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  #31  
Old 05-10-2012, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Falselogic View Post
That's awesome, thanks for the link! I've been wondering if something like this is possible, and some of my teachers have been talking about how Libraries need to start hosting their own databases. It'll be interesting to see how cost effective buying + hosting will be compared to leasing a book. That's definitely something I'd like to see more of.
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  #32  
Old 05-10-2012, 10:06 AM
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Not true! DRM is, in fact, an optional add-on to all presently extant Ebook standards. Yes, even Mobi!



Not true! This is a common assertion by publishers, but is based on an untested interpretation of copyright law. It's also far from universal - O'Reilly explicitly classifies your purchase as a purchase, even going so far as to permit resale and lending. I believe Baen does something similar, as do numerous "indie" DRM-free Ebook publishers, author cooperatives, etc.

Don't confuse the business practices of Apple and Amazon with the limitations of Ebooks as a concept. As the market grows, they'll be forced to shed their coercive practices, just like Apple was with iTunes Music.
Apple used DRM as a way to placate music publishers, but yes, it's something that major publishers are doing, not a necessary element of e-books. Right now, though, Libraries and consumers are much more restricted in the ways they can use e-books than they ways they can use physical books. I think you're right that it's going to become better, but it's hard to say how it's going to shake out. Game publishers haven't given up on DRM, and also use platform specific games as a way to restrict use. Amazon is doing the same thing with the Kindle format and by restricting epub books from being used on a Kindle. It's hard to say if ebooks are going to become as "free" as MP3s, or if there will still be a layer of restrictions that become more acceptable.
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Old 05-10-2012, 10:22 AM
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I think you're right that it's going to become better, but it's hard to say how it's going to shake out.
Not really. The publishers who don't treat their customers like shit and don't waste money on useless con-job technology will out-compete those that don't. Even with video games, you'll note that the only DRM that gets tolerated these days is the kind that doesn't get noticed.

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Amazon is doing the same thing with the Kindle format and by restricting epub books from being used on a Kindle.
I can read ePubs on my Kindle just fine. I mean, I need to take five seconds to feed them through KindleGen or Calibre, but whatever. Hardly the same thing as PS3-exclusives.
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  #34  
Old 05-10-2012, 11:16 AM
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Not really. The publishers who don't treat their customers like shit and don't waste money on useless con-job technology will out-compete those that don't. Even with video games, you'll note that the only DRM that gets tolerated these days is the kind that doesn't get noticed.



I can read ePubs on my Kindle just fine. I mean, I need to take five seconds to feed them through KindleGen or Calibre, but whatever. Hardly the same thing as PS3-exclusives.
Similar to pirating, Calibre only fixes the problem for those on the far end of the digital divide. It's fine for you and me, but I would say that most people are technologically illiterate. Also, they make it difficult to use e-books purchased on amazon's store on a Nook, or to use either of those on a third device. I would say it is the same as the PS3 example in that it's an artificial (minimally or non-technical) restriction on what you can legally do with software that is imposed on you by the publisher.

And there is a huge difference to me between DRM-free and less noticeable DRM, because it has consequences on what one can legally do with something in the long run. Personal use of a book from 100 years ago is unrestricted, but that won't necessarily be the case with an e-book 100 years from now. E-books have the potential to make things better or worse, it's not set in stone yet.
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  #35  
Old 05-10-2012, 11:36 AM
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Similar to pirating, Calibre only fixes the problem for those on the far end of the digital divide. It's fine for you and me, but I would say that most people are technologically illiterate.
You'd be surprised! It's admittedly a non-representative sample, but I've seen people on an author-fandom mailing list I'm on (Lois McMaster Bujold's) who are not precisely techy having detailed discussions about using Calibre to convert formats back and forth. I see a lot of it on the Romance blogs I follow too, and that's a thoroughly un-techie demographic.

Incidentally, if you want to see where the rest of the publishing industry is going to wind up in a couple of years, look at the Romance genre. They're way ahead of the curve on Ebooks, and accelerating rapidly.

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Also, they make it difficult to use e-books purchased on amazon's store on a Nook, or to use either of those on a third device. I would say it is the same as the PS3 example in that it's an artificial (minimally or non-technical) restriction on what you can legally do with software that is imposed on you by the publisher.
Again, it's a DRM problem, not a format problem. There was a similar brouhaha a couple years back about Apple was "locking out" competing music players from playing songs purchased through iTunes. Record companies eventually wised up to the fact that it was their own short-sighted DRM fetish that created Apple's "monopoly" and started insisting on open, DRM-free formats for music...

