Author Topic: Combined musings on ebooks and publishing  (Read 117146 times)

Has

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Re: Geo restriction of books, speculation, suggestions, commisseration
« Reply #225 on: April 08, 2010, 02:55:52 pm »
Ugh! I know!
And last night Parliament passed an asinine bill here about digital copyrights here. There is no real thought about the consequences and its passed by idiots who have no idea what the issues are :P
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Has

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Re: Geo restriction of books, speculation, suggestions, commisseration
« Reply #226 on: April 08, 2010, 03:53:33 pm »
Here is some food for thought- ebook sales have risen 170 percent so far - and there is speculation that in a few years time might be on par with mass market books which does make the recent changes from the publishers make you go hmmm.

http://www.publishers.org/main/PressCenter/Archicves/2010_April/BookSalesEstimatedat23.9Billionin2009.htm

I would love to see the sale figures for next month to see if there is a dip especially with the changeover of the Agency 5 publishers.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2010, 03:56:13 pm by Has »
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Kyria

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Re: Geo restriction of books, speculation, suggestions, commisseration
« Reply #227 on: April 08, 2010, 06:46:08 pm »
I haven't looked up information on this (I don't do eBooks... although I will qualify that with a "yet") but are the geo restrictions on eBooks purely for downloading?  Are there issues similar to DVD zoning with eBook formats?  I know I had all the lovely irritation of switching the zoning on my laptop when  went to Australia for a semester and wanted to watch my roommate's movies... and then when I wanted to watch my own, I had to switch it back, and you can only do that something like 5 times. 

I can see there being some issues with international copyright coming into play here.  I don't agree with it, I'm just looking for the logic behind it. 

Also, Google is evil.  They're trying to monopolize a little bit too much of the online/digital world, IMO. 

Rob

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Re: Geo restriction of books, speculation, suggestions, commisseration
« Reply #228 on: April 08, 2010, 06:49:06 pm »
Also, Google is evil.  They're trying to monopolize a little bit too much of the online/digital world, IMO.  

I think of it as Robin Williams said concerning Bill Gates.....http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLjt6N_xJac

WARNING>>>>FOUL LANGUAGE IS USED IN THIS CLIP!!!
« Last Edit: April 08, 2010, 07:11:00 pm by Rob »
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Kyria

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Re: Geo restriction of books, speculation, suggestions, commisseration
« Reply #229 on: April 08, 2010, 07:20:28 pm »
Love Robin Williams. But yes, it took some getting used to that he is an ADULT comedian... My baby brother (now not so baby, he's almost 21, when did that happen!?) used to love doing Robin Williams impressions, but of course that was when we were little, and we only knew the kid-friendly Robin Williams (Aladdin, Hook)

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Re: Geo restriction of books, speculation, suggestions, commisseration
« Reply #230 on: April 24, 2010, 12:28:43 am »
Since we get both US and UK editions over here, and there aren't any publishers doing Tagalog translations of most popular fiction titles (except for Mills and Boon/Harlequins), this problem is probably restricted to Europe and Canada. My friend in Taiwan orders US editions from amazon for those books that she can't find locally, and I haven't heard her complain about having any of her latest orders declined yet either.

I'll have to agree with the others who say it's the fault of the number crunchers though. An author located in the US would sign a contract with a US publishing house, and publishers in other countries (like the UK) will usually produce their own editions "by agreement of" the original publishing house. If retailers in the original country were allowed to sell to buyers in the "by agreement of" countries, then that translates into lost potential sales for the company that got the republishing rights, particularly in the original edition isn't released simultaneously with the licensed edition. Then again, people in the US have been buying Guy Gavriel Kay's Under Heaven from amzon.ca, so I guess the problem is limited to US publications that are licensed to other countries?

I experienced a similar problem in early 2000 though, when I was buying Kodansha's biligual mangas of Cardcaptor Sakura (which were intended to help Japanese kids learn English). Tokyopop was doing their own translation of the Cardcaptor manga though, and when they realized that fans were buying the Kodansha bilinguals (which had more volumes out than their own version), they managed to get Kodansha to stop distributing the biligual books in the US.

OTenshi

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Re: Geo restriction of books, speculation, suggestions, commisseration
« Reply #231 on: April 24, 2010, 03:56:28 pm »
I dislike that publishers are being so greedy and thoughtless. 
The restriction thing tweaks me almost as much as the fact that charging the same for ebooks as paper books is just highway robbery.  There's almost no production cost, and they're charging the same as a hardcover (twitch)?  On top of that some of the covers don't come with the download (twitch), so you get a generic page with just the title. Nrrrr.  It makes me want to start a publishing company just to give people a fair break. 
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Re: Geo restriction of books, speculation, suggestions, commisseration
« Reply #232 on: April 30, 2010, 01:22:01 am »
I hate Geyorestrictions. DRM is annoying, but georestrictions is a bigger threat. Why? It annoys the customers.  The book I want isn't available? Too bad I'll buy something else instead.

