Thursday News: Writers and community, DRM, color-coding books, and what would Pemberley cost today?
An Introverted Writer’s Lament – Reading this article reminded me of a great conversation I had with friends lately about how much more engaged and vocal the community of Romance authors seems to be now than, say, five years ago. I suggested that perhaps self-publishing has allowed authors to talk about issues they previously felt constrained to discuss publicly, for fear that their publisher would disapprove. Whether or not that’s true, there does seem to be more candor in how authors engage publicly (especially online), and reading Meghan Tifft’s article made me wonder what, if any, has been the effect on the writing itself, and on how and why writers are producing work within this new model of social engagement. Has it helped authors? Has it been a good thing for the author-reader relationship? Tifft has a lot of provocative questions around these issues and others.
My personal reticence aside, I agree with the general consensus that these live and in-person performances are a good thing: good for writers, good for the larger book world. Whether authors like to attend them or not, they’re justly lauded as an authentic celebration of earnest aspiration in a world that’s perennially hijacked by commercial concerns—worries about getting the story formulated for the eventual TV/movie adaptation bonanza, or timing the genre mash-up so that it can best crest the fad frenzy. Amid this noise, the writer’s variety show of readings, interviews, conferences, and Q&As is a way of talking back, creating and sustaining a community around writing that matters. It’s a way of feeling a little less desperate and a little more resourceful, of proudly professing our interdependency and earning our solidarity. . . .
Since when did the community become our moral compass—our viability and ethics as writers determined so much by our team spirit? What if the community and the kind of participation it involves are actually bad for my writing, diluting my writerly identity, my ego and my id, and my subservience and surrender to the craft? What if I just want to make something? What if all this communing actually hurts the primary means by which I set out to participate and communicate—my writing itself? What do I do then? I mean, why can’t I make art in my clerestory abyss and snub the community without feeling like a snotty little brat? Why can’t I? –The Atlantic
Wolfgang Fuchs: What publishing might learn from gaming and DRM – Fuchs is director of business development & sales at Sony DADC, and despite the article’s contention that this makes him a good mentor for book publishers, I’m not so convinced. First of all, check out the way the first question was asked, and note the one constituency absent from the question (i.e. the public or the consumer, who also has IP rights). Then note his assertions about consumers and DRM. Are those really true for gaming consumers, because I’m not at all sure they translate to readers.
DRM free (Digital Rights Management) or hard DRM – which approach best protects the intellectual property of authors and publishers whilst maximising revenues?
. . .
So, what have we learned from this?
Firstly, consumers want to consume content whenever, wherever and however they wish and to this end, convenience is key.
Consumers have no objection to DRM — it just needs to be hassle-free and almost invisible. In short, legitimate buyers should not need to register/prove their purchase separately.
Illegal users should face challenges as they have not paid the full price and therefore cannot expect the full experience from the book.
Hard DRM adds revenue for the seller as more people buy the product instead of downloading it for free. The key is that all versions available are protected — this will generate earnings to invest new IP and great products. –The Bookseller
Do you color-code your books? You showed us with #waposhelfie. – On the surface, not such a profound question – do you color code your books? But as people began to answer, discuss, and send in their book photos, some interesting issues emerged, from the consideration of color blindness to the question of what books represent as objects, and what different organizing styles and philosophies might say about how people value and give meaning to books within physical space.
Yet, there are lots of reasons to believe that just displaying a book, any book, in your home is still a positive thing. “Book designers spend a lot of money and time to make books attractive and desirable for the initial buyer,” says Chuck Roberts of www.booksbythefoot.com.”Whether the new owner reads it or not, it is still a viable ‘book’ and someone may pick it up sometime and browse — unless it is glued in!” –Washington Post
Could Mr. Darcy afford a stately home today? – This piece actually raises kind of an interesting question not so much around how the money translates across time, but how class standing and “prestige” value translate, and how that does or does not help us understand, within a contemporary context, where Darcy, Bingley, and the Bennets stand economically and socially.
It turns out that, if converted to 2013 GBP (the most recent year for which full information is available) using the percentage increase in the retail price index since the estimated time the novel was set, Mr Darcy’s annual income of £10,000 in around 1803 would be worth £796,000 per year today.
That still probably wouldn’t be enough to run a modern incarnation of Pemberley, his beautiful fictional stately home in Derbyshire, if its costs were anything like the costs of running real-life Derbyshire stately home Chatsworth House today (£4m per year). Chatsworth stood in for Pemberley in the 2005 film of Pride and Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. –The Telegraph