That's fundamentally different from PS3 VS 360, where there's a significant technological barrier between the two consoles. Ebooks would be a snap to convert to whatever format you want... Except for DRM.

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And there is a huge difference to me between DRM-free and less noticeable DRM, because it has consequences on what one can legally do with something in the long run. Personal use of a book from 100 years ago is unrestricted, but that won't necessarily be the case with an e-book 100 years from now. E-books have the potential to make things better or worse, it's not set in stone yet.
Right, which is why the Ebook standards community has such a raging boner for open, well-documented formats. That's the real evil of Mobi - it's a heinous format, based on an old PalmOS resource file format from the '90s.
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  #36  
Old 05-10-2012, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Egarwaen View Post
You'd be surprised! It's admittedly a non-representative sample, but I've seen people on an author-fandom mailing list I'm on (Lois McMaster Bujold's) who are not precisely techy having detailed discussions about using Calibre to convert formats back and forth. I see a lot of it on the Romance blogs I follow too, and that's a thoroughly un-techie demographic.
Being on a mailing list is already more tech competent than a lot of people who use libraries. The difference between opening a book and downloading a file is like nothing to most of us, but for a lot of people it's huge.

Anyway, even for those who it does work for it's less elegant than just opening a book. Every extra action required by the reader is a knock against it. Those making e-books and ways to access e-books should be working to make it better than what it's replacing in every way. Extra complications like this are going to limit the penetration of the format.

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Originally Posted by Egarwaen View Post
Incidentally, if you want to see where the rest of the publishing industry is going to wind up in a couple of years, look at the Romance genre. They're way ahead of the curve on Ebooks, and accelerating rapidly.
I'll look into it, thanks.

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Originally Posted by Egarwaen View Post
Again, it's a DRM problem, not a format problem. There was a similar brouhaha a couple years back about Apple was "locking out" competing music players from playing songs purchased through iTunes. Record companies eventually wised up to the fact that it was their own short-sighted DRM fetish that created Apple's "monopoly" and started insisting on open, DRM-free formats for music...

That's fundamentally different from PS3 VS 360, where there's a significant technological barrier between the two consoles. Ebooks would be a snap to convert to whatever format you want... Except for DRM.
Ok, there is more of a difference between PS3 and 360, so that wasn't the best example. However, even if they were identical Sony and Microsoft wouldn't ever allow their games to run on the other system. It's about controlling a platform, and that's something that Amazon and Barnes & Noble are creating with their file type restrictions. Having to buy one e-reader is already an added expense that didn't exist with physical books, now think about having to buy two because Amazon and B&N have different exclusive books (something that's already happening).

EDIT: and just to be clear, Calibre is really useful, and I think that a lot of these issues are going to get sorted out in the relatively near future. I just don't want books to be subject to the same problems that games have with using legacy/restricted software and out of print items. I feel that people developing technology tend to be really short sighted, and I don't see the current form of e-books staying around for 2,000 years.

Last edited by Patrick; 05-10-2012 at 12:20 PM.
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  #37  
Old 05-12-2012, 06:22 PM
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Another 26 pd box on its way to Amazon, another $27 in my wallet and I can actually see some of my walls now!

Also, this is going to help when we move in a couple of months. Less to box, less to lug down the state, and less to unpack. With so few book shelves I might have wall space for all this art I've been collecting!

At this point I'm the same place regarding books as I am music. As close to "digital only" as I can get.
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  #38  
Old 05-13-2012, 04:18 PM
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I'd like to get an e-Reader sometime, especially if they can make good colored versions (that'll be great for PDFs or digital guides), but I would want physical books around simply because they're the one form of media completely independent of any other devices to consume without the stipulation of going to an event or whatever, all you need are working eyes and a knowledge of the language, and even the former isn't inherently necessary with braille books. Still, it'd be nice to have for books I don't want to OWN physically, or for the few books where they do take advantage of how it's out of print but can be kept around for cheap as an eBook.
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  #39  
Old 05-13-2012, 04:32 PM
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I'd like to get an e-Reader sometime, especially if they can make good colored versions (that'll be great for PDFs or digital guides), but I would want physical books around simply because they're the one form of media completely independent of any other devices to consume without the stipulation of going to an event or whatever, all you need are working eyes and a knowledge of the language, and even the former isn't inherently necessary with braille books. Still, it'd be nice to have for books I don't want to OWN physically, or for the few books where they do take advantage of how it's out of print but can be kept around for cheap as an eBook.
Call me a luddite, but much as I can see how e-readers are convenient, and I'm willing to use them for carrying a bunch of textbooks and course literature with me or whatever, I find the experience of reading on them for any length of time endlessly frustrating. The physical structure of the book is intrinsic to the reading experience to me; reading a novel on an e-reader is akin to playing SNES games on those touch-screen emulators. It's ostensibly the same text, but it loses a lot of readability as well as part of it's structure.

