Vanity Fair Interviews George R.R. Martin

Vanity Fair has posted an entertaining, rangy interview with George R.R. Martin on life, the challenges of adapting A Song of Fire and Ice into the Game of Thrones TV show, and writing:

I think you write what you want to read. I’ve been a reader, a voracious reader, since I was a kid in Bayonne. “George with his nose in a book,” they always called me. So I’ve read a lot of stories in my life, and some have affected me very deeply; others I forget five minutes after I put ‘em down. One of the things I’ve come to really appreciate is a kind of unpredictability in my fiction. There’s nothing that bores me quicker than a book that just seems, I know exactly where this book is going. You’ve read them, too. You open a new book and you read the first chapter, maybe the first two chapters, and you don’t even have to read the rest of it. You can see exactly where it’s going. I think I got some of that when I was growing up and we were watching TV. My mother would always predict where the plots were going, whether it was I Love Lucy or something like that. “Well, this is going to happen,” she would say. And, sure enough, it would happen! And nothing was more delightful, when something different happened, when it suddenly took a twist. As long as the twist was justified. You can’t just arbitrarily throw in twists and turns that make no sense. Things have to follow. You want the thing in the end where you say, “Oh my God, I didn’t see that coming, but there was foreshadowing; there was a hint of it here, there was a hint of it there. I should have seen it coming.” And that, to me, is very satisfying. I look for that in the fiction that I read and I try to put it into my own fiction.

Judge Rules In Favor of HarperCollins Over Open Road in Ebook Case

Publisher’s Weekly reports the judge ruled in favor of HarperCollins in the long-running ebook copyright infringement lawsuit concerning Jean Craighead George’s Julie of the Wolves.

“Having accordingly relied on the words of the contract, this Court holds that, by its language, the contract grants to HarperCollins the exclusive right to license electronic publications, a right which was infringed by Open Road in its unlicensed e-book publication of Julie of the Wolves,” held judge Naomi Reice Buchwald.

The critical point of the contract language apparently being:

Specifically, paragraph 20 of the 1971 contract states that HarperCollins “shall grant no license without the prior written consent of the Author… including uses in storage and retrieval and information systems, and/or whether through computer, computer-stored, mechanical or other electronic means now known or hereafter invented…”

The judge was not convinced by Open Road’s argument that the above language was in reference to storage in electronic form rather than sale.

Emergence by K. L. Schwengel Released

Emergence, the second book in IMP K. L. Schwengel’s Darkness & Light fantasy series is available now. (The first book in the series can be found here: First of Her Kind)

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Emergence, by K.L. Schwengel cover

(Click to buy on Amazon)

The battle for Ciara’s power has drawn the full attention of the Emperor and the Imperial Mages, forcing Bolin to put duty above safety and take her to Nisair. It won’t be an easy trip, even with an Imperial escort and a Galysian elder accompanying them. Especially since Donovan has found himself some new allies, one of who wields a dark magic that has literally gotten under Bolin’s skin.

For Ciara, coming to terms with the increasingly tangible manifestation of her power could destroy her. Even if they make it to Nisair–something that grows more unlikely by the day–there is no surety of safety for Ciara, or any of them. Not with Donovan willing to gamble everything to achieve his goals, or Bolin’s uncharacteristically reckless behavior, the result of which is the attention of something that has everyone worried.

Loyalties will be tested, lives will be lost, and no one will emerge unchanged as they find things are not always so clear on the line dividing Darkness and Light.

B&N Leadership Change May Signal Refocusing on Physical Book Retailing

Barnes & Noble allowed CEO William Lynch to resign a couple days ago after the Nook business suffered a massive loss over the holiday quarter. Lynch was the driving force of the Nook business and rather than replace him, they’ve put the Nook business in the hands of the company’s CFO, Michael Huseby. Hard to interpret that as anything but deemphasizing the ebook business in anticipation of spinning it off for sale, especially with the founder, Len Riggio, taking over at the top and talking about getting back to the basic bookstore business. More at Reuters.

Judge Finds Apple Guilty of Conspiring to Fix Ebook Prices

The title says it all. Apple lost.

From Reuters:

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan found “compelling evidence” that Apple violated federal antitrust law by playing a “central role” in a conspiracy with the publishers to eliminate retail price competition and raise e-book prices.

Apple responded:

Apple did not conspire to fix e-book pricing. When we introduced the iBookstore in 2010, we gave customers more choice, injecting much needed innovation and competition into the market, breaking Amazon’s monopolistic grip on the publishing industry. We’ve done nothing wrong.

There’s a lot of truth there about increasing competition, but that’s sort of beside the point of conspiring to raise prices and eliminate price competition while doing so.

It seems unlikely this will have much further impact on the ebook market. The publishers settling took care of that already. It’s just a dent on Apple’s reputation and pocketbook at this point.

Random House Revises Hydra Imprint Terms

Public pressure that started with the SFWA appears to have played a big role in Random House revising the terms for all four of their digital-first imprints: Hydra, Alibi, Flirt and Loveswept. They’ve announced the basics on their site.

Authors now have the option of a more typical advance and royalty model contract, or the zero-advance net revenue split modified to remove the provision where the author pays the costs of publishing. The reversion terms are also clearly defined now. All in all, these look like a more reasonable baseline proposal for negotiating a final contract.

SFWA vs Hydra, Round Two

The wheel goes round. The SFWA has now responded to Random House’s open letter concerning the Hydra contract terms with one of their own on SFWA.com. They remain unconvinced.

You extol your business model as “different”; the more accurate description, we believe, is “exploitative.”

If Hydra is willing to assume the costs long assumed by publishers rather than attempting to shift those costs to authors, and is willing to pay advances in line with SFWA minimum rates at the very least, we will be willing to reconsider it as a qualifying market, and as a suitable home for writers. Until that time, however, we cannot do either, and will warn writers about Hydra.

I’m still interested in seeing more discussion about the reversion clause. While billing authors for publising expenses is the biggest concern, I think control of rights falls ahead of advances in the current publishing landscape as a concern for authors, if not for SFWA qualification. (I understand, however, that SFWA has always drawn their qualification lines at “reasonable advance” and that’s why their statement is phrased around that primary concern.)