Monday, February 25, 2013

Dialect--how do storytellers put that on paper?

Writers! Do you know what I mean by "dialect"? I'm talking about the parts of Huck Finn that are so tough to read because they're phonetically spelled, or the entire oeuvre of the "Br'er Rabbit" writer (Joel Chandler Harris, who was still on the Western Canon lists when I was in elementary school) that is absolutely unreadable now because it's in so-called "eye dialect."

Recently, a poster on a mystery readers/writers mailing list I'm on mentioned how much she liked dialect. It was said that a couple of writers who use dialect in dialogue "have taken a lot of criticism for it from readers." (To me, there's your first bash from the cluestick: if readers object to something, then you certainly need to re-examine it, why you do it, and how you might get the same effect across differently. But I digress.) She mentioned Faulkner, saying, "If it works for Pulitzer Prize winners, then it certainly can work for them!"

Well . . . let's consider this for a moment. (I'm not sure exactly what kind of dialect the original poster intended, but let's assume the worst, for purposes of argument. Argument being in the nature of a debate, not the finger-pointing and hair-pulling kind, mind you.)

Laying aside the issue that the Pulitzer Prize winners who did this (perhaps we must include Alice Walker, but she doesn't do strict eye dialect all the time) won the prize many years ago, as far as I know, and might not win today because tastes have changed so much, let's look at how a reader experiences a text.

Dialect is very difficult to read and slows a reader down quite a bit. There's a reason that standardized spelling stuff caught on, y'know. (LOL) Mark Twain uses eye dialect (that's what this is called) in Huck Finn, but it's one of the difficult things about the novel. That's because he does phoneticized spellings.

I don't think dialect done that way works well at all today (if it truly ever did).

There are alternatives. Rather than phonetically spelling a misprounounced or differently pronounced word, such as "gulls" for "girls" or "wimmin" for "women," writers can repeat the way they mispronounce the word in the next sentence (instead of respelling it inside the sentence).

"I can't stand that place. All them barren women." Cain't. Wiiimmin.

In this technique, the narrator is "hearing" those words for the reader. A little of this goes a long way; dialect done like this tends to wear on the reader's inner ear very soon, unless done very lightly and skillfully. Best to use this for a minor character and only do it the first couple of times he speaks--and perhaps the final speech of his, as well.

The way to do dialect nowadays, it's pretty much agreed, is to suggest it by diction/word choice and word order. One of my Russian-born characters in MIRANDA'S RIGHTS says things like "Give to me this box." She is also puzzled by some idioms and cliches in English. "He is thinking he pulls the blanket over our eyes. Hah! Him I understand all too well."

A lot of this can make readers roll their eyes. Keep the cast limited to one or two people who have these unusual ways of speaking, unless you want readers to go nuts. Also, don't load up the cast with faux-Aussies and Scots (as in a book I just read) for no reason other than to have them talk funny. It's not funny; we've all seen CROCODILE DUNDEE.

Whatever you do, DON'T try to reproduce dialect syllable by syllable, or even word by word. Don't try to reproduce pronunciation, unless there is some key element that ties into it. What happens is this: your reader (henceforth known as "he") sees the first clues to the way your character ("she") speaks, and thereafter will imagine that accent. So if you have constant strange spellings and "reminders" of the accent, the reader will hear a more and more exaggerated accent, and the whole thing will become ridiculous, no matter how accurately you portray the dialect. If you indicate just enough to suggest to the reader that the character is, say, Southern, he will hear a normal Southern accent when you write, "That boy ain't right. Run over yonder and close that winder, will yew?" This comes across loud and clear, particularly if the character's grammar or word order or slang reminds you of someone.

BETTER. The same question three different ways: "Do you want me to do it?" "Would you prefer that I do it?" "You want I should do it, God forbid you should ask?"

You just "saw" three different people, right?

The main character in one of my novels has a Hispanic mother, and I occasionally have the mother speak a few words in Spanish. The rest of the time she speaks English, with a few un-idiomatic phrases here or there that might show she isn't native-born. As such a character speaks, she will use phrases or words or syntax in a way that reminds the reader. If you have a long bit of dialogue, she can speak standard English, but still keep your character's voice in the ear of the reader. You can use many foreign phrases that are pretty much understood in America without translation--"faux pas," "loco," "dreck." If you're concerned, you can give a translation the way I showed above. "That man is loco." Crazy.

