Monday, February 18, 2013

A Taste of Sour Grapes

I'm gonna bitch now.  You've been warned.

I have a point to all this, but still, this is mostly going to be a sour grapes kind of post.  I thought I'd let you know in case you aren't in the mood.

Sour grape the first:  Back in late December I download a review copy of a forthcoming fantasy novel from Net Galley.  This is an online clearing house where publishers post novels for reviewers.  Request of a book is not an automatic guarantee of receiving a copy.  Anyway, life happened (more than once), and I didn't get to the book until Saturday.  For one thing, it was more of a doorstopper than I thought it would be. I waited until I thought I would have the time to get through without taking a month and wiping out my other review commitments.  I just did that with a shorter book, and let me tell you, it tended to kill a lot of the joy of the book.  This particular novel came out at the end of January, and I wanted to get the review up since my original plan was to post the review on the release date.  When tried to access the book, I received a message saying the lending period of the book had expired.

Excuse me?  What lending period?  I don't recall anything about a lending period when I requested a review copy of the book.  If I had been provided a paper review copy, I don't think I would have been asked to return it after a certain amount of time had passed.  And what if I hadn't finished the book when the lending period ended?  I guess I would have been out of luck. 

Personally, I find this rather insulting.  The assumption seems to be that I might give the book to someone else who wouldn't pay the publisher.  For the record:  I have never given away or copied or allowed to be copied an electronic review copy.  Nor have I done the same with any paper review copies, although in the interest of space limitations, I may clear some out once the books go out print.

This is a publisher I had intend to read more from.  I still intend to read this particular novel.  It looks quite interesting.  But I'll be buying it in a second hand store.  The same way I'll be buying all the other books I read from this particular publisher from now on.  Which probably won't be many. 

Sour grape the second:  I got a coupon via email from B&N for 20% off (that's an additional 20%, in addition to my member discount) last week and used it on Friday.  It was a special Valentine's Day promotion.  Sunday morning I got another coupon, same thing as the first, an additional 20% off, only this was a President's Day promotion.  Both coupons expired today.

There's a publisher who prices ebooks as the same price as mass market paperbacks.  Now I don't think a publisher should necessarily make their ebooks dirt cheap, but considering ebooks don't involve certain costs that print books do such as printing, shipping, warehousing, and returns, I don't think ebooks should be the same price as a paper copy.  A dollar or two less should be reasonable.

I decided to use this second coupon to buy a fantasy novel from this publisher which got a lot of buzz last year.  It's the sort of thing that would be perfect to review here.  (I could have used the coupon on the novel I talked about in sour grape the first, but I'm serious about waiting for a second hand copy.) 

Anyway, when I got to the register, it seems that this coupon had already been used.  It was the same one I used on Friday.  Seems the Valentine's promotion and the President's Day promotion were one and the same.  It would have been nice if B&N had made that distinction. 

And not sent me the same coupon again after I'd already used it.  It shouldn't be that hard to program a computer to check and see if a coupon has been used and not send a second one.  But there are a lot of things it shouldn't be hard to get a computer to do that trad pub can't seem to figure out.

I didn't buy the book at Barnes and Noble, in case you're wondering.  Might order it from Amazon, though.  If I don't get it second hand, that is.

These are two examples of what I consider stupid decisions in the publishing and bookselling world.  When this kind of disrespect is shown to customers and reviewers, it's hard for me to feel sorry for traditional publishing and chain bookstores. 

Thank God there are lot's of good indie writers out there.


  1. Replies
    1. lol A little. It's turning into the semester from hell, so I'm sure I'm crankier than usual.

  2. Wow, I don't know what that's all about. They're trying to squeeze a penny anywhere they can it seems. But when you irritate customers it's not good in the long run. Amazon is doing some crap I don't much like right now either.

    1. That's the problem when dealing with large corporate entities. They have a tendency to grow to the point where the people who make policy have little to no contact with customers. I won't be surprised if at some point we reach a state where indie authors who develop a following start doing direct marketing themselves and cutting out publishers and bookstores all together. Such a day, if it ever arrives, is still a long ways off. But I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility.

  3. Oooo! My turn?

    I ordered David Mason's Kavin's World from Amazon. It's the Wildside Press 1999 edition of an old Lancer title (1969.) Seeing as how it's small press, trade paperback and $15, I was expecting somewhat bigger font (not that I have a problem, but as I get older I like to give my eyes a break when I can.)

    Turns out, they just mimeographed the original pages of the paperback! Same font size, oodles of margin space.

    I don't begrudge them and I think it's great they've brought stuff back into print - but why not just issue it as a regular size paperback?

    I'd just say "I'll wait for the e'book" but Wildside seem to take a lot of time getting their backlist into e'format. They have great stuff going on, augmented by their acquisition of Borgo Press (Lin Carter reprints, Darrel Schweitzer stories) but they need to move faster.

    And I'd really like them reavamp their outdated, chaotic webpage and spin out a separate Borgo Press page, just for organization and browsing sake.

    1. I feel your pain, Paul. Wildside Press does need to give their website a facelift. And mimeographing rather than retypesetting is pretty lame.