I’ve been busy this past week trying to finish the novel I’m working on as well as working on edits for NRP. So I’ll admit I haven’t been online as much as I usually am and, judging by some of the stories I’ve read this morning trying to prepare for this post, it’s probably a good thing. I don’t know whether to roll my eyes or reach out through cyberspace to knock heads together. So, since I always love the sound of empty heads knocking together, let’s start with that.
Yes, I’m evil, but surely you already knew that ;-p
Yesterday I did one of my periodic trips through Amazon looking for some new books for my mother’s kindle as well as for something for me to read. I found several that look good and pushed them onto Mom’s kindle. I downloaded another couple to mine — books I figured would be quick reads that wouldn’t have me wanting to throw anything against the wall. So I opened one of them last night and, you guessed it, I quickly wanted to throw my kindle against the wall. Just as I foretold in my column several months ago, we now have the first of the legacy publisher Fifty Shades-lite books. The names had been changed and so had the location, but that’s about all. Young woman is inexplicably drawn to ultra-rich young man with some rather “interesting” sexual habits. Away from him, she is strong and willful, confident and sure. With him, she surrenders everything. She is his to do with as he pleases.
My problem isn’t with the bondage and domination. My problem is with the poor writing, with the obvious lineage — for lack of a better word — to Fifty Shades, and with the fact publishers are continuing with the same old tact that helped get them in trouble in the first place: trying to recreate an overnight sensation that wasn’t that great to begin with. Part of the problem with the Fifty Shades phenomenon is that the books came out so close together. Unlike Harry Potter or even the Twilight series, there is no long running track record. Word of mouth, thanks to some actual promotion by the publisher (when’s the last time you saw a fiction novel hitting all three major morning news shows as well as the talk show circuit?) boosted its sales tremendously.
So, getting back to the book, I managed to get through the first chapter only by forcing myself. The only thing that kept me from throwing my kindle against the far wall was the fact it is tethered to the wall via its charger since the battery doesn’t hold a charge for long now. Yes, it has been deleted from my kindle and, no, I didn’t pay full price for it. Fortunately. I got it on a promo deal. That’s the only reason I bought it in the first place. Otherwise, I would have used the preview option and would never have downloaded it.
Next head knock goes to not only the rabid fans of Michael Jackson who took to Amazon to bash a book about their idol by giving it one star reviews but also to those who are, in turn, bashing them for what they did. Look, I’m the first to condemn reviews given by folks who haven’t read a book. I’ve received a few of those over the last few years. They rank right up there with those who give one star reviews because they don’t believe there are mothers out there who live to see their daughters married. Oops, sorry, I digressed. Back to the Jackson book.
The book is question is Randall Sullivan’s Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson. The fans took to twitter and facebook to encourage others to give negative reviews to the book, feeling it presented a negative picture of their idol. You can read more about the campaign and how folks have reacted to it here.
My reaction when reading the article was to pretty much shrug and wonder why the actions of the fans surprised anyone. If there has been a pop icon in the last four decades, it has been Michael Jackson. His fans have been rabid in their adoration of him — and their defense of his character. Don’t believe me, go back and read some of the reactions to when he was brought up on criminal charges or to the photos of him holding one of his kids over the balcony. Anyone writing a book about him that was even the least bit critical should have anticipated a backlash of negative reviews.
For those who are blaming all this on Amazon for letting the fans post their reviews, get over it. You’d have screamed if Amazon hadn’t posted the reviews. Then they would have been censoring. As long as the reviews met the rules for posting, there was little Amazon could do.
So count that as a three-way head knock.
The eye roll has been reserved for Total Boox. I’ll admit there’s a head scratch there as well. Total Boox is developing an app that will look like most e-book apps. You’ll pull you books onto the bookshelf and click on the one you want to read. Before you do that, you’ll set up your account with them, linking it to your credit card or preferred payment method. That sounds pretty standard, right? Well, it takes a left turn from there. The point of the Total Boox app is that you pay as you read.
Yes, you read that right. You pay for the book as you read it.
The way it works is that you don’t pay for the book when you pull it over into your bookshelf. Instead, once you open the book, the app keeps track of the number of page clicks and the percentage of the book you’ve read. You are then charged based on that.
I have a few problems, for lack of a better word, with this. On the surface it looks great. Who wants to pay full price for a book you don’t like and never finish? But who wants to have to keep track of how much you’ve been charged for a book that you might be reading over the course of several months — or longer. The first image I had was of Sarah getting a book she’s going to use for research. She might read a chapter or two of it, just to verify something, for one book and then not read it for a year or more. Then, when she is writing another book, she remembers this particular title and goes back and reads a bit more of it and suddenly there’s another charge for it. It can turn into a bookkeeping nightmare.
Another issue I have with it is that I assume it will be loaded with DRM and you know how I feel about that. Still, it will be interesting to see just how much traction this model gets in the e-book market.
For more information about Total Boox, read here.