Author Topic: Combined musings on ebooks and publishing  (Read 117132 times)

ArtAngel

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Thank you Patti! That is exctly the list I was trying, and failing, to think of. I knew that there would be a huge amount of support staff but couldn't think of all of them.
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ironkitten

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LOL Patti L. it's kewl. No it's just the rant off what Mike was talking about there is just so much that goes into it. I think it does get frustrating.  I can understand and share that frustration. We aren't too off topic. That is too funny though - I wasn't going to list them all.  Plus I think Mike has probably had to deal with a lot of that stuff otherwise he wouldn't have posted it.
ArtAngel good luck with your writing and share the link with us when you get there. If you need a bit more feedback I am sure we could all do that.
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JulieP

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I am a professional photographer and it is a similar situation in our profession.  My clients still are looking for Large wall art, so, print is not dead.  It has *changed* though.  People want digital copies not so much to print, but to share on facebook and the internet in general.  To not respond to that would be business suicide. 

I personally love books.  My husband wants me to have an e-reader in the worst way.  He says I have a hoarding problem   9) I sorta do.  I am about to go trade all my books in, but, still want books! I do see the good side of an e reader, but, the thought of losing the feel of a book just makes me sad

On another note, as far as expenses, there are so many expenses one does not think of.  Just because there isn't printing done, or in my case, film to be bought and developed, does not make it *cheaper*.  I think photography is more expensive these days. Much easier to become proficient at, you can shoot a heck of a lot more, but, for a real professional the costs are high.  Camera bodies need replacing about every 2 years(used to last 10-15) Computers need upgrading every year to 2. Software must be purchased and then upgrade all the darn time.  My TIME, oh my TIME.  It is worth something and I do put in LOTS of hours for each client.

As was explained above, the costs are different. I can only imagine the licensing right fees!

ironkitten

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I agree JulieP it would be suicide not to cater tot hat market. I also agree nothing is the same as reading with an old fashioned book they are just so fun.

I forgot about the photography profession, but I can see them having some of the same things to deal with.
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The Deposed King

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I agree JulieP it would be suicide not to cater tot hat market. I also agree nothing is the same as reading with an old fashioned book they are just so fun.

I forgot about the photography profession, but I can see them having some of the same things to deal with.


I'm not sure I buy into the 'tech costs' being more than 'printing costs' argument.  I can see that many or all of the other costs would remain the same.  But in every other industry I know of, computerization of their processes has resulted in 'decreases' in costs.  Or at worst, increased efficiancy and a parity in costs.  So in short until you show me the itemized list, I'm going to cry foul and say even if all you'd save is a single solitary quarter in cost, that the e-book should be 0.24c less per unit than a dead tree book.  Not a dollar or two more!

And if you honestly told me that your tech costs to convert files into a readable e-format were equivalent to typesetting and printing costs.... I'd most likely want to have my web-development company's IT guys look at the process and if possible cut your costs.




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Mike Briggs

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I don't have any inside information about production costs, they don't show us the accounting spreadsheet.    I've heard several times that ebooks cost about 10% less than the paperback to produce, which actually seems like a reasonable figure to me; but I have no way of knowing if that number is accurate.  I suspect that a real price comparison would be pretty tough, because with e-books the fixed costs are much higher than the unit costs.  If an ebook costs $20,000 up front, and sells 5000 copies, you have a whole different unit cost than if the same books sells a hundred thousand copies. 

I think most publishers are trying to initially price ebooks high enough to avoid losing hardback sales.  Lets say, for the sake of argument, that ebooks could reasonably be sold for $5 (publisher gets $3), while still making a profit.  However, the hardback sells for $25 with the publisher getting $10 or so.  The problem (for publishers) is that if the ebook comes out at the same time, much of the demand will be satisfied by the ebook.  The demand for books is finite, they probably won't sell three times as many ebooks, so they won't be able to "make up" for the lower profits in volume.   This is the same reason they delay paperback releases by a year or so.

The problem is that the public is demanding the ebook be released early, saying, "Hey, I bought a $300 reader, I want the latest content, not year-old leavings!".  Understandable.  I think the publishers are affixing a premium price to the ebook early in the release cycle, and dropping it later.  Hypothetically, the ebook price should always be a little less than whatever paper version is currently available.

However, it's not that clean.  I've seen books that are $7 in paper, and over twenty in ebooks, WITH nasty DRM.  That's just wrong.  Publishers are still trying to figure this out, and right now it seems every publisher (or every marketing branch within a publisher) has a different idea about how to price and sell ebooks, which creates a great deal of confusion, and leads to resentment from the buying public.  I mean, if I bought a $20 ebook with no cover, bad formatting, and DRM, then saw the paperback in the discount bin for $5, I wouldn't be favorably impressed, and that's happening to LOTS of buyers.

