Kindle, A New Way To Read

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sony Adopts EPUB Standard for Reader

The International Digital Publishing Forum's epub e-book standard received a big vote of support this morning when Sony announced that effective immediately its Sony Reader will now support the standard. Beginning in August, all new devices shipped will use epub, and right now owners of existing devices can go to to update their device's software for epub support.

Brennan Mullin, v-p of Sony Audio, said the company was adopting the epub standard to encourage more vendors, booksellers and publishers to get involved in the e-book market and to broaden the amount of content that can be viewed on the Reader. The move to use epub is a significant change in approach for Sony, which has used its own standards and restricted consumers to buying e-books for the Reader from its own store. The use of epub will allow consumers to buy titles from a variety of outlets and will grow the number of titles compatible with the Reader to well passed the 45,000 now available through its online store. Another avenue for new material will be Adobe: Sony also annouced today that the device will support Adobe e-books with DRM and will also have the capability to reflow standard PDF e-books and other documents.

Publishers, who generally favor the one-format approach made possible by epub, welcomed Sony’s decision. “Sony’s support of epub is an important step forward in the cooperation of publishers and portable digital book manufacturers to create better experiences for readers,” said Brent Lewis, v-p digital & internet for Harlequin. “We’re thrilled with the upgrade." IDPF, of which Sony is a member, approved epub as an industrywide standard in an attempt to foster interoperability among e-book reading devices.

Mullin said sales of the Reader have been steady and that sales of titles have increased. Interest in e-books has grown and although reluctant to credit a competitor, Mullin acknowledged that the buzz around Amazon’s Kindle “has been good for everybody in the e-book market.” Amazon, however, has not adopted the epub standard.

In addition to adopting the epub standard, Sony has announced it has started offering the Reader in the U.K.

Jim Milliot PW

07/28/08 Mon 7:36am

Foxy Brown & Lil Kim Don't Deliver on Books

Being incarcerated may be a pretty good excuse, but Simon & Schuster apparently doesn't care what led to Lil Kim and Foxy Brown's writers block.

The New York-based publisher sued the rappers Thursday, intending to get its money back after paying out generous advances for books that the ladies never completed.

According to the dual lawsuits filed in New York State Supreme Court, Simon & Schuster gave Kim, whose real name is Kimberly Jones, $40,000 in 2003 for a novel that was supposed to be finished the following year. Brown was then paid $75,000 in 2005 to pen her autobiography, which was tentatively titled Broken Silence.

"Both accepted the money, and both books never were delivered," S&S spokesman Adam Rothberg told

Since then, however, both hip-hop stars have spent time behind bars for various offenses—Brown for violating her probation multiple times after finally being sentenced for a 2004 fight in a Manhattan nail shop, and Kim for perjury and conspiracy after lying to a grand jury about her friend's involvement in a 2001 shooting.

Brown, whose real name is Inga Marchand, was released in April after serving eight months of a yearlong sentence. Kim's been a free bird since July 2006, when she flew the coop after spending 10 months behind bars.

But even with all that life experience under their belts, neither MC has done enough prosaic musing to satisfy Simon & Schuster, which also published 50 Cent's autobiography and books penned by members of his G-Unit crew.

-- Natalie Finn from E! Online

07/28/08 Mon 7:31 am

Amazon Doing Well Despite Economy

I read this piece and was surprised that Amazon is doing so well.

The economic slump has not slowed down Amazon’s growth as the e-tailer reported the total revenue jumped 41% in the second quarter ended June 30, to $4.06 billion. Total media group sales rose 31%, to $2.41 billion, while North America media revenue had comparatively modest gains of 24%, to $1.15 billion. Net income, which includes a $53 million gain from the sale of Amazon’s European DVD rental business, rose 102%, to $158 million.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon chairman, said the increase in fuel price is an advantage for the company since more consumers seem to prefer to shop at home rather than use gas to travel to a store. CFO Tom Szkutak said he didn't expect rising transportation costs to significantly impact the e-tailer's margins, and Bezos added that the company has no intention of changing its free shipping offers because of higher gas prices.

