This week in writing… bully edition

Amazon continues to be the 300lb gorilla this week as everyone is worried about how they might crush the publishing industry. And once the bane of the industry, especially independent bookstores, Barnes and Noble is coming out looking like the New Hope, a potential David to Amazon’s Goliath.

Publishers are cheering the fact that Barnes and Noble have refused to carry any books published by Amazon in their stores. While publishers are thrilled that B&N is standing up to Amazon, at least one writer thinks that B&N would be wise to play nice.

Publishers also aren’t making any friends with librarians. Their insistence on restricting library access to ebooks has irked the mild-mannered bibliophines enough to issue a statement saying basically, enough of that crap.

Publishers’ fear of ebooks and what they mean to the print business isn’t unique. Jonathan Franzen shared his own fear of ebooks saying, “The fact that when I take the book off the shelf it still says the same thing — that’s reassuring.” So… ebooks change text every time you pick them up? Wow! Oh wait. They don’t.

Ebooks are kicking up even more dust as some publishing houses try a new delivery format: novels by committee in which the author releases a book, and readers give input on what should happen next, that the author then writes to satisfy. There, there, Franzen, don’t weep. Some people think this is great. Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary said this on her twitter feed in response to a reporter’s dismay: “Oh, please. All this shows is how clueless the reporter is… Like god forbid anyone get any entertainment out of reading. Or try something new.”

Maybe it doesn’t work for storytelling, but it might be good for information-gathering. UK publisher And Other Stories gets readers together for a report on which books to take on for translation, rather than using a traditional written report. What a good idea!

Where are all the good books anyway? Here’s what some of our best writers think are the greatest books of all time.

And finally, Jacqueline Woodson, author of one of my favorite picture books, The Other Side, talks about her new novel in this video.

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8 thoughts on “This week in writing… bully edition

  1. Catherine Stine says:

    I’m in the camp that feels Barnes & Noble should play nice. Two bullies in the playground will not solve any problems! For indie authors, it will just make it harder to place books in bookstores.

  2. Tracey says:

    I think B&N is really struggling. They don’t have the kind of $$ behind them that Amazon does, and right now, they probably believe that pandering to the big 6 is going to win them favors. But strategically, you’re right. Better to have all the books to sell to your customers, than to have the 300 lb gorilla crush you just because it can.

  3. monicastangledweb says:

    The problem boils down to change, and change has been going on forever. Otherwise, we’d still have the ice man delivering blocks of ice, instead of getting it from our freezers. We’d still have silent films instead of “talkies,” we’d still have music records or 8-tracks, instead of iPods, etc. Everyday, some industry sees a new invention that transforms the way it does business. Look at the newspaper. Look at cars. So, now it’s book publishing. Barnes and Noble and the publishing houses, like businesses before them, must transform the way they do business or be bull-headed, and threatened, and perish. Change is good for those who embrace it, and dire for those who resist. And, one way or another, it’s coming. Change. It’s always just around the corner.

  4. Tracey says:

    I probably should have called this the “fear edition” because that’s basically what this is about. The big publishers and B&N are afraid of what ebooks and indie authors mean to the industry, and Amazon’s emergence as a major power player. As Deborah says, we still need B&N for balance because they’re the only thing saving indies from being crushed themselves by Amazon. In the meantime, publishers need to find a way to really embrace ebooks. Maybe they should start paying attention to indie authors, and choosing some of their titles from there.

  5. elizabeth says:

    this was an eye opener. Let’s forget about the writter toiling to bring their storeis to the readers out there. Amazon and B&N- grow up. there is enough room for everyone to play nice.

  6. Tracey says:

    The news this morning is that Books-a-Million and Indigo Books and Music are also joining B&N in their ban on books published through Amazon. The kicking and screaming continues. Le sigh.

  7. Becky Green Aaronson says:

    I think Monica said it brilliantly. It’s all about change and how we embrace it. It’s not easy for any of us to change our ideas or our way of creating or doing business, but it’s either learning to roll with it or perish. It will be interesting to see how things shake out with B&N and the likes.

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