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Book links roundup: Ryan Gosling memes book to be published, social media’s effect on book criticism, and more

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Harlequin faces lawsuit for unpaid digital royalties

It’s fair to say that Harlequin, the world’s leading romance publisher, has also been at the forefront of digital publishing, at least among mainstream publishers with a substantial print legacy. The Toronto-based company (it’s owned by Torstar and has offices in North York as well as New York City) was among the first to launch a digital-only imprint, and it has proven adept at experimenting with new technologies.

However, Harlequin’s reputation as a digital pioneer may be tainted. As first reported by Publishers Lunch (subscription only), the publisher is the target of a class action lawsuit alleging that it has been underpaying authors on digital royalties. The lawsuit alleges that Harlequin used a pair of Swiss-registered companies it controlled to pay authors only a fraction of the digital royalties they were owed.

According to the initial complaint (which can be read in its entirety at HarlequinLawsuit.com), Harlequin authors are entitled to receive 50 per cent of net receipts for all digital sales. The problem is how “net receipts” is defined. The industry generally interprets the term as referring to the amount received by the publisher once the retailer has taken its cut (usually no more than 50 per cent).

The lawsuit alleges that Harlequin based its calculation on a much smaller sum, which the publisher was able to justify by interpreting “net receipts” as a licensing fee paid to its Swiss-based affiliate. The defendants argue that Harlequin’s Swiss arm (which was preceded by a Dutch company also registered in Switzerland for “tax purposes”) does not engage in any publishing activities and should not be used as the basis for calculating royalties.

The initial complaint breaks it down into dollars and cents. For an $8 ebook, authors should expect a royalty of at least $2 (in other words, half of the $4 Harlequin would receive from the retailer). In reality, authors received between $0.24 to $0.32 for every digital sale, or just 6–8 per cent of true net receipts.

The lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of New York on behalf of three U.S.-based authors, Barbara Keiler (who writes under the pseudonym “Judith Arnold”), Mona Gay Thomas (“Gayle Wilson”), and Linda Barrett.

The initial complaint, which concerns publishing agreements entered into from 1990 to 2004, defines the class as about 1,000 Harlequin authors based in the U.S. and Canada (as well as other Commonwealth countries) whose contracts include the standard digital royalty of 50 per cent.

UPDATE: Harlequin released a brief statement Thursday afternoon in which it states, “The publisher wishes to make clear that this is the first it has heard of the proceedings and that a complaint has not yet been served.”

Publisher and CEO Donna Hayes gives the following statement: “Our authors have been recompensed fairly and properly for their work, and we will be defending ourselves vigorously.”

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BookNet bestsellers: Canadian fiction

Lawrence Hill takes three spots on this week’s list for Canadian fiction.

For the two weeks ending July 8, 2012:

1. The Cat’s Table, Michael Ondaatje
(Vintage Canada, $22 pa, 9780307401427)

2. Room, Emma Donoghue
(HarperCollins Canada, $10.99 mm, 9781443413695)

3. Secret Daughter, Shilpi Somaya Gowda
(HarperCollins Canada, $10.99 mm, 9780062203960)

4. The Virgin Cure, Ami McKay
(Vintage Canada, $22 pa, 9780676979572)

5. The Wild Zone, Joy Fielding
(Seal Books/Random House Canada, $10.99 mm, 9781400025794)

6. Half-Blood Blues, Esi Edugyan
(Thomas Allen Publishers, $24.95 pa, 9780887627415)

7. The Witch of Babylon, D.J. McIntosh
(Penguin Canada, $13.50 mm, 9780143175735)

8. A Good Man, Guy Vanderhaeghe
(M&S, $22 pa, 9780771086083)

9. The Sisters Brothers, Patrick deWitt
(House of Anansi Press, $22.95 pa, 9781770890329)

10. A Trick of the Light, Louise Penny
(St. Martin’s Press/Raincoast, $16.99 pa, 9781250007346)

11. The Headmaster’s Wager, Vincent Lam
(Doubleday Canada, $32.95 cl, 9780385661454)

12. The Book of Negroes, Lawrence Hill
(HarperCollins Canada, $10.99 mm, 9781443408981)

13. Spell Bound, Kelley Armstrong
(Vintage Canada, $17.95 pa, 9780307359032)

14. Secret Daughter, Shilpi Somaya Gowda
(HarperCollins Canada, $19.99 pa, 9780061974304)

15. Life of Pi, Yann Martel
(Vintage Canada, $21 pa, 9780676973778)

16. The Winter Palace, Eva Stachniak
(Doubleday Canada, $24.95 pa, 9780385666565)

17. Ru, Kim Thúy; Sheila Fischman, trans.
(Random House Canada, $25 cl, 9780307359704)

18. Any Known Blood, Lawrence Hill
(HarperCollins Canada, $17.99 pa, 9781443409100)

19. The Book of Negroes, Lawrence Hill
(HarperCollins Canada, $17.99 pa, 9781443409094)

20. Everybody Has Everything, Katrina Onstad
(M&S, $22.99 pa, 9780771068980)

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Book links roundup: Winnipeg comedian’s Shades of Grey parody takes off, Target discontinues selling Kobo Touch, and more

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BookNet bestsellers: Canadian fiction

Tanis Rideout makes her debut on this week’s list with her first novel, Above All Things.

For the two weeks ending June 24, 2012:

1. The Cat’s Table, Michael Ondaatje
(Vintage Canada, $22 pa, 9780307401427)

2. Secret Daughter, Shilpi Somaya Gowda
(HarperCollins Canada, $10.99 mm, 9780062203960)

3. A Good Man, Guy Vanderhaeghe
(McClelland & Stewart, $22 pa, 9780771086083)

4. The Witch of Babylon, D.J. McIntosh
(Penguin Canada, $13.50 mm, 9780143175735)

5. The Headmaster’s Wager, Vincent Lam
(Doubleday Canada, $32.95 cl, 9780385661454)

6. The Sisters Brothers, Patrick deWitt
(House of Anansi Press, $22.95 pa, 9781770890329)

7. Room, Emma Donoghue
(HarperCollins Canada, $10.99 mm, 9781443413695)

8. Room, Emma Donoghue
(HarperCollins Canada, $19.99 pa, 9781554688326)

9. Secret Daughter, Shilpi Somaya Gowda
(William Morrow/Harper, $19.99 pa, 9780061974304)

10. Why Men Lie, Linden MacIntyre
(Random House Canada, $32 cl, 9780307360861)

11. Alone in the Classroom, Elizabeth Hay
(M&S, $22 pa, 9780771037979)

12. The Last Crossing, Guy Vanderhaeghe
(M&S, $22 pa, 9780771087844)

13. Never Knowing, Chevy Stevens
(St. Martin’s Press/Raincoast, $16.99 pa, 9781250009319)

14. The Book of Negroes, Lawrence Hill
(HarperCollins Canada, $10.99 mm, 9781443408981)

15. The Book of Negroes, Lawrence Hill
(HarperCollins Canada, $17.99 pa, 9781443409094)

16. The Winter Palace, Eva Stachniak
(Doubleday Canada, $24.95 pa, 9780385666565)

17. Half-Blood Blues, Esi Edugyan
(Thomas Allen Publishers, $24.95 pa, 9780887627415)

18. Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery
(Seal Books/Doubleday Canada, $5.99 mm, 9780770422059)

19. Spell Bound, Kelley Armstrong
(Vintage Canada, $17.95 pa, 9780307359032)

20. Above All Things, Tanis Rideout
(M&S, $29.99 cl, 9780771076350)

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Book links roundup: E.L. James’s husband writes YA novel, Stuart Ross slams Canada’s spoken-word community, and more

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WordFest celebrates 100 years of the Calgary Stampede with Wild West programming

Photo courtesy of WordFest and the Calgary Stampede

Calgary’s WordFest has teamed up with the Calgary Stampede to celebrate 100 years of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.

WildWest Wordfest is a special summer “mini-fest” in tribute to Western Canada’s cowboy culture in literature, music, and art. The free three-day festival launches Monday at Motion Art Gallery with an appearance by Calgary poet laureate Kris Demeanor, an exhibit of images from the Stampede archives, and stories by the winners of the TumbleWord Writing Contest. (Entrants were asked to write a postcard story based on one of five archival Stampede images posted to the WordFest website.)

Highlights from the rest of the week include a Tuesday lunchtime presentation with Piikani storyteller and Stampede School site coordinator Anita Crowshoe; the launch for David Campion and Sandra Shields’ new book of Stampede photography, Cowboy Wild (Rocky Mountain Books), at the Art Gallery of Calgary on Tuesday evening; and the Cowboy Cabaret wrap-up party on Wednesday. The cabaret, which will be held at the Calgary Public Library, features auctioneer Bob Dyck, a collaboration between cowboy poet Doris Daley and singer-songwriter Bruce Innes, a reading from Tom Three Persons by Yvonne Trainer, and a performance of I Just Wanna Be a Stampede Queen by spoken word poet Sheri-D Wilson with dancer Hannah Stilwell.

