Category Archives: Books

Where you’ll find our catalogue of fine books (which you will purchase many copies of)

Hooray for JLP! (or "Promo Proberto: Sound Use of Your Time")

This Saturday John Llewellyn Probert can be seen at The Dracula Society’s autumn meeting in London, who are hosting “An Evening with JLP (and puppets!)”, where he shall read, be interviewed, and then the Lord & Lady Probert shall perform their little stage show again (which explains how the puppets got involved).

For those of you not in London (aka: “the Centre of All Known Culture”) that particular evening, herewith is a videographic record – complete! with colour! and sound! – of the Brighton performance of Blood on Satan’s Claw (The Pantomime), presented for your entertainment by Theatro Proberto! Thanks to Martin Roberts for his mad skillz with video production (not the least of which is his ability to shoot live on-​​stage insanity with nary a clue what’s about to happen).

Those ‘in the know’ regarding Mr. Probert’s writing will recognise this is not the first time he has attended an event of the Dracula Society’s creation. No no! He won the “Children of the Night Award” in 2006 for his collection The Faculty of Terror, which is a dashed good read (even if it was published by some other house [judgemental sniff])

But wait! There’s more JLP fun! You can also revel in his genius by reading THIS INTERVIEW over on the web-​​site Read Horror. It’s a bit of a shock, one realises. “JLP reads… [gasp!] horror?!? It’s too much to take in at once!” Yet, he does. He obviously also writes horror, watches horror, and even performs horror. Rumours of him eating and sleeping with horror have been found to be just that: baseless rumours.

JLP reads Horror!
JLP reads Horror!

I admit to finding the title of the blog Read Horror a tad counter to its aim, frankly. There not being a conjugated verb there, one takes the initial word to be presented in the imperitive, thus we are ordered to rush from the screen and locate something by Poe, Wilkie Collins, or Bram Stoker. If we are to to infer that the site itself presents horror, then we are destined to run from our computers screaming in terror. Adding the pronoun “we” at the front of the title would go a long way to explaining the people responsible for the content are afficianadoes and enthusiasts of the genre.

But, I digress…

In the future, we can look forward to more about Mr. Probert, as the chap at Professor Gruntsplatter’s Spookatorium wants Mr. Probert to read a story and provide a few comments on it. Specifically the good Professor – whose real name is Scott E. Candey, apparently – wants to hear the author “The Iconostasis of Imperfections”, which you can read along with by ordering a copy of Wicked Delights.

Meanwhile, he continues to work on his first novel (which Atomic Fez will publish), and write horror-​​film reviews which you can read on THIS BLOG (see, I told you he watches horror!).

To keep up to date with all things JLP, head to his official site RIGHT HERE.

Keep Calm and Hail Cthulhu

Something for the Week-End...?

Greetings! Two things first:

  1. the main part of the site is now iPad and Smart-​​phone compliant (the layout automagically adjusts things the smaller your screen is), as well as newly re-​​designed so that you can get where you want to easier, as well as hopefully find things you weren’t aware of in the “information” category;
  2. all of the titles have their eBooks on sale, as well as the “September Sale-​​A-​​Bration” prices being still in effect for the printed versions of most of the titles! I’m too good to you, I really am…

Now for some “less than serious” stuff.

There’s a few images in a folder I keep meaning to share with everyone that have something to do with books, or with inspiration generally. So, in a flurry of “let’s clean things up”, here’s the lot of them. Enjoy!

VCon 36, Vendor Room (via HDR technology)

This Week's Fish Wrap (№39): That Went Well, Didn't It?

Gracious me, that was fun! VCon, I mean! What’s that? You weren’t there? You didn’t LIVE THE EXCITEMENT!?!

VCon 36, Vendor Room (via HDR technology)
VCon 36, Vendor Room (via HDR technology)

Okay, no sarcasm: this really was a fun event. The energy level was really good this year, after last year’s slightly tetchy mood of grumbly “why can’t I find the room my panel is in and why are all these people ahead of me in a line-​​up for something I’m not sure I’m even interested in?” Not that last year was a disaster; far from it! Just that there seemed to be a general air of muttering around many areas (or, possibly, around areas in which I manoeuvred).

Certainly this year I enjoyed  myself more than last year,  for whatever reason that was.

Particularly fun were the panels I got to participate in.

The one which I dreaded the most was “Are You Prepared to be Published?” with EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing brainchild Brian Hades. Given the panel was set for 11 PM – Midnight, was concurrent with the dance, and a Saturday night infamous for its room parties, we anticipated an audience of three, all of whom hadn’t seen the outside world in the eight years it has taken to complete their 16-​​volume saga about space-​​exploring cats with ray-​​guns, all sitting in the front row, staring unblinking at us with intense expressions of “answer my question or I will follow you home and eat your entire garden.” Thankfully, instead we had a room of 25 people who all asked reasonably intelligent questions and were interested in the discussion without being scary enough to make me want to run screaming for my life at any point.

A happy addition to the panel was Barbara Gordon (no, not that one; the one who’s a mostly unpublished author living in Victoria). Providing the author’s perspective about the process of submitting to a publisher was a welcome one, and also something which made the variety of content more interesting. Granted, both she and her boy are a bundle of laughs, so it was good to have the warmth of them attending the panel in the first place, but dragging her up on the platform to help out was a brilliant idea and I’m glad Brian had it.