I also find the digitalization of literature endlessly worrying. Thankfully I don't live in an authoritan state or anything, but the idea that it's possible for anyone, let alone major economic interests, to both monitor exactly what I'm reading at any given moment and to have complete control of what literature I can lay hands on, is deeply disturbing to me.
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  #40  
Old 05-13-2012, 04:54 PM
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Yeah, that's the other thing, it really IS a different experience. Once you get into a game it rarely makes any difference whether it's on a physical disc/cart or on the system, it's ALWAYS been digital and dependent on the hardware (which is why "digital version" has always been somewhat of a misnomer), and to a lesser extent the same applies to music, depending on how you usually listen to it, with movies mainly being a matter of menus and options. For a book, it just feels very different, especially when you go to varying vintages, an eReader won't be capturing that.

Though there are some in here who seem to notice that less once they get into an eReader... well, there's still the angle there's a greater degree of control allowed to companies here.
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  #41  
Old 05-13-2012, 05:40 PM
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I read a LOT outdoors. During the commute, at the park, at the bus/train stop, waiting for a movie, etc. I can easily carry a standard-size paperback in my hand as I walk around, and other than a bit of wear to the edges of the cover, nothing happens.

I'd really like a tablet-style e-reader, one with internet connectivity, but I'd probably never take it out of the house or the office I'd be too apprehensive about it getting stolen or damaged. About the only real use I'd really get out of it that a book couldn't match would be at the gym, since it'd be easy to set it on top of the treadmill or elliptical and just read away.
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  #42  
Old 05-13-2012, 05:50 PM
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I read a LOT outdoors. During the commute, at the park, at the bus/train stop, waiting for a movie, etc. I can easily carry a standard-size paperback in my hand as I walk around, and other than a bit of wear to the edges of the cover, nothing happens.
One of the nice things about the Kindle and the Nook - and, let's be honest, most phones fall into the same category - is that they're very light, very small, and very durable. And entirely readable in direct sunlight. My Kindle Touch feels easier to hold than most paperbacks. It's lighter, I don't have to change my grip on it while I'm reading, I can move around without losing my page...
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  #43  
Old 05-13-2012, 06:52 PM
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It's not the portability or the feel of it that I object to, but I'm extremely paranoid about being seen outside carrying hundred-dollar-plus devices. The "nothing happens" part is more related to how carrying a book in your hand doesn't attract attention, but I'm leery even of taking out my phone or iPod in public. The rash of cellphone thefts on Boston's public transport system didn't help matters!
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  #44  
Old 05-13-2012, 09:49 PM
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Call me a luddite, but much as I can see how e-readers are convenient, and I'm willing to use them for carrying a bunch of textbooks and course literature with me or whatever, I find the experience of reading on them for any length of time endlessly frustrating. The physical structure of the book is intrinsic to the reading experience to me; reading a novel on an e-reader is akin to playing SNES games on those touch-screen emulators. It's ostensibly the same text, but it loses a lot of readability as well as part of it's structure.
I dunno, I haven't actually had this problem. On my non-backlit kindle, the device has usually disappeared into the books, I've found. I can easily hold it in one hand or the other and not have to shift my grip, or prop my finger in the page, or worry about setting it down and lose my page, or the one that really blew me away is that I can just set it down flat in front of me (or prop it up on something) and keep reading entirely hands-free - no weighting it down or maneuvering things to stay open, or putting it upside-down while I do something else. It's as easy as a book to look at in any lighting.

Most of my issues with the device itself come from technology limitations - slight ghosting of text on the page after a turn, no color, harder to navigate (due to bad menu layouts and limited options)


Also, my sore fucking shoulders from having a 1000 page hardback in my goddamn bag all day would really have appreciated that e-reader today
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  #45  
Old 05-13-2012, 10:44 PM
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You guys are A. Dorable.
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  #46  
Old 05-14-2012, 03:36 AM
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Most of my issues with the device itself come from technology limitations - slight ghosting of text on the page after a turn
Fix the ghosting by turning on "every-page refresh" in your settings. This was added in a firmware update if you don't see it now.