As for Silverborne, I haven't bought it yet. And I wont. Why? It was out of stock at my local bookstore, when I checked. Which is turned out to be a good thing, since  less than a week later I won it in a contest at the Odd Shots. Signed.     It must be fate.

Elle

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Re: Geo restriction of books, speculation, suggestions, commisseration
« Reply #233 on: April 30, 2010, 12:03:03 pm »
Silver Borne got up up at the Sony store for Canadians. That happened last week some time.   bOuNcY
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In Defense of Publishers

By: MikeJune 27, 2010

It seems that everywhere I turn, I see people clamoring for the death of traditional publishing. They're old, fossilized, moribund and getting in the way. The dinosaurs are clinging to an outdated business model, let them die! The vitriol comes from many quarters. Readers upset with prices, geographic restrictions and the spotty availability of digital books, particularly for older content. Small publishers eager to discredit the competition, and hopefully loot the carcass for market share. And, of course, writers frustrated with the current gatekeepers, who had the gall to reject their brilliant opus.

A few days ago, I read a very interesting article by Laura Miller at Salon, When Anyone Can Be a Published Author. Actually, the original title was "The Democratization of Slush", which proved to be surprisingly politically-charged. The fact that the title and even the content of an article can change virtually invisibly after publication is, I suppose, both an advantage and a potential danger of electronic media. It's lovely to be able to fix typos and correct grammatical blunders, but it makes me squeamish to think of our news and history being silently re-written to fit current social or political ideology. But I digress . . .

In my opinion, Ms Miller's article did an excellent job of analyzing a complex situation, and documenting the role of the current gatekeepers as well as the potential problems for readers when those gatekeepers are removed. In simplest terms, publishers winnow through a lot a chaff and try to find the occasional kernel of wheat for their readers. They're not perfect. They are commercial entities, and they often pass up otherwise excellent books if they don't feel they can profitably market the resultant product. They occasionally overlook good books, and have published some stinkers. However, on the whole, the stream of products coming out of the big houses is vastly better than the flood of raw material being submitted to them. If self-publishing, print on demand and technologies-yet-to-be-invented render the major presses irrelevant, someone is going to have to take over the role of reading/evaluating/judging the flood of material. The article was well written and cogent, but the comments were scathing -- how dare she ascribe any value to traditional publishing? Didn't she know that the court of public opinion has condemned them, and that the new world would be all fluffy bunnies and rainbows?

In another blog, a week or so ago, I found a bunch of people complaining that the publishing industry was asinine due to geographic restrictions on ebooks. After all, it's pretty silly that someone in the USA can purchase an ebook, but a potential client overseas can't do so. Oh, and the same thing goes for the back-list: why can't the publishers release all our favorite books from the 80's and 90's for a few cents a pop as ebooks? Stupid publishers!

Most publishers can't afford to pay the author a fair price for worldwide rights, and instead pay only for the right to publish and sell in a certain geographic area. Authors are then free to sell the rights to publish in other countries to local publishers. It's worked fine with print books, but is admittedly annoying with ebooks. Also, most publishers didn't acquire the digital rights to books twenty or thirty years ago, and so have no legal right to publish them in electronic form. Publishers are getting branded as inept or unadaptable, when really their hands are tied. Contractually, they don't have the right to do what the public demands, and if they try to make the public happy by ignoring their contracts and selling whatever they feel like, the authors will sue them into oblivion. It's going to take some time to adjust to the realities of a digital world, and an industry that depends on individual contracts with the creators of each piece of their catalog simply can't turn on a dime. Meanwhile, of course, the pirate sites which have no contracts, pay no royalties, and could care less about legality, are having no trouble giving people what they want.

We've been working with traditional publishing for about fifteen years now. The honeymoon is long over, and I'm not saying they're perfect. They're slow. They make mistakes. They don't always pander to the fragile ego's of hopeful authors. They don't always get the perfect cover on a book, or market it the way the author thinks they should have. I've even grumbled about them now and again. But when I hear all the people crying out for the downfall of traditional publishing, I get defensive. The editors I know love books. They love readers. They work long hours to try to find the very best of what's being written, and then work even more hours to try to make it better. If they can't respond to changing demands as quickly as the pirate sites, it's because they're actually interested in both upholding the law and making sure that all the creative folks involved in their products actually get paid. I find it hard to fault them for that, because the best way to guarantee your favorite author, copy-editor and cover artist are available for the next endeavor is to make sure they get paid for the current one.