For the first six months of 2008, North American media sales were up 23%, to $2.35 billion. Total sales rose 39%, to $8.2 billion and earnings rose to $301 million from $189 million. The company still expects total sales for the full year to rise between 30% and 35%, reaching about $20 billion.

The number of titles available for the Kindle are now up to 140,000 compared to 90,000 at launch, and the company did not break out any other Kindle figures except to say sales of e-books represent a low double digit percentage of the 140,000 titles available in both e-books and print formats.
Jim Milliot PW

07/28/08 Mon 7:25am

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sony opens up e-book Reader to other booksellers

With the market for electronic books still relatively sleepy, Sony Corp. is trying a new tack: untethering the latest model of its e-book reading device from its own online bookstore.

On Thursday, Sony will provide a software update to the Reader, a thin slab with a 6-inch screen, so the device can display books encoded in a format being adopted by several large publishers. That means Reader owners will be able to buy electronic books from stores other than Sony's.

"This upgrade opens the door to a whole host of paid and free content from third-party e-book stores, Web sites and even public libraries," said Steve Haber, senior vice president of consumer product marketing for Sony Electronics.

With the move, Sony is partly letting go of its e-book business model, under which it sold the $300 device and the books that could be read on it. It's also a challenge to Inc., which last year put out its own e-book reader, the Kindle, and tied it to its own online store. Amazon, however, makes it relatively easy for publishers and individuals to submit books to sell through the store, with Amazon taking 65 percent of the proceeds.

Opening up the Reader could also help Sony catch up to the $359 Kindle in terms of book selection — Sony's store, which it will keep running, has about 45,000 books available, while Amazon's Kindle store sports more than 140,000.

Sony's move could also help energize the e-book industry, which has yet to take off, despite the investment of big-name companies like Sony and Amazon. Neither has released sales figures for their reading devices.

International Digital Publishing Forum, the main e-book publishing trade group, said e-book sales by a dozen major U.S. publishers amounted to $31.8 million last year, as measured on the wholesale level.

The publishing forum backs the format, called Epub, that the latest Reader model will be able to handle after the upgrade. Publishers supporting Epub include Simon & Schuster, Penguin Group, HarperMedia, Hachette Book Group, HarperMedia and Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.

Users of the Sony Reader have already been able to load books as text files or in the Portable Document Format, or PDF. But Epub is the first outside format for which the supplier can copy-protect a book, to prevent piracy.

By Peter Svensson, AP Tech Writer

07/26/08 3:30am Sat

Author Danielle Steel writes to 'give people hope'

It's only 9:33 a.m., but already Danielle Steel is having a lousy morning.

She's in a Rockefeller Plaza dressing room, having her hair tugged and her makeup tweaked. She's endured questioning from Matt Lauer on the "Today" show and soon faces a second round with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb.

Crowding around are fashionably dressed publicists, agents with noisy cell phones, burly camera operators and various preening hangers-on. The plaza outside vibrates with throngs of screaming fans, aching to rub shoulders with the famous — anyone famous.

Steel hates it.

From her pained expression, it's clear she'd rather be anywhere but here, her zone of privacy now no bigger than Al Roker himself.

"This is so not me," she says. "I hate having the spotlight on me. I hate being the focus of attention. I like being the invisible observer. So this is very painful."

Steel, who turns 61 in August, doesn't need fame: Her name is virtually synonymous with the romance novel. She doesn't need cash: Some 570 million of her books are in print. What she wants is a Garbo moment: to be left alone, to write more.

So why would she agree to an interview sandwiched between TV appearances? "Occasionally, I have to stick my nose out the door," she says, warily. "Otherwise, people are going to think I'm 100 years old and dead."

Any visit to a bookstore would disprove that — an ever-lengthening list of such Steel titles as "The Wedding," "Sisters" and "Second Chance" that crowd multiple shelves. She knocks out about three books a year.

What brings her to New York and the media glare is her 75th book, "Rogue," the tale of a sober-minded psychologist and her playboy ex-husband "whose kisses were as intoxicating as everything else about him." When one of the two considers remarriage, their lives take a turn.