 After stumbling home – completely sober, mind you – at 1:30 AM, I then next appeared almost entirely awake at a panel the next morning at 10:00 AM called “Listen to This! Listen to This!” for which I was entirely un-​​prepared. To begin with, I hadn’t any real idea about the format of the thi9ng, for Programming never replied to my eMail asking for clarification of how much material to bring, or the degree of specificity of SF & F content desired. The three books I considered selecting material from – including Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes and an early scene in the “Gormenghast” trilogy – would have required a goodly chunk of time due to their sheer length of material, as well as a section of text either side to provide framing material for the passage. I explained the latter point to the few people there, including the white-​​haired gentleman sitting directly in front of me in the first row. He looks a tad familiar, I thought to myself, and wondering if he was in fact… and then he sat back up from putting his back-​​pack on the chair next to him, his name tag straightened out on his chest and declared that, yes indeed, I had just explained to Larry Niven that I was a complete loss when it came time to proper participation in the panel he had taken the time to attend. At one point I noticed him staring at my chest to see my name tag, then glancing into the souvenir programme’s section of biographies of those on panels, no doubt memorizing the name of the complete nit-​​wit sitting in front of him, swearing he will avoid all things connected with me henceforth.

Then again, apparently he’s got a bit of a hearing problem, so perhaps he wasn’t able to pick-​​up the conversation at that point so he decided to review the listing for the next panel.

 
British Fantasy Awards

Yes, sadly, the two categories that Atomic Fez was short-​​listed in went to other people: both the “Best Novella (2010)” and the “Best Small Press” awards. That said, getting that far with things in the first year one even qualifies for the awards is pretty dang good: long list in all of the categories but one that apply, and short-​​listing in two, is hardly something to sneeze at.

Thus, while no shiny “WINNER!” graphic gets to be placed on the site, there’s no shame being felt or soul-​​crushing disappointment hanging over the mighty laboratories of Atomic Fez Publishing.

After all, there’s always next year…

“This Week’s Fish Wrap” is an on-​​​​going series of posts summing up the news of the previous seven days in the publishing industry, and/​or announce the latest news Atomic Fez has about the publishing house, and appears here each Monday. It’s also quite possible that the posts merely serve as a dumping ground of links so that Atomic Fez Proprietor Ian Alexander Martin can find articles later to include in his occasional rants about how ‘EVERYONE ELSE IS ENTIRELY WRONG’ about various things.

DIRK DANGER LOVES LIFE, by Chris Rothe! Order your copy today!

This Week's Fish Wrap (№36): Big Discounts! More Prizes!

As a follow-​​up to last week’s post (mostly because no one was around, plus today’s post is on a Tuesday owing to yesterday’s Labour Day holiday), I’d like to take this opportunity to direct your attention to the subtle graphic above about the SEPTEMBER SALE-​​A-​​BRATION!!! that’s on right now. Did you notice it? It’s easy-​​to-​​miss, I know.

Yes, as a run-​​up to the two big events of the year – the British Fantasy Society’s “FantasyCon” in Brightin UK, as well as the West Coast Science Fiction Association-​​organized VCon in Richmond, BC – all of the printed editions of Atomic Fez books are on sale! Paperbacks for as little as $10 /​ £8, and hardbacks for just $25 /​ £15! Hooray! The same price as if you were attending the events in person without the bother of carting the books around to all of the panel discussions (although you have the postage to pay for by ordering them through the site). Get a load of all the special prices RIGHT HERE!!

DIRK DANGER LOVES LIFE, by Chris Rothe! Order your copy today!
DIRK DANGER LOVES LIFE, by Chris Rothe! Order your copy today!

In addition to the special pricing, by ordering copies of Dirk Danger Loves Life or Terribilis in their printed editions gets you in on the opportunity to win a copy of those books with the author’s personal scribbling in them!

Not only that, the difficulty of “pre-​​ordering” those titles has been thought about a bit more carefully since last week. In the UK, not only is Terribilis being done in a hardback binding for the International Edition as the North American Edition’s paperback binding, there’s a second run of Dirk Danger Loves Life that will be done in the UK shortly in addition to the North American printing that’s being done right now. So, what with both titles having a print run on each side of the Atlantic, the ‘pre-​​order’ period depends wildly due to production and delivery times wherever people happen to be.

Here’s the solution: each title gets TWO DRAWS! There’ll be a North American Draw for each of the two titles, then an International Draw for them once more. North American winners will still receive either a personalized, signed copy of either Dirk Danger Loves Life in paperback, or Terribilis in the International hardback edition, and now the “Rest of the World” will have their own opportunity to win one of each of those based on their production dates.

Hooray!

So, pre-​​order now and save some money, plus possibly win a signed copy! Plus, because you forgot to get copies when they came out originally, you can also order some other books and save on those as well! Either way, you win!

Advert for Westinghouse B&W Television (“National Geographic”, November 1965)

This Week's Fish Wrap (№31): “Sell Lots! Close Shop!” WTF?!?

“This Week’s Fish Wrap” is an on-​​​​going series of posts summing up the news of the previous seven days in the publishing industry, and appears here each Monday. It’s also quite possible that the posts merely serve as a dumping ground of links so that Atomic Fez Proprietor Ian Alexander Martin can find articles later to include in his occasional rants about how ‘EVERYONE ELSE IS ENTIRELY WRONG’ about various things.

