May 22, 2013

Two new ebookstores have been launched in Australia. Exciting news for readers, but they come with a price—dollars and DRM (see price comparison below).

Sony Reader Store

Earlier this month, Sony finally launched the Reader Store in Australia. For a limited time, when you sign up to the Reader Store, you’ll get a free ebook (I got Friendship Bread by Darien Gee, but I’m not sure if everyone gets the same title). Sign up is relatively painless: enter your email address, choose a password, and active the account when you get the confirmation email.

You can sort the catalogue by date, relevance and price. I’m not sure how relevance is evaluated, but the first page using this sorting method didn’t produce many titles that I cared about, to be honest. Sort by price and you’ll find some free ebooks. It’s worth checking before you download because some of them are only excerpts rather than the entire book. Sort by date, and again, I’m not sure what it means—I’m assuming date of release—but out of curiosity I navigated to the last page. Don’t do this unless you want to read dodgy sounding books about what sound to me like dirty old men. Definitely not romance.

Navigation within the romance category is, frankly, a bit of a pain. There are no subcategories and when you look at the page number links, it only lists all the pages before the one you’re on, the next page, and the last page. This makes it difficult for me—I like to skip around and jump 2-4 pages at a time.

JB Hi-Fi NOW Books

Last month, electronics store JB Hi-Fi also launched an ebooktore, which you can find here. According to trade magazine Books+Publishing:

The store, which went live on 22 April, is part of the retailer’s NOW platform, which also sells digital music. Among the local publishers with titles in the ebookstore are HarperCollins, Penguin, Random House, Allen & Unwin, Hachette, Lonely Planet, Pan Macmillan and Text Publishing.

Again, there’s no escaping DRM.

I only had a quick play with this store, but searching for titles seems faster than in the Reader Store and, with the exception of the cluttered and confusing first page, the interface seems more inviting to me.

Price comparison

I’ve listed a random sample of romance titles and their prices (AUD), along with corresponding prices from Diesel (USD) and the publisher (AUD unless otherwise noted). Ebook files have DRM unless otherwise noted.

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May 21, 2013

Heart Of Obsidian by Nalini Singh (Book 12, Psy-Changeling) - Australian edition Heart Of Obsidian by Nalini Singh (Book 12, Psy-Changeling) - US editionAt some point, I’ll catch up on reading, reviewing and blogging and we’ll be back to our regular posting schedule. In the meantime, this is way too exciting for me not to mention!

If you haven’t already pre-ordered the book, you can do so at BooktopiaGalaxyFishpondAmazon and Book Depository.

If you’re a fan of NZ author Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series—and who isn’t?—and you’re dying to know which main character will feature in her June release, Heart Of Obsidianand who isn’t?—then you need to head over to her blog and find out!

Yes, after months of secrecy and that oh-so-coy blurb, we finally find out that…

(Look away now if you don’t want to know!)

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Posted by Kat in Lucky dip (2 comments)
Keywords: nalini singh, psy-changeling
April 24, 2013

The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After  by Julia QuinnThe series that made me—and the rest of the world—fall in love with Julia Quinn. If you haven’t read this series, start now! If you have, then this is the cherry on the cake.

Special note for fans: Julia Quinn will be a keynote speaker at the 2013 Romance Writers of Australia conference at Fremantle in August. Click here for more details.

Actual text message from the year 2000:

BFF: Wandergurl! Anthony Bridgerton is getting married. We have to get The Viscount Who Loved Me.

Me (Thinking, Who the fuck is… ohhhhhhhhhhh.): Yes! Of course! We have to get someone to bring it from America.

Back in the early 00s when I was growing up in the Philippines, you didn’t get books on time and the bigger independent bookstores didn’t really exist yet. It’s easier to get things now, but back then, your best chance for immediate access during a release date was to have someone vacationing in America to bring it back to you. After reading The Duke and I in a rental book club called ‘The Armchair Reader’ (and buying the book when the book club closed down) I was determined to get the rest of the series.

Aside from the actual stories of the books, obtaining them involved their own stories. I had one of our clients, a big, burly bearded Texan bring one back for me from Austin. My managing director brought back my Amazon order with a Bridgerton and The Lord of the Rings, extended edition. My giant elfish geek of a friend went to a bookstore and never let me hear the end of it after he had to ask for Romancing Mr. Bridgerton. (He also very nicely climbed a ladder and alphabetised my romance novels at my request. Thank you, dear.) Another was brought back by a Goth friend from San Francisco, who also happened to read romances and thought Sir Phillip with Love wasn’t bad—except the title sucked.

