The party goes global...

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Sunday, January 31, 2010

More on the Amazon fiasco...

Don't know if this is true, but according to the publisher, "the plan would allow Amazon to make more money selling Macmillan books and that Macmillan would make less." This sounds, to me, altogether too believable. Full article is here:

Another sobering point made in the article is that, according to Amazon, "The company now sells six digital copies to every 10 physical ones of books available in either format."

And here's an interesting batch of comments on the issue from, a tech-oriented web site. (DRM, by the way, stands for Digital Rights Management, which is essentially electronic copyright, but is also apparently a mechanism by which Amazon can delete books that readers have bought, paid for, and downloaded.)

The times, they are a-changin'.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Yes, our books still exist...

...they just don't exist anymore on

In brief: Books published by the Macmillan group, which include all of mine, Uzee's Trespassing (pub'd by Picador) and many others (Hilary Mantel, Ishmael Beah, Janet Evanovich) have been removed by Amazon because of a disagreement over pricing of e-books. Amazon, which sells e-book downloads for its Kindle reader, prices everything at $9.99, which doesn't leave much to go to the publisher and author after Amazon takes its cut. (Typically, I make between 75 cents and one dollar per new book sold; if a new book is ten bucks, I'll get 50-75 cents per copy. Publishers will also receive less, which leaves them less cash to pay writers for their books. Amazon will net less also, but will be spending less on warehousing, shipping, paying staff to pull the book and pack it, etc).

Publishers have been pressing Amazon to raise prices to around $15, which would be more in line with a new book price after Amazon takes its usual huge discount (which us writers also pay for, by the way). Amazon has been refusing; meanwhile Macmillan has offered its list to Apple, which is launching its own e-reader and has agreed to a pricing formula more in line with what Macmillan wants.

So in retaliation, Amazon has pulled our books. Thanks, guys! This is why I hate business, pretty much.

I can't tell people where to buy their e-books, so I won't; but I will say that if you're shopping for something of mine, or for Uzee's Trespassing or anything else that's suddenly vanished from Amazon, you can still find it all at,, or--maybe best of all--through an order at your local independent book store, the one run by the nice old lady and/or the cynical bearded guy and/or the weird grad students with all the piercings. Hey, stop in and say hi, they'll appreciate the business...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

R.I.P., Holden.

I read it in tenth grade, which was more or less the perfect time for me. Great book then, great book now. Probably the most perfect opening 5 or ten pages ever written, ever, by anybody.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Coolest Funkiest Site on the Internet

In case you were wondering--well, now I've found it.

Run, don't walk to and have yourself a ball. This guy named Frank, who now works as a DJ in various hotspots worldwide, spent a good many years living in Africa, notably Conakry, the capital of Guinea. Calling him "a record collector" would be like calling Imelda Marcos "a woman who liked shoes." His specialty was 1960s and '70s funk and soul from places like Ghana, Benin, Guinea and maybe Mali.

So what he does is, he collects tons of old, rare, out-of-print records, cleans them up, converts them to mp3s and makes playlists of roughly an hour apiece, then posts them on his blog, along with observations about where he's been and a few tales of the tight spots he occasionally finds himself in. The star of the show, however, is not Frank, but the music he unearths and posts for the rest of us. You can click on it to just listen, or right-click to download it and stash it in your PC, or burn a CD for the car, or play on your iPod or whatever.

Until the day comes when these rare and out-of-print records find their way to a legitimate release--a day that is unlikely to ever happen--this is the only way to hear this music, short of trundling off to Africa yourself and buying the records (if you can find them). The nice thing is that occasionally, some of these songs do get compiled onto legit collections, and then the artists involved do see some royalties. I'm all for that. But in the vast majority of cases, this simply isn't going to happen, so if you want to hear this music, this is the way to do it.

And maaaan, it's worth hearing... Some of the links are dead at the moment, but most of them work, so dig around a little. I believe Frank is in Africa as I write this, and we he returns, I'm sure the links will be fixed.

Time to rock.

Uzee's book gets some love

The Geometry of God, Uzee's new novel, has gotten some rave reviews from The Washington Times: well as Kirkus reviews, which named it one of The Best Books of 2009.

Also piling on the praise is the always-astute Oprah Magazine:

While I am hardly an unbiased source, I'd like to add my voice to this growing chorus... It's a great book, check it out.

One More Time...

I know I've said this before, but the new book, An Age of Madness, is (once again) finished and sent off to my lovely and talented agent, Scott. Will he love it? Will he send it to my even lovelier and more talented (sorry Scott) editor, Jen? Will she love it? Or will disappointment once again rain crashing down upon all our heads? Stay tuned.

Sorry. Feeling a little dramatic this morning. It's this whole "just finished the book" thing.