Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Into The Dark

Many years ago, in 2005, I was proud to be one of the sponsors an artshow called 'Into the light', which protested the Amman bombings. Today, Jordan's internet was plunged into the dark in a very different, but just as important protest.

Bloggers and website owners in Jordan are protesting the amended Press and Publications Law, putting up a black 'interstitial' page which reads, "You may be deprived of the content of this site under the amendments of the Jordanian Press and Publications Law and the governmental Internet censorship."

You can take a look yourself by popping over to pal Roba Al Assi's blog here - one of hundreds of sites in Jordan that have gone 'dark' for the day. You can click through to a pretty pissed off post behind the tarpaulin.

They're not kidding, either. The law appears to make the classic mistake, not unlike ongoing Lebanese efforts to bring the Internet into a media law, of confusing the web with print media. Under the law, websites (so badly defined it could include social media, blogs or any other online property) would be forced to join the press association, appoint an 'editor in chief' (a role with some very defined responsibilities) and also opens the door to blocking websites, something Jordan has very laudably avoided doing.

A moderate country with the most competitive telecom market in the region, tremendous intellectual capital and an important regional centre for ICT, IP and software/web development, Jordan's smart and technically capable young people deserve better than muckle-headed legislation hewn from granite by politicians who wouldn't know a website from a wombat.

Let's hope someone noticed how dark it got today...

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Reviews. Cool. An Olives Update.

The reviews continue to trickle in, the latest from book blogger Julie Weight is linked here - a very kind five stars *ker-ching*. It'd be nice to think that all these positive reviews would result in a cascade of book sales, but that's simply not the case.

Olives - A Violent Romance has now sold over six hundred copies which, although miniscule, puts it in the 'two percent' - 98% of books in print sell less than 500 copies, and we're talking mainstream published books here, not just indy or self published books. Of that, something like four hundred sales have been the printed 'Middle East edition'.

So 600 copies is something of a result. I'll post an update on the great self publishing experiment on Olives' first anniversary, but by this stage it's clear that a lot of social media promotion (Over 6.000 Twitter followers and a popular blog do not for massive book sales make, at least in the Middle East), mainstream media coverage and positive reviews are not, in themselves, enough to make a book 'take off'. What does it take? If I knew that, chaps, I'd be off doing it...

Meanwhile Olives has gone on sale in India for Kindle users now that has opened up to India. For some reason, Amazon only supports the 35% royalty rate for Indian Kindle sales, so I've taken the opportunity to drop the cover price there to $2.99 on the grounds it's now more affordable to Indian readers.

The manuscript of Beirut - An Explosive Thriller has come back from its editor, the urbane Robb Grindstaff, with lots and lots of changes so I suspect that'll keep my head down over the next couple of weeks. I'm looking forward to this one, because if Olives got blocked in Jordan I can guarantee you Beirut's gonna get banned in Beirut! The manuscript is also with the UAE's National Media Council for review and I can't even be sure it'll be passed to print in the UAE...