NOTHING TO DO WITH "BLACK FRIDAY" OR "CYBER MONDAY"

The title is as it is due to just about anyone I’ve come across in the last little while being well and truly tired of hearing either of those phrases. If you’re in Canada, a close third is “Grey Cup”, or “Presidential Election” if you’re in the USA, or any use of the words “phone hacking” if you’re in the UK. So let’s move on before we all acquire a case of the dry heaves, shall we?

Ah… the open, airy, spacious experience that is the new paragraph… ahhhhhhh.

This is a bit of a “catch-​​up”, “bits and/​or bobs*  which got missed”, word about some “new stuff”, plus a bit of news about pricing.

First: NEW STUFF!

Let’s say, for some reason, you think the world of Atomic Fez, and love it so much you’d like to declare to the world your support of it. How might one do this, you ask yourself? Why, by ordering something with the mighty logo of Atomic Fez Publishing, that’s how! Shirts, mugs, bags, caps, beer steins, glasses, hip flasks, cocktail shakers, even “unmentionables” for both ladies and gentlemen!

There’s two shops on the interwebs, in order to increase your options for the sake of flexibility.

So if you are already thinking of getting one of Uncle Warren Ellis’s shirts on Café Press, there are options for Atomic Fez to add to your order and make your shipping charge go farther.

On the other hand  If you don’t want to tell people that “Warren Ellis put his disease in me”, then you can head to the Spread Shirt store and fill your life with all sorts of Atomic Fez stuff! I’ve not yet located other worthwhile things in Spread Shirt. No doubt they are there, they just haven’t been found by me yet. 

Here’s the two options: 

Spread Shirt

or

Café Press

 

So… there you are.

New Books Fully Available!

CLICK for details of this titleAfter some nagging and sorting and more nagging and some payment of bills, there are the full range of both The Designated Coconut and The House That Death Built available in the shop (click the cover images or the titles for the particular pages).

While the print runs for the North American market won’t be done until the spring of next year, those of you in Canada or the United States of America can order copies today if you just can’t wait until then for your very own copy, you’ll just have to pay the shipping cost for the extra distance to your address from the United Kingdom (which, honestly, isn’t that much or a rise in charge). 

CLICK for details of this titleIf you prefer your books to be electronic, however, WAIT NO LONGER! as those editions are available in all three flavours: locally sourced, the international Kobo store, or your nation’s Kindle Store (there’s seven to choose from)! All are available now, just remember that the most money ends up in the hands of authors with the “direct from Atomic Fez” option, and you can still load those on any device you own that displays eBooks, and they’re always DRM-​​free for your technological and “future-​​proof” convenience. The authors thank you for supporting their ability to have real roofs under which to eat actual food (greatly increased health has resulted in extensive lab testing when including both these things in a writer’s environment).

Most Prices Newly Reduced!

After some time has passed after initial excitement over a title, people need a little incentive to re-​​awaken their interest in a book they might have passed over initially. Thus, some alterations on some prices for earlier titles in a rather downward direction (IE: old books cost less). Also, the new books available here are at special “direct from the publisher” prices, even when brand new.

The third thing that’s changed is the “one penny less than a full, round number” is gone. Honestly, who are we kidding here? Yes, there’s the famous idea of if it’s priced at $19.99 people don’t think of it as $20, that seems too expensive idea, but it’s probable that everyone is entirely wise to that by now. If a book is £8.99, I suspect that all of your are saying to yourself “right, so that’s just over a ten-​​pound note by the time there’s postage added” just the same as if it was priced as “nine pounds”. So, when the prices being charged went down, the rounding was included along the way.

Here’s an example of how this works, in case you got lost along the way of my oddly constructed explanation.

Wicked Delights by John Llewellyn Probert
Cover of WICKED DELIGHTS Recommended Retail
(or “Cover”) Price

$39.99 (Canada)
£22.99 (UK)
$39.99 (USA)
Old “Atomic Fez
Direct” Price

$39.99 (Canada)
£22.99 (UK)
$39.99 (USA)
New “Atomic Fez
Direct” Price

$30 (Canada)
£15 (UK)
$30 (USA)

So much easier, isn’t it?

The buttons for the various editions and nations have been moved over so that it’s more obvious as to what’s applying to which thing, so that ought to go some distance to helping everyone understand what’s available. 

Conclusion

There’s not much point in me forcing people to operate under my rules if they don’t either make sense to you or you think they’re stupid. After all, you’re supposed to want to buy these books and navigating your way through complications and mystery options isn’t going to do anything for your happiness, which is going to have a damaging direct effect on the number of those books being read by people… which is not what any writer wants. 

Thus, please let me know what you think of all of the above, either by replying directly to me through Graphic used to foil SPAM or by commenting below, whichever you’re most comfortable with. 

Thank you for your time reading this, your custom, and your support of independent authors and their publisher.

