— Nathan Hall (@nmhall) December 7, 2012
The Miami Book Fair happened this past week and I was happy to have gone. I had taken a look at the lineup a couple of months ago, long before things were more firmed up and was disappointed, so had mostly put it out of mind. Then after being reminded about the fair on a radio segment on WLRN I decided to check out the website to see who would be appearing this weekend. To my delight, Victor Lavalle, author of the recently released The Devil in Silver was on a panel with two other great authors.
The title was, “Striking Fear: New Novels: Justin Cronin on The Twelve, Glen Duncan on Talulla Rising and Victor LaValle on The Devil in Silver.” Each author gave a great reading but I was enthralled by Glen Duncan.While I’ve had his books on my list of to-reads for a while, I quickly went out after the panel and bought a copy of The Last Werewolf (here reviewed by Justin Cronin). I think that I could listen to him read the instructions for churning butter and find it utterly captivating. You can tell that he has had a lot of practice reading aloud, his pacing and tone are nearly perfect. And he’s got an English accent to boot. I was disappointed in the way that the Miami Book Fair had set up the Q&A period afterwards though. Only one person asked a question, and I think it was because they had set a mic up in the middle row of the auditorium. Rather than running around and handing the mic to people at their seats, it felt like an imposition to stand in front of the crowd that way and ask questions. At least for me, who has terrible stage fright, it was too much.
As someone who would like to be able to eventually make a living off of my art, in my case writing, I have some opinions about DRM that would seem to run contrary to that goal. For those who are unfamiliar with the term DRM, it stands for Digital Rights Management, and it’s been a contentious issue for a number of years. What it allows publishers of digital content to do is manage how you can use the products that you purchase from them. It (theoretically) prevents file sharing by locking down the product you’ve purchased to only be usable by a specific person. This became a huge deal when the music industry felt like they were being ripped off by users of various file sharing (remember Napster? Kazaa?) and torrent sharing (Pirate Bay) networks.
I get the idea that people should pay for what they use. At the very least, the artist who has produced the content deserves to be paid for all of the time and hard work they put into producing it. If that artist chose to use a publisher, then that publisher should probably get a cut as well (though I’d argue aggressively on what amount).
Abuse by publishers and distributors is equally as much of a problem as what happened to this woman. The short of it: for reasons that Amazon would not detail, her purchases were deleted from her Kindle and her account was permanently shut down. The only thing that Amazon would share is that her account was linked to another account that they claimed broke the terms of service. She insists that she has no other accounts past or present with Amazon but they’re not hearing it.