Straight, No Bullshit, No Proselytizing, No Ulterior Motive Look at Hachette/Amazon: Part 1

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- from an MBA with actual corporate experience in the real world. Shocking to introduce a practical business perspective into this discussion, I know.

 

But which one is Amazon and which one is Hachette – or they both out to consume the consumer?

So, this happened.

And this happened.

Which led to this.

And that bothered Hugh Howey’s pretty little head, which led to this.

Chuck Wendig tried to lend some perspective here, here and here, in his own inimitable way (for the record, I’m with Chuck 118.5612%).

Which led to Joe Konrath shaking his fisk: “Get off my holy crusade, you damn dirty apes hybrid authors!” (I usually enjoy what Konrath has to say.  But I find him more amusing – he gives great internet theater – than substantive).

Apart from the sheer popcorn enjoyment factor of watching authors snipe at each other like grade schoolers arguing over a deflated football that belongs to the high school quarterback down the street, why does any of this matter? What is really going on? And has Hugh Howey, once again, grabbed the stupid end of the pointy stick?

(The last question is rhetorical.)

In Part 1, I’ll look at the development of the Kindle and the ebook market. Because, yes, when it comes to Amazon and publishers, it is a sad necessity to trot out George Santayana for yet another gallop around the track: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

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Film Friday: Notorious (1946)

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Going back into the film vaults for this Film Friday (I thought about using Captain America: The Winter Soldier but then I thought three Disney films in a row was a bit much):

 

notorious

 

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Notorious stars Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant.  Yes, it’s in black and white.  Yes, it’s nearly sixty years old.  Yes, you must run out and find a (legal) way to watch it, now, especially if you love romance novels.  Because this is a humdinger of a romance, with deliciously grey characters who feel as decidedly relevant as anything being published in gritty contemporary romance.

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Film Friday: Saving Mr. Banks

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Disney’s SAVING MR. BANKS

Oh, New Year’s Resolutions, how quickly I break you.  I meant – and still mean – to blog every about a film every Friday, but the last few weeks months got away from me.

Better late than never, right?

This week’s film was prompted by a well-articulated, thoughtful review of SAVING MR. BANKS by CarrieS on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.

SAVING MR. BANKS (PDF of the script can be found here) is the “true” story of how Walt Disney persuaded the author of Mary Poppins, P.L. Travers, to sell him the film rights to her beloved creation.

(Which in a way makes this a perfect corollary to my post on plagiarism vs. copyright infringement: here is an entire film built upon the granting of derivative rights!  This is also why I cringe when people call authorized derivative works, such as film adaptations, “fan fiction.”  They’re not.  For one, they are rarely made by true fans, although Walt certainly tries to sell himself as one in this film. Film adaptations and other licensed, derivative media are often a calculated business decision more than than anything else.  Rarely are they an act of labor inspired solely by love for the original work.  So to call them “fan fiction” seems a disservice to fan-created works. IMO.)

SAVING MR. BANKS tells two parallel stories. The first is set in 1961 and mostly details the two weeks P.L. Travers spent in California, working with the Sherman Brothers and Don DaGradi on the film script of Mary Poppins while bedeviling Walt Disney’s attempts to secure the rights.  The second story is set in 1906 Australia and features the tragic family life of a ten year old Travers, then called Ginty.  The two stories are intercut, with scenes from Ginty’s childhood often used to inform the behavior of the adult Travers.

The Lesson Creative Writers Can Draw From SAVING MR. BANKS:

How to Create “Unlikeable” Characters and Still Make the Readers Care

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Lies, Damn Lies and Hugh Howey

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in a new world

How do we know he’s in New York City? He’s reading an old guard newspaper and appearing on a dead tree book. Don’t worry, Horatio Howey will show him the error of his ways.

So, this happened recently.

People much smarter than me – including some with experience and education in statistics – have debunked Hugh Howey’s claims in a rational, calm and logical manner.

Here’s one: How (Not) to Lie with Statistics

And another: Some Thoughts on Author Earnings

And a third: Some Quick Thoughts on That Report on Author Earnings

Dana Beth Weinberg, a professor of Sociology at Queen’s College – CUNY, also ran the numbers here.  Of course, since Weinberg is associated with the Writer’s Digest/Digital Book World survey that has drawn so much ire from Howey, Konrath, et al, she was immediately dismissed as a charlatan by Howey.   Others threw their scorn at Weinberg’s Phd from Harvard as if that automatically makes her INeligible to run the numbers instead of the truth: she’s just that much smarter (and more qualified in data analysis) than them. Sorry, those are the real world breaks.

 

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Copyright Infringement vs. Plagiarism: A lay (wo)man’s view of what writers need to know about these terms often used interchangeably but they really, REALLY aren’t.

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With special guest star: Fan Fiction!

So, my social media stream and newsreader is full these days about the latest scandal du jour in the publishing/writing world: Shey Stahl’s alleged plagiarism of multiple fan fiction authorswork.

Or is it copyright infringement?

There are a lot of opinions and learned opinions and outright statements that may or may not be legally sound flying around the internet.  And this is an area about which writers desperately need to be educated, so as to avoid legal tangles, loss of income and/or social media kerfuffles.

I am not a lawyer.  This is not legal advice.  Should you find yourself needing help with copyright infringement, seek out an attorney who specializes in intellectual property law.  Also, the following pertains to the United States only.

However, I have worked in creative industries alongside the intellectual property teams, and this is the result of reading many C&Ds and attending meetings about protecting my employers’ rights.

Yes, 2 Live Crew is relevant to this blog post

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Publishing Predictions for 2014, Rounded Up and Consolidated

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Wizard Predictions

The Wizard is ready to predict for 2014.  Look, he even has his party hats ready!

A New Year, a new rash of publishing predictions for the year ahead. It’s no secret that the publishing world has been rocked by the digital revolution in the last few years.  (Although, seriously, guys, Napster was what…2000?….and y’all were STILL taken aback by how much digital delivery would change your world?  Did no one learn anything from the “mostly dead” music industry?  At least Hollywood feels your pain.)

2013 was a year of, if not massive change, then at least moderate to good-sized change in the publishing world.

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Film Friday: FROZEN

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Disney’s Frozen

 

For the first Film Friday I chose FROZEN.

And no, not for the alliteration, although it’s not a bad side effect.

If you haven’t seen FROZEN, close this page, open up your favorite local theater guide website, and find a showtime.  Then go.  Forget any concerns about Disney princesses reinforcing the patriarchy or worries that Olaf the snowman will be more annoying than multiple nails on particularly squeaky chalkboards (he’s not.  He’s downright charming, in fact.) Yes, it’s animated and the heroines have impossibly big eyes and impossibly tiny waists – although there are various sizes of both men and women on display, especially at the coronation ball.  But it’s not what you think.  Promise.  Go now.

Don’t read further until you’ve seen it, because spoilers abound.  And you don’t want to be spoiled.  Trust me.  And I’m usually a spoiler lover.

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