* I’ve always wondered, if a table is covered with ‘bits & bobs’, and all of them but one fall on the floor, what’s left? A ‘bit’, or a ‘bob’? Answers on a postcard to the usual address. [ ↑ return ↑ ]

The Mighty logo of Atomic Fez Publishing logo and colophon designed and Copyright © 2009 Martin Butterworth of The Creative Partnership [ ↑ return ↑ ]

Anywhere but here. Thanks. [ ↑ return ↑ ]

CONTEST: Winner of “The House that Death Built”… and much more!

The winner of the original, marked-​​up, edited manuscript for, plus Copy Nº1 of the Limited Edition of  The House that Death Built has been determined! Not only do they win both of those, they also win a copy of Wicked Delights, plus a bound copy of the “manuscript version” of Terribilis written by Carol Weekes (these was planned to be used entirely for valued individuals who could provide cover quotes, but some were left over after the initial mailing was done).

Here’s the video of the draw taking place!

And for those who haven’t the bandwidth or patience to watch it, the winner is:

Riju Ganguly
Gujarat, India

EXCELSIOR!

This Week's Fish-Wrap №48: Back Again From the Dead

People initially pooh-​​poohed the electronic book format as being “a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist”. Admittedly, the eBook for the first decade or so basically sucked donkeys, but those days are over. Nearly. Any day now. Trust me.

© Tom Gauld
Cartoon by Tom Gauld for the “Guardian” (Saturday Review letters page)

Okay, they’re not really all that bad, but they could still do with a step-​​up in the break-​​through department. Doing everything exactly as well as a printed book isn’t really enough of a draw to convince the doubters that eBooks are even worth consideration. I’m not sure what ‘the tipping point’ might be – dancing video? free drugs? full sensual experience with 50 Shades of Grey? no idea – but we’re not there yet. There are times that even simply going to the next chapter of the book I’m reading seems a task (I’m looking at you Terry Pratchett YA titles!), but the affordability of hardware and lack of really good colour eInk video rendition seems a bit of a downer. It can’t be the price of the things anymore, as there’s a good number under $100 now, and there’s even one coming for less than €10!

Anyway… where was I…?

Oh yes! eBooks! They’re popular! Really! Look at this:

So the first interesting thing here is that the Kobo is seen as the ‘go-​​to device’ for their eBooks, rating “27% saying they plan to use a Kobo device to buy their next e-​​book followed by Kindle at 19% and the iPad at 14%.” Given the delay on Amazon getting clearance for a Canadian version of AT&T’s ‘WhisperNet’ connection in the USA, it’s not too surprising, but it’s still surprising to me. Possibly heart-​​warming, given how much I’ve been rooting for Kobo since Day One when they were ‘ShortCovers’.  

The second thing here is that the paperback is still holding its own with 57% of sales (hardcovers had 24% of unit sales), which I’ve always seen as the one format that eBooks will supplant for popularity; Mass-​​Market Paperbacks especially (you know, they’re the really crappy ones that last for one or two readings at most and are smaller that most others). 

But wait! There’s more from the mighty offices of K0bo! Big stuff! So big you’ve got four! (4!) links from which to choose! Behold!

The one thing that might get people shifting to eReading – if not for the Madefire application – is the ability to read graphic novels on their devices, especially if they can get hold of content that either does things otherwise impossible (such as the aforementioned Madefire material for iOS devices), and/​or material that hasn’t been available for awhile. I can imagine a complete run of the entire Marvel or DC catalogue would be something incredible (although some of the mid-​​WWII stuff might raise more than an eyebrow or two). 

The expansion of the Kobo catalogue to New Zealand means that the unsuspecting Antipodean readers shall find themselves exposed to the crazy world of Atomic Fez’s genre-​​bustin’ fiction! HUZZAH!!!

Beg pardon. [:: polite cough ::]

Kobo’s acquisition of a ‘digital service company’, as well as its continued geographic expansion, is quite large a development, announced now no doubt in order to be a part of the Frankfurt Book Show on right now. This is the perfect time for anyone to shout about their European Business Developments, what with them being in Europe, obviously. But it’s also a way for the gathered business leaders to take encouragement from each other with new industry ideas, business plans, and general re-​​assessments of goals and methodology.

This is encouraging, as it details the discussion of Big Publishers approaching the format from a business model which isn’t based on the one adopted about a century ago. given the non-​​physical delivery system of the product, as well as a non-​​geographic-​​based market, it’s surprising that it’s only now that the fresh approach is being taken. That said, it’s excellent that it’s being done, never mind the delay involved. Hooray! Perhaps we can start moving forward for the sake of everyone involved?

Please?

“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.

Post-Event Summary Stuff

So… that went well… I think.

The actual financials are yet to be examined, especially the ones from the BFS FantsyCon 2012 in Brighton, as Christopher Teague is still probably trying to remember what he did most of the week-​​end. 

