BN & Simon and Schuster in a Fight, Lizzie Bennet Diaries DVD, and Amish Romance

A few links for Sunday morning reading: 

I saw this article as I was checking out of a hotel and took pictures of the Wall Street Journal, but Holly @hi_26 on Twitter found the online version for me: Barnes & Noble and Simon & Schuster's financial dispute has led to BN significantly reducing the orders of S&S author books.

The dispute holds risks for both sides. Simon & Schuster is losing sales and promotions at the biggest book chain in the U.S. While the retailer is still carrying the publisher's biggest books in quantity, titles by lesser-known authors have been cut sharply, said the people familiar with the matter. Orders for some titles have been reduced by as much as 90%, according to one literary agent.

A recent walk-through at one of Barnes & Noble's stores in Manhattan found hard-cover editions of such current Simon & Schuster best sellers as Jodi Picoult's novel “The Storyteller” and Clive Davis's memoir “The Soundtrack of My Life.”

Elsewhere, however, the paperback edition of veteran author M.J. Rose's novel “The Book of Lost Fragrances,” published in February, was out of stock and a search of the retailer's online site showed that the book was also unavailable at three other Manhattan locations.

Thank you to LoriK who forwarded me this link to the LA Times article by that looked at how the Amish view the proliferation of Amish romances. Setting aside the unfortunate “bonnet rippers” (OH HOW DROLL) in the headline, the perspectives from the various Amish readers who are interviewed vary in interesting ways – almost parallel to some non-Amish reader reactions to romance:

The authors of the novels themselves claim a wide and appreciative Amish audience. “All of my Amish friends, and their friends, and their friends read my books,” Wanda Brunstetter told me at a book-signing, and Beverly Lewis says Amish fans of her books write to her frequently. Lewis told one reporter that an Amish correspondent once wrote to her, “I don’t want to mislead you, Mrs. Lewis. All of us are reading them under the covers.”

 

Not quite all. Many of the Amish people I have spoken with display a mix of bemusement and disgust at the novels, especially the covers, with their airbrushed models with plucked eyebrows. They point out glaring inaccuracies in some of the books, such as one Amish person calling another “Mr.” or “Mrs.” On the phone with me, Doretta Yoder expresses more trepidation about the genre than her glowing reviews might suggest. “I have some personal opinions about how some of them write about us,” she tells me, obliquely. “It seems like word has gotten out that if you write about the Amish, you can sell books. I think it’s getting out of hand.”

As long as it took you to sneeze was about as long as it took the Lizzie Bennett Diaries DVD Kickstarter to be funded. Well, actually it took about three hours. The total raised is now over $240,000.00. A related project, Welcome to Sanditon, is introduced on the same page, so it looks like those of you who were totally into the LBD have more to look forward to. Awesome! Graceful curtsey to Francesca for the link.

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  1. 1
    Gry says:

    So the Barnes & Noble and Simon & Schuster spat is now impacting the authors in a negative way. Not good at all!.

  2. 2

    I was so enthusiastic about The Lizzie Bennet Diaries when I first started the series, but it headed straight off a narrative cliff with the Lydia storyline, and it hasn’t recovered. *sigh* I was so hopeful, but now I kind of regret recommending the series to my friends. I don’t know if I’ll bother getting invested in another series from Pemberley Digital—especially a Sanditon adaptation. WTF? How are they going to satisfactorily adapt an incomplete novel? I’ve struggled through a few attempts to “finish” that book, and they have all failed utterly. Boo!

  3. 3
    Ashley says:

    Dread Pirate Rachel:

    I feel the same way about LBD after the Lydia arc. It was so badly handled it soured me on the whole thing. Considering how it went, I don’t feel comfortable watching any other web series they have planned in the future either.

  4. 4
    Tam B. says:

    It was thanks to SBTB that I discovered LBD and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.  (So thanks!)

    I haven’t followed all of the non-Lizzie vlogs – Lydia’s was just a bit too much for me – but I’ve enjoyed how they kept the ideas expressed in the original story and brought them to the present. I haven’t read Austen’s Sanditon story but will definitely check out Gigi’s vlog.

  5. 5
    SB Sarah says:

    Can I ask what it was you all disliked about the Lydia arc?

    note: my captcha: position81. WHICH ONE IS THAT?

  6. 6
    Sarah Y says:

    I agree about the Lydia arc. I LOVED LBD in the beginning…it was like crack. Then somehow instead of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, it became the LYDIA Bennet Diaries and it stayed that way for many, many episodes. I think someone had a soft spot for Lydia and while we got to see her character grow and become more complex; Lizzie’s growth becomes stunted and she takes a secondary place to Lydia. The rest of the episodes were a little overly dramatic for me (sex tape scandal? frail and subdued Lydia?) and instead of waiting eagerly for the next installment I found myself watching it to just finish what I had already started. I liked how we got to see a more complex Lydia but I wish we could have seen an equally complex Lizzie as well.