The novel, which Publishers Weekly called "a familiar formula with fresh results," debuted at No. 4 on The New York Times list of best-sellers, No. 8 on USA Today's list and No. 6 on The Wall Street Journal's.

Atop such lists is a familiar Steel perch. Between 1996 and 2003, Publishers Weekly reports that 16 of her novels were best-sellers, and the Guinness World Records once cited her for having at least one book on the Times list for 390 consecutive weeks.

All that strangely doesn't calm her. She may have been writing novels since she was 19, but there's an insecurity that remains untouched, no matter the plaudits.

"I still never finish a book without being terrified I can't write another one. I never start one without being terrified I can't finish it," she says. "It's sort of a torturous process."

While it's hard to generalize, Steel's books are usually populated by smart, attractive heroines juggling work, love and family. About one in five are historical, set in, say, pre-World War II Europe or the Russian Revolution. Some tackle larger issues, such as homelessness in "Safe Harbour," domestic violence in "Journey," infertility in "Mixed Blessings" and even cloning in "The Klone and I."

"I think the one recurring theme that I didn't used to be aware of is that I try to give people hope," she says. "I think that's so important. Love is wonderful, but hope is more important. Without hope you can't live."

Critics haven't always appreciated the effort, often recoiling from her shallower characters, brand-name dropping and the sugary aftertaste her books leave behind.

No matter — the woman is critic-proof, a Teflon one-woman publishing phenomenon. Steel is a leader of a genre that generated $1.37 billion in book sales in 2006, outselling every market category except religion/inspirational, according to the Romance Writers of America.

How does Steel handle critics? "It's very simple. I haven't read them in years," she says. "My feelings get very hurt when people say mean things about me. The trouble I find is that they don't just criticize the book — they then get nasty personally. And so I stopped reading them."
Her mini-empire also includes 15 children's books, multiple adaptations for TV or DVDs, a volume of poetry and even a perfume from Elizabeth Arden. She was decorated by the French government in 2002 for her lifetime contribution to world culture.

The latest book came out of her head the way most of the others did, with a mixture of happenstance, a keen eye for potential drama and a dose of mystery.

"They just happen. I can't tell you how they come. I hear about an issue that I like or something comes to mind — they always kind of drop out of the sky," she says. "I mean, I was in a closet some years ago putting stuff away and I heard a noise and I suddenly thought, 'A book about a ghost!' So I wrote a book about a ghost and I had to construct this whole elaborate thing to get there."

That book, naturally, became "The Ghost." Another time, inspiration came during a dinner party: Steel was seated next to a friend who confessed that his wife had left him with three young children. It led to the book, "Daddy."

She pounds out all her novels in a tiny office in her San Francisco home, where she lives half the year. (The other half is spent in Paris, where she refuses to work.)

All the books are written on a 1946 Olympia manual typewriter and first drafts are usually done in a punishing 20-hour shift while "dressed in my nighty with my hair sticking up straight."

"There are people who show up nicely dressed, they work from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. I can't do that," she says. "Sometimes I don't leave my house for two or three weeks."

In person, Steel is far more approachable than the woman whose regal photograph appears on her book jackets. Her chestnut hair flows freely and her jewelry sparkles in an understated way. She's a mix of elegant and down-to-earth, a fun rich aunt who might whisk you away for expensive adventures.

Nita Taublib, senior vice president and deputy publisher at Bantam Dell, confesses she didn't know what to expect before she started working with Steel nine years ago.

"From the second I met her, I just felt the warmth from her," says Taublib. "She really is charming and normal and probably the opposite of everything people would expect her to be. She's just a real human being."

The one thing Steel isn't warm about is questions — ironically — about her love life. She has been married and divorced five times, but visibly stiffens at queries about them.

Born in New York, she lived through her own parents' divorce and was working in public relations when she was urged by the then-editor of Ladies' Home Journal to write a book, which became "Going Home."

