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Archive for February, 2010

Publishers have been experimenting with a lot of things in regards to ebooks to find out what works best for them. This has been seen in pricing, free offers, and release dates, among other things. In 2009 a few books had delayed release dates. In 2010 some publishers decided to try a more comprehensive delayed ebook program for certain titles. (Usually titles they expect to be big sellers.)

I’m a huge Kim Harrison fan and her latest book in the Hollows Series, Black Magic Sanction, is my most anticipated book so far for 2010. That title is one that Harper Collins/Eos has decided to delay by about a month and a half.

Kim provided a special page at her blog to allow her readers to make their opinions known that she would then pass on to her editor. Since I already took the time to write up my comments on her page, I figured I might as well also make them available here.

This is what I wrote:

I’ve never been a hardcover reader, I always waited for mass market editions. So in that respect, waiting for a delayed ebook release is just going back to the old way of doing things and while frustrating, is acceptable.

An ebook delay will not get me to buy a hardcover instead, which seems to be one of the purposes of delaying. I simply don’t think they’re comfortable to read, and now that I have a Kindle I don’t enjoy reading paper books of any type anymore. E-readers are just better with the adjustable font, dictionary, auto-bookmarking, and ease of holding. (No more hand and wrist pain trying to keep a stiff-spined paperback open, and no more tilting the book trying to read print that goes into the spine!)

For the larger picture though, while I think I grasp the reasoning behind ebook delays, I think in the end publishers are shooting themselves in the foot and are doing a disservice to their authors. A lot of books are impulse purchases based on the buzz around a new title release. This is especially true for ebooks because purchasing is just a button click away, rather than having to make a special trip to a bookstore. Some ebook readers still buy paper books, especially if they collect editions from a favorite author. But a significant percentage, perhaps even the majority, of ebook converts don’t buy paper books anymore, at least not when there is or will be an ebook edition.

What all this means is that there is a significant opportunity lost when an ebook is delayed. People who are fans of the author will wait and buy. But the impulse buyers, the not-yet confirmed fans, or those going by recommendations from friends lose the moment with a delay. They may put the book on a wishlist to consider later once the ebook is out. But by then they may have lost interest. Or people simply forget by the time the ebook comes out. They’re buying other books by then instead.

There are also a couple other things to consider. One is exemplified by The Lost Symbol. Originally the ebook was going to be delayed. If it had been many sales would have been lost because by the time the delayed date would have come around many people would have decided not to purchase the book based on the negative and lukewarm reviews. A delay allows negative word of mouth to impact sales.

The other is exemplified by Game Change. That’s a hot topic, current events type of book. In the case of that title, the ebook was actually delayed. The problem is, by the time the ebook is released all the juicy stuff has already been blogged about, reviewed, and discussed in TV appearances and on shows. Many, many people who had pre-ordered the ebook canceled those orders before the ebook release date. They felt they either already knew what they wanted to know or had completely lost interest because the book is no longer a hot topic and the buzz is dying down.

Ebook delays also tend to encourage people to borrow books from the library instead of buying. One of the most common reasons people get an e-reader is because they have no more room to store paper books. If they want to read the book before the ebook release date and they don’t want to bring a paper book into the home, the library is their best option.

Delays have the potential to lose many sales. I believe it will be proven that the lost ebook sales are not made up in increased hardcover sales. These lost sales only hurt the authors of the delayed ebooks. While ebook sales are still a barely noticeable percentage of book sales as a whole, that is quickly changing, with ebook sales rising at an unbelievable rate over the last two years. With the publishing industry suffering I think that means that everything possible should be done to use ebooks to their best advantage and get the most from them. It’s good for the publishers, it’s good for the authors, and it’s good for the readers.

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If you are a Harrison fan and would like to make your thoughts known, feel free to go to her blog and add your comments as well. In terms of etiquette, please don’t spam her page with rants or comments if you’re not a fan, that would be abusing her kindness. Instead contact publishers directly at their websites. Thank you.  Here’s the link:

Kim Harrison’s Blog Ebook Delay Comments/Vents

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So, everyone has a favorite movie that others just don’t “get”, right? There are whole cults of appreciation that have grown up around some obscure and bad movies. But for the most part it’s an individual thing. I suppose there are some people out there, maybe they don’t like movies very much or have very strict tastes, who don’t have a list of secret, guilty loves.

But I’m not one of them. There are actually quite a few movies that I have loved for some reason or another that would make an erudite movie critic roll their eyes if mentioned in a loving manner. Robin and Marian from 1976 is one of them.

Robin and Marian wasn’t completely panned by critics and I have quite a bit of company in other viewers who have a warm place in their heart for the movie. But it only has about a 60% favorable rating at Rotten Tomatoes and the IMDB. It’s a flawed movie that has moments of humor and beauty that overwhelm the flaws. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve always loved the Robin Hood legend either.

In the movie Sean Connery plays an aging Robin Hood, finally returned to England after twenty years, opposite Audrey Hepburn’s aging Marian. There is something magical about their performances, especially in their scenes together. Robin and Marian’s love for each other is palpable, and exquisitely portrayed in Marian’s final speech of the movie.

The script for the movie is uneven, but has some great lines, especially the humor. One of my favorites is when Marian, who had been living as a nun for the previous twenty years, mentions that her confessions were the envy of the convent.

I think the movie does a great job of providing a fairly realistic portrayal of medieval life. It’s hard, dirty, and has little to do with people parading around in fancy, romantic costumes ala Camelot (which I also love by the way). There is a great duel between Robin and his old nemesis the sheriff of Nottingham, played by Robert Shaw. There’s no amazing fight choreography with flashing blades and intricate footwork (as fun as those are to watch!). It’s a brutal, exhausting fight with heavy swords and armor.

But mostly what I love about the movie is Audrey Hepburn as Marian. I was only fourteen when the movie was released and at that age had not had any thoughts yet that I might be a lesbian. As proof of how oblivious I was, I came away from the movie being madly in love with Hepburn’s portrayal of Marian, but I didn’t realize it. At least, not on a conscious level. Yet I do remember thinking how breathtaking she was, how she seemed to glow with an inner light up there on the big screen as she talked about her past with Robin and her love for him.

I just watched the movie again last week. I saw a DVD copy for only six bucks in the grocery store so of course had to get it. I thought maybe time would have changed how I felt about the movie, since the last time I saw it was probably a couple decades ago. But I was just as enchanted as when I originally saw it with my movie buddy in junior high, and just as in love with Marian. But that shouldn’t be too surprising since Hepburn was glorious in just about every movie she made.

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