Monday, November 24, 2014

Copycat Culture: Adapting to a World of Adaptations

When it comes to fiction - which today includes television, movies, video games, and other narrative media - copying someone else's ideas is nothing new. The Romans, after all, openly borrowed most of their gods from the Greek pantheon; the Greeks, in turn, clearly adopted and adapted elements from the animistic, agriculture religions that preceded them; and whether by divine fiat or imaginative inspiration, many events recorded in the Christian Bible explicitly echo earlier narratives in the Jewish Torah. Indeed, there is some reason to believe that the stock of basic human narratives is relatively small: in the twentieth century, thinkers as different as Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, and Northrop Frye each developed interpretive systems based on groups of supposedly universal archetypes or stories like "the shadow" and "the journey home."

One doesn't need to accept Jung's hypothesis of a "collective unconscious," however, to see that sharing, borrowing, or outright stealing someone else's ideas have long been the engines behind narrative evolutions and variations. For a long time in Western culture, moreover, this wasn't a problem. At least from the Renaissance through much of the eighteenth century, "to emulate" was a very positive verb, the key to success both socially and artistically. Of course there were always iconoclasts; Sir Phillip Sidney, for example, could joke in the opening sonnet of his "Astrophil and Stella" sequence that "Other's feet [i.e. lines of verse] still seem'd but strangers in my way," and end with his Muse's command: "Look in thy heart, and write." But of course Sidney didn't invent the idea of a Muse, which means that even his image of inspiration's source was unoriginal!

By and large, it was not until the end of the 18th century that British poets began to prize originality and imagination over mere craftsmanship and wit. Even as he drew on biblical and mythological sources, the Romantic-era poet and artist William Blake articulated the stakes of his determination to be original: "I must Create a System or be enslaved by another Man's." Today's authors - or at least their publishers, and certainly their publisher's lawyers - still claim to put a premium on this kind of originality, for legal reasons if not for Blake's ethical ones. Such statements of originality, ironically, now literally come standard on the copyright page of every newly published novel: "[xxx] is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental." So please take a moment to admire with me the irony that the insight "Good artists borrow; great artists steal" is variously attributed to T.S. Eliot, Pablo Picasso, and Igor Stravinsky!

Instead of decrying fiction's perennial lack of originality, we should celebrate it. The concept of intellectual property is still important, of course, if only so that writers and artists are fairly compensated for their work. Meanwhile, several strands of literary criticism and theory have recently sprung up to make sense of our copycat culture: "Adaptation Studies," analyzes the various ways narratives, images, and forms cross texts and even media to take on new meanings, often quite subversively; "Intertextuality" focuses specifically on allusions and echoes, intentional and otherwise, that link authors and texts; and "Media Archaeology" examines the history and evolution of forms and technologies of representation, the better to understand where our digital future is taking us.

One of the most common and obvious forms that adaptation takes in our culture today is the jump from book to movie. (There are now entire websites devoted to tracking these connections.) Purists still insist that we must "read the book!" first, and as an English professor I'm not going to argue with this admonition. But what happens when the movie is arguably better than the book on which it's based? This, of course, depends on one's definition of "better" - but if we can agree that "better" in these cases means some combination of more entertaining, more thoughtful, and truer to human experience, then it seems clear that on some occasions, the copy is indeed better than the original. Many of Alfred Hitchcock's best movies, for example, are far more rewarding than the often-obscure source materials on which they're based; more recently, many reviewers agreed that David Fincher's movie adaptation of Gone Girl improved on Gillian Flynn's original novel. For every example of a movie that improves on the original book, however, there are probably five movies that flatten, simplify, or just plain ruin their sources. Indeed, I'm hardly the first person to note that, where creativity on screen is concerned, much of the best work has shifted to TV, where shows like Mad Men and True Detective take risks that Hollywood often can't or won't. Again, though, it's important to distinguish creativity from originality; while these shows have plenty of imagination, they wear their narrative and tonal debts (to mid-century American bildungsroman, in the case of the former; to southern Gothic and noir mysteries, in the case of the latter) on their small-screen sleeves.

Working with - and hopefully, at least sometimes, improving upon - someone else's ideas is not only inevitable, but invaluable. Let's do it honestly, and let's commit to celebrating it when it's done well. But in case you don't like anything I've just written, please remember: Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

_______________________

You find the original article at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/evan-gottlieb/copycat-culture-adapting-_b_6174414.html?utm_hp_ref=books&ir=Books

Monday, November 17, 2014

How the end of the Cold War changed spy fiction

by Jane Ciabattari 
When the Berlin Wall came down, spy fiction would never be the same again. It was time for its writers to find new enemies, writes Jane Ciabattari.


The Cold War offered a perfect backdrop for spy fiction.  Masters of espionage like Ian Fleming’s James Bond, John le Carré’s George Smiley and Len Deighton’s Harry Palmer squared off against their communist counterparts in a global chess game with highly calculated moves and obvious goals, risks and rewards. Betrayals and deceptions complicated the matter, but the enemies were clear-cut. British intelligence officer Smiley against his KGB counterpart Karla. Us versus them. “During the Cold War, any reader opening a spy novel understood the handful of possible conflicts they would find,” says spy fiction author Olen Steinhauer. “It would be East v West, or the hero against political corruption – greedy Westerners destroying their own system.

