For a limited time, the ebook edition of SEALed With a Kiss is available free!

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Feel like you’re always getting distracted?  Pushing things to the last minute (like starting a blog post due at midnight at 10 p.m.)?  The theme at the Casa Author blog this month is procrastination, and my post today is on how some things we might often consider procrastination can actually help increase productivity.  Truly, sometimes YouTube is ok.  See more here.

Another not-really-procrastinating time-eater is reading.  And now you can do it cheap with a Daring Debutantes and Dashing Dukes promotion offering $2.99 ebooks.  Authors include Laura Kinsale, Amelia Gray, Laurie McBain, Rosemary Rogers, Mary Wine and Abigail Reynolds.

Commenters over on the Casablanca author blog have a chance to win some May releases today–WICKEDLY CHARMING by Kristine Grayson and SEALED FOREVER by Mary Margret Daughtridge.  All you have to do is let us know what says romance to you.

When editing I often find it’s the little things, the tender moments that would have little meaning to anyone outside these characters, that really make my heart melt and the story resonate long after I’m done reading.  Check out more here.

And we have an amazing deal on our upcoming SINS OF THE HOUSE OF BORGIA by Sarah Bower–just $2.99 when you preorder the ebook, then going up to $9.99 after March 1. List price of the print edition is $14.99.  Available at B&N, Amazon, and wherever ebooks are sold.

If you haven’t yet seen the trailer for the new Borgia series on Showtime, check it out below.

Because there haven’t been enough blizzards in NYC this winter, I thought it’d be a good idea to travel to Chicago this week.  We did get in a great meeting with the great team at Levy, the folks who help get books into Target and Wal-Mart, before the snow started flying.  Truly, there’s nowhere we won’t go–even into the middle of a historic blizzard–to get books into people’s hands.  ;-)

Heck, we’ll even give away books for free.  This month sees the release of on of our YA line’s most hotly anticipated sequel, HAUNTED by Joy Preble.  A ghostly Russian czarina, a menacing mermaid, and a girl torn between her hot lifeguard boyfriend and the immortal warrior teaching her about powers she didn’t think were possible–HAUNTED is out in bookstores now.  And DREAMING ANASTASIA, the first of the series, is currently available as a free ebook.  You can find it wherever ebooks are sold in any format you prefer.


Be part of the publishing process.  We need help deciding a cover direction for YA release STUPID FAST, a seriously funny debut by Geoff Herbach.  Tell us which one you like best here and you could win an advance copy of one of our most highly anticipated books for the spring.

Need help polishing your manuscript?  Joy Preble, author of DREAMING ANASTASIA, is taking part in a charity auction to raise money for the Family Violence Prevention Fund.  Bid on a critique for 10 pages of your work here. And scout out the rest of the listings for critiques from agent Nathan Bransford and Flux editor Brian Farrey, signed ARCs and loads of other great stuff.

It’s liiiive–oh, wait, wrong book.  The iDrakula app is up at iTunes–and it’s free.  Check it out and you can get the ebook for only $1.99.  Great deal and an adorable icon.

One of the biggest hesitations in my deliberations between an iPod or a Nook for ebook reading was the lack of an iPod app for the DRMed ePub files.  The iPad coming out next month is supposed to support ePub, but no one is really sure yet what kind of limitations it might have.  Luckily, you can read ePub books now on your iPhone or iPod Touch through a free app called Txtr.

Txtr is still in its beta phase and definitely lacks the elegance of Stanza.  For example, you can change font size, but there are no bookmarks, annotations, or status bar to show how far you are into a book.  However, you can read any ePub file (except ones borrowed from the library; if there’s a way to do that, I haven’t yet figured it out).  All you have to do is sign in to your Adobe Digital Editions account, which you have to register for to get DRMed ePub files anyway.

The desktop version also allows you to sync pdfs, Word docs, Powerpoint, Excel and rtf.  You can drag and drop the files, or email them to your Txtr account.  Unfortunately,  the iPod app doesn’t support reading the Word docs.  Customer service was friendly and speedy when I asked about it, though.  And everything is still a work in progress.

The Txtr site itself is rather bare bones, but you can find more info from their execs at Teleread.

There’s been lots of big news in the publishing industry in the last week or so, much of it relating to new technology and how publishers are adjusting (or not) their models of doing business.  Much about Apple’s new iPad device and Amazon vs. Macmillan has been discussed in other forums and covered in the news, but a few thoughts from this end of things…


I was thrilled to see Apple was committing its new iBooks store to the epub format, which publishers are truly pushing to become the standard. But my elation was short-lived when Jane at DearAuthor reported that it seems as though the epub file will still have to be tied to an Apple device.  More and more, it seems ebook retailers are segmenting the market instead of uniting it. They’re making ebooks more difficult instead of easier for readers to try out.  As a reader myself, I want to know that the book I’m buying today, I’ll still be able to enjoy in 10 years, no matter what new devices are out. 

Beyond the iBooks format issue, I, like many, was a bit underwhelmed at the “revolutionary” new device.  I had been expecting something that acted like a netbook but in tablet form.  Instead, we got an overgrown iPod Touch.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I love my Touch, and I believe I won’t be replacing it with an iPad anytime soon.

Amazon and ebooks

Publishers and ebook retailers still have a long way to go in figuring out pricing for ebooks, as evidenced by this weekend’s showdown between Amazon and Macmillan. But I have to admit that I have a hard time feeling too much sympathy for the publishers who don’t think they can make money for a product that sells for less than $9.99.  Obviously, the mass-market business model thrives on it.  Then again, we also plan for it. 

