May 17th, 2012

In Which I Completely Agree with Rich Adin

I found this so shocking I slept on it before blogging about it.

My regular readers know I read Nate Hoffelder's excellent blog: http://www.the-digital-reader.com/

Hoffelder has guest contributors who include Rich Adin. As a general rule, I disagree with everything he says (altho I've never suspected him of being anything other than completely truthful) and even when I don't, I disagree with his stated reasoning. There was a recent, huge exception:

http://www.the-digital-reader.com/2012/05/16/and-then-there-was-one-barnes-nobles-lack-of-customer-service/

In this entry, Adin has a bad experience with B&N's customer service. He describes a long term habit of reading the paper NYT over an early morning breakfast. He switched to the Nook version of the NYT, but it has been unreliable about arriving early enough for his breakfast (unlike his paper subscription experience) and sometimes unreliable about arriving in the morning at all. He contacted B&N so that the late and/or missed (i.e. useless to him) editions would not count towards his subscription term (that is, either extend or refund the lost value). B&N referred him to NYT and refused to make good.

Adin's experience with B&N customer service (in addition to not giving him what he wanted) was negative in that the hours were limited, and unfortunate language was used as well:

"The supervisor then told me that it was my problem, not B&N’s; that B&N doesn’t give refunds even when it doesn’t deliver the purchased item; that there would be no credit of any kind; and I “had to eat it.” "

One of the responders in the comments thought Adin was being unreasonable and a discussion ensued. Hoffelder pointed out that when the subscription service was launched, B&N did commit to an early morning delivery window, which would surely have been violated if delivery failed to occur by noon as Adin says sometimes occurs, and would arguably have been violated if delivery occurred any time after, say, nine.

But what Adin is asking for is really, really reasonable: if you fail to deliver on a contract, you are supposed to make good on it. Period. End. If you say, basically, go fuck yourself, I'm not going to perform, complaining might not be rational -- it takes even _more_ energy to complain with no likelihood of compensation.

But it _is_ a public service and I'm really glad Adin complained to customer service and then blogged about it. Thank you, Rich Adin. This is a building block of reputation and capitalism. Without good information, we cannot make good decisions.

Jane at Dear Author Recaps Class Action Developments; a bit from the Business Rusch and Passive Guy

h/t Nate at Digital Reader

http://dearauthor.com/features/industry-news/doj-lawsuit-update-where-windowing-becomes-important/

It's awesome. I'm not going to summarize. The comments thread, as always for Dear Author, is worth your time, particularly since I'm pretty sure at least one and perhaps two participants are employed by publishers to do PR/damage control/reframing.

Rusch has a really good current entry at The Business Rusch:

http://kriswrites.com/2012/05/16/the-business-rusch-the-brutal-2000-word-day/

I check in occasionally (fiction and non-fiction) even tho her style is too verbose for me to actually enjoy. She says things that are worth thinking about (and she's a good source in a lot of ways). This paragraph really stood out:

... "Writers don’t have to give up their traditional publishing contracts. Writers do have to negotiate for better terms. And writers should probably not hire agents to do so, at least while this change is going on. Hire an IP lawyer instead—if you chose to remain in traditional publishing."

That got me thinking. There _are_ IP lawyers who have not passed the Patent Bar, and I've always been a little vague on who might hire them. Here's someone else on the topic (and boy, he really ought to know):

http://www.thepassivevoice.com/08/2011/what%E2%80%99s-the-difference-between-an-ip-lawyer-and-a-contracts-lawyer-why-does-an-author-care/

He doesn't think an author should hire an IP lawyer ("Does a copyright specialist bring anything vital to the negotiation of a publishing contract or an agency contract?

In PG’s opinion, he or she does not. These are basically business agreements. The author is licensing his/her copyright, but exotic copyright issues are almost never involved. A copyright attorney may or may not be very skilled at contract negotiations and drafting.") -- but he _does_ think that the contracts suck and whenever someone outside the community gets involved they try to fix the contracts so they suck less. ("Returning to the frequently-voiced concern of agents regarding having an outside attorney review publishing contracts, PG has come to the conclusion that other attorneys before him, not steeped in the sloppy nature of some publishing contracts, slow the process down because they work to clean the contracts up before their clients sign them.") I don't see an obvious piece of advice as to who you _should_ hire.

Further evidence that the publishing community has been slacking for decades, I guess.