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Posts Tagged ‘Mad Genius Club’

This morning at Mad Genius Club, I posted about how I’ve come to the decision that my advice to writers about keeping the politics separate from their careers was wrong. I started changing my mind when I watched a small number of authors and agents jumping all over anyone who dared disagree with them about whether or not Amazon is the cause of all publishing’s problems or whether the agency pricing model is a good thing or not. I’ve been pretty vocal about my thoughts on both issues. First, Amazon might not be anything close to a paragon of virtue, but it is by far NOT the big evil this small group of people want to make it out to be.  As for agency pricing, even the publishers using it point out they don’t make as much money from it as they did from the previous pricing model. So how in the HELL can it be better for them, much less for authors?

But what finally threw the lid off my reticence to talk politics or religion or anything else I damn well please has been the rash of pile-ons by another group of very vocal folks (funny thing is, many of them are the same ones who think we should continue backing publishers that have been slowly continuing policies that are killing the industry) who feel they have the right to bash those who don’t agree with their social policy beliefs.

I’ve done my best to ignore most of the Facebook posts about the so-called Republican War on Women. But the final straw came over the last 48 hours when a group of them felt they had free rein to go to Sarah A. Hoyt’s blog and attack her because she dared not agree with what they had to say. After all, she wasn’t being loyal to her gender when she said employers shouldn’t be forced to pay for birth control for their female employees. They took offense when she commented that any war based on sex that is being waged in this country is against our men. They called her names, they suggested she leave the country and they howled in outrage when she finally started blocking the more offensive comments.

They accused her of stifling discussion and of not wanting to hear the truth. Of course, it was their “truth”, usually unsupported by hard facts or data. At best, most of the data cited was flawed because it mingled different “classes” of people (no, not economic or racial, but by age). This co-mingling would be enough for most statisticians to toss it out as being flawed. But that co-mingling was the only way this vocal group could make its point.

What was worse is that it was so clearly a case of someone being outraged at what Sarah had to say that she called/texted/pm’d her buddies and said they had an infidel to deal with. Most of the comments were nothing more than almost verbatim repetitions of the one before it. They weren’t interested in discussion. They were interested only in browbeating Sarah and those who dared agree with her. Most of all, they were interested in disrupting Sarah’s blog.

So, for the record, there is no war on women. There are some really stupid pieces of proposed legislation out there. Most are not sponsored by more than one or two loonies. There are a few with more sponsors. But the actual probability of these being passed into law are slim to none.

Moreover, assigning a sinister motive to an entire political party based on the actions of a few of its members is ridiculous.

I’m more worried about how we are raising our kids now. As the mother of a son, I’ve watched him being told by teachers and administrators that boys are bad. They have centuries of mistreatment of women to make up for. They are taught that women have never had any power and the feminist movement is a natural correction to that oversight. There are even history classes that teach women never had the right to own property, have a profession or ply a trade (other than prostitution) until the last century. There’s more, but I think you get my drift.

So, if I don’t agree that employers should be forced to pay for birth control — for the purposes only of not getting pregnant and not for any existing medical condition — if it is against the employer’s fundamental religious beliefs, get over it. No one forced that woman to go to work for that employer. There is this thing called personal responsibility.

And don’t give me the line of crap that the employee pays for the insurance. They only pay a portion of it. This is the real world, boys and girls, so grow the hell up.

I’ll go even further. I think the government, be it state or federal, should put limits on welfare and unemployment benefits. But, in doing so, it should also offer job training and placement services. But the days of going on the government dole and staying there for years, even decades, has to end. Of course, if there are medical reasons, that is a different story.

We have spent the last generation weakening our country and our citizens. We have become a country full of folks who feel entitled to whatever they want. If they don’t get it, they pitch a fit like a little kid in the grocery who doesn’t get the piece of candy he wants. They kick and scream and call names. And they don’t think about the consequences of their actions.

It’s like this trend we’ve had for much too long of not keeping score at kids’ games. The reason, well meaning I’m sure, is to make sure no kid has his feelings hurt. The problem is, it doesn’t teach a kid how to lose, how to fail. And if you never experience either a loss or a failure, what is there to drive you to seek to achieve a gain or a win?

This trend has moved from the playground into the classroom. There are schools now where homework is no longer mandatory. In fact, if a teacher assigns it, it can’t be graded. Some schools now allow students to retake exams as many times as they want if they failed. Classroom curriculum is a one size fits all in public schools. Teachers aren’t allowed to adapt their lesson plans to meet the needs of all their students. And yet people wonder why our scores are continuing to fall when compared to other countries.