I bought my wife the $79 Kindle last Christmas to replace her 2nd Gen Kindle because it's so small and light and the loss in battery capacity/memory is negligible, considering the demands of normal Kindle usage. You can deactivate a Kindle from your Amazon account it if gets stolen, you can easily restore purchases from your account, and it's cheap enough now that I don't worry about the device itself (your mileage may vary on whether you consider that cheap, but it's the same price as my watch and my car keys would be more expensive to replace.)
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  #47  
Old 05-14-2012, 12:37 PM
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I talk about this more on my blog today
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  #48  
Old 05-16-2012, 03:45 AM
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I've bought a few books through iBook on my iPod touch, but the selection is poor relative to Amazon's new and used physical book selection.

How does lending or renting work for digital books? I do most of my paper book reading through libraries, so I don't need to hold onto most books forever.

In general, how are digital comics, especially on a good display like iPad 3's? I assume a big problem is that, unlike text, there's no easy way to reformat comic panels for different screens, but comics still have to sell to all varieties of gadgets.

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For a book, it just feels very different, especially when you go to varying vintages, an eReader won't be capturing that.
Many of the classics were handwritten, written on parchment, papyrus, scrolls, etc. You don't get those experiences from a physical bookstore. Since it's cheaper to send bits than pages, there could be a market for handwritten books scanned and distributed as a series of JPEGs.

Last edited by Vega; 05-16-2012 at 04:15 AM.
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  #49  
Old 05-16-2012, 03:49 AM
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In general, how are digital comics, especially on a good display like iPad 3's? I assume a big problem is that, unlike text, there's no easy way to reformat comic panels for different screens, but comics still have to sell to all varieties of gadgets.
Digital comics are great on the iPad3. You don't have to reformat the panels (I think they just script panning motions anyway for small screens). On a tablet, you just read a full page on the tablet screen, although I have to hold the tablet portait to read a single full page and hold it landscape to read a two-page splash layout. People with better eyes may be able to always hold it landscape for continuous two-page reading. The new HD resolution supports it, it's just too tiny for me.
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Old 05-16-2012, 08:37 AM
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Many of the classics were handwritten, written on parchment, papyrus, scrolls, etc. You don't get those experiences from a physical bookstore. Since it's cheaper to send bits than pages, there could be a market for handwritten books scanned and distributed as a series of JPEGs.
Well, my distaste for ebooks is not a striving for authenticity. I read far too many translated pocket books for that sort of reasoning to make sense, and I think authenticity is basically a petit-bourgeois sort of value to prescribe to any cultural experience. I cannot ever experience the Illiad in an authentic manner because my response to it will obviously be colored by millenia of societal and cultural changes.

So, yeah, I don't think the physical form of the book is more authentic, I just prefer the way a book gets structured around it. I would prefer reading a book over reading a handwritten manuscript or a papyrus as well, at least if my main purpose was to absorb the text as opposed to analyze the author's handwriting.
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  #51  
Old 05-16-2012, 10:11 AM
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How does lending or renting work for digital books? I do most of my paper book reading through libraries, so I don't need to hold onto most books forever.
Generally depends on some kind of DRM system. Basically, you get a copy of the book and a license that tells the DRM system on your reader "stop permitting this to be read after such-and-such date."
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  #52  
Old 05-16-2012, 09:51 PM
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Digital comics are great on the iPad3.
I should have worded that differently. Of course the iPad 3 is the gold standard for digital comics viewing, but will it go to waste if comics publishers aim for the lowest common denominator and standardize on Kindle Fire's 7 inch 1024 x 600 screen? Are they doing so?
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  #53  
Old 05-16-2012, 10:01 PM
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I should have worded that differently. Of course the iPad 3 is the gold standard for digital comics viewing, but will it go to waste if comics publishers aim for the lowest common denominator and standardize on Kindle Fire's 7 inch 1024 x 600 screen? Are they doing so?
Comics publishers are still aiming for the standard print comic sizes they always have. The iPad is good at displaying these as-is; other screens with some minor alterations. Given the huge aunt of easily-scanned material out there in this format, I have a hard time seeing why they'd change.
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Old 05-17-2012, 03:54 AM
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Comixology upgraded their format for the iPad 3: comics tagged CMX-HD in the digital store are "retina" resolution. The new issues seem to be coming out at this resolution and they're updating the back catalog. I bought the new Batwoman run when I got the iPad 3 and issue #1 was at old resolution and #2+ was at HD. It all looked really good, though. That article says you only get the increased resolution (and file size) if you're downloading to the iPad 3, though. Comixology has free issues so try viewing one on your PC and you'll see even the non-HD images look pretty good on a computer screen (at least, they look good on a friend's Xoom tablet).