Before we get to the ‘meat’ of the matter this week, let’s have a little something else first.

Last week may have been the first mention of Carol Weekes’ Terribilis here, but the raves are already in!

Terribilis is Incredibilis!

Carol Weekes has produced a most impressive novel with Terribilis and displays an expert mixture of great characterization and a fascinating, intricate, and very well-​​​​developed plot – and a deft touch with humor as well. I couldn’t put this novel down once I’d started it and thoroughly enjoyed it. Highly recommended – a vastly enjoyable read from a gifted author. Fans of good mysteries and “who-​​​​done-​​​​its” will love this novel.

–Norman L. Rubenstein; Macabre Musings

Terribilis combines elements of a tight police procedural mystery with all the plot-​​​​twists and chills of a knock ‘em dead suspense thriller. Fans of Dean Koontz, Michael Crichton or Linwood Barclay would be delighted to discover this novel by Weekes.

Mark Leslie, editor of “Campus Chills”

If you’re interested in learning a bit about Carol, you could scratch that itch by reading this short Q&A–style interview with her: CLICK HERE. If that’s not enough, then follow the links below to win a copy of the novel in ARC format!

Goodreads ARC Giveaway

Terribilis by Carol Weekes

Terribilis

by Carol Weekes

Giveaway ends July 192011.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

But lest you fear that Chris Rothe was getting left-​​out already, FEAR NOT!  Here’s a link to the interview with him: CLICK HERE. Then, if you so desire, head over to Goodreads and win a copy of his novel in ARC format!

Goodreads ARC Giveaway

Dirk Danger Loves Life by Chris Rothe

Dirk Danger Loves Life

by Chris Rothe

Giveaway ends July 192011.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

 

Advert for Westinghouse B&W Television (“National Geographic”, November 1965)
Advert for Westinghouse B&W Television (“National Geographic”, November 1965)

 

Sell More Books Than Ever! Close the Door Quicker, Too!

Well… poop. It seems that Borders USA is definitely not going to continue business after last week’s auction. For those of you just joining this saga, Borders USA has been battling the “Going Out of Business Sale” demons for nearly a year. Borders UK folded a couple of years ago, then the Australian version a few months ago, but the American chain looked like a solid contender for continuing life; especially when reports of Barnes & Noble were filled with stockholder revolt at its president. Thus, it seemed only a matter of time before B&N would be gone and the other players could sit back and count all that phat cash! Sadly, nope: as you’ll find from the first link there, it’s gone as of pretty much now and 11,000 people are to be laid off.

What with many independent, long term businesses finding it impossible to operate and pay ever-​​increasing costs for city property and commercial business taxes, adding the above events to the mix makes one wonder “will I ever walk into a book shop again?” When it comes to pass that, as is the case with Borders’ auction last week, no one is even interested in placing a bid for a multiple-​​location, national chain of stores – no matter what those stores happen to offer – you really have to wonder about things.

AND YET, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has sold over 2m copies in the UK alone,¹ and the latest in the “Song of Ice and Fire” series by George R.R. Martin (no relation to this publisher) has also done quite well, thank you. How in blazes can a store specializing in books go out of business when books are selling so damned well?

As noted above, yes, much of the predictable reason for this is taxes. Additional problems are the ludicrous deep discounts of popular titles, offered by non-​​bookshops such as Tesco (and see the UK article above for confirmation of that). Another retailer guilty of absurd deep-​​discounting is Amazon.com/.co.uk/.ca/.de/.fr/.jp². The one way the large publishers attempt to off-​​set the loss of revenue is the avaricious prices of the eBooks, plus ever-​​increasing RRP for titles which everyone knows will never be referred to without a massive “% OFF!!” slapped on top of it.

Part of the solution, as far as publishers are concerned, is to try and reach the readers as directly as possible, though their own web-​​sites such as you see here. However, if you’re an average reader, your first instinct is not to ask the question “who is publishing that new book by my favourite author?” but actually “does my favourite author have a new book out?” So, where does the person wanting that alleged book go to find out what the title and cost of it go…? Possibly the author’s web-​​site, but probably one of the Amazon sites. The only other location might be, oddly, their discount grocer or Brobdignagian-​​sized box of natchos retailer. that seems to be the way things are going, anyway.

Sorry, no answers here, nor even much in the way of hope, just a post to note the placing of another brick in a construction of something. I’ve no idea even what that construction is shaped like, but one does feel a tad that the final form will look a bit dreary. Blast.

Thoughts…? Hope for the future…? Anyone…? Anyone…?


¹ By the by, Bookseller.com, you need to fix the links in your e-​​mailed daily summary of articles, because the only way I could locate a link to that piece that worked was using the Publishers Weekly newsletter’s link that they got via Twitter somehow. [ BACK  ]

² …and soon to add Australia to the mix, apparently; just in time to wave good bye to the last Borders Aus/​NZ sign to be removed! [ BACK  ]

Spot for Gillette Razors (“Vancouver Sun”, 1932, March 9)

This Week's Fish Wrap (№30): Win Books & “The Media” [UPDATED]

“This Week’s Fish Wrap” is an on-​​​​going series of posts summing up the news of the previous seven days in the publishing industry, and appears here each Monday. It’s also quite possible that the posts merely serve as a dumping ground of links so that Atomic Fez Proprietor Ian Alexander Martin can find articles later to include in his occasional rants about how ‘EVERYONE ELSE IS ENTIRELY WRONG’ about various things.