In fantasy/SF or experimental prose, you might have your own phrases in your invented language that you can use this way. "He hated the veroon. It stank."

You don't necessarily need many French words to suggest a French accent. The way a character answers questions can be telling. The French start many answers with "mais oui" or "mais non"; in English, the idiom to use is "but x." (Grey Poupon's ad: "But of course!") "That is not the French way, ma cherie (mon cher)!" Don't go too Maurice Chevalier, though. I had an Arabian character once, and I suggested his broken and accented English by having his grammar slightly fractured, like the cartoon 7-11 clerk: he'd say, "They are pretty much completing." "You do the car washing in your dressed-up pants?" (I guess you had to be there. It sure sounds racist when I retype it like that. My friend Aziz read it for me and laughed, but maybe he was fuming on the inside, right?)

Careful--don't let it drop into parody.

Also, a steady stream of poor grammar out of characters' mouths grates on the reader like sandpaper. A little goes a long way to suggest what you mean. It doesn't take much irregular diction to get the idea of illiteracy across. Believable dialect comes, for the most part, out of using a collection of key phrases and eccentricities. (I wish I remembered who I was quoting there.)

Many moons ago, an acting teacher told me that if a character has a certain trait--a stutter, a limp, whatever--an actor should display it to good effect during the first few lines of her first entrance. After that, just hint at it, without exaggeration or emphasis. Subtlety is the watchword. I think the same method works well in fiction. After all, you embody all the actors as well as the playwright and director here.

You can also have a character drop into his/her "down-home" way of conversing while under stress, in response to certain situations, and when talking to certain people. It is a subtle way of indicating the character's comfort level. Similarly, you can have her subconsciously or deliberately segue into the dialect of another when talking to him.

Have fun with it as you write--but then, when you go back to the draft to revise and polish, check to see that you're doing it one of these ways, rather than the "Br'er Rabbit t'ain't a-goin" way. If you trust me on nothing else--trust me on this.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Potpourri of Pet Peeves

Don't you hate it when you're watching someone do something you know you're good at, and they keep screwing it up? I mean . . . I wince when I hear the results of lack of practice at most kids' piano recitals (I'm bad! I know!), I roll my eyes when people can't add one-digit numbers when they're on game shows (yes, it's tougher when you are under the spotlight, but still), and I go crazy when writers pull a fast one. It's as if I'm Houdini watching David Copperfield (no, not the Dickens character) saw a chick in half, and it's too easy to see the false floor and the wires and pulleys. You're supposed to rise above doing it the easy way (although I don't always do that myself. Raising the bar for published authors everywhere!)

Libby Sternberg of Istoria Books has collected up a list of pet peeves that readers mentioned as far as mysteries go. It's a two-parter, here and here. I think the responders covered a goodly number of great peeves. (I don't know WHY I am promoting her site--I have no connection with her or Istoria Books, but I'm just dumb enough to promote other people, even though I get nothing out of it. I guess I'm counting on the law of karma or something, like Pay It Forward or whatnot. Go figure.)

I do wish the mystery publishing industry would get tired of some of these tropes and start doing other things that we can make into peeves.

My own pet peeves in mysteries include:

That depressingly "heartbroken" "dark" hero or heroine. This sleuth or amateur sleuth is taken up with thoughts of the wife/husband or fiance or spouse-and-children who were violently or suddenly taken from them and are in Heaven now. This tragedy may have happened a while ago, but the sleuth has been scarred. Not scarred enough, I might note, to avoid immediately taking up with whoever is the detective assigned to the current case! Lots of pages are filled up with how wonderful the ex was and how wonderful the new one is. This romance is typically started in the first book in the series and thus has to be featured in the next book. Man, that same detective got assigned to the other murder she stumbled across! And he is in love with her, and vice versa! Sometimes that hampers the plot a whole lot.

I don't have this situation in my books because I find it so ubiquitous in all the other series. [In the NICE WORK series] Jacquidon broke up with college beau Colin almost a year ago. They'd been cohabiting when she discovered him cheating casually. With a man. He had been dismissive of her and was ruining her self-esteem anyway ("You're not really good enough for me," "I wish I could find someone better.") So she bought her own house, knowing her job was secure over at CSD where she had a very encouraging boss. Ha! Anyhow . . . we don't dwell at all on this, and there's exactly one reference to the past romance when she is shown to be attracted to Fred Gordon and her sister urges her on. A past co-worker, David, is also attracted to her, but she has to discourage his interest while still getting the info she needs out of him.

