Texas Cities Corinth and Denton reach Service Agreement

Denton Public Library

Since 1975, Corinth, Texas has been a member of the Lake City Libraries. They decided to leave last fall.

A recent partnership between Corinth and the Denton Public Library will allow residents to use Denton’s library service for a reduced price, finally ending Corinth’s long-standing agreement with the Lake Cities Library. The Corinth City Council unanimously approved an agreement with the Denton Public Library on Thursday night during a council meeting that officials say will be a cheaper option for residents and Corinth. – Corinth, Denton Public Library make service deal

Hopefully, this will work out well for everyone but I think it may be a rough transition.

Less Lord of the Flies and more Sense and Sensibility

San Francisco Main Library

The title of this post is courtesy of the Mayor of San Francisco.

The mayor’s letter to the commissioners proposed creating a Family and Education Fun Zone around the library and suggested that the first step should be instituting actual penalties for breaking the library’s long-standing code of conduct. Previously, most bad behavior was met simply with a warning to stop. In response, library staff beefed up the Patron Code of Conduct with much harsher penalties than the admonishment, “Uh, that’s a sink – not a bathtub.” Under the proposals, which will likely be tweaked after community input and voted on by the commissioners this spring, repeat offenses could result in being banned from all the city’s public libraries for up to a year. – S.F. library proposes new code of conduct with penalties

In my experience, you do have to have rules but no one ever enjoys having to enforce them.

University of Pennsylvania plan to cut Math and Science Libraries Unpopular

UPenn Engineering Library

A plan by the University of Pennsylvania to cut back on two of its branch libraries – one for engineering and the other for math, physics, and astronomy – has yielded an outcry from students and professors who say the books are critical to their studies and research. Both libraries are housed within the same campus buildings as their departments, and are heavily used by undergraduates and graduate students alike. Mathematics students, in particular, said many of the books and materials they need are not available electronically, and they must browse the library to find what they need. – Students, faculty decry Penn plan to cut math and science libraries

Technically, the books will still be available but they will be warehoused in New Jersey and it could take up to 5 days to fill a request for a student who wants one for a project. It seems like this is kind of a brute force method of going digital.

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.

The Top Selling Books vs E-Books

Old Books

But most importantly, the analysis, based on print book bestsellers, is already weighted against e-books. The top-selling print books may not also be the top-selling e-books. – The invisible e-book

So e-books aren’t just print books in electronic form but something different entirely. This really makes sense to me.

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.

Vinton Cerf on the Future of Libraries

Vinton Cerf

You have no idea how eager I aVinton Cerfm to ensure that the notion of library does not disappear – it’s too important. But the thing is, it’s going to have to curate an extremely broad range of materials, and increasingly digital content. I am really worried right now, about the possibility of saving ‘bits’ but losing their meaning and ending up with bit-rot. This means, you have a bag of bits that you saved for a thousand years, but you don’t know what they mean, because the software that was needed to interpret them is no longer available, or it’s no longer executable, or you just don’t have a platform that will run it. This is a serious, serious problem and we have to solve that. – Vinton Cerf

He is right this is a serious concern. We already have the example of the Digital Domesday.

Photo Credit: Takuya Oikawa

The Shattering for $1.99

The Shattering

Christie Golden’s World of Warcraft: The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm is available as a Kindle Daily Deal for $1.99 Today.

His eyes were open now, watching the path of the tiny flame. If you continue your path, little spark, you will cause great harm.I must burn! I must live!There are places where your glow and heat are welcome. Find them, do not destroy the dwellings or take the lives of my people!For a second, he seemed to wink out of existence but then blazed back with renewed vigor.Thrall knew what he had to do. He lifted his hand. Forgive me, Brother Flame. But I must protect my people from the harm you would cause them. I have requested, I have begged, now I warn.The spark seemed to spasm, and yet he continued on his lethal course.Thrall, grim-faced, clenched his hand hard. The spark flared defiantly, then dwindled, finally settling down to nothing more than the faintest of glowing embers. For now, he would no longer do anyone harm.The threat had ended, but Thrall was reeling. This was not the way of the shaman with the elements. It was a relationship of mutual respect, not of threats and control and, in the end, destruction. Oh, the Spirit of Fire could never be extinguished. It was far greater than anything any shaman, or even group of shaman, could ever attempt to do to him. He was eternal, as all the spirits of the elements were. But this part of him, this elemental manifestation, had been defiant, uncooperative. And he had not been alone. He was part of a disturbing trend of elements that were sullen and rebellious rather than cooperative. And in the end, Thrall had had to completely dominate him. Other shaman were now calling rain to soak the city in case there was another aberrant spark that persisted in its course of devastation.Thrall stood in the rain, letting it soak him, pour off his massive green shoulders, and drip down his arms. What in the name of the ancestors was happening?New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Christie Golden has written thirty-five novels and several short stories in the fields of science fiction, fantasy and horror. Among her many projects are over a dozen Star Trek novels and several original fantasy novels. An avid player of World of Warcraft, she has written two manga short stories and several novels in that world (Lord of the Clans, Rise of the Horde, Arthas: Rise of the Lich King, and The Shattering: Prelude to Cataclysm) with more in the works.

Not sure how Agency Pricing applies in this case.

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