Join Me in Taking a Stand

Ever since the night of November 4th, I’ve felt sad and somewhat helpless about the future. Lots of changes are going to happen and have already begun to happen, and pretty much all of them are for the worse for this country and is many diverse and wonderful people. I’ve done what I can, donating when I can afford it.

When I heard that a publisher I have respected for decades, Simon & Schuster, plans to publish a book – after a book deal for a quarter of a million dollars – by white supremacist Milo Yiannopoulos I was incensed and angered. Simon & Schuster says it is an expression of free speech.

When I learned that an online publication I work for, City Book Review, which includes multiple online publications of book reviews, was boycotting Simon & Schuster, along with others, there was no hesitation. Finally, I could do something. I immediately joined the boycott.

Below is the email I sent to every Simon & Schuster publicist I could find. I understand this punishes the authors as well as the publisher and its imprints, but it also sends a strong message, and the authors may want to think about the publisher that represents them.

I encourage you to join me in boycotting Simon & Schuster.

Dear Publicist,

It was extremely disappointing to discover one of Simon & Schuster’s imprints is publishing white supremacist Milo Yiannopoulos’s book. When it seems like daily this country moves one step deeper into the quagmire of racism, bigotry, and hatred, as well as the bullying and harassment of women and minorities, giving this man a lot of money and publishing his voice from a publisher I have respected for years is one more step in completely the wrong direction.

Your publisher claims it is freedom of speech. So were speeches made by Hitler, Stalin, and so many others throughout history.

I will be expressing my freedom of speech, in joining The Chicago Review of Books, San Francisco Book Review, Manhattan Book Review, Seattle Book Review, Kid’s Bookbuzz and Booksmith, and Bookbanter will no longer be reviewing a single book published by Simon & Schuster or any of its imprints. I join those in a growing voice hoping Simon & Schuster will make the right choice about this disgusting book deal.


Alex C. Telander.

That’s What I’ve Been Saying All Along . . .

There are two programs starting up in the publishing world employing an idea that I’ve thought should’ve been done years ago, possibly around when ebooks started becoming readily available and sold. You see, that day was the day the war between ebooks and print books began, and there really didn’t need to be a war. It should’ve been more like one of those two-in-one books where you have one book on one cover, then you flip it over and have another book with another cover.

A symbiosis that wouldn’t have called for allies coming together to battle the enemy.

Kindle MatchBook will begin next month, offering to customers the option when they purchase certain print books to get the Kindle ebook edition for $0.99-$2.99 or even free. Now, this isn’t every print book Amazon currently offers, but it’s an important start that will hopefully grow and grow and make this program seem the normal thing and eventually be omnipresent with books and reading.

Angry Robot’s is also has its bundling Clonefiles program, which was given a trial run in Britain last year and is now coming to the US, where customers who buy a paperback from a participating independent bookstore, can get the ebook for free. Again, hopefully this is the start of something that will take the publishing world like wildfire and become a common facet in the near future.

In March of this year I published my column, Where’s the Digital Copy for Books?, where I explain my hope for the publishing future where print books and ebooks live happily together, where a customer buys a print book in a store or online and said customer automatically receives a free ebook copy, so that multiple people in a family can enjoy the same book at the same time.

I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Gay Characters in Young Adult Books

In a column I published in May, “Doing What’s Right,” I talked about the eventual cancellation of a young adult anthology, Wicked Pretty Things, edited by Trisha Telep.  Due to Telep wanting one of the stories “straightened,” many authors and readers began to spread the word on this, which led to the end of the anthology.

The publishing world seems to be stepping its foot in it once again, when two known authors — Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown — were trying to publish a young adult novel with gay characters and were told by an agent that it would not get published because of this.   Here is Rose Fox’s article at Publisher’s Weekly on this.

And now word is spreading through mainstream media, on blogs, and just about everywhere.  The Guardian even did an article recently on the matter.  Cleolinda on her blog, Occupation:Girl, has done a great job of covering the back and forth and linking everyone has done since the article was published.  Nicola Griffth, the bestselling author, had a great post on her blog.  Malinda Lo has also done a great job of posting important stats on this subject.  And the other N. K. Jemisin has also weighed in with her thoughts.

There is no easy answer here.  What’s impressive about it is how quickly and easily everyone can share the links and information and provide their own commentary and thoughts and opinions.  Smith and Brown had originally kept the identity of the particular agent secret, and said agent then chose not to.

While it may not have been their original intention, at the very least this had brought this important subject that needs to be addressed to the forefront of publishing and the internet.

Come on up for the Rising

The great people at Orbit books have made this funny, interesting, scary, and captivating book trailer for the Newsflesh Trilogy.  If you haven’t read the books, you should check it out; if you have read the books, you should check it out; if you got here by accident, you should check it out . . .

Also if you’re in the San Francisco area on Saturday at about 5PM, you should come on down to Borderlands and meet the brilliant mind behind Feed and Deadline, the great Mira Grant herself.  Details about the event can be found here.

Hopefully see you there!

Feed    Deadline

The Mystery of the Fourteenth Colony

James Rollins’ next thriller, Devil Colony, isn’t due out until June 21st, and yet it brings up lots of questions on the founding of the United States and some of its shrouded history.  In this teaser video leading up to the release of the book, Rollins address some of this questions and talks a little about what readers will find in Devil Colony.

Readers impatiently waiting for the release can also be a little satisfied with an ebook short story, “Skeleton Key,” which Rollins has released for just ninety-nine cents featuring a fun story about his enigmatic character, Seichan traveling around the dark, dank catacombs of Paris which will be available tomorrow, May 31st for download.  You can also preorder it.

