Empire of Bezos: GI Joe s— as lit

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 4:04 pm by George Smith

Since Jeff Bezos’ attempts to become a physical book publisher have been fought well at the retail level, Amazon has expanded its imprints to publishing only for the digital world.

You can see much of it at apub dot com. 47North, for example, is a digital Kindle imprint devoted to horror and science-fiction. A look at the titles was a complete turn-off. Your mileage may vary.

If this strikes you as publishing by people who don’t even care to read manuscripts, you’re probably close to reality.

I knew Ed Park, Amazon’s literary editor for physical titles, and can vouch he was a nice guy who was definitely into books.

The same cannot be implied from looking over publishing as sifted by book reviews of vanity-published digital works on Amazon’s site, or use by Amazon of its Kindle platform to do big data examinations of what is being read and with what manner of enthusiasm.

How do you judge enthusiasm in reading a digital book, anyway? I don’t have a Kindle. But, if one judges by swiftness of completion or page turns per minute, you can be dealing with a complete turkey, something fascinating, or anywhere in-between, I would think.

At Amazon this has led to the licensing of artistic or creative ouvres, more accurately consumer product niches, so that wanna-be authors can write digital fan fiction novels devoted to it.

The best example, pre-Amazon, was Star Trek fiction. You could walk into any big book store, go to the science-fiction section, and see a hundred or more novels written in the Star Trek world. My impression was they were simply lowest common denominator crap even though some sold well and sometimes name sci-fi authors were tabbed to write ’em.

Similar things were done with the worlds of Sherlock Holmes (Holmes expansion has been far more successful in movies and tv, is decades old, and is/was done by mechanisms which are the very antithesis of world-of-Bezos content creation) and the horror author, H. P. Lovecraft. (True confession: I have Lovecraft’s work and bought a couple titles of fiction derivatives. None were very good.)

Amazon is expanding this world:

And Kindle Worlds on Wednesday announced a deal with Hasbro to let fans write stories in “the next few months??? about G.I. Joe. The companies didn’t disclose the terms of the deal.

Hasbro sees Kindle Worlds as a way to let fans connect to G.I. Joe, something Michael Kelly, the company’s director of global publishing, describes as “open-source storytelling.???

Hasbro is putting few restrictions on authors. Writers can’t produce pieces that are sexually explicit, racist or sexist. Given that G.I. Joe is a military figure, violence is expected.

“Gritty is OK, but gratuitous is not,??? Kelly said.

And Hasbro, based in Pawtucket, R.I., deep in Boston Red Sox country, threw in one other restriction: G.I. Joe’s comrade, Snake Eyes, cannot be a portrayed [as a Ted Sox fan].

So while Amazon caught the New York publishing world’s attention when it hired Kirshbaum and targeted A-list authors, it’s more quietly been making hay in niche markets. Its 47North imprint focuses on science fiction, fantasy and horror. Thomas & Mercer publishes mysteries, thrillers and suspense books. It has Montlake Romance and Jet City Comics.

Merciful God in Heaven. Have you ever seen one of the GI Joe movies? Comment invited.

This follows on the heels of the licensing of Amazon Kindle fan fiction for minor characters from the novels of, prepare to be stupefied, Kurt Vonnegut:

The book-publishing unit at the online retail giant created an imprint devoted to fan fiction, Kindle Worlds, last May. Fan fiction is often dismissed as mediocre writing …

[Hugh Howey] saw an opportunity to write his own work in a world conceived by Kurt Vonnegut, which Amazon licensed from the author’s estate.

Howey created a short work, “Peace in Amber,??? that wove his 9/11 story with the life of Montana Wildhack, an adult-film star from Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five.???

Let’s look again at Amazon Kindle publishing for the fascinating genre of electromagnetic pulse doom in America white survivalist romance fiction.

From Into the Darkness, published just last month, already with 39 customer reviews, 13 of which are five star, and 17 of which are four star:

4 stars … much like Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, but a touch more desperation and with guns. I got almost as weary of the river as they did.

4 stars — I read a lot of survival fiction and most of it is inexpensive or free. This one was very enjoyable and just a good story. My only reason for giving it four stars is the lack of good editing. That is pretty much usual for an inexpensive debut novel and with professional editing it would get five stars from me. The trip-after-the-ShitHitsTheFan scenario is nothing new but returning home by inflatable raft on a river is pretty original.

And inexpensive it is: 99 cents.

Or how about 77 Days in September, republished by Amazon Digital Services last month, seemingly originally published as early as 2011, with 1,967 author reviews, 1,216 of which are five star:

On a Friday afternoon before Labor Day, Americans are getting ready for the holiday weekend, completely unaware of a long-planned terrorist plot about to be launched against the country. Kyle Tait is settling in for his flight home to Montana when a single nuclear bomb is detonated 300 miles above the heart of America. The blast, an Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP), destroys every electrical device in the country, and results in the crippling of the power grid, the shutting down of modern communications, and bringing to a halt most forms of transportation.

Kyle narrowly escapes when his airplane crashes on take-off, only to find himself stranded 2,000 miles from home …

5 stars — This book was recommended to me. I was somewhat skeptical as I began reading, but was quickly drawn in. It has all the elements of an excellent novel. The characters are well defined, believable and easy to relate to. The plot, however fictitious, is grounded in reality and calls attention to a truly catastrophic, yet largely ignored threat to international security.

5 stars — I think we have talent here. From the Forward I was hooked. The idea of an EMP never crossed my mind and it made the story line believable. What better way to hold your interest than to have two people deeply attached to each other trying desperately to get back together after a major event changes all the circumstances of their separation.

5 stars — Just finished this book, after not being able to put it down for days. It’s only equal is “One second after.” Great story line, character development, plots, just a great job overall. I was crying at the end, and that’s a first for this genre and a testament to how well the author creates a personal bond with the reader and the characters. If you like adventure stories, prepper fiction, or so called “survivalist” books, this one is a must read. I hope Mr. Gotham (sic, it’s Ray Gorham) find (sic) time and motivation to write more, as I will happily spend a few bucks on them.

As for the characters, they are truly human. No “Rambo” super prepper no bug out bags, no underground caches or retreats. This book is a look at the real, honest, actual human condition should the EMP scenario actually occur. This is reality, not some prepper fantasy, and for that, I’d give it 6 stars. Read it, it just might make the crucial difference for you if Shit does HitTheFan.

The future of publishing, here today. Thank you, Mr. Bezos.

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