"I tried it. I thought it was a fun idea. And it sold very quickly. And then I wrote five more that nobody ever bought. They're in my basement in a box," she says with a laugh.

Steel, who has seven children and is the stepmother to two more, lifted her cocoon of privacy in 1999 to write "His Bright Light," the chronicle of her son Nick Traina's battle with manic depression and suicide in 1997 at age 19.

The loss of her son and collapse of her fourth marriage soon led to a cause she champions: ending homelessness. She says that when the bottom fell out of her world, she went to church.

"I was praying, 'Who can I help that's more miserable than I am?' And I got this thing in my head, 'Help the homeless.' I was like, 'You didn't understand. Let's try that again. A different message, please?' And it kept coming. So I thought, 'OK, OK.'"

So she traveled the streets of San Francisco and was haunted by what she saw. Steel set up an outreach team called Yo! Angel! and goes out about once every month, incognito, handing out sleeping bags, food and toiletries.

"I can't stop," she says.

Even so, she won't leave her typewriter for too long.

"I'm driven from inside. A story will come to mind and it has to come out, like a frog with a bubble," she says. "I want to work forever. And try to get better forever."

From AP

07/26/08 1:45am Sat

Heather Thomas Writes a Book

Remember Heather Thomas? The pin up from the 80's and from the Fall Guy? Well she is now a novelist. Who would have thunk it? I saw her on the today show doing promotion and the name of her book is Trophies.

07/26/08 1:31am Sat

Gillian Anderson (X-Files) and her love of books

More, more, just give her more books! The X-Files star finsd beauty, influence, wisdom, and inspiration in three hard-to-shake contemporary novels, a high-climbing history, and the ever-compassionate Pema Chodron.

I remember when a friend gave me a novel—I had huge respect for this person's taste—and he said to me, "I am so jealous that you have this in front of you." I knew exactly what he meant. I'd had that feeling myself when I recommended a book to friends. On the first read, your skin is tingling and you're completely overwhelmed by the beauty of the story or its poetry. It's very difficult to return to that place when you go back to a book for a second read because you're obviously influenced by an inner knowledge of where it's going to end.

If I hear about a good book, I will buy it automatically, so now I've got many, many books in piles. It's strange—I sometimes have the desire not to finish an amazing book, and at the same time, I know that there are so many more to read. What a beautiful conundrum to have in life, you know?


07/26/08 1:18am Sat

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Authors Guild Warns on S&S e-Book Royalty Proposal

Simon & Schuster out to take money out of the pockets of their writers again.

The Authors Guild has sent out an advisory to its members suggesting that they carefully review a letter from Simon & Schuster that looks to add an amendment to their contracts that will set the standard royalty for e-books at 15% of the catalog retail price for e-books. The Authors Guild alert makes three points about the proposal: members should discuss the amendment with their attorney or agent; warns that, depending on a member’s particular contract with S&S, the amendment may grant S&S rights that otherwise would be retained by the author; and notes that members should be aware that the amendment may affect their ability to obtain a reversion of rights.

The alert further advises that members should “keep your powder dry,” when negotiating e-book royalty rates, suggesting that members try to retain the right to renegotiate e-book royalties. “The Authors Guild expects that the 15% of the retail list price will be the low-water mark for e-book royalties,” the Guild speculated. “As the e-book market develops, authors with clout will doubtlessly insist on a more reasonable share of e-book revenues, and the industry will have to adapt.”

S&S spokesperson Adam Rothberg said the amendment was sent to a "long list" of authors whose books have not yet been adapted to e-books, with most of the letters going directly to agents. He said the overall goal is to sell more e-books in a rapidly growing market, "and we want to work with our agents and author friends to do that." But that in order to move forward, S&S believes it is important to determine what the royalty rate should be, Rothberg added. Noting that it is still "early days" in the e-book industry, Rothberg said S&S remains willing to talk to authors and agents about any questions they have about the e-book market.