So, I hope this gets sorted out.  The current free-for-all isn't helping readers, authors OR publishers.  However, this sort of disaster is exactly what one expects when market conditions change drastically in a free market.  Lots of people trying various strategies, some of which are just dumb, trying to find something that works. 
« Last Edit: July 04, 2010, 11:51:59 am by Mike Briggs »
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ironkitten

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That's true Mike - thanks for sharing that with us. Hopefully that is something they work out soon. and hopefully agree with everyone.
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The Deposed King

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I don't have any inside information about production costs, they don't show us the accounting spreadsheet.    I've heard several times that ebooks cost about 10% less than the paperback to produce, which actually seems like a reasonable figure to me; but I have no way of knowing if that number is accurate.  I suspect that a real price comparison would be pretty tough, because with e-books the fixed costs are much higher than the unit costs.  If an ebook costs $20,000 up front, and sells 5000 copies, you have a whole different unit cost than if the same books sells a hundred thousand copies. 

I think most publishers are trying to initially price ebooks high enough to avoid losing hardback sales.  Lets say, for the sake of argument, that ebooks could reasonably be sold for $5 (publisher gets $3), while still making a profit.  However, the hardback sells for $25 with the publisher getting $10 or so.  The problem (for publishers) is that if the ebook comes out at the same time, much of the demand will be satisfied by the ebook.  The demand for books is finite, they probably won't sell three times as many ebooks, so they won't be able to "make up" for the lower profits in volume.   This is the same reason they delay paperback releases by a year or so.

The problem is that the public is demanding the ebook be released early, saying, "Hey, I bought a $300 reader, I want the latest content, not year-old leavings!".  Understandable.  I think the publishers are affixing a premium price to the ebook early in the release cycle, and dropping it later.  Hypothetically, the ebook price should always be a little less than whatever paper version is currently available.

However, it's not that clean.  I've seen books that are $7 in paper, and over twenty in ebooks, WITH nasty DRM.  That's just wrong.  Publishers are still trying to figure this out, and right now it seems every publisher (or every marketing branch within a publisher) has a different idea about how to price and sell ebooks, which creates a great deal of confusion, and leads to resentment from the buying public.  I mean, if I bought a $20 ebook with no cover, bad formatting, and DRM, then saw the paperback in the discount bin for $5, I wouldn't be favorably impressed, and that's happening to LOTS of buyers.

So, I hope this gets sorted out.  The current free-for-all isn't helping readers, authors OR publishers.  However, this sort of disaster is exactly what one expects when market conditions change drastically in a free market.  Lots of people trying various strategies, some of which are just dumb, trying to find something that works.


Look I understand that you and patty don't set any policy with the publishers, nor do you necessarily have any or all of the information.  And so on and so forth.  But here is some of the information that informs my decision making process vis-a-vis these dianosaurs.

I will say.  Brand New Book:  Mission of Honor by David Weber.  Published June 22 2010.  Hard Cover List Price $27.00.  Available on Amazon for $14.85.  (If you buy $25 dollars of stuff at amazon they'll bundle it all up together and ship it for 'free'.)  Not available in kindle format at this time that I could see.  But right now today if you go to the baen webscription site you can sign up for free and buy the book in e-format for $6.00 using your credit card I also see a send it to your kindle option if you don't want to read it DRM free on line or down load it DRM free to your computer, however I've never used the kindle option so I don't know if there are any restrictions on kindling it to yourself.

In addition normally the e-book version is out 2 weeks before the release date.  That's not a hard and fast deadline, but a general rule as the editors will post the entire month's books at the same time and if they get done early they'll normally post it up early.  Also you can purchase Baen's whole month of book releases for 12.00-15.00 which generally includes two new books and 3-5 re-releases or just out in paper back stuff.

In addition:  An E-ARC of Mission of Honor was out months ago.  They always put up a disclaimer that E-ARC's are not necessarily the final version and there might be punctuation, or other errors, so if that honk's you off wait for the official publish date.  But I've never noticed any discrepancies.  Most of the big books they have coming out go up in E-ARC format a month or three before its official release date.  I know I read an E-ARC of Mission of Honor a few months ago and looking at the site there are comments on the E-Arc book starting february 4th 2010.  E-ARC's almost 'always' cost $15.00

So in short.