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April 16, 2013

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch (Rivers of London, Book 1)Original, witty and fun—this is my new favourite series.

Probationary Constable Peter Grant works for the Metropolitan Police Force and is the kind of mediocre that we all are sometimes, but don’t really want to admit. He’s smart, he can handle himself, but he needs an extra little push to get somewhere sometimes. He also wants to do something significant with his life but can’t seem to figure out what, and his boss seems to think he’s destined for a life of paperwork.

That is, until one night when, after being called to the scene, he interviews a witness who happens to be dead. Suddenly, he’s a detective constable working for a special branch of the police that previously had only one member. He’s also the first trainee apprentice wizard in Britain in fifty years. Oh, and he has to find out who killed that guy.

Creative, funny and very real, Peter Grant could be your friend, the blokey jokester that you hang out and have a beer with. He’s the kind of person who sometimes fumbles and could use a good woman to keep his head on straight (there is one, kind of). He’s a good guy; it just so happens that weird things keep happening to him.

This book, the first of a thoroughly entertaining series, shows us how Peter stumbles into the use of magic and finally finds his feet, solving a mystery (and developing his skills at coming up with witticisms) in the process. I can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed this series, with its comedic interludes, rich characterisation and inventive world building.

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April 12, 2013

BOOKMARKED is the name we gave to our journal, but since not everyone is on Twitter and not everyone on Twitter likes, we also run an adhoc compilation of links on the blog to highlight items that might be of interest.

Book Thingo blurbed on Helene Young’s next book

Half Moon Bay by Helene YoungThe cover for Australian romantic suspense author Helene Young’s next release, Half Moon Bay, has been released. It sports a quote from Book Thingo! Her previous release, Burning Lies, has also been given a new cover. I do love the redesign—and not just because we’re on the front cover in the next one. :D Half Moon Bay comes out May 22. You can pre-order it for Kindle, or pick up a copy at your favourite bookshop soon.

April Romance Buzz

The April edition of Booktopia’s Romance Buzz is up, and this month’s feature author is ARRA award winner Kylie Griffin. The newsletter includes my thoughts on Griffin’s third Light Blade book, Allegiance Sworn, as well as the book everyone is talking about—Lover At Last. Other feature books include Dark Embrace by Lexxie Couper and The Devil’s Heart by Cathy Maxwell.

Kylie Chan signing and pre-release sale

Dark Serpent by Kylie Chan (Celestial Battle, Book 1)Galaxy is hosting a signing by Australian fantasy author Kylie Chan and illustrator Queenie Chan, on Tuesday, April 16, at 12.30pm. Fans can pick up Chan’s new release, Dark Serpent, for one day only as a special pre-release exclusive–three weeks earlier than everyone else. This book is the first in Chan’s Celestial Battle trilogy. You can also pre-order online or via phone if you can’t make it on Tuesday but would like a signed copy.

Video chats with RITA finalists

The Romance Writers of America is running a series of video chats  with finalists for their annual RITA awards. There are 11 sessions planned until the awards night. Anyone can attend the online event, but only first 1000 RSVPs will be able to actively participate in each session. The first one starts today at 10am AEST. Click here for the schedule and registration links.

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April 10, 2013

Fate's Edge by Ilona Andrews (The Edge, Book 3)Although there are familiar elements, there is something quite distinct about this series. I really enjoyed this difference.

Kalder Mar grew up in the Mire, a swamp in just about the dodgiest part of the Edge, a land between the Broken (that would be our world) and the Weird (that would be a magic world, part-Faerie, part Renaissance-y steampunk fantasy). He’s a liar, thief and sometime spy who is really, really good with a sword and has an uncanny (magical) ability to make things happen if you bet him they can’t.

Audrey Callahan is the daughter of a con artist. Bitter and battered by the life her family taught her to live, she’s tried to keep on the straight and narrow, getting a real job in the Broken and taking care of herself. Her father persuades her to do one last con, and if she does, he’ll stay out of her life forever.

Tasked with retrieving the item that Audrey’s family stole, Kalder and Audrey cross paths and find themselves working together to make things right, with all the adventures that come with it.

Despite my rave review for book one in the series, book two languished on my TBR for two and a half years before I picked it up. I then promptly called Galaxy Books and made them ship me the rest of the series while I lay in bed languishing from illness. This is book three.

Fate’s Edge reminded me why I love Ilona Andrews. It’s filled with rich world building and engaging characters, and I devoured this book in one night despite drinking codeine-laced cough medication.

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April 4, 2013

Decadence has been busy updating the Black Dagger Brotherhood cheat sheets, and they’re finally done!