If $9.99 ebooks released simultaneously with $25.99 hardcovers become the norm, publishers are going to have to adjust for it in their breakevens.  And ultimately that’s going to affect what the authors are being paid in advance and royalty.

The publishing world was abuzz yesterday with news of B&N’s new ebook reader, the Nook (seriously, where do they get these names?).  And from everything I’ve seen and read, it looks pretty darn cool. 

The B&N site does a nice comparison of Nook vs. Kindle, but I’ve recently been looking at upgrading my Palm to an iPod Touch.  So I did my own comparison:

                                                      iPod                           Nook

  • Ebooks                          yes                               yes
  •      epub                          no                                yes
  •     eReader                    yes                               yes
  •     Kindle                        yes                               no
  • Music                             yes                               yes
  • Movies                          yes                                 no
  • Word doc                     yes*                               no
  • pdf                                  yes*                              yes
  • wireless download    yes                               yes
  • Wi-fi capable              yes                                 yes
  • operating sys             Mac                              Android (Google)
  • eInk (good for sun)   no                                yes
  • backlit (good for dark) yes                          no
  • screen size                     3.5″ diag                      6″ diag.
  • loan books                  no                                   yes
  • price                         $199 8G/$299 32G       $259
  • expansion slot          no                                   yes
  • replaceable bat.       no                                   yes
  • Web browsing           yes                                   ?

* requires app at additional charge

The biggest questions for me come down to screen size and backlit vs. eInk.  I’m having a real hard time deciding because on one hand, I love to read on our sunny terrace (which gives backlit devices a terrible glare), but I also like reading in bed and not having the light on to bother the DH (eInk requires a separate light source). 

Also, how functional is the Nook at web browsing in a wireless hotspot? 

The Nook is available for preorder now and will start shipping Nov. 30. At that time, it will also be in stores for customers to demo.

Some good news to report today:

  • MY WICKED VAMPIRE by Nina Bangs is in its second week on the USA Today best-seller list
  • Examiner.com called DARK LEGACY by Anna DeStefano the “top genre-bending must-read fiction of the year.”
  • $4.99 bargain books are all in one place. And this is good stuff, folks – Lisa Kleypas, Katie MacAlister, Lynsay Sands and more.

A lot of readers have been asking about the availability of ebooks of Dorchester titles.  Currently we send files to Barnes & Noble and Amazon.  The files are sent at the same time, but I’ve found that generally BN.com has the books available anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months earlier than Amazon.  In fact, they currently have the abovementioned MY WICKED VAMPIRE in its digital edition.  And DARK LEGACY, for that matter.  Amazon hasn’t posted either for Kindle yet.

B&N ebooks can be read on the iPhone/iPod Touch, Blackberry, PCs and Macs.  And whatever new device it is that they’re annoucing tomorrow morning.

When a sales rep meets with a book buyer to determine how many copies to take of a particular title, she looks at a number of criteria.  The first is sales history, if it exists. The second is the design of the cover art itself – is it pleasing? does it convey the genre?  But she’s also looking to see how much the publisher has spent on the book to get an indication of how hard they’re going to be pushing this title to attract readers and recoup their costs.

The first indication of a book’s “importance” is the format in which it’s published.  Traditionally, of course, hardcovers are perceived as the most worthy of attention, then going down the price scale from there to trade paperbacks, mass-market paperbacks and finally ebooks.  Typically, advances for hardcovers are higher, the price point is higher, and *perception* is that these are “better” books.  I’m sure everyone has an opinion on that…

But let’s jump to mass-market paperbacks, ’cause that’s what Dorchester does and that’s the predominant format for the romance genre.  Special cover treatments are often used there to indicate factors a book’s “importance” or expectation of sales.  In increasing cost order, there’s:

  • emboss and/or foil of the type (author name and title); ideally they’re both foiled and embossed
  • spot emboss, where one element of the cover is raised up (like the ornament on A CHRISTMAS BALL)
  • spot gloss – using a section of gloss on a matte cover
  • full foil, where the entire cover is shiny in some way (like the Black Dagger Brotherhood series)
  • stepback – a glossy page of color art behind the actual cover

We also talk about creating a “big-book look,” which generally features a large author name and just an element of art rather than an entire scene.  Often in romance, you’d see a fairly sedate front cover and then the clinch in the stepback.  The idea is to make it look larger than a genre book.  It tends to work best when the author has some name recognition.  Otherwise, readers might not know what genre it belongs to.

The design of the book itself can also be an indication to readers. The more money spent on making it look pretty, the more that book has to earn back and the harder the publisher needs to push sales.  Typically mass-markets don’t have a lot of design in their production, though every now and then you run into beautiful drop caps or a pretty feature to open chapters.  The whole point of mass-markets is that they’re inexpensive to produce and generally not expected to have the shelf life of hardcovers.  Jennifer Ashley recently loaned me a copy of THE LUXE, a trade-sized historical YA, which was beautiful – gorgeous script on the chapter openings, all kinds of different fonts.  It really made the book fit its title.

But I find it highly interesting that all of this goes away when you start talking about ebooks.  Ebooks are truly the great equalizer.  The format of the print edition isn’t a factor. There is no tactile cover.  Often the type design is different depending on the format and the capabilities of the reader you’re using.  And the reader can change the font into whatever they want. 

There have been all kinds of ebook price wars among readers and publishers and retailers.  Because, truly, it’s the price that’s the last great publisher-determined separator of what’s supposed to be “good.”  It will be interesting to see how the model changes as the ebook market gains more precedence.

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