21
Oct
2008

Yesterday Alex Carnevale over at io9 brought up a story about how some science fiction writers are calling for a boycott of the Borders chain of bookstores overthe fact the store had skipped ordering their book.

As I have dug down deeper into the back story of what was going on, it makes even less sense than it did at first blush.  Going backwards, sci-fi authors such as Tobias Buckell and Pat Cadigan are saying that authors should boycott Borders for their recent trend to skip titles in hardcovers or expensive trades.

The Borders chain has been in financial trouble for a while now and is trying to get itself back on track by tightening their belt.  Add in the recent economic news and you will probably find chain stores in numerous industries trying to find ways to cut back on expenses, and that will mean tighter constraints on orders for new products.

The idea of authors withholding new titles because previous were skipped is just asinine, and also probably impossible.  Is anyone in their right mind going to turn down an order of a few hundred copies of a new book because their previous one was passed over?  Get over yourself and get your ego in check.  Add in do you really think the publisher, who is the ultimate say in things like this is going to say to a bookseller, “Oh no, sorry, we aren’t selling this book to you because you hurt the author’s feelings on their last book, and what they say goes!”

Yeah, that isn’t happening.

Andrew Wheeler, a Marketing Manager for John Wiley & Sons, has an incredibly in-depth blog post about how book ordering works and how “skips” suck, but they are part of the nature of bok selling.  All of this is extremely easy for me to relate to from my comic book selling days, and if comic creators had wanted to boycott me for not ordering their previous works, I would have had nothing to sell.  You only have so much budget to work with, so much shelf space and only so many resources to devote to promoting a given project.  Worst of all, unlike book stores, direct sales comic stores have no return capabalities, so it was always a huge risk for us to order, so every book had to earn its way on to our shelves.

In short, I think I am just awe-struck by the ego and entitlement these authors are showing.  While I realize every author wants to sell copies of their books, they should also remember all those authors who can’t even get their books published.  So you didn’t make it in to Borders, fine, you just work that much harder to help promote the copies ordered by other sellers.  However, to punish a book seller that is already in financial problems is just stupid.  Say they ordered 900 copies of your previous book, skipped the next, you boycott them on the next one, they go out of business in the meantime, just how many copies of the project after that one do you think they will order?  Yeah, that’s right, 0.

Your biggest concern right now should be keeping your industry afloat so you have future work, not your bruised egos.  Pull yourself up by your boot straps, put a smile on, and keep your industry going.  Don’t act like tantrum throwing children.

UPDATE: Okay, okay, I get it, I misread the situation!  The authors did NOT, I repeat, DID NOT call for a boycott.

15
Sep
2008
Written by  |  under Books, TV  |  5 Comments

HBO launched a new vampire series called True Blood a little over a week ago, and, everyone hold on to your hats, I’m enjoying it!

I know, I know, most people are used to me ragging on all forms of media, and that’s not to say it’s without it’s faults, but it is holding my attention.

The basic premise is that a Japanese company came up with a synthetic blood named “True Blood”, and once this was known, vampires decided to “come out of the coffin”.  Over the two years since this happened, they have been integrating into society, and are even on the verge of getting the Vampire Rights Bill passed to give them equal rights with mortals in the United States.

In Bon Temps, LA, small town waitress Sookie Stackhouse (Played by Oscar winning actress Anna Paquin) has been anxious to meet one.  Then, one night Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) walks into her bar, and she is instantly attracted to him.  Part of the reason may be that Sookie has been telepathic her entire life, and she has trouble turning it off, but for some reason all she hears from Bill is silence, and she finds it relaxing.

I won’t give away any more of the plot details, but I have to say I am intrigued by a lot of aspects of the show, and it quickly sets up a lot of mysteries that I am anxious to figure out.  Who killed the town tramp?  What is going on with Sookie’s brother?  Why does a mysterious dog seem to follow Sookie everywhere she goes, and why does Bill keep smiling at it like he knows something?

What I didn’t know going into this was that is based on an 8 novel series called The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris.  The first episode intrigued me enough to go ahead and order the first novel, Dead Until Dark, which I, of course, have not had time to read yet.  I also must admit that I went ahead and picked it up because the show debuted to fairly low ratings, and it makes me worried we won’t get past the first 12 episodes they’ve filmed.  True, I may lose interest a couple episodes in (only two have aired so far), but for now it has me looking forward to each new episode.

If you’ve got the time, go ahead and check it out.  If you like vampire stories, you’ll like it.  If you like Souther style mysteries, you’ll like it.

The only thing I truly hate about the series?  I’ve long had an idea for a vampire story that a synthetic blood played a large aspect in… d’oh!

31
Jul
2008
Written by  |  under Books  |  No Comments

Remember books?  You know, those things printed on paper… placed between two covers?  Yeah, those things!  Well, oddly enough, I heard about two today that are worth mentioning.

In the seventh book of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,an important part of the plot hinged on a fictional children’s book called Tales of Beedle the Bard.  J.K. Rowling, the author of the series, made a handwritten copy of the book and auctioned it off to charity.  Amazon.com ended up buying it and posting copious amounts of information about it on their site, sharing it with the world.

Now it has been announced that a standard edition is being released, and a deluxe version that will be exclusive to Amazon.  The standard edition will have a suggested retail price of $12.99 ($7.59 at Amazon) and  will have all of the drawings Ms. Rowling did for the original, along with all five of the fairy tales with comments and footnots by “Professor Dumbeldore”.  The deluxe edition will set you back $100 and features metal parts on the cover, 10 additional drawings by Rowling and a few other extras.

It would be easy to call this a cash grab by Rowling, but like she did with the set of text books a few years back, all of the proceeds from these books will be going to charity.  The charity, Children’s High Level Group, was set up by Rowling and Emma Nicholson MEP to help vulnerable children.

I know I gave the last book a harsh review, but it is always hard to argue with anything that is done to benefit children, so kudos to her for using her notoriety to help them out.

The second book is just amazing that it will even exist.  I have talked about Garfield Minus Garfield before, and it amazed me in this day and age of copyright lawsuits that such a creature could exist.  My amazement deepened even more when Jim Davis, the creator of Garfield, talked about how he felt it was a wonderful idea.

Today the story takes an even odder turn with the announcement that Garfield Minus Garfield is becoming a book, and it will be published alongside a book celebrating the 30th anniversary of the original series.  The the Garfield Minus Garfield book will publish the original strip along with the version that features only the character of Jon Arbuckle.

This whole concept is just amazing, and congratulations to Dan Walsh, the creator of the site, on the book deal.