Oct 1 2009
September seemed to drag on forever. Finally October is here and with it, hopefully, a wonderful set of days. Don’t harsh on my new month buzz. I have a copyright rant below. Authors might want to look away lest it ruin your new month buzz.
Blogger Arachne Jericho points out that the main cost of creating an ebook isn’t the digital creation process but the book creation process. The savings for publishers will be streamlining the book process with the digital creation process and that may take some time.
The main cost of creating an ebook in fact remains the main costs of creating a book, period. The writing. The editing. The fact-checking and cross-checking. The images. The index building, oh gods, the index building. The cover. The marketing. The accounting. Making deals with the distributors. Negotiating with the goddess Ingram, goddess of the bottleneck of publishing. The poor bastards who have to clear copyright issues for, say, song lyrics.1 All of this adds up to the point where the cost of paper printing is dwarfed, as is the cost of creating ebooks (once we get a standardized workflow. Printing sure wasn’t fun before people knew what they were doing).
Keishon blogged about a few of her buried treasure reads. So often these are really good authors without an audience. Hey Keishon, how about Joan Wolf’s doomed medievals. I saw that they were just released in ebook format.
It seems so unfair that everybody doesn’t love Roberta Gellis like I do. I just love, love, love her medieval series that features a whore who runs a priory guesthouse in the 12th century London and has no shame about it either. The series, starting with A Mortal Bane, are well written and have a nice and subtle romance in them.
Danielle Steele’s Promises is one of the four books getting the special book plus video treatment from Simon & Schuster and Vook TV. I haven’t watched it and well, I have no desire to watch it. If I’m going to watch video, I’ll watch television or movies. If I want to read, I’ll read. Let me know if you do watch it.
Deveraux’s novel, a romance-mystery set on a 19th-century South Carolina plantation, runs 131 pages, punctuated with 17 short videos, including images of the plantation and of a young soldier running through the woods, Simon & Schuster says.
“This is not a substitute for print, but we see the role of the publisher changing from being a book publisher only to offering different ways to tell stories and convey ideas,” says Ellie Hirschhorn, chief digital officer of New York-based Simon & Schuster, which is releasing the video texts through its Atria Books imprint.
Others believe that the new medium of devices such as the Tablet by Apple or the Courier by Microsoft will change the way that stories are told. I do believe that. I’m just not so sure that the telling of stories in straight narrative fiction is going away either.
The Copyright Alliance is circulating a vague petition to be sent to President Obama requesting protection for artist’s endeavors. The petition has almost 7.000 signatures and 700+ are readily identifiable as artists. I’m not really certain what the CA is asking for. Are they asking for piracy to be made illegal because it already is. Are they asking to be vested with the right to control their works for a near indefinite time because that already exists (life of the artist + 70 years). Are they asking to be paid a certain minimum wage for their work? Really?
The state of the copyright law is such that it tilts heavily in favor of the artist. I think, but can’t be certain, what the Copyright Alliance wants is the federal government to start criminally prosecuting individuals. At least one part of the entertainment industry is pushing for the three strikes and you are out law, meaning get caught three times by your ISP for violating a copyright and you could get your internet cut off, be subject to fines and/or imprisonment. I guess everyone will be in prison because casual copyright infringement occurs nearly every day by anyone who is using the web. Watch a YouTube video with music in the background like the viral wedding march? Yeah, that was a violation of Chris Brown’s intellectual property unless a licensing fee was paid to him for each stream of the song. I’m not sure what the Copyright Alliance and its supporters will do when all of its customers have no internet or are imprisoned. Or perhaps the CA is just wanting to unevenly apply the law and will supply the government with the names of those that they want targeted because that would be totally legal (not really).
Wall Street Journal blogs about the Espresso Machine. The article quotes Jason Epstein as stating that in store POD technology dooms traditional publishing and that authors will no longer need publishers because they can go straight to the public. Epstein and WSJ seem to think that the public is willing to sift through a million books to find one to read. Not so fast. I believe that we will still be influenced by filters. These filters might be different than what they are today, but we’ll still need a group of someones to help us cull down the list of published books into a manageable list of readable books.
The WSJ blog ends with the lament that with POD we’ll lose the ability to browse the shelves for books we didn’t know existed:
Small, independent bookstores like the one in Harvard hope the Espresso machine will save them from the big chains and the likes of Amazon. But the joy of a small bookstore isn’t that you can download books from the Web. You can do that from home. It’s that you can browse the shelves and discover all sorts of books you didn’t know existed.
To which I say, horsepuckey. The bookstore of the future might be radically different than today, but there will always be ways to discover gems. Bob Stein at the If:book website contemplates what the future of bookstores could look like:
I find myself thinking a lot about what i call the “Foyles” model. in the not too recent past Foyles in London shelved books, not alphabetically by subject or genre, but by publisher such that there was the Penguin section and the Bloomsbury section. For a more recent example, video stores usually shelve Criterion titles on their own — precisely because of the power of the brand.