A written interview with James Rollins will be appearing on BookBanter on June 15th, along with a special giveaway of Devil Colony.

BookBanter Interviewee Michael J. Sullivan Hits the Big Time

Michael J. Sullivan

When I began interviewing authors on BookBanter, my goal was to be equal and even in who I interviewed.  In the books I read and review, I am open minded whether the author is associated with a national publishing house, or a smaller independent one.  If the story is interesting, I’ll read the book and give it a try, especially when the author or publicist contacts me.  I feel this is the point of BookBanter: to provide authors and books to readers who may not have heard of them before, no matter which publisher they are associated with.  The world of publishing is changing, and it is thanks in part to the Internet and blogs and websites like BookBanter; at least I like to think so.

On June of 2009 I put up my interview with Michael J. Sullivan.  Sullivan is the author of the Riyria Revelations series, an entertaining fantasy series featuring two main characters, Royce and Hadrian, who are what make the series worth reading.  Sullivan had contacted me through his wife, Robin Sullivan, who does his publicity, and was sent a copy of the first book, The Crown Conspiracy.  I enjoyed the book, gave it a favorable review, and have been reading each successive book as it is published through Ridan Publishing (an indie publisher started by Robin Sullivan) over six month intervals.  After interviewing Sullivan, I learned that the author was not writing these books to make vast amounts of money and achieve bestsellerdom (though this would be well received), but to write and tell some entertaining stories for his daughter.  The Riyria Revelations were written to entertain and they have done so, gaining momentum, support and readers over time; with the advent of ebook editions, sales and popularity for the series has continued to grow.  This is made evident on Robin Sullivan’s blog, “Write to Publish.”

And to cap it all off, last week came the official announcement from the big publishing house, Orbit, that they had acquired the Riyria Revelations with plans to publish the original six-book series in three volumes coming in November, December and January 2012.  And now a much larger audience will be able to enjoy this great series.  Sullivan himself referred to it as “the little indie that could.”

For now, readers can enjoy the interview with Michael J. Sullivan, and reviews for the first four books in the series (the fifth book will be reviewed later this year; the sixth will be some time until the third volume from Orbit is released):

Crown Conspiracy Avempartha Nyphron Rising Emerald Storm

02/27 On the Bookshelf . . .

I’d been contacted by Tor to see if I was interested in checking something new and innovative coming out, known as an “illustrated novel.”  I’m always interested in see what the publishing world tries to do in changing the dynamic of book publishing.  The book in question of Pleasure Model by Christopher Rowley.

Pleasure Model

This is the first book in a trilogy and represents a partnership between Heavy Metal magazine and Tor books.  “Heavy Metal Pulp will partner the top illustrators and designers from the iconic fantasy magazine with today’s most talented science fiction authors, blending the sensuous artistic style and graphic imagery of Heavy Metal with classic noir storytelling.”  After seeing the cover, I don’t want to make any assumptions (even though my mind unavoidably already has).

Also received a couple books coming out at the end of March from Night Shade Books: The Best Horror of the Year Volume Two edited by Ellen Datlow, and The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Four edited by Jonathan Strahan.

Best Horror of the Year Best Scifi Fantasy

Cover Controversy of a Different Sort

On May 4th, 2010 a fascinating new anthology will be released: a science fiction/fantasy collection from Chinese authors.  It’s called The Dragon and the Stars, edited by Derwin Mak and Eric Choi, and features an introduction from “New York Times bestselling author” Tess Gerritsen.  Sounds pretty interesting, huh?

Here’s the cover for the book:

Dragon and the Stars Cover

A nicely designed cover with a cool looking dragon perched on a crag in front of a full moon, along with a vibrant purple color; all elements one can appreciate and which will garner a lot of interest, with people picking up and checking out the book.

Now, on the cover, the following is also printed: “18 original stories melding the rich cultural heritage of China with the imaginative realms of science fiction and fantasy.”  Why do you think it was necessary to put this nugget of detail on the front cover?  Perhaps because there is nothing of the cover that actually says this is a collection of Chinese writers, with a very familiar–  to the Western World at least — dragon that we’ve become familiar with in many of the dragon fantasy tales.  And yet does this dragon reveal anything that might possibly hint at the “rich cultural heritage of China”?

It’s a collection of of stories from Chinese authors with a Western cover so that Westerners will be enticed by the familiar and not “turned off” by the unknown or misunderstood. Silvia Moreno-Garcia, who wrote about this in one of her posts, quickly made up a new cover for Dragon and the Stars that brings a whole different perspective to what this collection truly consists of:

Dragon and the Stars Fancover

A cover that embodies far more the concept of a collection of fantasy and science fiction stories by Chinese authors.  I would also say, in my opinion, that I would be far more likely to be interested in and would seek out a book with this second cover, than the actual cover to Dragon and the Stars, which has a relatively plan and ordinary fantasy cover compared to this new one.

Nevertheless, come May I do still plan to read and review Dragon and the Stars, as it just seems like such a fascinating book.  Whether it will still have this same cover is another matter.  All I’m saying is, change it possible, and Bloomsbury did it.  Twice.  As I discussed in an earlier post.  So maybe, if enough people made a stand, say something, and complain . . .

And here are some links from other people who talk about this:

The World SF News Blog: Wednesday Editorial: On Book Covers

A Wolf’s Journey

Janet Chui’s blog: Even Dragons Can be Whitewashed

AmazonFail Update has apparently now decided to put all the books (at least print editions,  ebooks are TBD) published by Macmillan back up on the site and are once again available to purchase, after taking them down over a dispute with Macmillan.

And here’s a piece from the New York Times that gives some answers about it: Macmillan Books Return to Amazon After Dispute