Monthly Archives: July 2010

Mall of Cthulhu by Seamus CooperNot aware of the Night Shade Books controversy? Go read about it, then come on back.

Via Genreville:

First and foremost, we at Night Shade Books would like to apologize for any problems we’ve caused any of our authors. The last three years have been brutal on us, although not in any way we could have expected. While we’ve faced the same difficulties every small and independent press has suffered in this age of sales downturns, higher-than-expected returns, and other challenges, what has caused us the most trouble have been our successes. Night Shade has grown faster and more uncontrollably than we had any idea how to handle. What started as two guys shipping books out of a garage now consists of a full staff working out of an office in San Francisco. We’ve shuffled around a lot of our responsibilities, but in many ways, we’re still figuring this out as we go.

This has led to some major miscommunication, and sometimes flat-out lack of communication, with our authors, sometimes, even amongst ourselves. We screwed up: Details were missed, one of us assumed another was handling a situation, or a reluctance to deliver bad news turned into an unprofessional excuse to procrastinate. The issues that have come up today, at their core, are really ones of communication. All this could have been avoided through simple phone calls and emails, through us letting people know what was happening.

That said, this has been a wakeup call for us. We have been working hard to improve all areas of Night Shade Books. Perhaps not fast enough, nor in the places that needed the most work. Doing royalty statements by hand was fine when we were doing five books a year, but now, with over 150 books in print, it has become a cumbersome, time-consuming, painful process that too often has been put off until later. And, as evidenced by the two books we sold as ebooks without the proper permissions, clearly we need a better contract/rights management system. We are already working on this: Last month we hired a new employee, whose primary responsibility will be managing our contracts and subrights, as well as developing and implementing a royalty system that won’t take two people a month to run royalties. We have already addressed the issues currently at hand involving Elizabeth Moon, Brendan Halpin, and Liz Williams. We have also contacted SFWA, and will be working hand-in-hand with them to find out if any other authors have issues with us, but haven’t come forward yet, and get those problems resolved.

At this time, we would very much like any of our authors, past or present, who have or have had issues with our conduct or business practices, to step forward either to us or to SFWA, so that we can attempt to resolve any hardships we have may have caused.

Does this make their actions acceptable? No. Is everything peachy keen now? No. Is it a good step in the right direction for them to begin rebuilding burned bridges? Yeah. In a situation that could have been disastrous for the small publisher, it’s nice to see them step forward with enough integrity to say ‘We screwed up’, rather than bandy around the issue, tossing out hollow excuses and bland apologies.

As a blogger, I’ve not personally worked with Night Shade Books, but it pleases me to see a professional response to a unprofessional faux pas. Nightshade Books is, at the moment, best known for publishing The Wind Up Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, which is appearing on many ballots for Best Novel, including the Hugo Awards and the Nebula Awards. What’s most interesting is that they cite the success of this novel (presumably, given the torrent of coverage it’s been given over the past several months) and one of the key factors that led to this breakdown in communication.

It would be a shame to see them thrown under the bus for this incident. Still, there’s much rebuilding to do, and Night Shade Books needs to make sure they use the experience to come out stronger on the other side, to show complete and utter loyalty to their readers and their writers. The first step to this recovery begins now, and this letter is the first effort to reform that chain of communication that was lost. Good luck to Night Shade Books and all their authors as they try to sort through this mess, we’re all rooting for you!

Mall of Cthulhu by Seamus Cooper

This edition of Free Readin’ has got a bit more meat behind it than usual. Recently, a handful of authors published by Nightshade Books have become rather vocal about some of the inappropriate business practices of the small publisher, including copyright infringement and

Appropriate to this novel, is a statement made several weeks ago by Brendan Halpin (the real name of Seamus Cooper) about his novel, Mall of Cthulhu:

Night Shade has stolen the ebook rights to The Mall of Cthulhu. They do not own them and are offering an electronic edition for sale through webscription.net, which is affiliated with Baen Books, a real publisher who should know better. Nine months ago, Night Shade made a verbal offer to pay me a small sum for the rights. I agreed. They’ve never paid me. They claimed their unauthorized edition was an oversight, and that was somewhat credible at the time. Nine months later, it’s clear that this is not an oversight. It’s a theft of my intellectual property.

I’ve given away the ebook of Mall of Cthulhu in hopes of cutting the legs out from Night Shade and webscription’s piracy of my work. (Guess what, Cory Doctorow? My problem is piracy and obscurity!) If you’d like a free electronic copy, scroll down here, or go to scribd. If you like it, please consider buying the Kindle edition, published by me and sold by Amazon, who pay me regularly for the copies I sell through them. (It’s only 3 bucks! Less than a latte!)

Further issues have been reported by Liz Williams, another Nightshade Books author. We don’t know the full story, but it’s a shame to see a small, well regarded publisher treat their authors in such a manner.

Of course, the upside to us fans is that Mall of Cthulhu has been released by Cooper/Halpin for free! If you’re interested in the novel, or just curious about the situation, you can read many more details of the situation (and how you can help, by buying a Kindle copy) on Halpin’s blog, or some interesting commentary at Adventures in Reading and Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review.

EDIT: Nightshade Books has issued a press release regarding the mishandling of the authors in question.

You can download a free copy of Mall of Cthulhu on Scribd.

In the sleepy Istanbul district of Eskiköy stands the former whirling dervish house of Adem Dede. Over the space of five days of an Istanbul heatwave, six lives weave a story of corporate wheeling and dealing, Islamic mysticism, political and economic intrigue, ancient Ottoman mysteries, a terrifying new terrorist threat, and a nanotechnology with the potential to transform every human on the planet.

The works of Ian McDonald have long been on my Pile o’ Shame, among those books I know I should read but have slipped off my radar for one reason or another. Like many of his other novels, The Dervish House is set in the near future, taking a glimpse of where our world might be directed. This time around, he turns his eyes to Istanbul, a culture and society that’s terribly misunderstood in the West, which makes it the perfect setting for a writer like McDonald.

Thanks to Tor.com, you can read a juicy excerpt from The Dervish House.

Bearers of the Black Staff by Terry Brooks

In my recent review of Bearers of the Black Staff, I lamented Brooks continuing to dip his pen into the same pot, and reusing the same building blocks in story after story; but, like any longterm Brooks fan, I couldn’t help but enjoy my trip back into his imagination, and I know there are many excited readers just itchin’ to get their hands on his upcoming release.

It’s not coming out for a couple of months, but thanks to Suvud, you can read the first chapter of Bearers of the Black Staff and meet Sider Ament, the Gray Man, get a hint at what’s to come.