[In the MARFA LIGHTS series] Ari had pretty much gotten over Aaron's desertion, although she kept thinking she'd surely hear from him soon, when she hears he has crossed the Veil and has left her all his worldly goods (probably because he took so much from her and used her credit cards to buy the stuff he used to travel and relocate with, promising he'd bring her to be with him once he was set up in "the wilderness.") We don't dwell on that romance. She has enough trouble discouraging Gil, the creepy preacher who was Aaron's best friend in the new location, and a few others out in Marfa where she goes to hear the reading of Aaron's will and pick up whatever documents she needs to handle the disposal of the rest of the estate. So we don't get lots of dwelling on that one. Although at the end, her sister keeps wondering whether this has all been a huge scam and Aaron has actually used them as pawns--he was always a player, and it would be just LIKE him to disappear this way if, say, he were in Witness Protection (as a result of having written that code for crypto and getting into trouble with various federal agencies and corporations) and had been relocated. After all, they never saw the "body in the box" because they were busy being pursued by the perp during the service, and it was closed casket in the first place by Aaron's dictum. So who knows whether he might show up in a future story? For now, she has to shake off the tentacles of Gil and isn't dwelling on any of it.

I hate the way readers seem to LOOOOVE those romance deals with the cop on the case--and I despise it when they complain (loudly) that I could/should have squeezed down Jacks' romantic interludes with Fred and Dave. Just because they're not cops! Not because these readers don't admit the interludes are funny, entertaining, and adding to the book. Everyone else gets away with it, but I get dinged. *sob* /rant

No, really. Why can't MY characters have a romantic subplot when you tolerate the romances with detectives that all the rest of 'em have? I also think that the "keep out of the investigation" stuff coming from those cops would make more of an impression on ME, were I the sleuth. And I disbelieve the leaking of info they always do when on the phone with the sleuth!

Now, really, /rant. No, REALLY.

I agree with this author, whom I met online (and may meet in person if I win the lottery and get to attend some conferences): "I would so much rather see a fully developed marriage with all its complications, than watch the falling-apart of the bereaved detective. Some authors seemed compelled at some point in their series, to put the protagonist through this dark valley. I don't know why."--Siobhan Kelly, author of the new Through A Shot Glass Darkly: A Nebraska Mystery

I think the authors must feel they have to compete with all the other dark, pathetic, twisted, bereaved/deserted protagonists who can NEVER be HAPPY.

There's something to be said for a cheerful protagonist. Jacquidon Carroll is basically happy and cheerful, despite her situation (being a suspect in the murder of her boss--whom she does mourn!! That's another of my pet peeves, when NO ONE cries or mourns or feels sad when the victim is offed), and her sister Chantal is the "happy moral compass" of the stories. True, Jacquidon does get kind of messed up emotionally while she is targeted as a suspect, and the visits to the BDSM clubs really unnerve her (they're checking out leads, not just having adventures, although these are adventures). She gets emotional when she thinks about the guy she worked for (whom she liked and believed to be a good person who liked her back--up until the last week or so there) having crossed the bar, and she gets upset when one of her ex-co-workers makes it clear that he has a "thing" for her, and she certainly has times of being terrified. But she's basically not a depressive and not always thinking about someone dead or some awful thing in her past. Refreshing!

Now, I have to be a bit shamefaced in this admission: Ari French (my other sleuth) is kind of a depressive. She is so much more like ME that it isn't funny. She *does* think about her losses (her nephew, her fiance Aaron who abandoned her and then did the Big Abandonment against his will) and her sadnesses (being estranged from her cult-entangled sociopathic parents, being burned out on her former passion for software and software testing, being reduced in circumstances because of Aaron's unwise decisions and things he did to her while he was alive). She does think deeply about some of these matters, and it can get heavily philosophical. She's vulnerable to people who make her endorphins pop for a short time (in other words, she might sleep around accidentally now and then, unlike Jacks and Chantal and even her own sister Zoe, who learned that lesson the hardest way and disapproves entirely of the two-backed beast.*) She is a thinker who weighs her options. If my potential reader is not a deep thinker and is one of the majority of Americans who are impulsive and approve of the "act now, even if it's wrong" and "ask forgiveness later because it's too much of a hassle to ask permission first and risk getting a NO" attitudes, that reader may see Ari as "too thinky" to identify with. However, she's more REAL (IMHO) than many of the perfect-figure perfect-everything heroines, so I think there's an appeal to a vertical audience who will BOND with Ari and will appreciate all that she goes through as she's sleuthing, and even when she's not.