Readers of Cold War spy fiction were drawn into identifying double agents (as in Frederick Forsyth’s The Fourth Protocol) and fantasising about the effects of brainwashing (Deighton’s The Ipcress File). We were presented with spycraft on a human scale, without the satellite surveillance and mobile phone tracking systems  of today’s hi-tech thrillers. Characters suffered from psychological as well as physical stress. James Bond is on the verge of a nervous breakdown after his new bride is killed in You Only Live Twice. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold ends with a devastating portrait of the effect of years of duplicity on agents constantly justifying acts at odds with their moral values. But there were pleasures as well – dinners in fine restaurants, romantic dalliances, vicarious visits to far-flung parts of the world out of the range of most readers, including countries behind the Iron Curtain.

The end of the Cold War made it necessary to find new enemies. “When the Cold War ended, the genre lost a perfect adversary,” says spy fiction author Joseph Kanon. Writers could no longer depend upon an easy polarity. “Russia remains, but as a threatening kleptocracy,” says Steinhauer, whose Milo Weaver trilogy focusses on relations between the US and China, just one facet of a post-Cold War world that has many existential conflicts: “Terrorism existed as a subject during the Cold War, but now, of course, it's become a primary source of narrative conflict. And the complex relationships between Middle Eastern states and religious extremists make for more fictional fodder. Political corruption at home never goes away, but the American relationship to European states has become more complex,” he says. “The rise of electronic surveillance and the hero-status of the whistleblower... these things are all excellent subjects.” For his 2014 novel The Cairo Affair, Steinhauer worked almost in real time, chronicling Libya and post-Mubarak Cairo during the Arab Spring.

New world order

After 1989 it was time to rethink the spy game in fiction entirely. “I always wrote about people groaning under the moral weight of the Cold War and begging to get out,” John le Carré told the New York Times after the Berlin Wall came down. “I'm absolutely delighted to be presented with a new pack of cards.” And he dealt them out into plotlines featuring the international drug trade, the Russian mafia, money laundering and corporate corruption. In The Constant Gardener (2001), which is set in “dangerous, decaying, plundered, bankrupt, once-British Kenya,” he takes on pharmaceutical companies who used citizens in developing countries as guinea pigs in drug trials.

Soon le Carré was writing of the international war on terror and American operatives who justify torture and extraordinary rendition (as in his 2008 novel A Most Wanted Man), and their British allies. His character Toby Bell, a rising star in the British foreign service who seeks his country’s “true identity in a post-imperial, post Cold War world”, bears a resemblance to Edward Snowden. Frederick Forsyth also has followed the headlines. He set The Fist of War (1994) during the first Gulf War. The CIA, MI6 and Pakistan’s ISI battled al Qaeda in his 2006 novel The Afghan. And The Kill List (2013) features an internet-based ‘preacher’ who calls upon radical Muslims for assassinations of leaders in the US and Britain.

Some contemporary writers have chosen to set their books in the past, in the certainties of the Cold War, or even the period before it, rather than updating them for the uncertainties of the present day. Alan Furst‘s atmospheric thrillers (12 to date, most recently Midnight in Europe) take place in the 1930s and early ’40s, when Sovietand Western intelligence operatives joined forces to fend off the growing Nazi juggernaut.  Joseph Kanon focuses on the immediate postwar period, setting The Prodigal Spy (1998) and The Good German (2001) in 1945, “a pivotal time, the beginning of the world we live in now,” he says. For Istanbul Passage (2012) he turned to “a neutral city near the Balkans, a perfect listening post, a mecca for spies and a prime staging area for the Mossad in helping rescue trapped European Jews.”

The Cold War may prove to be an unparalleled inspiration for spy fiction.  But the essence of spy fiction hasn’t changed. Readers expect identifiable heroes defending against external foes. What has changed forever is the starkly black-and-white nature the Cold War lent the genre. The more ambivalent spies, says Steinhauer, “go about their jobs with a measure of anxiety, dealing with the moral burden – the subterfuge and lying the job requires.”  Readers have become accustomed to seeing the flaws in our own system, and in ourselves, thanks to sceptical portraits by these masters of Cold War spy fiction. This era of clearly defined heroes and villains has given way to the blurred lines, shifting allegiances and ambiguity of today.

_____________________________

You can find the original article at: http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20141107-spies-who-came-in-from-the-cold

Monday, November 10, 2014

Scientists outshine arts students with experiments in creative writing

With no publication angst and a killer work ethic, science students easily match their peers in the humanities in the art of creative writing. It even makes them better scientists


We are eating noodles in the sunshine at Imperial College, London, when my former student tells me about his invention. “Meet SAM,” says Joachim and places his prototypes on the bench – a tiny switch and actuator that will allow everyone to make wireless smart things without knowing anything about coding or electronics. A jacket that heats up when your body temperature drops, a fridge that warns you’re out of milk – it’s an Internet of Things idea and the applications seem endless once you start connecting people and objects. While Joachim answers my questions about how he and his team will manage the journey from inspiration to execution, I’m reminded of another conversation we once had about risk.

It was inspired by a story about an assassin in the murderous heat of a noonday piazza – one of those ambitious narratives whose success depends entirely upon managing uncertainty. For I am a novelist and Joachim is a mechanical engineer who took my creative writing class as part of his degree, and he outlines his business plan with the same passion and precision as he wrote that short story.

For the past three years I have taught creative writing to students in science, technology, engineering and medicine at Imperial who can take humanities options for credit. It was the interdisciplinary challenge that intrigued me, but I’ll admit to being sceptical about the students’ writing potential. So I was delighted to be proved wrong: their writing is easily as good – and often better – than that of creative writing students I have taught elsewhere, including at the University of East Anglia. And my external assessors – also writers who teach and hold PhDs from UEA – agree.

