The WTFckery Report: Ellora’s Cave Suing Dear Author Blog for Defamation. Why Book Bloggers Should Be Worried
Yesterday morning, I was sent a direct message tweet that said the following: “Did you see Ellora’s Cave is suing Jane (Dear Author)?”
As soon as I read that message, I first said, WTF?! and then went on Twitter and clicked on the link to The Digital Reader and the post titled: Ellora’s Cave Sues Dear Author Book Blog for Defamation:
“Romance publisher Ellora’s Cave has been having financial issues for the past year or so, but rather than sit down and fix them this publisher has decided that the best solution was a public and messy defamation lawsuit. Court documents filed today in Ohio have revealed that Ellora’s Cave has filed suit against the author and blogger known as Jane Litte, the proprietor of one of the best romance book blogs. Ellora’s Cave alleges that a recent blog post on Dear Author defamed them, Dear Author has been writing about Ellora’s Cave for many years now (more details),but according to the filing this lawsuit focuses on just the one post published earlier this month. In “The Curious Case of Ellora’s Cave“, Jane detailed the rise and fall of this pioneering erotic romance publisher, including discussing the many current financial issues.”
Ellora’s Cave was once considered the top epublisher to publish with. Ellora’s Cave was key in the rise of epubishing, specifically in the romance and erotic romance genre. Ellora’s Cave was the reason I started reading ebooks and sexier types of romance, better known as erotic romance. The first digital book I ever bought, and read was in 2001, and from Ellora’s Cave. Back then the digital copy was sent in a PDF, which I printed out and put in a binder so I could read it. I still have that print out in a binder. Ellora’s Cave was the reason I started reading romances that were written “outside the box”, giving a platform for authors to write and publish erotic and sexy romances (and getting paid) that weren’t accepted by mainstream traditional publishers. Before Ellora’s Cave I could only find these type of stories on Literotica, which is a free site to read sex stories of all kinds, no matter disturbing the material. Ellora’s Cave essentially helped me embrace the erotic romance genre and not be embarrassed by what I read.
I first heard of Dear Author in 2006, which is considered one of the old school blogs dedicated to discussing and reviewing romance. Prior to Dear Author, I only commented on one romance message board and only lurked on blogs. Because of Dear Author I felt comfortable commenting on other blogs, so much so that in September 2008, I started my blog here. This month is Babblings’ 6th year anniversary.
Blogging allows people to have a platform to talk about topics without censor (or you should hope so). Now with the rise of other social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc… blogs are becoming more obsolete, and that includes book blogs. Book blogging as it is now hasn’t been around that long. The romance book blogs I read, who have become established like Dear Author, are not even a decade old. The same goes for epublishers. Most epublishers are not even a decade old, and some don’t even make it to their 10th anniversary. Ellora’s Cave is the exception.
The powers that be at Ellora’s Cave are suing Dear Author for defamation to the tune of $25,000 and stopping Dear Author from discussing Ellora’s Cave in blog posts such as The Curious Case of Ellora’s Cave. The shock waves that occurred yesterday, mainly on Twitter from the on-line publishing community from book bloggers, to readers to authors, is that Ellora’s Cave has done an incredible WTFckery because it may affect the future of book bloggers and what they should or shouldn’t say about publishers and authors, perhaps including the way book bloggers review books in the future.
Ellora’s Cave’s troubles started way before The Curious Case of Ellora’s Cave post on Dear Author. There has been rumblings for years about the behind the scenes problems Ellora’s Cave has been going through. The earliest rumblings I heard on-line about Ellora’s Cave having financial problems was back in 2009 when Karen Knows Best First reported on it. Ellora’s Cave was also involved in a public lawsuit back in 2008. In recent months, well known Ellora’s Cave’s authors such as Cat Grant, and Lolita Lopez, among others have spoken out publically that they aren’t getting paid. Absolute Write’s message board dedicated to Ellora’s Cave also has an open discussion about Ellora’s Cave’s business practices.
So, the big question is- Why should you care? If you don’t read Dear Author or buy books from Ellora’s Cave, why should you care? There’s a lot to care about because as Wendy, the Super Librarian, who has been blogging since 2003, says in her latest blog post titled, Little Miss Crabby Pants Is (Almost) Speechless: “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?”
Again, why should you care if an epublisher sues a blogger? If you are a blogger, writer who wants to publish, already are a publisher author, or a reader, you should care. If Ellora’s Cave wins their suit against Dear Author, the ripple effects will be felt throughout the book blogger and on-line publishing community.
Imagine if you decided to start a book blog. You not only talk about books you like, but also discuss books, a.k.a. post a reviews about books you don’t like. What if you saw or heard some unsavory practices by a publisher and want to discuss it on your blog, complete with links, screen caps and information you gathered from sources in emails? Now what if anything you “report”, although based on facts posted about a publisher is considered defamation by that publisher or a book you reviewed in a negative way or had strong words against is considered defamation by that author? What if a post you wrote about a publisher or an author behaving badly, regardless if the facts you posted are proof and truth is considered defamation by that publisher or author, and they want to sue, you, a blogger, because they feel your book review or post shows that author or publisher in a bad light? If a publisher or author can sue a blogger and win their lawsuit for a review, opinion piece or reporting bad practices by a publisher or bad behavior on-line or elsewhere from an author at a conference, book signing or public function, book blogs will ceased to exist or become a former shell of what they once were.
Imagine a world without blogging, especially books blogs. What if all the book blogs closed up shop for fear they will get sued for reporting information or posting book reviews that publishers or authors are upset about? That means book bloggers have been silenced.
Silence can override speech. Speech has more power than silence. Speech uses words. Words are power. Word of mouth creates a momentum, which in less than 24 hours has been proven in regards to Ellora’s Cave with their lawsuit in trying to silence Dear Author. In less than 24 hours, word of mouth supporting Dear Author has led to the Streisand effect of Ellora’s Cave.
Have you heard of the Streisand effect? From Wikipedia: “The Streisand effect is the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet. It is named after American entertainer Barbra Streisand, whose 2003 attempt to suppress photographs of her residence in Malibu, California inadvertently generated further publicity of it.”
There’s also something known as SLAPP “SLAPP is short for “strategic lawsuit against public participation”. This term was coined to describe a certain type of bogus lawsuit which is sometimes used by malevolent individuals to silence their critics. For example, if a publisher wanted to silence a blogger who had been airing said publisher’s dirty laundry, they could file a SLAPP.”
What Ellora’s Cave set out to do is to silence a book blogger “for reporting about business matters and Jane for practicing journalism and also demanding the identity of her anonymous commenters”- Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, from the post titled: Ellora’s Cave Sues Dear Author: Hello Streisand Effect”.
Book bloggers are great at many things, the most important- spreading word of mouth.
Spread the word.
More websites and blogs to read about this issue:
UPDATE: As of 12/9/15 Ellora’s Cave and Dear Author have settled. For more information about this, check out Dear Author’s Update on EC Lawsuit.