Then there’s the consequence–yes, I know that’s a word a lot of folks don’t like to think about–of not teaching our kids how to fail, or how to achieve. They get to college or into the workforce and are suddenly faced with the fact that not all people are created, much less treated, equal. Not everyone is going to like them and–gasp–maybe they aren’t as wonderful as mommy and daddy and their teachers led them to believe.

Personal responsibility needs to be re-introduced to this country. It starts with something as simple as taking responsibility for obtaining your own birth control if it isn’t a medical necessity for some physical condition. Guys, it includes you making sure some form of birth control is being used unless you want to assume the responsibility for a child. You can’t rely on the women to do it. Most of us are pretty honest, but there are those who will tell you they are on the Pill or using an IUD and aren’t.

Personal responsibility as parents means teaching our kids that not everything in the world is good. Nor is the world fair. There are times it will kick you in the teeth and the only way to respond is to pick yourself up and work harder. If you se an injustice, it is your decision to determine how you will react–and you have to live with the consequences. The government needs to stay the hell out of our bedrooms (as long as they are occupied by consenting adults) and out of our kitchens. I don’t need it telling me what to eat or not to eat. I take the responsibility for my actions.

One commenter the other day said they are fighting for a society. Of course, they didn’t say what society. Nor did they seem to care that there might be folks who don’t want to be part of it. In fact, they didn’t care about much of anything as long as we all agreed with their opinions. Sorry, but think about how boring the world would be if we all agreed on everything and if the world was a social utopia.

I’ll go back to that “heretic” Heinlein: TANSTAAFL

It’s time we remembered that.

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I want to start by thanking Glenn Reynolds for the link to yesterday’s blog and welcome all his readers from Instapundit.  Pull up a chair, relax and enjoy your favorite virtual cup of coffee or other morning beverage.

It still amazes me how publishers and agents can cry foul when Amazon — or any other entity for that matter — encroaches on what they see as their territory.  It amazes me because it truly shows just how disconnected the legacy publishers and others are from the realities brought on by new technology and the change in reader demands.  Right now, these publishers are crying “foul!” because Amazon is trying to make them unnecessary in the road to publication.  They say they offer so many things of value to the writer, and the reading public, that Amazon and others can’t.  But, as I said yesterday, these very same benefits they tout are the ones they gave up on long ago:  quality editing and proofreading, formatting, promotion, etc.  This is especially true when it comes to e-books, the same e-books these publishers say cost as much to produce as the hard copy that is being released at the same time.  I could go one, but my friend Dave Freer has said it much more eloquently than I can over at Mad Genius Club.

What I do know is that legacy publishers are cutting their own throats, especially when it comes to the e-book market.  I’m not just talking price here, even though the majority of people don’t want to pay the same price for an e-book that they do for a hard cover and most of them don’t even want to pay the price of a paperback for an e-book.  Nor can I blame them, especially not when the legacy publishers view the e-book not as a book at all, but as a license.  They fill the e-book with DRM, which is expensive to the publisher and insulting to the reader/customer.  With DRM, you are limited to the type and number of devices you can read the book on.  Try to read it on an unsupported device and you can’t.  Want to break DRM, you’re called a pirate by the publishers.  Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy toward those publishers, doesn’t it?

These same publishers say they are paying extra, a lot extra if you believe them, to convert that next best seller into an e-book.  If that’s the case, I’d expect there to be no problems with the formatting or layout of the e-book and I’d sure as heck expect it to have been proofread so there are no misspellings, etc.  Guess what, it’s more than likely that you’ll find errors in the e-book.  For some reason, they seem to pop off the screen at you much more than they do off the printed page.  At least they do for me.  I’ve even checked printed versions of books when I’ve found errors in the kindle version and, yep, those errors are on the printed page as well.  I’m not talking indie books here.  I’m talking books printed by the big six publishers.  so where’s that wonderful quality control they’re talking about?

But it isn’t all gloom and doom in publishing.  I was pleased this morning to see the news that there will be two publishers focusing on books for middle grade kids.  The first is from Algonquin and will focus on the YA and middle grade markets and is expected to debut the end of next year.  While I wish it was happening soon, I’m thrilled to see anyone who knows there is a hole in the middle grade market and wants to fill it.  I just hope they fill it with books that are fun to read — and that therefore encourage kids to read them — instead of books that are all “socially relevant” and written in styles that send the kids running from them just as fast as they can.