“I hate the perception that scientists and engineers struggle with any arts subject,” says my student Chris Winchurch (electrical engineering). Most of these AAA/A*A*A* undergrads at the world’s second-ranked university abandoned formal humanities at 16, so creative writing is a grade gamble. But they are eager to explore their potential and to resolve a certain tension between their artistic and scientific interests.

On the first day we rearrange the furniture. Stem students (science, technology, engineering and maths) spend their days in labs and lecture theatres and this is very often the first time they sit face-to-face to discuss ideas and peer review. Their communication skills need liberating, their critical vocabulary is underdeveloped. Farah Shair (biochemistry) tells me the first homework on character felt like “reaching inside my brain to find a part that hasn’t been used for so long”. Chris admits that it was “a lot harder than I anticipated to switch from modules with correct answers and rigid methodologies into a much more subtle and subjective world, but in the end it was the highlight of my week”.

We set sail with three rules: observe the world; read attentively; get black on white.

During the year of reading and writing and observing, students learn to tolerate uncertainty in process and outcome, embrace risk (creative, intellectual and performance) and practice humility – since writing is an exercise in failing better each time. Their writing is imaginative in theme and topic. They do not fall fatally in love with their work and will abandon experimental dead ends. Their killer work ethic sustains them through the endless revision that is essential to good writing.
  “They are technically and creatively ambitious,” says Laura Fish, an external examiner for the course and senior lecturer in creative writing at Northumbria. “Inventive risk-takers who look at story and subvert,” adds playwright and fiction writer Laura Bridgeman, a moderator for the course who has taught creative writing at four different UK universities. They are interested in writing that will engage a reader – which makes them perfect raw material for workshops where work must always be placed ahead of ego.

Best of all, Imperial’s creative students are not obsessed with publication as an end goal. Like Junot Diaz‘s students at MIT, Imperial’s students are “not all trying to be novelists”. This makes them particularly exciting to teach, since they are completely absorbed in the creative process and spared the torment that afflicts so many students on creative writing degrees.


The debate about creative writing studies continually circles around this issue of publication, and distracts from the far more interesting question about its effect on intellectual and personal development. Stem students discover unexpected synergies between their scientific and artistic talents. Fanny Heneine (civil engineering) says she “produces more creative and well-thought solutions to engineering problems”. Alumnus Stuart Holland, now a software engineer, alternates between programming and creative writing projects to exercise “two different yet complementary forms of creative problem solving”. James Owen (biology) reflects on the potential for creative writing to engage the public in “what is current and exciting in science”.

As I write, Joachim and his team are well on the way from dream to execution: SAM Labs has ignited the technology press and smashed through its funding targets. According to Joachim, the “constant questioning and endless iterations” of his startup experience are very similar to creative writing.

“The most profound lesson I learned from creative writing studies was about the impact of science on society,” concludes Stefan Grossfurthner (biotechnology). A year of reading and writing fiction raises all sorts of ethical and moral questions that inspire Stem students to apply their talent for sceptical enquiry to an analysis of human behaviour.

And isn’t this precisely what we would all wish for our scientists, engineers, technologists and doctors – that the men and women who build, design, code, fix and shape our world are enriched by their exploration of our human condition?

Aifric Campbell’s third novel, On the Floor, is published by Serpent’s Tail


_________________________________ 

You can find the original article at: http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2014/nov/06/scientists-outshine-arts-students-with-experiments-in-creative-writing

Monday, November 3, 2014

Selling e-Books in Europe Is About to Get a Lot More Complicated


Selling e-books into the European market is about to get a lot more complicated for retailers and publishers from the 1st of January, 2015. And when I say publishers, I include author-publishers selling e-books directly from their websites. The new European Union (EU) law comes into affect next year across all 28-member states and addresses VAT paid on e-books and other digital services (including broadcasting and telecommunications). Up until now VAT rates on digital services and products were applied according to the VAT rate in the country where the product was sold, but next year the VAT applied will be the rate set by the European member state the customer purchases the product.


The EU was once about breaking down borders and making trade easier between member states, but the reality is that EU member states apply different rates of VAT on digital products and services, mostly between 15-20%. However, Luxembourg applies a very low rate of just 3%.  Enter Amazon EU S.a.r.L. (registered and based in Luxembourg) stage right to exploit the tax loophole years ago, followed by Amazon EU S.a.r.L. exit, stage left! Yes, that might put some sense on the curious email I received at the start of this month from Amazon KDP.


Dear Sir or Madam,

This is to inform you that on 1st November 2014, Amazon EU S.à r.l. will be replaced as a party to your Kindle Direct Publishing Agreement with another Amazon company, Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.

If you need to send us any legal notices or refer to our EU VAT number after 1st November 2014, please use the following details:

Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
5 Rue Plaetis, L-2338 Luxembourg, Luxembourg
VAT Registration Number: LU 20944528


If you are owed any EU royalty payments after 1st November 2014, you may begin receiving these payments from Amazon Media EU S.à r.l. rather than Amazon EU S.à r.l. Otherwise, this change will not impact your relationship with us in any way.

Thank you for your continued support.

Best regards,

Amazon EU S.à r.l.





The Bookseller's journalistic soldiers of misfortune — Lisa Campbell and Sarah Shaffi — were tasked with putting sense on this potential minefield and did an admirable job.


The move prevents Amazon, Nook and Kobo from applying a low 3% tax on e-books sold to European countries, because their headquarters are in Luxembourg. Instead, the e-book retailers will have to apply the standard UK VAT rate (20%) to e-books sold into the UK. As a result, Luxembourg stands to lose around €800m a year from the ruling, while the UK and Germany stand to gain around €350m each per annum.



