Friday News: Pricing, licensing, cross-genre writing, and national propagandizing
A Message From John Sargent – I do so look forward to John Sargent”s public missives. It’s good to know all the entities we should blame – except Macmillan, of course, which is full of integrity and the best interests of “authors, illustrators, and agents” (but not readers, apparently), for all of the problems the publisher has faced. In this case, so-called agency pricing. I hesitate to call this letter an announcement of Macmillan’s return to agency, since I still don’t believe that what came before should be called agency pricing, but I lost that battle years ago. Anyway, agency pricing for ebooks going forward, blah blah blah. And, oh yeah, subscriptions.
In our search for new routes to market, we have been considering alternative business models including the subscription model. Many of you know that we have long been opposed to subscription. We have always worried that it will erode the perceived value of your books. Though this significant long-term risk remains, we have decided to test subscription in the coming weeks. Several companies offer “pay per read” plans that offer favorable economic terms. We plan to try subscription with backlist books, and mostly with titles that are not well represented at bricks and mortar retail stores. Our job has always been to provide you with the broadest possible distribution, and given the current financial and strategic incentives being offered, we believe the time is right to try this test. –Tor
Flickr kills sale of Creative Commons prints, issues refunds – In the face of massive backlash to its practice of using works published on Flickr via Creative Commons licensing to generate revenue for parent company Yahoo, the company has decided that the public bad faith isn’t worth whatever fees they were making off user content. As was pointed out during the original discussion of this situation, there are ways for Flickr and Yahoo to share licensing revenue with creators, and it’s possible Yahoo will attempt something like this in the future, For now, though, creative content posted on Flickr is safe from commercial exploitation by Flickr and Yahoo.
Flickr explained the situation this way in a blog post: “[while] some expressed their excitement about the new photography marketplace and the value it would bring, many felt that including Creative Commons-licensed work in this service wasn’t within the spirit of the Commons and our sharing community.”
The company also said it is sorry that “we let some of you down,” and that it would issue refunds to those who have placed orders for a Creative Commons print. –Gigaom
Mixed updates and more on hard SF and messy emotions – Last week (I think), I posted an essay by Cora Buhlert on the incorporation of romantic relationships and plotlines into SFF. Buhlert has written a follow-up post, of sorts, that contains a number of interesting links to other online discussions of the relationships between Romance and SFF. I’m posting it here because it’s clear that Romance and SFF have both much in common and much to learn from each other, and sometimes the best way to understand one genre better is to look at how another genre uses similar elements.
Meanwhile, Australian SFF writer Patty Jansen (who among other things also writes hard SF that’s actually good) sticks up for the romance genre and points out that writing contemporary romance is a great skill and that every writer should try it at least once, even if they never plan on publishing it. Because the fact that contemporary romance sticks to the “dull” mundane world (which isn’t necessarily all that dull, since I’ve read some great contemporary romance in fascinating settings that I knew little to nothing about) means that it’s a great way to learn about creating rounded and believable characters and relationships. And SF could certainly use more of that. –Cora Buhlert
How to Defeat the US with Math: An Animated North Korean Propaganda Film for Kids – While a great many jokes have been spent in regard to Sony’s refusal to screen the new Seth Rogan and James Franco movie, The Interview, the potential damage to free speech and artistic freedom in the US is very serious business. As the intro to this animated North Korean propaganda film for kids, notes, with Sony’s actions, “Americans lost their right to watch their own propaganda films — even dumb funny ones — in their own theaters.” Compare that with the fact that we can watch a North Korean propaganda film on YouTube, and the irony is downright enraging. If you want to check out the nine-minute cartoon, it’s embedded in the Open Culture post. –Open Culture
Clap harder, John Sargent, clap harder!