Buzz Worthy News
In this week’s Buzz Worthy News: indie bookstores give Amazon the finger, brains prefer paper, free e-books for Tumblr users, and a controversial review of The Everything Store.
Buzz Worthy News is Cuddlebuggery’s weekly news post bringing you all the best information about the book and blogging world, particularly for the venn diagram of people who overlap between the two. For new releases and cover reveals of all the best Young Adult fiction, check out our Sunday post: Hot New Titles.
Indie Bookstores Give Amazon The Finger
Once again, in a bid to get mentioned in the media for the bazillionth time, Amazon does some stuff. This time, as with all other times, there are a huge heap of mixed responses.
Amazon The Benevolent states that they want to help out the little bookstore that could, in a Kobo type deal where bookstores sell kindles to readers and any books that the reader buys on that specific kindle will give a 10% cut to the bookstore in question. So what’s the big deal?
The offer, under a program called Amazon Source, has been met with widespread derision. Suzanna Hermans, president of the New England Independent Booksellers Association and one of the owners of Oblong Books & Music, tells Publisher’s Weekly, “If Amazon thinks indie bookstores will become agents for the Kindle, they are sorely mistaken,” adding that “there is no way I will promote Amazon products in my stores after the havoc they have wreaked on our industry as a whole. Sorry, Jeff. I’m not buying it.”
In other words, many bookstores who feel like they’ve been screwed over by the giant mega bookseller, have no desire to enter into some kind of deal with the Devil. Why in the world would they want to promote a company that they despise? Well, maybe because it’s time to face some facts.
1) E-books aren’t going anywhere. Consumers have proved that they want them and they will continue to buy them. E-books are a valuable source of revenue that bookstores should try to take advantage of.
2) The future of books in general needs to be considered. Is there really a chance that we’re going to keep a majority of paper books around forever, or will society slowly make the move to more and more digital media, even as we become more digitally minded ourselves? In other words, money from paper books is probably not going to increase over time.
Or, as one of the few bookstores to sign up for the program put it:
Jason Bailey, co-owner of JJ Books, writes in a testimonial, “Kindle will help us bridge the evolution of the bookstore into the Internet age.”
Still, that doesn’t mean this is the best deal for booksellers or that the deal doesn’t need tweaking (if anyone was ready to accept selling Amazon wares). It might also be true that though bookstores will have to make some serious moves into the digital age, there’s no reason they should do it now. Kobo’s deal with indie bookstores, announced a little less than a year ago, still has yet to make a dent in the overall bottom line of indie bookstores, according to Forbes online:
By the early part of this year, Kobo had signed up nearly 500 stores and had planned on getting 1,000 signed up by year-end.
When I spoke with indie bookstores about the Kobo program, they revealed to me that even though they were selling devices and ebooks, it wasn’t enough to make a dent in their bottom lines — yet. But they wanted to press ahead because they felt like they were doing something to fight the rising tide of Amazon and ebooks in general.
Oh Amazon, why do you always try so hard to be liked? You’re never gonna be one of the cool kids, so you may as well just give up and focus on those customers you brag about.
Brains Prefer Paper (Sorry E-books)
For those of you who are e-book enthusiasts like me, there is some news out of The Scientific American might want to make you hold onto your collection of old favorites in paper format.
Despite all the increasingly user-friendly and popular technology, most studies published since the early 1990s confirm earlier conclusions: paper still has advantages over screens as a reading medium.
Compared with paper, screens may also drain more of our mental resources while we are reading and make it a little harder to remember what we read when we are done. Whether they realize it or not, people often approach computers and tablets with a state of mind less conducive to learning than the one they bring to paper. And e-readers fail to re-create certain tactile experiences of reading on paper, the absence of which some find unsettling.
The evidence is certainly convincing. Multiple electronic media has been tested across many different ages.
Substituting screens for paper at an early age has disadvantages that we should not write off so easily. A 2012 study at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center in New York City recruited 32 pairs of parents and three- to six-year-old children. Kids remembered more details from stories they read on paper than ones they read in e-books enhanced with interactive animations, videos and games. These bells and whistles deflected attention away from the narrative toward the device itself. In a follow-up survey of 1,226 parents, the majority reported that they and their children prefer print books over e-books when reading together.