I'm not against self-publishing, or even publishing through a vanity press for certain applications. There are many reasons for publishing, and many potential markets to reach, some of which are are not well served by traditional publishing. Besides, a little healthy competition is a good thing, and I think both authors and readers will ultimately benefit from the additional options being pioneered. But the current wave of hatred directed at traditional publishing seems ill-deserved and churlish to me.
Disclaimer:

This is Mike (the husband unit), not Patty, and the opinions I've expressed are my own.



My reaction:

I don't hate the publishers for 'failing' the public's demand for more, faster and better access to books especially e-book formats, because of contractual reasons, which are in reality outside of their control.  I don't even get too ticked off about it in all actuality.

I mean really, sure there is in reality a much more than basic 'capability' to put those works up, literally a mouse click after they're done editing, and make it available around the world.  But having done my home work I know that to ensure the people creating, refining and basically slaving over the creation of those works of fiction, get  fairly paid and compensated, I'm willing to put up with a certain amount of sluggishness, 'perhaps' even a bit of obstinancy as it regards changing a time tested and well proven business model in favor of an untested, new fangled, technology which has the possibility of backfiring big time.

But all of that said.  I will damn them and quite roundly too for their pigheaded failure to adopt a 10 year old model with a proven track record of success in handling and distributing e-books.  To my mind 10 years of success removes anything tech related from the realm of 'new fangled'.  And yes like a broken record I am once again referring to the Baen Books type e-book model.  found at www.webscriptions.net and www.baen.com.  Its been up and running since 1999 and they are still alive and thriving.

This is exactly the point where I jump off the 'they really have to work out contracts with each and every individual creator' so cut them some slack band-wagon.  Because Baen has no significant problems getting the e-rights to just about every book they publish.  All of their authors works, with the exeptionally rare and well discussed exception, are available not only electronically, but also many of them are available in E-Arc format available for mass distribution well before the official release date.

I'll concede that getting the rights to books from back before the dawn of the tech age, read the 90's, can be a bit of a booger.  But so what?  Any complaints I have are about the sluggish distribution of current works and a dianosaur like refusal to embrase time tested and positive proven change.

And that darned them is exactly why I can't get my hands on certain books when I am currently living in a 3rd world country and that darned them is why they should fail and fresh blood be given the chance to vie for market share, and the fresh blood should receive our (the buyers) support.

Now let me be clear.  I know that for instance Tor books would love to duplicate the Baen Model, but that Simon and Schuckster their parent company wouldn't let them... back in what? '07?  Maybe things are starting to change.  I honestly don't know.  But last I heard big publshing companies were waring with Amazon and making it so that I couldn't get my hands on a bunch of books I'd been waiting for.  Now boo-hoo little me right?  I'm so put upon.  Having to wait a couple extra months to read certain books.  Well to that I say whatever.  I'm going to air my opinions and put my money where my mouth is and support non-dianosaur like publishing companies.

I do realize the great value that editors and publishers do us by sifting the wheat from the chaff.  I honestly do.  Try buying some 0.99c or $2-3 self published or small publisher books from amazon and it quickly becomes obvious exactly what the publishers are doing to help the reader get the really good books and avoid throwing their hands up in the air over all the dross that could flood the market and make it so frustrating you'd stop buying books.

But you know what.  The Guilds of old had specialized skills.  Even after they got rid of a lot of the secrecy and refusing to train others in their skills.  They still were a small group of highly trained individuals with skills it literally took years and decades to learn.  The Guilds of old jacked joe-public around.  Artificially raising prices and creating fake demand.  It took time and effort but We crushed them and if the Publishers of today continue to try and set artificially high e-book prices well above dead tree book prices, and jerk us around by refusing to sell us e-books at all because they got their nickers in a bunch one day about certain outlets selling their books at 'what these high and mighty guild-like publishers' think is too low a price....  well We can crush them too.  And it all starts with finding outlets like Baen who aren't jerking us around and are providing us with quality books and e-books and supporting them with our dime and dollar.

I'm not saying to just one day up and abandon all other publishers and with them the authors who don't use publishers you approve of.  But certainly make your views known and put your first discretionary dollars towards those publishers who aren't jerking you around.




