August reading list

Saturday night was the “Oscars” for romance, which is called RITA (no idea what that stands for, if anything). I saw something interesting in the results that made me form a hypothesis, and I want to test my hypothesis, so I’ll be reading the following books in August, which are the nominees for the “Novel with Strong Romantic Elements” category:

Last Dance At Jitterbug Lounge by Pamela Morsi
The House on Tradd Street by Karen White
The Paper Marriage by Susan Kay Law
The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner (must ILL this one)
The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
Tribute by Nora Roberts
Where Serpents Sleep by C.S. Harris

Aside: I was going to buy all these in ebook, but I had put the first three in my basket at BooksOnBoard and they were all just too damned expensive. So helloooooo Mid-Continent Public Library. I’ll read paper for free before I’ll plunk down $13+ for an ebook. Bite me, publishers. This is how you encourage pirates to steal your authors’ work and take money away from them. Please note deliberate sentence construction.

Also, I am on schedule (actually ahead of) for my July reading list.

A cautionary tale for authors and agents

You know, I shove a tanto in my gut and bleed all over the interwebz about my issues with embedded font evangelism in the name of book designer job security, then I get over it and I think I’m done.

Well, Penguin Books has reminded me this morning that not only am I not done, I’m now pissed off as a reader and not as a writer/publisher/e-book mark-up-er, except . . . this is really not about Teh Pretteh. It’s about DRM. I’m fighting the wrong battle. The book designers can go figure out their own lives. I’m a reader first, dammit.

Way back in the day (six months ago), Penguin offered the novella “You Can Count on Me” by Roxanne St. Clair as a free PDF download you could snag from Ms. St. Clair’s site. (It’s not there anymore.) It was part of a Christmas anthology called I’ll Be Home For Christmas and features characters from her long-running series called The Bullet Catchers. I believe there are currently three books in this series, with probably more to come.

Now, I don’t like romantic suspense and I don’t like anthologies and I don’t like Christmas romance novellas, but this looked like a good way to ease me into a romantic suspense series that already had me intrigued.

And it was free. No question.

Yet I forgot the cardinal rule of life: There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

Dear Penguin:

You suck. And not in the good, hot, naughty kind of way.

The novella is 97 PDF pages long, but it’s 5.25 MB. Why? BECAUSE IT’S A SCAN WITH A BIG FAT KANGAROO WATERMARK ON EACH PAGE.

To give you an idea of how big this is, my 736-page doorstopper’s PDF
is 7 MB. 736 pages >97 pages.

I converted this novella before I realized it was a scan. Easy enough. PDF–>RTF–>IMP.

Except it wouldn’t load onto my eBookWise. WHY WHY WHY? Well, because it’s just too big. The IMP file is 68 MB.

To sum up: Not only am I NOT going to read this free PDF (because I don’t read books on my computer), I’m also going to dump it from my computer (which I never do because even the bad books still belong to me) because it’s a space hog and severely cramps my Vostro’s innards when it tries to open the damned file, and I’m going to remember Ms. St. Clair (poor dear, I know it’s not her fault) for this and only this.

You cost me a lot of time with your chastity-belted freebie, time I could’ve used to make money to buy the anthology the novella came from and buy more of Ms. St. Clair’s work if I liked the novella.

Perhaps authors and agents negotiating contracts with you would do well to remember that your DRM process never gave me a chance to get hooked off your free hit.



Update @8:38 p.m. It was just pointed out to me that the PDF file didn’t actually have any DRM on it. It was just a wildly bloated scanned-and-watermarked PDF. The effect, however, is the same: Make it as difficult as possible for the consumer to read the book. Every time I open the PDF, whatever else is in those graphics (it’s a scan, remember), it nearly crashes my computer.

One could argue that this is where book design and fear of piracy converge to create a virtually (heh) unusable product.