The WordFest–Stampede partnership might leave some people scratching their heads, but WordFest marketing manager Mary Kapusta says with Calgary being named one of two cultural capitals of Canada for 2012 (the other is Ontario’s Niagara Region), the city has been “buzzing” with opportunities to show off its creative side.

Kapusta admits that the Cowtown’s community of artists hasn’t always appreciated the Stampede’s cultural value, though everyone from actors and  singer-songwriters, to visual artists and writers has responded positively to this partnership. “It’s been an eye-opener for some in our community … learning that the Stampede is about more than just the races and the rodeo,” she says, expressing her own surprise at learning of the Stampede’s involvement in issues such as gender in sport, aboriginal rights and heritage, scientific and technological advances.

Most important, though, was discovering what the two festivals have in common: storytelling. “WordFest is all about stories,” Kapusta says, and the Stampede also treasures a good yarn. “The power of stories is a big thing for them,” she says, noting that the Stampede’s archives provided an entryway to the event’s legends and history. In fact, the archives were integral in putting the Wild West programming together, Kapusta says. “We’re pulling parts of that [history] and playing with it, exploring it, and throwing it against this modern backdrop.”

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Canadian literary event roundup: June 8-14

  • Patrick deWitt signing for Ablutions, Indigo Eaton Centre, Toronto (June 8, 12 p.m., free)
  • “The Adventure of the Process”: The Writer’s Guild of Alberta Conference and Alberta Book Awards Gala, Hotel Arts, Calgary (June 8–10, 5 p.m., from $80)
  • Insomniac Press Night featuring Liz Bugg, Jamie Popowich, and Natalie Zina Walschots, 7750 Mullhern St., Niagara Falls (June 8, 7:30 p.m., free)
  • Readings by Betty Jane Hegerat, Suzette Mayr, and Cathy Ostlere, Pages on Kensington, Calgary (June 8, 7:30 p.m., free)
  • “An Editor and an Agent Tell All” workshop, Four Corners Library, Brampton, ON (June 9, 10:30 a.m., $48, $44 advance)
  • “Stream of Conciousness” writing workshop with Bruce Kauffman, The Artel, Kingston (June 9, 7 p.m., $10)
  • Reading and discussion of Cathy Ostlere’s Lost: A Memoir, Shelf Life Books, Calgary (June 10, 2 p.m., free)
  • Niagara Literary Arts Festival presents a YA reading featuring Hermine Steinberg and Allison Bryson, Fine Grind Café, St. Catharines, ON (June 10, 2 p.m., free)
  • “Storytelling for Social Change” panel discussion as part of the Vancouver International Storytelling Festival, Vancouver Public Library Central Branch (June 10, 2:30 p.m., free)
  • Gloria Vanderbilt reads from The Things We Fear Most, Harbourfront Centre, Toronto (June 10, 7:30 p.m., $10, free for students)
  • Carol MacDougall and Shanda LaRamee-Jones launch Play Book, Keshen Goodman Library, Halifax (June 11, 10:30 a.m., free)
  • Jaime Forsythe reads from Sympathy Loophole, Alice Burdick launches Holler, and John Wall Barger launches Hummingbird, Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia, Halifax (June 11, 7 p.m., free)
  • Vertigo Reading Series featuring Shelley Leedahl, Winter Fedyk, Adam Pottle, and Murray Arthur Logan, Crave Kitchen and Wine Bar, Regina (June 11, 7:30 p.m., free)
  • Reading and signing by Brian Henderson for Sharawadji, McNally Robinson, Winnipeg (June 12, 7 p.m., free)
  • Irvine Welsh discusses his new novel, Skagboys, with Eleanor Wachtel, TIFF Bell Lightbox, Toronto (June 12, 9 p.m. $20)
  • An evening with poet Don Kerr, Regina Public Library (June 13, 7 p.m., free)
  • Reading and signing by Leslie Vryenhoek, McNally Robinson, Winnipeg (June 13, 8 p.m., free)
  • In celebration of Bloomsday Montreal, Dr. Dana Hearne discusses the importance of Nora Barnacle in James Joyce’s life and writing, and Dr. Gus O’Gorman reads from Ulysses, Atwater Library, Westmount, QC (June 14, 12:30 p.m., free)
  • Nicole Markotić launches her poetry collection Bent at the Spine, Pages on Kensington, Calgary (June 14, 7:30 p.m., free)
  • Atlantic Author Day, featuring signings by 48 authors at 34 locations across the East Coast (June 16, 10 a.m.)

