Happy Friday! Today is the first Friday after the Memorial Day weekend, which in publishing ushers in the phenomenon of summer Fridays — those short work days that kick off the weekend early all summer long so that publishing folks can get the heck out of dodge and enjoy a few days at the beach, or wherever. Of course, for those of us on the west coast, that means a summer of remembering to get hold of editors early in the week because by the time we’re awake and working Friday morning, everyone in New York has one foot out the door.
Summer Fridays make me think of summer reading. My plan for the next few weeks, however, involves plowing through my inbox backlog and reading submissions rather than anything specific off my to-read pile or one of those infamous lists of beach reads. But that doesn’t mean I can’t point you all toward some fun summer reading material, as well as inspire you to get some summer writing done. Don’t get lured away from your desk by those longer days and lovely weather; put your time in and get your words down before you go play!
That said, I offer you this week’s links, and wish you a wonderful weekend. Enjoy!
Book Clubs Mean Business – An interesting look at the role of book clubs in today’s publishing market, and also a peek inside some really fun book-club activities.
We’re kicking off a long, holiday weekend here in the U.S., as Monday is Memorial Day, but whether you’re plotting a getaway, some local BBQ action, or simply kicking back with a cool drink and a good read, I wish you a very wonderful few days. Those of you not anticipating an extra day off, use that weekend wisely and have a great time.
With that said, I offer up this week’s collection of links to keep you informed, entertained, and maybe even inspired. Despite the pending holiday, it’s been a newsy sort of week. One of the biggest stories going around is the dispute between Amazon.com and Hachette Publishing, that has led Amazon (who has been delaying delivery of Hachette titles) to pull the order buttons entirely from the publisher’s books, sending authors who were already frustrated into an uproar. So, in the spirit of supporting the little guy (by whom I mean the authors, not the corporations duking it out), I encourage you to take your book-buying to your favorite independent bookseller in lieu of giving your business to Amazon. And if you must order online, check out Powells.com.
Many people were confused about the decision handed down by the Department of Justice regarding the question of whether Big Publishers had colluded to fix prices of e-books. The argument seems to have shifted from whether they colluded to whether they have the right to set prices at all. While writers may be frustrated with their royalty percentages on electronic editions of their books, the answer is not to take pricing out of the hands of publishers and hand it over to Amazon, or even the DOJ. It’s not the DOJ’s job to determine what a fair or affordable price is for an e-book–only to ensure that there’s nothing dishonest going on regarding the setting of that price.
I’m not here to foist my opinions regarding e-book pricing on the general reading public, but I would like to provide those interested with some additional information. So, for those curious about the hows and whys of the situation, I offer you an excellent blog post by author Charles Stross: What Amazon’s E-book Strategy Means. Stross breaks down very carefully what many of Amazon’s actions translate to in the larger business context. And also, Mike Shatzkin’s After the DOJ Action, Where Do We Stand? Mike links back within his post to previous discussions on the subject, so you can get some further background on why the publishers are so intent on maintaining the agency price model. Finally, Nathan Bransford on Why E-books Cost So Much.
At the end of the day, this situation is about more than what an e-book costs. It’s about the shape of the entire publishing industry, determining how books go from a glimmer in a writer’s mind to the volume on a consumer’s nightstand. I have been a buyer of books far longer than I have been a literary agent, and while I admit to loving the ease of purchase and the attractive discounts offered by Amazon.com, I am not so much a fan as to wish to see them become the only major outlet for purchasing books or anything else.