All my bags are packed…

It seems, however, that the BFS FantasyCon has once again been rocked – ROCKED! I SAY – with controversy. I’ll say no more, pointing simply to THIS POST over on Joe Abercrombie’s blog. 

Much like Chris Teague does, I approach a convention or similar event an opportunity to remind others that Atomic Fez exists, and to share information with readers, authors, and other publishers; not as an opportunity to make lots of lovely lovely money! I wouldn’t say ‘no’ to money, obviously, it’s just not the principal reason I’m there.

VCon 2012 was the thing for me here in Metro Vancouver: a chance to have a good visit with the brains behind Gaukler Medieval Wares [ :: waves at lone visitors to blog :: ], trade well-​​meaning insults with Brian Hades of EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, and generally wonder when can I run away and get some decent coffee? I did a couple of panels – one about eBooks v paper ones, the other about submitting material to differing markets – but wasn’t able to check-​​out any others, owing to being on my own in the Dealers’ Room. Ah-​​well.

Next year you’ll probably find Atomic Fez at more events, and in more locations than normal! Additionally, it looks likely you’ll see the Publisher /​ Proprietor at all those events too, as the dates don’t over-​​lap for any of them! Look forward to more details about the following events (mark your calendars now):

Now please excuse me as I try to catch-​​up on some orders that have been ignored for the last week or so. Plus some sleep that was over-​​looked. Thanks. 

SPRING 2013: Début Novel! with Big Name Artist's Cover!

Atomic Fez is over-​​joyed to announce details of a title for publication in the spring of 2013: Sleepless Knights by Mark H. Williams, with cover art by DC Comics and Vertigo artist Jimmy Broxton!

While Sleepless Knights is Mr. Williams’s first novel, his writing has already been commissioned in the past by entities as diverse as BBC Cymru Wales TV and Radio, as well as Welsh National Opera, and the Courtyard Theatre, Hereford for whom he is also working on a future main stage adaptation. 

Jimmy Broxton, whose work has graced the pages of Knight & Squire, Saucer Country and The Unwritten, will be providing his prodigious gifts to the outsides of Sleepless Knights, with a ‘concept sketch’ of the cover art already in hand.

Mr. Broxton’s contribution brings ‘the final piece of the puzzle’ for a project that has been quietly bubbling away at Atomic Fez Publishing for nearly a year.

[click to enlarge / reduce]
Mark H. Williams

“When I read the manuscript,” said Atomic Fez’s Publisher/​Proprietor Ian Alexander Martin, “it was tough to remember it was a first novel by the author; it felt like something by a far more practised writer. I’m lucky to be trusted with the work.”

Tackling the Arthurian and ‘Knights of the Round Table’ legends was a daunting task which author Mark H. Williams [left] undertook with respect and foreknowledge of its possibilities. “I’ve always loved the King Arthur legend,” says Mr. Williams. “For me, it’s the recipe for the perfect story.

“It’s got magic and monsters in spades,” he continued. “Incredible feats and outlandish quests. Heroes and villains, love and betrayal. Humour and scares, twists and turns. And, at its heart, a very human story of idealism and frailty; about the aspiration to create something good in this world, no matter how far you might fall short of it.”

Mr. Williams points to Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman as influences, calling them both “writers who inspired me with their entirely serious approach to comic fantasy. I started [during University] to develop a taste for novels like The Princess Bride–books that approach the fantasy genre with a spring in their step, a twinkle in their eye, and a strong story at their heart.”

“For my money”, states Mr. Martin, “this marks a start for a new, great author’s exposure to the world’s readers.”

About the Book: Sleepless Knights!

It’s not easy being the man behind the myth.

Sir Lucas is butler to King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, the person who managed every epic legend behind the scenes. He’s the one who made sure each quest happened in the right place at the right time, and that everyone involved had comfortable accommodation for the weekend. The man whose average working day involved fighting dragons, defeating witches, banishing demons, and ensuring the Royal pot of tea never crossed the thin line separating ‘brewed’ from ‘stewed’. What’s more, 1,500 years after that golden age, he’s still doing it: here in modern Britain, right under our noses…

Through ten working days in the life of Sir Lucas the Butler, discover what really went on at Camelot. The story behind Lancelot’s affair with Guinevere. The truth about the quest for the Grail. And find out what happens one fateful day in June, when King Arthur and six of his knights are revealed as living among us. A revelation that brings about the return of Merlin and the end of the world, uncovering secrets from the past that King Arthur would rather stay buried, and forcing Lucas to confront the truth about his own unique and peculiar destiny. A destiny he will do anything to avoid, even if it means sacrificing the love of his life in the service of his master.

In short, the kind of crisis only the ultimate butler can resolve.

About the Author: Mark H. Williams!

