Monday Link n' Stink


This morning, I thought I'd call your attention to two interesting articles.

First, here's a link to the New York Times Sunday Book Review article talking about high-end advances. These have not a thing to do with those of working-class authors such as yours truly, but I'm taking my own advice from yesterday's post to heart, thank you very much, which allows me to read about five million-dollar advancing without (much) threat of spontaneous combustion.

The Times article talks about a trend toward no or low-advance contracts, where the author gets his/her filthy lucre down the line rather than up front. While this might seem like a good idea (for the publisher, maybe, in these "challenging financial times"), I have to wonder how many people working on the other side of the industry would enjoy forgoing a paycheck which for one which might or might not happen for six or twelve months -- often even later. A paycheck whose exact amount could total, well, pick any figure from zero upwards.

Golly gosh, I don't see a whole lot of hands up out there. Anyway, it's a fascinating article. Check it out.

Now for the "stink" portion of today's post: the huuuuugggeee brouhaha over Amazon.com, who, not content with shaping the future of book-buying, has decided to get into the morality business by "de-ranking" what they're calling "adult" books, many of which seem to be gay-themed or gay-friendly. Check out the thought-provoking article from the LA Times.

What I want to know is what Amazon employee(s) got stuck with (or more frighteningly, volunteered for) the task of being moral arbiter of the Amazon world, decided which books would be excluded from searches or bestseller list? (De-ranked: Annie Proulx's Brokeback Mountain. Not de-ranked: Brett Easton Ellis's uber-violent American Psycho. Because while being showered with gore is a personal choice, we as Americans must be protected at all costs from sex.)

While I totally admit I can see the point of not wanting to offend readers searching for Babar the Elephant for their kiddies by popping up a pornographic title or cover (they're out there and some are really raunchy), some of the choices are mind boggling - not to mention whipping up a huge controversy and potential boycott.

C'mon, Bezos, what are you thinking here? You guys love books and I love you, so just get out of the way and admit you bit off more than you can chew before this gets way too crazy.

Update: Publishers' Weekly is reporting Amazon claiming this was all a "glitch" rather than a nefarious plan. This is a pretty thin explanation, considering their early attempts to justify it. But at least they're reversing the "de-listing."

Pictured: Leslea Newman's Heather Has Two Mommies. Insidious threat or teaching tool for tolerance? (And by the way, today's link's to Barnes and Noble.)

Comments

Suzan Harden said…
The folks running Amazon scare me, between the e-book Kindle-only formatting and the censorship.

On the other hand, when I look up Dharma & Greg on Amazon.com and LooneyTunes:Back in Acton pops up, maybe there's justifiable concern.
Joni Rodgers said…
Oh, dear. What on earth could they be thinking? That's uncool on so many levels.

Basically, they want to make money selling porn but will maintain their family-friendly status by throwing literary authors to the right-wing wolves.
Joni Rodgers said…
Also thought that NYT article on book advances was an interesting pairing for yesterday's Parade Magazine -- the annual "What People Earn" issue. Not a writer in the bunch. But we can feel good about America, knowing that the 26-yr old HMO exec earned $11 million last year while my girlfriend's chemo was deemed not cost effective. Good times.
My heart breaks a little every year when I see that Parade feature. But the thing about your friend, Joni, that's beyond sickening. So human lives have to be cost-effective? Argh.
jennymilch said…
Maybe the HMO exec needs to pay for your friend's chemo out of his own eleven mil...? (My very best wishes for her recovery, Joni...)

I realize this is an untenable suggestion and I am speaking a little tongue in cheek, but to me this issue relates to the point about huge advances for writers. What if just $100,000 of that three million dollar advance went to fund writers who are struggling to take care of their family on their income? Or launch ones who haven't made it yet?

I know collectives don't, historically, work. But writers are such a community anyway. I have been dazzled by how so many extend themselves in different ways. I wonder what kind of possibilities there are when it comes to cash on the barrel?

Just musing here...