Friday, April 29, 2011

A cheaper E-reader with advertising(?)

It was bound to happen. The commercial interests at Amazon are selling an edition of their Kindle reader at less than the normal price. How do you purchase one? You have to agree to some ads on your Kindle. These are, Amazon claims, discreet ads. They won't interefere with the text or your reading experience, but they will advertise Amazon products and services as screensavers between books.
The kinds of Amazon services readers will see are:
* $10 for $20 Gift Card
* $6 for 6 Audible Books (normally $68)
* $1 for an album in the Amazon MP3 Store (choose from over 1 million albums)
* $10 for $30 of products in the Amazon Denim Shop or Amazon Swim Shop
* Free $100 Gift Card when you get an Amazon Rewards Visa Card (normally $30)
* Buy one of 30 Kindle bestsellers with your Visa card and get $10 credit
* 50% off Roku Streaming Player (normally $99).
It certainly seems that Amazon is merely extending the depth and breadth of their storefront by advertising on Kindle. The savings are modest. A Kindle with Ads will cost $114 US, over the regular price of $139 US.
This is an interesting move and is significant in the ongoing war between the e-readers. Is E PUB or MOBI going to win in the end. They aren't compatible. This reminds me of the technology wars between VHS and VCR. I seem to remember that Sony won that one. I just know that I'm not going to jump into either camp at this point until I can see who's winning the battle for marketshare.
All I can confidently report is that the CEO of Penguin said, at the recent London Book Fair, that ebooks are replacing trade paperbacks in the marketplace. Well, ebooks are already outselling print books, so he may have a point.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Ebooks denied to libraries!

Ebooks appear to be devastating the manner in which traditional publishing houses distribute books and make profits. Publishers are unclear as to the price of eBooks, how they are to be distributed and marketed and, most importantly, where.
MacMillan and Simon & Shuster have declared to the Digital Public Library of America that they will not sell eBooks to public Libraries and Harper Collins has announced that they will put restrictions on distribution. It’s suggested that after 25 `lends’ the book will be unreadable until more rights are purchased by the Library. It certainly makes one wonder how many hundreds of times some books are read by library users, all from the purchase of a single copy by the library. One can sense that traditional publishers are scared that they will lose millions in the same way that the music industry did as their record (?) sales shrank, but to deny sales to a host of readers (figures suggest that 25% of eBooks won’t be available to library users) is extremely shortsighted. Author’s don’t appear to have much say in this matter, although some have been very public in ignoring traditional publishers and are selling and distributing eBooks because their interest is in getting the greatest number of readers, not in maximizing profit.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Where is it?

I wonder where moral outrage has gone. Is it hiding, or has it gone on an extended sabbatical? I've become inured to the egregious salaries and bonuses paid to CEO’s in the financial sector. It seems to be the way of the world in this 21st century but I’m incensed when I learn that Borders, a US bookseller, who lost $75 million in their last quarter of reported earnings, who is currently under Section 11 Bankruptcy protection, is relocating its head office from Ann Arbour to cheaper digs in Detroit and, is currently for sale; is now ready to present its new business plan to creditors and emerge from beneath the protection of Section 11. Their proposal includes closing and selling off 226 stores and paying bonuses to top company executives in excess of $8 million. These executives have obviously done a tremendous job running Borders into the ground. Over 6,000 Borders employees will lose their jobs and Borders creditors are currently owed $193 million. It seems quite perverse in our consumer and corporate society that failure is so handsomely rewarded. I wonder what rewards await the rest of us if we fail?
I've managed to locate my moral outrage. I just hope that all citizens can find theirs because it seems that Borders requires a good healthy dose!

Monday, March 28, 2011


Ebooks are grabbing an increasing share of the publishing market. The New York Times reports that the publisher of Jean Auel's New book - the sixth in the Clan of the Cave Bear series - `The Land of the Painted Caves,' has slimmed down the print run to less than half a million - they normally print one million of one of her new titles - because they anticipate that many people would instead buy e-books instead of printed editions. Jean Auel, who is now 75, is reported to have said, "If they enjoy it, I don’t have any objection.” Her new book will be released on March 29th and is available through Amazon.
Add the estate of Catherine Cookson to the growing number of authors selling digital backlist titles directly (and, in this instance, exclusively through Amazon in the US and UK.) The author's literary representatives at Sheil Land formed a separate company, Peach Tree Publishing, which will sell 91 Cookson titles as ebooks priced between $1.50 and $5.99. Cookson's agent Sonia Land is reported by UK's Daily mail as saying that she never informed Cookson's print publishers Transworld or Simon & Schuster of the ebook plan: "I haven't told either firm about the deal and I am sure they are going to kick up a fuss about it. It is a wake-up call for the industry."
Catherine Cookson's 91 titles will shortly be available through Amazon in the Kindle format.
The Independent author now has publishing and marketing opportunities at their fingertips - on the computer keyboard - to make their own mark and put their words before the reading public!

