Earlier this week vigilant browsers of Amazon.com were treated to a preview of its new e-book subscription service, Kindle Unlimited. The page, which was quickly taken down, announced that the service would offer “unlimited access to over 600,000 titles . . . for just $9.99 a month.”
Now it’s official. An Amazon press release confirms the numbers above, and announces some high profile offerings in its catalogue.
Subscription services, which allow readers to pay a monthly fee for unlimited access to all the e-books in the service’s catalogue, have been on the rise in recent months. The two leading firms in the subscription market—for now—are Oyster and Scribd, who both released statements welcoming the competition, according to a report by Digital Book World.
This week’s batch includes several contests and an artists’ residency. Deadlines range from July 31-Aug 1.
The Glimmer Train Very Short Fiction Award is open to all writers. Stories cannot have appeared in print before. Submissions cannot exceed 3,000 words. The winner receives $1,500, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 copies of that issue. Second place wins $500 and third place wins $300. Entry fee: $15 per story. Please do not submit more than three stories. Deadline: July 31, 2014. For complete guidelines, please visit the website.
The Narrative Spring Story Contest is open to fiction and nonfiction writers. Entries may be short stories, essays, memoirs, photo essays, graphic stories, literary nonfiction, or excerpts from longer works of both fiction and nonfiction. Entries must be previously unpublished and should not exceed 15,000 words. The winner will receive $2,500, second place $1,000, third place $500, and up to ten finalists will receive $100 each. Entry fee: $22. Deadline: July 31, 2014. For complete guidelines, please visit the website.
by Campbell Geeslin
Mindell Dubansky, a librarian at the Metropolitan Museum, collects objects that look like books—but aren’t books. They are made from wood, plastic, soap, granite, coal, slate, metal, ceramic, wax, and plaster.
The New York Times said, “She once paid $1,200 for an 18th century tea caddy disguised as a stack of books.“ She has “books” by the authors Y.B. Untidy, R. U. Laffin and Dusty Evsky. E. Raser is the author of Right the Wrong. It contains an eraser.
Mock volumes have been produced since 1411. Dubansky said, “Books make you feel important. Books make you feel learned. They reflect to others how you feel about yourself.”
CURSE & BLESSING: Joyce Carol Oates wrote an introduction for a 1988 Writers at Work collection of interviews that had appeared in The Paris Review.
Oates wrote, “Flannery O’Connor, attacked by critics for her ‘dark’ and ‘pessimistic’ vision of life, observed that no writer is a pessimist; the very act of writing is an act of hope. And so it is. And so do most writers perceive it, as a vocation, a privilege, a curse that nonetheless contains a blessing. John Hersey puts it most simply, and most honorably: ‘Writing is the only real reward’.”
DRAMA: The main character in a new Broadway play, Sex With Strangers, is “a 40-ish female novelist.” She has “retreated from the publishing world after being stung by the indifferent reception to her first novel.”
The actress who plays her, Anna Gunn, told The New York Times, “When you feel so deeply about what you’ve chosen to do as a career—that’s a calling and you can’t do anything else—and then you kind of get slapped the first time out, and you see the people around you skyrocketing to fame . . . “
We want to share with you an open letter on the Amazon-Hachette, written by Richard Russo, novelist and co-Vice President of the Authors Guild.
The primary mission of the Authors Guild has always been the defense of the writing life. While it may be true that there are new opportunities and platforms for writers in the digital age, only the willfully blind refuse to acknowledge that authorship is imperiled on many fronts. True, not all writers are equally impacted. Some authors still make fortunes through traditional publishing, and genre writers (both traditionally published and independently published) appear to be doing better than writers of nonfiction and “literary” mid-list fiction. (The Guild has members in all of these categories.) But there’s evidence, both statistical and anecdotal, that as a species we are significantly endangered. In the UK, for instance, the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society reports that authors’ incomes have fallen 29 percent since 2005, a decline they deem “shocking.” If a similar study were done in the U.S., the results would be, we believe, all too similar.
This week’s batch of prizes includes a mix of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. Deadlines range from Aug 1-15.
The Malahat Review invites emerging and established writers from Canada, the United States, and elsewhere to enter the Constance Rooke Creative Nonfiction Contest. A prize of $1,000 will be awarded to the best work that embraces, but is not limited to, the personal essay, memoir, narrative nonfiction, social commentary, travel writing, historical accounts, and biography, all enhanced by such elements as description, dramatic scenes, dialogue, and characterization. All entries should be previously unpublished, and between 2,000-3,000 words in length. Entry fee: $35 for Canadian entries, $40 for U.S. entries, and $45 elsewhere. Additional entries are $15 per submission. Deadline: August 1, 2014. For more information, please visit the website.
In an attempt to coax authors and public opinion to its side in its ongoing dispute with Hachette Book Group, Amazon has proposed that both parties give Hachette authors all e-book revenue from sales on Amazon as long as the stalemate lasts.
The offer was made to Hachette yesterday, after it was sent to a small group of writers and agents, among them Authors Guild President Roxana Robinson, who dismissed it as illusory. “If Amazon wants to have a constructive conversation about this, we’re ready to have one at any time,” she told the New York Times. But, she continued, the proposal “doesn’t get authors out of the middle of this.” Hachette also saw through the offer, calling it “baloney.”
Is the groundswell of anti-Amazon sentiment finally getting to the retailer? Guild Council member Douglas Preston’s open letter to Amazon, signed by hundreds of high-profile authors, has been getting its fair share of press in recent days. On the other hand, authors who self-publish through Amazon have started their own petition supporting the bookseller on Change.org.
The bottom line, according to Robinson, is that this dispute must be resolved in a manner that protects authors’ livelihoods. “What writers want is a long-term healthy publishing ecosystem,” she said, “not a temporary windfall.”
In a recent op-ed piece for the New York Times, Authors Guild President Roxana Robinson ventured an answer to one of the thorniest questions faced by writers of fiction. “Who owns the story,” she asks, “the person who lives it or the person who writes it?”
Since authors must draw on the stories of others, they are open to charges of exploitation. Robinson recalls once hearing a critic say, of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, that Stowe had no right to write about the black experience. Drawing on her own experience writing about a young male Marine in the novel Sparta, Robinson reaches a different conclusion, arguing that “it’s empathy”—not exploitation—“that allows a writer to feel her way into someone else’s experience.”
“A writer is like a tuning fork: We respond when we’re struck by something. The thing is to pay attention, to be ready for radical empathy. If we empty ourselves of ourselves we’ll be able to vibrate in synchrony with something deep and powerful.”
See the entire opinion piece here.
by Campbell Geeslin
Oprah Winfrey can sell books and so can Stephen Colbert.
Colbert, whose America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t, is published by Hachette, has been waging a fierce public counter offensive against Amazon’s freeze play on Hachette book orders.
His latest weapon in the good fight was a first novel by a young writer named Edan Lepucki, whose California isalso published by Hachette.
“We will not lick their monopoly boot,” said Colbert as he suggested that viewers pre-order California from independent bookstores. The upheaval caused by Amazon, Colbert told his audience, “is toughest on young authors who are being published for the first time.” He also recommended the novel to his 6.6 million Twitter followers.
The book, published last Tuesday, has become “one of the most pre-ordered debut titles in Hachette history,” said The New York Times, quoting a company spokeswoman.
Lepucki’s book tour was expanded, and she signed 10,000 copies at Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon. The original print order of 12,000 copies has been expanded, too—to 60,000 copies.