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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2011-10-09 06:45
Subject: [links] Link salad wishes for improbable food
Security: Public
Tags:amazonfail, books, cars, christianism, cool, funny, occupy wall street, personal, process, publishing, religion, reviews, science, starship, writing

[info]selfavowedgeek with a review of my short novel Death of a Starship

Deciding to fish or cut bait. Jonesing for MMORPGs. — Urban Fantasy author J.A. Pitts on why he used to game obsessively, and why he doesn’t any more. I could have written this same post, except that I quit RPGs before MMORPGs came along. As I’ve said before, if Everquest or World of Warcraft had existed in my teens or twenties, I wouldn’t have a writing career today. I’d be an umpteenth level wizard-thief or whatever instead of an author. And I continue to wonder how many voices never came to being in SF/F because they chose the rewards of a collaborative, immersive gaming environment over hours, days and years alone at the keyboard. Who knows what stories we’ll never read?

Fantasy: High, Low and…? Part Two: Saving the World Six Times before Breakfast (Or Not) — Author A.J. Luxton continues their ruminations on fantasy.

B&N and DC: Exclusivity Rears Its Ugly Head Once Again — Crap. I’ve been boycotting Amazon for the past year and a half for doing eaxctly what Barnes & Noble just did. That is, abuse its market power to punish print authors for an only tangentially related dispute in a different product line. B&N’s actions don’t affect me directly, as I’m not a DC comics author nor a reader, but god damn it, I don’t want to run out of big bookstores. (And yes, I buy independent when I can, but sometimes big is useful.)

World’s oldest running car fetches $4.6 million at auction — Now this is just awesome. (Snurched from [info]jimvanpelt.)

Electric TRON Lightcycle Outed by Parker Brothers — (Via David Goldman.)

Will the Large Hadron Collider Explain Everything?

Octopi Wall Street! — (Thanks to [info]danjite.)

Herman Cain: pizza boss, radio host, ballistics expert, minister. President?Once the butt of late-night comedians, the Tennessee-born politician has emerged as the unlikely darling of the right.

Palin pulls a PalinSarah-watchers were not surprised when she announced she wouldn’t run for president. It was never her goal. A con’s a con. Thank you John McCain for visiting this woman upon America. She will be your political legacy.

Will Romney-Perry race be Christian vs. Christian? — I will point out that claiming the Mormon church is not Christian isn’t equivalent to saying it’s a cult. Whether something is a cult is a matter of perspective. As an atheist, to my view Mormons are no more or less a cult than Southern Baptists. As for Christian, I’m not in charge of those labels, but that would seem to be a definable matter. What I do know is that conservative party is infested with Christianists, that is, people who use the trappings of Christianity as clubs to wage political and cultural war for their personal bigotry and wilful ignorance. Mormon, Southern Baptist, I could not care less; it’s the Christianists I fear and despise. It’s the Christianists who’ve been busily destroying the social fabric of our nation my entire political lifetime.

Why Not Question Romney’s Religion?Back in 2008, the only moment when the Obama campaign looked to be in some difficulty was when the GOP attacked his church and firebrand pastor Jeremiah Wright. The attack itself was dishonest in that the McCain campaign took the words of the sermon out of context. On the one hand, I’m perfectly happy to see the Republican party eating their own young for a change instead of pissing in the national pot as usual. On the other hand, even as atheist, I don’t think this is a legitimate line of attack. My own belief in freedom of religion is absolute, but I likewise believe it absolutely stops at the edge of the public square. In other words, Romney or Perry or whoever can believe what they will with my full support, but they can’t impose those beliefs on me on or anybody else. It’s in the second part of that belief that I find my lifelong quarrel with American conservatism, not the first.

?otD: Melon balls or mountain oysters?


10/9/2011
Writing time yesterday: 3.5 hours (revisions and WRPA)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 8.0 hours (solid)
Weight: 218.0
Currently reading: The Cassini Division by Ken MacLeod

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.

