September 01, 2011

August Bestsellers

1. Rule 34 by Charles Stross
2. Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin
3. The Magician King by Lev Grossman
4. Embassytown by China Mieville
5. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
6. Ghost Story by Jim Butcher
7. Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson
8. Welcome to Bordertown edited by Holly Black and Ellen Kushner
9. Naamah's Blessing by Jacqueline Carey
10. Clockwork Rocket by Greg Egan

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
2. Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
3. Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
4. Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
5.  Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
6. The Fuller Memorandum by Charles Stross
7. Water to Burn by Katharine Kerr
8. Moxyland by Lauren Beukes
9.  Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey
10. Servant of the Underworld by Aliette de Bodard

Trade Paperbacks
1. Zero History by William Gibson
2. Southern Gods by John Hornor Jacobs
3. Book of Cthulhu edited by Ross Lockhart
4. Zoo City by Lauren Beukes tie with
    Heart of Iron by Ekaterina Sedia
5. Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks

Amazon is Nobody's Friend, Part One

by Alan Beatts

In all the years that I've been writing articles for this newsletter, I've never made a habit of "Amazon-bashing".  Sure there have been a few times that I've made little comments about some of their poor choices and ethical screw-ups, but over all I've pretty much left them alone.

This article will be a change from that relative silence.

The reason that I'm finally being truly critical about Amazon is two-fold.  First, at this moment a huge number of book buyers are facing a choice.  All the former Borders customers out there have to decide where they are going to get their books now that Borders is closed.  There are three choices:  1)  Barnes and Noble.  2)  Amazon.  3)  An independent bookstore.  At first glance, it will seem that I'm trying to deter customers from shopping at Amazon (and, it won't break my heart at all if you choose to avoid Amazon after reading this).  But what is more important to me is that I provide you with information so you make as informed a choice as possible.  Your dollars are your economic votes.  Where, how and with whom you spend your money determines what businesses survive and thrive.  Just like any election, I think an informed group tends to makes wiser choices.

Second, I was talking to a few friends about Amazon and I realized that my opinion of them has shifted in the past ten years.  When they started up, my attitude was very much live and let live.  They had their business ideas and I had mine.  I figured there was room enough for both of us.  But, as I've watched them grow, seen their business choices and their effect on my field, I've come to the conclusion that they are not a positive influence on the business of words & stories.  During that same conversation with my friends, I also realized that there is a long list of things that they've done and attitudes that they have that I think are pretty lousy, either because I think that they are not ethical or just not . . . nice.  Once I considered the totality of my opinion about Amazon, I decided it was time to say something.

Overheard at the Store

This is a feature that appears periodically, usually as we attend conventions and overhear things.  However, sometimes we overhear amusing tidbits even when we're not attending a convention:

"I was in this exhausted fugue state where I was like, "Am I hallucinating, or does Pat Rothfuss' beard actually look like that?"

"I don't understand how these people make a living -- they're always having sex!"

"Really?  'Unputdownable'? REALLY, New York Times Bestselling author?  That's not even a word."

"It's the BEST mutated bear movie ever!"

September News Roundup

*One of our very favorite local authors, Thomas Roche, has launched a faux news site (the publisher is calling it "a social media disinformation campaign") to promote his awesome new zombie novel THE PANAMA LAUGH (Nightshade Books, Trade Paperback, $14.99).  I cannot believe how detailed and amazing the site is; Thomas is subtly (okay, not-so-subtly!) imitating a different "real" news site on each page, and the whole thing is just incredibly cool.  Start here and poke around from there: <>.

*The 2011 Hugo Awards were presented at the World Science Fiction Convention in Reno, Nevada on August 20th.   Complete Hugo (and Campbell Award) details here: <>.

*Thanks and congratulations to the Tiptree Motherboard, who let us know that "In a ceremony in Lublin, Poland, on July 9, the Science Fiction Research Association (SFRA) presented the Motherboard of the James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award (<>) with the 2011 Thomas D. Clareson Award for Distinguished Service.  Motherboard members Karen Joy Fowler and Pat Murphy traveled to Poland to accept the award." For more information, see the SFRA's site: <>

*George R.R. Martin reported that two autographed scripts from the television series "A Game of Thrones" which were intended to be auctioned at WorldCon never arrived at their intended destination, and he believes they were stolen from the mail.  He is calling on all his fans and readers to keep an eye out for the stolen scripts: "Whoever s[tole] these scripts will presumably try to cash in at some point. So if any of you ever see scripts fitting this description turn up on ebay, one of its competitors, or on some dealer's table -- notify me at once, and report the stolen property to whatever local authorities are appropriate.  Here's what was taken: two teleplays, final shooting scripts for episodes nine and ten of season one, 'Baelor' and 'Fire and Blood,' autographed by writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and director Alan Taylor, printed on white paper.  Like Bloodraven, I have a thousand eyes and one. So let's keep 'em all peeled, boys and girls." <>

*Author Rob Thurman is in the hospital following a serious car accident, with her condition complicated by pneumonia.  Fans can leave well wishes on her blog <> or send them care of her agent, Lucienne Diver, The Knight Agency, P.O. Box 2659 Land O Lakes, FL 34639.  We wish her a speedy recovery.

*We regret to report the death of author Leslie Esdaile Banks, who wrote as L.A. Banks, in early August.  Ms. Banks was diagnosed with late-stage adrenal cancer earlier this summer.