In my continuing effort to understand story editing, have a broader awareness of popular culture, and possess a greater recognition of story tropes, the viewing of films continues. Head to THIS LINK, head to the very end of the images, then click the first of the three relevant posters to discover how yesterday’s marathon viewing of the Star Wars ‘prequel’ of Episodes I – III were greeted. “Phah!” is the best summation, really.

Meanwhile, “News of Atomic Fez Authors and Their Works” again starts us off this week, as it did last time! Both of their books are available in eBook format right now, with North American editions arriving in paperback edition come November or so. You can get details of all that by clicking the covers of the books below.

Chris Rothe's “Dirk Danger Loves Life”Carol Weekes’ novel “Terribilis”Chris Rothe, the author of Dirk Danger Loves Life [cover, left] is on Goodreads now! You can link-​​up with him using THIS LINK if you so wish.

Should you have a desperate desire (or even merely an idle curiosity) to know more about the man, then HEAD HERE to read the short interview /​ Q&A with him.

If this has sufficiently piqued your interest, HEAD HERE to win an “Advance Reading Copy” of Dirk Danger Loves Life by Chris Rothe.

If you would rather win an Advance Reading Copy of Terribilis by Carol Weekes [cover, right], then you should immediately HEAD HERE to do that. You could even do that if you wanted to win a copy of that in addition to the book by Mr. Rothe! Isn’t ‘freedom’ a wonderful thing, citizen?

If you’d rather show your support of their efforts in a financial fashion, you can buy the eBook version of their titles right now: click the covers on either side of this section, then click the little orange button on the top right. Just as soon as the ePUB file is ready for release to the world, you’ll be e-​​mailed a link to a ZIP file containing that, plus two more DRM–free eBook files (which ought to happen in about two weeks or so, hopefully sooner).

 

Thoughts on the Growing Media Frenzy; Both Social and Journalistic

The past week has been filled with a number of things that have either driven you mad with anxiety or made you want to punch someone for mentioning something you’re already tired of hearing about. Let’s have a look at some topics, shall we (and I’ll try not to trigger any punching instincts in anyone)?

  • Google seems bent on dominating the entire world through two things announced this week
    • Google Plus (or, if you prefer: Google+)
    • a Google-​​branded eReader
  • Rupert Murdoch’s Nerws of the World folded yesterday after being accused of hacking mobile phone accounts of various people
  • Kai Nagata quit his job as a journalist with Global Media in their Québec bureau

Google’s ‘branded’ e-​​book reader (learn about that here) will, no doubt, also interact with Google+ (which, if you’re wondering what the fuss is about and should you care, then here’s a quick look, or you can head here, or possibly here instead).This is intriguing for a couple of reasons, the first being that now people will actually start using the on-​​line Google Reader material; secondly because they’ve never put their name on a piece of equipment before (other than server racks for people who wanted to do in-​​house heavy-​​duty searching, which I’ve never understood the need for).  The unit is made by iRiver, but they’re putting a little logo on the unit (which resembles a Kindle) so that you get reminded to use the services of the company so ubiquitous their name is now a verb.

Spot for Gillette Razors (“Vancouver Sun”, 1932, March 9)
Spot for Gillette Razors (“Vancouver Sun”, 1932, March 9)

Meanwhile, they’re getting into the ‘business’ of social media with what some call a “Facebook killer”, or a “Twitter killer”, or a “Facebook and Twitter killer”; but the best description is probably “a work-​​day killer” because after setting up my personal account I’ve never had so many browser tabs open at once, or got so far into the day without actually accomplishing anything of substance. So, basically, it’s like both Facebook and Twitter, but with more words and pictures than the latter and more ease of use than the former. At some point later this year there will be an Atomic Fez presence on Google+, but here’s the reason why there’s not one right now. Also, if you’re a writer, this might be a better thing for you than you’ve found either Facebook or Twitter to be thus far; read this for some thoughts (WARNING: even the name of the blog is sweary).

And then there’s this whole journalism question being bandied about. Many started thinking about it due to the News of the World finally getting dragged up on the carpet about mobile phones (but they’ve been unscrupulios for years, so one should hardly be surprised at this), and then it was the turn of the guy covering the Québec legislature for Global News who has said what everyone has been avoiding admitting publicly for years: that news media is doing it all wrong and the tail is now leading the dog about by the nose. He explained it all in words of one syllable on his blog Friday, and apparently everyone in the world has now read it twice.Mostly he quit his job because he realized he wasn’t able to feel comfortable with not saying what he felt ought to be said, but the underlying cause of that was the inherent, non-​​functioning nature of the news media today. As far as I’m concerned the start to fixing things is getting Rick Mercer to do a week night show in the same format as either the Colbert Report or The Daily Show, and start taking shots at the politicians and news personalities when they screw up. It’s not the solution, but it’s a part of one.

If the topic of “do we really need news as ‘entertainment’, or should it principally inform and initiate thought” interests you at all, however, here’s Spin Cycles, which has got to be some of the most intelligent and worth-​​while information on the media today. It’s not the be-​​all-​​and-​​end-​​all in the topic, but it’s good enough to start you thinking about things clearly enough as a jumping-​​off point. Go there. Download the files using the link on each episodes’ description page, and become a better informed person. Critical thinking is an important tool to reading both fiction and non-​​fiction, and knowing the difference betwixt them.

