The Momentum Blog
Posted April 2, 2012 by Anne
MARK’S TOP 5
Patrick Bateman – American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
Everyone’s favourite serial killer. Bateman is an enigma and each time I read the novel I have a different reaction to him. He’s capable of shocking acts of the most extreme violence, and is totally obsessed with surfaces, and bad 80s pop music.
Tyrion Lannister – A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
I’ve managed to get through three of these massive books quite quickly as I read as fast as I can to get to Tyrion’s chapters. He’s a member of the hated Lannister clan (boo Joffrey, you twerp!) and he’s usually trying to help them get what they want (no spoilers in the comments below, I haven’t finished the books yet!) but you can’t help but like him and hope he succeeds.
Abigail Gentian, Campion & Purslane – House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds
In order to explore the galaxy, Abigail Gentian creates 1,000 clones of herself (500 male and 500 female) and sends them off in starships. Several million years later, two of those clones, Campion & Purslane, are travelling the galaxy together as they’ve fallen in love. Perhaps the most narcissistic coupling in the history of the universe.
Roland Deschain – The Dark Tower by Stephen King
King’s epic seven novel saga (soon to be eight) is held together by the presence of Roland, last of the gunslingers. He looks & dresses like a character from an old Clint Eastwood Western, but he has the skills and spirit of one of King Arthur’s knights. He can’t remember how long he’s lived for (time doesn’t have much meaning in mid-world) but it seems that he’s always been obsessively searching for the Dark Tower, as once he reaches it he can save all worlds (including ours). He’ll save your life and then kill you if it’s called for.
Joe Pitt – The Joe Pitt Casebooks by Charlie Huston
The Joe Pitt books are written in a masterful noir style and feature a main character who’s something of a private detective for vampires. He’s tough, and in many ways he has a strong moral core. But he’ll also betray friends, play everyone against each other and beat up people for the heck of it. In each book he winds up getting brutalised in quite creative ways by his enemies so by the time he limps into the last chapter you just hope the guy finds some peace.
Lily Bart, The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
The stunningly beautiful and bitingly sardonic Lily, who throws away every opportunity she is afforded due to pride. “Why must a girl pay so dearly for her least escape,” Lily muses as she contemplates the prospect of being bored all afternoon by Percy Grice, dull but undeniably rich, “on the bare chance that he might ultimately do her the honor of boring her for life?”
Scarlett O’Hara, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
When I was little I convinced my mother to make me hoop skirts, which I wore around the house for months after reading this book, so enamoured was I with the delightfully charming and malevolent Scarlett. “Marriage, fun? Fiddle-dee-dee. Fun for men you mean.”
Patrick Bateman, American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
His materialistic obsession with surface detail and image divides readers, -“It all comes down to this: I feel like shit but I look great” – but I’m firmly on the side of Bateman worship. His general revulsion for human kind is strangely appealing, and charmingly/jarringly similar to the sentiments of those around him. “If another round of Bellinis comes within a twenty foot radius of our table we’re going to light the maitre d’ on fire. So you know, warn him.”
Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
This is a no brainer. Whenever I’m asked about the spelling of my name Anne Shirley’s line spills unbidden from my mouth – “Anne with an ‘e’”.
Anton Chigurh, No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
I was tossing up between the heroes, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell and Llewelyn Moss, or the villain, psychopathic killer Anton “What’s the most you’ve ever lost of a coin toss?” Chigurh – of course I had to go with the villain, even though one of my favourite lines in the book is the Sheriff’s “If it ain’t a mess, it’ll do ‘til the mess gets here”.
Sebastian Flyte, Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
“Drinking is not a hobby, Sebastian,” says Lady Marchmain to her wayward (probably homosexual, definitely alcoholic) son. I disagree. I adore Sebastian’s indulgence in the finer things life has to offer, but perhaps I should treat him more as a cautionary tale than inspiration. “If they treat me like a dipsomaniac, they can bloody well have a dipsomaniac.”
JOEL’S TOP 5
Harry PotterBret Easton Ellis, favourites, Harry Potter, Patrick Bateman
Posted March 28, 2012 by Joel
So JK Rowling finally made her ebooks available for sale last night. It’s about time. It’s been described as the ‘Beatles moment’ for ebooks. The Beatles moment they’re referring to is when the Beatles finally acquiesced to selling their albums digitally on the iTunes store.
The Potter ebooks are a bigger deal in book publishing circles than the Beatles going on iTunes for a number of reasons. Imagine that instead of making their music available on iTunes, the Beatles had set up their own website and payment system and forced all the retailers to link through their site in order to purchase their content. Imagine, too, that all music being sold at that point by major retailers was sold with restrictive DRM (digital rights management) and the Beatles were the first major brand to sell without it.
JK Rowling and the Pottermore project (led by ex-HarperCollins head of digital Charlie Redmayne) have done something with ebooks that has never been done before. They’ve effectively forced Amazon to list the books without actually selling them directly. That means JK Rowling and co. get all the sales (and I mean all of them – there’s no commission being skimmed off by paying via PayPal or anyone else). They also get all the customer information that Amazon would ordinarily collect. And they’ve done it by making their books available without DRM.
The screenshot above is the only DRM that Pottermore is including on the books sold through the site. It sits on the copyright page, and identifies the user of the ebook. If you were to post up the unaltered version of a Pottermore ebook on a file sharing site (or email it to a friend, who then shared it), you could be identified with this code, and presumably you could be sued or blacklisted from Pottermore if Ms Rowling was so inclined.
This kind of watermarking, also known as ‘social DRM’, doesn’t restrict the user from doing what they want with the file, but it does make the user think twice about sharing (particularly with someone they don’t trust). As far as I can find by opening up the EPUB file this code doesn’t exist anywhere else in the book except for on the copyright page, so it would be relatively easy to remove it (but not much easier, it should be pointed out, than removing normal DRM from an ebook).
The power of this kind of DRM, though, is that it can be applied by anyone, not just a book retailer, and it costs (virtually) nothing to implement. Importantly, it also means that ebook readers of any platform can buy your book and put it on their device without syncing, linking, three different logins or any other issues. It allows sharing among friends and family that you trust, and it passes the Grandma test (my grandma would understand how it works).
Amazon has been forced to list the books to avert serious leakage from their platform. If Amazon had decided not to link and list the Potter ebooks via their site, then Pottermore would have sold them to Kindle customers anyway. And those Kindle customers, who may have never bought an ebook from outside Amazon before would all of a sudden know that it was possible and how to do it. And Amazon doesn’t want that.
This opens up a massive opportunity for publishers to use a brand like JK Rowling to get some more leverage with Amazon. The Pottermore purchasing system may not be the smoothest around, but it works and it’s certainly not beyond publishers or their intermediaries to set up something similar. Publishers have tried to do this before – but they haven’t done it with a brand like Harry Potter.
There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and Pottermore has demonstrated one way that publishers haven’t tried yet. Amazon’s chokehold on the distribution of digital books is not as watertight as it seemed just yesterday morning.
For its part, Momentum is making our very first debut author’s book available without DRM. The Chimera Vector is available for pre-order right now from your retailer of choice for the early bird price of $AU2.99. Go on, you know you want to.Amazon, Charlie Redmayne, digital publishing, DRM, Grandma test, Harry Potter, iTunes, JK Rowling, Kindle, Pottermore