned him never to write about parties in fiction; he found himself wanting to do the opposite. In our interview, he made a case for using party scenes in fiction, even if they seem frivolous on the surface, and are challenging to write:

The qualities that make parties such a nightmare for people—and also so pleasurable—make them incredibly important inside of fiction. There’s a chaos agent quality to them: You just don’t know who’s going to be there, or why. You could run into an old enemy, an old friend, an old friend who’s become an enemy. You could run into an ex-lover, or your next lover. The stakes are all there, and that’s why they’re so fascinating.

Link to the rest at The Atlantic

The Most Commonly Misused English Words

From attn:

The English language is not easily mastered. Homonyms — words that are spelled or pronounced the same but mean different things — can be particularly challenging, which is why even the most highly educated English speakers get tripped up sometimes.

. . . .

  • Adverse: Unfavorable or harmful; commonly confused with “averse,” which means disinclined.
  • Appraise: To evaluate the value of something; commonly confused with “apprise,” which means “to inform.”
  • As far as: The same; commonly confused with the phrase “as for,” which means “with regard to.”
  • Begs the question: Implies a conclusion that isn’t supported by evidence; commonly confused with “raises the question.”
  • Bemused: Bewildered; commonly confused with “amused,” which means entertained.
  • Cliché: A noun; commonly misused as an adjective.
  • Credible: Believable; commonly confused with “gullible.”
  • Criteria: A plural word; commonly misused as a singular word. The singular is “criterion.”
  • Data: A plural word; commonly used as a singular noun.

Link to the rest at attn:

All Romance Ebooks & Visions of The Future: Part One

From Kristine Kathryn Rusch:

All Romance Ebooks and its sister website Omnilit did something incredibly awful on December 28, 2016. It sent out a handful of emails, letting writers, publishers, readers, and others know that it was shutting its doors four days later.

The letter WMG Publishing got said this,

On midnight, December 31, our sites will go dark and your content will cease to be available for sale through our platforms. This includes any content you are having us distribute to Apple.

We will be unable to remit Q4 2016 commissions in full and are proposing a settlement of 10 cents on the dollar (USD) for payments received through 27 December 2016.  We also request the following conditions:

1.     That you consider this negotiated settlement to be “paid in full.”

2.     That no further legal action be taken with regards to the above referenced commissions owed….

It is my sincere hope that we will be able to settle this account and avoid filing for bankruptcy[KKR: all bold mine]

I have no books on that site. Hadn’t for a long time. If any of my work is there, it’s there through other publishers or as part of an anthology. WMG pulled its books off All Romance Ebooks (ARe) almost a year ago, because of problems dealing with the site, the people behind the site, and just some really unsettling business practices.

How unsettling? Nothing concrete. It looked (from the outside) like their interface was breaking down. We knew of sales on our account that never were credited to our account. I believe WMG even tested the site by buying (or having someone buy) a book, and seeing if we got credited.

We didn’t. Then we tried to track down what was owed, what payments had been made, and communications issues. We had a handful of truly incompetent employees (nice people; terrible workers) in 2014, and at first, we attributed our ARe problems to them. But after some dealings, we realized that, nope, the problem wasn’t ours. It was ARe’s problem, and that was a very, very, very bad sign.

We pulled all our titles off ARe, deactivated our account, and moved on to other sites.

So when we got this ridiculous letter, we knew it would have no effect on us. But as Allyson Longueira at WMG noted, ARe (a major Apple portal) made its announcement while Apple is shut down for annual maintenance, and writers who have to switch from ARe to Apple direct can’t do so.

Not only that, authors will lose any algorithm from Apple, and probably any revenue from them.

. . . .

ARe is a distributor, mostly, and so it is dealing with its writers as suppliers and unsecured creditors. I’ve been through a bunch of distributor closings, many in the late 1990s, with paper books, and they all happen like this.

One day, everything works, and the next, the distributor is closed for good. In some ways, ARe is unusual in that it gave its suppliers and creditors four days notice. Most places just close their doors, period.

I’m not defending ARe. I’m saying they’re no different than any other company that has gone out of business like this. Traditional publishers have had to deal with this kind of crap for decades. Some comic book companies went out of business as comic book distributors collapsed over the past 25 years. Such closures have incredible (bad) ripple effects. In the past, writers have lost entire careers because of these closures, but haven’t known why, because the publishing house had to cope with the direct losses when the distributor went down.

The difference here is that ARe wasn’t dealing with a dozen other companies. It was dealing with hundreds, maybe thousands, of writers individually, as well as publishers. So, writers are seeing this distribution collapse firsthand instead of secondhand.

To further complicate matters, ARe acted as a publisher for some authors, and is offering them no compensation whatsoever, not even that horrid 10 cents on the dollar (which, I have to say, I’ll be surprised if they pay even that).

. . . .

Now, let me give you all some advice.

Lawsuits cost time as well as money. I know a whole bunch of angry writers are banding together to go to war with ARe. Which is good, on the one hand, because these kinds of things should not ever happen.

But on the other hand, it’s not good, because a whole bunch of writers are going to lose a year or more of precious and irreplaceable writing time to go after this company.

Some writers have that time; others do not.