UPDATED: here’s a response to Kai Nagata, titled “Why I Didn’t Quit My Job” by a Vancouver print journalist CLICK HERE

 

'Lorem Ipsum Dolor' Just Got a Tad Yummier

Who needs boring old ‘placeholder text’ that’s doggerel Latin based on an 18th century manuscript when you can have ‘placeholder text’ that includes bacon? No really: HEAD HERE and you’ll get 5 paragraphs of “all-​​meat” text to paste into your layout for whatever design purpose you have. Here’s a sample of what that means:

Magna eiusmod ex, bresaola ad brisket meatloaf pancetta cillum. Jowl beef ribs swine jerky t-​​bone. Esse sirloin excepteur pork chop id in, bacon short ribs pig rump strip steak. Laboris shoulder reprehenderit excepteur, t-​​bone meatball est sed pork belly beef ribs ullamco turkey sirloin boudin. Jowl strip steak cow, ground round ball tip pork chop ea beef. Andouille pork pastrami, voluptate meatloaf sirloin jowl ground round id pancetta pork chop ullamco. Short loin consequat aliquip, sirloin consectetur quis officia pariatur salami cow flank commodo adipisicing do.

Head to the bottom of that page and you can specify a different number of paragraphs, as well as whether you want some filler included with your yummy meat, or if you want to start with  the words ‘Bacon ipsum dolor sit amet…’ and then carry on with meat or a meat mixture. Yes, anything goes better with Bacon!!™

CLICK HERE to see the official announcement of this (new tab)

This Week's Fish Wrap (№29): Short Lists & Short Wizards

“This Week’s Fish Wrap” is an on-​​​​going series of posts summing up the news of the previous seven days in the publishing industry, and appears here each Monday. It’s also quite possible that the posts merely serve as a dumping ground of links so that Atomic Fez Proprietor Ian Alexander Martin can find articles later to include in his occasional rants about how ‘EVERYONE ELSE IS ENTIRELY WRONG’ about various things.

 

Tiny, One-Man Band in Burnaby Twice Makes Short-List in Far-Away United Kingdom

CLICK HERE to see the official announcement of this (new tab)Well now, this is the way we like to start the week ‚wot?

Not just a British Fantasy Society’s Short-​​List nod for Andrew Hook’s Ponthe Oldenguine in the “Best Novella”, but also a position in the short-​​list for “Best Small Press” for Atomic Fez itself! HUZZAH!

CLICK HERE to get more details and order copies (new tab)Considering the full list of those being considered was massive – and yes, everyone says the next bit, but it’s honestly true – just getting on the list of the “best five” is an achievement-and-a-half.Considering that Atomic Fez is based 13 of the way around the planet to the west of the United Kingdom, and it gets even more amazing. “Right chuffed” is the way the entire offices of Atomic Fez feel just now.

…okay, it’s just me, but all of me feels that way.

While Mr. Hook’s is the only single title to be recognized, obviously the hard-​​work of all the authors in 2010 making their books as good as can be has been noticed, as the publishing house itself has been ‘short-​​listed’ for “Best Small Press”. Thus, the collective effort by all of the authors over the previous year is what made the “Best Small Press” inclusion possible for this publisher. Hooray for all of them as well!

 

Old School Magic-User Goes New-Age High Tech with 'Pottermore'

Right, so we’re probably all sick of hearing about this by now, but let’s step back and brush aside the NEW! EXCITING! HOOPLA! portions of the coverage so far. Yes, the stories are finally available in e-​​Book format, and that’s grand. This ought to mark the way the young folks get hooked on the format now, as well as getting a fresh generation of readers’ eyes staring at the tales already beloved by young & old. All very good, but this was bound to happen with the Harry Potter… stories; and if they don’t hook the young ones, then some story series will do it eventually.

But, as Olivia Solon of The Telegraph pointed out on the 23rd, there’s more to this than meets the eye of just a new format. I’ve said time and time again that e-​​Books are the new and better version of the Mass Market Paperback (better because there’s no shipping cost, no paper wasted, and the RRP is less than printed copies), and that’s all essentially what this is, according to the typical “we’ve got 45 seconds to cover this” media. Lots of copies of the books have been sold in paper, now they’ll be sold electronically as well so that the piratical sites will no longer have PDF copies to shove at those with no money or the willingness to part with some.

But…

We're shakin’ up publishing like The Pastors were shakin’ up Vegas!
We’re shakin’ up publishing like The Pastors were shakin’ up Vegas!

There’s more on offer over at that site of Ms Rowling’s. You will not only have available the books as already released, you’ll have bonus materials as well, just as movies have been offered for quite some time with DVD Extras. She’s apparently written another 18,000 words to expand the information on characters and settings. Additionally, there’s an on-​​line forum to supplement the already extant ones such as “Mugglenet” and permit a central location for people to share their love of Potter arcana. Part of the appeal here is the addition of ‘official extras’ such as being sorted into houses, wand selection, and so on. All of this combined makes it possible for people to scratch their wizardry itch without feeling odd about going to some fringe-​​like message board filled with wackos and repressed adults; this is, after all, a professional and commercial site.