Mr. Williams is a screenwriter, playwright and novelist. He’s written two UK-​​touring stage adaptations for The Birmingham Stage Company – Horrible Histories: The Frightful First World War (nominated for a Manchester Evening News Award, “Best Family Show”) and Horrible Science.

He’s written for BBC Cymru Wales TV and Radio, as well as Welsh National Opera; the Courtyard Theatre, HerefordSherman Theatre /​ Sherman CymruCwmni Theatr 3DThe Desperate Men Theatre Company; and Dirty Protest. Mark is under commission to Theatr Iolo for a new play for a family audience, touring Wales in the summer of 2013. He’s also currently working on a main stage adaptation for the Courtyard Theatre Hereford, and research & development with Cartoon De Salvo and National Theatre Wales.

[click to enlarge / close]
Jimmy Broxton

About the Artist: Jimmy Broxton!

Mr. Broxton is a UK based graphic artist, illustrator and designer. He is best known for his work on DC/Vertigo’s “The Unwritten” with Mike Carey; Paul Cornell’s “Knight and Squire” six issue mini series also for DC comics (collected in Batman: Knight and Squire), and most recently a run of short stories for Dark Horse Comics Presents, working with writer by Martin Conaghan. His hobbies include: cooking, cycling, boxing, and pretending to be somebody else.

NEW BOOK! NEW CONTEST! New New New! Now!

Have you ever wondered how an author and editor communicate to each other? Have you ever wondered how a book started its life when it left the author’s gifted hands and then was hacked to bits by the editor and/​or publisher? Have you ever looked around you and thought gosh, what I really need is a big stack of loose paper with lots of doodles and red marks all over it? Do we have an opportunity for you!

Photo by Thana Niveau [click to embiggen or close]
Author consulting a colleague about his manuscript

During the process of editing the début novel by John Llewellyn Probert, The House that Death Built, a great number of things were scribbled on a stack of paper upon which the original draft of the work was printed (using paper made entirely from “bagasse”, the fibrous matter that remains after sugarcane or sorghum stalks are crushed to extract their juice, and employing a clean energy supply and closed water cycle process) from the file as it was initially submitted by author. Then I started doing a combined edit /​ proofing /​ smart-​​arse comment effort as is my normal wont. One well-​​known UK author complimented me on providing the most entertaining editorial notes he’d ever seen. 

Once I’d finished doing all of that — including a few attempts at sketching something in the story, which I normally never do, but did here in an attempt to understand a couple of bits in the plot — the stack of paper was sent off to the author for him to go through and make changes in the aforementioned Microsoft Word for Mac file which he had sent to his hard-​​working publisher to print out and scribble all over. Yes, a perfect balance of old-​​world craftsmanship and the modern technological methods of precision reproduction combined for reasons of entertainment.

Once he’d stopped screaming to Lady Probert about the frequency of red pencil marks resembling a blood-​​splatter pattern, he set himself to the task of going through the paper, making many of the changes suggested, ignoring a few of the more arcane punctuational preferences his publisher seems to like (“manœuver”, æreoplane,  and “fœtid” for example), and occasionally making a comment on a page or two in reply; plus adding to one of the drawings demonstrating his own considerable artistic skills!

So, what does all that look like, exactly? 

NOW SOME LUCKY PERSON OTHER THAN THE AUTHOR CAN FIND OUT!

WIN THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT… and more!

All you have to do is buy a copy of The House that Death Built directly from the publisher’s site (which is this one right here, by the way), before October 31st and you’re automatically entered! Yes, any of the three editions qualify you: paperback, hardback, or even the eBook edition (as long as it’s the *.ZIP file version, as identities of the purchasers through Kobo and Amazon can’t be tracked).

What  do you get? It might be easier to tell you what you don’t get! The number of things is so numerous they are beyond most people’s ability to count! 

Well, okay, there’s at least three things, which is fewer than the fingers of most people’s hands. Still, that’s a lot!

Here’s what you win:

  • the original manuscript! which has been written on by the editor and author as they crafted the final form of the book
    Cover art by Stephen Upham [click to embiggen or close]
    Cover art by Stephen Upham
  • plus! “Copy #1″ of the Limited Hardcover Edition (be the envy of your friends everywhere!)
  • plus! a copy of Wicked Delights, John Llewellyn Probert’s previous title from Atomic Fez!
  • plus! …something else from inside the vaults of Atomic Fez

LIMITED HARDCOVER EDITION DETAILS

Includes, exclusive to this edition, the Author’s ‘Afterword’ about the genesis of the book as well as its writing and influences! Only 100 individually numbered copies, signed by both the author and  cover artist, dust-​​jacket over burgundy binding cloth, with both title and  author’s name stamped in gold on spine, and FREE POSTING AND PACKING.

So… there you go! Everyone entered is guaranteed at least one price: a copy of the début novel from award-​​winning, highly skilled, and frequently silly author John Llewellyn Probert! …because you just bought one, you see. It’s just that easy!