  7. 7
    Ashley says:

    I loved what they did with the Lydia character until the sex tape for several reasons. I didn’t like that the Bennets just sat around crying for a week instead of trying to do something about the tape. I know in the book Darcy secretly fixes everything, but that doesn’t mean that the Bennets had to do nothing in this modern adaptation. I didn’t like that Darcy was literally walking around looking for Wickham. He’s a very rich man who owns a tech company. He should know how to take down a web site and that’s not the way. I didn’t like how patronizing Darcy was towards his sister when she wanted to help him find Wickham. And as far as I know, despite a little mention of Lydia being in therapy, they never came out and said her relationship with Wickham was abusive or really talked about it at all. It was the very definition of an abusive relationship, and I felt like since they went there, they needed to go there with the aftermath as well. On basically every level that whole arc just did not work for me. At all.

  8. 8
    Fran S. says:

    You know, I had a few problems with the series, but I thought the sex tape was a pretty good idea.  I mean, how else can one “ruin” people these days, equivalent to Austen’s era, without making them horrible, bad people?  I have to wonder as well if “ruined” girls were very common in her day—-or was it a sensational idea, just as a sex tape is today?  I was uncomfortable with the lack of action as well, but not with the importance of the Lydia arc.  I mean, if one of my little sisters had that sort of problem, it’s all I would be thinking about for a long while.  Lydia’s problem is a huge bow to Lizzie—she allowed them to stop talking, she didn’t pay attention, and she felt helpless to stop what she considered inevitable.  She felt she’d failed as an older sister.  That’s quite a shock, and I think that helps her grow in her own right, even if we don’t see it as much.  But yeah, I didn’t get enough of a resolution on the Lydia arc either—and the last video is tomorrow I believe.  Maybe they’ll do an epilogue, like in the book?  I really enjoyed Charlotte’s arc though. 

    I’ve met some movie-over-book-people recently, rather than canon-book people, but they kind of convinced me that creative licence can be okay if the spirit of the original work remains the same.  I thought it did that, for the most part

  9. 9

    FWIW, as one of the S&S writers affected by the B&N issue, I just wrote a blog post about how it feels from an author’s perspective.

  10. 10

    I’m with everyone—I recommended it to everyone, and very much disliked what happened with Lydia.

    It’s not so much that the sex tape wasn’t a way to “ruin” Lydia, as that it (1) didn’t serve any purpose in creating romantic conflict between Lizzie and Darcy, as Lydia’s running off with Wickham did in P&P, with the effect that it stalled out the romance for two months because the only romantic conflict was confusion and ignorance, (2) had an easy resolution which, for plot reasons could not be taken immediately, and so instead the characters attempting to resolve the issue literally did nothing (Lizzie, mass communications grad student, never went to one of her professors and said, “help, I have a very big problem in mass communications, who should I talk to?” and Darcy didn’t bother going to his lawyers, thus making two people who had otherwise been intelligent ineffectual and bumbling and stupid), and (3) I have to pretend the resulting Darcy/Gigi videos don’t exist, because Darcy was so painfully condescending, and Gigi, a grown woman, just accepts it, as if this is his right. At the end, he basically pats her on the head and calls her a good dog even though she disobeyed orders.

    Then there are the massive problems in execution: Lizzie apologizes for calling Lydia a slut NOT because she realizes that it’s not right to call people sluts but because she realizes she had misunderstood Lydia, and Lydia wasn’t actually a slut. *face over hand* And Lydia is shown as going through a hugely abusive relationship on screen, nobody notices it’s abusive as it’s showing—in fact, Charlotte watches all of Lydia’s videos, and the point that makes her frantically e-mail Lizzie is not “Oh my God, look what Wickham is doing to your sister” but “your sister made a sextape!” And there is literally no reason for showing this. It’s a scenario where Lydia’s abuse is shown on screen in detail, but her healing takes place silently off screen, and that is the exact opposite of what I want.

    As for ways to ruin people in the modern era, why, I have quite a list:

    1. The one in which the Bennets are illegal immigrants (unbeknownst to the children), and when Lydia gets arrested for some minor crime, their status is uncovered and the entire family is threatened with deportation;
    2. The one in which Lydia acts as an unwitting drug mule for George Wickham, and when she is caught out with performance enhancing drugs, the home is searched, the “boxes” that Wickham stored there “temporarily” are discovered to be filled with meth/ecstasy. The authorities seize the Bennet home under drug forfeiture laws.
    3. The one in which Lydia discovers what a douchebag Wickham is and how he’s been using her, and runs away because she can’t face it. Nobody can find her and they’re worried that she’s going to be out on the streets, with all the risks that that entails.

    I could go on!

    In any event, I’m really really sad that this show went off the rails for me. :(

  11. 11
    SB Sarah says:

    @Stephanie: I’m a S&S author, too, though that book came out in 2009. I feel your pain, and I’m sorry.

  12. 12
    Reese Ryan says:

    Love the LBD. So addictive! I am way behind right now because of projects and the looming book deadline I should be working on right now (Shh!). Once I can take a breath I look forward to catching up.

  13. 13

    Yes to everything that Courtney Milan said above, most especially regarding the slut-shaming of Lydia. This was the first adaptation of P&P that I felt did a really great job making Lydia a sympathetic character. She was really well-developed and well-cast, and I absolutely hated seeing how her personality was completely crushed. It was the same old slut-shaming narrative: the girl lives her life the way she wants to, everybody calls her a slut, and she gets punished.

    The creators may have tried to slap a band-aid on the situation by making Lizzie sorry for calling her sister a slut, but the underlying theme is still there.

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