Cover to Cover #421B: Theme and Variations

Bet you thought you were never going to hear another B show, didn't ya?

Mike S relates two items from the news this week: the financial problems facing Barnes & Noble and how that might affect the anchor stores you see in the large malls; and the trend of authors selling off electronic rights to their backlists for far less than they are truly worth. See his blog post: 9 Must-have Clauses for Digital Rights Contracts

Interview: Mike and Mike chat with author Michelle M. Welch about her current audio project, Theme and Variations. Currently in the middle of Volume 2, the audio short story anthology consists of speculative fiction with a musical theme.

Michelle talks about how Theme and Variations came about, and the feedback from authors and fans alike, and the likelyhood of breaking this type of anthology out into other genres.

Website: Theme and Variations

Public Domain Reads: Mike Stackpole wants you to send in your recommendations for older stories that are freely available, through outlets like Gutenberg Project and other legacy sites, so call the voicemail number or send in your emails with your recommended reads!

Submitting Listener comments: If you have any suggestions or comments, please let us know!

Dragon Page Social Community:
Twitter: @dragonpage

Promo: The Gmail Podcast
Promo: Dragon Page "With Class"
Link: Dragon's Fire, Wizard's Flame by Michael R. Mennenga


  1. I’d like to comment on Mike M.’s remark at the end of episode 421B, that the “EBook Revolution” is all about change, and that people who are resistant to it are just afraid of change. I take issue with that statement. I’m against eBooks. Quite frankly, I HATE eBooks. Not because of the content, but because of the delivery system.

    To read an eBook (without breaking the DRM, which I’ll get to later), I either need to use my PC, a smartphone, or a dedicated eBook reader. I’m a software engineer. I spend 9 hours a day looking at a computer screen at work. I don’t want to come home and sit in my home office chair to read. I just don’t want to look at a computer screen anymore. So PC based eBooks are out. You might suggest an iPad. I’ll tell you that an iPad costs $600+ (Canadian), and has a non-replaceable battery that will wear out in 3 years. I can’t afford $200/year just for book reading hardware.

    Now let’s look at smartphones. I don’t own one. I don’t need one (9 hours a day in front of a full computer, remember?). I drive myself to work, so there’s no “Public Transit” time to be using one. I don’t fly all over the country. I have a basic phone for emergencies. I also don’t have a burning desire to pay the $50/month a data plan for said smartphone would cost. And finally, I don’t want to read a book on a screen the size of my hand. I know Mike M. likes these because of his dyslexia, but I don’t have that issue, so I don’t consider it an advantage. Quite the opposite, actually.

    And lastly, let’s look at dedicated eBook readers. They’re also expensive, and have non-replaceable batteries that won’t last, though they are cheaper than an iPad. The only one’s I’ve been able to find are so full of DRM it’s almost laughable. If I bought one of the devices that are legal for use in Canada, filled it with eBooks, and it broke, I WOULD HAVE TO PURCHASE EVERYTHING ALL OVER AGAIN. The eBooks are non-transferable. When the battery inevitably wears down, I’d have to abandon my collection or purchase it again. It’s a model the video game industry has used for decades. You might suggest that I just break the DRM. I would respond with the newly proposed Canadian Copyright bill that would make that action cost me $20 000 in fines. I don’t want to spend $50/month (hell, I don’t want to spend $10 to make an international phone call to the voicemail line). I am NOT going to risk a $20 000 fine.

    So, in conclusion, my favorite form of entertainment is being altered, to deliver me a inferior product at an increased price point. And yet Mike thinks that the only reason I wouldn’t like this is because I’m afraid of change.

  2. I have to agree with Jim. Well to a degree at least. I take issue with the whole if you don't hope on the Ebook band wagon, you are going to be left behind thing. I like both, however, I do not feel Barnes and Nobel, Border's and others are going under, sorry guys I just do not see it. I have stock, although a small amount; in one of those. And yes the sales have taken a hit. Hello, what retail outlet in this economy hasn't?
    The one thing you guys fail to mention in every episode could very well be the reason why publishers are reluctant to get behind this. Is that they would be millions of people put oit of work. Bookstores, warehouse people, sales clerks, ect. If they are already having bad PR problems, it is doubtful to me any of them want to be "That guy".

    Sorry guys, I respect you, love the podcast; and think of you as good friends. I am afraid this is something we will always disagree on.

    And I embrace change and technology. Which explains why I am not allowed in a Best Buy without either Jenny or Darcy with me. I'd wind up buy a 50 + flat panel in a blink of an eye, then wonder how I would get it home in my Mazda 6.


  3. I hear ya Tim. Every time I go shopping, I have to stop myself from walking out with an armful of DVD’s and videogames 🙂

    Now that I’ve had a bit of a chance to calm down, I’ve realized that M&M were talking about publishers needing to get with eBooks, which is fine with me, so long as they still produce physical novels (i.e., existing lines and print on demand). I just don’t like the idea of converting my collection into a bunch of digital objects that I’ve only leased from the publisher for use on a very limited number of devices (which is what you do with most eBooks, if you read the fine print).

    I’ve also recalled that this is Michael R. Mennenga we’re talking about! He who told us that Chuck would only last 3 episodes. That Parks & Rec was horrible. He’s the guy who stated emphatically that he wouldn’t watch season 4 of BSG because he’d be too busy watching Heroes. And on this very program, two years ago (or is it three now?), he declared the “Paranormal Romance” genre dead.

    I somehow forgot that Mike’s disapproval is a guarantee of success 🙂