NEW TITLES: Benji Spriteman #2, and a Début Novel

Well, hello there!

2012 has proven to be occasionally tumultuous and terrible, but we forge ahead here in the mighty headquarters of Atomic Fez Publishing, offering up two titles for ordering now: The Designated Coconut and The House that Death Built, both of them novels, and both of them worth a careful examination.

Click to get more details [new tab or window]
Cover art by Sunila Sen-​​Gupta

John Travis has his 2nd book in “Benji Spriteman” series: The Designated Coconut. Be assured these are not the animals in the movies of questionable intelligence such as K-​​9 or Marmaduke, these animals are mirrors of ourselves, nature’s reflection of our own societal form and pressure, plus a wink or two along the way presenting familiar cultural references.

In the twenty-​​four months that had passed since The Terror, the world had become a slightly more civilised place — so civilised that when two female feline crime writers turn up to do a signing at a local bookstore, only one of them is murdered, implicating Benji Spriteman.

In an attempt to solve the crime and clear his name, Benji ends up in Rockway, the sleepy seaside town where the remaining sister is staying. Only Rockway turns out to be not too sleepy, and the detective finds his life in danger not only from the animals on land, but from those above and below it too…

As I waited in the lobby, I listened to the comments of various animals as they came in from their early morning walks. Almost all of them were complaining about the heat. ‘World’s gone mad,’ an old Tabby in a pair of shorts muttered to himself on the way to the elevators, ‘preferred it in the Old days. Didn’t have to buy fans then. Just sat on the rug and licked my ass. Good times.’

For those of you who hesitated when The Terror and the Tortoiseshell was introduced, but are intrigued by the notion of sentient animals fighting crime, wait no more! Heading to either book’s page provides you with an offer of two (2!) books for a savings of ten (10!) dollars ($$!) or a good, solid English “fiver” (£5!) plus free shipping! Excelsior!

Click to learn more about this title [new tab or window]
Cover art by Stephen Upham

Meanwhile, John Llewellyn Probert has written a novel! It’s his first! It’s groovy, and so is he! It’s called The House that Death Built and is available in three (3!) formats! It’s available in eBook format, which is DRM-​​free as is the case with all Atomic Fez eBooks; there’s a paperback edition; and there’s a Limited, Numbered, Hardback edition which is signed by both the author and the cover artist! Atomic Fez isn’t in the habit of doing ‘collector’s editions”, but as this is John’s début as a novelist, it seemed apt to create a special version of this title, just for him. It may also be the final outing for the characters “Mr Massene Henderson” and “Miss Samantha Jephcott”, which are the “specialists in paranormal adventure” he created to engage in daring-​​do against the spirit world, and who have previously only appeared in the short stories collected in Against the Darkness (available from Screaming Dreams through THIS LINK).

You are cordially invited to join Mr Massene Henderson and Miss Samantha Jephcott, specialists in paranormal adventure, as they embark on their most perilous case to date.

The Dark Manor isn’t just any old haunted house. Built on the site of a stone circle, from bricks saturated with pain and agony, windows that have seen terror beyond insanity, and doors that would scream if the wood from which they were fashioned could voice the appalling acts to which they have been witness, the house was designed with evil in mind and deliberately constructed to bring William Marx, the wealthy industrialist who built it, into contact with the spirit world.

But Marx hasn’t been seen since he entered the repository of death and madness that is The Dark Manor, and neither have any of the people who have gone looking for him. Now Sir Anthony Calverton has purchased it and needs the place investigating properly, which of course calls for some proper supernatural investigators.

Who will survive The House That Death Built? Only time and the pages within will tell…

Ο Φόβος είναι ο πόνος που προκύπτουν από την αναμονή του κακού

Also, for those of you who haven’t already got a copy of his collection Wicked Delights, its regular price has just been reduced! Hooray! Get the same number of excellent words for less money! HUZZAH!

PLUS! There’s a contest! But more about that a bit later. Oh, it’s worth the wait, let me assure you!

This Week's Fish-Wrap №47: Is Amazon Run by Coke-Heads?

Let’s try this once more, shall we? Earlier today this appeared, only the text was entirely made-​​up of quotes from roles played by Samuel L. Jackson in various movies, courtesy of the web-​​site SAMUEL L. IPSUM (Mother*cking Placeholder Text, Motherf*cker!), which generates far more interesting text than the classic “Lorem ipsum” material used by most layout people.

So… erm… Basically I created the post, put some text in to hold some space where the actual content would go, put a in image in, then some relevant links at the bottom, and then… walked away and forgot about it. More fool me. :: ahem ::

Amazon [he says, rapidly changing the subject from the previous one of “just how daft is Ian getting in his middle-​​age?” to a more news-​​worthy one] has recently been getting a fair bit of flack from all sides for their decision to become ‘a real publisher, just like Atomic Fez’, although the last part of the phrase isn’t one that’s commonly a point made by anyone. Not only are they to be the original publisher of works, they will be publishing these works in electronic and printed formats, as well as selling the books through a distributor so that the books will be on shelves of bookshops the world over. In theory, anyway.