Now if you're buying DC graphic novels from Amazon, those are probably intended for the Kindle Fire, so I don't know that they'd upgrade the resolution yet. But the Fire won't be the last table Amazon releases.
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Old 05-29-2012, 01:59 PM
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So, my former employer posted another anti-Amazon screed today. And you know what? I just don't buy it anymore. This idea that Amazon's using the Kindle as a backdoor to massive discounts with an endgame of SECRET PIRACY free books for all is ridiculous. I mean, just read that article. It's a bunch of scare-mongering combined with infantile temper-tantrum whining, trying to sell the idea that if publishers' ability to act as monopolies gets taken away and they actually have to, you know, compete and deal with marketplace forces, all reading will stop forever.

Since buying my Kindle, I've gotten more willing to pay for books, not less, regardless of price point. In fact, I'd say that price point has really stopped mattering. I've bought books in the $9.99 range from Amazon. I've bought books in the $5 range direct from publishers. I've bought books in the $15 range direct from authors (VIA Kickstarter, mostly). How much I'm willing to pay depends more on how sure I am I'll like what I'm getting.

Yes, I get it. Publishers are scared that they aren't relevant anymore. They're scared that they won't be able to get away with opaque yearly royalty statements anymore. They're scared that they might have to actually think about business, rather than just accounting, if they don't have the massive up-front cash infusion provided by the returns system. And yes, most of those fears are well-founded. Publishers are less important than they used to be, and diminishing every day.

But as a reader or an author? It doesn't really matter. There's the potential for middlemen to get ruthlessly cut out of the distribution chain. And that only ever benefits those at either end. And this notion that Amazon's going to be able to price its books down to zero, load them up with advertisements, and run Apple and B&N out of business is laughable. Apple has the largest cash-on-hand reserve of any US company ever. B&N... Less so, but they're still likely to remain a thriving alternative, just because customers don't like crowning a monopoly if they can possibly avoid it.
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  #56  
Old 05-29-2012, 02:05 PM
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But as a reader or an author? It doesn't really matter. There's the potential for middlemen to get ruthlessly cut out of the distribution chain. And that only ever benefits those at either end. And this notion that Amazon's going to be able to price its books down to zero, load them up with advertisements, and run Apple and B&N out of business is laughable. Apple has the largest cash-on-hand reserve of any US company ever. B&N... Less so, but they're still likely to remain a thriving alternative, just because customers don't like crowning a monopoly if they can possibly avoid it.
This is largely what is happening to the music industry. Publishers once had, and could still have, a valuable roll to play in the transmission of ideas. It is no longer mandatory though... See Amanda Palmer. For books see that Twenty Shades of Grey author. Except, the next time there won't be a need to get a traditional publisher.
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Old 05-29-2012, 02:54 PM
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This is largely what is happening to the music industry. Publishers once had, and could still have, a valuable roll to play in the transmission of ideas. It is no longer mandatory though... See Amanda Palmer. For books see that Twenty Shades of Grey author. Except, the next time there won't be a need to get a traditional publisher.
Right. And so many publishers are built around the idea that their participation is mandatory that they can't handle even the suggestion that it isn't.
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Old 05-30-2012, 07:43 AM
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The only issue I have with publishers disappearing is that they often provide valuable resources to authors, such as editors and agents. I could see agents falling by the wayside, but every author needs an editor. Are those just all going to be on a freelance basis now?
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  #59  
Old 05-30-2012, 10:58 AM
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Location: Sebastopol, CA
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Originally Posted by Karzac View Post
The only issue I have with publishers disappearing is that they often provide valuable resources to authors, such as editors and agents. I could see agents falling by the wayside, but every author needs an editor. Are those just all going to be on a freelance basis now?
Agents aren't provided by the publisher. They contract directly with the author to manage the complications of negotiating with a publisher. Marketing, editing, and "brand curation" are the three services primarily provided by publishers. Editing has been getting cut back for a while now; it still happens, but less aggressively than it used to. Marketing has gone out the window almost entirely. Authors are now almost entirely responsible for their own marketing, with the exception of a handful of already-successful mega-hit authors. Ditto "brand curation". One of the most popular phrases at O'Reilly in the last year I was there was "the author is the brand". Meaning that we'd run our own name through the muck so aggressively that it didn't have the value it used to. So instead we'd take a successful author and use their name to sell not just their books, but lots of other people's books too.