So despite the advantages of digital media: thousands of books on a single device, ability to magnify words for readers, key word search, digital bookmarks… print is still valuable to our overall cognitive learning.
Such preliminary research on early readers underscores a quality of paper that may be its greatest strength as a reading medium: its modesty.
Yet paper, unlike screens, rarely calls attention to itself or shifts focus away from the text. Because of its simplicity, paper is “a still point, an anchor for the consciousness,” as William Powers writes in his 2006 essay “Hamlet’s Blackberry: Why Paper Is Eternal.” People consistently report that when they really want to focus on a text, they read it on paper.
I don’t disagree with the author’s conclusions, so much as point out that the argument is too little, too late. While many readers switch back and forth between print and digital media, digital is on the rise. Rather than focus on how great books of the past are, perhaps we should instead focus on how to make digital books more like print. Let’s make some key changes so that we can continue to interact with books in a meaningful way.
Source (great article, btw)
It’s Never Too Early For BEA News
If you’re wishing (like me) that you could get away to BEA this year and meet the illustrious Kat Kennedy (who rumor has stated will be there for the first time ever) and her bookalicious buddy Steph Sinclair, then wet your palate with this BEA news and pretend that you’re actually going.
BookExpo America announced that it is working with Freeman Exhibit Services to offer a new pre-fab package that will reduce the overhead costs associated with traditional booth build-out to encourage new and emerging publishers to participate in the 2014 show.
This is awesome, because it means that small presses and other exhibitors might actually be able to afford a booth this year! More diversity is good for everyone.
BEA show manager Steve Rosato: “We also recognize that the cost of BEA is a barrier to entry for many small publishers.” With the low-cost turnkey booth option, show officials note that it is now less expensive to exhibit at BEA than it was 15 years ago for an equivalently sized booth.
BEA, you have my respect. Way to step up and make your conference a better place for all members of the publishing community.
Be Your Own Publisher With Expresso Book Machine
If you’re a book nerd like me, I know you’ve heard about the Expresso Book Machine—a print on demand book service that lets you go from pdf to book in hand in just minutes. After announcing a year ago that they’d be rolling out 100,000 EBMs within the year, Kodak will be pilot testing its first outside of a bookstore or library EBM at family-owned Bartell Drugs. They are a chain with 61 stores nationwide.
“This new offering from Kodak Alaris represents the latest in exciting new solutions that are relevant to our market and help us drive business in our stores,” said Howie Cohen, category manager for Bartell Drugs. “As consumers seek more ways to express themselves and create personalized products, this technology offers an exciting, accessible way for them to engage with their content, whether through words or pictures.” Added On Demand Books CEO Dane Neller, “We are very excited, through our partnership with Kodak Alaris and Bartell Drugs, to see this technology expand into new channels where more consumers can access and use it.”
Can you just imagine? Want a copy of Susan Ee’s new book World After? Print yourself a copy right now! (Oh, the dream.) For those of you who are dying to see this sucker in action, GO HERE.
Free E-books For Tumblr Users
Imagine you bought a non-fiction book online, and you read part of it, but now you’re going on vacation and space is limited. You don’t want to fork out money for another copy, but you really want to finish that book! Now also imagine that you take a picture of yourself, holding the book in question, and post it on Tumblr for the publisher to see. Wham Bam! An e-book copy gets sent to you for free!
Amazing right? Well, the University Press of Kentucky has taken it upon themselves to offer that deal to users across the United States.
Book owners can submit a photo of themselves holding a hard copy of a University Press of Kentucky book on Tumblr, and the company will send them the e-book version. The press decided to start the e-book loyalty program after recognizing that many readers who own hard copies of books might also like to own the electronic version, but don’t want to pay the additional cost for the e-book, said Mack McCormick, director of publicity.
“It’s a great way to increase brand loyalty and to increase awareness of us as a publisher,” he said.
Um, yeah, I’d say. You certainly made me stand up and take notice.
