News & Notes is a weekly Saturday post featuring book- and publishing-related news, links to interesting articles and opinion pieces, giveaways on this and other blogs, and other cool stuff.
Books & Ebooks in the News:
- TechCrunch broke the news that Microsoft is considering offering $1 billion for Nook. The The New York Times confirmed it later in the week. Is this yet another sign that Barnes & Noble is in trouble?
- On a related note, Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader blog reports that Radio Shack and other retailers are selling the Nook Touch at clearance/bargain prices... like $20 or $30.
- “‘Fair Use’ takes center stage at Google Books appeal” Judges are focusing on issues of “fair use” use in the case pitting the Authors Guild against Google over its scanning and digitizing of millions of books. (Jeff John Roberts, paidContent)
- “Coverflip: Maureen Johnson Calls For An End To Gendered Book Covers With An Amazing Challenge” Author Maureen Johnson noticed that books by female authors often get “girly” covers. So she challenged her followers: design a cover for a well-known book, as if the author were the opposite gender. The results are eye-opening. I don’t think I’ll ever look at covers in the same way again. (To be fair, not everything gets this sort of treatment. Jennifer Nielsen’s Ascendance trilogy covers aren’t girly at all.) (Huffington Post)
- Covers do matter — a lot. When R. L. Matthewson replace the plain blue cover of his novel Playing for Keeps with a steamy stock photo, his iTunes sales jumped from almost 0 to over 1,750 in a single month. (Jason Boog, GalleyCat)
- In “The Business Rusch: The Year of the Bookstore”, Kristine Kathryn Rusch argues that authors like Scott Turow and James Patterson are wrong to claim that the entire publishing industry and bookstores are in trouble. She points to an increase in the number of independent bookstores and locations, wider choices for readers, the rise of Kobo and its independent affiliate program, and a few other trends. Rusch suggests that it’s not publishing in general that’s in trouble, but traditional publishers who aren’t open (enough) to change — and blockbuster authors whose books may not sell as many copies now that readers can buy what they want rather than whatever’s on the shelf. It’s an interesting and persuasive article.
- Author Jim C. Hines has a well-written and thought-provoking post on Fandom, Conventions, and Race.
- “Linguists identify 15,000-year-old ‘ultraconserved words'” Linguists have identified around 24 words from the “proto-Eurasiatic” language that appear to have survived 15,000 years with very little change. Almost 700 modern languages derive from that common root language.
- “We should let the historical [romance] genre die” Jane Litte of the Dear Author blog thinks the historical romance subgenre is dying. Or rather, that it has become moribund and trope-ridden, and we should let it go, so something fresher and more exciting can be reborn from the ashes. As an unabashed lover of Regency and Victorian-era historicals, I’m not sure I entirely agree with her solution, but she’s not wrong about the cliches, nor about the slipping sales numbers. Paranormal romance has exploded, and there’s been a corresponding drop-off in new authors and new ideas in the historical field. Perhaps the growth of self-publishing will provide fertile ground for historical romance to experiment a bit?
For Writers and Bloggers:
- Leigh Ann Kopans, a self-published YA author, discusses the money side of self-publishing in a recent post on her blog. No, not the income — the outlay.
- “Giving an eBook a Short Title Can be Good For Sales But Writing a Longer Story Helps More: Insights From Smashwords” (Nate Hoffelder, The Digital Reader blog)
Free & Bargain Ebooks:
- Cover Her Face, the first Dalgliesh mystery by P. D. James ($1.99 at Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Sony)
- Tarnished Knight, a steampunk vampire romantic suspense novel by Bec McMaster (free at Amazon, B&N, Kobo)
- Artemis Fowl, MG fantasy by Eoin Colfer ($2.99 at Amazon, Kobo)
- A Charming Crime, a paranormal mystery by Tonya Kappes ($0.99 at Amazon, B&N, Kobo)
- Jim C. Hines has posted the first chapter of Codex Born, the sequel to last summer’s Libriomancer. If you’re a book lover and a fantasy fan, you don’t want to miss this series!
- This year’s Boston hackathon (a coding competition sponsored by TVNext) was won, not by one of the many teams of coders competing (some of them professionals), but by a 17-year-old who came up with a concept and wrote the app in 10 hours the night before the contest. The best part? She was the only woman competing. Her Twitter app, called “Twivio”, lets you censor tweets containing spoilers, so you don’t find out what happened on your favorite show (or, I hope, in your favorite book series!) until you’ve watched it (or read it.) You can read all about it at Tor.com.
Just for Fun:
- May is Short Story Month, and Goodreads is celebrating with a game of Exquisite Corpse, the game where each person adds to a story based only on the previous lines. Goodreads got 15 authors to contribute, and now the game is continuing in the comments. If you want to join the fun, you’ll need a Goodreads account.
- Coming in July: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, by Ian Doescher, a reimagining of Star Wars: A New Hope (Episode IV) in Shakesperian verse. Darth Vader speaking in iambic pentameter? Lead me to it! I wonder how long it will be before someone stages it in full? You can get a taste of the book (or play) from this video. And you can pre-order the book from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or through your local bookstore. I’ve already put it on my wish list!
- Ever wonder what a ball was really like in Austen’s time? The BBC has recreated the Netherfield ball from Pride and Prejudice.
- Play an online videogame and donate a book! Out of Print Clothing is donating a copy of The Great Gatsby for every 25,000 points you earn in their online game.
- Abe Books has a collection of spoof covers of classics featuring cats.
Finally, here’s a cute sketch of the various levels of reading, by SketchEmily (reedin on deviantArt):
I’m always on the lookout for interesting articles, lists, and links for News & Notes, so please let me know if you see (or write!) anything that might be good for this feature. You can leave me a comment or send me an email — my address is on the About/Review Policy/Contact page.