Jane Eyre, Rochester & Modern Romance

Saturday, March 26, 2011

With the new Jane Eyre movie now in theaters, I decided to reread the classic story and was struck by how many of its themes still resonate today. It certainly is gothic - with its shadowed middle-of-the-night happenings and the lunatic wife locked in the attic.

But what surprised me were the feminist themes. Jane is a forthright and smart young woman who laments the lack of intellectual pursuits for women - even commenting that females need to be stimulated in the same way that men do. And this was back in 1847.  

I also couldn't help thinking that Edward Rochester would never cut it as a hero in today's romance world. This is a man who deliberately taunts Jane by pretending he is about to marry another woman. He also lies to her, almost commits bigamy and repeatedly tries to convince her to become his mistress. Not exactly the traditional hero.

But perhaps that is part of his appeal. Rochester is not handsome and a forthright Jane even tells him so. However,  that he falls totally and completely in love with our heroine is not in question. Ultimately, we do fall for him and his intensity. He is the ultimate suffering hero. And,  Jane does refer to Rochester's broad chest and athletic form.

I guess some aspects of a romance hero endure over time.

Self E-Publishing Phenom Scores Big Money Traditional Book Deal

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The New York Times reports that self-epublishing sensation Amanda Hocking has landed a four-book deal with St. Martin’s Press, a traditional publisher.

The new series will be called “Watersong.” The Times reports that the bidding went over $2 million for world English rights. No comment yet from St. Martin's. 

Hocking, 26, made headlines for selling more than a million copies as a self-epublished author. Three of her self-epublished young adult paranormals appeared on the USA Today top 50 bestseller list.

On her blog, the epublishing trailblazer explained why she sought a deal with a traditional publisher.

“I want to be a writer. I do not want to spend 40 hours a week handling e-mails, formatting covers, finding editors, etc. Right now, being me is a full-time corporation.”

Self Publishing Sensation Close to Big Money Traditional Book Deal

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The New York Times is reporting that self-epublishing sensation Amanda Hocking appears close to a six-figure traditional publishing deal.

Agent Steve Axelrod is said to be shopping a four-book deal to publishers. The bids are "well over $1 million for world English rights," according to two unnamed publishing sources who spoke with the paper. Publishers Weekly reports that the series is new and has never been published.

Hocking, 26, caused a stir in the industry in February, when three of her self-epublished young adult paranormals appeared on the USA Today bestseller list. All three were in the top 50.

According to USA Today, Hocking sold more than 450,000 copies of her nine titles in January alone.

On her blog, Hocking says her eight self-epublished books sell for between $.99 and $1.99 - and that she's sold 900,000 copies of her books since April 2010.

E-book Sales Soar, Beating Hardcover, Mass Market Paperback

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Remember all of those e-readers folks got for Christmas? It appears the  people who received Kindles and other electronic reading devices got right down to using them. According to the American Association of Publishers, ebook sales spiked to an all-time high of almost $70 million in January.

The big news here is that more consumers bought ebooks in January than mass market paperbacks ($39 million) or hardcovers ($49 million). Trade paperbacks fell off 19 percent in January, but still outpaced ebooks, bringing in $83.6 million.

All in all, ebooks accounted for 23.5 percent of all trade book sales for the month. In December, ebooks brought in $49.5 million - about eight percent of all trade sales.

Read the full article from here.

Librarians Launch Boycott in Battle Over Ebooks

Sunday, March 13, 2011

It looks like everyone is still trying to figure out this whole ebooks thing. According to USA Today, the latest battle pits librarians against a respected publisher.

HarperCollins is limiting the circulation of library ebooks to 26 loans. After that, it's digital midnight and the book vanishes. In order to continuing carrying the title, the libraries must lease the same title again for a fee. Facing their own budget constraints, some outraged librarians have decided to boycott HarperCollins. They're using blogs, Twitter and other social media to get the word out.

