Saturday, 13 November 2010

Weekend linkage

Time for a few links to assorted items of interest within the genre...

...but first, a funny:

Now, links...

First up, a couple of posts about a recent topic of debate: the piracy of ebooks. Niall from the Speculative Scotsman kicked things off, with an article that looks at the pirating of Celine Kiernan's The Poison Throne, after the author herself requested on her blog that people stop pirating her books. Adam of Wert then wrote a typically assured article about the problems of ebook piracy and what exactly can be done about it.

It's an interesting topic, although some perspective is required as the figures can be misleading. Niall, at the time his article was posted, quoted that 764 people had illegally downloaded Kiernan's book The Poison Throne from the single website he referenced. But does that mean that the author/publisher/bookseller all missed out on 764 copies that otherwise would have been bought legitimately? Not necessarily - it's highly likely that plenty of those people that downloaded the illegal ebook simply did so out of a passing interest; it doesn't follow that all of them would have bought a legitimate copy if they couldn't download it illegally. In other words, a fair few of them probably downloaded it because they could, possibly along with a dozen other books. But of course it can't be denied that genuine fans that would otherwise have bought a copy are also downloading illegal versions, and this is where the real problem lies. Authors, publishers, and booksellers are undoubtedly losing sales and profit because of it.

Fears that this may signal the end of publishing are premature though. Mark Charan Newton - who, as an author, is at risk of his books being illegally downloaded - was surprisingly dismissive of the fears surrounding piracy:

"I don't think pirates are killing a single thing about the genre. (Non-fic might be different.) People who browse torrent sites to buy my book are (off the record, my publisher probably disagree wholeheartedly!) not people who would have spent money on the book anyway. Who cares? I've got another reader. It's like when you lend your copy of a book to someone else for free. I'm not going to get all evil and KICK YO ASS on someone who reads my book for free. I like readers - they're kind of useful to authors. Maybe they'll spend money on my books in future, who knows.
Fucksake. If people who download torrents are killing the genre, then by that definition Cory Doctorow - who makes available all his books for free in a variety of e-formats - would not have a career. As I recall, he's not doing badly."

However you regard the threat that piracy poses, one thing is commonly agreed on: authors and publishers work bloody hard to produce these books, so to steal their products is seriously uncool (not to mention being illegal, for what it's worth in this digital age).

Moving on to touch briefly on to the major shitstorm of the past week, in case you've somehow missed it: Amazon selling a book for paedophiles. Naturally, this caused a tasty old uproar all over the internet, raising the issue of censorship among other concerns. My own feeling is simple: there's censorship, and there's censorship. I don't like censorship in general, but when it comes to a book that promotes something that is both disgusting and illegal, it's totally irresponsible of Amazon to offer it for sale.

Originally Amazon, predictably, stood their ground and tried to convince everyone that they weren't at fault and that the reader had a right to chose what products to purchase. Later (even more predictably) they removed the book from their website, presumably after someone higher up the company's foodchain saw the online response and choked on their cornflakes.

It's been well documented how bad Amazon are when it comes to regulating reviews (they hardly bother, in other words) and so it shouldn't come as much surprise that they clearly don't bother either to really regulate the products that third parties are looking to sell through them. Or alternatively they do, and decided that a book offering tips on how best to sexually abuse children was a good product to sell through their website. Bad, bad form.

Anyway, moving back to the genre...

Wert's been re-visiting a genre classic, with a review of H. G. Well's The War of the Worlds.

Niall has reviewed Alan Campbell's upcoming Sea of Ghosts, of which I have a copy that I stroke lovingly every few minutes. I'm hoping to start it soon, since it sounds like it's made of awesome.

Aidan's decided to re-visit The Wheel of Time (no small undertaking) and has posted a review of The Eye of the World. I loved this novel when I was fifteen; would be interested to re-read it to see whether, 12 years on, it still has the same magic.

Graeme has been busy as usual, and among his many posts there's this review of The Fall by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan.

Towers of Midnight has unsurprisingly generated a load of buzz recently, and Neth has posted his largely positive verdict. Larry, by contrast, wasn't that impressed.

Right, enough I think...if your thirst for genre action hasn't been throughly quenched, then check out the blogroll to the right and no doubt you'll find more tasty morsels to snack on.

As for blog content this coming week...probably a few words on Valhalla Rising, once I've watched it. Possibly, possibly, a review of Perdido Street Station. I'm still trying to rein in my thoughts on that one. We'll see.

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