Quillblog is looking for photos from literary events across Canada. Send your photos to scflinn@quillandquire.com.

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Canadian literary event roundup: June 1-7

  • Deux Voiliers Publishing open house featuring Brendan Ray, Stephen Lorne Bennett, Chris Turner, and Con Cu, Collected Works Bookstore, Ottawa (June 1, 7 p.m., free)
  • Niagara Literary Arts Festival kicks off with readings by Erno Rossi and Marsha Barber, Patrick Sheehan’s Irish Pub, St. Catharines, Ont. (June 1, 7:30 p.m., free)
  • Ridgeway Reads all-day book fair, Legion Branch 230, Ridgeway ON (June 2, 9 a.m., $20 per table)
  • Writing for Children and Young Adults workshop with Brian Henrey and Kelley Armstrong, Oakville Central Library, Oakville Ont. (June 2, 10 a.m., $48; $44 in advance)
  • Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia Annual General Meeting, Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia, Halifax (June 2, 12 p.m., free)
  • Kathryn Ellis launches her new YA book, Home in Time for Dinner, Chapters Richmond Hill, Ont. (June 2, 1 p.m., free).
  • “Out of the Shadows,” a panel on the art of translation featuring Hugh Hazelton, Susan Ouriou, and Gisèle Villeneuve, Shelf Life Books, Calgary (June 2, 3 p.m, free.)
  • Authors and Angels at the Astor, a tribute to Joyce Barkhouse featuring Alex Hickey, Vernon Oickle, Marcia Pierce Harding, E. Alex Pierce, and Janet Barkhouse, Astor Theatre, Liverpool, N.S. (June 2, 7 p.m., $10, $10 for reception)
  • Jay Ingram reads from Fatal Flaws, Plaza Theatre, Calgary (June 3, 11 a.m., $10; $20 includes lunch)
  • Esther Paul launches Mending Fences, McNally Robinson, Winnipeg (June 3, 2 p.m., free)
  • Battle of the Sexes Poetry with Dwayne Morgan, Elle Seon, Ritallin, Tammy Soulful, Dahveed Delisca, Dianne Robinson, Denyce, and Tomy Buick, Lamabadina Lounge, Toronto (June 3, 6 p.m., $20 $15 in advance)
  • Toronto Jewish Book Festival kicks off with Michael Wex interviewing Auslander, Toronto Reference Library (June 4, 8 p.m., $25)
  • 8th House Publishing launches The Love Song of J. Edgar Hoover by Charles Talkoff, Jump the Devil by Richard Rathwell, and The Midas Touch by James Cummins and Cameron W. Reed, Paragraphe Bookstore, Montreal (June 6, 6 p.m., free)
  • Readings with Angie Abdou, Mark Lavorato and Teri Vlassopoulos, Librarie Drawn & Quarterly, Montreal (June 6, 7 p.m., free)
  • Book signing with Treena Wynes, McNally Robinson, Saskatoon (June 7, 7:30 p.m., free)
  • Griffin Poetry Prize shortlist readings featuring Ken Babstock, Phil Hall, David Harsent, Yusef Komunyakaa, Sean O’Brien, Joanna Trzeciak/Tadeusz Różewicz and Jan Zwicky, Koerner Hall, Toronto (June 6, 7:30, from $12.50)
  • Shree Gatage launches her novel Thirst, Pages on Kensington, Calgary (June 7, 7:30 p.m., free)
  • The Heroines of The Sexual Gothic fundraiser, featuring Susan Swan, the Billie Hollies and Martha Chaves, Toronto Women’s Bookstore (June 7, 6:30 p.m., $30 $25 in advance)
  • Dan Rather discusses his memoir Rather Outspoken: My Life in the News, Indigo Manulife, Toronto (June 7, 7 p.m., free)

Quillblog is looking for photos from literary events across Canada. Send your photos to scflinn@quillandquire.com.

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Book links roundup: Hard Case Crime acquires new Stephen King novel, Kensal Rise Library raided, and more

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Hall of Honourers

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Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Eva Stachniak poses with a copy of her book, Empress of the Night

Tea and snacks inspired by Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Rimma Burashko with author Eva Stachniak

Eva Stachniak talks to the audience about the best and worst of Catherine the Great's favourites

Eva Stachniak smiles as she signs a copy of Empress of the Night for a fan

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