Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Enhanced E-Books

Enhanced E-Books: A Boon for Readers, a Headache for Agents

Posted 6:01 PM 03/16/10 
For hundreds of thousands of excited customers who pre-ordered Apple's (AAPL) much-hyped iPad, D-Day (April 3) is drawing near. And as it does, one word we're hearing a whole lot of lately is "enhanced." After all, with the price of new electronic books settling north of $9.99, and with book-related applications for mobile devices more popular than games, publishers are convinced they need to add value to make a sale (or lots of sales).

But when the definition of what is a book or an e-book expands to include all manner of enrichment, that also opens the door for an assortment of headaches about rights and contracts -- making a complex situation even more fraught. And the prospect of navigating the rights issues of these enhanced e-books is confounding literary agents in New York and London.

David Baldacci, Enriched Edition

One author who already sells novels in massive quantities is the thriller writer David Baldacci, but that isn't stopping his publisher, Grand Central -- a division of Lagardere's (LGDDY) Hachette Book Group -- from tricking out the e-book edition of his new Deliver Us From Evil when it's released on April 20, along with the hardcover and a standard e-book edition. This "enriched" version will include passages cut from the final text, research photos, an audio interview, and video footage of Baldacci at work, according to the Associated Press -- and at $15.99, it will cost a dollar more than the standard text-only e-book. (The price of the enhanced edition will drop to $12.99 after a few months.)

Baldacci thinks the choice is clear: "Based on my hundreds of book tours and thousands of questions we get on our web site, I know that readers are looking for exactly what is on the enriched eBook," he told publishing blog GalleyCat

The enhanced Baldacci e-book is one of several projects Hachette will release over the coming weeks, including a NASCAR-oriented app, a synchronized text/audio edition of Michael Connelly's crime novel Echo Park, and a standalone app version of David Foster Wallace's thousand-page magnum opus Infinite Jest. "One reason the book is so famous is because of the footnotes," says Maja Thomas, senior VP of Hachette Digital. "We thought, wouldn't it be great if, when a footnote appears, there's a symbol in the e-version of the text, and if you tap on it, you can go right to the footnote, and then tap back into the text at any time."

Book Buyers and DVD Buyers

A proliferation of enhanced editions poses bigger questions about the market for e-books with extra material. As with DVDs, the idea behind enhanced e-books seems to be that some consumers will prefer the bare-bones edition.

And literary agents on both sides of the Atlantic are gnashing their teeth over the prospect of enhanced e-book editions being a separate right from standard e-books. If standard and enhanced e-books are classified separately, the battle will begin again over whether authors can hang onto those rights -- and whether publishers even have the rights to the enhanced editions at all.

British publishing trade magazine The Bookseller outlined the quandary this week. Some publishers, like the independent Canongate, negotiate deals individually. Others, like Hachette's U.K. arm, prefer to keep all digital rights. But agents are shaking their heads over the idea of equivalency between a text-only e-book and a more sophisticated edition enriched with audio and video.

An enhanced e-book, United Agents's Jim Gill told The Bookseller, "seems to us an all-encompassing category that some publishers are seeking to throw a rope around at the moment, potentially covering anything from incidental music with an e-book edition or author interviews, right out to highly designed and produced iPhone applications." His agency, Gill said, would "no sooner naturally sell those rights to a book publisher than we'd sell them film rights."

Conflicts With Hollywood?

And it's not just a case of making a mountain out of a digital-book molehill: U.S. agents have similar qualms. One agent familiar with the situation described a Hachette presentation to a consortium of agents last week as a pitch for the publisher getting the full rights to enhanced editions. "Film companies are likely to view these rights as part of the multimedia rights, which they often try to 'freeze,' or acquire when they option or purchase film rights," the agent says. "And so these kinds of books might conflict with a movie deal."

Hachette's Thomas doesn't see a conflict. "All the things we do are based on the book," she says. "We're not trying to create characters, scenes -- anything that's beyond the book." If an author wants to give Hachette additional material, as Baldacci did with maps and locations for Deliver us From Evil, they're free to do so, she says. "Almost all [our] agents and authors have been absolutely delighted," Thomas says. "This is not something we charge off into the sunset and do on our own."

'Not a Zero-Sum Game'

Brad Inman, CEO of Vook, a San Francisco-based startup that has produced multimedia-enhanced books for such publishers as Atria, doesn't see this potential conflict as a problem. "Industries going through gut-wrenching change have all kinds of fears," says Inman, whose company received $2.5 million in seed money late last year. "We have heard this, but it has not stopped anyone from working with us. Only a handful of books are made into movies."

So far, Vook has concentrated primarily on adapting properties whose rights may not conflict with movie options already in the works: genres like self-help, non-fiction, and novellas by bestselling authors like Anne Rice. "In the end, this is not a problem for us at all," Inman says. "This is not a zero-sum game. It is about expansive opportunities."

As publishers invest more time and money to create enhanced editions, the need for specific contractual terms becomes more necessary. And however the discussions go between publishers and agents -- and book and film executives -- at least there's a sense that the understandable difficulty could ultimately pay off.