Mission of Honor:

$15.00        E-ARC (Available 2/4/2010)
$6.00          E-Book (Available generally 1-2 weeks before official 6/22/2010 hard cover release date)
$27.00        Hard Cover List Price  (Available 6/22/2010)
$14.85        Hard Cover Price at Amazon (Available 6/22/2010 although with shipping it'll be a couple days more)
$??.??         Paper Back (Available who knows?)


Now I can't swear to exactly when the e-book came available on the Baen Site because frankly I'd read the book months before.  But having bought lots of books from Baen I feel safe in quoting the general trend I've personally experienced.

Also I can't swear that E-ARC's have been available since 1999 like the rest of the e-books, since they take them off the list when they're no longer current as they don't want people claiming they bought a book for 15 when they could have gone to a different part of the very same site and bought it for 6.  But I've been buying ARC's since the mid 2000's at least.

Now if Baen can be doing this for a top of the Sci-Fi field best selling book and, take my work for it, most of their other new releases, remind me again why I have to pay 'more' for an e-book from other top end sci-fi fantasty publishers?



Also honestly 20K to produce an e-book version of a dead tree book that sells only 5000 e-copies sounds like and unbelievable figure to me.

I know its just a for if example, but if we come to some sort of impase on the cost.... At the Baen-bar site Tony Weiskopff or however you spell her last name.  The Baen editor in chief.  She has a place for questions and such.  If enough of us posted asking for a ball park estimate, if she might or might not just tell us... if she has the figures handy.  She generally answers questions if she sees them and enough of her readers want to know... like why can't we have an E-Arc of this book or what's wrong with blah blah blah.  Or at least she was over the last few years but I haven't gone to her section for about 6 months or so.




The Deposed King
« Last Edit: July 04, 2010, 11:36:38 pm by The Deposed King »

Mike Briggs

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Ebooks are a disruptive technology.  Publishing operates on pretty thin margins, and ebooks are breaking established practices. Publishers are reacting like a herd of Gazelle when a lion breaks cover -- scattering in various directions trying to find a workable solution and survive a little longer.  If they all marched lock-step to the same solution, then either the solution was terribly obvious, or there's a lot of collusion/price-fixing or whatever going on. 

I liked Jim Baen, and had tremendous respect for him.   HIS approach was to write contracts which gave his company very liberal terms for electronic publication.  How he got authors to agree to them is a mystery to me (I doubt we'd sign such a contract), but that's a different discussion.  Having acquired  the rights to distribute the ebooks under favorable terms, he has chosen to publish them rapidly, cheaply, and gives lots of ebooks away for free.  In a world where ebooks only account for about 5% of all reading material, this is probably a good plan.  The ebooks are essentially low-cost  marketing for the print books.  Baen has decided to try to leverage the cheap distribution of the ebook in hopes of maximizing the income of the print books, so he's basically giving them away.  If they sell, it's bonus money and if they get pirated that's just advertising.   At least, that's how I see his model*.  So far it seems to be working.

You seem absolutely certain that Baen is right, and anyone who fails to follow their lead is a dinosaur that deserves to die.  Back to the antelope analogy, Baen's path is one of many, and it's far too early to see which companies will survive. Personally, I'm glad our publisher isn't choosing this particular path.

Here's my concern with Baen's approach.  It works now, but ebook readership is growing very rapidly. What happens to this model when 95% of books are read in ebook form?  Will treating ebooks as an advertising loss still make sense?  Baen is training their customers to believe that ebooks should be cheap or free. When paper sales decline, will they be able to convince these customers to pay more?   I don't have the answers, but it may well be Baen who goes extinct.

As far as ebook costs, I pulled 20K out of clear blue sky, I have no idea what an ebook costs.  However, a midlist author may get anywhere from five to fifty thousand or so as an advance.  Then the publisher gets to pay for multiple rounds of edits with professional editors, someone to write the cover copy, the cover artist, and a designer to package the whole thing. You can also add in something for the mailboy, rent on the facilities, utilities and a host of other expenses.  These are the fixed costs to acquire and prepare a manuscript.  Of course, these costs are typically shared between the ebook and paper versions.   The ebook saves on printing and shipping, but requires a surprising amount of effort to reformat into various formats.  (I know, it SHOULD be as easy as pushing a button, but apparently is isn't).   Overall, I think 20K is probably a reasonable estimate.

*I'm not an expert on marketing or economics.  If you could see my investment history, it would be obvious that I'm also not a genius at predicting marketing performance, and my crystal ball is apparently defective. 
« Last Edit: July 05, 2010, 12:23:05 am by Mike Briggs »
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The Deposed King

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Ebooks are a disruptive technology.  Publishing operates on pretty thin margins, and ebooks are breaking established practices. Publishers are reacting like a herd of Gazelle when a lion breaks cover -- scattering in various directions trying to find a workable solution and survive a little longer.  If they all marched lock-step to the same solution, then either the solution was terribly obvious, or there's a lot of collusion/price-fixing or whatever going on. 