The chief lesson to be learned here is twofold:

  1. you can do it yourself (the rights to the electronic versions are reportedly held exclusively by the author)
  2. you can do more than merely reproduce the words on paper electronically

Mike Cane has repeated called for e-​​Books to do more than merely provide words, but until the tablet came along, it was damned difficult to provide anything fancy, what with a forest of operating systems making cross-​​platform guaranteed delivery of anything nigh-​​on impossible. What with the iPad, Galaxy Tab, and a whole bunch of others operating on three solid programming standards, all should be possible in the new, post-​​PC world of equipment. When you’ve got something as basic as a web-​​browser available (two models of the Barnes and Noble “Nook” can be easily ‘hacked’ to make it live, and even the new Kobo Touch has one if you know simply drill down through the settings to activate it), you’ve got the possibility of audio supplements, video, e-​​mail, coupons, and who knows what else? No, it’s not going to be something you see everyone doing, but if you’ve got source material such as a young wizard, how do you not take advantage of the magical possibilities?  Ms Rowling’s team had started including these sorts of this a years ago, and the tablet revolution was not nearly begun as yet.

Also not yet begun was the Apple v. Big Publisher battle for an open approach to customer data. The idea of them fighting over the 30% of the RRP as the main issue is a joke. Any bookstore that sells copies of authors’ works gets at least that in return for making the book available. Apple could have charged far more, and would be in the same league as Amazon.com, who gets anywhere up to 60% off the RRP for stocking popular books (which is why they can then sell them at such insane sale prices, and destroy your local bookshops in the process). No doubt many executives in New York City and London were relieved to hear it was only 30% that the Cupertino-​​based Apple was expecting for inclusion of catalogues in the iBook Store.

The real desirable thing is the data: customers’ ages, locations, and so on. By creating her own site – or ‘platform’, as the marketing people will chirp – Ms. Rowling has kept everything in her control, and can market directly to her customer base in a broader way possible than were it merely a fan base. This is far more influential to the market, in my view, as this really takes the last of the power from the oligarchical publishing model of the previous centuries. not only can the author write and publish their own works in the same way as an independent band might, they now have a model to provide far more than one form of limited content to their customers.

We all need to challenge ourselves to ‘work harder’. How else can we reach people? How else can we entertain them? How else can we do all of that and maintain the quality of work – in whatever form it takes – and make things exciting and fresh whilst making it worth someone’s time and hard-​​earned money?

These truly are the most revolutionary times since Caxton and Gutenberg.

This Week's Fish Wrap (№28)

This evening’s Shebeen Club event in Vancouver with Stephen Quinn causes me to think about a book read some time ago Flat Earth News, by Nick Davies. The things that become this week’s fish-​​wrap may have been last week’s news, but they seem to acquire the the first mentioned state far more quickly these days, and one has to wonder why that is.

While Mr. Quinn is not a newspaper man, he is – first and foremost – a journalist. The book by Mr. Davies is about journalism, and the dearth of it in the papers found principally in London, but not exclusively so. Being a regular writer for The Guardian, his expertise lies in the output of Fleet Street rather than elsewhere, and thus he devotes much of his book to the state of British journalism in its newspapers as well as the BBC News web-​​site. It’s a fascinating read and highly recommended for people who think.

First, however, let’s have one thing clear from the outset: this is not about how some minority group or secret committee is controlling the world and /​ or the media. While there may be decisions made about things by groups we know nothing about (that’s why they’re ‘secret groups’ after all), it’s all too easy to shuffle off one’s responsibility for not doing anything to change things by blaming an anonymous ‘powerful individuals’. Here’s an H.L. Menken quote included in the book (p. 395) which goes some way to explain how this sort of thinking can be rubbish:

…the central belief of every moron is that he is the victim of a mysterious conspiracy against his rights and true deserts … [He] ascribes all his failures to get on in the world, all of his congenital incapacity damfoolishness, to the machinations of werewolves assembled in Wall Street or some other such den of infamy.

This book is specifically about how there are few, if any, people in control of the media. While many reporters and editors find all too frequently that they aren’t able to do the fact-​​checking they wish to — and are frustrated at the situation’s stasis — they aren’t the cause of it through lack of initiative; they simply haven’t the time. According to the staggeringly persuasive argument of author Nick Davies, the newspapers of the UK are essentially now all owned by people who have little interest in publishing newspapers containing journalism. What these individuals are principally concerned with is simply ‘selling copies of the paper each and every day, and the more the better.’ This quantity over quality approach is why they are termed “the Grocers” by Mr. Davies.

Cover art of “Flat Earth News” by Nick Davies
Cover art of “Flat Earth News” by Nick Davies

Certainly, any business must be operated with an eye to profit v. loss. However, there is so much an avoidance of idealism towards the media’s content, that the readers are being under-​​served to the point of unconscionable delivery of falsity on the part of the various persons responsible for the media outlets’ content.

While the book focuses much of its time upon the newspapers of London – including entire chapters each devoted to the Sunday Times, the Observer, and both the Daily and Sunday Mail newspapers – the problems and trends can all be recognized as being world-​​wide in scope. The newspapers of North America are, thankfully, prevented from out-​​right lying about individuals in print, owing to a reversal of the onus of proof in legal arguments here, when compared to the UK. That said, the habit of reporting quickly and loudly, then correcting slowly and quietly, is one which no legal or regulatory procedure can effectively prevent.

