Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Mea Culpa

This is another post that was meant to be published around the new year. Heat prevented that from happening, and further contemplation held it back further. As before, better late than never, even if as I'm typing the temperature at our house is 28 degrees again...

Mea Culpa

Like everyone else, I  have made many mistakes in the course of my life. In the context of blogging, however, there is not much that I feel bad about. That, however, does not mean there is nothing to be sorry for.

As the writer of many a review, there is always that nagging feeling: what grants me the right to criticize others who took the bother of creating something when it is clear I am not even half able to achieve what they had done? My answer there is that I need to try and focus on reviewing the product rather than the person, but in many cases that is easier said than done. How, for example, can one rate a director’s film without referring to past work and thus touching on the personal?
That is why I was impressed with author Seanan McGuire (aka Mira Grant) and the way she treated my critical (to say the least) review of her book, Deadline. At her blog (here) she tackled my arguments and never once aimed a shot at the messenger, instead doing what I consider the right thing and tackling my arguments. I was even further impressed to see her reply to the comment I had left on her post (check these out at the very bottom of this page): now, here is an author who totally won me over and whose books I will always keep an eye on!
Still, I do feel bad for the grief I must have caused McGuire. And for that, as well as the grief I might have caused others through my reviews, I wish to apologize. Please accept that I am not trying to criticize the person, and if it looks like I do then consider it an indication of my inferior reviewing and writing skills rather than my true intention.

There is another blogging issue that has been bugging me since I first posted about it. I have contemplated it a lot, but it took a recent post from John Scalzi dealing with the matter of ebook pricing to convince me that I was wrong and that I have wronged.
The issue at hand is the way I have made Leslie Cannold’s The Book of Rachael an example for what I saw as improper ebook pricing. I did not do it in a post that dealt with ebook pricing, and I did not cite The Book of Rachael amongst the many other examples of ebooks whose price I consider inflated; I did it all in a post that was meant primarily at glorifying Leslie Cannold and her work. I had my reasons for doing what I did, but still: Scalzi’s argument, with which I agree, is that it is silly to attack or be perceived to attach a particular author for the price of their ebook when pricing is generally out of their hands. Not only that, their book is their baby, the culmination of years of work, learning and effort; it takes a particularly cold hearted person to come and casually dismiss it all for the sake of a few dollars less.
Don’t get me wrong: I think there is plenty of room to discuss and argue over ebook pricing. I am very opinionated on matters such as this, being the advocate and mini activist that I am for a culture of information sharing. But again – I should have done it in a manner that does not make an example of a specific book/author. The irony of it is in me “picking” on Rachael/Cannold because I wanted to read the book so much and because I hold Cannold in very high regard; now I see the matter as a case of “you hurt the ones you love the most”.
I hope Cannold will accept my apologies.

Image by UnNickrMe, Creative Commons license

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