Each year people gather in NYC for BEA (Book Expo America) to check out all things related to book publishing. Here's a condensed version of some of the things happening this year. I went once a long time ago, and found it interesting...in a good way. In this post I'm linking to articles about ethics for book reviewers, digital resale, and how publishers and booksellers should start hitting the social media trail like all their authors have been doing...especially small start up e-presses.
This week, BookExpo America (BEA) captures the attention of various facets of the industry including myriad conferences to bring together the variety of professionals who will descend on New York City to discuss books from every perspective.
Literary Ethics for Book Reviewers
This is something that would have fascinated me had I been there. Unfortunately, I have this sad feeling all the right people went and the wrong people missed it.
Valdes asked, “Are there any hard rules that we could put out there?” The panelists concurred that, despite Romano’s earlier sentiments against applying a universal code for reviewers, being honest about biases within a piece is fundamental, and that it’s vital to take a book on its own terms, not those desired by the critic. Sehgal and Romano added that a good critic never misrepresents an author’s argument or exaggerates the flaws in a text.
It's a good piece about objectivity and disclosure...in part. I take the above paragraph to mean that if the reviewer is reviewing an erotic romance novel and he or she doesn't like erotic romance as a rule, he or she should disclose this up front...or at least somewhere within the review. I've read more than a few bad book reviews for erotic romances and I've always appreciated when the reviewer makes this disclosure up front. This way I know where the reviewer is coming from, so to speak.
The part about a good reviewer never misrepresenting an author's argument or exaggerating the flaws in a text can be slightly more ambiguous when it comes to popular online review sites. I agree with it in theory, but I could link to more than one book review where this didn't happen. In fact, I could link to one professional review web site where they've not only exaggerated flaws in a text, but also exaggerated erotic scenes and situations to make authors of erotic romance look bad intentionally. But then I use the word professional very loosely with respect to the web site I'm referring to. The people on this panel at BEA, clearly, are professionals.
You can read more here.
This gets complicated and I'm not even sure I fully get it right now. But it's something I think we all should learn and follow as the concept of digital resale slowly gains more interest.
Despite a series of court rulings against the concept of digital first-sale rights, ReDigi’s Ossenmacher was on hand to continue to make the case for the practice. ReDigi—a firm that offers a digital resale market for music and is looking to add e-books—allows customers to sell their used digital files (and offers publishers a royalty on the sales), but the proceeds can only be used within the digital economy of ReDigi. Consumers cannot, say, resell old music files and use the money to buy a hamburger. Accordingly Ossenmacher made the case that ReDigi is helping the music business and will do the same for publishers. Indeed, Ossenmacher claims, “Our resellers sell, but they want to get new goods with the funds.” He even claims that “people are buying albums on ReDigi, because they know they can get their money back” after listening to the album. Ossenmacher says that a secondary market in e-books is what consumers want, “and when consumers win, everyone wins.”
This is basically the concept of used e-books. Amazon has expressed interest in this, too, and they now have a patent to do it. When it was first announced a few months ago I posted about it and how a lot of authors went berserk. It would even cover self-pubbed books. If someone who bought one of my self-pubbed books on Amazon wanted to sell it back to Amazon, then Amazon could put it up for resale and make money again on it. I don't know if I would get anything from that resale. Of course if you have .99 e-books on Amazon, I don't see how much cheaper Amazon can sell them...ten cents a dance, that's all they pay me. This sounds more like something large publishers have to deal with at this point. But as I stated, I'm still a little confused about it myself.
You can read more here, but I think the post I wrote in the link above will help you understand it more. If anyone knows more about it, please feel free to comment.
Social Media Matters, Too
This article is interesting because it is focused on booksellers and how they should become more social and take advantage of social media outlets now more than ever before.
Moderator Kirsten Hess, director of events and marketing at R.J. Julia Booksellers, kicked off Wednesday afternoon's panel acknowledging, "2-3 years ago, social media was not important enough to bring up in a business plan." In 36 months, quite a lot changed, as social media accounted for the social portion of Being Social: Reaching Your Customers and Community. Deemed a 24 hour job, the panelists - including Twitter's Andrew Fitzgerald and Ingram Group Content's Amy Cox Williams - varied in their preferred method of social media. Unanimously, each agreed booksellers and authors should understand the viral forums before attempting to navigate them. The Booksmith's Amy Stephenson noted, "Different platforms have different cultures. Learn the cultures first." Fitzgerald, an obvious advocate of Twitter - and Vine - forums, said, "Twitter is a platform you can experiment with because it's in real time. It gives booksellers the opportunity to interact and engage with customers in and out of the store."
I'm going to take this even deeper and state that I think those who are running small e-presses should be actively involved in all avenues of social media now. You're not too grand; you're not above it. Authors do this routinely and it's become a way of life for us. I happen to enjoy social media, so it's never really a chore for me. I love the interaction, but there are limits to what I can do, where publishers can take things to another step. I have noticed that almost every single one of the small e-presses I work with have failed to figure out how to use social media in an effective way. And those small e-presses who have figured it out seem to be doing far better than those who don't do social media.
In other words, get out there and work it a little. Your authors are doing their best to support and promote your books, and you should be doing the same thing. If you don't, you're short-changing your authors and your readers. I don't want to know about your family outing or your vacation to the islands on facebook. I want to know all about your newest releases and all the fine and wonderful things you have planned for your readers.