Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Amazon Unites Readers and Authors In a New Way

by Trina Boice

Imagine being able to talk to the author of a book at the very moment you are reading it. Unless the author is your uncle sitting next to you at Thanksgiving dinner, the scenario seems unlikely. With today's cool technology, however, now it's a reality!

Amazon's new feature @author, allows readers to ask questions directly from their Kindles which are sent to the author's Twitter account, as well as to the writer's home page at Amazon! Amazon's cool new technology is aimed at creating a reader community online, focusing on Kindle titles.

While publishers worry that they will be cut out of the connection, authors are cheering for a chance to improve their brand and build a stronger fan following. If you've ever tried to write to an author through the publisher's contact information, you know that messages and questions to authors rarely get passed on. Now the relationship can be more intimate and even instant. Some publishers are still furious that anyone can sell their independent books online and make a fortune without their help. Amazon is truly changing the publishing industry.

John Locke (not the bald guy from "Lost", but a businessman who started writing Kindle novels and is the first author to sell more than a million ebooks online), recently signed an unusual contract with Simon & Schuster, which allows him to continue selling his ebooks while the publisher handles marketing and sales of the print versions. This unique deal is a perfect example of how the balance of power in the traditional publishing world has shifted, creating a need for both authors and publishers to adapt to new changes.

The @author feature is an expansion of Amazon's social-networking-style program for Kindle which invites readers to "follow" other readers and see which books they like and have commented on. Amazon is hoping that readers will answer questions for the authors as well and create a virtual hang-out on their site. Technology continues to bring together readers and authors in new ways. Any time more people are reading and talking about books is always a good thing!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Protecting Authors' Rights

Trina Boice

After a hard-fought battle to ensure the protection of American authors and publishers from extortionate foreign libel judgments, one New York-based scholar and researcher has secured the passage of the first law to achieve unanimous Congressional support this term.

Initated and promoted by Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, the Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage Act (SPEECH Act) protects Americans from the enforcement of foreign libel judgments that do not meet American standards of constitutional protection for freedom of speech.

Faced with an internationally-publicized suit against her by a notorious libel tourist in 2004, Dr. Ehrenfeld was the first author to stand up against the phenomenon of libel tourism, a practice by which foreign libel plaintiffs sue American authors and publishers abroad solely in the attempt to suppress free speech in the United States.

Dr. Ehrenfeld’s initial efforts resulted in the passage of protective legislation in New York and in six other states, and have now reached her ultimate goal of extending those protections nationally.  Thanks Dr. Ehrenfeld!