* (Did you get that reference? Did you Google it? Should the editor have stricken it from my copy with the justification that "nobody will know what you're talking about, even in context"?)

Ari can be happy, though. We see it when she's with Gil (even as creepy as Gil can be) sometimes, we see it when she's bantering with her sister, we see it in her reflections upon her time with Aaron; we even see it when she's experiencing the Marfa Lights (terrifying though they may be on her second encounter with them). She is witty. She has witty internal asides. Again, this may not be some readers' cuppa. That's fine! Not every book is for every reader. But that doesn't make it a BAD book. It just means this particular style is not for you, and that you should seek out my other series where there's less thinkin' and more doin'.

AAAAAND back to general pet peeves in mysteries.

OH WHOA IT'S A CLUE--BUT LOOK, SOMETHING SHINY! REALLY SHINY!! This is when Our Heroine finds a Real Live Clue, but we can't let her immediately grasp what it means and how important it is, because then the book would be over. So for a hundred pages or more, the reader is "carefully distracted" from whatever it was, even though someone else might mention it just to keep that "fair play" ball in play. Suddenly, about three-quarters of the way though, someone says something innocent that reminds the sleuth about this clue. Aha! Aha! AHA! Now we know what that meant!

Sometimes authors can pull this off. Many do, I'll admit. BUT the worst thing in the WORLD is when the sleuth realizes the importance of that dull paper clip--and DOESN'T SAY SO. The sleuth jumps up from breakfast yelling, "I know! I know how Bogdorp offed Manimal!" And then proceeds to make phone calls that we don't overhear and go running around to set up police officers to be lurking in the background when the perp is confronted. The perp is cornered and either pulls a gun or does a full confession. Shades of "Murder, She Wrote"! Grrr.

If you are going to do this, TELL US what it is that she/he realizes. Don't be COY. I hate COY!

Also, why do these accused people give a full confession when cornered? I'd sure be over there with, "I was in Luxembourg at the AccordionFest when this happened. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it." Especially when the only evidence Mrs. Fletcher has on me is that I plugged the wrong electric guitar into the amp. Even ONE fingerprint can be explained away if I often visited that victim's house (why couldn't I have stumbled two weeks ago over the victim's cat and caught myself on that framed needlework on the wall, and that's why my blurred print is on the glass, not because I touched it by accident while beating Aireheadina over the head with a tire iron that you still have not found?) Flimsy stuff like that would fall apart during a court trial!

Then there's the stunt that is endemic to category romance. "If You Don't Know, I'm Certainly Not Gonna Tell You." So many plots hinge on something that a character doesn't tell another character, even when it would be perfectly natural and usually obvious to tell. If they'd just TALK to each other and ask what that line MEANT, or ask for clarification, there'd be no plot, so we get to suffer through as we flip pages and moan, "Why doesn't somebody just ASK why the sweatshirt was inside-out? Why assume that it means the same as flipping the bird?" And don't talk to me about when a person sees someone with someone attractive and jumps to the conclusion that s/he is cheating, and then it turns out to be a long-lost sister or cousin or mom, or a talent scout from MGM. *gnash* JUST ASK, WHY DONCHA.

If your detective doesn't ask questions that a five-year-old would think of, readers assume you intend us to think the detective is stupid. We hate that. If he can't bring himself to ask, get a five-year-old. There is very little that a five-year-old will restrain herself from asking. "Mommy, is Tayllorr a lady or a man?" "Mommy, what is Golden Showers?" "It's when the sun is shining while it's raining, dear. Look--a rainbow!" (Sometimes the "shiny" distraction is essential.)

AND . . . your heroine must save herself. You cannot have someone else accidentally open the door and rescue her. It's OK if she manages to send smoke signals to the cops, or if she manages to flash the miniblinds in an SOS pattern, or if she gets a cell phone to connect while the bad guys are discussing how to dispose of her body. She must do whatever it is that spurs the rescuers on. Or she has to kick the guy in the groin herself and RUN to the nearest police station. Make her be the HEROINE! Make her be the one who figures it all out, if you can.