It also threatens to raise the price of UK e-books on Amazon, Kobo and Nook websites come January, and begs the question of who will carry the burden of the extra VAT charge those retailers will have to pay. 


....



From this date, supplies of these services to any non-VAT registered consumer will be subject to the rate of VAT applicable in the customer’s location—not necessarily straightforward to determine in itself—and, as a result, businesses will need to remit payment to each EU member state where sales occur. To avoid the need to register in up to 28 different EU member states, publishers can opt for the Mini One-Stop Shop (MOSS) alternative: registering in its home jurisdiction only, and submitting only one return and payment.

  
MOSS: good news or bad?

  
Businesses can apply for MOSS registration as of October 2014, so that the system is ready to use from 1st January 2015. On the face of it, MOSS is good news. However, there is a nasty “sting in the tail” if businesses fail to comply with the MOSS requirements in each of the 28 member states in which they trade.


.....



While the question of whether retailers will attempt to push extra VAT charges onto publishers and the possibility of higher e-book prices, perhaps the other question will be how the author-publisher deals with this when it comes to direct sales via a website and running a small business.


Like all new laws designed to curb big businesses finding loopholes, they will absorb these changes a lot easier. I fear this may actually hurt the two most important people in the book world as usual — the reader and the author.

- See more at: http://www.theindependentpublishingmagazine.com/2014/10/selling-e-books-in-europe-is-about-to.html#sthash.UZfoo8ii.dpuf

_____________________________

Mick Rooney – Publishing Consultant
If you found this review or article helpful, but you’re still looking for a suitable self-publishing provider to fit your needs as an author, then I’m sure I can help. As a publishing consultant and editor of this magazine, I’ve reviewed and examined in detail more than 150 providers throughout the world like the one above. As a self-published and traditionally published author of nine books, I understand your needs on the path to publication and beyond. So, before you spend hundreds or thousands, and a great deal of your time, why not book one of my personally tailored and affordable consultation sessions today? Click here for more details.
- See more at: http://www.theindependentpublishingmagazine.com/2014/10/selling-e-books-in-europe-is-about-to.html#sthash.UZfoo8ii.dpuf
 
Mick Rooney – Publishing Consultant

If you found this review or article helpful, but you’re still looking for a suitable self-publishing provider to fit your needs as an author, then I’m sure I can help. As a publishing consultant and editor of this magazine, I’ve reviewed and examined in detail more than 150 providers throughout the world like the one above. As a self-published and traditionally published author of nine books, I understand your needs on the path to publication and beyond. So, before you spend hundreds or thousands, and a great deal of your time, why not book one of my personally tailored and affordable consultation sessions today?

Click here for more details.


- See more at: http://www.theindependentpublishingmagazine.com/2014/10/selling-e-books-in-europe-is-about-to.html#sthash.UZfoo8ii.dpuf



Mick Rooney – Publishing Consultant
If you found this review or article helpful, but you’re still looking for a suitable self-publishing provider to fit your needs as an author, then I’m sure I can help. As a publishing consultant and editor of this magazine, I’ve reviewed and examined in detail more than 150 providers throughout the world like the one above. As a self-published and traditionally published author of nine books, I understand your needs on the path to publication and beyond. So, before you spend hundreds or thousands, and a great deal of your time, why not book one of my personally tailored and affordable consultation sessions today? Click here for more details.
- See more at: http://www.theindependentpublishingmagazine.com/2014/10/selling-e-books-in-europe-is-about-to.html#sthash.UZfoo8ii.dpuf
Mick Rooney – Publishing Consultant
If you found this review or article helpful, but you’re still looking for a suitable self-publishing provider to fit your needs as an author, then I’m sure I can help. As a publishing consultant and editor of this magazine, I’ve reviewed and examined in detail more than 150 providers throughout the world like the one above. As a self-published and traditionally published author of nine books, I understand your needs on the path to publication and beyond. So, before you spend hundreds or thousands, and a great deal of your time, why not book one of my personally tailored and affordable consultation sessions today? Click here for more details.
- See more at: http://www.theindependentpublishingmagazine.com/2014/10/selling-e-books-in-europe-is-about-to.html#sthash.UZfoo8ii.dpuf

_____________________________
 
You can find the original article at:  http://www.theindependentpublishingmagazine.com/2014/10/selling-e-books-in-europe-is-about-to.html



Selling e-books into the European market is about to get a lot more complicated for retailers and publishers from the 1st of January, 2015. And when I say publishers, I include author-publishers selling e-books directly from their websites. The new European Union (EU) law comes into affect next year across all 28-member states and addresses VAT paid on e-books and other digital services (including broadcasting and telecommunications). Up until now VAT rates on digital services and products were applied according to the VAT rate in the country where the product was sold, but next year the VAT applied will be the rate set by the European member state the customer purchases the product.


The EU was once about breaking down borders and making trade easier between member states, but the reality is that EU member states apply different rates of VAT on digital products and services, mostly between 15-20%. However, Luxembourg applies a very low rate of just 3%.  Enter Amazon EU S.a.r.L. (registered and based in Luxembourg) stage right to exploit the tax loophole years ago, followed by Amazon EU S.a.r.L. exit, stage left! Yes, that might put some sense on the curious email I received at the start of this month from Amazon KDP.


Dear Sir or Madam,

This is to inform you that on 1st November 2014, Amazon EU S.à r.l. will be replaced as a party to your Kindle Direct Publishing Agreement with another Amazon company, Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.

If you need to send us any legal notices or refer to our EU VAT number after 1st November 2014, please use the following details:

Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
5 Rue Plaetis, L-2338 Luxembourg, Luxembourg
VAT Registration Number: LU 20944528

If you are owed any EU royalty payments after 1st November 2014, you may begin receiving these payments from Amazon Media EU S.à r.l. rather than Amazon EU S.à r.l. Otherwise, this change will not impact your relationship with us in any way.

