Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Memory of Light Ebook Controversy

When visiting GalleyCat recently, I came across an article about one-star reviews being given for the late Robert Jordan's new release, A Memory of Light. A decision was made to release the hardcover copy January 8th with the ebook releasing in early April. This has made many readers very unhappy. Over 200 negative reviews have been placed on Amazon, the majority from those who have never read the novel.  

This is Brandon Sanderson's explanation for the delay:

This is not my decision or Tor's decision, but Harriet's. She is uncomfortable with ebooks. Specifically, she worries about ebooks cutting into the hardcover sales. It isn't about money for her, as the monetary difference between the two is negligible here. It is about a worry that her husband's legacy will be undermined if sales are split between ebooks and hardcovers, preventing the last book of the Wheel of Time from hitting number one on either list. (Many of the bestseller lists are still handling ebooks in somewhat awkward ways.)

As the last books have all hit number one, she doesn't want to risk one of these not hitting number one, and therefore ending the series on a down note. (Even though each Wheel of Time book has sold more than its predecessor, including the ones I have worked on.) I personally feel her worries are unfounded, and have explained that to her, but it is not my choice and I respect her reasoning for the decision. She is just trying to safeguard Robert Jordan's legacy, and feels this is a very important way she needs to do so. After talking about the issue, we were able to move the ebook up from the originally planned one-year delay to instead come out this spring.

If there is a large group of readers who want to make a lot of noise and grab a publisher's attention, then Amazon is certainly the place to do it. But I'm curious, how do you feel about readers leaving one star reviews for a novel they have never read? If a publisher or author made you angry, would you show your disapproval with a negative rating even if you're rating the author/publisher and not the actual story? 


Sharonda SexxyBlogger said...

I don't think it's right to give a 1-star review for a book you haven't even read...its not fair to the author or the book. If you have an issue, wouldn't it make better sense to write the publisher/author? If all of those ppl would have written, wouldn't the response from the pub been the same? #jussayin

Kah Cherub said...

That is a very stupid thing to do, in my opinion. It lowers the rating and can even make the book lose propective readers because of it. Not to mention that it looks pretty useless to me.
I see it on Goodreads all the time, people giving 1 or 2 stars to books that haven't even been published or made available for review yet. I once asked one of those 'raters'. She told me she disliked the first books in the series and was sure she would not enjoy any of the following books, which is why she rated it beforehand. This is just absurd to me, and nothing good comes of it. >.>

Krista said...

I hate it when people do that. It seems so childish.

Mary Kirkland said...

That's not right at all. Leaving a 1 star review when you've never read the book because the ebook hasn't been released, is childish. It would be better to write to the publisher, write a blog post, write it on twitter, ect...but to leave a 1 star rating on a book you've never read because the ebook hasn't been released?.. ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

It's never right to give a negative review to a book you've never read. If you don't like the actions of an author/publisher, simply walk away from the book in question and let it go. What fault is it for the book that you disagree with an author/publisher's actions or POV? #JustSaying' >.<

Braine TS said...

This frickin sucks because this series is the ONLY fantasy book I ever read! Dang nabbit! Now I think it's a little uncouth for BSanderson not to back up Harriet in public, it's like he dropped her under the bus or something with that statement, making her sound like an imbecile for not understanding the difference between the digital and print book sales.

To answer your question it is unfair to do so but I'm hoping they're retract their 1-star reviews after they've read the last book.

Sharonda SexxyBlogger said...

I totally agree w/Braine...the pub surely did throw that woman under the bus, better yet...they drove right over her. That's really not cool at all.

AquarianDancer said...

I agree that you shouldn't post negative reviews before you have read a book. Even more, I don't think you should leave ANY reviews before you have read a book. That is like saying, "This cover is pretty, so I'll give the book a great review." Either way, you cannot give an honest review until you have read the book itself.

Kamla L. said...

Giving a 1-star review to a book that the reviewer hasn't read is just plain malicious and speaks volumes of the reviewer's low character.

Addicted2Heroines said...

Sharonda - Exactly. That was my first thought. Why not just e-mail the publisher?

Kah Cherub - No way. People really do that?!? Rating a whole series based on one book is a really bizarre thing to do.

Krista - Yea, it does come across that way. Fortunately, the 5 star reviews are slowly starting to outnumber those 1 star ratings.

Mary - You're right. There are a lot of different outlets available for complaints that don't involve rating the book.

Neyra - Walking away would definitely make more sense. But I'm betting that a lot of the people complaining will purchase the ebook the minute it releases, despite their angry ranting.

Braine - I felt the same way when I read his post! It almost has an "I told you so" vibe to it. I'm sure she's regretting her decision now.

AquarianDancer - LOL! Good point. 5 star ratings based solely on pretty covers would not surprise me at all =)

Kamla L. - Yea, it does make you wonder what kind of person would want to do that. And I think some people who wouldn't normally do something like that on their own see that everyone else has done it and just decide to join the crowd.

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