The second is the one that really excites me because it is aimed at boys.  I’ve gotten so tired of hearing that boys don’t read.  They do.  These people who are supposedly in the know might be surprised if they climbed down from their ivory towers and actually looked at what middle grade boys.  The problem hasn’t been that they don’t read.  It’s that they haven’t had nearly enough well-written and FUN books to read.  It’s my hope that this new venture will provide just that.  At least Move Books’ slogan is encouraging: “Moving Boys to Read”.  Eileen Robinson, publisher of Move Books, gets it, in my opinion.  Here’s what she had to say about how her nine year old son was inspiration for this new venture: “He struggled as a reader, and it was difficult to find books that would grab his attention, make him laugh, and make him want to read on his own. . . He and his friends seem to be drawn more to nonfiction, and like a lot of boys, they tend to read for information more than for pleasure. I am hoping that the novels Move Books publishes will provide that pleasure, and will encourage boys to pick them up rather than turn to a video game.” Well said, Ms. Robinson.  Well said.

So, here’s a hat tip to those who recognize the need to encourage our middle schoolers, especially the boys, to read.  And here’s a swift kick in the pants to those publishers and agents who seem to think we can put the genie back in the bottle and go back to publishing like it was fifty years ago.

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the second Monday of the week?  It feels that way.  After a weekend filled with fun guests — and the massive and manic cleaning beforehand — and finally some rain, yesterday dawned with a new week’s worth of things to do, both personally and professionally.  Part of it was deciding how to handle my various blogging responsibilities.  Like so many writers and other folks in the publishing industry, I find myself active on more than just one blog.  That often winds up cutting into my writing time.  So, decisions needed to be made.  Basically, I’ll be blogging at The Naked Truth Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  I do my turn at Mad Genius Club every Sunday and the occasional Saturday.  That leaves Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays here.  Mind you, that is all subject to change as scheduling and breaking news dictates, especially for this blog and The Naked Truth.  But, it’s what I’m going to try for. . . we’ll see how it works.

Another thing I think I’m going to try is a regular snippet schedule.  It will keep me focused on my writing which is, I’ll admit, taking a backseat all too often to my duties at NRP.  So, I think I’ll start that today.  However, what isn’t going to be snippeted is the super sekrit project, mainly because I don’t know where it is going just yet.  Also, snippets will be rough, very rough, and will most likely change between when they appear here and in the final product.

Also, because of the problem of making sure the work being snippeted isn’t “published” before I get around to submitting it, snippets may not always be in order and I will never snippet more than 1/4 – 1/3 of the novel.  However, if you’re really interested in it, you can email or leave a comment asking to be a beta reader.  As any writer will tell you, beta readers are invaluable.

So, now to decide what to snippet, especially since I have dueling books in my head right now.  While I think about that, pardon me while I squee again.  Nocturnal Origins is doing pretty good so far as an e-book.  Actually, I’m thrilled with the preliminary numbers I’m seeing, but would, of course, love them to be better.  What author doesn’t?  And I’m absolutely ecstatic about the reviews it’s gotten so far.  I have to give a special shout out to Barb Caffrey at Shiny Book Review and say thanks for her review.

But the squee is for the fact the print version of Nocturnal Origins is now available (TPB).  You can order it from Amazon here.  It will soon be available from Barnes & Noble and you will be able to order it from your local bookstore as well.  There really is a special feeling to know your book is available in print.

I guess I’ll go figure out what to start snippeting.  Snippets will begin Thursday.  In the meantime, if you’ve read Nocturnal Origins and enjoyed it, please tell your friends.  I’m a firm believer that word of mouth really is the best advertising any author can get.

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Thanks to everyone who said they wanted another snippet from Nocturnal Serenade.  It does any writer’s heart good to know people want to read what she’s written.  Just remember, the only way Serenade will be finished and published is if Nocturnal Origins does well enough for NRP to contract for a sequel.  It’s sad but true.  Also, on the subject of Nocturnal Origins, if you’d prefer a print edition over a digital one, those should be available through Amazon before long.

The following scene is not what comes next in Serenade.  I thought I’d skip ahead some.  This scene comes about 75 pages or so into the book.  It will give a little of Mac’s family background and, hopefully, tease you some about what’s happening in the book.  Yes, I’m evil and I love it.  Hope you enjoy the snippet.

