Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Holy Grail of Book Sites (Part One)

Before I start, let me make it clear that this article is copyright me 2010 and I license anyone reading it to use and reproduce any part or the entirety of it for any purpose they see fit as well as any ideas contained within for as long as they like. I don't care about compensation or even credit. My brain spouts enough ideas on a daily basis that I mostly just want to get rid of them. Try patenting any of my ideas though and this will most certainly be used to invalidate the patent.

Down to business. I've had a conversation or two with Marta Acosta, author of the Casa Dracula novels and Queen of Vampire Wire, about how the book publishing industry is failing spectacularly to work up a good online book site. Since that's something I'd really like to see, I'm going to try to explain exactly how to do so.

I suppose the first thing we need to decide here is who should be creating the site. By that I mean the entity in control of it's creation and continued operation, not the designers, they come later. Unfortunately it's also the hardest thing to decide.

You could start it up under an existing publisher. The problem I can see that that would cause are most publishers are going to be of the if we have something awesome and they don't, we'll make more money than them mentality. Or the idea that their books should be linked in preference to another publisher's. Which would spell death for the site before it even began. What we're after is an a rising tide lifts all boats mentality.

You might be able to get that from a independent, non-profit group created by several or all of the major publishers but then you run the risk of bureaucratic entropy. You also risk the appointment of jackasses who don't understand what we're trying to do and see the whole thing as a cushy bit of extra income they don't have to actually do anything for. There's also the chance you'll end up with imperialist explecitive's like ICANN (the guys in charge of the domain naming system for the Internet).

Government run? No, that's right out. I'm not going to go into why. If you don't know by now, you're in trouble and should burn your voter registration card for the good of whichever nation you're a citizen of.

Funded by a private citizen is a possibility but that runs the same risks as dictatorship. Sure you could get a saint but you could also get a tyrant. He/She is also not going to be around forever and then you're stuck answering the question all over again.

A better bet would be a book/ebook distributor. Though here the down side is that if the distributor doesn't stock your book, they won't want to list it. Amazon has already tried and failed miserably, so let's discount them. Apple is right out too; they've made an entire business model of not playing remotely well with others. is much closer but, like Amazon, they try to throw everything at you and see what sticks; we're looking for a record of simplicity and lack of clutter here.

I give up, maybe you could get the Better Business Bureau or someone similar to run the thing. They're, at least in theory, in favor of anything that's good for all business.

That's all for the moment, next installment in a day or two.

Friday, February 26, 2010


An Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Novel. Says so right on the cover.  Talked up as one in her interviews.  Bzzzzt, Flirt isn't even close to long or complicated enough to be a novel, even a half-assed one.  Skin trade: 496 pages.  Flirt: 192 pages.  Novella I believe is the word she was looking for, though it's verging on a shortstory.

Oh, but get this... Flirt is sure as hell priced as a novel. At the $23.951 cover price for the hardcover, it comes in at just under 25 cents per page of paper it's printed on.  Or to put it another way, it's apparently been deemed to be worth right around a third as much as an equal weight of silver.

Ok, now that we've established false advertising and gross overpricing, let's get on to the content.

The only recurring character, aside from a few pages at the beginning and again at the end, was Anita herself.  Ok, we could work with this.  Do some quality character development on Anita, introduce another major character or three and flesh them out, slut her up like nobody's business and have her spend half the book in naughty-fun-time, or just fall back to large amounts of gratuitous violence.  Any of the above would have worked in a novella.

But does she do any of these?  Hell no.  She has to go and try to throw all of the above in and even makes a paltry attempt at fleshing out Anita's relationships with Jason, Nathaniel, and Micah.2 What she ended up with was what you'd get if you wrote a great novel then went back and stripped every single thing that made it interesting out and left only a bare outline of a plot.

Summary time.  Don't bother buying this book, even if you're a die hard fan.  Don't even bother borrowing it from an unlucky friend who bought it.  If you're of a copyright violating bent, don't even bother pirating it.  I'll save you the trouble and tell you everything you need to know about it in one sentence.

Anita picks up a one-eyed werelion named Nick(y) who is completely lacking in any other noteworthy character traits.

There you go.  Now you can go on waiting for the next book and hope she doesn't give us another greedy ass-raping in Bullet.

1  Yes, I know the ebook is only $9.99 but you can't buy an ebook, you can only license them temporarily.  You pay ten bucks and own nothing.  Hell of a deal, yeah?
2  I had to pause here to bang my head against my desk, go smoke a cigarette, and glare at various, innocent, inanimate objects before I could finish this without using the word fuck about every third word.