Monthly Archives: March 2013

An Idea for Facebook and Apple

Idea time based around user needs and existing music paradigm shifts implemented by Apple.

I awoke this morning realizing it is Easter. (Happy Easter!) And that I am still here.
The ebook publisher I own called Publerati published a novel with a very funny Easter scene, so let’s share it on Facebook.
Awesome, the latest iBooks upgrade let’s me scroll, so now it’s easy to copy that entire Easter chapter. And look! They added the Share buttons just like news articles.
Now just hit the share to Facebook button and there my shared chapter will be…

DARN!  Only a short passage with a link to the book in the iStore and the free preview of the opening pages. But the content I want is deep into the book. Personal resurrection incomplete.

How come I can preview every song on an album online but only a limited section of a digital book or just the opening pages? Especially when in print I can prance into any bookstore and sit down and read the entire book if I want. How come print gets to break so many copyright laws when digital is locked down like a lunatic in Congress. Oh, wait….

So here is the idea for Apple and Facebook. Apple to-dos: charge .99 cents for those people who have already bought the full ebook under the copyright laws of “first sale” and then make a boatload more money by charging .99 cents for any chapter I want. I would have paid you another .99 cents this morning to share the funny Easter chapter of our novel Normal Family. This way you, the publishers, and all those authors out there will raise the average revenue per book to more than its list price. (Maybe this notion is part of the Amazon march toward reselling digital content?)

This in turn allows me to share that chapter I want on Facebook, the open social network, which likely will no longer be the case for Goodreads once Amazon integrates them into whatever comes next there. This in turn should sell more ebooks because Facebook has the largest social network by far and allows the original copyright owners to share a full chapter from their purchased ebook for .99 cents and make money and better virally promote the book.

Tell me please oh wise reader what is wrong with this idea? Usually when I think I have a good idea it is already being worked on or exists. The publishing industry has shown they want to work with Apple to counterbalance Amazon. Why not give Apple and Facebook this unique competitive advantage while Amazon and Goodreads fumble forward through their acquisition period and legal and technology cluster-f&*&cks? 

And this is not a publisher collusion tactic but a feature enabled by Apple to allow it to compete as a reseller does and should in enhancing the customer experience.

Okay…I gotta go look for some jelly beans now. 

— Caleb

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The Writers Call the Shots

The “times they are a-changin'” for everyone involved in the book business. From traditional publishers to literary agents to self-publishing authors to Amazon and the future of reselling digital content, these “are the best of times, and the worst of times.” Bob Dylan… meet Charles Dickens.

But it just could be these really will be the “best of times” for one group in particular. The writers. They have more options than ever before. And Publerati is designed to allow authors the flexibility to do many things at once. 

If you go to the Publerati main page and click on the Writers’ Corner tab, you will see what makes us different. 

Click on the Writers’ Corner tab from this landing page above and let me know if you have any questions. Thanks.

— Caleb

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John Updike and the Writer’s Challenge as Reviewer

Back in the early 1980s, John Updike walked into the Book Exchange where I worked on Beacon Hill in Boston and told me he needed to read all of Ursula Le Guin’s books for a New York Times Book Review feature article he had been assigned. His review was due next week.


A few weeks later, when the front-page review appeared, I remember how awestruck I was in reading one writer’s in-depth critique of another who worked in such a different style. Updike’s review could only have been written by someone who had studied and practiced the craft for many years. 


Updike told me when he next came into the store (he a famous author and I a recent English major nobody, which tells you something about the kind of person he was), that he had skimmed Le Guin’s ten or so backlist titles to understand where she had been, and then read the new novel twice. All in one week. Lots of sleepless nights I supposed.


Ursula Le Guin’s work warranted this level of intelligent analysis from a practicing peer. As a novelist himself, Updike felt the weight of the assignment. There is so much noise in our modern lives what with television, Facebook, Twitter, blog posts like this – even satellite GPS communication from the middle of nowhere – that the quiet quality involved in creating excellent fiction and evaluating it stands out.


Not simple platitudes that say nothing such as “riveting” or “compelling” but serious literary criticism. Book engineering for you engineers out there. Blueprints. Foundations. Framing. Reverse engineering and rebuilding. Finishing. Knowledge. Experience. Plus the magical ingredient called art.


My goal in starting Publerati was to help excellent fiction thrive in a time when everyone can pretty much do anything in every artistic format available. Yes, every child may be a winner but some still excel well beyond the norms. Ultimately, I am the sole decider (channelling a former president here hopefully with different results) of what we publish based upon my own tastes, and this can be lonely work in much the same way as creating novels. Nothing makes me prouder of what I am doing than when our authors receive thoughtful reviews from their peers.


This week Susan Sterling’s novel Dancing in the Kitchen received reviews from two terrific contemporary writers, these in addition to the one already received from Richard Russo, plus nothing but 5-star reviews on Amazon and elsewhere. (In fact, all the Publerati books are getting great reviews.) 


I want to sincerely thank each of them for the time they spent reading her novel and for generously offering insightful critiques, the sort of praise a fellow practitioner can articulate. There have been many writers kind enough to offer advance reviews for the titles we are publishing next fall, so thanks to all of you, knowing how busy you are with your own work. I sincerely believe we owe our collective support to each other, to literary fiction traditions, and to future John Updikes.  Here are the new quotes:



“Susan Sterling writes with the intelligence and psychological complexity of Virginia Woolf, and her characters will quickly take up residence in your mind.  With deceptive ease and remarkable assurance Sterling explores issues of love and commitment, families, secrets, denial, and betrayal.  The result is a richly textured and suspenseful book that I found impossible to put down.  Above all, Sterling reminds us how exhilarating good writing can be.”


Helen Fremont

Author of the Holocaust memoir (and national bestseller), After Long Silence


A superb evocation of place, family, and love, Dancing in the Kitchen vividly describes the lives of two struggling, kind siblings and their partners and parents.  Ranging from New England to Old England and back, the novel concerns the competing claims of morality and emotional honesty. How should one behave?  How does one most wish to behave?  And what difference does the answer make, given the complications of an individual life?  A warm-hearted, perceptive story about how adults weather compromise and consider change.”


Debra Spark

Author of Coconuts for the Saints, Good for the Jews, and The Pretty Girl


“What a smart elegant writer Susan Sterling is. Dancing in the Kitchen, her finely observed first novel, is a moving exploration of betrayal, not just of others but ourselves.”


Richard Russo

Pulitzer-Prize Novelist



— Caleb



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