This is the second time the Guild has challenged a proposed change in contract language by S&S. Last year, the organization protested the publisher’s plan to alter the conditions for when authors could get back their rights. The two sides eventually worked out a compromise.

by Jim Milliot w/ PW 07/18/08

12:40 am

Friday, July 18, 2008

Sandra Brown at Thrillerfest '08

Here is a short piece I got in my email from Writer’s Digest about Sandra Brown.

Sandra Brown was the "ThrillerMaster" at ThrillerFest '08 and she was also one of the spotlight authors. What a remarkable career this woman has had—one that any writer would envy. She's had an astonishing 56 novels on The New York Times bestseller list. Curious about how she has managed to be so prolific? I was too. Apparently, early in her career she wrote romance novels and was able to crank out five books a year. Now that she's writing primarily thrillers, she sticks to one novel per year. She revealed in her interview that she goes on writing marathons: one in July to crank out a rough draft when the manuscript is on deadline, and another in January when she's doing final rewrites before the book is due to the publisher.

Here is a piece from WD about an article Sandra Brown wrote for them. She talks about her mentor Mary Lynn Baxter.

I met Mary Lynn’s husband at a writing conference at the University of Houston in 1980. It was the first one I ever attended. I told her husband I was trying to get my bearings, that I felt like I didn’t belong there because I wasn’t a published author. He suggested I talk to his wife because she, who at the time owned an independent bookstore, knew the business. It was a very fortuitous meeting. When we met, she asked about my writing and said, “When you get a manuscript you’re happy with, send it to me, and I’ll tell you whether it’s any good.” About six months later, I did. She, in turn, called an editor who was acquiring manuscripts for a new line Dell was doing called Candlelight Ecstasy. Because of Mary Lynn’s recommendation, I sent the editor my manuscript, and she bought it. So Mary Lynn was responsible for my first sale. Love’s Encore was published a year later.Mary Lynn is still my best friend, and we talk several times a week. She lives in Texas, about 250 miles away from me. We see each other two or three times a year. And when I get in a snarl plot-wise, it sometimes helps to talk it over with her. She’s very insightful in terms of what works and what doesn’t. And now she’s a published writer, as well.We write two different genres now—I write thrillers, and she writes romance. She writes with a lot of emotion, as I do. We’re both very into personal relationships between people—how those people affect everything we do.

Mary Lynn Baxter on Sandra Brown

I think Sandra’s the very best at plotting. She has an exceptional ability to surprise the reader with all the twists and turns in her books. What she’s taught me is how to be a professional: No matter how difficult the situation, she handles it with the utmost professionalism in her charming Southern fashion. She’s always been able to keep a positive attitude, even under adverse circumstances. Writing is one of the most difficult professions, but Sandra has never changed. She’s still the same sweet, helpful, down-to-earth person she was when she first started in the business. Although it’s changed, Sandra hasn’t.

Best Advice from Mary Lynn Baxter (in her own words)

Hone your craft, then write the kind of book you like to read. While that may sound easy, it isn’t. Writing takes time, self-discipline and the ability to handle criticism.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Thrills Come to the Big Apple

The third annual International Thriller Writers (ITW) Thriller Fest comes to Manhattan this week, with panels, presentations and workshops featuring some of the genre’s biggest names. Held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel July 9-12, Thriller Fest will pay tribute to 2008 ThrillerMaster Sandra Brown, who will be presented her award by 2007 ThrillerMaster and bestselling author James Patterson. Events include a demonstration by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) entitled “Lethal Weapons, Bombs and Terrorism,” an interview with Clive Cussler by Douglas Preston, and appearances by authors Lee Child, R.L. Stine, and Steve Berry. A meeting place for authors, readers, budding writers, and publishing industry professionals, the first Thriller Fest was held in 2006. More information on ITW can be found on their Web site

By Jordan Foster -- Publishers Weekly
07/09/08 10:47 pm

Sandra Brown

Sandra Brown discusses her amazing job of being a bestselling writer.

07/09/08 10:38 pm

Interview w/ Bestselling Suspense & Romance Writer Sandra Brown

I had the pleasure of talking to an agent who represents this bestselling author. Enjoy the vid!