The other worrisome trend is the one first identified in the book: things being simply repeated from the texts of Media Releases without any effort to confirm that there is any validity within them, or even if they contain amplified – or ‘sexed up’, to use the UK Government’s term about the Iraqi WMD reports – versions of the truth which is then responsible for a snowball effect of panic about the subject in question; which then is fed-​​back into (EG: Iranian Elections get dropped to cover Michael Jackson’s death) or someone is able to stop the thing by explaining that it’s simply not true in the slightest and we can all relax now (EG: the nullification of the principle of habeas corpus in the USA is only applied to the cases of those naughty terrorists).

The fact that this book doesn’t cover is the recent development of newspapers closing due to financial decisions by their owners, despite any budget restraints they may have imposed prior to the shut-​​down. It would be fascinating to know what Mr. Davies’ views of the ‘new media platform’ might do to return journalists to the forefront of the delivery of facts. He suggests late in the book that an over-​​haul of newspapers is required, with the probable method of delivery being some sort of display screen.

Read this book, not to begin seeing some Secret Star-​​Chamber Cabal controlling the World’s fate, but in order to see that there is an ordinary group of men frantically pulling levers behind the curtain so as to continue making the Great Oz of the Media just as impressive and seemingly required as ever before.

Flat Earth News: An Award-​​Winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media by Nick Davies; PP 420 (including index), ISBN: 9780099512684; 2nd Edition published in 2009 by Vintage, an imprint of Random House, London, SW1V

All TALKING! All THINKING! ALL HOUR LONG!

Hear the Publisher's Voice!

This Week’s Fish-​​Wrap is preempted, owing to just about anything covered by that that being easily covered in tomorrow’s event, exciting details of which are below.

All TALKING! All THINKING! ALL HOUR LONG!
All TALKING! All THINKING! ALL HOUR LONG!

Tomorrow at 17:00 PDT (or 20:00 EDT, or barely into Wednesday at 00:00 GMT) I’ll be interviewed on Blog Talk Radio with Wayne Herlbert. In addition to the possibility I’ll mention an up-​​coming title or two, here’s what he’s claiming I’ll talk about:

Independent book publisher and President of Atomic Fez Publishing, Ian Alexander Martin, shares his views on current and future trends in the publishing industry. Ian describes the challenges facing publishers in the current economy and with the rapid changes taking place in the publishing industry. Ian shares his thoughts on genre busting fiction, developing a niche market for specific titles, and how an author can get published in today’s highly competitive marketplace. Ian also offers some advice for successful online book marketing including some very unique and unexpected tactics for which Atomic Fez has become famous.

Frankly, I’m not so sure about the belief that “Atomic Fez Publishing has become famous”, but I’m hardly going to dissuade him at this point.

The interview is an hour long, so I’ll have to work at being briefer than normal. More than likely, about half-​​way through we’ll get far off the subject and start debating the various advantages of tea-​​making techniques. Also possible is comparing of the cinematic visions of  Akira Kurosawa v. Francis Ford Coppola or Terry Gilliam v. Orson Welles.

It’s also entirely likely that we’ll talk about books. You never know.

  • STREAMING LIVE: Tuesday, May 31st at 5PM Pacific /​ 8PM Eastern /​ 00:00 GMT (Midnight at the start of Wednesday): CLICK HERE

UPDATED: and we’re done! For those of you who missed it, head TO THIS PAGE and click the little button on the player to start the 66 minute babble. Or, if you’re into that sort of thing and would rather download it and play it as a podcast, HERE’S A LINK FOR THAT.

Cover of “Modern Mechanix” (July, 1935)

This Week's Fish Wrap (№25)

“This Week’s Fish Wrap” is an on-​​going series of posts summing up the news of the previous seven days in the publishing industry, and appears here each Monday. It’s also quite possible that the posts merely serve as a dumping ground of links so that Atomic Fez Proprietor Ian Alexander Martin can find articles later to include in his occasional rants about how ‘EVERYONE ELSE IS ENTIRELY WRONG’ about various things.

 

New Kobo Touch-Screen Model Announced Today

Discovered by accident by me, head over to Kobo’s site to see a brand-​​new touch-​​screen model of their eReader. The big, square, navigation button is gone, you turn pages by swiping your finger across the screen the same way you would with a printed book, the power button is now a toggle switch, and you can scroll through the book using a slider control so you can jum tp the middle of the book without having to guess at chapter numbers. As the Kobo still allows the user to load their own files on it, borrow books from the library on it, and several other things the Kindle doesn’t, they may very well have finally found their mass-​​market break-​​though device.

  • Kobo Blog: “The Rumours are True! Kobo Launches the The Kobo eReader Touch Edition Today” | CLICK HERE
  • Kobo; “The Kobo eReader Touch Edition – Amazing New Touch Experience” | CLICK HERE

 

Kindle eBook Sales Exceed Number of Books Ever Printed in History of World

Seemingly, the only thing on anyone’s mind in the past seven days – unless they were discussing the prediction that the Lord would end His Humans: Can They Be Trusted? lab-​​test – was the announcement by Amazon that they sold more copies of books in an electronic format than all printed format books combined. The most impressive part of it is that this does not include the free books offered in the Kindle store, but only those purchased for actual retail values.

