Author accuses Harper Collins of …

Time Hunters

Posted to Amazon by author Carl Ashmore:

Time HuntersHi guys,

I thought I’d make you aware of a recent situation I’ve found myself in.

In July 2010, I gained a gold star for my children’s book The Time Hunters (Book 1 of the acclaimed series for children of all ages) on the Harper Collins website ‘Authonomy’, and a highly positive review from a Harper Collins editor. Here is a passage from that review:

‘I really enjoyed reading THE TIME HUNTERS. You start off the action with a bang, drawing the reader in right away. Your writing is strong, and in places has a classic feel…. It has terrific potential.’

In October 2010, I decided to independently publish `The Time Hunters’ and made it available as print and eBook. Pretty quickly, the book gained a number of very positive reviews and began to sell well, generating a solid and loyal fan base. Since then, the book has gained 128 five star reviews across Amazon.co.uk and .com. I have also published two sequels, The Time Hunters and the Box of Eternity (Book 2 in the acclaimed series for children of all ages …) and The Time Hunters and the Spear of Fate (Book 3 in the acclaimed series for children of all ages) . I have also sold the foreign rights to a Brazillian major publisher, Bertrand Brasil, and `The Time Hunters’ is due to be published in that territory at some point in 2013.

To sum up the plot, `The Time Hunters’ is about a young girl, Becky, and her brother, Joe, who, along with their time-travelling uncle and Will Scarlet, embark on a series of fast-paced adventures in a treasure hunt for powerful ancient relics.

Anyway, this month saw the publication of a new children’s series by Harper Collins. It’s called (I’m sure you can see where this is going) ‘Time Hunters’ . And the plot – well, it’s about a boy and girl who embark on a series of fast-paced adventures in a treasure hunt through time for powerful ancient relics. Now, in many ways, that is where the similarities appear to end, but they don’t. In Book 5 of their Time Hunters they encounter `Blackbeard’ (I meet him in `The Time Hunters and the Box of Eternity’ (2011)). In Book 4 of their series, they visit Ancient Greece, I do it in `The Time Hunters’ (2010). In Book 6 of their series they visit Ancient Egypt and battle mummies, I do that in `The Time Hunters and the Spear of Fate’ (2013).

I know full well you cannot copyright a title or idea, but this seems more than that. My series has been exceedingly visible across the Internet since 2010, so why on earth would anyone publish a new series under the same name, particularly when the general premise, some storylines and target audience are identical?

Like many writers, when preparing a new book, I spend countless hours considering titles, trying to find the most suitable one to reflect the tone, storyline, target audience and genre of the book. Upon crafting a list of candidates, I’ll google what already exists. This is where I’m incensed by the actions of Harper Collins. `The Time Hunters’ (yeah, I know they dropped the `The’) is extremely visible whichever search engine you use. I also understand that some titles are common and will have multiple books attached to them. As an experiment, I googled the term `Killing Time’ and found there were over twenty books from different authors with that title on Amazon alone. However, `The Time Hunters’ is a much less generic title. Plus, it is indelibly linked with an established and popular series that already exists … my series.

Furthermore, my frustrations are compounded by the fact the new `Time Hunters’ is published by Harper Collins – the very same company who said my book had `terrific potential.’

I have contacted the author and she (Chris Baker is a pseudonym) has pointed out she was working for a book packaging company, Hothouse Fiction, and that the name, concept, copyright etc. all belong to Harper Collins and Hothouse. She said she was merely a `hired pen’, that this kind of thing `no doubt happens a lot’ and I must find it `frustrating’. Well, in truth, there are other `f’ words I could use to more accurately describe my feelings about this.

And, in this case, I’m not sure this situation does happen as often as she suggests. As I said earlier, this is not merely the duplication of a title, or the similarity of the concept, this is a combination of the two that damages a brand (I hate that term) I have worked on since 2005. Clearly, if I approached another major publisher and pitched them a children’s time travel series about a boy and a girl that travel through time on a treasure hunt, then surely their response would be `Well, hang on, Carl, a series like yours already exists and is published by Harper Collins.’

Let me just say I bear no ill feelings toward the author of the new TH series, whatsoever. She seems very personable and is just a writer trying to eke an income in a difficult publishing world. And I wholeheartedly believe her when she says she hasn’t seen my work. However, someone would have seen it, they HAD to have seen it – someone at Hothouse or at Harper Collins – and they still pressed ahead with their `Time Hunters’ series.