They seem to me more like a herd of hard headed goats each determined to take their own path, whether or not it leads them over a cliff or directly into the lions mouth.



I liked Jim Baen, and had tremendous respect for him.   HIS approach was to write contracts which gave his company very liberal terms for electronic publication.  How he got authors to agree to them is a mystery to me (I doubt we'd sign such a contract), but that's a different discussion.  Having acquired  the rights to distribute the ebooks under favorable terms, he has chosen to publish them rapidly, cheaply, and gives lots of ebooks away for free.  In a world where ebooks only account for about 5% of all reading material, this is probably a good plan.  The ebooks are essentially low-cost  marketing for the print books.  Baen has decided to try to leverage the cheap distribution of the ebook in hopes of maximizing the income of the print books, so he's basically giving them away.  If they sell, it's bonus money and if they get pirated that's just advertising.   At least, that's how I see his model*.  So far it seems to be working.

The free library mostly offers free versions of books that were back list and out of print or from some of the longer running series spanning two decades like the honor harrington books.  Some authors like eric flint and john ringo also seem to believe that by giving the first book or two in a longer series that's not even as old as the honor stuff away for free they'll still increase their sales.  They believed that by giving away free versions of books that were out of print they'd be able to revitalize the series.  Now whether this was a case of the free books actually helping to re-starting the series or simply gave the publisher the psychological boost it needed to actually re-publish the series I suppose is debatable.

Also I think you are missing the value of having the loyalty of a large on-line community (at baen's bar) that gets direct feedback from the publisher/editor and their favorite authors.   As well as the value to brand spanking new authors who for the most part snippet up to half of their book for free to a small but significant community of readers who will read half of a book for free that they might not otherwise ever be willing to risk spending good money on, who then get hooked, and end up paying for the e-book as soon as it comes out and with new authors I know that the community will often say if you like this author try to buy the paperback as soon as it comes out to help jump start the author.

Also having such cheap e-books really knocks a lot of the self serving justification of on-line pirates about how they'd pay for e-books if only there were some reasonably priced e-books.

That said I know of several authors like sm sterling who vigorously disagreed with Baen's policy and stopped publishing their books with Baen...  On the other hand brand new authors like John Ringo were picked up by Baen and hit the bestseller lists in short order, exclusively using Baen's model.


You seem absolutely certain that Baen is right, and anyone who fails to follow their lead is a dinosaur that deserves to die.  Back to the antelope analogy, Baen's path is one of many, and it's far too early to see which companies will survive. Personally, I'm glad our publisher isn't choosing this particular path.

I am fairly certain that Baen's been following a winning formula up to this point and that all along the way the other publishers sounded like they were paraphrasing the lilliputions of gullivers tales.  To wit vis-a-vis baen's crazy e-book model: 'That will never work, they'll need gulliver!'

Then when it worked they said words to the effect that gulliver was probably all tuckered out and so there was really no point in trying to duplicate Baen's success.

It seemed like a bunch of chicken little philosophy to me.  Not to say that I am 100% certain they are wrong going into the future...  after all even a broken clock is right twice a day, its just that I am certain they were 100% wrong in the past.

Honestly its like they stood by and watched Baen sprint down the e-book path, shaking their heads and saying how Baen was clearly going in the wrong direction.  Then when the e-book path became a fact of life for their book selling journey, they started doing the chicken dance.  Taking took two steps forward (started making e-books), six steps sideways (DRM/availability well after dead tree versions only/etc.) and then got in a snit (regarding how much their e-books were selling for) and took one step back.

Here's my concern with Baen's approach.  It works now, but ebook readership is growing very rapidly. What happens to this model when 95% of books are read in ebook form?  Will treating ebooks as an advertising loss still make sense?  Baen is training their customers to believe that ebooks should be cheap or free. When paper sales decline, will they be able to convince these customers to pay more?   I don't have the answers, but it may well be Baen who goes extinct.

And this is a very valid concern.  Just because something worked yesterday, doesn't mean it will keep working tomorrow.  Just look at how google dominated and then restricted the advertising industry.  Slam bam no appeal mam, for companies that had been using the same advertising strategy for two years and suddenly were no longer 'allowed' to advertise on google adwords.

I honestly believe though that's Baen's open approach and genuine feedback to the readers who frequent their baen bar site and then go to the webscriptions site for cheap books would mitigate much or most of the damage they'd suffer from being forced to bring their e-book prices up to industry standard.  But I could be wrong up and down the board.

