Monthly Archives: May 2011

Hear ye! Hear ye!

As promised, I’m back with a couple of announcements and other news.

I want to start by assuring those of you who have been waiting impatiently for Impaler to come out in print, that your wait will soon be over.  Barring unforeseen problems, it will be available for purchase the beginning of next month.  We’ll post updates as the time gets closer.

This next bit of news is more personal to me.  I found out the end of last week that the bosses have given the green light, provisionally, for the sequel to Nocturnal Origins.  What that means is they want to bring it out and the numbers are looking good.  However, for me to write the book and have it done in time for it to come out when they want, I’m going to have to take time off from NRP.  So, it would really be nice for my numbers to increase — while the image of the starving artist or writer is one we’re all familiar with, I like my Blue Bell ice cream and starving really isn’t something I want to do 😉  That means, I need your help.  Tell your family and friends about Origins, if you liked it.  As I’ve said before, you guys are our greatest promotional tool and we do appreciate all you do to spread the word.

Here is the tentative schedule for the rest of the year.  I say tentative because there may be some shuffling of titles.  There will also be some short stories and at least one more novel added to the list.  However, just to give you an idea of what is coming, here you go:

May

  • Here There Be Faeries (fantasy short story) by Stephen Simmons
  • Without a Trace (fantasy middle grade novella) by Dave Freer
  • Revocare (fantasy short story) by Leslie Fish
  • Lawyers of Mars (science fiction novella) by Pam Uphoff
  • The Flight of the Phoenix (fantasy novella) by Chris McMahon

June 6th

  • Blood Price (urban fantasy short story collection) by Sarah A. Hoyt

June 20th

  • A Deeper Silence (sf/f short story collection) by Charles Edgar Quinn
  • The Calvanni (fantasy novel) by Chris McMahon

July 4th

  • Blackie (Pony Express short story) by James Snover
  • Vengeance Mine (mystery novel) by Jenny Schall
  • Short story collection — author to be announced shortly

August 8th

  • Firefight (novel) by Thomas Easton
  • Quicksand (mystery novel) by C. S. Laurel

August 22nd

  • Cat’s Paw (fantasy novel) by Robert A. Hoyt

September 5th

  • The South Shall Rise Again (romantic suspense novel with a touch of supernatural) by Ellie Ferguson

September 19th

  • A Flaw in Her Magic (urban fantasy adaptation of Mansfield Park) by Sarah A. Hoyt
  • Short story, title to be determined, by Taylor M. Lunsford

Otober 3rd

  • Five from the Past (short story collection) by Sarah A. Hoyt
  • Halloween themed short stories

October 31st

  • Halloween short story collection
  • Nocturnal Serenade (urban fantasy novel) by Amanda S. Green

November 21st

  • Holiday Collection by Robert A. Hoyt

December 5th

  • Scytheman (fantasy novel) by Chris McMahon

December 19th

  • ConVent (urban fantasy) by Kate Paulk

As noted above, we will be adding short stories to this schedule as well as at least one or two more novels.  Check back over the next few weeks for blurbs and more information about these titles.

–Amanda

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The blogging will happen

but it will be later today.  So check back.  We should have an announcement or to to make by then.

In the meantime, check out what Dave Freer has to say over on Mad Genius Club today.

Be back later.

— Amanda

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Borders CEO Speaks

Approximately three months have passed since Borders filed for bankruptcy.  In that time, we’ve seen the bookseller announce the closure of more than 200 stores.  Other stores are figuratively holding their breath as they wait to see if the axe will fall on them.  Booksellers and other vendors suspended deliveries to Borders for a time before going to a cash only business.  I’ve shaken my head as reports came in that, amid all the closures and employees losing their jobs, Borders wanted to pay their senior execs millions in bonuses.  And still there has been no business plan released to the court or creditors and no reorganization plan pulled together.

What more could happen to drive my sense of disbelief higher?

Simple, the CEO of Borders, Mike Edwards, could give another interview.

The article starts by noting that Edwards, while optimistic that Borders will successfully emerge from bankruptcy, is placing the burden on publishers.  Without publishers agreeing to new terms under which they will ship books to Borders, the company will fail.  While he doesn’t say it, I can’t help but wonder if these new terms are actually the old ones — deliver books to us without us having to pay for them.  Trust us, we’ll pay you sometime down the road.  Trust us, we’re your friend.

February 16th saw Borders filing for bankruptcy.  Since then it has closed — or announced upcoming closures — of approximately 230 stores.  As the article says, Borders “continues to bleed cash” to the tune of a $52.6 million loss from January 1 – March 26.

My disbelief at Edwards’ disconnect grew when he commented about his disappointment at how the Ann Arbor community hasn’t rallied around to support Borders.  A community already hard hit by the struggling economy, a community that had been so proud of its ties with Borders until the company morphed into something the founders probably could never have imagined, and he is disappointed it hadn’t rallied around to support it.  I have friends in the area who probably asked themselves what Borders had done to help the community in recent years.

And let’s not forget that in the same metaphorical breath, Edwards said that Borders corporate HQ could be leaving Ann Arbor.  That’s really giving them a reason to support the troubled company, isn’t it?

I guess what baffles me the most is Edwards’ attitude that publishers, vendors, landlords and employees must make concessions to save his company.  He wants publishers and vendors to forget the past non-payments and start supplying him with products on a wink and a handshake.  He wants landlords to redo lease terms to lower Borders’ payments.  Employees by the thousands have lost their jobs.  The ripple effect of all this goes into each community — and he doesn’t seem to want to consider this.

