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Espresso Book Machine

Dear Author

Monday Round up Links: A New Kind of Book Tour

Cover Cafe nominations for 2010 are now open. If you want to nominate a cover for a book that has been published in 2010, please go to  http://www.covercafe.com and click on Nominate. The new 2010 nomination form is now available.


All About Romance has launched its annual readers’ poll.


Author Stephen Elliott wrote an editorial about his very different book tour. Instead of going to bookstores, Elliott booked appearances in people’s homes. Sometimes the group would stay up very late to talk about the book and issues the book brought to readers’ attention.

They asked interesting questions about murder and confession and the moment the lie mixes with the truth like red and yellow paint, becoming orange, the original colors ceasing to exist. Afterward people went back to talking, grabbing another drink or a snack. Leaning against the kitchen counter, I thought to myself that they weren't a standard literary audience: they were better.

I loved that statement “lie mixes with truth like red and yellow paint…the original colors ceasing to exist.”


Xerox has partnered with Espresso Book Machine to provide on demand books for consumers. Espresso used to use a machine from Kyocera but the Xerox is supposed to provide better quality and faster output.

The Espresso Book Machine can produce paperbacks in variable combinations of trim sizes between 4.5″ x 5.0″ and 8.25″ x 10.5″ for a production cost less than one cent per page and can produce a 300 page book in about 4 minutes

I really love the idea of the on demand book because it can use digital technology to deliver books to those who want print and there are definitely opportunities for customization (choose your own cover) and personalization (inscribe a line for a gift).


The Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) released an iPhone App that uses Occipital’s barcode scanning technology. Take a photo of a book’s barcode and the OCLC iPhone App will bring up whether your local library has a particular book and whether it is on the shelf or checked out. It will also provide you with places to purchase the book in case you don’t want to use the library services. That’s pretty awesome.


The Times is going behind a paywall which means we won’t be reading as many stories like Elliott’s without paying for it. Times knows that there will be a steep dropoff in readership but the possible revenue is worth it.

What makes the decision so agonizing for Sulzberger is that it involves not just business considerations, but ultimately a self-assessment of just what Times journalism is worth to the world. ..Hanging over the deliberations is the fact that the Times' last experience with pay walls, TimesSelect, was deeply unsatisfying and exposed a rift between Sulzberger and his roster of A-list columnists, particularly Tom Friedman and Maureen Dowd, who grew frustrated at their dramatic fall-off in online readership.


A game developer posted on slashgear asking why people pirated. He’s trying to see if there are ways in which to modify his behavior to make the product less attractive to pirate and more attractive for legitimate purchasers.


The Wall Street Journal (paywall) reports that HarperCollins is in talks to bring ebooks to the Apple Tablet rumored to be announced later this month.

HarperCollins is expected to set the prices of the e-books, which would have added features, with Apple taking a percentage of sales. Details haven’t been ironed out.

The article suggests the ebooks will be enhanced editions and if so, that would mean a very meager catalog for Apple so I have some doubts about the veracity of the entirety of the article, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see ebooks as part of the Apple catalog. Of course, you can still get the Amazon app on the Apple iPhone and thus, likely on the tablet. Therefore, pricing would need to be competitive. The article speculates that the pricing for “enhanced ebooks” would be $14.99 to $19.99. Frankly, publishers are barely doing ebooks right let alone delivering value added enhanced versions.

Dear Author

Thursday Midday Links: Thank God It’s October

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.