17 June 11 | Chad W. Post | Comments

Holy crap. After spending a week talking about $.99 ebooks and their influence on culture (see this article, and today’s podcast) this story from Reuters takes my “concerns” and EXPLODES them:

Spam has hit the Kindle, clogging the online bookstore of the top-selling eReader with material that is far from being book worthy and threatening to undermine Amazon.com Inc’s publishing foray.

Thousands of digital books, called ebooks, are being published through Amazon’s self-publishing system each month. Many are not written in the traditional sense.

Instead, they are built using something known as Private Label Rights, or PLR content, which is information that can be bought very cheaply online then reformatted into a digital book.

These ebooks are listed for sale — often at 99 cents — alongside more traditional books on Amazon’s website, forcing readers to plow through many more titles to find what they want.

Aspiring spammers can even buy a DVD box set called Autopilot Kindle Cash that claims to teach people how to publish 10 to 20 new Kindle books a day without writing a word.

This new phenomenon represents the dark side of an online revolution that’s turning the traditional publishing industry on its head by giving authors new ways to access readers directly. [. . .]

Some of these books appear to be outright copies of other work. Earlier this year, Shayne Parkinson, a New Zealander who writes historical novels, discovered her debut “Sentence of Marriage” was on sale on Amazon under another author’s name. [. . .]

Kindle spam has been growing fast in the last six months because several online courses and, ironically, ebooks have been released that teach people how to create a Kindle book per day, according to Paul Wolfe, an Internet marketing specialist.

One tactic involves copying an ebook that has started selling well and republishing it with new titles and covers to appeal to a slightly different demographic, Wolfe explained.

25 November 08 | Chad W. Post | Comments

Yesterday afternoon, Publishers Weekly sent out an e-mail alert regarding Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s decision to “temporarily” (their quotes, not mine) pause acquisitions. Which doesn’t sound very good:

Josef Blumenfeld, v-p of communications for HMH, confirmed that the publisher has “temporarily stopped acquiring manuscripts” across its trade and reference divisions. The directive was given verbally to a handful of executives and, according to Blumenfeld, is “not a permanent change.” Blumenfeld, who hedged on when the ban might be lifted, said that the right project could still go to the editorial review board. He also maintained that the the decision is less about taking drastic measures than conducting good business.

Wonder if any other companies will follow suit . . .

*

In contrast, yesterday our bid for Mathias Enard’s Zone was accepted by Actes Sud. A 500-page, single-sentence French novel, Zone has been getting a lot of great attention. Translator and author Christophe Claro said it’s the novel of the decade and it recently won the Prix Decembre. Brian Evenson e-mailed me recently about how impressive this novel is, but it was this quote from Conversational Reading that set the ball in motion for us:

Zone is considered by some to be the most ambitious novel to be published in France this year. Proust, Celine, Joyce and The Iliad are mentioned as the inspirations behind it. According to the editor’s description at amazon.fr the novel features such characters as Genet, Pound, Burroughs, Cervantes, Hannibal, and Napoleon.

That quote and this excellent excerpt that Charlotte Mandell (who will be translating the whole book) did for Fiction France.

Right now, we’e looking at a summer 2010 pub date . . .

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