WWI War Financing Poster (by Haskell Coffin, 1918)
WWI War Financing Poster (by Haskell Coffin, 1918)

The problem with the plan is quite simple: the same businesses that Amazon is in direct competition with are now to be their retail partners. One minute they’re crushing Barnes & Noble, Borders, or everyone’s favourite local independent book shop; the next minute they’re saying ‘look, just before you go completely bankrupt, could you do a big display in the window with our new titles?’, and wondering why they’re getting the stink-​​eye from everyone in the place including the university kids on holiday fill-​​in duty.

If you’re thinking “no no, Jeff Bezos and his crew surely wouldn’t be that insane, would they?” let me assure you they are either filled with so much chutzpah they don’t think they can lose, or they’re really oblivious to anything other than that which is the nano-​​second of existence of “now”.

Or, possibly, they’re on so much cocaine their irises are white as snow. After all, they do seem to be far more focused, energetic, and enthusiastic about everything than just about anyone else in the entire world, short of seven-​​year-​​old boys on a sugar high let loose in a LEGO Warehouse.

The enabler in this little affair is Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s “New Harvest” imprint, which will be exclusively dedicated to the release of Amazon.com’s titles, including upcoming titles by James Franco and Deepak Chopra. Clearly these are not merely Poems About My Cat (A Collection) we’re talking about here, but potential ‘hot titles’ by people the common reader will be interested in, or at least be aware of (which is far more than could be said of about 98% of any books released in a given period of time).

Amazon are the same people who released a smartphone ‘app’ prior to Christmas which permitted the user to scan the barcodes of up to three books in a store, thus providing the user with a guaranteed discount on the price of that book (up to a maximum of $5 per item, I think) as long as that same book was ordered through Amazon instead of buying the ‘over-​​priced’ book in the store they had in their hands at that very second. ALL HAIL duplication of effort! Not only do you choose a book by going to the bookshop and are reminded they still exist, you then guarantee you contribute nothing to its existence by literally going out of your way not to give it your custom! Hurrah! Let us all go to Cloud Cuckoo Land where books are cheap and plentiful, and no one needs to look further afield than Amazon for all ones worldly needs!

Now, given the above, you would think that Amazon would pooh-​​pooh the notion that getting copies of their own publishing house onto shelves in real bricks-​​and-​​mortar shops, wouldn’t you? “Stores?” you might be forgiven to presume they would respond, “do they still exist? Why would you want to go to one of those? Just sit in your chair, move the mouse around a bit, click a few times, and we’ll bring the world to you!” Oddly, this is not what they’re doing. No no.

Through Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s distribution network, they are attempting to get their books into the very same shops they recently sent people into with their smartphone apps, possibly in an effort to get every single dime available in the book industry chain. The only thing they haven’t got – in addition to the eBook hardware, eBook software, print-​​on-​​demand via Lightning Source and Create-​​Space, plus now the actual publishing house, and a host of other ventures under their vast umbrella – is actual retail outlets. According to the New York Times, that’s possibly next. If true, perhaps this is a test of how much they can use books to lure people in as a loss-​​leader for their other products like shoes (Amazon now own on-​​line shoe-​​retailer Zappos.com, by the way), BLU-​​RAYs, and iPad accessories. Who knows?

Personally, the thing I find most surprising is the sheer unmitigated gall and blatant effrontery of them expecting to get a piece of the action they’re attempting to reduce to rapidly diminishing returns. It’s a bit like acting as a real estate agent in the area in which you’re also enacting a policy of lebensraum, and you’re actually re-​​selling the land to the people who are already living there. Plus, you still get a commission on the sale, any the tax on the transaction itself, plus future property taxes for maintaining your now possessed territories. Win!

Honestly, what part of this whole thing made someone think “yeah, that’s a great idea; let’s do that!”…? 

The cocaine suggestion doesn’t seem so ludicrous now, does it?

  • MediaBistro.com’s eBookNewser, “Author’s Guild Argues That Amazon’s Dominance Comes From Antitrust Laws”; Wednesday, February 1st ~ READ THIS POST
  • MobyLives, which is the blog of Melville House, “Amazon finds a beard to sell books from its publishing unit”; January 25thREAD THIS POST
  • Publishers Weekly, “Books-​​A-​​Million Won’t Carry Amazon Titles”; Friday, February 3rd ~ READ THIS POST
  • Globe & Mail, “Indigo joins growing boycott of books published by Amazon.com”; Friday, February 3rd (and correction on the following Monday) ~READ THIS POST
  • Publishers Weekly, “End of the Line for Dorchester?”; Friday, February 3rd ~ READ THIS POST
  • The New York Times, ‘Bits’, “Amazon Has Tried Everything to Make Shopping Easier. Except This.”; Friday, February 3rd ~ READ THIS ARTICLE
  • Publishers Weekly, ‘PW Tip Sheet’, “This Has All Happened Before”; Friday, February 3rd ~ READ THIS POST

“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.