Friday, July 4, 2008


I found another one of my old magazine's, Writer's Digest, and found a piece with Erica Kennedy. I actually remember when her book came out because I saw it everywhere. From what it said, it's supposed to be made into a movie, but I haven't seen it or maybe it's been out and I haven't noticed.

31 year old Erica Kennedy’s debut book is Bling!

Debut book: Bling (Miramax, June 2004) a novel described as “a hip hop version of Pygmalion”

Time Frame: “I started my book in April 2002—the day after going to a media panel called ‘How to Start Your Novel.’ Halfway through the process, I got writer’s block; 3 months later, it miraculously lifted. My book sold in August 2003.”

Secret To Success: “Reviewers have called my book ‘genre-defying.’ Honestly, that’s because I didn’t know what I was doing. “I’d never written fiction. I read the Elements of Fiction book series and a ton of commercial fiction, and I just wrote in a way that felt good to me.”

Pet Peeve: “I have a moral objection to almost all chick lit, because it’s usually about neurotic, self-deprecating women how to turn themselves inside out to get a man. That offends me.”

Writer’s Digest 7/2004
07/04/08 9:20pm

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Quote of the Day for the Writer

“Creative people rarely need to be motivated—they have their own inner drive that refuses to be bored. They refuse to be complacent. They live on the edge, which is precisely what is needed to be successful and remain successful.”

-Donald Trump from his book How To Get Rich

7/04/08 12:47am

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Another Interview w/ Danielle Steel

This interview is with Matt Lauer from the Today Show.

07/02/08 7:13am

Interview w/ Danielle Steel and her new book Rogue

Hoda Kotpe and Kathie Lee Gifford interview the famous and very private Danielle Steel about her new book, Rogue.

07/01/08 10:11pm

Music Legend Clive Davis

Earlier this month music industry legend Clive Davis (r.) stopped by the New York City publication party for Parking Lot Rules & 75 Other Ideas for Raising Amazing Children (Ballantine). Davis is pictured here with author Tom Sturges
07/01/08 9:47pm

Literary Agent Sues Sites for Ruining Her Reputation

Literary agent Barbara Bauer is suing 19 bloggers and websites, including Wikipedia, YouTube and, claiming they are ruining her reputation, the New Jersey Star-Ledger reported yesterday. Online critics call Bauer one of publishing’s “20 Worst Literary Agents,” claiming she charges clients high fees for little work, and is a “scam agent.” Bauer did not return PW’s calls for comment.

Bauer’s web site says the New Jersey literary agent established her firm in 1984, and that she has helped get numerous books by award-winning authors published in multiple languages around the world.

Bauer also sued the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America web site. The case has caught the attention of free-speech groups and online activists.

The two sides are scheduled to argue the motion before a Monmouth County, NJ, judge today.

by Lynn Andriani
07/01/08 9:43 pm

Eldredge Leaving Thomas Nelson; Signs Two-Book Deal with Doubleday Religion

Bestselling Christian author John Eldredge is leaving his longtime publisher, Thomas Nelson, and has inked a two-book deal for a pair of currently untitled nonfiction works with Doubleday Religious Publishing. Eldredge, according to his agent, Curtis Yates of Yates & Yates, “will not be publishing any new major releases with Thomas Nelson in the foreseeable future.”

Eldredge is the founder of the Colorado Springs-based Ransomed Heart Ministries and a mainstay on bestseller lists; according to Doubleday there are more than nine million copies of his books in print. The one looming project the author has with Thomas Nelson is a forthcoming DVD companion to his March title from the house, Walking with God. Yates said that, right now, the deal with Doubleday is only for two titles.

In a statement Brian Hampton, Nelson's senior v-p and publisher of corporate brands, said the house still has "future projects under development" with the author and "will also continue to partner with John to keep ten years worth of life-changing material active in the marketplace.”
In his own statement Eldredge said: "I've been at Thomas Nelson exclusively since I started publishing. I have a lot of friends there and a very strong backlist. But it felt like it was time to explore new opportunities in the general market."

by Rachel Deahl w/ Publisher's Weekly
07/01/08 9:38pm