So far, readers have submitted photos of themselves holding books including How Kentucky Became Southern: A Tale of Outlaws, Horse Thieves, Gamblers, and Breeders, by Maryjean Wall; Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics, edited by Justin S. Vaughn and Lilly J. Gorenand and A Few Honest Words: The Kentucky Roots of Popular Music, by Jason Howard.
Very cool. Now, everyone go check your non-fiction books to see if you have one of the 437 titles they’re offering!
Top Book Lists Of 2013
It’s that time of year again, book lovers. Time to take stock of your reads for 2013 and give us your best and worst. (List them in the comments if you want, I’m always on the lookout for new reads!)
But maybe you didn’t have a lot of time to read this year. Maybe you’re not a super cool book blogger who probably has a nice long list of the best books of 2013. Maybe you yourself only have 2. (I read a lot of older books, okay? I mean, there are so many books written and I’m still pretty much catching up on 2012.) Have no fear! Publishers Weekly has you covered. They announced this week, their top children’s picks for the year. Some of the notable YA titles:
- The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle (Abrams/Amulet)
- Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (St. Martin’s Griffin)
- Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick (Little, Brown)
- Winger by Andrew Smith, illus. by Sam Bosma (Simon & Schuster)
They’ve got about 50 posted for each category, check them out.
Your Life In Six Words
How would you tell your life’s story if you could only use 6 words? It was a question posed in a Ted Talk by Larry Smith. Well, Larry, apparently the world has an answer and it’s in the form of a book called Don’t Make Things Complicated: Illustrated Six Word Memoirs. There are definitely some that will make you think (which is probably the point, right?). Some of them will actually make you tear up. (if you’re not made of freaking STONE)
Smith writes in the introduction:
As an autobiographical challenge, the six-word limitation forces us to pinpoint who we are and what matters most — at least in the moment. The constraint fuels rather than limits our creativity.
So what’s your 6 word memoir?
All Of Us Shake Our Heads At MacKenzie Bezos
Look, I think we all get the need to support and defend your spouse. I mean, hopefully, if you married them it’s because you actually like and respect them. But there is a time and place, people. If someone at my hubby’s workplace started spouting off, saying stuff behind his back, I’m not going to jump on Twitter and start calling people out by name. It would be a very bad idea.
Unfortunately, when the new book The Everything Store came out and put Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, in a not-so-great light, his wife took to Amazon to review the book herself and give readers insight into her husband’s side of the story.
MacKenzie Bezos, the wife of Amazon founderJeff Bezos, gave a terrible one-star review toBrad Stone‘s new book The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon on the book’s Amazon listing page.
In the review, headlined, “I wanted to like this book,” Bezos wrote, “I find way too many inaccuracies, and unfortunately that casts doubt over every episode in the book.” She goes on to explain that she has been married to Jeff for 20 years and lived through many of the events which take place in the book and accuses the author of inaccurately representing them.
Oh dear. Didn’t you learn from Emily Giffin’s husband? Nothing draws negative attention more than someone who can’t let sleeping dogs lie. Some more of her review (bold is mine for emphasis):
In light of the focus in many of the reviews here and elsewhere on what the book “reveals” about Jeff’s motives, I will also point out that the passage about what was on his mind when he decided to start Amazon is far from the only place where the book passes off speculation about his thoughts and intentions as fact. “Bezos felt…” “Bezos believed….” “Bezos wanted….” “Bezos fixated…” “Bezos worried….” “Bezos was frustrated…” “Bezos was consumed…” “In the circuitry of Bezos’s brain, something flipped…” When reading phrases like these, which are used in the book routinely, readers should remember that Jeff was never interviewed for this book, and should also take note of how seldom these guesses about his feelings and motives are marked with a footnote indicating there is any other source to substantiate them.
As you can imagine, the response was less than friendly. Some comments left on her review range from politely derisive:
Love this about Amazon, the (integrity of) reviews!
At this point only one 1-star review that belongs to you, Mrs Bezos. Zero 2-star reviews. 2/10/31 respectively 3-star, 4-star, and 5-star reviews.
So a book that is not flattering to JB still receives decent ratings and no negative ghost-reviews (ie paid). That’s integrity.