The updates include information up to and including Tohr’s book. Note that the cheat sheets have not been updated to include information from Lover At Last to avoid accidentally spoiling readers who have not yet had a chance to read the book.

We have also created dedicated pages for the cheat sheets. You should be able to see the pages from the black menu bar at the top of this screen. If you hover your mouse above the ‘BDB’ menu item, you should automatically see a list of subpages below it. (Let me know if this doesn’t work for you!)

Whenever we update or add information about the BDB, we will update the pages and then post a summary of the updates to make sure you don’t miss out on the info! So if you have links to the old cheat sheets, please update them to point to the overview page here. This page has a link to all the cheat sheets, reviews pre-release spoilers and other related posts about the BDB.

We hope you’ll find this new structure easier to use, and a huge THANK YOU to Decadence for the updates!

And now, here are the latest updates to the cheat sheets:

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April 1, 2013

The biggest news in the book industry this long weekend is Amazon’s plan to acquire Goodreads, a social media site for readers. No, this is not an April Fools’ joke.

Amazon is undeterred in its path to world domination, announcing its plan to acquire Goodreads, in what is sure to be a blow for readers who loved Goodreads precisely because it’s not affiliated with major players in the book industry. The deal is expected to close by June 2013.

Do I care? Maybe.

The thing is, Goodreads isn’t exactly the haven for readers that some think it is. There have been appalling reports and evidence of threatening behaviour on Goodreads that, I feel, Goodreads has failed to properly address or manage. In many ways, I’ve come to feel that Goodreads values authors more than they do readers. I use Goodreads as a reading journal, to ensure I don’t buy duplicate books, and to record reviews posted on Book Thingo. That’s about it. Rarely do I participate in Goodreads socially, and when I do, it’s almost always with readers I already have a relationship with via Twitter or through blogs.

Amazon’s acquisition of what I consider more of a tool than a community is therefore interesting because I’d like the tool not to break or do a worse job than it did before, but that’s about as passionate as I can manage to feel on the subject. Your mileage may vary.

What might happen to Goodreads in the future?

TechCrunch has a summary of the potential direction that Amazon might want to take Goodreads, and the two key areas seem to be around Kindle integration and improved algorithms for book recommendations. It’s too soon to tell if Amazon will screw around with the user-facing design of Goodreads to align it more tightly to the Amazon shop, but according to Forbes, doing so may not be in Amazon’s best interests, at least in the near future:

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Posted by Kat in Industry news (1 comment)
March 31, 2013

Tidbits about book 12 of the Black Dagger Brotherhood have been released by author J. R. Ward, and it’s going to be a little different from the previous books!

The King by J. R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 12) - US edition

Black Dagger Brotherhood author J. R. Ward posted this video on her Facebook page from the Cincinnati signing confirming that the next book in the series will be called The King and definitely isn’t going to be about Xcor. It will be about Wrath and Beth having a baby.

Ward has hinted in the past that there were going to be novellas for Wrath and Beth as well as Rhage and Mary and their journeys to parenthood. With Lover at Last beginning its life as a novella, it looks like we may be able to hope for full-length novels for both couples, especially since she’s hoping to return to each couple by giving them their own books again.

The King will be released in around a year’s time in the US spring 2014.

Official spoilers from the signing were posted on Ward’s Facebook page here and it’s given us a lot to speculate on.

You can preorder the US hardcover of The King from Amazon and Book Depository. It comes out March 25, 2014.

Click here for more BDB cheat sheets and spoilers.

March 29, 2013

Congratulations to Lilian Darcy, Anne Gracie,  Barbara Hannay and Bronwyn Parry, whose books have been announced as finalists for this year’s RITA awards, and to Chris Taylor for her Golden Heart award nomination.

Anne Gracie is nominated in the Historical Romance category for Bride By Mistake, published by BerkleyBarbara Hannay is nominated in the Contemporary Single Title Romance category for her rural Australian romance Zoe’s Muster, published by the Michael Joseph.  Bronwyn Parry is nominated in Romantic Suspense category for Dead Heat, published by Hachette Australia. Category romance author Lilian Darcy is nominated in the Short Contemporary Series Romance category for A Marriage Worth Fighting For, published under Harlequin’s Special Edition imprint. (In Australia, this story is published under the Cherish imprint in a special 3-in-1 edition.)

A RITA award is the romance equivalent of the Oscar, and having four local authors in the running is an excellent achievement. Hannay and Parry’s nominations are particularly exciting as the books are both set in rural Australia and published locally.

For the Golden Heart awards, given to unpublished manuscripts, Australian writer Chris Taylor is nominated in the Romantic Suspense category for The Predator.

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