  • The Wall Street Journal; “Amazon: Kindle Books Outselling Print Copies” | CLICK HERE
  • Engadget; “Kindle books officially take over print sales at Amazon, pulp starts making retirement plans” | CLICK HERE
  • TeleRead; “Kindle e-​​books outselling print books on Amazon” | CLICK HERE
  • The BookSeller.com; “Amazon.co.uk selling twice as many Kindle books as hardbacks” | CLICK HERE
Cover of “Modern Mechanix” (July, 1935)
Cover of “Modern Mechanix” (July, 1935)

Thus, eBooks have passed another milestone. While this is greater in quantifiable achievement than most of the previous ones, can it be seen as anything more significant than previous ones? Until now, the biggest headlines were “more eBooks were sold than copies of books in _​_​_​_​_​ format” in the US market (the UK market still has eBooks only out-​​selling hardbacks), so declaring that ‘eBooks have finally arrived’ is still a tough call. Amazon’s declaration is important, as well as sufficient to put to rest any suggestions of a 21st century variety of a hula-​​hoop, but it is imperative to keep in mind the limitation of the source: Amazon®. While not denigrating the retail company, nor calling into question the veracity of their statements, one does have to remember that they are not the entire book market; albeit a damned large part of it.

Amazon does, for one thing, make and sell a device called the Kindle™. You may have heard of it. In my opinion, it is the device that will be seen as revolutionizing the way eBooks were perceived, shifting them away from a way to read a book that would only be contemplated by residents of their parents’ basement. Suddenly, with the Kindle, people were admitting that they were not only reading again, they found they were reading more books than normal, because they had constant access to a seemingly endless supply of them. Only the USA had this all-​​you-​​can-​​eat buffet-​​style of book selection on the Kindle at first, as it was the only nation that was connected to the bespoke WI-​​FI network used by Amazon. Still, no matter where people were, they were entranced by the idea that someone sitting next to them in a café could recommend a particular title and it was possible to purchase a copy of it right then, so as to not stand in the middle of a book store with endless rows of shelves filled with books and think what was the name of that damned book again? to then turn and walk out of the place without buying a thing having only acquired a feeling of frustration and embarrassment that one still had not mastered the simple task of “writing the damned title and author’s name down at the time”.

The effectiveness of the adoption of the Kindle is the driving force behind the statistic mentioned above. However, remember that this same statistic is limited to that device, and thus cannot be expanded to suggest that the eBook is outselling printed books everywhere. Other factors such as ‘are the accumulated totals of books sold in any format larger or smaller than this time last year?’ or even ‘are there more people buying books, or are there fewer people buying more books than previously?’ are not brought up, at least in the Amazon marketplace.

It’s readily apparent that eBooks are forming a greater part of both the market and income for publishers and retailers alike. Simon & Shuster recently announced that they were represented 18% of their total global sales in the first quarter of this year [CLICK HERE], and this was during a period that revenues increased 2% to $155m.

This increased preference for eBooks also carries across the board, with the UK Publishers Association stating in its 2010 yearbook that the digital market is now worth 6% of UK publishers’ sales, with consumer digital sales up more than 300% in 2010 to £16m [CLICK HERE]. The most impressive aspect of this is that it represents the third year of treble digit growth, with e-​​book sales now standing at £13m for those publishers included in the study, and they estimated that including those publishers not included in the PA yearbook panel brought the digital consumer market close to £20m for last year [ibid].

To discover what evils eBooks do not contain, as well learning about the rest of the eBook phenomenon, CLICK HERE to read the first of the 6-​​part series “E-​​Books: Calming the E-​​Terror of Book Lovers”.

Clearly, the future of the eBook – I was told it was “a solution to a problem which doesn’t exist” only a few years ago – is seen by many as promising. One of the keys to the recent bid for purchase of the American retailer Barnes & Noble is its ‘Nook’ device [CLICK HERE]. Indeed, John Malone, who made a fortune in cable television, is offering $1 billion for the retailer at a risky time: the №2 in the market, Borders Group Inc., is clinging to the edge with its fingernails.

I’m all for the electronic binding format, and have been an advocate of them from the inception of Atomic Fez Publishing. All of the titles Atomic Fez publishes are in electronic form as well as printed format, and soon will be making a novel available in electronic format in advance of a printed format version. When the number of electronic books exceed the number of printed books at Amazon, I am pleased: eBooks are less costly to purchase, more of the RRP goes to the author, nearly nothing is added to the growing effects of Climate Change, and the democratization of learning and literature is advanced considerably due to the greatly reduced cost to purchase the books in electronic form for everything is now a mass market paperback in essence.

I’ve been saying for years that this is the smartest position for people to consider the eBook in is as the MMP; suddenly, others are thinking the same [CLICK HERE]. Now that the ‘acceptability’ of the format is seen as valid in areas where it serves a need better than its printed siblings, the next hurdle is to get rid of the reason it can’t service the needs in other areas reliably: Digital Rights Management that basically screws everything up in ways that make eBooks less useful than printed ones [CLICK HERE]. The whole point of changing from one way of doing anything to another one is that the newer format should – nay must – be easier, faster, cheaper, and/​or better than the earlier one; if it’s not, then it is nothing but change for the mere sake of it. DRM prevents this coming to pass, and serves no actual purpose of protecting anyone’s interests in real ways.

Have eBooks ‘arrive’ with this new sales figure? Probably not, no. But it is another solid step in the process of the ‘new reality’ which is the most earth-​​shaking one in the publishing trade since Gutenberg started putting little blocks of wood into a frame.

What about you? Are you the owner of an eReader? Do you like it? Do you use it more than you thought? If you don’t own one, do you think you might buy one at some point? What ability would a device need to have to make you change your mind?