This is why you see so many books "co-authored" by popular, successful authors. David Pogue, for example, has "co-authored" an implausible number of O'Reilly's Missing Manuals series. David Weber and Mercedes Lackey do or did the same for military sci-fi and urban fantasy.
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Old 05-30-2012, 01:57 PM
fugu13 fugu13 is offline
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The only issue I have with publishers disappearing is that they often provide valuable resources to authors, such as editors and agents. I could see agents falling by the wayside, but every author needs an editor. Are those just all going to be on a freelance basis now?
There'll definitely be a lot more freelance editing; there already is.

I do see the need for publishers, ongoing, but I suspect a publisher will in many ways be more like a super-agent than a shrunk down publisher. That is, a publisher will be someone who vets, arranges for preparation services (editing, cover art, basic PR), and provides an imprimatur for readers to be guided by, in exchange for a modest percentage (but no up front fee -- the publisher is also taking on a risk). One of the biggest reasons for existing publishers, the supply chain, basically doesn't exist with ebooks (there are some related issues, but they're not really the same at all).

People in publishing are astonishingly myopic about the huge sea change that's happening, too. For instance, take Writer Beware's recent coverage of self publishing survey data.

Here's a bit of data, and Writer Beware's take:

Quote:
- 10% of self-publishing authors earn 75% of royalties--a statistic that's eerily similar to the income breakout in traditional publishing. (Only about 60% of the more than 1,000 respondents were willing to answer questions about their earnings.)
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It's a valuable counter to the hype that surrounds self-publishing, and hopefully gives authors who are considering this alternative more tools with which to realistically evaluate their goals.
First, they're just messed up about what the "hype" surrounding self publishing is. Nobody being taken seriously as a promoter of self publishing is saying anything like what they seem to think is being said. What is being said is that an author who releases a solid body (this means multiple works, say two or three with a new one every year or less) of decent quality work by self publishing stands a very good chance to recoup at least as much as they'd receive from a mainstream publisher.

Note that in a survey of self-publishing, around 10% of the authors earned 75% of the royalties (and this wasn't just "pro" self-publishers -- most of them were earning very little). Writer Beware takes this to mean that self-publishing is no more likely to be a source of revenue than traditional publishing, but that's a hideous misreading of the statistic.

Think about it: the question is, if a person were to attempt traditional publishing or traditional publishing, which would earn more? So, we need to look at comparable sets of people. Those who pursue traditional publishing can be grouped into two groups: those who get a book contract, and those who don't. The self-publishing group surveyed includes many people who never would have gotten a book contract: every single self-publisher with even a little revenue (and almost all in this survey are selling at least a few books a month) in the survey is already doing better, in both exposure and money, than they would have pursuing traditional publishing.

Then there's the second group, who would've been traditionally published. Well, how well are they doing? For estimating that, this is a far more relevant statistic:

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- The 29% of respondents who went from a traditional publisher to self-publishing earned twice as much on their own as they did from their publishers.
Since most authors never earn out their contracts (have total royalties larger than their advance) and self published ebooks tend to be lower priced, this almost certainly means that, even with the greater percentage take, these authors are reaching a much wider audience. Imagine what will happen when ebooks become more widely adopted?

I mean, the myth that there aren't many self published authors making substantial sums of money is so easily dismissed. Go to the kindle store. Click down a couple of category levels in some sort of genre fiction. Look through the top 30 or so titles. I bet you 5 to 8 of them are pretty obviously self published (and some self publishers have become very good at looking like traditional publishers) and not free. Then notice how the other books at similar rankings are many of them bestsellers. That's a heck of a lot of people self publishing for money in quantities competitive with mainstream ebook publishing. What's more, any book in the top 100 to 200 or so and pricing for at least $2.99 is probably earning more for the author over 5 years than authors get on average for a comparatively ranked mainstream book. That's not half bad.
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