That said I 'don't see' Baen going extinct any time soon.

As far as ebook costs, I pulled 20K out of clear blue sky, I have no idea what an ebook costs.  However, a midlist author may get anywhere from five to fifty thousand or so as an advance.  Then the publisher gets to pay for multiple rounds of edits with professional editors, someone to write the cover copy, the cover artist, and a designer to package the whole thing. You can also add in something for the mailboy, rent on the facilities, utilities and a host of other expenses.  These are the fixed costs to acquire and prepare a manuscript.  Of course, these costs are typically shared between the ebook and paper versions.   The ebook saves on printing and shipping, but requires a surprising amount of effort to reformat into various formats.  (I know, it SHOULD be as easy as pushing a button, but apparently is isn't).   Overall, I think 20K is probably a reasonable estimate.

Maybe I'm misremembering but I think an editor once said that the publisher basically made either as much as the author or twice as much as the author but the rest all went into advertising and production costs except for those few marque authors like david weber and jim butcher.


*I'm not an expert on marketing or economics.  If you could see my investment history, it would be obvious that I'm also not a genius at predicting marketing performance, and my crystal ball is apparently defective.

I'm no oracle of omaha myself.  So I can't give you grief over a cloudy crystal ball.





The Deposed King
« Last Edit: July 07, 2010, 05:08:51 am by The Deposed King »

Raeana1

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My biggest beef with the publishing industry and the e.book saga going on currently is the lack of communication of publishers. If the publisher wants to delay the e.book version until a month after the hardback is released, I have no issue with that. But considering most e.reader users are avid book consumers, I think publishers are alienating them by failing to recognize them.  Why not announce a dual release date? Novel ABC by XYZ author to be released HB on 1/01/2010, e.version available on 2/01/2010.
It is especially frustrating to try to pre-order an e.book that's #5 in a series in which the first 4 books were released in e.book format, but now the fifth has been released with no word to be found anywhere about if the book will or will not be released as an e.book.

I don’t mind paying more for a book that is only available in hardcover, but I don’t think $25 or $30 is a fair price for an electronic version that I have no rights to. By buying a physical book, I can loan it to others in my household, my friends, donate it to a library sale, and etc. Most electronic versions have very restrictive EUL for readers. I understand that the EULs are restrictive in order to prevent and discourage piracy, however they also prevent many things that the public is used to being able to do.

For example, I have purchased a new copy of every one of Patti’s books that is available since then. Actually, I’ve both physical and electronic version of most of them now. But I never would have read any of her books if my friend hadn’t bought a copy of Masques from the used book store when I was in high school back in 1996 and loaned it to me. I loved it so much I went out and purchased Steal the Dragon that weekend and was hooked. In fact, I’d have to say 80% of the series/authors I’ve been hooked on over the years was due to a friend or family member loaning me a book to read. Patti didn’t directly receive any money from my friend’s purchase of Masques , nor from my reading of it, but I guarantee that without my friend loaning me that book, the chances of me buying any of the Sianam series or others when they were first published were slim to none. Add into the fact that I then loaned some of those books to others who then became fans and bought books, the number of sales from those loaned books definitely meet the triple digits just from the people I loaned to. If they loaned books to friends also, the numbers increase dramatically. I remember at one point the entire floor of my dorm in college going out together to buy a book by an author we all loved on the day it was released after someone had passed the first book of the series around. We just couldn’t wait. One passed around book meant 50 more books sold of the first sequel. I know I bought a copy of the first one so I had the series and I’m sure others did too.  This is what Baen is talking about. Baen realized that word of mouth marketing is important and embraced it. There are companies out there now that pay big bucks to find ‘viral marketing’ campaigns even half as successful as Baen’s.   

But I’ve digressed a bit and I apologize. My point on this is, every e.book sold is an e.book sold. It’s not a book sold then loaned to someone else, then sold to a used book store to be re-sold at half price then passed around by 10 other people. It’s a solid sale. With my purchase of a Kindle, I have four close friends I used to loan my books too. Either they’ve all bought their own physical versions of the book or they’ve bought e.readers also. That’s five books sold versus the one that would have been purchased if I didn’t have the Kindle. I think this is something a lot people in the publishing industry are failing to see or consider. I have nowhere near the versatility of uses with an e.book as a consumer as I did with a physical book. I’m limited to how many devices I can have the book on, even for readers that allow you to loan to other people, it’s limited to how long and how many people you can loan it to over it’s lifetime.

