Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Sunday Salon.. Pricing Wars, a new eReader, and an audio book gets made from 1000 Tweets! and Books with Buzz...

What is the Sunday Salon? Imagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them, and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake...

It's been an interesting week in the reading world this week. Between book pricing wars, new eReaders, and the BBC Audiobooks America, Neil Gaiman & Twitter get together to create an audio book!

In the news this week, The American Booksellers Association, which represents independent bookstores, sent a letter to the Justice Department asking it to investigate "predatory pricing" by Amazon, Walmart and Target. And what a price war it was! 10 hardcover books coming out soon by authors such as Stephen King, John Grisham and Barbara Kingsolver were available for pre-order on Walmart's website for $10! Then Amazon matched the prices! Then Walmart lowered their prices to $9... Then Amazon followed... then Walmart lowered their prices to $8.99... Target decides their going to get in on the fun and offer 6 out of the 10 books for the same $8.99. And finally Walmart ends the price cutting to $8.98! Is your head still spinning from all that? The ABA (American Booksellers Associations) claimed that the discounting is "damaging to the book industry and harmful to consumers" and that this "devalued the very concept of the book". Retailers typically pay publishers a wholesale price of half the list price of a hardcover book- so if the hardcover is $25, the retailer will pay $12.50... and if they are selling that book for $9 they are losing money on the deal. This of course hurts the independent booksellers, who can't afford to discount the books at that price. David Young, chief executive of Hachette Book Group is quoted in a New York Times article this week, "I don't think it's a good thing for books to be perceived to be low-value items. A hell of a lot goes into the creation of a book or a career of a writer, and to have our top products savagely discounted is not good for the long-term health of our business." And was Amazon, Target and Walmart thinking about the future? Probably just the future of their book sales. What do you think? Do you think it hurts the book industry to offer these 10 books at a loss? I admit that I couldn't resist pre-ordering Stephen Kings new book Under the Dome, but then again I wouldn't have bought the hardcover otherwise, I would have waited for the paperback. Some of the other books up for bid were The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver, Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton, and I, Alex Cross by James Patterson. Maybe this could also be a stepping stone for future purchases by the consumer if they are reading one of these authors for the first time...

The Nook has emerged this week to entice people that were on the fence about eReaders AND us Kindle owners who love our Kindles, but like some of those new features on The Nook! Just in case you haven't heard, The Nook is Barnes & Nobles new eReader, that looks kind of like a Kindle, but uses the ePub format, which is emerging as the standard for eBooks, and which means you can download books from a lot of places besides just Barnes & Noble, has WiFi and 3G so you can download wirelessly too! AND has a beautiful color touch screen on the bottom where you can look thru your book covers and shop for books. The lending feature was a plus, but further chatter on the internet has put a bit of a damper on that feature as it seems you can only lend your eBook once to someone for a total of 14 days, and there may be restrictions by the publishers in doing even that.. Have you decided to take the eReader plunge because of The Nook?

If you were following BBC Audiobooks America on Twitter, you would have seen a "Tweet" (that's what the 140 character message is affectionately called) to help write an original audio story with Neil Gaiman on Twitter. Neil Gaiman wrote the first line...Do you Twitter? Twitter of course is a social network where you have 140 characters to get your thoughts across. Twitter originally was thought up by John Dorsey who wanted to know what his friends were doing. And that is the basic question Twitter asks you... What are you doing? And in 140 characters you tell everyone who is connected to you, what's going on. And in real time you see what other people you are connected to are doing too! It's fun, it's a great way to stay connected, and it's become more that just a "What are you doing" network... it's become a place to create and read Twitterfiction! And that's what the BBCAA, Neil Gaiman and Twitter did last week...

Sam was brushing her hair when the girl in the mirror put down the hairbrush, smiled & said, “We don't love you anymore.”

And then the Twitterverse ( the Twitter Universe) joined in to create the rest of the story... Of course the BBCAA had to clean up the entries to create the flow to the story, but here's the complete story. And you can check that same link for information on the release of the audio story that was the whole point of the feverish tweeting. It will be a free download! Want to learn more about Twitter? Go to to learn all about Twitter and to join in on the fun! If you'd like to follow me on Twitter ( if you don't already) I'm @ChickwithBooks or here's my Twitter link, Chick with Books . Do you Twitter? What do you use Twitter for? Social? Info? Networking? Share what Twitter means to you!

Now for some Books with Buzz...

I just started reading The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist, which is an adult Dystopian fiction novel. It has sucked me in... the short description of the story is that any woman who turns 50 and who does not have children and is not considered contributing significantly to society is taken to The Unit. The Unit is where you are used for experiments and your body parts. It's a beautiful spa like facility, but you give the ultimate gift. People have lived in the facility for years, giving up parts of themselves a little at a time. Men get a reprieve- they are taken to The Unit at age 60. The protagonist of the story is Dorrit Weger, who you just feel so much empathy for. She was always taught to be independent and self sufficient by her mother, but when society changed and motherhood became your saving grace, Dorrit was out of time. It's one of the National Reading Group Month picks for the month of October and I can see where it would make for a lively conversation! What makes a person dispensable? The moral issues... the importance of sacrifice... Friendships, love and sorrow are all part of The Unit. This Book is Kindle Ready!

The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk... It is 1975, a perfect spring in Istanbul. Kemal, scion of one of the city’s wealthiest families, is about to become engaged to Sibel, daughter of another prominent family, when he encounters Füsun, a beautiful shopgirl and a distant relation. Kemal becomes so obsessed with the shop girl he meets while buying his fiancée a purse that he ends up throwing away his entire life. Füsan is in fact a distant relative Kemal hasn't seen for some time, and they launch a passionate affair on the very eve of Kemal's engagement party. This is 1970s Turkey, and new ideas from the West would seem to bless the affair. But of course Kemal never considers breaking his engagement. Kemal's descent into love's hell takes him through every level of the social order, past countless neighborhoods of sprawling Istanbul, in a story that spans 30 years. And the Museum is reference to all the objects Kemal collects as remembrances of his shopgirl. This book interested me because it is so much more than a simple love story. And the descriptions of Instanbul are suppose to be wonderful. This Book is Kindle Ready!

Under the Dome by Stephen King... Supernatural Horror returns to Maine. On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester's Mill, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Planes crash into it and fall from the sky in flaming wreckage, a gardener's hand is severed as "the dome" comes down on it, people running errands in the neighboring town are divided from their families, and cars explode on impact. No one can fathom what this barrier is, where it came from, and when--or if--it will go away. Sounds like a great story... and there is quite a bit of chatter about the cover and how it was created with the help of CGI, which is what they use in the movies to create some of those wonderful animated characters. Read about the making of The Cover of Under the Dome.and due out in November!

Have a great reading week! Stop by during the week for some great reviews and a new giveaway!

Happy reading... Suzanne

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