* * *

“All right, Mackenzie, don’t you think it’s time you told me what in the world is going on?”

They’d finally collected Ellen’s bags, after what had to be one of the longest delays in getting luggage from a jet to the terminal in recent memory, and had made their way to Pat’s sedan.  Instead of answering her grandmother’s question right away, Mac had stowed Ellen’s luggage in the trunk, thinking hard as she did.  Where to start?  There was so much to tell her grandmother, none of which would be easy.

So she’d start with the easiest.  She’d explain that they’d have to wait until morning to go to the hospital.  The doctors wanted to keep Elizabeth sedated during the night so she could get some of the rest she needed so badly to begin her recovery.  Ellen simply nodded, her eyes flitting from her granddaughter to Pat and back again.

Now, with Pat carefully navigating her way through the parking garage, Mac knew she couldn’t put off telling Ellen the rest of it. Especially not with her grandmother looking at her so closely.  Still, she couldn’t quite find the words to begin.

“When did you start shifting?”  Ellen’s voice carried a mixture of concern and, to Mac’s surprise, guilt.  “And I assume you’re aware of the fact your partner’s a shifter as well.”

Well, trust her grandmother to cut right to the chase.

“It’s a long story, Gran, and I’ll tell you everything later.  I promise.  But the short version is this.  Shortly after my birthday, I was attacked by one of the local lycans.  He damn near killed me —  Hell, they thought he had.  Imagine my surprise when I woke up in the morgue.  I about scared the poor attendant to death —   Any way, the attack awakened my shifter abilities.  I started shifting shortly after that, although I didn’t realize what was happening.”

Anger and resentment flared as she remembered how scared she’d been, how close she’d come to actually considering killing herself for being a monster.

Easy, Mac.  It’s not her fault you didn’t know what might happen one day.  You know that.  Just as you know it’s something you need to talk to your mother about.  So ease back on the anger.

“Fortunately” she continued, relieved none of the resentment showed in her voice, “my captain, who happens to be the local pride leader, did realize what was happening to me.  He sent Pat and another member of the pride to watch me.  Fortunately, all of them, especially Pat who helped me control one of my first shifts and then who took me somewhere secluded so she could teach me, helped me begin accepting what was happening.”

“Thank you.”  Ellen reached over and lightly clasped Pat’s shoulder in appreciation.  “And this lycan who attacked you?”

“It didn’t take long to realize he was responsible for a series of murders Mac and I were investigating.  At first we didn’t know if he was a loner, because there hadn’t been any problem with the local lycans for years, or what.  Then we realized he was a member of the local lycan pack and was doing his best to stir up trouble.  Which, as I’m sure you realize, was the last thing any of us wanted,” Pat said.

“Wait!” Ellen leaned forward, reaching out with her left hand to turn Mac’s face to her.  “That is why the Conclave convened here, without warning.  You met that bastard in the Circle.”

It was more statement than question and all Mac could do was nod.

“I dealt with him, Gran, as I needed to.” That much was true.  She had needed to deal with Wilcox herself, not only for what he’d done to her but for what he’d done to the other’s he’d stalked and killed.  “The Circle gave me the only way I could make him pay for his crimes without arresting him, and that was the last thing I wanted to do.  I couldn’t risk him shifting while in custody.”

“Of course you couldn’t!” Ellen leaned back, suddenly looking her age as the implications sank in.  “Mackenzie, I’m sorry.  You shouldn’t have –“

“Gran, don’t.”  Mac waited until she knew she had her grandmother’s undivided attention.  Then she waited a moment longer as Pat paid the toll to get off of the airport grounds.  “I won’t lie to you.  I was angry and hurt and more than a little confused and scared about what was happening to me.  Then, when I learned shifting ran in the family, that you and Granddad were shifters, I was more mad than anything else.  I didn’t think we had any secrets between us, and, damn, this was a big ass secret.

“I’ve had to do a lot of thinking since then.  I know it wasn’t your decision not to tell me.  That’s something I’m going to have to discuss with Mom when she’s better.  But I am glad you know now and that we can talk about it, and about the family aspect of it.”

“Mackenzie, there’s more to this than you’re telling me.  What is it?”

Mac laughed softly, ruefully.  She’d forgotten just how quickly Ellen could read through all the layers and realize she’d hadn’t been told everything.