Thank you for your continued support.

Best regards,

Amazon EU S.à r.l.


The Bookseller's journalistic soldiers of misfortune — Lisa Campbell and Sarah Shaffi — were tasked with putting sense on this potential minefield and did an admirable job.


The move prevents Amazon, Nook and Kobo from applying a low 3% tax on e-books sold to European countries, because their headquarters are in Luxembourg. Instead, the e-book retailers will have to apply the standard UK VAT rate (20%) to e-books sold into the UK. As a result, Luxembourg stands to lose around €800m a year from the ruling, while the UK and Germany stand to gain around €350m each per annum.





It also threatens to raise the price of UK e-books on Amazon, Kobo and Nook websites come January, and begs the question of who will carry the burden of the extra VAT charge those retailers will have to pay.





....





From this date, supplies of these services to any non-VAT registered consumer will be subject to the rate of VAT applicable in the customer’s location—not necessarily straightforward to determine in itself—and, as a result, businesses will need to remit payment to each EU member state where sales occur. To avoid the need to register in up to 28 different EU member states, publishers can opt for the Mini One-Stop Shop (MOSS) alternative: registering in its home jurisdiction only, and submitting only one return and payment.





MOSS: good news or bad?





Businesses can apply for MOSS registration as of October 2014, so that the system is ready to use from 1st January 2015. On the face of it, MOSS is good news. However, there is a nasty “sting in the tail” if businesses fail to comply with the MOSS requirements in each of the 28 member states in which they trade.


.....


While the question of whether retailers will attempt to push extra VAT charges onto publishers and the possibility of higher e-book prices, perhaps the other question will be how the author-publisher deals with this when it comes to direct sales via a website and running a small business.


Like all new laws designed to curb big businesses finding loopholes, they will absorb these changes a lot easier. I fear this may actually hurt the two most important people in the book world as usual — the reader and the author.
- See more at: http://www.theindependentpublishingmagazine.com/2014/10/selling-e-books-in-europe-is-about-to.html#sthash.UZfoo8ii.dpuf
Selling e-books into the European market is about to get a lot more complicated for retailers and publishers from the 1st of January, 2015. And when I say publishers, I include author-publishers selling e-books directly from their websites. The new European Union (EU) law comes into affect next year across all 28-member states and addresses VAT paid on e-books and other digital services (including broadcasting and telecommunications). Up until now VAT rates on digital services and products were applied according to the VAT rate in the country where the product was sold, but next year the VAT applied will be the rate set by the European member state the customer purchases the product.


The EU was once about breaking down borders and making trade easier between member states, but the reality is that EU member states apply different rates of VAT on digital products and services, mostly between 15-20%. However, Luxembourg applies a very low rate of just 3%.  Enter Amazon EU S.a.r.L. (registered and based in Luxembourg) stage right to exploit the tax loophole years ago, followed by Amazon EU S.a.r.L. exit, stage left! Yes, that might put some sense on the curious email I received at the start of this month from Amazon KDP.


Dear Sir or Madam,

This is to inform you that on 1st November 2014, Amazon EU S.à r.l. will be replaced as a party to your Kindle Direct Publishing Agreement with another Amazon company, Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.

If you need to send us any legal notices or refer to our EU VAT number after 1st November 2014, please use the following details:

Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
5 Rue Plaetis, L-2338 Luxembourg, Luxembourg
VAT Registration Number: LU 20944528

If you are owed any EU royalty payments after 1st November 2014, you may begin receiving these payments from Amazon Media EU S.à r.l. rather than Amazon EU S.à r.l. Otherwise, this change will not impact your relationship with us in any way.

Thank you for your continued support.

Best regards,

Amazon EU S.à r.l.


The Bookseller's journalistic soldiers of misfortune — Lisa Campbell and Sarah Shaffi — were tasked with putting sense on this potential minefield and did an admirable job.


The move prevents Amazon, Nook and Kobo from applying a low 3% tax on e-books sold to European countries, because their headquarters are in Luxembourg. Instead, the e-book retailers will have to apply the standard UK VAT rate (20%) to e-books sold into the UK. As a result, Luxembourg stands to lose around €800m a year from the ruling, while the UK and Germany stand to gain around €350m each per annum.





It also threatens to raise the price of UK e-books on Amazon, Kobo and Nook websites come January, and begs the question of who will carry the burden of the extra VAT charge those retailers will have to pay.





....





From this date, supplies of these services to any non-VAT registered consumer will be subject to the rate of VAT applicable in the customer’s location—not necessarily straightforward to determine in itself—and, as a result, businesses will need to remit payment to each EU member state where sales occur. To avoid the need to register in up to 28 different EU member states, publishers can opt for the Mini One-Stop Shop (MOSS) alternative: registering in its home jurisdiction only, and submitting only one return and payment.





MOSS: good news or bad?





Businesses can apply for MOSS registration as of October 2014, so that the system is ready to use from 1st January 2015. On the face of it, MOSS is good news. However, there is a nasty “sting in the tail” if businesses fail to comply with the MOSS requirements in each of the 28 member states in which they trade.


.....


While the question of whether retailers will attempt to push extra VAT charges onto publishers and the possibility of higher e-book prices, perhaps the other question will be how the author-publisher deals with this when it comes to direct sales via a website and running a small business.


