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Hachette rejects Amazon proposal to give Hachette authors 100% of e-book revenue
July 8, 2014 | 6:09 pm

In the Amazon vs. Hachette feud, the PR moves and countermoves are coming out. Laura Hazard Owen has coverage at GigaOm and the Wall Street Journal also has a piece (paywalled; google the headline to view) on a proposal Amazon has floated to Hachette authors to pay them 100% of all revenue from sales of their e-books—cutting out both its own 30% and Hachette’s 70% share—if Hachette agrees. The revenue split on paper books would be unaffected. The letter is particularly interesting in that, for the first time, Amazon is shedding some light on how the negotiations with...

UK career writer numbers down three quarters, incomes down 30 percent in one decade
July 8, 2014 | 2:16 pm

ALCSSome alarming numbers about the falling number of full-time career writers in the UK, and the falling incomes of writers of all kinds, have emerged courtesy of the Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society (ALCS), Britain's central clearing house for authors' rights and payments. Their study "What Are Words Worth Now?,"  a survey of almost 2500 working writers commissioned from Queen Mary, University of London, found that "in 2013, just 11.5 percent of professional authors (defined as those who dedicate the majority of their time to writing) earned their incomes solely from writing. In 2005, 40 percent of professional authors said...

SFWA ‘doubles down’ in support of Douglas Preston’s petition
July 8, 2014 | 6:26 am

sfwaPassive Guy over at The Passive Voice reports receiving an email from SFWA headed “SFWA doubling down,” clarifying its position on signing onto Douglas Preston’s open letter decrying Amazon’s hardball tactics in its negotiation with Hachette. (Odd that they didn’t also send it to me, given that TPV carried the story I posted about it in the first place.) The letter reads as follows: SFWA’s support of Douglas Preston’s open letter reflects our concern about Amazon’s tactics in their dispute with Hachette and the way those tactics are impacting writers and their careers. We are,...

The archivist’s conundrum: History is written by the lucky
July 8, 2014 | 5:31 am

_76046394_black-prince_splAn article a friend posted on Facebook got me thinking. It involves recently-discovered evidence about a historical figure, Prince Edward of Woodstock, suggesting that a putative “massacre” he committed might not actually have happened at all. It occurred to me that, in this modern era, we tend to assume we can know anything about someone just from what we find in a quick Google. It's sometimes hard to wrap our brains around the idea that much of what we know from ancient times could be wrong, as all we have is what managed to get saved through sheer dumb...

For Scotland’s independence year: Two centuries of Waverley
July 7, 2014 | 10:56 am

WaverleyScotland goes to the polls this year in its national referendum on independence from the United Kingdom. How fitting, then, that 200 years ago to the day, Waverley, the first great historical novel of the Jacobite rising of 1745 - and, according to some critics, the first true historical novel in the Western tradition - was published, anonymously, by Walter Scott, probably the second greatest Scottish writer after Robert Burns. Waverley not only kicked off Scott's Waverley novels cycle, and made him a European celebrity, it also inaugurated a political project which culminated in his stage-management of the visit of...

Why won’t Parker do a stylus?
July 4, 2014 | 10:25 am

Montblanc As avid TeleRead readers will know, I'm an onscreen handwriting nut. I'm also a writer. And like many writers, I'm almost fetishistic about the tools of the trade. The writing instruments, paper (or device), writing desk, accessories, all make a difference to me. So it's been a continuing annoyance that the great pen manufacturers, whose lacquered and tortoiseshell wonders I used to treasure back in the days when I worked mostly on paper, haven't taken a small logical step into the digital era and started introducing pen designs with touchscreen styluses for smartphones and tablets. I'm sure there must be plenty...

Douglas Preston decries Amazon tactics against Hachette authors (Updated)
July 3, 2014 | 4:25 am

Well, he’s at it again. Long-time TeleRead readers might remember Douglas Preston as the author who complained about readers’ “sense of entitlement” for wanting cheap e-books, only to backpedal rather hastily when the complaint sparked a reader backlash. Yesterday, Jeffrey Trachtenberg reported in the Wall Street Journal that Preston has been circulating an open letter among various authors complaining that Amazon has been unfairly targeting Hachette authors in its recent contract negotiations with their publisher. He has reportedly received support from a number of big names (including, predictably, James Patterson) and will be posting the letter to his...

The Guardian catches up to Marion Zimmer Bradley child abuse scandal, with questionable new comments
June 27, 2014 | 6:25 pm

mzbcolorThe Guardian has finally covered the Marion Zimmer Bradley child abuse story, already featured - and extensively discussed - in TeleRead. And although it brings new and helpful insights from many, including Bradley's own daughter (and victim) Moira Greyland, it also brings some not so welcome and rather suspect comment from other quarters. Some comments on TeleRead and elsewhere have already taken Greyland to task for not speaking out sooner, implying that her motives for such a long silence and for going public now are questionable. "Interesting her daughter waited until after her death almost as courageous as her mother not...

Robert Aickman centenary day: Publishers and followers gear up
June 27, 2014 | 4:25 pm

Robert AickmanJune 27th marks the exact centenary of the birth in 1914 of Robert Fordyce Aickman, who has been acclaimed, as many TeleRead readers will know by now, has been acclaimed as the best British writer of ghost and horror stories since M.R. James. Both publishers and enthusiasts are preparing their commemorations and celebrations in memory of this subtle, highly elusive, and often disturbing author. Pride of place for the centenary, naturally enough, goes to the new republications of Aickman's work, including the "four new editions in B format" of previously published story collections and reissue of his "extremely rare novels The...

Henry Green on Loving and the future of reading
June 26, 2014 | 2:25 pm

henry greenThis post arose as an attempt to review Henry Green's inimitable 1945 work Loving, rated by some as one of the best novels of the 20th century, and a masterpiece of dialog - and vernacular speech, in the Cockney and other lower-class English tones of its key servant characters. And it led to a celebrated Paris Review interview with Green - one of the few where the novelist spoke publicly about his own work - by Terry Southern, available in full online. And there, Green shows himself a thoughtful and prescient prognosticator of the future development of writing and even...

Has Patreon brought writer patronage into the Kickstarter era?
June 25, 2014 | 12:25 pm

A new online funding platform called Patreon invites its users to "Be a Patron of the Arts" and "Support and engage with the creators you love." Targeting all forms of creativity, including scientists and educationalists as well as practitioners of the arts, Patreon offers a Kickstarter-style funding approach to "Writers & Bloggers" and "Authors," as well as their peers in other disciplines, including comics and graphic novels. "It's different from Kickstarter because it's not about one big project that requires funding," Patreon's introductory video explains. "It's more for bloggers or YouTubers, or web comics - anyone who creates on a regular...

Brain research shows novices write with their eyes
June 23, 2014 | 6:25 pm

poetry_brain_pageFollowing the fascinating recent scientific research that demonstrates the effect that reading literature can have on your brain, here is some more to show how the brain works while writing. And the conclusions are surprising. As described in a paper in Elsevier journal NeuroImage, "Professional training in creative writing is associated with enhanced fronto-striatal activity in a literary text continuation task," and summarized in the New York Times, the research concluded that, while inexperienced writers tended to use the areas of their brain associated with visual images while writing, experienced writers used the areas associated with planning, organization of learned...