“Unfortunately, Gran, there is.”  She paused, chewing her lip as she thought.  “I know you’re worried.  But I’d appreciate it if you’d wait for an explanation until we get to my place.”

Leaning back, arms crossed, Ellen studied her granddaughter for a moment before nodding.  The moment she did, Mac smiled and thanked her.  It was going to be hard enough to tell her everything that had happened, especially when it came to the attack on Elizabeth.  The last thing Mac wanted was to be confined in the car where she had to sit still, not pace and burn off at least some of her own anger and fear as she spoke.

Half an hour later, Mac and Pat carried Ellen’s luggage inside and upstairs to the bedroom she’d be using while in town.  Ellen trailed behind them and Mac could almost feel her fighting against the urge to start asking questions again.  She understood.  If their roles had been reversed, she’d have been demanding answers long ago.  But then, she’d never had her grandmother’s patience, something she knew she should try to cultivate but simply didn’t seem to be able to.

“All right, Gran.”  Mac handed Ellen a glass of wine and sat across the kitchen table from her.  They were alone for the moment.  Pat had excused herself a few minutes earlier and had disappeared outside.  Although she hadn’t said so, Mac knew she was checking the perimeter and talking with whomever King had sent from the pride to keep watch.  “You said there’s more to what’s happened than I told you and you’re right.  There’s a hell of a lot more.  But let’s start at the beginning.  How much do you know about what happened at the Conclave?”

And you’d better be ready to tell me how you know, since you weren’t anywhere near here at the time.

“I know that the Conclave was called by the head of the pride here because at least one of the local lycans was openly hunting and leaving his kills where they were being found.  I’d heard that the lycan had also attacked a member of the pride.  Cassandra called the Conclave when it became clear that the pack leader either wouldn’t or couldn’t control the lycan, this Wilcox I assume.”  She waited until Mac nodded in confirmation.  “Apparently, the pack turned Wilcox over to the Conclave for judgment rather than risk the Conclave disbanding the pack or ordering its extinction.”

“All true,” Mac confirmed.  “The pack leader, Ferguson, had been aware of the trouble Wilcox was stirring up but hadn’t, apparently, realized how much trouble he was actually causing in the pack itself.  When he did, instead of calling out Wilcox, he punished two weaker members and expelled them.  All that seemed to do was send Wilcox over the edge.  He’d already caused at least two deaths that we know of, as well as attacking me.  His third kill was also here in the city and happened just before the Conclave arrived.”

“So, how did you wind up meeting him in the Circle?”

A hint of disapproval touched Ellen’s voice.  Mac heard it but knew it wasn’t aimed at her.  Or at least not totally.  She had a feeling that when her grandmother finally met King and realized he was the local pride leader, her captain would get a lecture he’d not soon forget.

“When the Conclave passed the death sentence on Wilcox, he demanded his right to trial by battle.  Pat and some of the others of the pride had already warned me that he had that option.  So, when the Speaker, this Cassandra, asked Mike who would stand as the pride’s representative in the Circle, I said I would.”

“MacKenzie!”

“Gran, I didn’t have a choice.  I had to do it.  I had to for me, as well as for all the others he’d attacked.  We still don’t know now many others he killed.  Nor do we know if he managed to turn anyone.  But we do know he can’t do any more harm and the pack now realizes we will not stand by and let them run wild.  It’s hard enough keeping our existence a secret without one of them getting careless and revealing our existence through DNA or other forensic evidence.”

“I understand why you felt you needed to do it, Mackenzie.  What I don’t understand is why your pride leader allowed it.  You were too new as a shifter.”

“Gran, that’s you speaking as my grandmother.  Besides, Mike knew better than to try to stop me.  I had to do it and, as you can see, I managed quite well, thank you.”

“All right.”  Now she smiled, and reached over to grasp Mac’s hand.  “Don’t get me wrong, sweetheart.  I’m very proud of you.  Your grandfather would be as well, if he were here to see you.”

“I hope so, Gran.” She gave Ellen’s hand a quick squeeze and then leaned back, wondering how to say this next part.  “But there is more you need to know.”

“Just say it, dear heart.”

“Gran, we haven’t caught the bastard who attacked Mom.  But we do know one thing about him, or her.”

“I have a feeling I’m not going to like what you have to say.”

