Friday, November 30, 2007

Amazon's Kindle: Reviews & Other Scuttlebutt

I thought you might like to read this review (at Publishers Weekly) of the new Amazon Kindle which retails for $400.

Here is the info:

What is Amazon Kindle?

Amazon Kindle ( is a revolutionary portable reader that wirelessly downloads books, newspapers, magazines and blogs to a crisp, high-resolution electronic paper display that looks and reads like real paper, even in bright sunlight.

Kindle customers, no matter where they are in the U.S., can wirelessly shop the Kindle Store and download new content — all without a PC or a WiFi hot spot. Amazon pays for Kindle’s wireless connectivity so there are no monthly wireless bills and no service commitments for customers. The Kindle Store contains over 90,000 books that can be purchased and delivered wirelessly to Kindle, each in less than a minute. Customers can choose from hundreds of top newspapers, magazines and blogs and have their subscriptions auto-delivered wirelessly. All New York Times Best Sellers and New Releases are $9.99, unless marked otherwise.

At 10.3 ounces, Kindle is lighter and thinner than a paperback book, carries two hundred books, and includes built-in access to The New Oxford American Dictionary and wireless access to the Earth’s biggest encyclopedia,


Freelance Class Action Suit Update

Wow, remember I mentioned that writers are often treated like bottom feeders? Never mind the Writers Guild fight for internet rights. This am I got word about the class action suit about works that were published without permission across the Internet from the Author's Guild:

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, in a 2-1 decision, the district court's approval of the settlement.

That settlement, valued at up to $18 million, was to resolve the copyright infringement claims of freelance writers against database companies, such as Dow Jones and the owners of Lexis-Nexis, that had made digital use of the writers' articles without permission. Plaintiffs and defendants had arrived at settlement in 2005.

The appellate court ruled that the district court lacked jurisdiction over claims relating to unregistered freelance articles. Copyright registration is required to bring a suit for infringement, but since registration is viewed as a formality (comparable, many of us believe, to the requirement that one file a complaint in order to get into court), lawyers on both sides thought the settlement could resolve infringement claims for both registered and unregistered works.

The settlement had been objected to and appealed by a group of freelance writers who thought it failed to allot sufficient funds to the claims of authors of unregistered works. If this decision stands, of course, such claims would be shut out entirely.

The shard of good news is that there is a substantial dissenting opinion by Judge Walker. We are considering our options at the moment. One possibility is to seek an en banc review (a review by all of the judges of the 2nd Circuit) to see whether we can persuade a majority of the court to see things our way.

This is sad news. I've had work taken and posted without permission and without stipulation in the contractual agreement. For my professional brand, it usually works out well for me, but from the professional writing standpoint it is a horrible thing...

Read more at the Authors Guild

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Judge Says Book Reading/Purchasing Is Private

Just thought you would find this interesting--I personally prefer privacy where ever I can get it! This rewrite came to me via email from Publishers Market Place.

Court records unsealed last week indicate that earlier this year federal prosecutors had tried to get a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Wisconsin to approve a subpoena compelling to disclose the identity of thousands of people who bought used books online. They were investigating former Madison public official Robert D'Angelo, indicted recently on charges that he ran a used book business of his office and did not report the proceeds as income.

Judge Stephen Crocker turned down the request, ruling that there is a First Amendment right to keep your reading habits private. And the AP says he also "unsealed documents detailing the showdown against prosecutors' wishes."

He wrote, "Well-founded or not, rumors of an Orwellian federal criminal investigation into the reading habits of Amazon's customers could frighten countless potential customers into canceling planned online book purchases." Crocker added, "The subpoena is troubling because it permits the government to peek into the reading habits of specific individuals without their knowledge or permission.... It is an unsettling and un-American scenario to envision federal agents nosing through the reading lists of law-abiding citizens while hunting for evidence against somebody else."

Apparently, "Crocker brokered a compromise in which [Amazon] would send a letter to the 24,000 customers describing the investigation and asking them to voluntarily contact prosecutors if they were interested in testifying."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving Paperback Writers!

Happy Thanksgiving--for your enjoyment paperback writer with the Beatles!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Writing YA & Beyond

J is a former member of the Alliance of Writers. When she read her work, everyone tranformed into little children, sitting on the edges of their seats, waiting in anticipation of another story.

Me too. I miss that.

Once, I began talking about how my mouse was out--meaning the mouse to my computer died. J came up with a whole story about a mouse getting out...a furry one and funny.

So I found it amusing that in a recent blog she talked about being amazed at the ideas that came from the writers in her current critique group--she forgets that she has always done a good job herself. You can read some of her musings at Writing YA.

Karen, another former member just dropped me a line saying her book is already going into second printing--it came out in May. Check the archives for it.

Good going.

Me, I have to work on my next proposal and am catching up with all my work online in the meantime.

*Sigh* I never stop but I did take three whole days off--never mind I worked more than 30 days straight.

In the writing world, many colleagues are on strike. Which seems strange. Writers need to fight for their rights on many levels but there are a ton of people who write for free.

I understand their concerns because basically, writers are often viewed as bottom feeders. At least the money is big in Hollywood. Bottom feeders with a rich, thick, layer of nutrient rich...oh dear, there I go again...

The Internet and new media makes things a bit tricky. I've had work copied and posted on the World Wide Web without permission and there are worse stories from inside the industry...I actually had one publisher want to use my work perpetually online when she only paid for it in a print magazine. Geez.

There is another place where my work is still up. When do you fight and when do figure it is a marketing edge?

You don't hear many of the publishing world tales unless you are in a dark room, lights dim, poets murmuring in the corner--then you hear whispers of discontent.

Those stories are the ones that make you shake your head and look for a good literary attorney--just in case.

Speaking of attorneys and advocates, the Wall Street Journal had an interesting article on the Writers Guild and the current strike.

It is a shame we have to have advocacy groups for this type of thing but also is one of the reasons you should hold professional memberships so you don't have to fight the fight alone.

The only good news is that I don't watch too much television and so I don't miss much of anything during the strike. Those poor writers are picketing when they could be writing!