In my honest and humble opinion, publishers would do better to develop a base price compromised of the author/editorial stage/design/marketing costs, and then provide a cost for the media format it is released in, the production costs associated with the format and the inherent usage and rights conferred by purchasing that format. Author contract payments can vary based off what rights the author granted the publisher, why shouldn’t something similar apply to the consumer? If I lease a car, I pay significantly less money and in turn have less freedom to modify the car. If I tried to paint it hot pink and etch my name in the hood, I’d have serious penalties to pay. However if I buy the car, I have to pay more for it but I can etch my name all I want into it. Same with music, I pay $9.99 for an album online with DRM – but I can’t make more than so many copies of the songs. If I had bought the album at the store for $18.99, then I would be able to make as many copies or mixed CDs for my car as I want to, but then I paid for the DRM free material. So if I really love the album, I’m more likely to purchase the physical copy to obtain more personal use rights.

If the industry removes the excessively restrictive EUL and DRM from ebooks and then prices them the same as the hardback books, I would pay the higher price without blinking and be happy to pay it. However, as it stands, the industry has unfairly stripped the consumer of fair personal use rights in e.books and is trying to muddy the situation by saying e.books devalue hardbacks.


I think that by allowing just industry people decide and weigh in on the issues, that consumer rights are going out the window. With the record industry along with the publishing industry working to restrict fair use to prevent the few dishonest people while punishing the majority who happen to be honest, it’s turning into a police state. All these restrictions remind me of something I read once (but I can’t remember who said it or where) but it’s basically that its getting to be that a company can sell you a cow, which you then feed and care for, but you aren’t allowed to milk it or eat it because that right wasn’t included in the EUL. 



Patti L.

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Re: Ebooks discussions about release dates, publishers & general info
« Reply #251 on: November 27, 2010, 05:53:53 pm »
Dear HarperCollins eBook Customer,

As of November 19, 2010, the HarperCollins eBook Store has been discontinued. We are contacting you so that you have the opportunity to download and archive the titles you have purchased. To download previously purchased titles, sign in and visit your 'My library' page. After December 19, 2010 titles that have not been downloaded will no longer be accessible.

We appreciate your patronage, and we regret any inconvenience this may cause you.

Sincerely,

The HarperCollins e-books Support Team
----------------------------------------------------

This is also a warning to those who join places like HC with seldom-used email accounts to check their mail, or at least their library pages, and download fast.
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First, @hurogirl can copy as much or as little of my posts as she needs to spread the warning. Lots of people use throwaway email addies to join things to avoid spam. What used to be my main AOL account is now the primary spam trap for me.
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wizardbear

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Re: Piracy of E-books
« Reply #252 on: April 04, 2011, 06:48:17 pm »
Ever since I learned to read, I've been reading books without so much as one penny
passing from my pocket to the writer's. Family, library, second-hand, I use all of
these, always have and always will. Why? Because I can.

I have also bought books new when I could, starting when I first began to have
money of my own to spend as I chose, and I still do, and always will. Why?
Because I'm not stupid, I understand that if no one pays the writer for writing,
they'll at best write much, much less, and more likely, stop writing altogether.

For me, the ratio between the two (no money from me to the writer vs. some money
of mine ending up in the writer's pocket) changes all the time, and always has, and
always will. Why? Because the circumstances of my life change all the time, always
have and always will.

I always have a limited book budget, and unless I win the lotto, I can't see that ever
changing. That means I spend what I have to spend, in the way that gets me the
most of what I want. And what I want is books,  both now AND more books latter.
This means I buy few new HB, some new PB, some EB (Ebooks), some used, and
some I read without paying the writer at all. If I have to wait, then I wait. I'll bet
you a cookie there are lots of readers just like me out in the world, too.

I happen to do a lot of business with Baen. Why? Because the Baen  business
model matches my spending habits more closely than anybody else. They make
some of their EB available for free ( thanks, Baen), they sell their EB for a price I
feel is fair without DRM, (thanks again, Baen), and their PB and HB prices are in
line with what everybody else in the book world is charging. This makes me *want*
to do business with Baen if I can, because I want Baen and Baen writers to keep
doing what they're doing.

I do business with the other small publishers who act similarly when I can, for the
same reasons. Naked Reader Press is one, there are others.

I prefer EB and hate DRM. I'll buy used, or read for free, almost every time rather
than pay for DRM. Why? Because I've already been burned, once by EBs (Sharon
Lee and Steve Miller's stuff, the EB distributor went out of business) and many times by music
 (records, then tapes, then CDs, then digital). Sorry, once burned, forever shy. I have *five*
EB I bought from Amazon. So I'm not perfect. You wouldn't believe how much I wanted to find
another way,or how long it took me to make up my mind to go ahead. I really hate DRM.

