Sunday, 18 May 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 19 May 2014

Posted: 18 May 2014 09:40 PM PDT

Top stories this morning include book vending machines (link), a nuanced look at Amazon’s new photography patent (link), a new trade group for authors (link), why PDFs are wonderful (link), and more.

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Were Indie Authors Really Segregated at the RT Booklovers Convention?

Posted: 18 May 2014 04:16 PM PDT

RTBookloversConv5-14red_logo500[1]There’s a story going around today that self-published authors were relegated to second-class status at a book fair in New Orleans yesterday, but whether that actually happened is still up for debate.

Here’s what I know for sure:

  • The RT Booklovers Convention wrapped up yesterday with the Giant Book Fair, a massive event where 700 authors crowd into a couple ballrooms and sign and sell books. The authors were split between the Grand and Mardi Gras ballrooms at the Marriott Hotel in New Orleans, with one room over twice the the size of the other (floor plans).

Here’s what I don’t know:

  • Exactly how the authors were divided, or why.

According to Hugh Howey, the smaller Mardi Gras ballroom was reserved specifically for authors labeled as “aspiring”. In other words, self-published authors:

Imagine selling two million books, having half a dozen of your novels hit the New York Times bestseller list, being inundated with thousands of fan emails every month, and then having someone call you an "aspiring writer."

That's what happened in New Orleans this weekend, when the planners of the RT Booklovers Convention decided to place self-published authors in a dinky room off to the side while the traditionally published authors sat at tables in the grand ballroom.

Authors like Liliana Hart, who is at the top of the game not just in the romance genre but in all of publishing, was labeled an "Aspiring Author."

That sounds like a damning critique of the folks running the convention and their disdain for self-published authors, right?

Not exactly.

I was prepared to report on Howey’s post and second his complaints, but while I was looking for background information I found an alternate explanation as well as details which debunked Howey’s description.

For one thing, if you look at the floor plan I linked to you’ll see that the Mardi Gras ballroom is hardly a “dinky room off to the side”. Depending on how the traffic was routed it might actually have been more accessible than the Grand ballroom.

And that’s not all. According to Courtney Milan, the authors were divided based on how their books were sold:

Some self-published authors are talking about one specific thing: that is, the separation of authors into two rooms on the basis of criteria that would not have been obvious to readers. Authors who were selling nonreturnable books–typically, authors from digital-first presses and self-published authors–were selling books on consignment, whereas the other books were being sold by a bookstore.

That meant that the authors needed to bring those books, have them checked out, determine the sales of books afterward, and fill out paperwork as to how they were to be paid. I believe RT handled those sales. By contrast, a bookstore was handling the sales for the books that were returnable. At the RT Giant Bookfair, for administrative ease, authors with nonreturnable books were put into a separate room. This saves a little time because then RT staff would automatically know if an author needed to be checked in/checked out.

Rumor has it that someone claimed that the authors with returnable books were "real authors" and that the authors who were selling their books on a consignment basis were "aspiring authors." As far as I can tell, this appears to have been one misinformed volunteer, rather than the official RT Convention description. It was not something that I saw or heard, and I do not think it was widespread.

I don’t know that Milan’s explanation is correct; in fact I agree with the commenter on her blog who explained why the division was probably unnecessary.

But in spite of it being unnecessary, I think the division along returnable/consignment lines is much more plausible than dividing the authors based on self-published and traditionally published. It sounds like the kind of decision which was made to reduce the hassle of those in charge of running the Giant Book Fair, and hang the problems it created for everyone else.

And it did create problems; Kendall Grey took to Facebook this morning to detail just how cramped she was in the Mardi Gras ballroom. Among here complaints:

“Two authors will be at each table; therefore, you will have half of a 6 foot table — which is a 3 foot length.” <–LIE. I didn’t have a ruler, but I took a picture, and my space was nowhere NEAR 3 feet. See below.

“Authors are arranged in alpha order by last name. This applies to every section.” <–LIE. If we’d been organized alphabetically, the two rooms would have been broken up around the last names beginning with the letter M (or thereabouts), NOT by publishing platform.

I can’t tell you what really happened at the Giant Book Fair; I wasn’t there. (And from what I can tell, neither was Howey.) If you have a first hand account which better explains what was going on, the comment section is open.

But whatever happened, it’s clear that the policies were not well explained nor well executed.  If this event had been planned better then authors would not be complaining about being cramped. And if the policy had been explained better then we would not have rumors going around that self-published authors were being maligned.

Let’s hope the RT Booklovers Convention does better next year.

The post Were Indie Authors Really Segregated at the RT Booklovers Convention? appeared first on The Digital Reader.

New Leaks Suggest the Surface Pro 3 Will Cost $1949, Have a Core-i7 CPU

Posted: 18 May 2014 11:24 AM PDT

surface mini 3Microsoft is expected to release several new Surface tablets on Tuesday, including an 8″ Surface Mini and at least one new Surface Pro. A new leak today suggests that we will see not one but 3 new Surface Pro models later this week.

WPCentral is reporting this morning that they have an inside source which says that Microsoft will be unveiling at least three new Surface Pro 3 tablets at 5 different price points.. In addition to a model based on a Core-i3 chip, there will also be models based on the i5 and i7 chips.

  • i3-4GB RAM-64GB – $799
  • i5-4GB RAM-128GB – $999
  • i5-8GB RAM-256GB – $1299
  • i7-8GB RAM-256GB – $1549
  • i7-8GB RAM-512GB – $1949

There is also some speculation that the Surface Pro 3 is going to be larger, possibly with a 12″ screen. This would not be a bad idea; these tablets are explicitly intended as desktop replacements so  it would make sense to give them something larger than a netbook-sized screen.

The Surface Pro 2 runs Windows 8 on a Core-i5 chip and has a 10.6″ screen. It is offered at four price points ranging from $899 to $1,799 depending on the amount of RAM (4GB or 8GB) and internal storage (64GB/128GB/256GB/512GB).

In a way, the new models (assuming this leak isn’t fake) are only a slight differentiation from the Surface Pro 2; in addition to the new and slightly cheaper model, Microsoft is also unveiling a couple models with considerably more oomph (and rather high prices).

Is anyone planning to buy one?

I’m not; I would not buy a Windows 8 device if you put a gun to my head, so I was never in the market for one of these. But if I were in the market for a Win8 device I would definitely get one of the Surface Pro tablets over the many cheaper Win8 tablets on the market.


If you have been following my coverage of the Surface Pro rumors over the past few weeks (or my previous coverage of Microsoft’s flagship tablet) you might recall that I recommended against buying a Surface pro tablet and wonder at my about face. But if you had read the past coverage, you would also have read the comments which changed my mind.

Over the past few weeks the Surface Pro tablets have been vigorously defended by their proponents. While they have not convinced me to get one myself, they have explained why they purchased one.

When i buy a tablet I look for an ancillary device to complement my laptop, but many of them bought a Windows 8 device as their main computer. In that situation it made more sense to get a tablet that is as powerful as a laptop.

A few minutes spent searching Amazon has shown me that most Win8 tablets are based on one of Intel’s Atom CPUs. Those are decent-quality chips, but they are not powerful enough to meet my requirements for a work laptop. And that means that if I were getting a tablet as my main work machine I would not buy one which came with an Atom CPU.

By that standard there aren’t many tablets which could completely replace a laptop. Sure, most of the tablet makers has one or more models, and for the most part they cost about as much as one of  the Surface Pro tablets.

Which just goes to show that when it comes to price, performance, and mobility, you can have only two out of the three.


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