“You aren’t.”  Mac lifted her wineglass and drained it.  “Gran, she was knifed by a lycan.  I don’t know if the bastard was trying to turn her and things got out of hand or what.”

Ellen looked at her in disbelief, the color draining from her face.  Then, much as Mac had done just a moment before, she lifted her wineglass and drank it dry.

“Y-you’re sure?”

“I am.  I got there within minutes of the attack happening and there was no mistaking the scent.  Pat and Mike confirmed it.”

“Damn it!”  Ellen shoved back her chair and got to her feet.  Mac watched as she paced the length of the kitchen once and then twice before returning to the table.

“It gets worse, Gran.  I don’t know if he infected her.  Hell, even if he didn’t, I don’t know if she’ll react like I did and start shifting on her own.”

“Dear sweet Lord, Mac.  This is going to be more than your mother can handle.”

“You’re right.  We tried talking to her about it when she was old enough to start showing signs of shifting, not that she had.  But she wouldn’t listen to us.  When she finally realized just how serious we were, she decided to try to ignore it all.  When she couldn’t do that any more, and when she realized she wasn’t going to be a shifter, she convinced herself that your grandfather and I had some sort of hideous disease that she wanted to avoid at all costs.”  Ellen paused, gnawing her lower lip much as Mac did when thinking hard.

“So, when you were born and I tried talking to her again about the possibility of you being a shifter, she panicked.  She watched your every move, scared you’d begin showing signs of having inherited the curse.

“She should have told you, Mac.  I should have told you….”

“Gran, don’t.” Mac slid out of her chair and moved around the table to her side, holding her close.  “It’s over.  Now you can help me continue learning.  More than that, you can help me look after Mom and help her deal with what’s happened.”

Ellen nodded and Mac relaxed slightly.  They’d have to talk some more, a great deal more, but it could wait.  One step at a time, and they’d already taken a huge one.  Even better, they’d managed to do it without it devolving into an argument.  Now if she could just figure out how to manage the same with her mother when Elizabeth was able to talk.

* * *

Check out Mad Genius Club for some more musing about this snippet and sequels.  See you there!

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Back in January, I posed this question over on The Naked Truth. I thought it might be time to look at the question again, especially in light of Random House’s decision to go with the agency model, the inquiries into whether or not the agency model is legal — not only here but in Great Britain — and Australia’s decision that it is NOT legal (Way to, OZ!). So, with your indulgence, here’s the post from January, with a few additional comments or edits.

What is a Book?

According to Jeffrey Matthews (vp for corporate strategy for Scholastic), “That’s the $64 million question.”

It is also a question the publishing industry — publishers and authors alike — can’t seem to agree upon. Ten years ago, it was easy to answer that question. A book was, well, a book. It was something you could walk into a bookstore or your public library and hold, take home and read. You bought a book you liked and read it, sometimes many times. You loaned it to your friends and family — often with threats of violence if they didn’t return it. You could sell it to used bookstores for a bit of pocket cash (of course, if you did and then someone else bought the book, the author didn’t get any more money from it).

Now it’s not quite so simple to answer that question. A number of publishers feel a book is still a book — that physical incarnation of an author’s words into print. Print being the operative word. E-books have thrown a wrench into the works and the industry simply hasn’t figured out how to respond. This includes publishers, agents and writers.

That’s one of the reasons we find so many publishers applying DRM to their e-books. Not understanding that doing so is like telling a recalcitrant child “no”, publishers say they have to apply DRM to their e-books to protect them from piracy. They don’t stop to think that that merely waves a red flag saying, “I bet you can’t find a way to break our code.” Guess what, that’s a challenge and what happens when you issue a challenge? It’s usually taken up. Don’t believe me, simply google “how to break DRM” and see how many hits you get and how many verified codes using Python and other programs there are.

DRM does something else. It adds to the cost of e-books. And, honestly, there will always be people out there who will post digital versions of books online for free. Their reasons vary. Some do it because, in their countries, the books may not be available in digital — and sometimes even in print — formats. Some do it because, as noted above, it’s a challenge and they hate being told they can’t do something. But digital piracy isn’t limited to books released in digital formats. If I remember correctly, the last Harry Potter book — none of which have been legitimately released as e-books — was online as a PDF e-book before the book hit the shelves. So, how did applying DRM to a digital file help prevent piracy?