I remember when there were almost no "legitimate" EBs. Especially in the SF/F
(science fiction/fantasy) area. And some people made EBs for what they felt then,
and still feel now, were legitimate reasons. They had already paid for the DTBs
(dead tree book(s)), and felt that "format shifting" was fine for personal use. It's a
concept that goes back to the first days of cassette recorders for music and VCRs
for TV. "Personal use" or "fair use" is concept that isn't being talked about nearly as
much as "piracy" is, and I think that's too bad. Businesses who support DRM are
trying to kill "fair use" by making it a crime in the US to break DRM, even to move
an EB you payed for to a different machine. There are still people who feel this
way, that they  *have paid* and downloading a EB copy of a DTB they own is
okay. A tough call. I made my personal CD collection into mp3s. If had the
machines and the computer power to make my DTBs into EBs, would I? Some
of them, yes. The out-of-print, not available new in any format for any price stuff,
for my personal use, yes. Computer programmers call stuff like that "abandonware",
it's something the owner has given up on or can't get back into business with. If I
knew how to contact the writers, assuming they're still alive, I might try to send
them a little cash. just for the peace of mind. But how much? Danged if I know.
What's fair for a DTB I bought in the '60s for 75 cents that hasn't been printed
since? And how the heck could I find the writer? Really, on this I'm torn. Half glad
I don't have the machines and computer power to do it, and half wishing I could.

Guess in my heart I'm longing for the eye patch, parrot, and the Jolly Rodger. (grin)

A business that wants me to buy their machine so I can read their EBs is like a TV
station that wants me to buy their TV so I can watch their channels. No. I won't.
And if a favorite and well liked writer does business through a company like that,
that's their choice and they have every right to choose to do that. And I have every
right to not support that business by buying from them. Not because I want to
punish the writer, I regret any hardship that this may cause a writer I like, but
because I hate DRM and refuse to support it even by the small amounts my book
budget represents. Computers and EB readers are changing all the time,
companies go out of business, I want to know that the EB I buy today will last me
the rest of my life, just like a well care for DTB will.

(Side issue, case in point. Up-thread Mike mentions Fictionwise on: August 23,
2009. Here is an update:
"Fictionwise / Overdrive - In January 2009, OverDrive informed Fictionwise that
they would no longer be providing downloads for purchasers of e-books through
Fictionwise as of 31 January 2009. No reason was provided to Fictionwise as to
why they were being shut down. This prevents previous purchasers from being able
to renew their books on new devices. Fictionwise is working to provide
replacement ebooks for its customers in alternative, non-DRM formats, but does
not have the rights to provide all of the books in different formats."

The key word in this update is "all". So some, we don't know how many, people are
losing or have lost access to their EBs because of a shift in company ownership and
policy changes. This is *exactly* why I hate DRM. Because things like this happen.

Information from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_rights_management on 4/4/2011

End of side issue, case in point)

As long as I have choices, I will not choose DRM. And no, that doesn't mean I will
choose piracy. Libraries have ILL (inter-library loan) and you can get almost
anything if you are patient. And used books are affordable if you shop carefully, I'm
a PaperBackSwapper. Over the course of many years I've bought so many DTB that
I have more of them in my house than the local library owns. I can keep right on
buying DTB when necessary until the EB market gets the idea that what I want,
what I will pay for, is an EB that I own, that I can read on any machine, now and
forever. If a company chooses to sell EBs that way, we can do business, if not, then
not.

As for the pirates? I think are several catagories of pirates, and not all are equal. All
are in the wrong to some degree, but that degree is variable. Here's what I think:
1. Thieves. They would rather steal than pay. We've always had thieves, and always
will.
2. Protesters. They feel they are being treated unfairly and want to hit back. Right or
wrong, that's how they feel and the only answer they will accept is a business
model they feel is fair. Doesn't matter why they feel that way, only that they do.

3. Morally indifferent. "Everybody is doing it, why shouldn't I". If you have to ask, you
won't understand the  answer. Writers work hard and deserve to compensated. If
you can't see that, then we have nothing more to say to one another. We disagree
on a fundamental level and it's useless for us to discuss this issue.

4. Postponers. "I can't pay you now but I will when I can." Some of them mean
that, and carry through. Sometimes it's just an excuse.

5. Self-deluded. Some people lie to themselves all the time, or make excuses for things
they do that they know they shouldn't do. Park in the handicap spot, "I'm just
gonna run in for a second." And so on and so on. We all know people like that, and
with EBs it's "It's only one book, how much can it hurt?" or "No one will know".
Yes, we've heard *that* before, how many times?

