Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pottermore: J.K. Rowling Goes Digital

Earlier this week, J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series of books, announced Pottermore, to the delight of many Potter fans wishing for a digital experience of Rowling's world of magic, wizards, and monsters. The author had long been against having her books turned into ebooks, but it seems that with this announcement, she has changed her mind. It is worth noting that she is releasing this herself via the site, as she owns all the digital rights to her work. I'm assuming this is so because she signed her contract for the Potter tales before digital books became mainstream.

Needless to say, the effect on bookstores and the publishing industry will be significant. J.K. Rowling is, in effect, self-publishing her already paper-published stories, and releasing them DRM-free via Pottermore. This bypasses her publisher and the bookstores that have sold millions and millions of Harry Potter copies. Given that ebooks are now at 20% of total sales (up from 1% four years ago), the numbers that Pottermore can generate most likely will not be insignificant. Remember how people lined up at stores before the day of a book's release, in the same way Apple fans lined up for the latest iPhone? This may or may not be a thing of the past after Pottermore, but the effect of her going digital has bookstores unhappy, and will certainly have an effect on publishing.

On the other hand, in a bit of a reversal from Rowling's position, we have Amanda Hocking, an author who was selling millions of copies of her books through self-publishing, signing up with a traditional publisher.

What I see here is that the stigma of being a self-publisher is lessening for an author, while traditional publishers are now more accommodating of authors who have released their books themselves and have proven their stories' saleability.

"Packing For The Moon" By Dean Francis Alfar

PGS contributor Dean Francis Alfar has a new story out, "Packing For The Moon", in the June 25, 2011 issue of the Philipppines Free Press. Congrats, Dean!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

"The Confessional" (Part 2) by Cyan Abad-Jugo

The latest story on Philippine Genre Stories: "The Confessional" (Part 2) by Cyan Abad-Jugo. Guest-edited by Yvette Tan.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Spam Hits E-books!

It was inevitable: Spam epidemic has reached ebooks. An excerpt:

There are a lot of truly excellent books available on e-readers. From current best sellers to the classics, you can broaden your intellectual horizons, learn new things, enjoy brilliant literature… and slog through that bane of our online existence: spam. Yes, spam has come to ebooks, in particular Amazon's Kindle e-reader. It was inevitable, really, especially given that the companies behind e-readers have gone out of their way to make the platforms accessible to independent authors and self-publishers.

Using what's known as Private Label Rights or PLR, the literary infiltrators take cheap information and reformat it into something vaguely resembling a book. There are even kits you can buy that let you create "books" without actually writing a single word, which perpetuate the ebook spam. Other even less-scrupulous ebook creators are simply copying and pasting text from someone else's book and selling it as their own.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"The Confessional" (Part 1) by Cyan Abad-Jugo

The latest story on Philippine Genre Stories: "The Confessional" by Cyan Abad-Jugo. Guest-edited by Yvette Tan.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

"Downfall" By PGS Contributor Crystal Koo

PGS contributor Crystal Koo's story, "Downfall", is in the June 13, 2011 issue of Philippines Graphic. Go out and buy a copy to read her story!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

PGS Crime Issue Reviews And F.H. Batacan's Message

My deep gratitude to Jason Lim of Taking A Break and Kristel Autencio of The Philippine Online Chronicles for sharing their thoughts on the PGS Crime Issue. I appreciate the time and thought you guys spent writing your reviews for it. Thank you!

First, Jason Lim's review.

Second, Kristel Autencio's, Tropical Noir.

And here's the message F.H. Batacan, the guest-editor for the issue, sent for the event last May 28, 2011:

Tonight rightly belongs to the writers--of PSF6 and of the PGS Crime Issue.

I want to thank all these writers--Xin Mei, Maryanne Moll, Crystal Koo, Alex Osias, and Dominique Cimafranca in particular, for their submissions to the PGS Crime Issue. Thank you for not writing about private eyes in trenchcoats, or gangsters in pinstriped suits. Thank you for writing stories that we can believe and understand, about things that do happen in the Philippines, or to Filipinos. Thank you for showing that crime fiction isn't always about whodunit, but why.

I would also like to give a big, big thank you to Kestrel for allowing us to piggyback on the launch of Philippine Speculative Fiction 6.

This is the Philippines, where 57 people can be massacred in broad daylight, where the perpetrators are clearly identified, where video footage of the crime exists, where witnesses have come forward, yet the case drags on for months and possibly years. Where convicted murderers serving their sentences can walk out of prison at their leisure to go where they please. Where resources, facilities and expertise are in short supply, and justice is perpetually elusive and always a negotiable target.

So these stories reflect exactly those realities. They will neither astound you with feats of deduction nor amaze you with scientific technique. Instead, they show a real understanding of motive--of the basic impulses that drive the human animal: greed, fear, hatred, love, survival, guilt. Their characters seem to know instinctively that there is little recourse to be found in our police stations, our courts, our halls of power.

As a final word: A publisher in the UK that specializes in worldwide crime fiction says that "to understand a culture, you need only to examine its crimes". This volume may be slim, but I hope it provides some encouragement for Filipino writers to explore the genre and its vastly untapped potential for portraying and examining our society. Thank you again and good night.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Pakinggan Pilipinas Episode 12: "Kara's Place"

PGS contributor Elyss Punsalan has uploaded her latest podcast on Pakinggan Pilipinas: "Kara's Place" by Luis Katigbak. Head on over to listen to her podcast! Congratulations to Luis and Elyss! (Hey, that has a nice ring to it, just like "Elyss and Eliza"!)

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Light In Darkness

After reading this Wall Street Journal article, Darkness Too Visible, which I found through author Maureen Johnson's Twitter page, I felt something in it didn't seem right. And no, it wasn't because of Maureen Johnson's own tweet against it. Whether the author of the piece, Meghan Cox Gurdon, intended it or not, it felt like the she was saying that young adult literature should not deal with themes that are too dark, grim, or grisly, and she uses examples of parents' futile attempts at searching for books that deal with lighter themes for their kids. It also seems that she goes on to say that people who speak against what she has said as being quick to play the "censorship card". Well, read the article, and judge for yourselves, but that's the way it came to me.

Frankly, I think it's better for kids to see that people, that the world, can be both a beautiful and an ugly place, and that it's often a mix of both. Literature that truthfully deals with this can help young readers understand this aspect of life. Dealing with dark issues is an important step in growing up, and it is better to acknowledge it than deny its existence and replace it with happiness and joy that is forced and artificial. The best way to fight darkness is not to hide it, but to bring it out into the light. The happiness one finds after knowing darkness becomes deeper, perhaps more mature. It gives one, hopefully, a dash of wisdom and appreciation for any joy that is experienced.

In any case, search "YAsaves" on Twitter to read for yourselves some of the reactions to the article. People are sharing why they like YA, even if they deal with dark issues.

And here's a tweet from author Greg van Eekhout that I like very much:

"Fiction encourages empathy by sharing human experience, including painful experience. It's not supposed to be moral instruction."

I don't know. Maybe the Wall Street Journal is changing their approach to what they publish in an attempt to get more readership. Maybe they're trying to stir controversy by publishing articles that will get a rise out of people. After all, they published that article about "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior" a short while back. Now this. I wonder what's next?

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

"The Jar Collector" By Charles Tan