Frankly, if the writers’ organizations put together some kind of lawsuit, sign on to that, because it will be more effective. They can afford good lawyers and they will have a huge number of writers that they represent.

I know you’re angry. I know you may have serious financial problems because of this shut-down.

You need to take a deep breath, and look at the impact ARe’s shutdown and the loss of fourth quarter earnings will have on you. Then you need to understand that any lawsuit will take a year or more (courts are slow). ARe might settle; they might not.

. . . .

Guessing now, purely guessing.

ARe had run ahead of their money since they started. They used today’s money to pay yesterday’s bills. They had no profit. So they were floating money—payments to authors, payments to creditors, payments like website and rent.

That’s why ARe’s technology grew antiquated, why they weren’t keeping up with the times, why payments in some cases were late or impossible to get. They probably got a line of credit too late or they didn’t have one or they were borrowing off credit cards.

This fall, book sales went down. I discussed some of that after the election, but I’ll be discussing it more and in a different way later in January. Like its authors, ARe was counting on a certain level of revenue. That revenue went down, starting in July (maybe sooner), and continued downward all fall.

ARe paid writers and publishers 45 days after the close of the quarter. So they had to have made the Q3 payments by early November. That probably used most of their capital. They figured the holiday season would save them, along with holiday ad buys.

I’ll wager those were below what ARe expected—significantly below. So, they tried the 2017 ad buy the week before Christmas, hoping that would save them.

Link to the rest at Kristine Kathryn Rusch on Patreon and thanks to C.G. for the tip.

Here’s a link to Kris Rusch’s books. If you like the thoughts Kris shares, you can show your appreciation by checking out her books.

As usual, Kris’s advice is sound. If you’re involved in the ARe matter, you’ll want to read her entire post.

In a past life, PG represented lots of people in lots of civil litigation. He spent a great deal of time in court.

In some cases, litigation is a necessary part of solving a dispute. The parties are unable to agree, so a judge or jury must decide the matter.

On the other hand, litigation takes a financial and emotional toll on the parties. In some cases, the tangible and/or intangible rewards of litigation outweigh the financial/emotional costs and in other cases they do not.

PG was once involved in finally settling a lawsuit over the validity of a will that had lasted 13 years. He’s comfortable in saying that the costs outweighed the rewards for the litigants in that case.

PG says it is almost always a bad idea to entrust your business or personal welfare to the outcome of litigation.

You can move on with your life without a lawsuit or sue and move on with your life. The moving on with your life part is always the most important.

Court Documents Regarding All Romance E-Books’ Disturbing Business Practices Surface

From Blog Critics:

In a previous article about the sudden closing of All Romance E-Books, LLC and the owner’s announcement that she was not going to pay any royalties for the 4th quarter sales of books from the over 5000 publishers and authors with books on the site.

. . . .

In order to see the whole story, you need to go back to 2014 when a dramatic conflict began between Lori James and her business partner, Barbara Perfetti Ulmer. In fact, Ulmer sued James and All Romance E-Books, LLC in the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court of Pinellas County, Florida – where ARe was established as a legal business entity – on March 2, 2015. Ulmer filed a complaint alleging that James had been “denying access to contemporaneous and current financial information related to All Romance, breach of duties (fiduciary, care, and loyalty) unjust enrichment, inequitable distribution, and judicial dissolution of All Romance.”

The information regarding this lawsuit is easily found thanks to the open court records in the state of Florida, and can be viewed online here.

. . . .

Ulmer and James established All Romance E-Books, LLC together as full partners in 2006. Ulmer was the Chief Financial Officer, and as she was resident in Florida that’s where the physical address of ARe was established. (Remember the three addresses in Florida? One was in Ulmer’s town, Safety Harbor, and appears to be a post office box, which would be understandable as she was the CFO.) James was the Chief Operating Officer, and under the terms of their original operating agreement (Exhibit A) both partners owned 50% of the company and all decisions were to be made by “unanimous agreement” while all financial considerations –  both contribution and distribution – were to be equally shared.

. . . .

According to Ulmer’s complaint, in October of 2014, Dominick Addario, MD – a forensic psychiatrist affiliated with the University of California-San Diego – examined Ulmer to determine whether she was “disabled” and unable to perform her duties under the terms of their operating agreement, which stipulated that if a condition was “permanent or expected to be of an indefinite duration” and prohibited one of the partners from performing their duties, the other partner could assume full responsibility for the company, including all financial and operational decisions.

On November 26, 2014 Dr. Addario sent an email (Exhibit B) to both partners stating that: “…I recommended certain treatment and testing for her and suggest reevaluation in 3 to 6 months at which time she may once again be fit to carry out her duties…”

. . . .

When Ulmer asked to be included in meetings, James told her no and to “stop being a distraction.” When Ulmer asked to return to work, James said no. When Ulmer protested, James told her that “if she did not like what James was doing, that Perfetti(Ulmer) should go get a lawyer.”

Link to the rest at Blog Critics and thanks to A. for the tip.

PG will remind all that the contentions in a court filing are not proven facts.

A quick review of the case summary of Ulmer vs. James reveals that Ulmer’s filing was dismissed “because of lack of prosecution.” This generally means that the plaintiff didn’t do what he/she was required to do in order to move the case forward. There was never a trial or other disposition of the case on its merits.