6. Show-offs. "Look at how smart I am, your puny DRM is no match for me." They
may not even like the books, or read them. What they want is applause. And some of
them get it, that's the fuel they burn, it's what keeps them going. They are indifferent
to the harm they do, all that counts in their minds is impressing their friends.

I'm sure there are more, that I just can't think of right now. And I'm sure that some
of them won't stop, and some of them will. People can and do change. How many
of us sneaked some beer at some point in high school, or some other thing we knew
was "wrong" but did anyway. Will the kids who pirate today grow up to become
buyers? I think so. I hope so. I want to believe that most people are fundamentally
honest and that the others are the exception and not the rule.

Enough. Thoughts and comments welcome.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2011, 05:05:11 pm by wizardbear »

wizardbear

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RE: Baen Business Model.

Lois McMaster Bujold, who is a successful SF/F writer (putting that mildly, go here for a list of awards:
http://www.dendarii.com/awards.html ) has joined the Baen free EB (ebook) crowd, as of OCT/2010. Her novel, Cryoburn, was released in HB with a CD. On the CD were EB copies, DRM free in virtually every format, of almost all of her Baen books, plus some extra goodies. So for the price of one HB, you got almost all of her Baen books as EBs, too.

And, a copy of that CD was made available for free download. Here:
http://baencd.thefifthimperium.com/24-CryoburnCD/CryoburnCD/
So you didn't even HAVE to buy the HB to get the goodies, you could have them for free.

Cyroburn made the NYT Best-Seller List. At #20 on Nov 7, 2010.
http://www.nytimes.com/best-sellers-books/2010-11-07/hardcover-fiction/list.html

As has been said up-thread, no one knows what *will* work in the future. All we can do is record what has worked in the past, and what is working right now. LMB would be a  bright and shining star in anyone's sky.

Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #11,636 in Books as of 4/5/3011 for the HB
91 customer reviews, 3.8 stars as of 4/5/3011 for the HB

Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #98,209 in Books for the PB, which will be released Sept/2011 Pretty good advanced sales for a book that won't be out for months yet.

The full-length electronic Advance Reader Copy was made available through Webscriptions on August 3, 2010 for fifteen bucks.

Not bad performance from a book that's been available for free, not pirated.

Is Baen's business model the one true way? Nope.  But I like it. EBs for six bucks, Monthly bundle for eighteen, some free books. I'll be a Baen customer for as long as they stick with this model. And if that's forever that's fine with me.

pack4life

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Re: Piracy of E-books
« Reply #254 on: April 06, 2011, 09:05:51 pm »
Mike,

Just out of curiosity, is Patty contractually bound in such a manner that you could not distribute eBook copies of her work from hurog.com?

As I've just finished reading this deep thread (hitting 7 pages now, and started a while back), Radiohead comes to mind. A couple years back, they released their latest album from their website. Fans could download their latest album from their site for "whatever price seemed fair" to the fan. Some fans paid $2, others paid $10, but in the end, it seemed like a win for them (Radiohead and the fans) because the money went direct to Radiohead and they didn't have to filter through all the middle men to get the penny or pennies on the dollar that they would have with a traditional release. Radiohead ended up getting the mother load of what some fans perceived the artist got the loin's share of (Yes, some fans still live under the delusion that if you pay $14 for a CD, that $14, or a REALLY BIG CHUNK of that, all goes back to the artist(s)). Interestingly enough, they just did the same thing with the album they released a couple weeks back. However, now, you can get the CD, mp3, or wav format direct form them as well.

It just seems like it would be a huge win to be able to buy direct from your site via PayPal or whatever other secure, encrypted transaction form you could support and allow readers direct access to Patty's work. If there is concern about the "honor system" with that readers would pay for the work, then set a price to it, or set a "Reserve" on the purchase, like on eBay, such that all costs are covered, plus an honest profit. I see this as a great way to generate instant income. You can put it towards the roof, or new carpet, etc.

This would also allow you the control it seems you so desire to have and potentially, give to readers. You can offer the works DRM-free. I really think it would be a great option for all involved. If there's a concern about selling the "pretties" (Nice, shiny hardcovers, which I want/buy, btw) then have a time limit set on when you will over a given work in eBook form. I for one would jump on the opportunity to be able to have both the Hardcover for my physical library and the eBook for my virtual library of all of Patty's current works, especially if I knew the funds would go direct to hurog.com. Something just rubs me the wrong way about paying and additional $13 to amazon or b&n on top of the $20 I just paid for the hardcover (all while never knowing how much of those purchases actually makes it to Patty's bank account). However, if I could get the eBook from hurog.com for say, $5-10, knowing all the margin goes direct to the bank account, then I'd be all over it!

Just adding my couple coppers to the discussion...