Like all new laws designed to curb big businesses finding loopholes, they will absorb these changes a lot easier. I fear this may actually hurt the two most important people in the book world as usual — the reader and the author.
- See more at: http://www.theindependentpublishingmagazine.com/2014/10/selling-e-books-in-europe-is-about-to.html#sthash.UZfoo8ii.dpuf
Selling e-books into the European market is about to get a lot more complicated for retailers and publishers from the 1st of January, 2015. And when I say publishers, I include author-publishers selling e-books directly from their websites. The new European Union (EU) law comes into affect next year across all 28-member states and addresses VAT paid on e-books and other digital services (including broadcasting and telecommunications). Up until now VAT rates on digital services and products were applied according to the VAT rate in the country where the product was sold, but next year the VAT applied will be the rate set by the European member state the customer purchases the product.


The EU was once about breaking down borders and making trade easier between member states, but the reality is that EU member states apply different rates of VAT on digital products and services, mostly between 15-20%. However, Luxembourg applies a very low rate of just 3%.  Enter Amazon EU S.a.r.L. (registered and based in Luxembourg) stage right to exploit the tax loophole years ago, followed by Amazon EU S.a.r.L. exit, stage left! Yes, that might put some sense on the curious email I received at the start of this month from Amazon KDP.


Dear Sir or Madam,

This is to inform you that on 1st November 2014, Amazon EU S.à r.l. will be replaced as a party to your Kindle Direct Publishing Agreement with another Amazon company, Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.

If you need to send us any legal notices or refer to our EU VAT number after 1st November 2014, please use the following details:

Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
5 Rue Plaetis, L-2338 Luxembourg, Luxembourg
VAT Registration Number: LU 20944528

If you are owed any EU royalty payments after 1st November 2014, you may begin receiving these payments from Amazon Media EU S.à r.l. rather than Amazon EU S.à r.l. Otherwise, this change will not impact your relationship with us in any way.

Thank you for your continued support.

Best regards,

Amazon EU S.à r.l.


The Bookseller's journalistic soldiers of misfortune — Lisa Campbell and Sarah Shaffi — were tasked with putting sense on this potential minefield and did an admirable job.


The move prevents Amazon, Nook and Kobo from applying a low 3% tax on e-books sold to European countries, because their headquarters are in Luxembourg. Instead, the e-book retailers will have to apply the standard UK VAT rate (20%) to e-books sold into the UK. As a result, Luxembourg stands to lose around €800m a year from the ruling, while the UK and Germany stand to gain around €350m each per annum.





It also threatens to raise the price of UK e-books on Amazon, Kobo and Nook websites come January, and begs the question of who will carry the burden of the extra VAT charge those retailers will have to pay.





....





From this date, supplies of these services to any non-VAT registered consumer will be subject to the rate of VAT applicable in the customer’s location—not necessarily straightforward to determine in itself—and, as a result, businesses will need to remit payment to each EU member state where sales occur. To avoid the need to register in up to 28 different EU member states, publishers can opt for the Mini One-Stop Shop (MOSS) alternative: registering in its home jurisdiction only, and submitting only one return and payment.





MOSS: good news or bad?





Businesses can apply for MOSS registration as of October 2014, so that the system is ready to use from 1st January 2015. On the face of it, MOSS is good news. However, there is a nasty “sting in the tail” if businesses fail to comply with the MOSS requirements in each of the 28 member states in which they trade.


.....


While the question of whether retailers will attempt to push extra VAT charges onto publishers and the possibility of higher e-book prices, perhaps the other question will be how the author-publisher deals with this when it comes to direct sales via a website and running a small business.


Like all new laws designed to curb big businesses finding loopholes, they will absorb these changes a lot easier. I fear this may actually hurt the two most important people in the book world as usual — the reader and the author.
- See more at: http://www.theindependentpublishingmagazine.com/2014/10/selling-e-books-in-europe-is-about-to.html#sthash.UZfoo8ii.dpuf

Monday, October 27, 2014

Advice for New Indie Authors from Self-Publishing Veterans

By Betty Kelly Sargent 

It can be a jungle out there for self-publishers. Just try Googling “publishing an e-book," and you get a staggering 54,400,000 results. If you search “self-publishing an e-book” you come up with 2,510,000 results and if you ask for “self-publishing advice” you will be directed to a sweet 3,070,000 offerings.

We decided to simplify matters by going to some of the leaders in the self-publishing world and asking them one simple question: If you could give someone starting out in self-publishing only one piece of advice, what would it be? As it turns out, the key is to know what you want, and to be patient.

Jane Friedman, professor, speaker, blogger, and publisher of Scratch magazine had this to say:

“The most important advice I can offer is don’t rush. Many first-time authors make a lot of mistakes along the way -- some of which are inevitable -- but I find that some authors don’t even have a clear idea of what their goals are. I tell authors: Before you do it, take time to understand why you’re doing it, to research your options, and to hire experts if needed to help you achieve your goals. Take enough time to produce a product that’s worth your reader’s time and money.”

When we asked writer, blogger, and consultant Joel Friedlander what advice he has to offer, he said:
“Know your goals. Be absolutely clear about what those goals are and how you plan to achieve them. Self-publishers need to understand why they are writing this book, who it is for, how they will reach those people, who they will have to hire to help, what their budget is, and what they want to get out of all this. So many times I’ve seen authors spend thousand of dollars unnecessarily and run into dead-end after dead-end because they simply didn’t have a clear set of goals in mind when they started out.”

Hugh Howey, celebrated author of the Wool and Silo series and self-publishing expert, offered this advice:

“My one piece of advice would be patience, both in publishing and in expectations of sales. Make sure your work is as amazing as you can make it before putting it out there, and once you do publish, don't worry about how the work sells out of the gate. Books are now available forever. Start writing that next book. Don't be in a hurry.”