Announcing the Titles for 2012 and Another for 2013

Now that we’re well and truly into the new year (and thus we’ve no reason to keep accidentally putting “2011” on things anymore), it’s time to let you all know what’s coming in the next twelve months! Things have been quietly plotted in secret until now, so they’re being let out into the yard to run about in the fresh air for a little bit. Have a look at them before they get dragged back into the basement for some more advanced adjustments.

Atomic Fez  World Headquarters Building
Atomic Fez World Headquarters Building

All of the titles are novels, and in the case of the first and last ones, they are the author’s first ‘long-​​form narrative’. Hooray!

There’s absolutely no artwork available, and isn’t that a pity? Try to be patient.

Likewise, pre-​​orders will begin once we’re closer to the date, with each title’s eBook edition being made available just as soon as the text is finalized and the files are back from the hard-​​working slave labour.

Autumn 2012

  • In conjunction with the British Fantasy Society’s FantasyCon 2012 in Brighton (September 27 – 30):
    • John Llewellyn ProbertThe House of a Thousand Screams (title not final)
    • John TravisThe Designated Coconut (Benji Spriteman #2)

Winter 2012

  • In conjunction with the World Fantasy Association’s World FantasyCon in Toronto (November 1 – 3):
    • Mark Leslie LefebvreI, Death

Spring 2013

  • In conjunction with… um… because it’s nearly Spring Equinox, St. David’s Day /​ Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Sant (March 1st):
    • Mark H. WilliamsSleepless Knights

 In order to whet your appetite, here’s some text about the individual titles. You’ll also notice that the second and fourth in the lists below are very-​​much Wales-​​oriented, thus in keeping with my never-​​ending accidental association with the country and its people. I swear this is not by design; but it just keeps happening, so why try to fight it?

 
The Designated Coconut
 (Benji Spriteman #2), by John Travis, author of The Terror and the Tortoiseshell; Autumn 2012

As the first in the series was an homage to the noire thrillers, so we have the second Benji Spriteman tale similar to the classic English Mystery of roughly the same era.

During the visit of the two famous mystery-​​writing sisters, a death occurs, leading to a complicated series of events. How did the safe in the locked room get stolen? Who was behind the poisoning? Is someone at the resort’s hotel involved, and is it the beer-​​guzzling band-​​leader? What do the mole-​​men have to do with it?

 
The House of a Thousand Screams
 (working title), by John Llewellyn Probert, author of Wicked Delights; Autumn 2012

The very first novel from John Llewellyn Probert provides a mystery of ghosties, ghoulies, long‑legged beasties, and thing that go ‘bump’ in the night, starring Mr Massene Henderson and Miss Samantha Jephcott; the most un‑likely team of paranormal investigators you’ve somehow lived your life without… until now!

Henderson and Jephcott head to the wilderness of Northern Wales to investigate a house constructed from the bits of haunted buildings and filled with devices of death, all constructed on a foundation of a ‘stone circle’. Designed to be the most haunted house in Britain, the original owner hasn’t been heard from since the mid-​​1950s, and the new one wants to know if he’s got the real thing or not. What lies in wait for the two detectives and the four people who are there to help in the research, and will anyone survive to claim the fees for their labours?

 
I, Death
, by Mark Leslie Lefebvre; Winter 2012

The terrifying story of a young man coming to terms with a death curse.

By writing an on-​​line journal, Peter O’Mallick hopes to deal with his emotional turmoil at being dumped by his former girlfriend. While the blog helps, it also attracts cyber stalker Bryan Brecht, who coerces Peter into doing things which should never be done… 

Hilarity ensues.

Publisher (left) and Author (right) sign contracts for “Sleepless Knights” prior to RCMP Musical Ride performance in Maple Tree Square (out of shot, to right) {photo: Laura Cotton}
Publisher (left) and Author (right) sign contracts for “Sleepless Knights” prior to RCMP Musical Ride performance in Maple Tree Square (out of shot, to right) {photo: Laura Cotton}

 

Sleepless Knights, by Mark H. Williams; Spring 2013

It’s not easy being the man behind the myth.

Sir Lucas is butler to King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table; the person who managed every epic legend behind the scenes. He’s the one who made sure each quest happened in the right place at the right time, and that everyone involved had comfortable accommodation for the weekend. The man whose average working day involved fighting dragons, defeating witches, banishing demons, and ensuring the Royal pot of tea never crossed the thin line separating ‘brewed’ from ‘stewed’. What’s more, 1,500 years after that golden age, he’s still doing it: here in modern Britain, right under our noses…

Through ten working days in the life of Sir Lucas the Butler, discover what really went on at Camelot. The story behind Lancelot’s affair with Guinevere. The truth about the quest for the Grail. And find out what happens one fateful day in June, when King Arthur and six of his knights are revealed as living among us. A revelation that brings about the return of Merlin and the end of the World, uncovering secrets from the past which King Arthur would rather stay buried, and forcing Lucas to confront the truth about his own unique and peculiar destiny. A destiny he will do anything to avoid, even if it means sacrificing the love of his life in the service of his master.

