Jane Litte, Angela James, Malle Vallik and I are quoted in an amazing article about romance readers and digital books. Here’s the catch: much like a book that rocks in the content but makes you cringe in embarrassment at the cover, you must skip past the headline to get to the good part.
Well, no, you can’t really skip it because it’s the first thing you see, so let’s get to that first:
Just like authors have no control the cover art or titles of their books, journalists have little control over their headlines. So let me address this to Publishers Weekly and whatever boneheaded editor made that decision:
“Promiscuous?” REALLY? That’s the best you could do after four very intelligent and digitally savvy women take time to discuss ebooks with your equally intelligent and savvy reporter? REALLY? I’m ashamed of you. Honestly. You had ample opportunity and acres of clever options, and confronted with women working within the digital romance industry, you went with “promiscuous?” Deplorable.
Anyway, on with the article, which ROCKS. Fox touches on digital adoption, devices, and DRM:
Capitalizing on this trend, Harlequin recently announced the summer 2010 launch of the digital-only imprint Carina Press, which will focus on romance and erotic romance. “The voracious reading appetite of romance readers has allowed a number of digital-first companies to start and grow and become solvent,” says digital publishing consultant Angela James, who will be the executive editor at Carina. “Many readers came to digital reading because it offered erotic romance, which wasn’t something they could get from traditional venues. Now traditional publishers are looking at digital-first lines.”
Romance readers and publishers remain sharply divided on the question of encryption and digital rights management (DRM), however, and many consumers continue to hold out for a low-priced e-reader and a single standardized format. “Sadly, the reader is often the missing element in the development of books and devices,” says Sarah Wendell, a romance blogger at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. “Whether it’s DRM security on the books themselves, or devices that have some but not all of the features we prefer, time and again manufacturers and publishers are standing between the reader and her book.”
Carina will be offering DRM-free e-books, delighting readers who want content to be immediately and perpetually available and easily shared. Other publishers are concerned that infinitely replicable books will destroy their bottom line. “Kensington will only deal with retailers that use DRM,” says Steve Zacharius, president and CEO of Kensington Publishing. “The authors have dedicated their lives to writing a book and deserve to earn a royalty from every copy that is downloaded. The slight inconvenience that might exist to the reader in having to put up with DRM is worth the effort to make sure that the e-publishing business is a viable model.” Wendell says that inconvenience not only discourages readers but reduces valuable word-of-mouth promotion: “We can’t say to a friend, ‘Oh, my gosh, you have to read this—here, borrow my copy.’ [Readers and bloggers] are the newest marketing and promotional team for an author, but our ability to share the very thing we love most is hobbled because we are seen as potential thieves and pirates.”
“Slight inconvenience?” I see your slight and raise you a promiscuous. DRM is often much more than a slight inconvenience, unless you use the same terminology to describe a case of leprosy.
Ms. Fox was a fun interview, and I’m so pleased to have met her. I wish her article had received a headline worthy of the content, though, as it’s one that looks at romance, the readership, and our devotion to books with clarity.