For Ron Martinez, founder of the direct retail and social media marketing service Aerbook, the author/reader relationship should take center stage. He said:

“Remember that the most important relationship in the book business is the one between author and reader. Make your books as widely available as possible in our increasingly networked world. There has never been a better time for books to find their readers.”

Carla King, blogger, writer, adventurer, and self-publishing guru, had this advice for people new to self-publishing:

“Premature distribution is one of the most embarrassing mistakes made by self-published authors. Avoid it by starting small, publishing beta versions of your book, and growing your author platform as you perfect it. You don't want to publish and then discover copy-editing errors, realize you should have invested in a better cover design, or wish you'd spent more time on marketing copy, metadata, and back of book information. So upload your book in places that allow you to publish, sell, remove, revise, and republish in just minutes.”

Cindy Ratzlaff, social media strategist and brand evangelist, said: “My first piece of advice would be to write every day. But my second piece of advice would be to hire an editor. Even the best writer needs the trained eye of a professional editor.”

And finally, author-marketing expert Penny Sansevieri put it this way:

“Self-publishing should be treated as a business. You would never open up a brick and mortar store without doing some competitive research and having a business plan and a marketing plan in place. Yet it amazes me how many times authors launch a book with no idea of the market or how they plan to get it out there.”

So there you have it. According to these experts, self-publishers need to be patient; know their goals; make their books the best they can be; network to find readers; avoid premature distribution; write everyday and hire an editor; and research your competition. Sage advice, indeed, and it sure beats sifting through the 3,070,000 suggestions offered by Google.

Betty Kelly Sargent is the founder and CEO of BookWorks.


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You can find the original article at: www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/authors/pw-select/article/64035-self-publishing-stars-speak-out.html

Monday, October 20, 2014

8 Terrifying Ghost Stories


by Author, Movie Critic

The terror generated by a ghost story can be more lasting than the shocks delivered in a horror story... indeed, this different quality of scariness may be what distinguishes one form from the other, not the simpler question of whether or not a ghost features. Freddy Krueger is, technically, a ghost, but the "Nightmare on Elm Street" films are horror -- indeed, as Freddy becomes more familiar, he enters the pantheon of movie monsters, which has surprisingly little room for ghosts. "The Blair Witch Project," in contrast, is a ghost story, though it barely mentions ghosts -- instead, it's marked as a ghost story by its ambiguity, its sense of a presence affecting the characters, and the care taken to sketch out the history of the haunted woods.

Horror makes you jump, and -- sometimes -- makes you think. Ghost stories slowly lower your body temperature, producing the frisson effects described as chills down your spine or goose-flesh. Sometimes, they make you stop thinking because what they are suggesting is too awful to contemplate ...and the physical response takes over. Ghost stories offer the sort of scares which come back to you when you wake up in the middle of the night. "The Sixth Sense" just missed this list, because its ghosts aren't ultimately frightening, but M. Night Shyamalan includes a great scare moment as his child hero gets up to take a pee in the middle of the night and encounters a pleading specter. Everyone who saw that film had total recall of that moment the very next time they made their way through a darkened home to the bathroom.

My latest novel, An English Ghost Story (October 7, $14.95), is an exploration of what its title means just as it's an exploration of a haunted house -- its shifting topography and its long history. This list is about ghosts, rather than haunted places -- though spirits are often tied to specific locations. And I've chosen stories which got under my skin, and have stuck with me. 

I've looked at various media, but find that often the best ghosts transfer from one realm to the other, moving from the printed page to a screen:

"Oh, Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad"

A short story by M.R. James, adapted into a television film ("Whistle and I'll Come to You") by Jonathan Miller in 1968. The spectre which manifests after a holidaying professor finds and blows an antique whistle is a reverse joke -- James takes the most debased, cartoonish, your-kids-dressed-up-for-Halloween image of the ghost (a sheet with eye-holes) and presents it with deadly seriousness ('a face of crumpled linen'). My father remembers a BBC wireless version of the story (hosted by Valentine Dyall as the Man in Black, on "Appointment With Fear") in the 1940s which made him terrified of the dressing gown hanging on his bedroom door.

"How Love Came to Professor Guildea"

A novella by Robert Hichens, published in Tongues of Conscience (1900). This is the least-known of my choices, though an Internet search reveals it was adapted as an episode of the early TV horror series "Lights Out" in 1950 ... and has been done several times on the radio (here's a 1948 version from the show "Escape"). M.R. James abided by a set of rules for the ghost story, including the tenet that the ghost must be malevolent and capable of harming the living... Hichens found a subtler, more unsettling approach as a repressed bachelor academic attracts a formless, imbecilic lump of a ghost which fixates on him like an unwelcome lover.

"The Haunting"

Shirley Jackson's 1959 novel The Haunting of Hill House was filmed by Robert Wise as "The Haunting" in 1963. In keeping with the novel's ambiguity, Wise shows no onscreen ghosts but powerfully conveys the effects of their presence... the loud breathing that bows a huge wooden door is unsettling, though the most well-remembered chill is a neat contrivance as the troubled Eleanor (Julie Harris) is terrified at night and reaches out to hold the hand of her roommate Theo (Claire Bloom). The camera closes on Harris's face as she is comforted by her friend's firm grip... then a cut shows that Theo isn't in the bed but is all the way across the room. 'Whose hand was I holding?'