But there is another reason people break DRM on e-books. A book that is “protected” by DRM is tied to a certain type of device. For example, if you by a DRM’d e-book through Amazon, it is tied to the kindle or kindle apps. It’s the same with B&N and the nook, etc. But worse, there is a limit on how many compatible devices the e-book can be downloaded to. Say you have a family of three. Every one of them have a kindle and they have the kindle app for their laptops or smart phones, etc. That’s at least 6 potential forms of tech that e-book can be read on. But, wait. There’s a hitch. The publisher has limited the number of devices to 4. So Junior can’t read that book on his smart phone because it is already registered to the maximum number of devices. That’s like telling me I can only read a physical book in four of six rooms in my house. Sorry, but I bought it, I should be able to read it when and where I want — and on whatever device I have with me at the time.

And this brings me to the question posed in the title of this post. What is a book?

This is a question those of us involved with Naked Reader Press asked ourselves long before we opened our digital doors. We’d seen interviews with publishers who hold that a book is only the physical incarnation of an author’s work. Under this definition, those of us who buy e-books aren’t buying the book. Instead, we are only buying a license to read the author’s work in a certain digital format. DRM is their way of enforcing this by preventing us from doing with digital books what we can with physical ones — loan them, sell them, donate them. Even so, these same publishers who are so adamant about limiting our access to these e-books — and if you don’t believe me, buy an e-book using Adobe Digital Editions and try to read it on a machine that isn’t tied to that specific Adobe account — are more than willing to charge us as much or more for the digital version than we’d pay for the paperback copy of the book.

Still, not all publishers feel this way. There are some like Baen Books who believe that, once you buy an e-book, it’s yours. They don’t apply DRM and don’t limit the number of e-readers or computers you can view the e-book on. To them, and to me, a book is made up of the words an author writes. A book can take many forms — physical paper versions, electronic, audio, enhanced, etc. A book is something meant to be enjoyed by readers in whatever form they are most comfortable with.

This divide in thinking may be narrowing. The Nook, and now the Kindle, allow lending of e-books (with publisher approval). Mind you, it’s limited to only being able to lend a book one time, for a period of two weeks. During that two week period, the original purchaser of the e-book cannot access it. There is the option being offered through these sellers for authors and small publishers to bring out their books DRM-free. Guess what, most of them choose no DRM. Why? Because they are selling BOOKS, not licenses.

But publishers are still trying to throw kinks in the works when it comes to e-books. Not too long ago, Harper Collins announced it was going to limit the number of times an e-book can be checked out by a library. According to HC, the magic number is 26. After that time, the title will no longer be available unless the library buys it again. Of course, HC says that it will be at a discounted price, but I’m not holding my breath. Besides, I have a several problems with HC’s reasoning here. First, they say they came up with this magic number because this is the average number of checkouts a physical book goes through before it is pulled from the shelves. This ignores the fact that, if this is true, the library simply cleans and repairs the book and then puts it back into circulation. It’s not removed unless it is lost or destroyed or beyond repair. My next issue is that I can just imagine how ticked I’d be if I happened to be number 27 on the wait list for that e-book, only to be told I couldn’t check it out. Finally, publishers don’t put a limit on the number of times a physical book can be checked out. All they are doing by limited e-books in this manner is once more saying they don’t look at e-books as real books. (For more on this, check out this post and this one.)

So, what is a book? To me, a book is the collection of words, written by an author for readers to read in whatever format they like: hard cover, trade paperback, mass market paperback, digital or enhanced. After all, why should it make a difference if the book is printed on paper or on your computer screen or smart phone? A book is a book is a book and it’s time the industry’s definition caught up with technology.

So, what is a book to you?

 

(Cross-posted from Mad Genius Club)

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Call me crazy, you wouldn’t be the first. But with my first novel coming out, I figured I’d better start a new blog. LJ served long and hard, but we’ve grown apart. So, here’s to the new blog. Maybe I’ll be better at keeping up with it than I was with the LJ.

My goals for this blog will be simple. This is where I talk about my writing. Maybe I’ll post some about my work over at NRP, but most of it will be pure self-promotion along with, hopefully, a lot of self-motivation.

The one thing I’m not going to do it over-extend. Because of my blogging responsibilities at Mad Genius Club and The Naked Truth, I’m going to limit posting here to three days a week. Of course, that’s subject to change if news is breaking or if deadlines are killing me. Even then, I’ll do my best to drop by and note what’s going on.

So, up next is a mirror post from today’s Mad Genius Club.  Enjoy.

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