So what? Who cares about my pet peeves? Do you have pet peeves? Let's hear 'em so I don't do 'em in the next book!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Guest Post: Is There Such A Thing as "Bad" Publicity?

Today we have a wonderful guest post from Janet (J. L.) Greger, a fellow Oak Tree Press author who in this essay explores publicity a bit. I'm eager to see what all of you have to say. After all, my dad used to quote P. T. Barnum, who said, "There is no such thing as bad publicity." Or was that Mae West? (Sources disagree.)

At any rate, I have seen bad publicity boost book sales and spur on the popularity of some of the bad boys of television and film, so I keep an open mind about these things. Let's hear from you in the comments!


Can Publicity be Bad?
by J. L. Greger

Oscar Wilde in The Picture of Dorian Gray said, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” Was he right?

Is publicity just for the ego?

Writers want publicity for an obvious reason: to increase sales. Consider the plethora of books which are written or at least 80% written by ghostwriters, but “authored” by celebrities. The publishers know the celebrity’s name and the attendant publicity (past and present) help sales. Ghostwriters happily take the money to the bank, and everyone wins.

Scientists aren’t much different from writers. In 2009, universities in the U.S. spent $55 billion on research and development; the federal government provided 59% and state and local government provided 7% of these funds (NSF/ Division of Science Resource Statistics. Survey of Research and Development at Universities and Colleges, FY 2009 In other words, scientists depend on public opinion for financial support of their research.

How does publicity shape our behavior?
Dempsey and Mitchell (Journal of Consumer Research [Dec 4, 2010] Vol. 37) found advertising sold products not by providing factual information but by surrounding the product with other things shoppers liked, thus creating positive attitudes about the product.

Does that really work for more abstract products than toothpaste and cereal?
Maybe. Between 1998 and 2008, the number of doctorates earned in the sciences grew by nearly 40% (Nature [April 20, 2011] 472:276-279) even though the job market was not that good for newly minted PhD scientists. During that time period, scientists became “cool” in mainstream TV shows and movies. The 2011 movie Contagion grossed $130 million in theatres. Two popular network TV shows ("CSI" and "Bones") became hits.

Was that the only factor affecting the choices of students? Of course not, but it made me think.

Could I sell more of my novels if I publicized them with something pleasant? That’s hard to do when you write realistic thrillers. I guess I made a poor choice when I focused my first novel (Coming Flu) on a flu epidemic. Maybe I did a better job when I titled my second novel Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight. The heroine Linda Almquist in the book loses ten pounds in fifteen days when she investigates a “diet doctor” for two murders. I even show you how she does it without consciously dieting. That’s something positive.

What if you goof and get bad publicity? Is bad publicity really bad?

It depends.

Lots of people complained about Dan Brown’s literary style and his use of historical information in The Da Vinci Code. All the attendant publicity probably helped sales. The “tell-alls” of disgraced celebrities sell better than well-written memoirs of less famous, but often heroic, people.

On the other hand, scientists found guilty of scientific misconduct are often barred from being a principal investigator on federal research grants for several years. However, some quietly resume their careers afterwards.

Bottom line?

Oscar Wilde was probably right, most of the time. Maybe that’s why so many authors, scientists, educators, etc. are writing blogs. The next questions are:

Do blogs generate publicity for novels or other creative endeavors?
Are they worth reading?
When they give you a positive feeling, do you read more?
Do you care to comment?

I believe the research, so I’ve attached positive images: my dog Bug when he’s trying to ignore me and when he’s trying to please me.

By the way, Bug is the only non-fictional character in both my novels.

JL Greger

JL Greger has been a scientist, professor, textbook writer (Nutrition for Living), and university administrator. Now she is a writer of fiction who inserts glimpses of scientific breakthroughs and tidbits about universities into her medical mystery/suspense novels.

In Coming Flu, a new, mysterious flu strain kills more than two hundred in less than a week in the small walled community near the Rio Grande. The rest face a bleak future under quarantine. One of the residents Sara Almquist, as a medical epidemiologist, pries into every aspect of her neighbors’ lives looking for ways to stop the spread of the flu. She finds promising clues – maybe one too many? Not all her neighbors are what they appear to be.