I’m just the little guy and they’re a major corporation. I write from my kitchen in a terraced house in Crewe, my four-year old daughter doing everything she can to stop me writing a word, whilst the people that have created this situation probably swan around Soho quaffing goblets of Viognier. The two stories are probably different enough for them to argue there has been no plagiarism, but I can’t deny this situation smarts, somewhat – no, as a matter of fact, it stinks…

Furthermore, as using the same title and concept of an existing series is clearly not an issue, then the next time I write a children’s series I’ll make sure it’s about young wizards and call it `Harry Potter’. No better still, I’ll call it `Ziggy Waggabobble and the Mosphorous Flagdulaters’, a story about heroin-addicted frogs that pepper their conversations with swear words. Let’s see if the Viognier quaffers want to nick that, too …

Anyway, I just thought I’d let you know.

Cheers,
Carl

Definitely an interesting story.

Professional versus Unprofessional Publishing

Choose Yourself

Choose YourselfThe distinction now is no longer between “traditional publishing” versus “self-publishing.” The distinction now is between professional versus unprofessional publishing. My first 10 books were done unprofessionally. Even the ones with the big publishing houses. They will probably hate me now. I hope not. I really like the people I worked with at these publishers. – James Altucher

I have seen a bit of this the last year reading E-Books. Many times you can’t tell I can’t tell than an editor ever looked at something before it got published. And sometimes that makes for a very painful experience.

The Possible Death of Agency Pricing

Scales of Justice

Agency Pricing seems to be dying.

Agency as we knew it is on its death bed. Penguin titles are now being discounted by retailers and the rest of Penguin Random House titles will soon follow. – Agency Dead? Penguin Ebooks Discounted

Scales of JusticeSome say this is a good thing.

“The consumer is the huge winner,” said David Balto, a Washington antitrust lawyer and former policy director for the Federal Trade Commission. “Apple’s policies clearly increased prices, and if permitted Apple would have used this formula to raise prices in numerous markets. This is a landmark decision that demonstrates the value of strong antitrust enforcement.” – Apple case cracks open e-books, digital goods pricing

Some argue against.

Even if true, the Justice Department’s argument is weak, because it relies on the Relevant Market Fallacy — the idea that e-book sellers are just competing with each other. They aren’t. They are competing with everything else that is clamoring for people’s leisure time. This includes printed books, magazines, newspapers, blogs, and websites such as this one. E-books are also competing with movies and television, video games, and other tablet and smart phone applications. The relevant market is bigger than just e-books or other reading material. This market discipline puts an upper bound on what consumers will pay for an e-book before turning to other entertainment options. Consumers cannot be said to have been harmed if they are willing to pay higher e-book prices. Given the e-book market’s continued rapid growth since the price increases, people are clearly still willing to pay. They are willingly buying something that gives them more value than what they give up to buy it. – Apple’s ebook ruling and the absurdity of antitrust law

Just to recap: I find the first argument more compelling.

Photo Credit: DonkeyHoley

 

Advantage Amazon after Apple Ruling

Jeff Bezos of Amazon

 

 

The verdict in the Apple case might have been a foregone conclusion, telegraphed by the judge herself, but it emphatically underlined how the traditional players in the book business have been upended. Only Amazon, led by Mr. Bezos, seems to have a plan. He is executing it with a skill that infuriates his competitors and rewards his stockholders. – E-Book Ruling Gives Amazon an Advantage

 

E-Books failed many times before Amazon figured it out. And instead of trying to figure out a strategy to compete, the publishers followed the same script that the record companies used.

Ruling in Apple E-book Case: Orchestrated Conspiracy

Apple iBooks

Apple iBooks

A federal judge on Wednesday found that Apple violated antitrust law in helping raise the retail price of e-books, saying the company “played a central role in facilitating and executing” a conspiracy with five big publishers. “Without Apple’s orchestration of this conspiracy, it would not have succeeded as it did in the spring of 2010,” the judge, Denise L. Cote of United States District Court in Manhattan, said in her ruling. She said a trial for damages would follow. – Judge Rules Against Apple in E-Books Trial

 

Personally, I think this is the correct ruling. What the publishers were doing was very wrong and Apple was definitely at the heart of it.

Author Billboard : SEX and EGO DEATH

LOS ANGELES, July 8, 2013 /PRNewswire-iReach/ — Author Gregor Reti is making a personal attack on the egos and lifestyles of shoppers on Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, by raising funds for an inflammatory billboard that reads, “SEX and EGO DEATH: How exciting is your sex life?”Sex Ego Death