Libraries generally lend ebooks out at a time like they do with tree-books. Some major publishers, like Simon & Schuster and Macmillan, don't sell e-books to libraries.

According to the USA Today article, it's just the latest dispute brought on by the explosion of ebooks. Publishers have gone up against online retailer Amazon over prices and publishers are wrangling with agents and authors over royalties and rights.

HarperCollins addressed the issue in on open letter to librarians. On its Library Love Fest blog, the publisher invites libraries to continue the discussion.

"We have serious concerns that our previous e-book policy, selling e-books to libraries in perpetuity, if left unchanged, would undermine the emerging e-book eco-system, hurt the growing e-book channel, place additional pressure on physical bookstores, and in the end lead to a decrease in book sales and royalties paid to authors. We are looking to balance the mission and needs of libraries and their patrons with those of authors and booksellers, so that the library channel can thrive alongside the growing e-book retail channel."

Avon Launches New Digital Imprint

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Hoping to cash in on the huge number of romance readers who buy ebooks, Avon Books is launching a new imprint devoted solely to digital publishing. Avon Impulse will feature e-books and print-to-order novels and novellas by existing Avon authors while also looking for new talent for the e-book marketplace.

“Romance readers have been among the first to embrace books digitally,” says Liate Stehlik, senior vice president and publisher of Avon Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. “Their passion has encouraged us to introduce a line of romance e-books, which empowers Avon to publish more quickly, with an eye to what’s trending in fiction.” 

The new imprint will publish several titles each month, and plans to eventually release new content on a weekly basis. According to the Avon press release, the books will still be acquired by Avon editors, and will benefit from targeted marketing and publicity plans, as well as powerful sales platforms.

“What sets Avon Impulse apart,” says Stehlik, “is that authors are signing to work alongside the Avon team, and will benefit from the same platforms that Avon authors have always enjoyed.”

Being free from traditional printing constraints will allow Avon Impulse to edit, market and release the e-books more quickly.  

 “The Avon Impulse imprint also allows us greater flexibility in the length of books we can publish – from novella to full-length fiction, and enables us to explore new themes in romance,” says Carrie Feron, vice president and editorial director at Avon.

“There is so much opportunity right now within the romance genre,” Stehlik says. “Readers have found a rich array of fresh content using digital and e-reading devices."

Avon Impulse is currently in the acquisition and production process for e-books to be published in 2011 and 2012.  “We are actively looking to acquire for Avon Impulse,” says Feron.  Authors looking to submit to Avon Impulse can find guidelines and an online submission portal at

“We are looking for quality submissions across every romance subgenre,” says Feron.

Beyond Bookstores

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Publishers are getting creative about finding new outlets to sell books - saying that national bookstores have peaked as a sales channel.

According to a recent New York Times article, a diverse range of stores better known for their clothes, food and other items have been adding books. "Anthropologie has increased the number of titles it carries to 125, up from 25 in 2003. Coldwater Creek, Lowe’s, Bass Pro Shops and even Cracker Barrel are adding new books."

Some of the big box stores are also making changes. The NYT reports that Target is stocking fewer male-oriented best sellers while increasing women’s and children’s titles. I find this interesting since my local Target already has a pretty good supply of romances. I look forward to having even more to choose from. So many talented authors never get a place on the shelf at the mass retailers- maybe more will be included now.

According to the NYT, Kitson - a string of boutiques that draws celebrity shoppers - sold 100,000 books in 2010, double what it had the previous year. Kitson's owner tells the NYT that publishers have turned aggressive about selling to Kitson as traditional bookstores switched focus or closed.

Borders filed for bankruptcy protection in February while announcing the closing of many of its stores across the country. Barnes and Noble is devoting more floor space to games and toys.

I love this trend of spreading books around. As far as I'm concerned, the more the better. After picking up that perfect jacket or pair of jeans, I'll be more than happy to throw a book into the shopping bag as well. Considering the price of clothes, a book will seem like an even better deal!