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Thursday, July 08, 2010

Consuming the Darkness by Shiela Stewart

He needs your heart to live. 

In Jacob’s Cove, where death is as common as apple pie, a serial murderer is a first. Lieutenant Sienna Storm, the town’s newly minted homicide detective, is eager to prove she’s up to the job of tracking down the demon who rips out his victims’ still-beating hearts. Even if it means using her innate ability to connect with him through his blood.

Detective Nathan Powers lost his partner to the aptly named Heartless Killer, and the trail of bodies leads him straight to Jacob’s Cove. However, this is no typical small town. It’s a strange world populated with bloodthirsty demons and run by a vampire. Still, the leggy blonde Sienna is a pleasant distraction. Until he discovers she’s after the same killer—and she’s not sharing.

Minds clash as the hunt intensifies, but the more they run into each other, the harder it is to stay apart. Together they discover not only clues, but a searing need that rises higher by the day.

That need may be their downfall when Nathan becomes the killer’s next target, and Sienna must risk everything to get him back.
“Behind you! Get down.”

The gun came up in his hand, aimed at her head. She felt the presence of the vampire as he jumped out from behind the dumpster. As she spun around to take him down, the gun fired, hitting the vamp in the right shoulder. He jerked back, screeching like a banshee.

“What the hell are you doing?” she yelled at the man with the gun as she ran to the vamp. “Daisy, stay!” Daisy sat as she’d been instructed while Sienna knelt down beside the screaming vamp. She pressed her knee to the vamp’s bleeding shoulder to ensure that he wouldn’t move. “You are under arrest for breaking the laws of human and vampire and will be detained in the local jail while awaiting trial.”

“You’re a cop?” the guy behind her responded.

“Yeah, I’m a cop. Oh, stop your screaming already,” she yelled at the vamp, then flipped him onto his belly and pulled his arms to his back, pinning them in one hand while she searched for her handcuffs. “Damn it, why don’t I have my cuffs on me. Wanna tell me why you were about to attack me?”

“I wasn’t…honest…I was only…out for a walk. Yeah, I was walking. I’m going to sue the cops for harassment. I was minding my own. Fuck, my shoulder is killing me. Police brutality!”

“Shut the hell up. No one gives a damn.”


Sienna glanced up to see a set of shiny silver handcuffs dangling down before her. Glancing up, she took a moment to survey the gentleman and noticed he wasn’t bad on the eyes. His dark brown hair was messed up but somehow looked natural. And wow! The guy had a hell of a body. Broad shoulders, wide chest, and narrow waist. His face was pretty decent to look at, even with that thin line of hair over his upper lip that ran down the sides of his mouth to cover his chin. He had nice eyes, dark, round, with long lashes. “I’d prefer a regulation set rather than your bondage toys.”

“These are regulation. I’m a detective. Nathan Powers,” he introduced in a deep, throaty voice that sounded as if he’d had one too many cigarettes.

The vamp squirming beneath her, she took the cuffs. Before slapping them on the vamp’s wrists she made sure they were regulation. Flipping him onto his back, Sienna pinned him with her knee as she had before. “Don’t try anything stupid.”

“Bitch!” the vamp spat.

“What the hell’s with the yellow contacts and fake fangs?”

Sienna glanced over her shoulder as she responded to the detective. “What? You’ve never seen a vampire before?”

“A what?”

“A vampire.”

“I heard you. I thought I’d seen it all, but I guess not. Now we’ve got junkies playing vampire,” The detective chuckled with a shake of his head.

One look at the guy told her he was serious. “Oh jeez, he’s a virgin.” She rolled her eyes. “I told you to shut up.” She yanked the screaming vamp to his feet. “This is a vampire, not a fake, the real deal and if you plan on being in Jacob’s Cove for any amount of time you might want to be on the lookout for them. Some of them refuse to abide by the new laws. Isn’t that right, screamer?”

“Seriously though, he’s a vampire like the blood-sucking kind?”

“Don’t know any other kind.”

“Shouldn’t you like…you know, jam a wooden stake through his heart? I can’t believe I just said that.” He laughed boldly.

Was he for real?
She didn’t care for the sarcasm in his voice. “Neither can I. We prefer to rehabilitate them rather than turning them to dust.” Holding the vamp in one hand, she pulled her cell phone out with the other and dialed the station. “Lieutenant Storm here. I have a rogue vamp I need brought in.”

“I wasn’t doing anything, you stupid bitch.”

She clamped onto the squirming vamp a little tighter as she gave her location. She slipped her phone back into her shirt pocket when she was through and gave the vamp a hard shove against the dumpster. “Right, you were only skulking in the dark because you needed a smoke, right?”

“It’s a free world last time I looked.”

“Sure, except when you’re attempting to drink someone dry. Save it for the judge; I’m done listening.”

“You can’t prove anything. I’m innocent.”

“Do you know what I am?” she asked as she leaned in real close. “I’m a Tejakkan which means I have precog abilities. I saw you moments before you jumped out and I saw just what you’d planned to do so save your ‘I’m innocent’ act for someone who gives a damn.”


“That’s right and remember it.”