Local storekeepers are already up in arms, one Rodeo Drive shopper, who requested to stay anonymous, even called the billboard, “An attack on the industries that have put Los Angeles on the map – fashion, tourism, celebrities, and luxury goods.” Parent groups are expected to follow suit in fighting the billboard.
Reti refuses to disclose the name of the media broker who has promised to install the billboard, but reiterates that “a deal has been made and this will happen.”
According to Reti’s fundraising site on RocketHub.com, this billboard is intended to “to raise enough funds to buy a billboard in a materialism-oriented world in order to MAKE PEOPLE THINK, and through that process gain enough understanding of their “true self” – the self without judgments or social constraints – to create a positive shift in their own personal life, subsequently elevating our collective human consciousness.”
Why Los Angeles?
Reti believes Los Angeles, particularly the materialistic heart of it, Rodeo Drive, is the ideal test bed for what he believes should be a social movement. Reti’s rockethub site states: “Nearly all of the billboards in LA feature lusty women looking as if they are readily close to orgasm wearing expensive clothes…sex is everywhere, but why isn’t anyone openly talking about it? Why aren’t we being honest about the content that we, our families, and tourists see and lust after on billboards everyday? Are people really lusting for the featured product or are they lusting to connect with their own sexuality through a product?”
Reti’s motives aren’t entirely altruistic, he also aims to promote his new book, “SEX & Ego Death” through the billboard and boost sales upon its release next month. The back cover of the book summarizes Reti’s writing as: “Inspired by his erotic and transcendental experiences, Gregor uses his writing to fight for the ideal of truth while battling hypocrisy. ‘I wish I could prove to people faster how tightly courage and happiness are intertwined. We can only thrive in a radically honest environment’. His book, SEX & EgoDeath, shows the devastating power of fear and how our ego uses it to isolate us, but also reveals a profound path to personal liberation.”
Reti’s book was sought after by Waterside Publishing, the same company that represents spiritual guidance giants such as Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra. In an internal memo, Bill Gladstone (agent for Eckhart Tolle) said of “SEX & EgoDeath: “This book has the potential to become a viral bestseller.” Some have called the book “Eckhart Tolle on steroids or Viagra.”
The SEX and EGO DEATH billboard will have a test-run in July on the Reuter’s screen in New York’s Times Square.

20th Anniversary Chicken Soup for the Soul in Digital

Chicken Soup for the Soul 20th Anniversary Edition

NEW YORK, July 9, 2013  — Chicken Soup for the Soul 20th Anniversary Edition, with 20 bonus stories from today’s thought leaders, including Deepak Chopra, surgeon, author, and television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, small-business expert Tory Johnson, and happiness expert Robert Holden.

The Chicken Soup for the Soul library has become the bestselling trade paperback series in publishing history, with over 100 million copies sold in the United States and Canada alone and over 500 million copies in print worldwide. Open Road Media is delighted to have the opportunity to publish these energetic collections of inspiring, moving stories—collections that lend themselves perfectly to the digital format.

20 years after its initial release, Chicken Soup for the Soul continues to open the heart and rekindle the spirit. Celebrate the legendary original with Chicken Soup for the Soul 20th Anniversary Edition (Open Road Integrated Media; on sale June 25, 2013; ebook format; $9.99). The classic collection has been reinvigorated with 20 bonus stories for the next 20 years, full of wisdom from the motivational leaders of today.
These leaders include Mehmet Oz, MD, who had to rely on faith as well as science to save the life of a depressed patient; nationally-recognized leader in human-development training Anthony Robbins, who had a story featured in the original edition and now tells of how he handled the terrifying moment when his father-in-law almost died in his arms; and Deepak Chopra, MD, who shares his moving thoughts on the power of love.
Other incredible contributors include Kris Carr, author of Crazy Sexy Cancer; don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements; and author and filmmaker M. K. Asante. These uplifting additions to the original will connect the book to a new generation of readers while flowing seamlessly with the classic stories that millions know and love.
As public relations influencer and entrepreneur Heidi Krupp writes in the foreword, “Chicken soup is more than a food—it’s what your mom feeds you when you’re sick, it’s what you eat when you need the ultimate comfort food, it’s recommended by doctors for the body and for the mind.” Whether you’ve read Chicken Soup for the Soul dozens of times or the collection is brand new to you, you will find hope and inspiration in these 101 heartwarming stories.
About the Authors
Jack Canfield is the co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, which Time magazine has called “the publishing phenomenon of the decade.” Jack is also the coauthor of many other bestselling books.
Jack is the CEO of the Canfield Training Group in Santa Barbara, California, and founder of the Foundation for Self-Esteem in Culver City, California.
Mark Victor Hansen is the co-creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul. He is a sought-after keynote speaker, bestselling author, and marketing maven. Mark’s powerful messages of possibility, opportunity, and action have created change in thousands of organizations and millions of individuals worldwide. Mark is a prolific writer with many bestselling books in addition to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.
Amy Newmark is Chicken Soup for the Soul’s publisher, author, and editor in chief, after a 30-year career as a writer, speaker, financial analyst, and business executive in the worlds of finance and telecommunications. Amy is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College, where she majored in Portuguese, minored in French, and traveled extensively. She and her husband have four grown children.