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« Last Edit: June 28, 2010, 09:07:38 am by The Deposed King »

ironkitten

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Well, I think you're right. I don't think ebooks should be so overly priced by their cousins printed on paper. It is obvious that paper printed books would cost more than ebooks. Those prices should be balanced in whatever contracts those publishers have with the authors and what not.
However, how many people are as educated as us to go and take the time to research all those publishers to do what you suggest? So half the battle is knowing and making it known. I am glad to hear that Thor tried to do the same as Baen, but I am not surprised they got clamped down on. I do think given the times, as nice as it is to have a "hard copy" it is best to go ahead and do the ebooks. I also think that at some point in time when publishers come around to the technological age with the rest of us or at least I think it should have been adopted already is that traditional publishers should already start going over to some kind of ebook format along with a contract for that and allow the authors to decide if they want it in ebook form. Those from way back when - ya bugger is a good word for it, but I also know that is only for those authors with living family or someone with rights to them - not the ones who don't. Anyway good post.
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ArtAngel

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Paying hardcover prices for e-books makes me cringe but paying those prices for hardcovers make me cringe too. I used to be annoyed with paying paperback prices for e-books but not anymore. A little while ago I had looked up how much it would cost to self publish, my little sis had written a story and I wanted to get a few copies printed for her as a birthday gift. If you get one or two, or even one or two hundred,  it is very expensive but once you get into the thousands and tens of thousands that real publishers deal with the printing price becomes negligible.
 
The eight dollars that you pay for a book has to go somewhere else since it obviously isn't into the printing. Then I started thinking of all the people involved in publishing one book. Writing is a full time job so the authors who write full time have to make enough to live and support their families, and they are not the only ones who get a cut in profits. How many others are getting paychecks from those profits? I don't know since I've never been published but I bet it's lots more than we think.

There are a few things that do annoy me about e-books. Yes, it is taking forever to get all the rules hammered out but when you get that many lawyers together in a room, it's their job to be thorough, to make sure there are no loopholes for anyone to get screwed over. So besides my selfish need for the instant gratification that e-books provide, I'm ok with how long it's taking. In fact, since I plan on being published if I can, I applaud the caution they are showing. 

Another thing that really annoys me and that I don't have an answer to is this. Why do we rarely get the real cover of the book? If we are paying full price then there has to be enough for the artists cut, so where is the cover? It's a small complaint but a valid one. I like the covers of most of the books I read and would like to enjoy them.

My last complaint has to do with geographical restrictions. Again, I understand the basic reasons for these. It protects the authors and publishers and makes them more money. And, no, I do not believe that to be an artist you have to be a stupid business man. Who wants to starve? No one. have you ever tried to be creative when you are hungry? It's very distracting. What I do dislike about them is this. As a Canadian reader I can go to the city and buy just about any book in a real bookstore so why can't I download that same book to a Canadian computer? That is what I don't understand.

Besides those two complaints, I applaud the caution that the publishers are taking. As annoying as it is now since there are so few ebooks available, especially in the last few months, I think that their caution will be good for writers and readers in the long run.
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ironkitten

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that is true a room full of lawyers - that is pricey right there, but a necessary evil to protect yourself. I think your last complaint is very valid as well, that never ceases to amaze me to go buy the book but not download it for whatever the reason is. I am visual so if I can't get a cover for my book forget it. Even an ebook they can upload a scan of the cover as a jpg or whatever format and it takes all of 1 minute.
The printing process and publishing of a book - I cringe, there are the writers, editors, printers, ink, paper, time, lawyers, shipping, translators, distributors and the list goes on. They all get their cut, which is why it is odd to me your not printing with an ebook so a lot of that cost could be cut out.

That was sweet you were going to have that book published for your sister. What kind of books are you writing about?
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ArtAngel

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printers, ink, paper, time,

On the websites I was looking at, these could be paid for less than a quarter per book. That's really not a very large part of $8. Shipping costs would not be necessary, but then again when you look at the deals that publishers would get it's still not very much per book. Whereas paying someone with enough computer skills and knowledge to make a book into an ebook in so many different formats would more that cover the cost of shipping. Ebooks would also need distributors. We don't buy directly from the publisher so any time you get a company between the provider and the consumer, you need distributors.

I'm writing a fantasy novel but it's not anywhere near ready for anyone but me and a few friends who are helping me with critiquing.
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Patti L.

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Don't forget proofreaders (however much they've been cut back), receptionists, IT guys & gals, file clerks, janitors, security, art directors, blurb writers, promotional agents (the ones who shepherd the author around on signing tours, for instance), advertising departments, mailrooms taking care of fan letters, fan fic, fielding actual physical manuscripts, readers of said Ms. to determine what is publishable (with help!), HR departments, payroll departments, accountants, tax preparers, office managers, secretaries, the reps who go from store to store with ARCs and try to talk the managers into ordering a particular author/publisher's output.  Travel agents for a lot of the above... and those others I've left out.

IK, I hope you don't mind, but I'll ask ArtAngel to answer *any further to* you either in Random, Discussion, or via PM.  It's off topic here.
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