I guess that’s why I’m not impressed when he responds to a question about executive bonuses by saying these probably won’t be paid.  In other words, he doesn’t think they can meet the goals required for the bonuses to kick in.  If they can’t meet these goals, is there any real chance Borders can come out of bankruptcy?

Oh yeah, these goals also hinge on concessions from landlords, creditors, etc.

Edwards did say in the interview that Borders has come up with a business plan it will be sharing with publishers in the coming days.  This plan includes terms Edwards described as a “shared risk scenario”.  Am I the only one who sees big problems with publishers taking on any more risks right now?  Especially with the rumbling storm off their metaphorical coast as authors start looking more closely at their sales figures and royalty reports?

Another indication that Borders refused to see the writing on the wall and then, when the wall smacked them in the face still wanted to put the responsibility on others is the comment from Edwards that they only reason they closed the almost 230 stores is because publishers wouldn’t agree to concession in January.  If these concessions had been agreed to then, only 110 stores would have been closed.

Maybe I’m slow here, but Borders initially announced that these stores were closed because they weren’t profitable.  Is Edwards saying he’d have kept unprofitable stores open — and continue an even larger cash bleed than it is experiencing now — if publishers had agreed to continue supplying books without payment?  The mind boggles.

Then comes his disconnect, or at least putting on of blinders, about the future of e-books.  He notes that, when he joined Borders a year and a half ago, e-book sales were approximately 1% of the market.  According to him, at that time the Kindle didn’t have “any traction”.  And he is oh so surprised by the increasing popularity of e-books and the increase in their sales numbers.

I’m sorry.  All he had to do was look at the sales figures for the last ten years.  They’re available.  A simple google search will find them.  If he didn’t want to do that, just look at what was happening from his competitors at the time.  Amazon had brought out the Kindle 2 by then.  The Nook was coming out.  Sony had a dedicated e-reader.  Baen Books had been successfully publishing and marketing e-books for years, as had other publishers.

Edwards is disappointed publishers haven’t been more supportive of them during these first few months of bankruptcy.  But there is one word he uses that everyone should note and remember — especially if you happen to be one of the publishers he’s asking for concessions from.  According to Edwards, “If all the pieces have to come together, the terms commitment then drives the financial sponsorship.”  Note the last word — sponsorship.  That really is the crux of what they are wanting.  They want publishers — who are facing their own financial crises right now — and other vendors to SPONSOR their debt.

After reading this interview, my confidence in Borders is even lower than it had been and that saddens me.  I love bookstores.  I think they are a vital part of a community.  But this sense of entitlement, of trying to put the responsibility on others instead of where it belongs bothers me a great deal.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t surprise me from a corporation that has shown more concern about rewarding execs who didn’t read the writing on the wall, or who at least ignored it, than about the employees who have suffered as a result.

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International Day Against DRM & Irony

Today is the third annual International Day Against DRM.  This is one “cause” everyone at NRP can get behind.  When you buy an e-book, you should be able to read it on any device you own and it shouldn’t be tethered to one type of device or another.  Nor should there be a limit to the number of devices you can download it to.  We’ve all suffered that fatal hard drive crash and find we can’t read an e-book we bought because the new hard drive has a different version of Adobe DE on it, etc.  So, if you agree with those supporting the call for no more DRM, let the publishers still demanding it know.  Email them your concerns and vote with your pocket book because, let’s face it, money is all they will listen to.

Now, the irony of this is that two of the so-called Big 6 publishers who not only add DRM to their ebooks but also have adopted the Agency Model of pricing have announced their first quarter earnings for this year.  Guess what, digital sales for them are up.  Hatchett UK’s digital sales were more than four times what they had been and now comprise approximately 5% of their total sales.  That said, it is still important to note that the company’s overall publishing sales were down 10% — something they attribute to the fact there are no more Twilight books.  Which also shows a potentially fatal weakness.  No company the size of Hatchett should rely on a single franchise of novels to make a profit.

Simon & Schuster reported that digital sales comprised 18% of their worldwide sales the first quarter of this year.  This helped lift profits, before debt and amortization, due to the decrease in shipping and return costs.

How much more of an increase these companies would have seen if they didn’t load their books with DRM and didn’t price them higher than most e-book purchasers are willing to pay is anyone’s guess.  Just as it’s anyone’s guess if they will actually read the writing on the wall and realize that e-books aren’t the poor second cousin anymore but are, in fact, a viable and vibrant part of their product line.

As I said earlier, if you support doing away with DRM, want the freedom to be able to buy an e-book at competitive prices and be able to read it on any device, let the publishers know.  Send them feedback and vote with your pocketbooks.  And pass the word to your friends to support International Day Against DRM.

–Amanda

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Monday morning

One of the rules here has been to stay away from politics.  But today has to be an exception.  Here is a hat tip and a big THANK YOU to those spec ops who executed the rate and finally dealt with Bin Ladin.  Here’s to every man and woman in uniform now, in the past and those who will come in the future.  Your sacrifices, and those of your friends and families, are what help keep this country strong.  But the death of Bin Ladin doesn’t necessarily mean the danger is gone.  The snake that is al Qaeda may grow a new head.

But for now, I shall carry with me the images of the people gathering at Ground Zero not to mourn this time but to celebrate finally getting a bit of closure, perhaps even vengeance.  And again, thank you to our military past, present and future.

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