Friday, March 25, 2011


In the UK the term `gentrification' was associated with the gentle transformation of someone who'd become a successful member of the merchant class. And who, despite their lowly roots, acquired, or built, a country mansion. These nouveau riche discovered and adapted to a life of privilege and learned that with privilege came, at least, local responsibility. This transformation of class has been an ongoing paradigm shift through the last five centuries, as the established - by blood lines - families were usurped by the nouveau riche. It was often the sub plot in English novels of the period. This new class of landed gentry actually became the subjects of `gentrification' as the nouveau riche of commerce became gentrified.
However, in North America, the term `gentrification' describes the process of renewal and rebuilding which accompanies the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating urban areas where they frequently displace poorer residents who cannot compete in the resulting new economy. But it can also refer to where raw land is purchased cheaply by a developer, who then transforms the purchased undeveloped area into numerous `country retreats' for the upper middle class.
This is the kind of development proposed by Ender Ilkay, a Vancouver real estate speculator, who has obtained preliminary approval to build 266 vacation homes along 17 km of the Juan de Fuca trail on Vancouver Island's South West Coast. Ender Ilkay, the speculative developer, will benefit, but what possible benefit can there to the the rugged and wild Juan de Fuca Trail? I find it difficult to comprehend how local politicians could contemplate granting preliminary approval. Are they so out of touch with the world that they only view their local area through the myopic lens of a developer?
Erecting new strata homes on the Renfrew Road, far from any ancillary infrastructure like stores and markets, in an age where the world is becoming increasingly dependent upon shrinking supplies of oil products, is extremely shortsighted. What happens in 10 years when the price of gas is over $5 per litre? Will those residents then demand bus services into Sooke?
No, we should ensure that the once logged Juan de Fuca Trail is left for all our citizens to enjoy. The world is here for all of us. We don’t need to exploit it for taxes and profit.
Read more about the Dogwood Intitative

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

An Editorial Romance

Once upon a time there was a fair damsel named Lenore who lived on the western edge of a great country, beyond the Rocky Mountains on the far side of the Salish Sea in the old city of Victoria. Lenore was a hardworking editor. Her computer keyboard often clacked ceaselessly into the night. She was renowned throughout the state, and even beyond its borders, for her diligent editing, but she realized she was lonely. So she joined the guild of local editors and there encountered many wonderful people. Lenore and some of the editors, with whom she became firm friends, met over tea and coffee every Saturday morning. They never knew who would appear at this social affair, but over the course of their first year, at least three or four editors would gather. One cold, blustery November day, Lenore arrived and sat alone until Chris, a writer and editor, joined her. He lived on the far side of the Malahat Mountain and was an infrequent visitor to the Saturday morning gatherings. No other editors braved the weather that morning. Lenore and Chris discovered they liked each other. After fate put them together that day, they started to keep company. Chris wooed Lenore with his poetry and warm eyes, and Lenore captured Chris's heart with her beauty, her winsome smile and her wisdom. They fell in love, and three months later Chris asked for Lenore's hand in marriage. Lenore accepted. In June Lenore and Chris will hold a nuptial celebration, where guests will include such fellow editors and writers as will abound like commas on a page.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Young at Heart(?)

Love poetry is probably one of the first modes that inspires us to put pen to paper. We connect with our interior selves and with another in a meaningful, almost spiritual way. We need to express that 'feeling' and so write it down.
Love poetry is often the genre for young writers who are in the throes of passionate energies that older adults do not permit to flourish in such an unbridled manner, yet love poetry has an honourable tradition.William Shakespeare's sonnets are revered, and none can doubt the romantic works of Donne, Shelley or Brooke and hosts of others.
I never expected to revisit this genre except as a reader, but recently the Universe has smiled on me and put in my path a wondrous female. I was moved and so was she. I had to write about it - that's what writers do. My poem was selected as a monthly winner at: and she liked it too!

Return to Diamond River Books website.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Desperate Authors

I recently heard from an author who has several books in manuscript form ready for readers. His woeful story of getting the books into his readers’ hands is quite typical. By the time I received his query, he'd already exhausted the established route of procuring an agent, and he’d received a drawerful of rejection slips from traditional book publishers. In desperation, he'd subsequently sought out “vanity” publishers, who demanded a lot of money for their layout and printing services and a large print run, and other print on demand (POD) publishers, who will print whatever the author presents, unscrupulously insisted he purchase a minimum 1000 copies of his titles.

He was persuaded to go with a POD publisher, but was badly burned. He invested over $3000 and was left with boxes of unsold, and unread, books.

His despair is not unusual.

It seems that too many commercial operations prey on writers. Each book project becomes a commercial transaction. If you can pay they will put your words into print. The author's sensibilities and painstaking and diligent work are subsumed in the process of transforming the manuscript into a product.

The designation “vanity press” has shades of depredation in its title, or perhaps more truly reflects a poor history. In the infancy of the vanity press, too many poor books were produced. Manuscripts were not edited, books were poorly designed and riddled with grammatical and spelling errors and covers looked cheap. No discussions occurred over a layout that might reflect the intent of the author. It was a service that failed to produce a quality product.

Unfortunately, the vanity press earned a long-lasting reputation, and now even the media often rejects POD books for review, regardless of their quality.

Authors believe that writing the book is the most difficult part of their project, but they are not told of the incredible stamina they need to market, promote and sell their book. Writers are rarely marketers.

If they struggle through the tangled marketing maze on their own, they are beset at every turn by commercial promotional companies who offer representational services -- for large fees -- but will not guarantee results.

At Diamond River Books, I cannot solve all authors' problems, but I do care about the quality of the books I produce. I was gratified to hear recently that a university book store took some of my published books because they didn't look like tasteless POD books.

I can personally guarantee that each book I produce is of high quality and that every effort is made to market the author, the book and the author's point of view.

Return to Diamond River Books website.