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Dan/Дмитрий
User: icedrake
Date: 2011-10-09 16:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm not following your argument for B&N doing anything similar for what Amazon did. B&N's dispute with DC was over that very product line, and it was in fact acting to oppose an exclusivity deal. True, authors and artists *are* hurt by these events, which they have zero control over, but I'd say the situation is very different from the dispute with Amazon. Would you have had similar objections to B&N's decision, if instead of this being about ebooks, DC announced it was going to sell books to Amazon at an additional 20% discount?
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-10-09 16:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
My argument is that in a dispute over ebooks, B&N is pulling print books from sale. This punishes the print authors, who have no role in the ebook dispute, and have no leverage to effect a solution even if they wanted to. Much as Amazon did to Macmillan authors during the ebooks pricing kerfuffle 18 months ago. Or am I misunderstanding your question?
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Dan/Дмитрий
User: icedrake
Date: 2011-10-09 17:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
No misunderstanding on your part. Is there any on mine? My impression of the Amazon/Macmillan debacle was that Amazon pulled from sale all books published by Macmillan, irrespective of whether these were offered -- or planned to be offered -- as ebooks. Based on the linked blog post, this isn't the case in the DC/B&N kerfuffle, as B&N is pulling the very same books whose ebook versions DC is offering exclusively via Kindle.

Here's why I think the situation is different:

1) DC's decision isn't about giving its authors an advantage; It's about getting something extra from Amazon. For DC authors to benefit, the extra bit would have to mean Kindle sales exceeding the combined sales these titles would have had by being offered on both Kindle and Nook (adjusted for respective price differences).

Is this likely? In my utterly inexpert opinion, not really. DC's extra benefit most likely comes in the form of additional product promotion being provided by Amazon, or Amazon offering discounts on promotions DC would have to buy for its ebook line. If it's the former, there will almost certainly be an increase in sales, but you're still dealing with just the Amazon-focused customer base. People who buy from B&N (like, say, ones who are boycotting Amazon after its fight with Macmillan) won't ever see the ads.

If the latter, well... DC makes money one of two ways: Increasing sales, or decreasing its production costs. It *could* sink the money saved from the promotional budget into additional promotions... Or it could just take the extra cash, call it a bird in the hand, and pass a big fat nothing on to the authors.

2) B&N's claim is that it is following existing policy, which to me puts the fight in a very different context. Assuming B&N didn't have this policy conveniently sprout overnight, the conversation isn't B&N coming to DC and saying, "don't do this exclusive offering deal, or we'll punish you." Rather, it's B&N saying to DC, "we had an agreement that we'll only carry your books under these conditions. If you do the exclusive deal, you'll be in violation of that agreement."

3) I'm very much biased against monopolies. Amazon's fight with Apple by way of Macmillan was about Amazon forcing a de facto monopoly down the publishers' and authors' throats. B&N's fight with DC is about doing the exact opposite.

4) B&N doesn't really have any other tools in its arsenal. It is, first and foremost, a book retailer. DC is, first and foremost, a book publisher (I believe -- or are its branded action figure and movie rights lines more significant than the comic sales themselves?). It's pretty much a given that B&N won't win against Amazon based on price, so B&N can't offer DC a better deal. It can't accept lower margins on DC's product line and offset them with other products because it's nowhere near as diversified as Amazon. So if DC decides to have its cake and eat it too, at B&N's expense, there isn't much B&N can do. I very much doubt B&N is happy about essentially cutting off its own nose to spite its face. But not doing something would signal to other publishers B&N buys from that they could retain their existing market at B&N while using B&N to get additional benefits out of Amazon. Amazon would definitely benefit, publishers would almost certainly benefit, authors may or may not benefit, and B&N would certainly lose out.

I'm not saying that any of this excuses B&N hurting authors in the process, but I understand why B&N would have felt it had no choice.
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Jay Lake: writing-flying_car
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-10-09 17:52 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:writing-flying_car
Hmm. I don't think I disagree with any of your points, but remember, I have an author-focused perspective, being an author and all. And even taking everything you say into account, the net result is authors being denied print sales in a situation where they have no power or control. Honestly, I understand why B&N is doing this, it just stinks to be an author.

(And speaking as only a slightly informed observer, I suspect DC's toy and movie rights are worth a lot more than their print rights, simply because of the economies of scale, but those rights wouldn't exist for DC without the print engine to establish the characters. Though as I understand it, Marvel has done much better in Hollywood than DC.)
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martianmooncrab
User: martianmooncrab
Date: 2011-10-09 19:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I’d be an umpteenth level wizard-thief or whatever

with hibiscus and ti leaves embroidered about the hem and seams of your Wizardly robes
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