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Today in books and publishing: sock-puppeting is going to have a huge 2014; books as "branding devices"; Fifty Shades-esque author becomes an instant millionaire; stay granted in Google suit. 

Maya Banks is erotica's newest millionaire. If you only tracked economic news from the erotic fiction sector, you'd never know we're in a recession. Berkley Books has given author Maya Banks a seven-figure deal for a "Fifty Shades-esque" trilogy of BDSM-themed erotica books. The move signals a shift in direction for Banks, the New York Times best-selling author of romance fare like Never Love a HighlanderIn Bed with a Highlander, and Seduction of a Highland Lass (she has a thing for Medieval Scotland). "Maya Banks was at the forefront of the erotic romance trend and has been a star on Berkley’s list for several years," says Berkley's executive editor Cindy Hwang. "Her new trilogy will thrill returning fans and is the perfect introduction for readers who fell in love with the intensely provocative storyline in Fifty Shades of Grey." Banks' three books—RushFever, and Burn—will follow billionaires who "dominate in the boardroom and the bedroom." The first will hit bookstores in February 2013. [Entertainment Weekly]

The oncoming flood of phony reviews. We've previously written pay-for-positive-review services about sock-puppeting, the underhanded, tone-deaf practice of creating fake online accounts to laud yourself and trash competitors. When crime authors like R.J. Ellory and Stephen Leather were caught with their hands up socks all over Amazon, authors rallied to denounce sock-puppeting. But that might not be enough to stave the growing number of fake online reviews, suggests new research from Gartner. They predict that by 2014, anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of online reviews will be bought and sold by the companies supposedly being reviewed. "Organizations are scrambling for new ways to build bigger follower bases, generate more hits on videos, garner more positive reviews than their competitors and solicit 'likes' on their Facebook pages," Gartner reports. "Many marketers have turned to paying for positive reviews with cash, coupons and promotions." So think twice before buying a book because it got 4.5 stars on Goodreads, or passing on a restaurant because of its piddling 2.5-star rating on Yelp. [GigaOM]

Books as business cards? I always thought of books as a medium used for millennia to record and circulate written information, stories, images, and other culturally valuable ideas. But man am I behind the times! At least according to American Apparel and Tucker Max media strategist Ryan Holiday. "Today, authors are in the idea-making business, not the book business," he writes, arguing that non-fiction authors never expect anyone to actually read their books—they just dangle them as bait for speaking engagements, consulting gigs and other profitable ventures. "Call it a business card, a resume, a billboard, or whatever you choose, but the short of it is that books are no longer just books. They are branding devices and credibility signals." Holiday is currently prodding readers with a "branding device" of his own, Trust MeI'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator. But you wouldn't be foolish enough to actually read it, would you? [Fast Company]

Is V for Vendetta the worst graphic novel of all time? Theatre director and writer Isaac Butler thinks so. "It’s a competently made, terrible, hateful failure on its own terms that has, sadly, had some influence, particularly on the radical left, who really should know better by now," he writes. "It manages to be brazenly misogynist, horrifically violent, and thuddingly dull all at the same time." [The Hooded Utilitarian]

Google e-books cased delayed. A U.S. Court of Appeals judge in Manhattan granted Google's request to stay a lawsuit lodged by the Authors Guild of America. The authors and copyright holders are suing Google for scanning and uploading their books into the Google Books database without their express permission. Google got access to the titles in question through an agreement with university and public libraries, but did not consult the rights-holders before uploading scans of the books. Google cites fair use as justification for its Google Books project. The company plans to challenge U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin's decision last month to grant class-action status to the author plaintiffs. Google filed for the stay because of the huge "prospect of a class-wide defeat -- with a judgment of potentially billions of dollars -- or a greatly diminished victory. A stay is necessary to prevent this anomalous result." [Bloomberg]

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