In short, the kind of crisis only the ultimate butler can resolve.

CLICK for embiggening / de-embiggenation

This Week's Fish-Wrap №46: iThoughts About iTextbooks This iWeek

It seems fairly often that Steve Jobs Apple brings out something that changes the face of the world – or at least what its face is pointed at – inexorably. They’re infrequently the first to do whatever it is that now has a lower-​​case letter “i” slapped on the front of the name, but they are typically the first ones to get it done the right way. For example: the tablet is finally done right with the iPad, after Microsoft tried to get manufacturers to figure out how to do it for most of the ’90s and ‘the noughties’; personal music players worked fine as cassette machines like the Walkman™, but it took the iPod to get the digital file format taking off; and the smartphone was clunky, awkward, and difficult to use for the acquisition of basic information until the introduction of the iPhone.

Beckman RIIC advert (“New Scientist and Science Journal”, Apr 1st 1971)
Beckman RIIC advert (“New Scientist and Science Journal”, Apr 1st 1971)

Thus, the iBook 2 (not to be confused with the PowerBook, which is an old Apple laptop model) now presents textbooks in a far better, cheaper, and easier distribution model. HOORAY! say I. This is one of the best applications of the eBook format, as it drops the cost of the most expensive part of the production cycle for text-​​books: printing. Most text books have, at the very least, graphs and charts as illustrations. Anything used for science and artistic pursuits have colour illustrations or photographs required to properly explain matters of any complexity, be they medical matters of the body, or painted representations of the body. This need for acceptable colour reproduction – while both less expensive and less complicated than even two decades ago – still requires a hefty increase in costs than if there were nary a graphic included. The fact that a text book typically requires up-​​dating two years after its release only adds to the necessity of developing a way to reduce costs as much as is possible. Thankfully, the eBook is the answer.

No doubt the tales I could tell of the cost of my Geography text books in the mid-​​1980s would be enthusiastically laughed at by today’s students, and I don’t wish to consider what the cost of them are today.  But,  given the charges for typical education at any level are increasingly beggaring those who administer the provision of learning today, at any level, the method of providing texts at a fraction of the cost to the student is welcome indeed.

This is not without some valid considerations, however. Is the so-​​called “walled garden of Apple” too limiting for the freedom-​​loving world of academia? Will university and college lecturers and Deans of study find they are no longer able to regulate themselves or exercise their creativity within the technological constraints placed upon them by DRM and geographic distribution agreements? Will the publishers find increased revenue from their titles, rather than what trickles of cash they get from the photocopying licenses for ‘course packs’ used in a majority of higher learning institutions?

Do publishers even have the balls to make the sea-​​change of their entire business-​​model to this new platform? Are they just in time to make it, or are they merely trying to sort out how to rearrange the deck chairs on a rapidly sinking ship? Do we even care?

Lastly, what of the printed book – whether a textbook or simply a novel – being released with an electronic copy as a bonus? When buying a DVD or Blu-​​Ray disc, one often gets a “Free Digital Copy” for use on one’s smartphone or tablet, so why not extend this to books also?

Would Atomic Fez readers wish to receive an eBook copy of the book they just purchased in paper format? I’ve often seen it as an either/​or situation, mostly because I’ve seen eBooks as mostly a new reader market. Perhaps I’m wrong, though, and you want the option of having increased access to the book, as this means you can start reading on your iPhone the novel you left at home this morning. Let me know! Atomic Fez is here to help you enjoy reading more, as well as helping you enjoy more reading!

  • “Apple Launches K-​​12 iPad Textbooks, New ‘iTunes U’ & Self-​​Publishing Platform”, PaidContent.org | CLICK HERE
  • “Pearson Made $3 Billion From Digital Content Last Year”, PaidContent.org | CLICK HERE
  • “Apple Move Will Spark Flurry off New Companies, Content in Education Market”, PaidContent.org | CLICK HERE
  • “New Stats: 2011 Libraries’ Digital Check-​​Outs Up 133% Over 2010″, PaidContent.org | CLICK HERE
  • “Do we want textbooks to live in Apple’s walled garden?”, GigaOM | CLICK HERE
  • Confessions of a Publisher: “We’re in Amazon’s Sights and They’re Going to Kill Us”, PandoDaily.com | CLICK HERE
  • ECW Press Experiments with Free eBbooks for Print Customers”, Publishers Weekly | CLICK HERE

“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.