Be the first in your neighborhood to read MURDER: A NEW WAY TO LOSE WEIGHT (Oak Tree Press is publishing it in March 2013). Someone in this southwestern medical school doesn’t like women. Two have been murdered already. At first, Linda Almquist suspects the deaths are related to her investigation of Dr. Richard Varegos, a “diet doctor.” He is alleged to be recklessly endangering the lives of his obese research subjects. Maybe she’s wrong. The murders might be related to something in the past – something involving her boss the Dean. While Linda fears for her job, the police fear for her life.


Thanks, Janet! Bug is a cutie pie!

Let's see whether anyone takes on the challenge of discussing publicity. The public seems to still adore bread and circuses, so any writer who can create a circus around himself and his book will be more successful in terms of initial sales than those of us who are more restrained. However, should we try to pull a stunt in order to get attention focused on our work? Would that be a good or bad idea long-term? Discuss. (20 points) (LOL)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

"Used" e-books: can an electronic copy be "used"?

Used e-books. Sound good? Sound cheaper? . . . sound like an impossibility? After all, e-books won't be worn out when you get them second-hand. They will be just as pretty as ever. So why would anyone buy a full-price e-book when they could get one second-hand for fewer dollars?

Take a look at the chain of reasoning here:

I can't see this leading anywhere GOOD for writers. Publishing is tenuous at best right now. Profit margins are always slim, and this could lead to a vanishing return. This could push New York houses over the cliff. I know, you're gonna say that libraries always lent books and used bookstores have not put writers out of business. But the difference is that the library books wore out and had to be replaced or got sold off in a library sale so the library could buy more books, and the used books only lasted so long (you might get three or four trades out of one book before it got shabby, waterlogged, dirty, or thrown away for some other reason.) E-books will not wear out. They can be cloned/copied easily.

Amazon has plans for selling used Kindle e-books. A book gets branded within the system when it is first purchased. Let's say that this buyer reads it and decides to sell his copy. The buyer puts it up for resale at the Kindle store and that copy is removed from his account and transferred to the buyer's account. Amazon receives a small fee for each sale. That is the plan as we know it right now.

But! BUT! And again, BUT!! (to quote one of my fave passages from _Chitty Chitty Bang Bang_)

You don't own your copy of the data when you buy a Kindle book or other e-book. Strictly speaking, you pay for a LICENSE to read and own that digital copy. So you can't handle it in the same way that you would physical items.

Bolstering this viewpoint are those specialists in copyright law who point out the "doctrine of first sale." By their lights, this would be against the law because digital goods aren't physical entities, and cannot be resold. (My understanding of this comes from Marilyn Byerly's article at

A legal battle is underway between ReDigi, a used digital music store, and the various groups in the music industry over a similar system. If ReDigi wins the lawsuit, then Amazon will have a precedent to point to and will probably move forward.

"Well," you're saying, "so what? Maybe authors will be hurt, but what do I care, as long as I get my cheap and free reads?"

Let's look at the bigger picture and how Amazon will come to dominate the market like WalMart and put others out of business, shall we?

Buyers are thrifty little tightwads and very clever. If the used Kindle e-book is cheaper than any other version of the book, buyers will dump the Kobo, the Nook, iTunes, and whatever else in favor of the Kindle--and probably the Kindle e-reader itself (rather than using the books on a Kindle app). Kindles will become the majority--nay, the steamroller that crushes the competition.

"Couldn't the competitors do the same thing, though?" you are asking. In order for the competitors to create a similar setup, they'd have to spend a lot of time and money. Amazon would have the advantage in the market for the foreseeable future.

Of course, once Amazon dominated the used e-book market, it could cancel used e-books entirely, and people would have to pay whatever price Amazon named for new books. They'd be the monopoly.

Marilyn Byerly goes so far as to theorize, "Some in the industry believe that Amazon is intent on killing off publishers so authors will have to go the self-publishing route, and authors as individuals have no real bargaining power when it comes to the terms Amazon will set."

Now, THAT should scare you.

Am I "overthinking this," as many non-analytical types claim whenever I go into detail about why their pet project won't work or has plot holes? I don't THINK so. I think we'd better take this seriously NOW.

Although I don't know what we can do about it all, other than refrain from buying "used" e-books.