One of the more favorable reviews stated that the book lacked “good stories”. Without “good stories” (and the lack of authentic facts) it is not attractive to purchase this book.
and move from there to openly hostile:
Oh, so you give a one star because you feel you need to defend your husband? And found one factual error in a book? Please; have some self-respect. This looks to be like another case of Internet-mogul wife (Facebook) PMSing. We were better off in the times when family members kept out of their husband’s careers. It’s highly questionable what your motives are beyond self-interest.
All in all (though there are certainly supportive comments as well) it’s probably best to leave these things alone. It’s only going to result in bigger sales for the book—which Mrs. Bezos is most likely not hoping for—and more disrespect for the person who speaks out.
Rand Paul’s Quote Thievery?
Hey, remember how I said you’d have to be an absolute idiot to plagiarize in the age of the internet? Readers, meet the alleged idiot:
Sections of an op-ed Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul wrote on mandatory minimums in The Washington Times in September appear nearly identical to an article by Dan Stewart of The Week that ran a week earlier. The discovery comes amid reports from BuzzFeed that Paul plagiarized in his book and in several speeches.
As if that FAIL wasn’t bad enough, he then used the same poached quotes in a testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 16 of this year. But let’s remember, this is “alleged” and look at the quotes in question.
Here is what Dan Stewart wrote in his piece:
It’s the automatic imposition of a minimum number of years in prison for specific crimes — usually related to drugs. By design, mandatory sentencing laws take discretion away from prosecutors and judges so as to impose harsh sentences, regardless of circumstances.
Mandatory sentencing began in the 1970s as a response to a growing drug-and-crime epidemic, and over the decades has put hundreds of thousands of people behind bars for drug possession and sale, and other non-violent crimes. Since mandatory sentencing began, America’s prison population has quadrupled, to 2.4 million. America now jails a higher percentage of its citizens than any other country, including China and Iran, at the staggering cost of $80 billion a year.
And here is what Rand Paul wrote a week later (boldness is the plagiarized portion):
Mandatory-minimum sentences automatically impose a minimum number of years in prison for specific crimes — usually related to drugs. By design, mandatory-sentencing laws take discretion away from prosecutors and judges so as to impose harsh sentences, regardless of circumstances.
Since mandatory sentencing began in the 1970s in response to a growing drug-and-crime epidemic, America’s prison population has quadrupled, to 2.4 million. America now jails a higher percentage of its citizens than any other country, including China and Iran, at the staggering cost of $80 billion a year. Drug offenders in the United States spend more time under the criminal justice system’s formal control than drug offenders anywhere else in the world.
Come on, man, some of this stuff is WORD-FOR-FREAKING-WORD. And what does Senator Paul have to say? Well, pretty much the same thing that every person who plagiarized says: “It was a mistake.” “I didn’t mean to.” “I’m going to fix it.” Blah, blah, blah.
In an interview with the New York Times Tuesday, Paul admitted that he had “made mistakes” and said new procedures were being put in place to make footnotes available “if it will make people leave me the hell alone.”
“In the thousands of speeches and op-eds Sen. Paul has produced, he has always presented his own ideas, opinions and conclusions. Sen. Paul also relies on a large number of staff and advisers to provide supporting facts and anecdotes – some of which were not clearly sourced or vetted properly,” said Paul senior adviser Doug Stafford in a statement to CBSNews.com.
“Footnotes presenting supporting facts were not always used. Going forward, footnotes will be available on request. There have also been occasions where quotations or typesetting indentations have been left out through errors in our approval process. From here forward, quoting, footnoting and citing will be more complete. Adherence to a new approval process implemented by Sen. Paul will ensure proper citation and accountability in all collaborative works going forward.”
Are you kidding me with this??? You’re trying to say that it’s the fault of your STAFF? And that it’s merely a case of missing footnotes? Oh boy. Have some respect for the American public, okay? We aren’t stupid—as is evidenced by the fact that we caught you stealing work from someone else. Man up and take responsibility for your mistakes. Don’t pass the buck.
Here are some stories that I thought were interesting, but I didn’t have time to write about. Enjoy!
Gillian Berry Tells Us How To Make Readers Into YA Readers (A++ from me for including Jellicoe Road)