Friday, April 20, 2012

Link Roundup

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

Links to articles, blog posts, etc., that I found especially interesting this week:

- The Department of Justice's lawsuit against Apple and five of the Big Six publishers for alleged ebook price-fixing--in which three publishers settled, and Apple and the remaining two vowed to stand and fight--was the big news last week. This week, industry expert Mike Shatzkin provided a concise summary of where we stand now. His conclusion:
Amazon (which includes any other player largely dependent on Amazon) and the most price-conscious ebook consumers have won. Everybody else in the ecosystem: authors, publishers, and other vendors, have lost. The reaction from all quarters seems to confirm that analysis.

- More fallout from the DOJ lawsuit: Laura Hazard Owen of PaidContent takes a look at how the lawsuit will affect ebook buyers: lower prices (though not right away), new promotions, the possible death of DRM, and some stuff that won't change.

- Speaking of DRM, author Charlie Stross makes a passionate argument that killing DRM is the way for publishers to compete with Amazon, enabling readers to "to buy books from a variety of outlets and move away from the walled garden of the Kindle store." This is a MUST READ post for anyone who's concerned about the future of publishing.

- For a lot of people, it seems axiomatic that because they don't involve paper and ink, ebooks are very cheap to produce. Author and former agent Nathan Bransford explains that it ain't necessarily so. Why? Because paper doesn't actually cost very much.

- As if the scandals over plagiarism in the KDP program weren't enough, now it appears that there's a major knockoff problem: cobbled-up books titled to resemble bestsellers in hopes of tricking consumers into buying them. I Am The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, anyone?

- Attention, authors: This interesting chart of what Twitter users do and don't like demonstrates why Twitter is such an excellent resource for self-promotion. You've got to be savvy about it, though--on Twitter, as elsewhere, spam does not work.

- Like most authors, I've had good experiences with editors (my current editor is a genius and a gem, and I adore working with her) and bad experiences (such as the editor who inherited my book after the original editor departed, and made it very clear she wouldn't have signed me if things had been up to her). But even the worst experiences haven't shaken my certainty of the vital importance of the editor's role. At Salon, writer and former editor Gary Kamiya explores the awesomeness of working with a great editor.

- Is the self-publishing gold rush starting to wane? Self-pubbed author Rik Davnall thinks it may be. There's some interesting food for thought here; I've long agreed with Rik's observation that device enthusiasm, as much as readers' desire for new material, has been a major driving force in the electronic self-publishing boom, and that as device enthusiasm levels out, so will the boom. 

- Just for fun: Why waste time waiting for rejection letters, or worrying that your dream agent's lack of response means she has a "no response means no" policy? Now you can beat them all to the punch and reject yourself. Behold: the Rejection Generator!

- And here's the ultimate Mary Sue: a custom book company that will make you the protagonist of your favorite classic novel. Elizabeth Bennett, anyone? (They'll personalize original genre novels, too!)

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

I frankly bristle when reading articles like Brandofrd's that defend a higher price for ebooks. I could understand it if you were actually buying the book when you purchased the rights to an ebook, but you're not. You are merely leasing the rights to read it on your Kindle, or Nook, or whatever your ereader might be. In point of fact, you are paying a hefty price to do what you can do without charge at your local public library, borrow a book so that you can read it.

Frances Grimble said...

What I always fail to understand is why people who don't like high prices for e-books or print books, just don't say "OK, it's beyond my budget, so I'll just do without it." No need to estimate someone else's costs regarding a business you don't understand. Just buy the ones you can afford, do without the others, and in short, treat them just like any other consumer goods you can't afford. You don't have to support businesses you don't like, but you also don't have to endlessly complain about how they will not change their industry, business models, income needs, expenses, etc., just to suit you.

Diana said...

@anonymous 3:55, your argument would be valid except you do indirectly pay for borrowing books at the library. The library is funded and books are purchased by the taxes you pay. It is not completely free.

Christine Tripp said...

So true Diana, very little in life IS truly free. I agree to with you Frances. If something costs more then one can afford or wishes to pay, one does not purchase it.

Anon, if you want to own a physical copy of a book, to lend to friends I guess, then buy that, not the ebook. Libraries are building their titles of ebooks, so if one dislikes the idea of purchasing, opt for downloading from the Library.

I'm not totally convinced that there isn't a significant savings for the publisher (print vs ebook) when it comes to Picture Books. Then again, most PB apps/ebooks are interactive, adding a cost of production, which is not there, in traditional printing.

Brian Bigelow said...

I am a self published non-fiction author so I'll admit I found the article interesting for obvious reasons. Thank you for sharing it. Personally, I felt I was published when I looked at the first paperback I put out.

Many smaller publishers are only publishing in ebook alone, the reason is the paperbacks don't seem to be selling very well. In my case, no paperback sales at all but I've been on the best seller lists with my Kindle editions. I can state that on my own books that is the reason why I pretty quit bothering with paperbacks. I also have author friends who have had several hundred copies of the Kindle edition sell and a total of three of the paperback.

Think I'll make an exception with the gardening manual I'm writing presently. I'll see how it does as an e-book first though. If it does well as an e-book I'll format for paperback.

At some point I look for paperback sales to come back but I don't think it will come back to what it used to. Right now, e-readers are the cool gadget to have. Also, if you want a new book you can get it easily just about anywhere. Since a lot of book stores have closed up shop it's now a further journey to go buy a book. As for the library, the process is even easier to do a checkout than it is to go to the library to get a book. You don't even have to leave home. I love my Kindle in fact, use it all of the time.

Ramsey Campbell said...

I see "Karen Peebles" is actually credited here with the very title she imitated. Pretty insidious!

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2037050.Karen_Peebles

Ramsey Campbell said...

Sorry for the inadvertent echo! I see Peebles also wrote "How to Clone Tomato Plants". Presumably she has "How to Clone Books" in the pipeline.

Rik Davnall said...

Thanks for linking to me, Victoria. I'm writing a follow-up piece this week, and I hope you'll check it out.

On the pricing issue, I think Bransford is right as far as traditional publishing goes - but this is one of the flaws (or perhaps the only one) with traditional publishing as a business model. A 'good business model' is one that can turn a greater profit at the same price, or the same profit at a lower price. Traditional publishing has its virtues, but to me it just looks inefficient compared to well-resourced 'indy' publishing.

Standback said...

I was hoping for better from the Bransford essay on pricing ebooks.

I'm sure there's an argument to be made here, but Bransford just handwaves it. By his argument, there's still no reason that an ebook should ever be sold for more than the cheapest currently available version - in fact, even those 2-3 bucks Bransford agrees are saved aren't accounted for.

In practice, ebooks are regularly priced similarly or even more expensively than their own paperback versions. Bransford doesn't address or even acknowledge this.

The Stross essay, though, is excellent. Thanks muchly.

Jessica L Buike (AuthorJess and Operation Relax) said...

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