In other news, I have no life.
Which is why when "stuff happens" around my little corner of Online Romancelandia I don't always feel the need to comment. Why? Because chances are very good that it's a rerun of something that was playing online 2, 5, 10 or 15 years ago. My policy is basically to only haul out Little Miss Crabby Pants when I feel like I have something to say and I'm not immediately bored by the topic.
And then the Internet decides to wake-up one day and throw me the Granddaddy of All Curve Balls:
A publisher is suing a blogger.
News broke on Friday that Ellora's Cave is suing Dear Author for their recent post: The Curious Case of Ellora's Cave. Go ahead, go read the post. And then try to figure out why it's worth suing over - because I've read it a few times now and can't quite figure that out.
Other nice commentary on this recent WT-Actual-F can be found over at Smart Bitches, AztecLady's blog, and Sunita's blog. Go ahead, go read those posts.
Now let me tell you why we all need to care.
"But, but, but....Little Miss Crabby Pants! I don't read Ellora's Cave books! I don't even like Dear Author! Heck, I'm not even a blogger! Why should I care?"
Do you like to read books? Do you like to find out about books? Yeah, time to start caring.
EC is looking to, essentially, gag Dear Author. Don't say anything "bad" about us or else we're going all Tom Cruise Nuclear on you and dragging you into court. Now there are many authors and readers who feel that Dear Author is a Mean Girl blog. Honestly, I've never gotten that - but to each their own. The Internet is a wide open space and there's nothing saying you have to like every blog - even mine. There's a lot of variety out there, find what you like and run with it.
But this suit scares the bejeebus out of me. Why? Because in the 15 years I have been online, talking about romance novels, the great, the good, the bad, the OMGWHY?!?!?!?!! of the romance novel world never once - not once! - did I see something like this coming.
We all need to care because if a publisher can go after a blogger for essentially writing a news story, featuring facts culled from other sources (oh, like the public record since EC has been a part of a few lawsuits already), what does this mean for any of us who want to talk about books?
Are we entering into a world where a self-published author can sue a reader for leaving a one-star review of their book on GoodReads? If I write a ranty-pants review on my blog stating how I thought the hero was a jerk and the heroine was as dumb as a sack of hair, will the publisher sue me for hurting book sales? (In which case I'd tell them to look at my blog numbers and not worry about it)
Where does that leave us?
So many of us came to the Internet to find "our people." To find people who would honestly, openly, and not disparagingly talk about the books we loved to read. And dagnabit, we wanted it all. We wanted to talk about the great, the good, the bad, and the really, really ugly. We wanted to learn what each others' ugly was. We recommend books we hate to other readers who we think might really like them (Dude, I've totally done this). We squee! about books we love hoping other readers will find them and love them just as much as we did.
And here's a newsflash to publishers and authors: you really don't want to silence that. Yes, sometimes readers do things you don't like. We hate on books. But we also love on books. Heck, we're TALKING ABOUT BOOKS! Boooooooooks. We think books are cool. We love books! Books are your business. Heck, you should love that we think books are cool.
You probably, should, you know, not sue us. Especially if things are less than rosy. It might be more prudent to get your own house in order. Just sayin'.
I was part of the Wild West of Online Romancelandia - back when The Romance Reader (TRR) and All About Romance (AAR) were The Devil. Even when I felt I had to attend RWA as a Librarian First and keep my reviewing/blogging gigs somewhat quiet, the idea of something like a publisher suing a blogger never, in a million years, entered into my mind.
And that folks, is why we should all care. Because it really is THAT messed up. What's next? A reader/blogger getting sued because that 4-star review just didn't feel quite positive enough? Because the animated gifs that induce seizures just weren't quite OMG BESTEST BOOK EVER IT CHANGED MY LIFE enough?
If that day comes, someone stick a fork in me. I'll be done.