"Dead of Night: The Exorcism"

I could have filled this list with television ghost stories from the 1970s ... the annual BBC M.R. James adaptation in the "Ghost Story for Christmas" series, one-off plays like Nigel Kneale's "The Stone Tape" and John Bowen's "A Photograph," children's serials like "The Owl Service," American TV movies like "Something Evil" and "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark," episodes of "Night Gallery," "Supernatural" and "Shadows." This play by Don Taylor, broadcast in 1972, is the one that most terrified me then, and most haunts me to this day (it's included in the BFI's DVD release of "Dead of Night"). Four middle-class friends have dinner in a converted farmhouse where a family once starved to death, and are trapped in a replay of the tragedy. 

"The Shining"

Stephen King's novel, controversially filmed by Stanley Kubrick in 1980. The ghost of the Overlook Hotel who most stays in my mind is Delbert Grady (Philip Stone), the deferential waiter who spills avocat on Jack (Jack Nicholson) and takes him into the disturbingly red-and-blue men's room to mop him off and give him instructions to deal with his family and interlopers. Grady at first claims to have no memory of chopping his own family to bits, but then coldly recalls "correcting them." The scene is framed and edited to keep Grady in profile and long shot until he turns menacing, then a cut to a medium shot allows Stone -- a genial you-know-the-face character actor -- to flash the most blankly terrifying expression in the cinema.

"Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me"

David Lynch doesn't exactly make ghost stories, but his films are full of terrifying apparitions in human form -- the kabuki-faced Dean Stockwell miming to "In Dreams" in "Blue Velvet," Robert Blake as the bilocating Mystery Man in "Lost Highway," the medusa-staring vagrant round the corner from a restaurant in "Mulholland Dr.," the huge-eyed gurning Laura Dern doppelganger of "Inland Empire." However, his most appalling specter is Bob (Frank Silva), the demon of Twin Peaks who appears to doomed Laura Palmer, possessing her father and eventually taking on her identity. Silva was a technician accidentally caught on camera while Lynch was filming the TV show, and stayed on to be the incarnation of all the ills of the multiverse. His most frightening moments come in Lynch's film prequel, as we see how he permeates the last days of Laura's life.

Ringu/"Ring"/"The Ring"

Sadako in Koji Suzuki's novel and the Japanese film series, but Samara in the American remakes, the vengeful spirit of "Ring" crawls out of a well and the television set one week after a victim has looked at a cursed videotape. She brings death, but that's almost not the point... the various versions of the story have given her varying backstories (in the novel and a Korean film, she's not even a her but a hermaphrodite), but the indelible moment for Sadako's presence in pop culture, which familiarity and parody haven't dulled, is the simple image of the lank-haired, contortionist ghost coming through the screen at her next victim.

"Ghost Stories"

Theatre is an underappreciated medium for scares ... there's something unique about gasping or clutching the nearest arm at something which is really happening (in a manner of speaking) in the same room as you. The Woman in Black has been running for years on the strength of its chill. I was part of a group who put together our own spook play, The Hallowe'en Sessions, in 2012. Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson's play Ghost Stories, still enjoying its second successful West End run, is a thoughtful analysis of what ghost stories are and what they might mean... but what audiences take away is that first glimpse of a white-faced, red-dressed mannequin which moves when it shouldn't.

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You can find the original article at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kim-newman/8-terrifying-ghost-storie_b_5947468.html?utm_hp_ref=books

Monday, October 13, 2014

Print Books Outsold Ebooks In First Half Of 2014

By  

Fans of print books, who have long lived in fear that their neighborhood bookstore will be rendered obsolete by the ubiquity of ebooks in a matter of years, can take comfort in new numbers from Nielsen Books & Consumer showing that ebooks were outsold by both hardcovers and paperbacks in the first half of 2014. 

According to Nielsen’s survey, ebooks constituted only 23 percent of unit sales for the first six months of the year, while hardcovers made up 25 percent and paperback 42 percent of sales. In other words, not only did overall print book sales, at 67 percent of the market, outpace ebook sales, both hardcovers and paperbacks individually outsold ebooks. 

Given the explosive growth of ebook sales since the launch of the Kindle in 2007, with increases in the triple digits for several years, many expected the paper book industry to remain in retreat for the foreseeable future. Recently, however, ebook gains seem to have stabilized with hardcover and paperback books still comfortably dominant. In 2013, sales growth for ebooks slowed to single digits, and the new numbers from Nielsen suggest the leveling off was no anomaly.

At Electric Literature, Lincoln Michel theorizes that this anticipates a future in which paper books and ebooks will coexist peacefully. This hope was also expressed to Publishers Weekly last year by industry insiders, including Perseus Books Group CEO David Steinberger, who commented that: "A healthy, diverse marketplace with multiple format, price point, and channel choices for the consumer is generally a positive for readers, authors, and publishers overall.” 

Author Stephen King told HuffPost Live recently that he also believes print books have a long and bright future ahead of them, saying, "I think books are going to be there for a long, long time to come." King compares books' prospects positively with those of CDs and vinyl."[A]udio recordings of music have only been around for, I'm going to say, 120 years at the most," he said. "Books have been around for three, four centuries ... There's a deeply implanted desire and understanding and wanting of books that isn't there with music."

This continuing variety in format doesn’t only appeal to choice-conscious consumers. It may be a boon for those worried about the possible downsides of ereading, given growing, though still preliminary, evidence that print books may allow for deeper reading and stronger understanding and memory than digital books. Advocates of more engaged reading have often warned that the increasing omnipresence of ereading might erode our capacity to read deeply. 

If the new trends continue, such warnings of the death of print books, and their potential benefits, may prove to have been greatly exaggerated.

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You can find the original article at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/06/ebooks-print-books-outsold_n_5940654.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular