View Full Version : Is piracy likely to harm ebook sales?


Ben Thornton
03-31-2010, 03:38 PM
I've been thinking about this, and wonder whether the real thing that publishers should focus on is getting people excited about reading, rather than attempting to clamp down on piracy.

Just to be clear, I'm not talking about:

whether piracy is good, bad or indifferent
whether piracy is theft
or any of the other topics into which this thread will, inevitably, degenerate

Instead, I'm wondering whether piracy is really the problem that publishers face. My view is that it isn't their big problem, and my analogy would be with the music industry.

The music industry seems to be blaming piracy for reduced sales, but I don't believe them. Overall, sales in entertainment and media keep going up - the problem with the music industry is that there is more choice, but only so much available spend to go around. Specifically, things like video games and DVDs are taking away some of the available spare cash that people would have spent on music. This view is supported by, for example, this report (http://www.pwc.com/en_GX/gx/global-entertainment-media-outlook/pdf/segments.pdf).

It seems to me that the problem that the music industry faces is to persuade me to buy a CD (or two) rather than Super Mario Brothers Galaxy 2.

For ebooks, I think that the same logic applies. Piracy of books is only a problem for people who could care less about books, who are the people spending money with publishers in any case. The real challenge for publishers is to make reading a book seem a better bet for your $10 than a CD, video game, movie etc. A successful clampdown on piracy would do them no good, because their problem is to gain market share vs. other options.

Publishers have a huge underexploited asset in their back-catalogues, which they could market at a low price to get people reading. I wonder whether they will pursue this, and other measures designed to promote reading - or whether they will die a slow death whining about piracy from their best customers?

JSWolf
03-31-2010, 03:46 PM
The agency model is more likely to harm eBook sales.

CyGuy
03-31-2010, 03:58 PM
I think that "they" are making the assumption that a book downloaded free is a lost sale. I disagree. Many of the people who download free books would not have paid for it to begin with. That holds true for music as well. The vast majority of downloaded books are NOT lost sales in my opinion. So no, it will not harm eBook sales, and just might get more people into reading. It should certainly help with the sales of eBook readers and tablet computers, which is where people should spend their money anyway, very little should have to be spent for content.

GhostHawk
03-31-2010, 04:03 PM
Brutally hacked from Eric Flint's statement on the Baen Free Library site........

This all started as a byproduct of an online "virtual brawl" I got into with a number of people, some of them professional SF authors, over the issue of online piracy of copyrighted works and what to do about it.

There was a school of thought, which seemed to be picking up steam, that the way to handle the problem was with handcuffs and brass knucks. Enforcement! Regulation! New regulations! Tighter regulations! All out for the campaign against piracy! No quarter! Build more prisons! Harsher sentences!


I, ah, disagreed. Rather vociferously and belligerently, in fact. And I can be a vociferous and belligerent fellow. My own opinion, summarized briefly, is as follows:

1. Online piracy — while it is definitely illegal and immoral — is, as a practical problem, nothing more than (at most) a nuisance. We're talking brats stealing chewing gum, here, not the Barbary Pirates.

2. Losses any author suffers from piracy are almost certainly offset by the additional publicity which, in practice, any kind of free copies of a book usually engender. Whatever the moral difference, which certainly exists, the practical effect of online piracy is no different from that of any existing method by which readers may obtain books for free or at reduced cost: public libraries, friends borrowing and loaning each other books, used book stores, promotional copies, etc.

3. Any cure which relies on tighter regulation of the market — especially the kind of extreme measures being advocated by some people — is far worse than the disease. As a widespread phenomenon rather than a nuisance, piracy occurs when artificial restrictions in the market jack up prices beyond what people think are reasonable. The "regulation-enforcement-more regulation" strategy is a bottomless pit which continually recreates (on a larger scale) the problem it supposedly solves. And that commercial effect is often compounded by the more general damage done to social and political freedom.

In the course of this debate, I mentioned it to my publisher Jim Baen. He more or less virtually snorted and expressed the opinion that if one of his authors — how about you, Eric? — were willing to put up a book for free online that the resulting publicity would more than offset any losses the author might suffer.

The minute he made the proposal, I realized he was right. After all, Dave Weber's On Basilisk Station has been available for free as a "loss leader" for Baen's for-pay experiment "Webscriptions" for months now. And — hey, whaddaya know? — over that time it's become Baen's most popular backlist title in paper!

And so I volunteered my first novel, Mother of Demons, to prove the case. And the next day Mother of Demons went up online, offered to the public for free.

Sure enough, within a day, I received at least half a dozen messages (some posted in public forums, others by private email) from people who told me that, based on hearing about the episode and checking out Mother of Demons, they either had or intended to buy the book. In one or two cases, this was a "gesture of solidarity. "But in most instances, it was because people preferred to read something they liked in a print version and weren't worried about the small cost — once they saw, through sampling it online, that it was a novel they enjoyed. (Mother of Demons is a $5.99 paperback, available in most bookstores. Yes, that a plug. )

Then, after thinking the whole issue through a bit more, I realized that by posting Mother of Demons I was just making a gesture. Gestures are fine, but policies are better.

So, the next day, I discussed the matter with Jim again and it turned out he felt exactly the same way. So I proposed turning the Mother of Demons tour-de-force into an ongoing project. Immediately, David Drake was brought into the discussion and the three of us refined the idea and modified it here and there. And then Dave Weber heard about it, and Dave Freer, and. . . voila.

The Baen Free Library was born................(End hackage)

What he says rings true.
Give people a taste, give it to them for free, and they'll come back willing to pay for more. Its so simple even drug peddlers use it, and they ain't rocket scientists!

The more an author is read, and talked about the more people will buy his books.

The people who will pirate were not going to go out and pay 15 - 25$ for that hardcover book in the first place. Probably wouldn't spend 8 - 12 $ for a paperback.

I've "liberated" a lot of books, but I very seldom if ever had the money to buy new ones. Once in a while I'd get a gift card for B&N. I think 3 times I've signed up for the Science Fiction book club, get 7 or 8 books for 1$ and agree to buy 2 more over the course of the next year. So you pay 12 - 18$ each for 2 books (choosing wisely of course) and you end up with 10 nice hardcover books for 2.50-3$ each. Not a bad bargain actually. My biggest problem was waiting for them to have enough good stuff to choose from.

If publishers have problems they need to fix the biggest one first. And that is waste, unsold, stripped, remaindered hard cover and paperbacks. Books that are produced that never get sold. Wasted time, wasted material, wasted shipping. Fix that problem and they won't have to worry about the few sales a pirate might have made but chose not to.

Whats more as Eric mentioned above, (More hackage) As a widespread phenomenon rather than a nuisance, piracy occurs when artificial restrictions in the market jack up prices beyond what people think are reasonable.(End Hackage) (Gee the cutlass is sharp today! :) )

Cut out the waste, remove unnecessary overhead, make ebooks easily accessible, reasonably priced, DRM and geographic restriction free in a variety of formats and pirates will go back to drinking rum and telling tales about "the good ol days".

CyGuy
03-31-2010, 04:37 PM
Just a thought:

If I buy an eBook reader or a tablet computer that has 32GB of storage and I fill it up with eBooks, how much will I have to pay? My Mobi books average about 500K each, just a rough average. After formatting my 32GB, I actually have around 28GB of space left. I should be able to fit about 56,000 books on my 32GB device using the rough estimates above. So, how much do I have to pay to fill up my new reader with books? If I pay $9.99 for each book, it will cost me $560,000. Yep, over half a million dollars. What about the 64GB model? What about the ones with SDHC card readers? So if I want to fill up my 64GB model with a 32GB card inserted, I can expect to pay around $1,680,000 dollars for content. Nice…

foghat
03-31-2010, 04:48 PM
^ ???? Not sure what you are trying to get at. Yes, if you plan buy 56,000 books, you had better start saving.

Elfwreck
03-31-2010, 05:11 PM
I've been thinking about this, and wonder whether the real thing that publishers should focus on is getting people excited about reading, rather than attempting to clamp down on piracy.
...
The real challenge for publishers is to make reading a book seem a better bet for your $10 than a CD, video game, movie etc. A successful clampdown on piracy would do them no good, because their problem is to gain market share vs. other options.

They're also competing with free online content. Not just public domain & creative commons ebooks, but blogs, messageboards, fansites, and Youtube.

Hmm, let me think: $10 for a book worth a few hours of reading time, which I hope to enjoy based on reviews & maybe a sample, viewable on my PC or portable device (after some hassle of installing DRM software), but not sharable with friends,
vs
$0 for a few hours of discussion on message boards, which I know I will enjoy because the entire history of the board is visible, and which I can switch to some *other* form of entertainment if I decide I don't like it right now, viewable on PC or some phones with no extra software, sharable with as many friends as I can convince to be interested.

It's really amazing that books *ever* win out. (Someday, someone will make a fully cross-linked ebook out of TVTropes.com, and the ebook industry will collapse in terror.)

But yes. "Piracy" is not the problem ebook publishers/bookstores are facing. The problem is convincing people to read their books, rather than participate in the countless *other* forms of entertainment/education available.

Ravensknight
03-31-2010, 05:50 PM
I don't have much to add except that I agree with the "competing attractions" idea. I have to choose after work whether to sit down and read an ebook, read the latest scifi/fantasy offering I borrowed from the library, watch a dvd I borrowed, or browse Mobileread ;-).
Life is tough...

ficbot
03-31-2010, 06:23 PM
They really must make the price/value equation balance if they want to compete with the other choices the customer has. I don't mean all books must be free or authors don't deserve to get paid or anything like that. I mean that they need to think seriously about what a reasonable person will pay for their product and price it at that level to drive sales (for example, iTunes has sold over a billion downloads because it is affordable and dead easy). Cable television is another industry they can learn from. I moved last summer and realized that with a cheap $40 antenna, I could get five channels over the air, and they showed nearly all of the shows I watch. Cable starts at $40 a month. Not worth it just to watch the one show I'll miss. Yes, there are other channels with other things but if I, the customer, does not care about those things, they will not entice me to pay for them at the price they want.

mr ploppy
03-31-2010, 06:28 PM
What you call "piracy", which is really just unauthorised downloading, can only have a positive impact on the book industry. It will create a demand for ebook readers in much the same way that the unauthorised downloading of music did for mp3 players. This demand will lead to very cheap ebook readers and make them mainstream devices. When they are mainstream, most people will look for mainstream ways of getting their ebooks. Which is when the publishers and distributors will make their vast profits, just like the music publishers and distributors are doing now with mp3.

Solicitous
03-31-2010, 06:49 PM
For ebooks, I think that the same logic applies. Piracy of books is only a problem for people who could care less about books, who are the people spending money with publishers in any case. The real challenge for publishers is to make reading a book seem a better bet for your $10 than a CD, video game, movie etc. A successful clampdown on piracy would do them no good, because their problem is to gain market share vs. other options.


Good post, some good thoughts. For me personally, piracy is the result of poor company policy rather than people who don't care about the product.

I'll talk specifically with TV shows. Quite common in Australia a new TV series will start, advertised to the max, after 5-10 episodes it is either dropped or used as a time filler and not played in order. You got hooked on the show and suddenly the TV stations are mucking you around. You have 3 options, (1) put up with it, (2) wait 12-18 months for DVD to be released, or (3) download off internet at watch it in order. Option 3 looks pretty good for most people. Those who wait for option 2 find on release date the boxed DVD set it $90, "hang on, the previous season was $50 when released, why is this worth $90?". As a consumer we find big DVD sales where the $90 TV series is dropped to an amazing $40, but you can't buy it because the store is sold out and sorry, no rainchecks. So your thinking now is "I'm not going to pay $90 when it has been sold as low as $40". So, you go then with option 3.

Now ebooks has been spoken quite a bit with piracy. Essentially a big factor is GR. You want to buy it but are refused, so you pirate. Or DRM, issues there, can't read what you bought etc, so you pirate.

Secondly with ebooks the publishers are wanting to sell the ebooks at the same price as a paper/hardback, but what the consumer is buying are two different products. Buying a paper/hardback you buy an actual product which you have rights to (sell, share, even copy for personal use in some countries). Ebooks you buy a licence to read. Publishers are wanting people to pay the same for less essentially. Two things need to either take place (1) the price of ebooks needs to drop to represent the actual product you are paying for in comparison to the paperback, or (2) ebooks need to be value-added to justify the price.

Regardless, there will always be a group of people who will pirate regardless. What needs to be worked on is the honest pirate, the person who pirates because he has been driven to that extent.

delphidb96
03-31-2010, 08:07 PM
I've been thinking about this, and wonder whether the real thing that publishers should focus on is getting people excited about reading, rather than attempting to clamp down on piracy.

Just to be clear, I'm not talking about:

whether piracy is good, bad or indifferent
whether piracy is theft
or any of the other topics into which this thread will, inevitably, degenerate

Instead, I'm wondering whether piracy is really the problem that publishers face. My view is that it isn't their big problem, and my analogy would be with the music industry.

The music industry seems to be blaming piracy for reduced sales, but I don't believe them. Overall, sales in entertainment and media keep going up - the problem with the music industry is that there is more choice, but only so much available spend to go around. Specifically, things like video games and DVDs are taking away some of the available spare cash that people would have spent on music. This view is supported by, for example, this report (http://www.pwc.com/en_GX/gx/global-entertainment-media-outlook/pdf/segments.pdf).

It seems to me that the problem that the music industry faces is to persuade me to buy a CD (or two) rather than Super Mario Brothers Galaxy 2.

For ebooks, I think that the same logic applies. Piracy of books is only a problem for people who could care less about books, who are the people spending money with publishers in any case. The real challenge for publishers is to make reading a book seem a better bet for your $10 than a CD, video game, movie etc. A successful clampdown on piracy would do them no good, because their problem is to gain market share vs. other options.

Publishers have a huge underexploited asset in their back-catalogues, which they could market at a low price to get people reading. I wonder whether they will pursue this, and other measures designed to promote reading - or whether they will die a slow death whining about piracy from their best customers?

Oh please! *ALL* of these views have been discussed to the point where the only rational response is to spew chunks! :toilet:

Yes, most readers understand completely that anti-piracy efforts and money spent by the publishers would be better used to develop the vast backlists for the ebook market.

Yes, most customers realize that the major publishing houses have rocks-for-brains as their senior management.

Yes, most people have been fooled-once/fooled-twice by claims of same publishers re: ebooks.

Yes, any aspect of this subject truly is :deadhorse:

Derek

fugazied
03-31-2010, 08:10 PM
The agency model is more likely to harm eBook sales.

Agreed.

They are still at the stage where the publishers pricing structures, DRM, low quality, geographic restrictions and missing titles lose more money for publishers than piracy would. Once they set the price point right, get the quality up, remove the DRM (or make it more reasonable so I can LEND the book I bought to a relative as I would a paper book) and get the range up then they will see profits increase.

However they are terrible at fixing their own internal policy problems so instead they use the law to pursue pirates. Pirates are also easy to scapegoat!

edit: yes beating a dead horse again. But that's the reality. Piracy is a minor threat to publishers, and a lot of the piracy only occurs because publshers PUSH people towards it with the regional restrictions/restrictive drm/pricing/lack of titles and so on. They are their own worst enemy.

Fat Abe
03-31-2010, 08:16 PM
What needs to be worked on is the honest pirate, the person who pirates because he has been driven to that extent.

I have to hand you the reward for best oxymoron (Honest Pirate) of the year. Who is this Honest Pirate that you speak of? Would you have us laud Robin Book, new thief of Sherwood Forest?

Back in 2004, the MPAA commissioned a survey of movie piracy:

http://www.mpaa.org/press_releases/leksummarympa.pdf

Though flawed, and in some ways overreaching in its conclusions, it indicates that there was and still is a sizable loss in "potential" revenues. I place the figure in the hundreds of millions of dollars, while MPAA estimates billions. Why is this of concern to me, and how does the study apply to the book publishing industry? I stated in another post that history is repeating itself. The offshore component of the pirates is costing western democratic countries millions of dollars. This affects our trade balance with China, one the most egregious copyright violators. How would they feel if we began copying their currency, and distributed it freely throughout the world?

If I chop a tree down in the forest, and the landowner does not hear me do it, is this stealing or not? The specious argument reads as follows: If I had to pay for it, I would not have stolen it. Therefore, I am not costing the owner anything!

Look, we still live in a civilized nation, and without recompensing each other, we all suffer. If a pirate chooses to be honest, he should do a good deed, equal in value to his bad deed. Buy a print copy (or substitute title) from the publisher.

Iphinome
03-31-2010, 08:37 PM
I have to hand you the reward for best oxymoron (Honest Pirate) of the year. Who is this Honest Pirate that you speak of? Would you have us laud Robin Book, new thief of Sherwood Forest?

Back in 2004, the MPAA commissioned a survey of movie piracy:

http://www.mpaa.org/press_releases/leksummarympa.pdf


If I chop a tree down in the forest, and the landowner does not hear me do it, is this stealing or not? The specious argument reads as follows: If I had to pay for it, I would not have stolen it. Therefore, I am not costing the owner anything!

Look, we still live in a civilized nation, and without recompensing each other, we all suffer. If a pirate chooses to be honest, he should do a good deed, equal in value to his bad deed. Buy a print copy (or substitute title) from the publisher.

Look at it this way, The forest that someone took a tree from is owned by the local baron, The serfs pay their taxes to the baron but still aren't allowed to go collect any firewood, I'm not even talking about chopping down trees I mean fallen branches. The serfs can't keep warm or cook food anymore so they sneak into the forest and cut down a few trees.

Fallen branches in this case would be both fair use and the public domain in the forest of copyright. People are pushed too hard and finally they say screw it, if the local baron hadn't been so interested in control as to make the people suffer those big trees might still be there but the situation he created cost him a few big trees, they made enough firewood to last the village all winter.

The publishers aren't doing any good deeds I'm including movie and music publishers not only books they've not held onto their end of the copyright bargain. When are they going to give us something of the same value as their bad deeds?

sabredog
03-31-2010, 08:49 PM
The agency model is more likely to harm eBook sales.

Absolutely. That and Geo restrictions are going to turn more legitimate customers to source ebooks via other means and that will include the darknet.

They never learn or perhaps they simply do not care.

Solicitous
03-31-2010, 09:21 PM
Though flawed, and in some ways overreaching in its conclusions, it indicates that there was and still is a sizable loss in "potential" revenues. I place the figure in the hundreds of millions of dollars, while MPAA estimates billions. Why is this of concern to me, and how does the study apply to the book publishing industry? I stated in another post that history is repeating itself. The offshore component of the pirates is costing western democratic countries millions of dollars. This affects our trade balance with China, one the most egregious copyright violators. How would they feel if we began copying their currency, and distributed it freely throughout the world?

If I chop a tree down in the forest, and the landowner does not hear me do it, is this stealing or not? The specious argument reads as follows: If I had to pay for it, I would not have stolen it. Therefore, I am not costing the owner anything!


You argument there is valid for physical goods. I will use shoes and an example. You can steal a pair of shoes from a shoeshop. This means the shoe shop owner now has lost money because the pair of shoes that cost X dollars to him to resell have now gone. This is different to the digital media which we are talking. If said shoeshop owner had a .jpeg of a pair of shoes and you took a copy without permission because he refused to sell it to you, has the shoeshop owner lost anything? Well no he still has his picture of a pair of shoes. What he has potentially lost is future revenue, because now you have a copy you aren't likely going to buy a copy from him in the future (and given that he refused in the first place you are likely to never buy from him at all) Now with digital media whether you sell 1 or 10,000 copies it still costs you the same to produce the initial digital file.

Now the "Honest Pirate". These people are everywhere. These are the ones who buy an album on iTunes only to have iTunes at some point give an error and find they have lost the entire album out of their collection, with the only option on the iTunes store is to buy it again (hang on, I bought it with your software from you which the software failed and now you want me to pay for it again?), so they pirate.

These are the ones who as I described earlier are given the runaround by TV stations. These are the people who suffer incredible pain in using digital media that is DRM encrypted, only to find because what they bought is a licence and not a product they can't return it. These are the ones who buy a computer with Windows on it only to have it, despite being registered, pop up notifications and shutdown because Microsoft feels the OS isn't registered - so they pirate a copy without that functionality.

Piracy is piracy, but what distinguishes Honest Pirates are their motivation for pirating. Their motivation is never because of greed or lack of ethical considerations.

artemisblossom
03-31-2010, 09:57 PM
Well I can only speak from personal experience but publishers lost a sale from me very recently due to geographical restrictions. The book I wanted came out listed as US only (from Sony store) and I am in Canada. I tried every other ebook store I could think of, no one had it. I called Sony to ask about getting gift cards or pre paid credit cards but they told me it wouldn't work (not their fault I know). If I wanted this book I had no other choice but to buy the paper book or go to the dark net. The paper book I would need glasses to read (getting older and haven't gone to an eye Dr. yet to check into reading glasses) and besides I didn't buy an ebook reader to collect dust while I read paper books..................and there was a well formatted copy of this book on the internet in less than 9 hours after it was released. Am I proud of being a pirate? Absolutely not! and if I had a choice I would have bought it but it was just too difficult if not impossible to get the ebook legally.

Steven Lake
03-31-2010, 10:12 PM
I've worked with FOSS and battled piracy myself, and I totally agree with CyGuy's comments. Pirates who steal stuff never intended to pay for it anyways, and if internet piracy didn't exist, people would still find ways to get copies of stuff for free. So since no sale would ever have occurred, it's not a lost sale. And yes, the agency model is likely to do tons more harm than good. Also, aside from the greedy, dishonest people who'd rather steal than pay for stuff, the other kind of piracy is what I think hurts more. This is people who *WILL* buy your stuff, and *WILL* pay for a copy, but have been forced to pirate your ebook because either A) it's good enough to read, but not good enough to be worth paying for, B) you did something stupid and locked it behind oppressive DRM, C) you priced your book above what most people consider reasonable for a book, or maybe just your book specifically, or D) you're a douche (like the MPAA/RIAA) and treat people like crap, so they fight back by getting their fix while preventing you from lining your pockets with their cash.

Either way, 90% of piracy doesn't need to occur. If distributors, writers, artists, companies, etc, etc, would all just get a clue, the people who would pay will pay, and those who won't will just go on doing what they've always done, and that's steal because they are dishonest douches.

garbanzo
04-01-2010, 12:57 AM
i am absolutely unconvinced by the idea that a pirated copy of anything means a lost sale. at least not in my world. i almost always buy used. whether it's books or movies or music. no sense in spending $25 for a new copy of something when i can wait a few months and buy it for $8. in this respect, it makes no difference to the original publishers whether i buy something or download it.

and what about digital acquisitions of things that a person would have never paid money for in the first place?

consider Photoshop. every kid and their mother has it on their computer, but the vast majority of Photoshop users would have never purchased the app if they could not acquire a free copy. in fact, most Photoshop pirates only use it to re-size images and add inane effects to their myspace photos.

but every once in a while, a youngster will catch on, learn the ropes, and become adept at using the software. if said youngster then moves on to the professional world and finds a need to use Photoshop for commercial reasons, chances are they'll get their boss to buy it.

it's not unlike last year's Windows 7 public beta/RC run - get 'em hooked while it's free, and make 'em want to pay :D

BillSmithBooks
04-01-2010, 02:00 AM
The biggest threat to publishers is not piracy, but the publishers themselves.

Personally, I would not consider piracy. Instead, if I can't find what I want at a reasonable price, I wait until I can get it used at a better price. As for ebooks, if I can't have it in a format and price that I consider reasonable, I buy the used printed book, which means a complete loss of revenue for publishers.

But what readers want is simple: reasonable prices, non-DRM, open formats (i.e., let me get the books I want at a fair price and let me read them on the device of my choosing, let me legally convert to the format I want).

If publishers offered that, piracy would be far less likely to be a threat to the publishing industry IMO.

I can think of dozens of books I would buy immediately if I could get them DRM-free in PDF or HTML...but the publishers will never get the money I have to offer because of their position.

mr ploppy
04-01-2010, 05:46 AM
I have to hand you the reward for best oxymoron (Honest Pirate) of the year. Who is this Honest Pirate that you speak of? Would you have us laud Robin Book, new thief of Sherwood Forest?

Back in 2004, the MPAA commissioned a survey of movie piracy:

http://www.mpaa.org/press_releases/leksummarympa.pdf

Though flawed, and in some ways overreaching in its conclusions, it indicates that there was and still is a sizable loss in "potential" revenues. I place the figure in the hundreds of millions of dollars, while MPAA estimates billions. Why is this of concern to me, and how does the study apply to the book publishing industry? I stated in another post that history is repeating itself. The offshore component of the pirates is costing western democratic countries millions of dollars. This affects our trade balance with China, one the most egregious copyright violators. How would they feel if we began copying their currency, and distributed it freely throughout the world?

If I chop a tree down in the forest, and the landowner does not hear me do it, is this stealing or not? The specious argument reads as follows: If I had to pay for it, I would not have stolen it. Therefore, I am not costing the owner anything!

Look, we still live in a civilized nation, and without recompensing each other, we all suffer. If a pirate chooses to be honest, he should do a good deed, equal in value to his bad deed. Buy a print copy (or substitute title) from the publisher.

You should look up the word "potential". I could potentially earn £1,000 per day, does that mean that if someone uses a voluntary worker instead of me that they have stolen £1,000 from me?

You need to stop thinking of income that you would never have made as something you have lost. If you delete the entire internet just to stop people getting it for free, those people will just go back to either not reading at all or just reading in the library. Meanwhile you have lost all the extra income you are making now from the try-before-you-buy type downloaders.

Kevin2960
04-01-2010, 07:05 AM
YES ..:smack:

Sweetpea
04-01-2010, 07:11 AM
The biggest threat to publishers is not piracy, but the publishers themselves.

Personally, I would not consider piracy. Instead, if I can't find what I want at a reasonable price, I wait until I can get it used at a better price. As for ebooks, if I can't have it in a format and price that I consider reasonable, I buy the used printed book, which means a complete loss of revenue for publishers.

But what readers want is simple: reasonable prices, non-DRM, open formats (i.e., let me get the books I want at a fair price and let me read them on the device of my choosing, let me legally convert to the format I want).

If publishers offered that, piracy would be far less likely to be a threat to the publishing industry IMO.

I can think of dozens of books I would buy immediately if I could get them DRM-free in PDF or HTML...but the publishers will never get the money I have to offer because of their position.

That's my thought as well. Piracy has started me on the road to ebooks, and I've bought more ebooks these last years than I have have bought in paper.

But those stupid restrictions are chasing me away from the official stores again, because I simply can't find the books I want (anymore). Either they're just not available, or they're not available to me. The net result is the same: I will go look somewhere else.

Solicitous
04-01-2010, 07:24 AM
That's my thought as well. Piracy has started me on the road to ebooks, and I've bought more ebooks these last years than I have have bought in paper.

But those stupid restrictions are chasing me away from the official stores again, because I simply can't find the books I want (anymore). Either they're just not available, or they're not available to me. The net result is the same: I will go look somewhere else.

You and others who have mentioned similar reasons for 'searching elsewhere' for ebooks are exactly the people I was describing as "Honest Pirates". Had an ebook been for sale in a reasonable easy manner without requiring change of country and jumping through hoops etc, you would have gladly paid and bought all your ebooks, instead (due to primarily the publisher) are forced to go elsewhere.

If any publishers are reading this PLEASE understand, people are not pirating ebooks because they want to, they are doing it because they are forced to.

garbanzo
04-01-2010, 07:53 AM
If any publishers are reading this PLEASE understand, people are not pirating ebooks because they want to, they are doing it because they are forced to.

sorry, but this is utter crap. nobody is forcing anyone to do anything. the fact that you can't buy a particular luxury item that your heart desires does not justify going out and stealing it. it's like saying it's OK to buy drugs off the street because the government does not allow them to be sold commercially.

people pirate ebooks and everything else because they don't see any sense in paying pay for something when it can be acquired discretely and instantly from the comfort of their own home.

Solicitous
04-01-2010, 08:02 AM
sorry, but this is utter crap. nobody is forcing anyone to do anything. the fact that you can't buy a particular luxury item that your heart desires does not justify going out and stealing it. it's like saying it's OK to buy drugs off the street because the government does not allow them to be sold commercially.

people pirate ebooks and everything else because they don't see any sense in paying pay for something when it can be acquired discretely and instantly from the comfort of their own home.

Drugs are illegal, simple. Ebooks with GR are not illegal, they are publishers/booksellers being restrictive. Why can I buy X book locally here in Aus, or from overseas and have it shipped to my home but can't buy the ebook version because I live here in Australia?

In the situation of GR I am able and willing to buy the ebooks, credit card ready and account created but am refused sale. Its not like I am refused sale because the book is banned here, paperback is available. The demand for ebooks are there, and if supply isn't going to meet demand then people will inherently find a path that will satisfy that demand.

The music industry woke up to that fact, the movie industry has (remember region 1,2,3,4 etc DVDs and players in an attempt to restrict sales in certain regions, now I don't know if it is possible to buy a sole region 4 DVD player in Australia, they are all multi region).

HarryT
04-01-2010, 08:11 AM
It should certainly help with the sales of eBook readers and tablet computers, which is where people should spend their money anyway, very little should have to be spent for content.

I don't follow that line of reasoning at all, I'm afraid. Isn't that like saying "if you buy a DVD player, very little should have to be spent on DVDs"? Why does buying a player for a particular medium mean that you should then not have to spend money on the actual media?

HarryT
04-01-2010, 08:13 AM
If any publishers are reading this PLEASE understand, people are not pirating ebooks because they want to, they are doing it because they are forced to.

Forced to? Who is "forcing" them to? Why not just read something else instead? Or buy the book in paper?

Kevin2960
04-01-2010, 08:27 AM
sorry, but this is utter crap. nobody is forcing anyone to do anything. the fact that you can't buy a particular luxury item that your heart desires does not justify going out and stealing it. it's like saying it's OK to buy drugs off the street because the government does not allow them to be sold commercially.

people pirate ebooks and everything else because they don't see any sense in paying pay for something when it can be acquired discretely and instantly from the comfort of their own home.


EXACTLY :cool:

Hamlet53
04-01-2010, 08:40 AM
. . . This is people who *WILL* buy your stuff, and *WILL* pay for a copy, but have been forced to pirate your ebook because either A) it's good enough to read, but not good enough to be worth paying for, B) you did something stupid and locked it behind oppressive DRM, C) you priced your book above what most people consider reasonable for a book, or maybe just your book specifically, or D) you're a douche (like the MPAA/RIAA) and treat people like crap, so they fight back by getting their fix while preventing you from lining your pockets with their cash.

Either way, 90% of piracy doesn't need to occur. If distributors, writers, artists, companies, etc, etc, would all just get a clue, the people who would pay will pay, and those who won't will just go on doing what they've always done, and that's steal because they are dishonest douches.

Please read the first statement and item A) once more and tell me if the combination makes sense? They want to pay the author for his work, but it is not good enough to be worth their money so they are forced to pirate it so they can read it? Say what? People who steal are dishonest douches -Yes!- but not if the item is priced at more than they think it is worth-No! No they have just rationalized becoming dishonest douches themselves. Not worth the asking price? Move on and pay for something else you think is.

Everything else you had to say is in my opinion spot on. DRM is an incredibly stupid idea. I always strip the DRM form any e-books I buy, not because I want to put it on the 'darknet' and let others piggy-back for free on my purchase, but because I have purchased the e-book and it is my right to be able to read it when I want on any device I want.

Item C, argh! A rehash of the assertion in item A. Once more each of us should not be individually allowed to decide what an item is worth and, if what the seller wants is higher than that, conclude that we are justified in getting it for free from some pirate source.

The MPAA/RIAA attempts to stop piracy buy trying to track down and sue downloaders? An even dumber idea than DRM.

The truth is that the people who just want everything for free are like cockroaches. After WWIII they will still be ubiquitous. I think most people are honest and know that authors deserve to be paid for their work. It is just that this “piracy is not only not a crime it's the moral thing to do and doesn't hurt anyone” culture is like a devil whispering in everyone's ear.

Final point about piracy actually benefiting authors? It is possible I guess, but I am far from convinced. I don't see how broad circulation among the never-pay-for-it crowd will ever benefit authors in sales and income.

Sweetpea
04-01-2010, 08:41 AM
people pirate ebooks and everything else because they don't see any sense in paying pay for something when it can be acquired discretely and instantly from the comfort of their own home.

Oh, and why did I buy books I had already downloaded years ago (and even read years ago, and don't forget the pbook versions I already own)? Maybe because it was finally available to me? O, no, according to you I don't want to pay for my books...

Naturally, there are people who will download even if legal versions are available, just because it's easy and cheap. But saying that all ebook pirates do that for that reason is saying that everybody is a thief because a few take from houses things that don't belong to them.

But due to the way some publishers seem to think, people are looking somewhere else. And the problem is, once people find out how easy it is to get "free" books, the harder it will be to get those people away from those "free" books again. Especially now, when ebooks are getting more and more attention, more and more people will find their way to the darknet.

GhostHawk
04-01-2010, 08:47 AM
People don't believe in paying unreasonable amounts of money for something that costs the publisher virtually nothing to produce.

So yell about the publishers greed if your going to complain about pirates.
Because they caused it in the first place.

Also for many of us books are not a "luxury" it is a necessity that keeps us sane, and able to deal with those around us.

If people could find what they wanted at a reasonable price, they wouldn't pirate it. As for sales, you can't lose something you never had. They never had those sales. They had "expectation's" and hopes of sales. Whats worse, the people who pirate because they can't afford to shell out 15$ for an ebook. Or the Publisher who will break any law he can get away with, inflate prices on books that cost him almost nothing to produce. While wasting loads of money and paper books because he refuses to find a better model for selling paper books.

Who's the real criminal here? And why do guys like you always stand up for greedy corporations?



sorry, but this is utter crap. nobody is forcing anyone to do anything. the fact that you can't buy a particular luxury item that your heart desires does not justify going out and stealing it. it's like saying it's OK to buy drugs off the street because the government does not allow them to be sold commercially.

people pirate ebooks and everything else because they don't see any sense in paying pay for something when it can be acquired discretely and instantly from the comfort of their own home.

mr ploppy
04-01-2010, 08:47 AM
sorry, but this is utter crap. nobody is forcing anyone to do anything. the fact that you can't buy a particular luxury item that your heart desires does not justify going out and stealing it. it's like saying it's OK to buy drugs off the street because the government does not allow them to be sold commercially.

people pirate ebooks and everything else because they don't see any sense in paying pay for something when it can be acquired discretely and instantly from the comfort of their own home.

No, people are doing it because it is easier or the product is better. Price isn't really much of an issue at all. What people want is properly proof read books without any silly restrictions on what they can do with them either now or in the future.

HarryT
04-01-2010, 08:53 AM
Who's the real criminal here? And why do guys like you always stand up for greedy corporations?

Perhaps because people who make ludicrous assertions such as "ebooks cost virtually nothing to produce" clearly know absolutely nothing about book publishing. The majority of the cost of publishing a book comes from such things as copy editing. This has to be done for an eBook just as much as for a paper book. If you honestly believe that copy editors work for free, I'm afraid you're sadly mistaken.

mr ploppy
04-01-2010, 08:57 AM
Final point about piracy actually benefiting authors? It is possible I guess, but I am far from convinced. I don't see how broad circulation among the never-pay-for-it crowd will ever benefit authors in sales and income.


By creating new readers they would have never otherwise reached. Some of those will go on to buy other products and get their friends to read them, write blogs about them, etc. How do you think the music industry's profits have risen so dramatically since mp3 downloading became mainstream?

garbanzo
04-01-2010, 09:00 AM
No, people are doing it because it is easier or the product is better. Price isn't really much of an issue at all. What people want is properly proof read books without any silly restrictions on what they can do with them either now or in the future.

i think you speak more for the people in this particular forum than for ebook downloaders in general...

If people could find what they wanted at a reasonable price, they wouldn't pirate it.

i couldn't disagree more. i think you undersestimate the pirate community. i know of private forums and torrent sites that literally have millions of members who are not interested in paying for something unless they have to.

And why do guys like you always stand up for greedy corporations?

i'm not standing up for anybody. i just don't think that the lack of availability of a particular item is good personal justification for pirating it. that doesn't make it OK.

mr ploppy
04-01-2010, 09:03 AM
Perhaps because people who make ludicrous assertions such as "ebooks cost virtually nothing to produce" clearly know absolutely nothing about book publishing. The majority of the cost of publishing a book comes from such things as copy editing. This has to be done for an eBook just as much as for a paper book. If you honestly believe that copy editors work for free, I'm afraid you're sadly mistaken.

All of that would have been done before the original hardback or paperback version was released, it would not need to be done again for an ebook edition.

HarryT
04-01-2010, 09:07 AM
All of that would have been done before the original hardback or paperback version was released, it would not need to be done again for an ebook edition.

The work is done for the book yes, but no matter what format it's sold in - paper or electronic - those costs have to be recovered.

GhostHawk
04-01-2010, 09:09 AM
Ok HarryT, enlighten me, how much do Copy editors work for?
Figure a reasonable 500 page novel.
What does it cost, 1,000$, 2,000$?

Out of that how many ebooks can they sell? An Infinite number.

So over say a 20 year period just how many copy's of an ebook get sold for a reasonably popular author? 100,000? Half a million? Heck lets be really really conservative, and plan for 20,000 over a 20 year period. How far does that 2,000$ cost go? How can you possibly justify something that costs 1$ a book when they are trying to sell them for 15$ a book? Seriously!

No I don't know the publishing world, what I do know is that once the work is done they can sell that book until the copyright runs out. Life plus 70 correct? So you have to be looking at a 100 year average for copyright. Thats selling the same book that costs you X dollars to produce once, for 100 years with no new added costs. You don't even need overhead, because you can get Amazon to sell it for you if you have the rights to it.

Its about greed, pure plain and simple.

mr ploppy
04-01-2010, 09:10 AM
i think you speak more for the people in this particular forum than for ebook downloaders in general...



i couldn't disagree more. i think you undersestimate the pirate community. i know of private forums and torrent sites that literally have millions of members who are not interested in paying for something unless they have to.



i'm not standing up for anybody. i just don't think that the lack of availability of a particular item is good personal justification for pirating it. that doesn't make it OK.

The people in those forums won't pay for things they download even if you delete the entire internet, so there is no point worrying about any imagined loss of income from them. The publishers would be better off thinking of ways to make money from what they do, either through advertising or some form of voluntary or mandatory subscription model. Which are by a strange coincidence the ways that the operators of such websites are making money from them right now.

The real loss of income to publsihers is from the people who would be happy to pay for their ebooks but for various reasons are unable to purchase them. Those reasons include not having heard of the author, living in the wrong country, having the wrong type of e-reader, or just not being able to afford them. Most, if not all, of those restrictions are directly controlled by the publishers.

mr ploppy
04-01-2010, 09:12 AM
The work is done for the book yes, but no matter what format it's sold in - paper or electronic - those costs have to be recovered.

Are you saying that all the paper, printing and distribution costs associated with paper books have to be covered by the sale of ebooks? The argument is about ADDITIONAL costs incurred with an ebook edition.

HarryT
04-01-2010, 09:30 AM
Ok HarryT, enlighten me, how much do Copy editors work for?
Figure a reasonable 500 page novel.
What does it cost, 1,000$, 2,000$?

Out of that how many ebooks can they sell? An Infinite number.

So over say a 20 year period just how many copy's of an ebook get sold for a reasonably popular author? 100,000? Half a million? Heck lets be really really conservative, and plan for 20,000 over a 20 year period. How far does that 2,000$ cost go? How can you possibly justify something that costs 1$ a book when they are trying to sell them for 15$ a book? Seriously!

No I don't know the publishing world, what I do know is that once the work is done they can sell that book until the copyright runs out. Life plus 70 correct? So you have to be looking at a 100 year average for copyright. Thats selling the same book that costs you X dollars to produce once, for 100 years with no new added costs. You don't even need overhead, because you can get Amazon to sell it for you if you have the rights to it.

Its about greed, pure plain and simple.

I suggest you take a look at this thread (http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=78498); it discusses the economics of the publishing business. You honestly are mistaken, I'm afraid, in believing that the costs of publishing a book are so minimal, or that publishing is a business in which anyone is going to get rich.

foghat
04-01-2010, 11:27 AM
People don't believe in paying unreasonable amounts of money for something that costs the publisher virtually nothing to produce.

I think you are wearing rose colored lenses. Many, many goods and services are sold for much more than it costs to make/provide them. Why single out ebooks?

I could care less what it cost the publisher to make an ebook. While I agree an ebook should be priced lower than a paper book, I don't think that price discrepancy should be more than 10 or 15%.


Also for many of us books are not a "luxury" it is a necessity that keeps us sane, and able to deal with those around us.

Even if I were to concede (which I don't) that books are a necessity - there are thousands of public domain books available for free.

ficbot
04-01-2010, 12:15 PM
But ebooks allow them to sell more copies since people like me who don't have the space to buy and store paper books will now buy them instead of getting them from the library. Si if before they would have sold 100 books and now will sell 20 ebooks too, the cost for both the print and the ebook edition should BOTH be lowered. Yet both print and ebook prices are higher than ever.

HarryT
04-01-2010, 12:18 PM
Yet both print and ebook prices are higher than ever.

Compared with what, ficbot? Books now, in the UK, are enormously cheaper now, in real terms, than they were when I was a teenager, 30 years ago.

pdurrant
04-01-2010, 12:43 PM
I'm wondering whether piracy is really the problem that publishers face.

It isn't. The problem, as you suggest, is competing demands on disposable income.

DRM is part of the problem, not the solution. Iit just adds one more cost to the production of ebooks and discourages sales.

JaneFancher
04-01-2010, 01:02 PM
Surprisingly interesting thread!

Just a few thoughts from an author caught squarely in the middle of this amazing technological shift.

I have to say that piracy has never really troubled me. I want people to read my books, get excited, and be looking for the next one. Considering what a lousy job the publishers did of accomplishing that, I'll take readers any way I can get them. It's my job to write something good enough that the readers will want to keep me in business, not rip me off

Considering the lousy job most pirates are doing of formatting and editing their OCRs, I'm fairly confident that people who want to reread my books will come to me for the e-book, once they know it's legitimately available.

It takes time...lots of time...to create a good-looking ebook. Most pirates don't bother. Then again, most publishers aren't bothering, either, from what I've seen/heard.

Authors do care about how their books look. We care about ease of manipulation... Closed Circle's first books came out without ToCs. We're struggling now not only to get ToCs in but to make them easily negotiated, in as many formats as we can. In a book with five sections, each with as many as seventeen sub-chapters, this is a trick.

Since CJ, Lynn and I began the Closed Circle project last year, I have been overwhelmed by the support of our readers. They understand the economics...if they don't buy, we can't produce more. It's really very simple. Are we making a living off it? Not by a long shot. Yet. But we don't even have all our (currently pirated) backlist up. We maintain our optimism.

It would be nice....I guess...if the publishers would get smart and realize the value of their backlist in the ebook market, but with the exception of Baen, they're all out for the next Dead Tree bestseller. And if they do get onto the value of that backlist, I'm really afraid they'll find yet another way to screw the author who produced it in the first place.

I consider myself lucky. I own e-rights to all my back list and I've probably already made more on them than I'd ever have made on what a publisher would have given me, even tho their sales would be far larger. This doesn't mean I'm raking it in, not in any sense, it's just that backlist sold for, say, $2.00 a pop would mean I'd make a whole sixteen cents per sale by a publisher. It doesn't take many $5 copies directly sold to make up for that. But then I'm also having to make up for the sales the publisher(s) missed over the past twenty years of not making that backlist available.

(The person who talks so blithely about hundreds of thousands of copies being sold is sadly uninformed about the vast majority of the book market.)

Bottom line, I agree that going after the pirates is a phenomenal waste of publisher time and money.

JSWolf
04-01-2010, 01:09 PM
Compared with what, ficbot? Books now, in the UK, are enormously cheaper now, in real terms, than they were when I was a teenager, 30 years ago.

ficbot is correct about prices. Publishers created this new paperback format that doesn't fit well on most shelves. it's taller and tinner and doesn't fit well in your hand. It was designed to allow publishers to have paperback books at a higher price. I don't buy into that. I've never bought one and never will. It's a sham. The problem is that when something is selling, the people who make it have to f**k it up by changing it in some way that's either not what we want and/or they have to raise the price. People were going to the movies, so the prices just went up. People bought CDs, so they had to raise the price. People buy food, so the prices go up and the quantity goes down. eBooks start selling better and now some of the publishers have to jerk us around even more with their crap. I think eBooks are in trouble. I for one would not recommend anyone get a reader just now.

mr ploppy
04-01-2010, 01:45 PM
Considering the lousy job most pirates are doing of formatting and editing their OCRs, I'm fairly confident that people who want to reread my books will come to me for the e-book, once they know it's legitimately available.


You could always tell them they are available. Most places you can download things from will have some way of adding a comment. Also, if you don't already, you should put details of where to buy them from or where to send donations to at the beginning and end of your ebooks so that people who want to can pay for them after they have read them for free can do so.

JSWolf
04-01-2010, 02:08 PM
Considering what a lousy job the publishers did of accomplishing that, I'll take readers any way I can get them. It's my job to write something good enough that the readers will want to keep me in business, not rip me off

Giving away free PDF is going to get people to go take a run to the darknet to get copies that they can actually read on their readers. Even if the copy they get is so-so, I think they may go back for more. You need to give your free books away in real eBook formats.

And I was looking at the site and it's not easy to find what formats you support. You really need a revamp of the site and selection. If it's all PDF, then you'll tank. You'll be needing Mobipocket & ePub at the very least.

kacir
04-01-2010, 03:06 PM
Giving away free PDF ...
You need to give your free books away in real eBook formats.

And I was looking at the site and it's not easy to find what formats you support. You really need a revamp of the site and selection. If it's all PDF, then you'll tank. You'll be needing Mobipocket & ePub at the very least.
On the main page of Closed Circle there is link named
Download and File Format Help
It will take you to http://www.closed-circle.net/WhereItsAt/?page_id=598
if you have fast download and/or want all 11 file formats, from which you can pick those that serve your favorite e-book-reading gizmos, choose “FULL”. That’s a zipfile of (usually) about 3-5 MB with .epub, .fb2, .lit, .lrf, mobi/generic (.prc), .pdb, .pdf, .pmlz, .rb, .rtf, .txt. If you’re concerned about space/download time, choose “MINI”, which gives you a roughly 1.5 to 2 megabyte file with mobi/generic (.prc), .epub and .pdf only. (Calibre can convert any of those 3 into all the other formats.)
(emphasis mine)
I wish other e-book distributors were so well informed ;-)

kacir
04-01-2010, 03:28 PM
I recommend everybody to go to the Closed Circle site, page
http://www.closed-circle.net/WhereItsAt/?page_id=11
for a nice explanation about why there are no paper backlists.
Nowadays the IRS taxes anything in a warehouse, and taxes it annually, no matter if it’s been taxed before, so along with the rest of the industrial world, publishers suddenly want low stock, almost nothing in warehouse, and everything sitting in someone else’s hands. This means they print only what’s ...
There is much more, in very plain words, I just do not want to copy more than necessary to make you go and have a look.

Dellaster
04-01-2010, 04:11 PM
And I was looking at the site and it's not easy to find what formats you support. You really need a revamp of the site and selection. If it's all PDF, then you'll tank. You'll be needing Mobipocket & ePub at the very least.

Coincidentally I just bought one of her books from that site. The formats provided in the "full" $5 download: .epub, .prc, .pdf, .rtf, .txt, .lrf, .fb2, .lit, .pdb, .pmlz, .rb, and .tcr in a 10.6 MB zip file. Yes, all of them at once. Downside? Twenty-four hours to get the download before the link dies. Put 'em in a safe place.

I do agree that the web site should be clear about what you get.

BillSmithBooks
04-01-2010, 06:11 PM
While I really disagree with the nasty tone some of the comments have taken, I agree that no one is "forced" to be a pirate...the publishers have the exclusive right to publish those works (because the authors are suckers) and have chosen not to offer the products in a way that customers want.

BUT there is a whole other route to take:

Don't pirate the big publishers. IGNORE them. Publicly scold them in blogs and such -- "I'm not buying your products, I will not support you until you GET IT." Reach out to your favorite authors via their blogs and send them a private message to let them know as much -- let them know that they must pressure their publishers to change their business practices because it is directly costing them money.

In turn, it's time to make stars of the authors (mostly independent) who do get it. When you find someone you like, buy their books. Tell your friends. Promote their works on your blogs and Facebook posts, etc. -- tell your friends, "You have got to read this."

Turn the people who "get it" into the big stars of the publishing world.

If a few of these books hit best-seller lists and achieve high sales levels, the readers and authors have made their point and the industry cannot ignore those successes.

DawnFalcon
04-01-2010, 06:18 PM
Buy em second hand and send the author a picture of the book w/receipt.

Fat Abe
04-01-2010, 06:47 PM
Latest headline:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100401/ap_on_re_af/af_piracy

Ahoy, matey, I probably had some of you worried. No, the Navy did not capture any internet book pirates, but your days are numbered.

Returning to the program at hand, there seems to be no agreement on the subject of piracy, its economic or moral consequences. May I suggest a wild idea that could break the log jam? If you are moved by a book you either purchased or downloaded for free, why not send the author a contribution, using Paypal? It helps ease the conscience. Or, you could drop by your local parish to donate money to the poor or socially oppressed.

Some, it appears, are deeply concerned with piracy. I can read their angst coming through their words. Wasn't this thread started by an evangelist? What would God think of piracy? Would his angels deny you entry into heaven, if you violated copyright law? Shall we ask the lord for an Eleventh commandment, say, in honor of Sonny Bono? Thou shalt not read a pirated book or watch a bootleg movie, for it is a far greater sin than adultery, false worship, or avarice. Amen.

tobarefeet
04-01-2010, 07:10 PM
Oh please! *ALL* of these views have been discussed to the point where the only rational response is to spew chunks! :toilet:

Yes, most readers understand completely that anti-piracy efforts and money spent by the publishers would be better used to develop the vast backlists for the ebook market.

Yes, most customers realize that the major publishing houses have rocks-for-brains as their senior management.

Yes, most people have been fooled-once/fooled-twice by claims of same publishers re: ebooks.

Yes, any aspect of this subject truly is :deadhorse:

Derek



Maybe to you because you have 20k posts. Those of us that are new to this site or just coming into the conversation may feel differently. I've never understood why in forums with many different conversations one may participate in there always has to be someone going on about the "dead horse" issue.
I think the topic header was a clue that if it's a subject you're bored with then skip the discussion.... no?

Ralph Sir Edward
04-01-2010, 07:39 PM
Surprisingly interesting thread!

Just a few thoughts from an author caught squarely in the middle of this amazing technological shift.

I have to say that piracy has never really troubled me. I want people to read my books, get excited, and be looking for the next one. Considering what a lousy job the publishers did of accomplishing that, I'll take readers any way I can get them. It's my job to write something good enough that the readers will want to keep me in business, not rip me off

Considering the lousy job most pirates are doing of formatting and editing their OCRs, I'm fairly confident that people who want to reread my books will come to me for the e-book, once they know it's legitimately available.

It takes time...lots of time...to create a good-looking ebook. Most pirates don't bother. Then again, most publishers aren't bothering, either, from what I've seen/heard.

Authors do care about how their books look. We care about ease of manipulation... Closed Circle's first books came out without ToCs. We're struggling now not only to get ToCs in but to make them easily negotiated, in as many formats as we can. In a book with five sections, each with as many as seventeen sub-chapters, this is a trick.

Since CJ, Lynn and I began the Closed Circle project last year, I have been overwhelmed by the support of our readers. They understand the economics...if they don't buy, we can't produce more. It's really very simple. Are we making a living off it? Not by a long shot. Yet. But we don't even have all our (currently pirated) backlist up. We maintain our optimism.

It would be nice....I guess...if the publishers would get smart and realize the value of their backlist in the ebook market, but with the exception of Baen, they're all out for the next Dead Tree bestseller. And if they do get onto the value of that backlist, I'm really afraid they'll find yet another way to screw the author who produced it in the first place.

I consider myself lucky. I own e-rights to all my back list and I've probably already made more on them than I'd ever have made on what a publisher would have given me, even tho their sales would be far larger. This doesn't mean I'm raking it in, not in any sense, it's just that backlist sold for, say, $2.00 a pop would mean I'd make a whole sixteen cents per sale by a publisher. It doesn't take many $5 copies directly sold to make up for that. But then I'm also having to make up for the sales the publisher(s) missed over the past twenty years of not making that backlist available.

(The person who talks so blithely about hundreds of thousands of copies being sold is sadly uninformed about the vast majority of the book market.)

Bottom line, I agree that going after the pirates is a phenomenal waste of publisher time and money.


In all seriousness, have you considered checking to see if there is any e-book building talent in your fan base? Would they do some work for acknowledgement.

Remember, backlist piracy is done by fans of the works....

delphidb96
04-01-2010, 10:36 PM
Maybe to you because you have 20k posts. Those of us that are new to this site or just coming into the conversation may feel differently. I've never understood why in forums with many different conversations one may participate in there always has to be someone going on about the "dead horse" issue.
I think the topic header was a clue that if it's a subject you're bored with then skip the discussion.... no?

*When* I reach 20,000+ posts on MR, I'll grant your argument. As I've only got 2,700+ posts, I must, respectfully, disagree. :D

Derek

queentess
04-01-2010, 11:30 PM
Final point about piracy actually benefiting authors? It is possible I guess, but I am far from convinced. I don't see how broad circulation among the never-pay-for-it crowd will ever benefit authors in sales and income.

That's because they're not the 'never-pay-for-it crowd' that insist they are :) If a friend loans me a cd (or in some other way recommends that I try a new artist/author), and I like what I hear/read, I will go purchase additional works by that artist/author. Word of mouth is a powerful thing, and pirated items can promote authors in the same way that word of mouth does. Try a sample, like it, go buy more.

Tricorp
04-01-2010, 11:44 PM
There are so many posts on this thread that compare books to music, but I really don't think that is an apt comparison. They are different in every way and just because many people stole music, does not mean they will steal ebooks. I honestly believe that the vast majority of ebook users will never pirate a book and it really is not a problem.

Iphinome
04-02-2010, 12:02 AM
There are so many posts on this thread that compare books to music, but I really don't think that is an apt comparison. They are different in every way and just because many people stole music, does not mean they will steal ebooks. I honestly believe that the vast majority of ebook users will never pirate a book and it really is not a problem.

Who said anyone was stealing anything? If you're thinking of infringement well it's common enough if you think you can outright stop it I have a bridge to sell you.

djgreedo
04-02-2010, 02:13 AM
There are so many posts on this thread that compare books to music, but I really don't think that is an apt comparison. They are different in every way and just because many people stole music, does not mean they will steal ebooks. I honestly believe that the vast majority of ebook users will never pirate a book and it really is not a problem.

I agree with you to some extent. But the similarity is that of a product that used to be physical now being available digitally. Copying a digital product is effortless and free, and people will breach copyright to get free content for whatever reason justifies it to them.

The biggest problem publishers face is their own stupidity. They need to embrace their paying, honest customers and ignore the piracy. The pirates will always find an excuse to not pay, and nothing the publishers do will solve that fundamental side-effect of the digital age.

The publishers should put their effort into keeping their industry relevant in a time when they are not really necessary. Treat customers well. Make digital prices reasonable, remove DRM and geographic restrictions.

The problem is also on both sides. Publishers want to reap the benefits of digital distribution while keeping prices the same and pocketing extra profits. Consumers want dirt cheap prices for infinitely copyable digital media. There needs to be a sweet spot.

I recently got a Kindle, and I like the fact that many books are under $15 (Australian dollars that is). I think that's a nice price considering that most new paperbacks are around $20 - $35 in the shops. But the Kindle DRM prevents me from buying lots of books, and many books aren't available to me simply because of my geographic location.

Publishers are terrifed of the ( mostly imaginary) harm that new technology can do to their profits and oblivious to the benefits it can give to their business. There will be a changing of the guard soon, but in the meanwhile we have to deal with an industry that is resisting the inevitible move into the 21st century.

Sweetpea
04-02-2010, 03:00 AM
There are so many posts on this thread that compare books to music, but I really don't think that is an apt comparison. They are different in every way and just because many people stole music, does not mean they will steal ebooks. I honestly believe that the vast majority of ebook users will never pirate a book and it really is not a problem.

It may not be valid in respect to the amount of piracy, but it is valid in the way it is done and the reason for doing it.

lene1949
04-02-2010, 03:46 AM
percentages of e-books pirated compared to music and vidoes pirated would be very small...

Music and videos are even poplular here in Australia, and have been for years, whereas e-books haven't made a dent...

I'm the only one I know, who's been reading e-books for 5-6 years...

One year ago, I went to Denmark, looked for e-book readers in the airports... There were none...

I would rather pay for an e-book than getting it from the darknet... It's much easier... While I can't buy a book (the Hard Copy I have already bought years ago - it's available as an e-book, but just not to people living outside USA/Ca), I can at least choose to get it for free...

Format C:
04-02-2010, 05:02 AM
[...]

Wasn't this thread started by an evangelist? What would God think of piracy? Would his angels deny you entry into heaven, if you violated copyright law? Shall we ask the lord for an Eleventh commandment, say, in honor of Sonny Bono? Thou shalt not read a pirated book or watch a bootleg movie, for it is a far greater sin than adultery, false worship, or avarice. Amen.

Actually, the Catholic Tradition states that one of the sins that cry out to Heaven for vengeance is defrauding laborers of their wages.

To download copyrighted material is definitely to use someone's work without paying him/her.
So, there's no doubt about it.

For a Catholic illicit download should be a sin comparable to homicide and homosexuality.

For the record, no one of the catholic I know (most of them are downloaders) agrees about it.
I didn't research it deeply, but I'm pretty sure there is not an official position of the Pope on this subject.

Iphinome
04-02-2010, 05:47 AM
For a Catholic illicit download should be a sin comparable to homicide and homosexuality.


woah.... How about a disclaimer that you don't hold those two as equivialnt

mr ploppy
04-02-2010, 06:01 AM
What would God think of piracy? Would his angels deny you entry into heaven, if you violated copyright law? Shall we ask the lord for an Eleventh commandment, say, in honor of Sonny Bono? Thou shalt not read a pirated book or watch a bootleg movie, for it is a far greater sin than adultery, false worship, or avarice. Amen.

Makes me wonder what the loaf and fish sellers thought of Jesus, and whether they lobbied their government for new laws to put an end to what he was doing. "Loaf and fish piracy is costing the economy billions of dollars a week, we should start nailing them to crosses so that they will go back to buying them again"

mr ploppy
04-02-2010, 06:10 AM
There are so many posts on this thread that compare books to music, but I really don't think that is an apt comparison. They are different in every way and just because many people stole music, does not mean they will steal ebooks. I honestly believe that the vast majority of ebook users will never pirate a book and it really is not a problem.

The similarities are very striking. Both industries initially refused to supply customers with what they want, so individual enthusiasts stepped in to fill the gap, and everyone got used to getting their digital products for free. That free content created a demand for, and justified the purchase of, products for using that digital content away from the computer. Which brought the prices of the hardware down dramatically, and made them affordable to anyone.

Which is when the traditional publishers decided it was worth entering the market. Unfortuantely their first attempt at winning back the customers they had lost was to price the nonexistant virtual product at a higher price than the real physical product. That is the stage we are at now with ebooks.

pdurrant
04-02-2010, 07:16 AM
Unfortuantely their first attempt at winning back the customers they had lost was to price the nonexistant virtual product at a higher price than the real physical product.

It's not just publishers who are asking more for ebooks than for physical books. Amazon ask for more from small publishers.

I sell my print books through Amazon, and the entire distribution chain takes just 20%. (PoD through Lightning Source/Ingram) Of course, I also need to pay for the print cost of each copy sold.

My ebooks are sold through the Amazon Kindle Store. Amazon takes 65% of the RRP of the ebook. For non-US customers, they also add on a $2 wireless download fee.

My latest book has an RRP of $12.99 paperback, $7.99 ebook.

From the paperback I get $12.99*0.8-$3.97 = $6.42
From the Kindle ebook I get $7.99*0.35 = $2.80.

To get as much from a Kindle eBook sale as from a paperback sale, I'd need to price the ebook at $18.34! Or alternatively, if I was willing to only make as much from the paper as from the ebook, I should set the paper price at $8.49, just $0.50 more than the ebook RRP. Clearly Amazon are charging far too much to small publisher for being in the Kindle store.

Amazon are adding another option to the Kindle store soon. A 70% rate (less delivery costs) that will net me $5.56 per ebook sold. But it doesn't arrive until June, and then only for US sales.

Iphinome
04-02-2010, 07:28 AM
My latest book has an RRP of $12.99 paperback, $7.99 ebook.

From the paperback I get $12.99*0.8-$3.97 = $6.42
From the Kindle ebook I get $7.99*0.35 = $2.80.



is that -$3.97 the printing and associated costs?

pdurrant
04-02-2010, 08:54 AM
is that -$3.97 the printing and associated costs?

Yes, the $3.97 is the printing fee for the book. This isn't a book with a large (10,000+) print run produced on an offset press, where the cost of a mass-market paperback is under $1. This is a print-on-demand operation using large format laserprinters to produce each book individually. The book is a 236 page paperback, 8"x5.25".

Hamlet53
04-02-2010, 08:55 AM
It's not just publishers who are asking more for ebooks than for physical books. Amazon ask for more from small publishers.

I sell my print books through Amazon, and the entire distribution chain takes just 20%. (PoD through Lightning Source/Ingram) Of course, I also need to pay for the print cost of each copy sold.

My ebooks are sold through the Amazon Kindle Store. Amazon takes 65% of the RRP of the ebook. For non-US customers, they also add on a $2 wireless download fee.

My latest book has an RRP of $12.99 paperback, $7.99 ebook.

From the paperback I get $12.99*0.8-$3.97 = $6.42
From the Kindle ebook I get $7.99*0.35 = $2.80.

To get as much from a Kindle eBook sale as from a paperback sale, I'd need to price the ebook at $18.34! Or alternatively, if I was willing to only make as much from the paper as from the ebook, I should set the paper price at $8.49, just $0.50 more than the ebook RRP. Clearly Amazon are charging far too much to small publisher for being in the Kindle store.

Amazon are adding another option to the Kindle store soon. A 70% rate (less delivery costs) that will net me $5.56 per ebook sold. But it doesn't arrive until June, and then only for US sales.




Or you could sell your e-books somewhere else. Maybe here? http://www.closed-circle.net

Not you, nor anyone else, is obligated to sell your books on Amazon. Part of what is going to Amazon is for 'real' costs (server and bandwidth costs, administrative costs, payment collection and accounting, …), but also part is the privilege of tapping into the visibility and market share of Amazon. And probably some of it is because they want it and authors are willing to pay it. Isn't capitalism grand?

Now I can see that one could argue that Amazon is in danger of becoming an effective monopoly. I have such concerns myself, especially regarding all but the most popular legacy books in e-book form. The only solution to that is government action or action on the part of authors and buyers to take their product and dollars, respectively, elsewhere.

pdurrant
04-02-2010, 09:01 AM
Or you could sell your e-books somewhere else.

This is true. I'm not compelled to sell ebooks through Amazon. And clearly I have chosen to do so, despite their very bad terms for ebooks, because I feel that their large presence in the ebook marketplace makes it worth while to do so.

And I do sell my ebooks elsewhere. I sell the ePub version at Lulu.com, and once it filters through the Ingram Digital feed, the ePub version should appear at many other retailers.

I wasn't complaining (much) about the Amazon terms as they affect me, but more as an indication that it's not only the publishers that affect ebook pricing, even if it's the publishers that set the RRP.

DawnFalcon
04-02-2010, 09:02 AM
Don't get me wrong, but isn't there the new option for ebooks where Amazon take 30%? Is there a reason you're not using that, given your ebook is under $9.99...

*checks*

Um, your Kindle edition seems to be $11.74 and the Lulu one £5.09

And under the agency model, Publishers *are* the only ones that effect ebook pricing!

GhostHawk
04-02-2010, 09:05 AM
Which would sell you more books, and make you more money in the long run.

"From the Kindle ebook I get $7.99*0.35 = $2.80."

Or list it on a site like smashwords, where you get 2/3rds of the net.
List it for 3$, you'd get 2$ and how many increased salesat 3$ vs 7.99?

Twice as many? Three times? Even with a modest 50% increase in sales you would come out the same. And if sales go 3 X you'd make double.

Just stuff to think about.

HarryT
04-02-2010, 09:10 AM
Don't get me wrong, but isn't there the new option for ebooks where Amazon take 30%? Is there a reason you're not using that, given your ebook is under $9.99...


If you take the time to to read the post fully, you'll see that he says:


Amazon are adding another option to the Kindle store soon. A 70% rate (less delivery costs) that will net me $5.56 per ebook sold. But it doesn't arrive until June, and then only for US sales.

pdurrant
04-02-2010, 09:28 AM
Um, your Kindle edition seems to be $11.74 and the Lulu one £5.09

The RRP for the Kindle version is $7.99. For UK sales, Amazon add to that a $2 wireless download fee, and VAT.

$7.99 + $2.00 = $9.99 * 1.175 = $11.74.

I'm sure we've discussed before how irritating the $2 wireless download fee is for UK buyers at the Kindle store, as it's applied whether or not they have a Kindle or use the wireless download feature.

At Lulu, if you switch your currency to dollars, you'll see that it's $7.99. The £5.09 is a conversion of the dollar price.

pdurrant
04-02-2010, 09:30 AM
This is indeed worth thinking about. I do have one book listed at Smashwords, but I really dislike their production method, which requires books formatted to the lowest common denominator.

It might work OK with "Kai Lung" for most formats, and is worth thinking about. But so long as I also sell at the Amazon Kindle store, I can't sell it elsewhere with a lower RRP.

Which would sell you more books, and make you more money in the long run.

"From the Kindle ebook I get $7.99*0.35 = $2.80."

Or list it on a site like smashwords, where you get 2/3rds of the net.
List it for 3$, you'd get 2$ and how many increased salesat 3$ vs 7.99?

Twice as many? Three times? Even with a modest 50% increase in sales you would come out the same. And if sales go 3 X you'd make double.

Just stuff to think about.

pdurrant
04-02-2010, 09:33 AM
And under the agency model, Publishers *are* the only ones that effect ebook pricing!

This is certainly true. But only for publishers on agency pricing.

pdurrant
04-02-2010, 09:36 AM
Ummm.. apologies for somewhat hijacking the thread.

I wasn't intending my post as a plea for advice, or anything other than a concrete illustration of how the distribution chain can have an affect on ebook prices that publishers set, and that high ebook prices can be a result of differences in the margin taken on pbooks and ebooks by the distribution chain.

Iphinome
04-02-2010, 09:58 AM
Okay If i understand the numbers then with amazon, after your own production costs you end up with 49% of the retail price from a book, that needs to cover everything everything else like the fixed costs of producing any book and any per copy obligations. The ebook currently gives you 35% Well I admit the sheare amazon offers you doesn't sound like a great deal for the kindle store but what worries me is you giving an example to get the same amount of money from an ebook sale. You'd also want to subtract the approximate resale value of the used pbook from the ebook value since there doesn't see to be an agreed on way to sell second hand digital stuff but a pbook has at least to the consumer built into the price what they could get for the used book, kinna like the deposit in a glass bottle. Keep the bottle never get your nickel back but the return for deposit option is there.

Going to repeat it, doesn't look like amazon is being very nice to you, not taking their side.

mr ploppy
04-02-2010, 10:00 AM
Amazon takes 65% of the RRP of the ebook. .

How does that compare with other places to sell your ebooks? Do you feel you have no choice but to sell them on Amazon? Have you asked your fan base if they would be happy to deal with you direct in return for reduced prices? (ie more profit for you).

mr ploppy
04-02-2010, 10:04 AM
Don't get me wrong, but isn't there the new option for ebooks where Amazon take 30%? Is there a reason you're not using that, given your ebook is under $9.99...

*checks*

Um, your Kindle edition seems to be $11.74 and the Lulu one £5.09

And under the agency model, Publishers *are* the only ones that effect ebook pricing!

I don't know if it is just with physical goods, but Amazon is now telling sellers that they are not allowed to sell identical products cheaper outside Amazon.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/help/customer/display.html?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200458310

DawnFalcon
04-02-2010, 10:10 AM
The RRP for the Kindle version is $7.99. For UK sales, Amazon add to that a $2 wireless download fee, and VAT.

$7.99 + $2.00 = $9.99 * 1.175 = $11.74.

It's set to US. That is interesting. I know as of May it was respecting that and showing US prices (since I was looking up some ebook prices for American friends)... Want to bet better geolocation was part of the "new deal" Amazon has signed up to with publishers?

pdurrant
04-02-2010, 10:41 AM
It's set to US. That is interesting.

Double-check. I suspect you've accidentally set it to UK . If that doesn't work, sign-out and set to US. Then you'll see $7.99.

DawnFalcon
04-02-2010, 10:43 AM
No, it's definitely set to US. If I log out, it goes to US pricing, log back in... UK. The account was originally Amazon.co.uk registered, which might be related as well...

pdurrant
04-02-2010, 10:45 AM
but what worries me is you giving an example to get the same amount of money from an ebook sale. You'd also want to subtract the approximate resale value of the used pbook from the ebook value since there doesn't see to be an agreed on way to sell second hand digital stuff

I have no intention of trying to price the Kindle eBook - I was just demonstrating how different the pbook and ebook distribution cuts can be.

I only need to take into account your second point if I'm trying to give the consumer the same value for ebook and pbook sale. I was looking at it purely from the publisher's point of view.

But looking at it from the consumer's point of view, I think a (nearly) 40% discount off the paperback price is reasonable ($12.99->$7.99). Obviously I didn't price the ebook to get the same cut.

pdurrant
04-02-2010, 10:50 AM
No, it's definitely set to US. If I log out, it goes to US pricing, log back in... UK. The account was originally Amazon.co.uk registered, which might be related as well...

That is interesting. If I log in, and switch my Kindle registered address to a US address, I see US pricing. I guess it must be looking at something else in your account.

Atl least it *is* cheaper than the paperback - in dollars. And I think it's also still cheaper than the UK price (£8.99), although with the falling pound, who knows how long that will be true.

JaneFancher
04-02-2010, 11:45 AM
You could always tell them they are available. Most places you can download things from will have some way of adding a comment. Also, if you don't already, you should put details of where to buy them from or where to send donations to at the beginning and end of your ebooks so that people who want to can pay for them after they have read them for free can do so.

Thanks! We hadn't thought of that...posting where they're being downloaded, I mean. I don't really know where...just have been informed they're available, but I can put my readers onto it. I'm sure they'll ferret them out.

I LOVE THE INTERNET! :D

JaneFancher
04-02-2010, 11:50 AM
Giving away free PDF is going to get people to go take a run to the darknet to get copies that they can actually read on their readers. Even if the copy they get is so-so, I think they may go back for more. You need to give your free books away in real eBook formats.

And I was looking at the site and it's not easy to find what formats you support. You really need a revamp of the site and selection. If it's all PDF, then you'll tank. You'll be needing Mobipocket & ePub at the very least.

Hmmmm....I really don't mean to be rude, but you didn't look very hard. It's posted several places that there are several formats offered in the full download. Epub, prc/mobi, LRF, txt, pdf, etc. The minime format is pdf, prc and epub. Again, clearly explained.

The only thing up there that's ONLY pdf is Carolyn's current project. I'll suggest to her that she at least do a minime format, i.e. epub, prc and pdf. the other freebies are available in, at minimum, minime version.

JaneFancher
04-02-2010, 11:56 AM
On the main page of Closed Circle there is link named
Download and File Format Help
It will take you to http://www.closed-circle.net/WhereItsAt/?page_id=598

I wish other e-book distributors were so well informed ;-)

I need a hugs and kisses emo! Guess this guy'll do:

:thanks:

We really are trying hard.

JaneFancher
04-02-2010, 12:11 PM
...the publishers have the exclusive right to publish those works (because the authors are suckers)...[quote]

That's a bit harsh, don't you think? A lot of backlist is trapped in old contracts made at a time when the home computer, let alone the internet and ebooks, wasn't even a glimmer on the horizon. Even contracts made in the last ten years were made before writers truly began to comprehend how the ebook market was going to go. And bottom line, I WISH publishers would come up with an equitable solution because the last thing I want to be spending my time doing is setting up yet one more website, converting ebooks and doing all those things I think the readers deserve to have. I'm a writer, not all these other thing.

Publicity is the hardest because at heart, we writers are hermits.

At Closed Circle, we're going the DRM free route because we want to work with, not against, our readers. But in doing that, we're cheating ourselves of exactly those benefits of new technology that every other entertainment source revels in. How many copies of the same movie have people bought because they went from tape, to dvd to blueray?

Frankly, we respect our readers. Most authors do, whether they've taken a year out of their writing schedules, as we have, to learn and try to understand the ebook market, or not. Most we talk to are watching CC carefully to see how it works out for us. But it's scary, it's confusing, and it's a hell of a lot of work.

All I'm trying to say is, please don't draw conclusions unless you've walked in our shoes for the past ten years.

[quote]In turn, it's time to make stars of the authors (mostly independent) who do get it. When you find someone you like, buy their books. Tell your friends. Promote their works on your blogs and Facebook posts, etc. -- tell your friends, "You have got to read this."

Turn the people who "get it" into the big stars of the publishing world.

If a few of these books hit best-seller lists and achieve high sales levels, the readers and authors have made their point and the industry cannot ignore those successes.

Can't argue with that! :rofl:

JaneFancher
04-02-2010, 12:18 PM
Buy em second hand and send the author a picture of the book w/receipt.

How about sending the author that picture along with 50% of what you paid for it? Remember, they made far less than the used book store owner on the initial sale, and nothing on the purchase you just made. :D

Seriously, you could include in that a note that suggests to them they ask their agent or, better yet, a lawyer whether or not the publisher owns e-book rights. Publishers are now trying to claim that e-book rights are inherent in old contracts. This is not so, unless specifically outlined, but they're trying to intimidate authors into believing it.

Better yet, invite them to mobile read to help them understand there is another way. Help them realize what a great community there is ready to help them.

Try working with the authors, not embarrassing them. Please.

:2thumbsup

DawnFalcon
04-02-2010, 12:44 PM
That's a bit harsh, don't you think? A lot of backlist is trapped in old contracts made at a time when the home computer, let alone the internet and ebooks, wasn't even a glimmer on the horizon.


And, let's face it, there's at least one publisher who is grabbing the ebook rights anyway, although the contracts they made didn't address them.


And well - bluntly no. Quite simply, I have a fixed budget for books, and whenever possible possible (when they are DRM-free and priced reasonably) I buy ebooks. Encouraging high prices, an attitude of entitlement simply because books are in ebook and not paper form and DRM by paying, even to the author directly, is imo wrong and would simply reduce the amount I spent on new books and ebooks - I buy quite a bit from authors who are only epublished, and from Baen.

(Heck, I spent a fair amount of my budget on RPG game books, which are near uniformly very reasonably priced and are watermarked PDF's rather than DRM'ed, despite being more expensive to produce in terms of layout and images - and yes, I've worked on RPG's, as well as computer games)

I've also tried to work with authors directly, to have at least two (Stross and Scalzi) be extremely rude to me on several occasions, seriously reducing my willingness to do so in future. I've worked with Baen authors in the past on side projects with no issues, and will continue to do so, but they've already "seen the light" from my perspective.

(As a note, I also don't buy from authors who try and tell me I don't have my basic legal rights, which applies here)

I haven't bought from Closed Circle, and now won't.

JaneFancher
04-02-2010, 12:54 PM
In all seriousness, have you considered checking to see if there is any e-book building talent in your fan base? Would they do some work for acknowledgement.

Remember, backlist piracy is done by fans of the works....

It would certainly make sense, yes? But by the time we realized the marvelous help available, we were already deep into the puzzle and it's hard to wrest a writer free from a puzzle.

Besides, much of what we want to offer is the books we wanted to write, not the ones NY turned them into, so we're doing little bits and pieces of editing as we go along. That's not something readers can do. The physical conversion processes can be done at night while we veg in front of the TV.

Our readers are great. They offer suggestions after we put the books out. We make changes to the files and offer the new files for free to all who have already purchased. Time consuming, yes, but it means that ultimately we'll understand what we're doing and have a process that turns out the books as we want them viewed.

(We won't even get into the question of covers! But in case you're interested, I've got slide shows of my covers in progress on my blog (http://www.janefancher.com/TheCaptainAndLime/tag/covers/) While learning about epublishing, I also had to renew my acquaintance with art and learn about computer art! Wheee....been a busy year!

Most of our readers have felt they're some of the best looking books they've seen yet. As I think I said, we're working on the ToC's and embedded fonts problems now, (on suggestions made by readers along with hints how to do them) so they'll only get better.

I really shouldn't even be up here...we're trying to keep a low profile until we're really ready to go with more of the backlist (and new books) on the "shelves." But...there ya go!

JaneFancher
04-02-2010, 01:01 PM
Yes, the $3.97 is the printing fee for the book. This isn't a book with a large (10,000+) print run produced on an offset press, where the cost of a mass-market paperback is under $1. This is a print-on-demand operation using large format laserprinters to produce each book individually. The book is a 236 page paperback, 8"x5.25".

Wow! Where are you having it printed, what's the binding like, and can they handle BIG books?

JaneFancher
04-02-2010, 01:07 PM
Or you could sell your e-books somewhere else. Maybe here? http://www.closed-circle.net

Heh heh...thanks for the plug, but CC is just that. Just the three of us. Books get too complicated beyond that. However, Book View Cafe
(http://www.bookviewcafe.com/) is another story. We're trying to get the time to get hooked up with them. Just found out about their operation at a convention last month. Got home and between serious Post Con Crud and Taxes, we haven't been able to pursue it. But it's very much like a large version of CC only better organized. It's a place for authors to sell their own works. Wish we'd known about it a year ago! But we're going to "bond" with them RSN.

ficbot
04-02-2010, 01:10 PM
How about sending the author that picture along with 50% of what you paid for it? Remember, they made far less than the used book store owner on the initial sale, and nothing on the purchase you just made.

Seriously? Wow, that is some seriously delusional thinking. It amazes me how many authors I have spoken to on boards like this who believe that it is the customer's responsibility to actually campaign for the right to spend more money. Look, if you don't want people buying second-hand paperbacks, then you need to make sure there is a first-run format that they'll want to buy instead. For example, many video games have started putting bonus content on-line that is only available to the first person to register the game. If you buy it second-hand, you don't get the content, so that is an incentive to buy the game new. Similarly, I prefer to buy my books in ebook form because I don't have the storage space for 900 print books. If you offer me an ebook version of the content I want, and you price it at a fair price---I am not saying free or $1, but I am also not saying 'same as the hardback' and certainly not 'same as a hardback when a $6 paperback has been on sale at the bricks and mortar store for the last decade'---then I will prefer to buy the ebook. If you don't offer the ebook, well, your loss.

The problem is not that customers are not voluntarily emailing two dollars to the author every time they buy a used paper book in the absence of a suitable e-alternative. The problem is that authors have not yet banded together under some sort of union or author group or something and pressured the agents to start negotiating better deals. This is not the reader's fault. I am not saying it is necessarily the author's fault---entirely---either. But it is absurd to me that you expect people who would but it new if only you would let them that it is their responsibility to voluntarily send you money to cover the loss you incurred as a result of this missed sale.

DawnFalcon
04-02-2010, 01:12 PM
Ficbot; There's absolutely nothing stopping people from trading the accounts tied to the add-on content as well. It's a badly flawed and highly, highly unpopular idea for games which has already impacted the sales of several games doing it.

(The only place you can really get away with it is in sports games, which /are/ yearly by their nature)

JaneFancher
04-02-2010, 01:25 PM
Coincidentally I just bought one of her books from that site. The formats provided in the "full" $5 download: .epub, .prc, .pdf, .rtf, .txt, .lrf, .fb2, .lit, .pdb, .pmlz, .rb, and .tcr in a 10.6 MB zip file. Yes, all of them at once. Downside? Twenty-four hours to get the download before the link dies. Put 'em in a safe place.

I do agree that the web site should be clear about what you get.

Does this help? http://www.closed-circle.net/WhereItsAt/?page_id=5

Twenty-four hours was the default of the shopping cart plugin we're using. It's what I've experienced for most small business downloads and for the most part at CC, we've had no problems/complaints. Those who have had a problem getting to it in time simply contact us, we check to make sure the purchase was legit, and send a new link.

The software to track and provide secure links ad-infinitum like Baen or Amazon is really beyond us, monetarily.

Also, I should add that when a better version of the product comes available (like the ToCs I'm currently putting into the 'NetWalkers books) an announcement is made on blog and CC and a simple email request will get you a new download link.

Yes, we encourage everyone to make copies of the files and put them in a safe place. Once you have them, if you lose them, it's like losing a physical book. The difference here is, you can have one on your reader, one on your computer, one on a cd one on your TB backup drive...I think you get the idea.

We don't have a problem with you sharing with your family. We only ask that once the kids leave the house, they buy their own copy! :rofl:

JaneFancher
04-02-2010, 01:39 PM
Seriously? Wow, that is some seriously delusional thinking. It amazes me how many authors I have spoken to on boards like this who believe that it is the customer's responsibility to actually campaign for the right to spend more money.

Not at all. I was responding to the suggestion that someone made that you take the time to send the author a picture of the book and copy of the receipt. I was suggesting that instead of simply pushing the author's head more deeply underwater, you extend the drowning author a helping hand.

I'm trying to help you see what it means to be an author in this day and age. In order to write the books you all want to read, an author needs to immerse themselves in a totally different world, to channel several different personalities and keep them sorted. It's hard enough to balance that with things like doing the dishes, calling the plumber (or doing it yourself because you haven't made enough on the last book to afford a plumber). You add to that getting current with the changes in technology and "do it yourself" publishing, and life gets pretty darn full.

Do I expect people who buy used books to send me anything? Not at all. People apologize all the time for asking me to sign a used book. I just say, thank god it got into the hands of someone who appreciated it.

I consider the whole used book process to be rather like the piracy question: getting my name into the hands of people who might be interested in buying my books.

If you've been following my posts at all, you'll realize I am one of many authors trying to get you your ebooks.

ficbot
04-02-2010, 02:10 PM
It's hard enough to balance that with things like doing the dishes, calling the plumber (or doing it yourself because you haven't made enough on the last book to afford a plumber). You add to that getting current with the changes in technology and "do it yourself" publishing, and life gets pretty darn full.

Sorry, but this is exactly the attitude I am talking about. We ALL have to do these sorts of juggling acts in our jobs. I really resent the idea that some authors seem to have that being authors makes them a special flower immune from these realities.

I do realize what's involved. I started my working life in freelance journalism, and you know what? I hate the hustling. I hated the DIY-ness. It just did not work for me and I did not make enough money to pay my bills. So I decided I was happier *just* doing the writing, when and for whom I wanted to. And the trade-off was that I had to find something else to do to pay my bills. That's LIFE. IF you want to call it your career, your income, your livelihood, then you have to do the drudge work too because every single career has components like that. EVERY career. I can't even tell you how much time, in my new career as a teacher, I spend on non-teaching stuff like playground duty and writing up, for admin purposes, conversations I have with parents. It's part of the job. And if this is your JOB---not a hobby, not just for fun, but a JOB---then it is YOUR responsibility to keep up with what needs keeping up on, and DIY what needs to be DIY'ed. And it is INSULTING to expect your paying customers to feel sorry for you because that is your job.

As I said---it is not entirely the author's fault. But it certainly is not the customer's fault, either. And it is not their job to 'extend the drowning author a helping hand.' That is your agent's job. Or, your own job. Band together. Form an author's group. Put a website telling customers who you have been writing to and what steps you are actively taking to get the problems solved so that they really can buy the books they want legitimately. Think outside the box. Do SOMETHING! But suggesting that a customer who has spent the money to legally buy a book second-hand because nobody would offer it to them first-hand should then voluntarily spend more money just to help the author out? That is insulting.

DawnFalcon
04-02-2010, 02:21 PM
Never mind, serves me right for trying to be helpful to an author. Again.

TGS
04-02-2010, 02:26 PM
Sorry, but this is exactly the attitude I am talking about. We ALL have to do these sorts of juggling acts in our jobs. I really resent the idea that some authors seem to have that being authors makes them a special flower immune from these realities.

I do realize what's involved. I started my working life in freelance journalism, and you know what? I hate the hustling. I hated the DIY-ness. It just did not work for me and I did not make enough money to pay my bills. So I decided I was happier *just* doing the writing, when and for whom I wanted to. And the trade-off was that I had to find something else to do to pay my bills. That's LIFE. IF you want to call it your career, your income, your livelihood, then you have to do the drudge work too because every single career has components like that. EVERY career. I can't even tell you how much time, in my new career as a teacher, I spend on non-teaching stuff like playground duty and writing up, for admin purposes, conversations I have with parents. It's part of the job. And if this is your JOB---not a hobby, not just for fun, but a JOB---then it is YOUR responsibility to keep up with what needs keeping up on, and DIY what needs to be DIY'ed. And it is INSULTING to expect your paying customers to feel sorry for you because that is your job.

Totally agree with this :2thumbsup


As I said---it is not entirely the author's fault. But it certainly is not the customer's fault, either. And it is not their job to 'extend the drowning author a helping hand.' That is your agent's job. Or, your own job. Band together. Form an author's group. Put a website telling customers who you have been writing to and what steps you are actively taking to get the problems solved so that they really can buy the books they want legitimately. Think outside the box. Do SOMETHING! But suggesting that a customer who has spent the money to legally buy a book second-hand because nobody would offer it to them first-hand should then voluntarily spend more money just to help the author out? That is insulting.

But I don't think JaneFancher is the right target for this - I took her to be saying that she didn't expect customers to make a contribution to the author when they but one of her books second-hand.

pdurrant
04-02-2010, 02:36 PM
Wow! Where are you having it printed, what's the binding like, and can they handle BIG books?

This is through Lightning Source. I've provided more details by private message. The largest page count they can handle is 828 pages on white 50lb paper, or 740 pages on cream 55lb paper.

mrkarl
04-02-2010, 02:39 PM
no, Ebooks will still be sold in the same numbers that real books were...there'll be a transition period until the process of getting the story from authors mind to my mind via that type of media is worked out in a way that is convenient for me............as it is right now, it's easier to download a book for free than to buy it

Ralph Sir Edward
04-02-2010, 02:44 PM
I guess I'll have to take Ms. Fancher's side of the discussion.

One doesn't be creative on a schedule. And real life tends to intrude on creative processes, and if you're doing x you can't be doing y.

As a corporate drone (mainframe computer programmer) for 25+ years, I made an awful lot of money not being creative. That was somebody else's job. Mine was to just convert the creative ideas into machine logic and correct the logical errors and go back to the creative types to sort out their logical inconsistencies. Making money and being creative are two different things.

Anybody can do the drudge work in life. Being able to do the creative stuff is a lot rarer.

mr ploppy
04-02-2010, 04:05 PM
Thanks! We hadn't thought of that...posting where they're being downloaded, I mean. I don't really know where...just have been informed they're available, but I can put my readers onto it. I'm sure they'll ferret them out.


Just search Google for your name + ebook download. I think you can set it to email you when new matches pop up too, but I don't know how.

All I saw when I had a look was Dance of the Rings 1, 2 and 3 within a collection of about 3,000 books (one big file by the look of it). I don't know if the link is still valid or not.

Hamlet53
04-02-2010, 04:19 PM
I guess I'll have to take Ms. Fancher's side of the discussion.

One doesn't be creative on a schedule. And real life tends to intrude on creative processes, and if you're doing x you can't be doing y.

As a corporate drone (mainframe computer programmer) for 25+ years, I made an awful lot of money not being creative. That was somebody else's job. Mine was to just convert the creative ideas into machine logic and correct the logical errors and go back to the creative types to sort out their logical inconsistencies. Making money and being creative are two different things.

Anybody can do the drudge work in life. Being able to do the creative stuff is a lot rarer.

Yes, indeed. My one true and secret wish has always been to be an author, both in the sense of being able to produce unique, compelling, and creative work and in the practical sense of being able to make a good living at it. I did not have the talent to realize either. So I made a good living by becoming an engineer instead.

To be fair, and returning to the main thread topic, while I was working as an engineer at the start of each days labor I new I would be paid in full for it. Not so for an author. To some extent this has always been true. The author must wonder: "When done will my work be one that a publisher will publish and that enough people will buy so that I will be able live off the income made."

E-books and the Internet add a new question: "How many will pay to read my work versus how many will download it, read and enjoy it, but never pay for it; presuming a certain sum total that will find my work worthwhile. "

mr ploppy
04-02-2010, 04:49 PM
E-books and the Internet add a new question: "How many will pay to read my work versus how many will download it, read and enjoy it, but never pay for it; presuming a certain sum total that will find my work worthwhile. "

Most likely the same number that would have borrowed it from the library or bought a second hand copy in ye olden dayes. Except now you are more likely to pick up new readers because of the global reach of the internet, and you have the chance to make money from all those people -- something you would never have been able to do in the past.

Ben Thornton
04-02-2010, 06:02 PM
Wasn't this thread started by an evangelist? What would God think of piracy?:rofl:

That means "ebook evangelist" and is a title automatically generated by the forum, unless you override it with your own - based on number of posts.

Iphinome
04-02-2010, 07:10 PM
I have no intention of trying to price the Kindle eBook - I was just demonstrating how different the pbook and ebook distribution cuts can be.

I only need to take into account your second point if I'm trying to give the consumer the same value for ebook and pbook sale. I was looking at it purely from the publisher's point of view.

But looking at it from the consumer's point of view, I think a (nearly) 40% discount off the paperback price is reasonable ($12.99->$7.99). Obviously I didn't price the ebook to get the same cut.

okay I concede the point to you, I took a hypothetical as serious.

JaneFancher
04-02-2010, 07:14 PM
Put a website telling customers who you have been writing to and what steps you are actively taking to get the problems solved so that they really can buy the books they want legitimately. Think outside the box. Do SOMETHING! But suggesting that a customer who has spent the money to legally buy a book second-hand because nobody would offer it to them first-hand should then voluntarily spend more money just to help the author out? That is insulting.

Oh, my. Sorry I punched your buttons. Seriously. This reaction's not good for your blood pressure. There was a reason I put a smilie behind that particular comment. It was a joke. The point was, simply, a suggestion to help, not insult.

But in case you haven't noticed, I am doing something and I'm also encouraging other authors caught in the same mess to do the same by sharing freely all I'm learning. Authors are banding together, as witness Book View Cafe and other similar sites. I simply suggested, in response to a previous post, that rather than chastising an author whose book you bought at a used bookstore, you might invite them to Mobile Read for some ENCOURAGING input on viable options. :2thumbsup

I won't address the issue of the differences between corporate jobs and creative jobs or even the differences between types of writing...even short stories vs 200,000 word novels. Or the issue of those people now writing who have been writing full time for decades, who are nearing the age when non-creative people retire, and are seeing what should have been their retirement, i.e. their backlist, caught in the cross-hairs from both sides of this issue and beyond their ability to save it because of decisions made when the only game in town were dead tree books.

Others have done a very nice job of that, and I thank them for it.

Bottom line, you're yelling at the already converted and it seems to me that your attitude will scare off the very people you imply you to would like to convert. But I could be wrong. Wouldn't be the first time.

JaneFancher
04-02-2010, 07:23 PM
Just search Google for your name + ebook download. I think you can set it to email you when new matches pop up too, but I don't know how.

All I saw when I had a look was Dance of the Rings 1, 2 and 3 within a collection of about 3,000 books (one big file by the look of it). I don't know if the link is still valid or not.

Thanks for the info. I'll see about setting that email thing up.

I understand there used to be more, but DAW got snarky last year and went after a bunch with cease and desists on all of their writers. Don't know how effective that was. The GroundTies series is older, came out from Warner and is a lot more rare. It might not have made its way into the hands of knowing scanners. :D

and, yeah, it'd be a BIG file! Each book is well over 150,000 words.

JaneFancher
04-03-2010, 01:48 AM
Most likely the same number that would have borrowed it from the library or bought a second hand copy in ye olden dayes. Except now you are more likely to pick up new readers because of the global reach of the internet, and you have the chance to make money from all those people -- something you would never have been able to do in the past.

Here here!

The great thing is, the books that didn't get into libraries now have a chance to reach the readers...pirates or legitimate free samples, I don't care. If it gets them reading, then my job as the author is to make them want more and get to searching....

delphidb96
04-03-2010, 01:52 AM
Having just been forcibly refunded money from FW so that the publisher could yank a title I'd pre-paid for in order to raise the price, here's how I see this going down. More and more customers, realizing that this is now an internet-wide bait-and-switch operation, will find themselves perfectly willing to darknet the titles across the board. Who will get harmed the most, the small publishers who didn't agree with the majors' policies.

Derek

Laura81
04-03-2010, 03:12 AM
The agency model is more likely to harm eBook sales.

I fully agree with you there.

Worldwalker
04-03-2010, 05:33 AM
How many copies of the same movie have people bought because they went from tape, to dvd to blueray?

Probably approximately the number of copies of different movies (perhaps less well-known ones that the buyer might have otherwise taken a chance on, and found a new favorite) that people have not bought because they spent their entertainment budget on re-buying a new version of something they already owned.

The fallacy here is assuming that the controlling factor in people's entertainment purchases is the number of items/formats available, rather than the money those people have budgeted (formally or otherwise) for that purpose. If someone has X amount of money free to spend on entertainment, which happens to be exactly the price of a Blu-Ray movie, they have a couple of choices. They might buy a Blu-Ray version of Labyrinth, which they already own on DVD. Or, they might be satisfied with their existing Labyrinth DVD and instead buy a Blu-Ray version of Dark Crystal, which they don't have. What they're not going to do is buy both Labyrinth and Dark Crystal, because they only have the money for one of them. If someone spends $100 re-buying the same content, or spends $100 buying new content, it's still $100, and their wallet doesn't suddenly contain $200 because there's a new format available.

Now, there is a scenario that could lead to shifting money from other priorities (do I really need clothes that aren't freebie T-shirts?) to buying entertainment: The one thing that is almost guaranteed to bump my book-buying budget is finding a new (to me) author that I absolutely love. For instance, it happened when I discovered Steven Saylor's "Gordianus" books (via a short story in a big collection I bought for a couple of dollars off the Borders' discount rack, by the way). I went and bought every last one that was out at the time. If my whole budget had been tied up in re-buying content I already owned, Steven Saylor wouldn't have had any chance at a share of the Worldwalker market (small though it is), because I wouldn't have known his books existed.

Buying the same thing over and over again doesn't make people happy. It doesn't make them like the people selling them something they already own. It makes them feel used and resentful. That, added to the fact that getting something you already have just isn't as much fun as getting something new, tends to make people's interest (and their dollars) shift from that form of entertainment to the many competing varieties. My entertainment budget drifts between movies, music, books, and many other things, depending on my interest at the moment. The real challenge for any of those producers is to get me to buy books instead of movies, or movies instead of music. Making me dislike them, their industry, and their business model (and forcing me to buy the same thing multiple times is a good start on that) tends to make that interest drift to one of their many competitors.

There are exceptions. A few days ago, I bought an ebook of Dreamsnake. I have it in paperback. And SF Book Club hardcover. And I think there's a second paperback lying around somewhere in my thousands of physical books. And now ebook -- I think mostly so I can FIND the thing when I want to re-read it. But what did I pass up -- what book or author might I have found a passion for -- because my five bucks bought me Dreamsnake instead of some other book I hadn't read (and read, and read, and can quote)?

The bottom line is that re-selling people things they already own may, at best, maintain the status quo, but it will not -- it can not -- grow the market.

BlackVoid
04-03-2010, 05:59 AM
Look, we still live in a civilized nation, and without recompensing each other, we all suffer. If a pirate chooses to be honest, he should do a good deed, equal in value to his bad deed. Buy a print copy (or substitute title) from the publisher.

Going in with the army to steal other peoples oil is the civilized way.

mike_bike_kite
04-03-2010, 07:48 AM
This is just my approach - I'm not saying whether it's right or wrong: I tend to only read science and technical books electronically and haven't progressed to reading novels as ebooks. Most of the material I read is "free" simply because I find it difficult to justify $10 on such small virtual possessions. I do fully understand an authors need to be compensated but I'd also like to see the full savings from zero publication costs to be reflected in the price. I tend to buy hard copies of the ebooks I like (sometimes new, sometimes 2nd hand) because I like having a real library of everything I've enjoyed reading. My real library has approx 2000 books and is obviously all paid for.

Worldwalker
04-03-2010, 08:09 AM
Addressing the original topic, whether piracy will harm ebook sales, my take is this:

First, there are two broad groups of readers. I think of them as the bestseller readers and the bibliophiles. The former buy maybe a dozen books a year, the latter a dozen books a month. For the bestseller readers, books make up only a small part of their entertainment menu. They read books, yes, and sometimes a whole lot of them read the same book, but they don't read like the bibliophiles do. Reading is just a thing they do sometimes. The bibliophiles are the ones where, when you go into their houses, you have to move books before you can sit in any chair. Possibly before you can get in the door. In other words, they're us. There aren't nearly as many of us as there are bestseller readers, but on a per-person basis, we buy a hell of a lot more books, which may make our weight in the market closer to theirs than the publishers realize. We're the ones buying the backlist and midlist. We're the ones who go without other things so we can buy more books.

Out of those two groups, it's the bibliophiles who are most likely to buy and use ebook readers. Why is someone who reads a book once a month going to shell out hundreds of dollars to read that book in, frankly, a less convenient form? By and large, they're not. It's us, the people whose physical libraries put their houses' structural stability at risk, who own more bookcases than all other articles of furniture put together, who want and need devices that can carry around hundreds of books at once. Sure, we buy bestsellers too. We buy just about everything with words on it. We're the real mass market when it comes to ebooks. A device that's a gimmick to Joe Average is to us the means of saving our floor joists.

Now, out of those two groups, the bestseller buyers aren't going to be downloading illicit books -- if they have ebook readers at all (which is questionable, given the ratio of the price of the device to the amount of use they'll get out of it) they're not spending so much on ebooks that the effort to collect and use second-rate copies is even worth it. So publishers aren't losing any money from them. The bibliophiles, on the other hand, are already spending every penny we can spare on books. We're maxed out; there's no book-buying capacity left. If some bibliophiles are getting illicit copies of books, that is probably supplementing, rather than replacing, their normal book buying.

Part of the problem, and part of the scare tactics, is how the industry figures its "losses". Just like the BSA assumes that every warez d00d who has a cracked copy of Photoshop CS4 would have bought it at full retail price otherwise (because every teenager has $700 to spend on software to put lame captions on his Facebook pictures), the publishers assume, or claim to assume, that everyone who downloads a 3,000-book torrent would have bought every single book in it at list. That's a $36,000 loss! Except, of course, that I don't think any of us know anyone who spends $36,000 a year, or probably even a decade, on books. Certainly not any of the people who are downloading torrents of bad OCR's of worse scans. If someone who isn't a customer anyway is making copies of a product for free, the seller has really lost nothing. You can't lose money you don't have, and never had a chance of getting. And who knows, maybe they'll find a book they like in there, and decide to buy a legit copy.

If piracy really harmed ebook sales, Baen Books would be out of business. They not only don't weep and wail about "theft", they have a huge list of electronic copies of some of their finest books available on their website, in many handy formats, that they encourage you to download and share with everyone you know. They pack CD-ROMs in the back of some of their books (not sure if they still do) with more of the same, and again, with an exhortation to copy the CD and give it to everyone. And it pays. By and large, people want to feel virtuous, and if they can get a good product, a product that fills their needs, at a fair price, from someone they respect, and with warm fuzzy feelings attached, they'll buy it. Aside from the substantial cubic footage of dead-trees books I've bought, and continue to buy, from Baen, I shelled out about sixty bucks a couple of weeks ago for another batch of ebooks. They deal fairly with me, and they give me a good product for a good price, so why shouldn't I?

(by the way, I should point out that all of my ebooks are either legitimately free, such as the BFL and PG, or properly paid for; I'm discussing the reasons for piracy in hypothetical, not personal, terms)

Something else to consider: Remember the early days of the video rental industry, when the studios tried hard to shut the stores down because they feared rentals were cutting into the sales of their $50+ videotapes to the handful of people who had players? Yeah, about that ... now DVDs sell for $10-$20, there's a Blockbuster on every corner, I don't know anyone including my elderly mother who doesn't own a DVD player of some sort ... and movies can make more off of DVD sales than they do at the box office. Everyone buys them. They found a price point that makes them cheap enough to buy to make it worthwhile to buy the necessary hardware, and with said hardware being widespread, there's a huge market for the DVDs. So instead of where the video industry started, with a tiny handful of people paying $200 in today's dollars for each movie, they have practically everyone on the planet paying $10 each for zillions of movies.

That's what the ebook publishers need to do: sell their books cheaply enough so that buying an expensive device to read them with makes sense, and by doing so, they'll cause their market to explode, and their profits will follow. If you sell one book at $10 profit or 10 books at $1 profit, you're making the same money -- and the more the customers have, the more they want. It worked for the movie industry, it will work for the publishing industry.

Speaking of the cost of producing an ebook, it costs a hell of a lot more to produce a movie -- yet compare the prices of the end product. Even direct-to-video movies, with no theater revenue to help offset the production costs, still seem to turn a profit for their producers at those prices. Customers do notice this, and they consequently start feeling gouged when a book is selling for more than a movie.

So ... no, as long as the publishers provide a means for customers to buy a good product at a fair price, and don't treat their customers like their blood enemies (e.g., Baen), piracy isn't likely to be a serious problem. If things keep on as they are, where most publishers are making legitimate purchases harder and more inconvenient than obtaining illicit copies, charging disproportionately more, compared to printed versions, for what the customer actually gets, and applying DRM that inconveniences only the legitimate customers ... well, yeah, it's gonna be an issue.

mr ploppy
04-03-2010, 10:14 AM
DAW got snarky last year and went after a bunch with cease and desists on all of their writers. Don't know how effective that was. .

It tends to make people pirate them even more. It's become known as the Harlan Ellison effect. Before he sued a fan over some book that had been out of print for 20 years there wasn't much of his stuff available, now all of it is. People upload them all on a regular basis just to annoy him.

Elfwreck
04-03-2010, 10:32 AM
Part of the problem, and part of the scare tactics, is how the industry figures its "losses". Just like the BSA assumes that every warez d00d who has a cracked copy of Photoshop CS4 would have bought it at full retail price otherwise (because every teenager has $700 to spend on software to put lame captions on his Facebook pictures), the publishers assume, or claim to assume, that everyone who downloads a 3,000-book torrent would have bought every single book in it at list. That's a $36,000 loss! Except, of course, that I don't think any of us know anyone who spends $36,000 a year, or probably even a decade, on books.

The "war on drugs" uses similar tactics.
They calculate the street value of the smallest known amount of a drug, weigh the amount they sieze, and declare how many millions they've taken off the street.

So--if marijuana sells for $25/gram, and they sieze a warehouse with 200 plants, they put those plants on a scale (stems, roots, leaves & all), note that they've got a ton or so of plant material, and declare that they shut down a dealer with $14million in contraband. Riiiight. (No idea what marijuana plants weigh, and my concept of street value is based on extrapolation from 20-year-old conversations.)


Speaking of the cost of producing an ebook, it costs a hell of a lot more to produce a movie -- yet compare the prices of the end product. Even direct-to-video movies, with no theater revenue to help offset the production costs, still seem to turn a profit for their producers at those prices. Customers do notice this, and they consequently start feeling gouged when a book is selling for more than a movie.

Movies, even direct-to-vid movies, get a lot more viewers than books get readers. (A movie is a 2-hour time investment towards entertainment; a book is longer than that for everyone except bibliphile speed-readers.) And I think that's an area where production cost of the individual units *does* matter. For all the hype about books only costing a couple of dollars to print (and distribute and store, which is a lot of where I question the claims), discs cost *pennies* to produce. Even good-quality DVDs, bought by the case (truckload) are very cheap, and so are the packing materials. The color picture on the outside of the box is probably the most expensive part of a DVD.

Movie sales are measured in the millions. Book sales are measured in the thousands. DVDs take less storage space and less display space to advertise.

That said, YES... people will consider, should I buy this book, or a movie instead? And the book needs to have something compelling going for it; mainstream ebooks at the price of a DVD, with DRM, are a hard sell against all the other forms of entertainment available.

We're the real mass market when it comes to ebooks.

Indeed, and the mainstream publishers are seriously missing something here. We're the ones who *will* switch our purchases from $4 used paperbacks to $6 new ebooks... where they exist. But we won't switch from $4 used paperbacks to $17.99 new ebooks that require code-stripping before we can read them in our choice of venue. I could be convinced to buy 2 shiny ebooks instead of 3 beat-up paperbacks; I'll make up the reading gap on the blogs and fanfic archives. (I *will* be reading that ~80,000 words worth of content *somewhere*.) I'm not going to be convinced to buy 1 shiny ebook instead of 4 1/2 paperbacks.

But the big publishers don't know I exist, because I never bought hardbacks* and rarely bought new paperbacks. So none of their marketing attempts are aimed at me, and I continue to buy used paperbacks (and chop the bindings off, and scan them, and OCR them & correct them and throw them into my ebook reader 'cos I can't stand to read paper anymore) and low-price ebooks and make up the reading gap on fanfic archives.


*Slight hyperbole. I've bought, oh, four or five new hardbacks I can think of, in my life. I think that's close enough to "never" for publishers' purposes.

JaneFancher
04-03-2010, 10:37 AM
It tends to make people pirate them even more. It's become known as the Harlan Ellison effect. Before he sued a fan over some book that had been out of print for 20 years there wasn't much of his stuff available, now all of it is. People upload them all on a regular basis just to annoy him.

Ahhhh...poor Harlan. (joke, guys, joke) You know, in person, he's one of my favorite convention people and he's extremely smart. But he is a bit of a pit bull when it comes to his legal rights.

But there ya go. What I've got to do is go post all my stuff to pirate sites (badly scanned versions, of course) then post that the pretty and legit copies are available at CC!

Whole new ad campaign! (where's my pirate hat?) Arrr!

Yes! I knew there had to be one.

:pirateattack:

JaneFancher
04-03-2010, 11:01 AM
Movies, even direct-to-vid movies, get a lot more viewers than books get readers. (A movie is a 2-hour time investment towards entertainment; a book is longer than that for everyone except bibliphile speed-readers.) And I think that's an area where production cost of the individual units *does* matter. For all the hype about books only costing a couple of dollars to print (and distribute and store, which is a lot of where I question the claims), discs cost *pennies* to produce. Even good-quality DVDs, bought by the case (truckload) are very cheap, and so are the packing materials. The color picture on the outside of the box is probably the most expensive part of a DVD.

Movie sales are measured in the millions. Book sales are measured in the thousands. DVDs take less storage space and less display space to advertise.


Very interesting exchange, and dead on. There's an additional aspect that I missed, if it was addressed, and that's the effect of a critical mass of consumers. A theatrical movie or a best seller are aimed at the entire community, at getting the "have you seen/read" factor going quickly so the sales can explode in the first couple of weeks. Since reorders on the part of book stores are all keyed to the first week sales, this is crucial in the shelf life-span of a given title.

Most books that are different from the current best seller model depend on good old word of mouth, i.e. individuals recommending books to their friends. This means that such books must remain available to allow time for this much more intimate exchange to take place. Back when backlist could be warehoused for years, this wasn't a problem. Writers with a different voice could build a readership slowly but surely. A new book would come out and the publisher could offer the entire backlist.

Thanks to the Thor-tool decision, those warehoused books became taxable items not just in the first year of production but for every subsequent year. This shifted the entire dynamic of book publishing. It became economically unfeasible for meaningful numbers of backlist to be kept available. Every time a new book in a series came out, they had to reprint the entire backlist...only to trash the unsold copies before the end of the year. The number printed was therefore kept at a bare minimum.

This was particularly disastrous for SF/F which depend heavily on series and backlist, thanks to the world building inherent to the genre, which eats up a lot of wordage. But all non-bestseller books are directly affected by a decision that turned books into cans of tomatoes.

So those costs of shipping and warehousing that you question probably reflect this necessary tax.

Elfwreck
04-03-2010, 11:31 AM
But there ya go. What I've got to do is go post all my stuff to pirate sites (badly scanned versions, of course) then post that the pretty and legit copies are available at CC!

Whole new ad campaign! (where's my pirate hat?) Arrr!

Yes! I knew there had to be one.
:pirateattack:

Heh. Post non-OCRd scans in PDF form, with some skewed & slightly cut-off pages, scanned flatbed so the middle between the pages has that awful dark line that covers the edges of the words near the center.

Attach a letter-sized PDF page to the beginning--"Here's Jane Fancher's book so you don't have to go to closed-circle.net and buy the fancy ePub & Mobi and other ebook versions for $5. Save five whole dollars by reading this version!"

DawnFalcon
04-03-2010, 11:34 AM
Or one of the PDF's where the text is twice as wide as the page, and the only way to get the text is to copy each page invididually and paste it somewhere else. How do I know about them? Oh yea, some etextbooks I bought. Suffice to say that ended up in a chargeback.

DJHARKAVY
04-03-2010, 11:39 AM
To add to that, there are people who want to read on their eReader books that they already paid for in one form or another.

I, for example, have bought multiple copies of every Harry Potter book, one for myself and one each for two teen relatives. Is it really hurting the companies if I want to have a digital copy that I can carry around?

I recently listened to a (paid for) audio version of the Time Traveller's Wife and wanted to read it. But I cannot get a digital edition and do not like to carry paper copies around. I would pay for a digital copy if it were legally available but it isn't. So if, at some point, I were to find a digital copy, how is the publisher being harmed? I have bought a copy of the book already (albeit an audio one) and have no intention of buying a print copy under any circumstances...

Certainly these are rationalizations. But I fail to see how anyone is harmed in either case.

pdurrant
04-03-2010, 12:18 PM
Thanks to the Thor-tool decision, those warehoused books became taxable items not just in the first year of production but for every subsequent year.

[nitpick]Not quite. The asset itself isn't taxed, but because it must be accounted for at full cost value, it increases pre-tax profit in the accounts, and so increases the amount that must be paid in tax.

There's a very good explanation of the effects of the decision at http://www.sfwa.org/bulletin/articles/thor.htm

Hamlet53
04-03-2010, 12:28 PM
If piracy really harmed ebook sales, Baen Books would be out of business. They not only don't weep and wail about "theft", they have a huge list of electronic copies of some of their finest books available on their website, in many handy formats, that they encourage you to download and share with everyone you know. They pack CD-ROMs in the back of some of their books (not sure if they still do) with more of the same, and again, with an exhortation to copy the CD and give it to everyone. And it pays. By and large, people want to feel virtuous, and if they can get a good product, a product that fills their needs, at a fair price, from someone they respect, and with warm fuzzy feelings attached, they'll buy it. Aside from the substantial cubic footage of dead-trees books I've bought, and continue to buy, from Baen, I shelled out about sixty bucks a couple of weeks ago for another batch of ebooks. They deal fairly with me, and they give me a good product for a good price, so why shouldn't I?

(by the way, I should point out that all of my ebooks are either legitimately free, such as the BFL and PG, or properly paid for; I'm discussing the reasons for piracy in hypothetical, not personal, terms)


Hey, if authors and/or publishers want to put their material out there for free download because they think it will actually increase their sales and income good on them. My problem is with book pirates that presume the same right.


Something else to consider: Remember the early days of the video rental industry, when the studios tried hard to shut the stores down because they feared rentals were cutting into the sales of their $50+ videotapes to the handful of people who had players? Yeah, about that ... now DVDs sell for $10-$20, there's a Blockbuster on every corner, I don't know anyone including my elderly mother who doesn't own a DVD player of some sort ... and movies can make more off of DVD sales than they do at the box office. Everyone buys them. They found a price point that makes them cheap enough to buy to make it worthwhile to buy the necessary hardware, and with said hardware being widespread, there's a huge market for the DVDs. So instead of where the video industry started, with a tiny handful of people paying $200 in today's dollars for each movie, they have practically everyone on the planet paying $10 each for zillions of movies.



Maybe you haven't walked around your neighborhood recently. Blockbusters are disappearing like the American buffalo; victims of businesses like NetFlix, cheap prices to just purchase DVDs, and pirate sharing on torrent sites. I'll not try to argue the relative impact of the three.


Ahhhh...poor Harlan. (joke, guys, joke) You know, in person, he's one of my favorite convention people and he's extremely smart. But he is a bit of a pit bull when it comes to his legal rights.

But there ya go. What I've got to do is go post all my stuff to pirate sites (badly scanned versions, of course) then post that the pretty and legit copies are available at CC!

Whole new ad campaign! (where's my pirate hat?) Arrr!

Yes! I knew there had to be one.

:pirateattack:


Heh. Post non-OCRd scans in PDF form, with some skewed & slightly cut-off pages, scanned flatbed so the middle between the pages has that awful dark line that covers the edges of the words near the center.

Attach a letter-sized PDF page to the beginning--"Here's Jane Fancher's book so you don't have to go to closed-circle.net and buy the fancy ePub & Mobi and other ebook versions for $5. Save five whole dollars by reading this version!"

I love it! Maybe even leave out a page here and there?

It tends to make people pirate them even more. It's become known as the Harlan Ellison effect. Before he sued a fan over some book that had been out of print for 20 years there wasn't much of his stuff available, now all of it is. People upload them all on a regular basis just to annoy him.

Hmm, I'd never heard that about Harlan Ellison. Loved his work, but I tend to love the books (or music, or film) without much caring about who the author is. Being aggressive about his copyright would not make feel more or less justified in pirating an author's work.

Elfwreck
04-03-2010, 01:07 PM
Hmm, I'd never heard that about Harlan Ellison. Loved his work, but I tend to love the books (or music, or film) without much caring about who the author is. Being aggressive about his copyright would not make feel more or less justified in pirating an author's work.

Not so much "aggressive" as "vicious."

Harlan Ellison's one of the few authors who's successfully sued TV & movie studios for copyright infringement. In order to do that, he had to be tenacious and several types of aggressive, and really good at cutting through corporate BS and vague rationalizing doublespeak.

And then fans started distributing his books on alt.binaries.e-book. And he went after those, as he could find them; found one & sued (the case was settled for a few thousand dollars).

Legally, there is no difference between "Paramount makes a movie that grabs crucial elements of his short story" and "A fan typed that story into his computers and emailed it to 20 friends." Both are copyright infringement; both carry potential fines of $150k+. And Ellison went after both with the same approach: threatening letters from lawyers, long diatribes about the evils of copyright-theft, bigger & better lawyers when the first wave seemed to be losing ground.

Against movie studios, that approach works. It got him a hefty settlement from the Terminator's profits, and credit on the screen. (And I'm glad it did; Ellison's contributions to science fiction *should* be acknowledged, and *should* make him rich.)

Against fans? Less effective approach. Oh, it shut down the guy who first shared some of his ebooks. (With a lot more than 20 friends. The alt.binaries hierarchy was not small.) But fans weren't trying to cheat him out of millions; they were trying to *promote* his works, which weren't available as legit digital versions at the time. And shooting rats with a flamethrower may kill the rats you see, but is hardly an effective method of pest control.

And word goes out among fans: Ellison, he's that guy who thinks his books should only be appreciated by people who've got time & money to track down out-of-print used copies. And fans said, shrug, I'll read what I like and not pay attention to the wishes of control-freak litigious jerks. Cue scanners & proofreaders, and relatively soon, all of his works were bouncing around the torrents & binaries groups. (Now, I think most of his books are available as ebooks. Multiformat, even, so no complaints about DRM problems.)

I've loved the small bits of time I've spent in Ellison's company at conventions. He's brilliant and funny. And arrogant as hell, and absolutely scathing to people he thinks deserve it. (Which is incredibly entertaining to watch if you don't happen to be the target.) I applaud his going after publishers and production studios who try to screw over the authors whose works they want to use without compensation.

I have less applause for his approach to ebooks; the fact that we haven't sorted out how to allow & encourage the social side of books in digital form *and* compensate the author (and publishers, where that's relevant), doesn't mean that authors should go after individual filesharers with lawsuits.

1) It's overly-harsh; punishment is disproportionate to the offense.
2) It's trying to punish people who want you to succeed.
3) It's ineffective. Chasing the ones you can see just encourages the others to hide better.

HarryT
04-03-2010, 01:13 PM
Not so much "aggressive" as "vicious."

Harlan Ellison's one of the few authors who's successfully sued TV & movie studios for copyright infringement. In order to do that, he had to be tenacious and several types of aggressive, and really good at cutting through corporate BS and vague rationalizing doublespeak.

And then fans started distributing his books on alt.binaries.e-book. And he went after those, as he could find them; found one & sued (the case was settled for a few thousand dollars).


He famously said, not so long ago, "If you put your hand in my pocket, you’ll drag back six inches of bloody stump".

JaneFancher
04-03-2010, 02:10 PM
Hey, if authors and/or publishers want to put their material out there for free download because they think it will actually increase their sales and income good on them. My problem is with book pirates that presume the same right.

True...but if the free copy is pretty where's the incentive to come buy the real thing other than a reader's own good nature? And I personally don't want to be associated with a crappy product. Hence...subterfuge...Heh heh heh....

Not very secret, tho, since I've posted my intentions! (hunting for schill.)


I love it! Maybe even leave out a page here and there?

Heck, I could just scan the published version of Ring of Lightning where they left out page 320 and repeated another page...My first website, back in the age of dinos, was devoted to that little faux pax.

Hmm, I'd never heard that about Harlan Ellison. Loved his work, but I tend to love the books (or music, or film) without much caring about who the author is. Being aggressive about his copyright would not make feel more or less justified in pirating an author's work.

If you will allow me to digress...

My first encounter with Harlan was as a fan back in the 1970s at the first Puget Sound Star Trekkers con. (my first convention. Wheee) and he was on his best behavior because he was sharing the stage with Robert Heinlein, for whom he had a huge respect. Bob was a gentleman's gentleman, if a bit of a charming chauvinist, and Harlan acted accordingly...for the most part. When he had the stage to himself, all bets were off.

I will admit my at the time still virginal ears heard more of the F-word that weekend than I'd heard in my entire lifetime. (Computers have subsequently helped me understand the usefulness of the word.) Anyway, I hadn't read him at the time, but my impression was that he was full of great insights into, well, lots of things, but what I remember most were his comments on the media's representation of violence...basically white washing it and making it exciting rather than showing it like it really is... was ethically wrong, that if they were going to show a car crash, they should show what really happens to the people inside.

My thoughts were that his attack-dog approach was keeping his message from reaching those who really needed to hear. Likely it wouldn't have changed anyway...people being adrenaline junkies...but he had some seriously good points. He always does...if a bit extreme in his presentation of them.

He's tempered (a bit) over the years, but he's still a serious tilter at windmills, and I kinda love him for that. He was one of the first to make public the crazy love/hate relationship most serious writers have with Hollywood. And the whole piracy thing...well, it brought it to the public's attention and is at the spiritual heart of discussions like this. At the time, writers hadn't really thought out the pros and cons, all they saw was their work being handed out for free. The whole Baen experiment hadn't even started, as far as I can remember. I know it sparked a lot of discussion in our household.

To me, as both a fan and a professional, he's never been anything but kind...without real reason, because he likely doesn't know me from Adam. He's a firecracker on stage, tho, no doubt.

markbot
04-03-2010, 02:12 PM
What you call "piracy", which is really just unauthorised downloading, can only have a positive impact on the book industry. It will create a demand for ebook readers in much the same way that the unauthorised downloading of music did for mp3 players. This demand will lead to very cheap ebook readers and make them mainstream devices. When they are mainstream, most people will look for mainstream ways of getting their ebooks. Which is when the publishers and distributors will make their vast profits, just like the music publishers and distributors are doing now with mp3.

This type of reasoning is why many people believe democracy is a bad idea.

mr ploppy
04-03-2010, 02:38 PM
Hmm, I'd never heard that about Harlan Ellison. Loved his work, but I tend to love the books (or music, or film) without much caring about who the author is. Being aggressive about his copyright would not make feel more or less justified in pirating an author's work.

I doubt if many of the people either uploading or downloading digital copies of his books have ever read any of them, that won't be the motivation in this particular case. (Metallica got the same treatment over on the music side).

But to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, there's only one thing worse than being pirated and that is not being pirated. If nobody likes your old book/record/comic/film enough to think it is worth preserving for the digital age, then it can't be up to much.

mr ploppy
04-03-2010, 02:50 PM
True...but if the free copy is pretty where's the incentive to come buy the real thing other than a reader's own good nature? .

It would probably work better with a series of books, where you give the first one away for free and then people can buy the others if they want. Rather than hobble the free copy, another way to do it would be to insert advertising/ "buy here" nags every few pages.

mr ploppy
04-03-2010, 02:54 PM
This type of reasoning is why many people believe democracy is a bad idea.

It's just an obsesrvation on what has happened with the music industry. Ebooks have followed the same pattern up to a point (ie the publishers are now releasing them at a price higher than the physical product), and I don't see any reason for it not to follow the rest.

DawnFalcon
04-03-2010, 03:00 PM
It would probably work better with a series of books, where you give the first one away for free and then people can buy the others if they want.

One of the explicit motivations behind the Baen Free Library, indeed.

JaneFancher
04-03-2010, 03:31 PM
It would probably work better with a series of books, where you give the first one away for free and then people can buy the others if they want. Rather than hobble the free copy, another way to do it would be to insert advertising/ "buy here" nags every few pages.

Actually, that's what I've done with my first series, tho I'm getting pressure from my readers to remove it (GroundTies) from the "freebie" list as it is, according to them, "too good" to be given away.

Right now, I'm maintaining that if they feel that way, they can donate...and many have, generous sweethearts that they are. What I really want is readers to try it. I know there's a market for the kind of books I write and I want to get the word out and a few people talking on line about it. It's that critical mass thing.

Who knows...I might put up the "new edition" I'm working on that has a ToC and extra content and such for sale, leaving the initial version up for a sample. I dunno. Lots of options and still very early times. We just opened in December.

Gawd...I hate those "buy here" nags!!!

But I'm really kinda taken with this notion of pirating my own book....it's just such a delightfully twisted idea...I wonder how many authors have already done it? :eek:

JaneFancher
04-03-2010, 03:36 PM
He famously said, not so long ago, "If you put your hand in my pocket, you’ll drag back six inches of bloody stump".

Heh heh...he was saying that back in the seventies. He's a product of the streets of the Bronx. Small and exceedingly feisty. Very protective of what's his.

Worldwalker
04-03-2010, 05:02 PM
Hey, if authors and/or publishers want to put their material out there for free download because they think it will actually increase their sales and income good on them. My problem is with book pirates that presume the same right.

I'm not going into the morality of it; I'm just addressing the thread topic: "Is piracy likely to harm ebook sales?"

Maybe you haven't walked around your neighborhood recently. Blockbusters are disappearing like the American buffalo; victims of businesses like NetFlix, cheap prices to just purchase DVDs, and pirate sharing on torrent sites. I'll not try to argue the relative impact of the three.

My local Blockbuster is doing fine. Though I'll have to admit, they've been doing without my business for a few years.

Partly it's the cost issue: when I can own a movie for life for what it would cost me to rent it twice, I'm more likely to go the purchase route. Another part is the selection: They have several zillion copies of the latest releases, but the stuff I really want to watch? If they ever had it, it went on the "pre-viewed" table (oh, how I hate those "pre-" weasel words) a year ago. I like anime and classics, cheesy old SF and historical documentaries, and especially old TV shows on DVD (the fact that I write fanfic for some of the latter may be involved). Another part, actually, is the proliferation of useful review websites, and of things like Amazon's recommendation engine. I don't have to rent a movie for a couple of nights to find out if I want to buy it anymore, and with the price of purchase dropping so close to the rental price, there's little cost advantage in doing so. Oddly enough, the bonus content is another rental-killer. I'm the person who buys the deluxe edition of the DVD because I love the behind-the-scenes features, the storyboards, the production art, the cast interviews ... all that stuff. Sometimes that's twice as much material, running time wise, as the movie itself, and because of its fragmented nature (ten 10-minute segments of interviews, for instance) you tend to go through it more slowly. Rentals preclude slowly enjoying the bonuses over the next couple of weeks, even if they have them (and they generally don't). Also, there's Redbox. If I'm going to rent a recent release, I can get it at Redbox for a dollar for the night I want to watch it, instead of renting it at Blockbuster for the equivalent of renting it for several nights at Redbox. In other words, I only have to pay for the time I'm actually using it.

You know what I'd like to see at a physical bookstore? And what someone needs to start marketing to the independent stores? A little kiosk sort of like a Redbox machine, where I could go through a publisher's whole backlist, buy the books I want, plug in my Reader, and have them all loaded. For an extra few bucks (per purchase, not per book!) it could burn them to CD for me as well (perhaps with a copy of Calibre included for the benefit of people who don't know about it yet). Something like that would allow Joe's Bookstore to sell as wide a selection of books as Barnes & Noble in the space of a soda machine. That's my dream store: one where I get the personal service of a small bookstore, the selection of a giant chain, and the pricing of an online discounter. Add a few comfy chairs, some charging ports, a selection of new and used ebook readers for sale, a rack of accessories like cases and lights for the most popular models ... there's money to be made there.

A little machine like that -- an ebook kiosk -- would, if it was affordable (probably some kind of leasing + % of sales option) be a huge draw to used bookstores, too. Among other things, the ebook kiosk might generate some money for the publisher on sales of used books: how many of us, after buying that worn but precious volume to at long last fill in the gap in some SF series, would go straight to the ebook kiosk and buy the electronic version, too? Among other reasons, I'd do it so I didn't have to worry about the paper one falling apart. I recently spent about $60 at Baen, and out of the dozen or so books I bought, only two were ones that I didn't already have in physical form. I wish I could do that at my favorite used SF store.

Sorry for the threadjacking!

Iphinome
04-03-2010, 10:40 PM
But there ya go. What I've got to do is go post all my stuff to pirate sites (badly scanned versions, of course) then post that the pretty and legit copies are available at CC!

Whole new ad campaign! (where's my pirate hat?) Arrr!



Ah, hello madam pirate. Would you like to become a privateer? Not much of a benefit plan but if you're captured with a letter of marque you become a prisoner of war instead of hanged as a criminal.

JaneFancher
04-03-2010, 11:02 PM
Ah, hello madam pirate. Would you like to become a privateer? Not much of a benefit plan but if you're captured with a letter of marque you become a prisoner of war instead of hanged as a criminal.

Do I get to wear my pirate hat? And an eyepatch? Sparkly-green stiletto boots? (makes it hard to stand upright in rough seas, but they look really cool.)

Iphinome
04-03-2010, 11:06 PM
okay sure, I've already issued one letter of marque to Ghosthawk I'll send you one too.

mrkarl
04-04-2010, 09:01 PM
But there ya go. What I've got to do is go post all my stuff to pirate sites (badly scanned versions, of course) then post that the pretty and legit copies are available at CC!

Whole new ad campaign! (where's my pirate hat?) Arrr!

Yes! I knew there had to be one.

:pirateattack:

or just just add a PO box so I could mail a ckeck to you direct and skip the people in between. I'm not even picky about spelling, I'll figure it out,

JaneFancher
04-05-2010, 01:19 AM
or just just add a PO box so I could mail a ckeck to you direct and skip the people in between. I'm not even picky about spelling, I'll figure it out,

Ah, but there are no inbetweens! A link to CC w/b a link to me! :D And my covers are prettier, too! And we have a donation button.

But a PO Box...that could happen, too!

And I write big books, so my ToCs are useful. (I'm just starting to go back and put them into my already offered books.)

JaneFancher
04-05-2010, 01:21 AM
okay sure, I've already issued one letter of marque to Ghosthawk I'll send you one too.

:rofl:

I'm working on an appropriate response...

I love it!

Iphinome
04-05-2010, 02:49 AM
:rofl:

I'm working on an appropriate response...

I love it!

Well I can't afford to outfit a whole data navy being just a person and not a state collecting taxes but there is a precedent for commissioning armed merchant vessels to act on your behalf. I suppose I'll need an Admiralty court to adjudicate prize claims.

Anyway Ghosthawk told me he framed his letter of marque. Think Lynn Abby would want one? I'd trust her with a commission just because I liked her Orion's Children books even if I thought Eleanore came off kinna homophobic...

JaneFancher
04-05-2010, 04:53 AM
Well I can't afford to outfit a whole data navy being just a person and not a state collecting taxes but there is a precedent for commissioning armed merchant vessels to act on your behalf. I suppose I'll need an Admiralty court to adjudicate prize claims.

Anyway Ghosthawk told me he framed his letter of marque. Think Lynn Abby would want one? I'd trust her with a commission just because I liked her Orion's Children books even if I thought Eleanore came off kinna homophobic...

Heh heh...sure! Just spell her name right: Abbey. :D I can assure you, however Eleanore came off, Lynn is definitely not. :D

Hamlet53
04-05-2010, 08:31 AM
It would probably work better with a series of books, where you give the first one away for free and then people can buy the others if they want. Rather than hobble the free copy, another way to do it would be to insert advertising/ "buy here" nags every few pages.

Yeah, not sure this would've been a good business model for the likes of J. D. Salinger or John Kennedy Toole.

Jane Fancher you could also spam the 'darknet' with flawed copies of your work. So that anyone searching for a free download instead of just paying for it at your site would likely just find that flawed copy. Then again that just might provoke the sort of response apparently given to Harlan Ellison.

Speaking of which … I've never met the man or seen him in person and all the talk here makes me regret that. I do recall that when I was young, must have been about 1968 – 1969, I read a collection of SF stories that included his story Shattered Like a Glass Goblin. In it a female character asks a male character: “You want to fuck?” At 15 years old I was shocked that a SF author could include such dialogue in a book. No other SF author that I was aware of was doing such.

mr ploppy
04-05-2010, 09:00 AM
Jane Fancher you could also spam the 'darknet' with flawed copies of your work. So that anyone searching for a free download instead of just paying for it at your site would likely just find that flawed copy. Then again that just might provoke the sort of response apparently given to Harlan Ellison.


It would depend what the "flaw" was. Something minor and most people would just ignore it and consider it part of the price for getting it for free. Something major and it would put off legitimate try-before-you-buyers and defeat the whole point of the exercise. I still think "buy me" nags every few pages would get the best results. Sure someone would strip them out, but most of the up and downloaders of ebooks never read them so there would still be more copies of the hobbled version floating around than the "fixed" version.

Steven Lyle Jordan
04-05-2010, 11:29 AM
This type of reasoning is why many people believe democracy is a bad idea.

Mr ploppy's reasoning was capitalist... not democratic. We should try to avoid confusing the issue with inaccurate labels suggesting connections that aren't there. (After all, it's not as if only democracies try to make money.)

JaneFancher
04-05-2010, 11:58 AM
Jane Fancher you could also spam the 'darknet' with flawed copies of your work. So that anyone searching for a free download instead of just paying for it at your site would likely just find that flawed copy. Then again that just might provoke the sort of response apparently given to Harlan Ellison.

Speaking of which … I've never met the man or seen him in person and all the talk here makes me regret that. I do recall that when I was young, must have been about 1968 – 1969, I read a collection of SF stories that included his story Shattered Like a Glass Goblin. In it a female character asks a male character: “You want to fuck?” At 15 years old I was shocked that a SF author could include such dialogue in a book. No other SF author that I was aware of was doing such.

Heh heh...don't know about spamming. But being a pirate of my own work. That's just so bent...

If you ever get the chance, do meet Harlan. He's brutally honest. (I guess writer's workshops with him are/were something else!) Stands up for his work's integrity and his creative rights like no other author I've ever met, and the three of us are pretty tough, at least where it comes to messing with our work. Most of us don't have the money, time, or energy to take on the Hollywood Big Guns when they rip us off...and probably most authors have been by now. I know I was. Blatantly. Someone like Harlan reminds Hollywood that they aren't completely invulnerable.

Love him or hate him, he makes people think, and that, IMO, is a very good thing.

Oh...yeah...Harlan was definitely one of the first, if not the first, to use any sort of "vulgar" language in SF/F prose. He's also the author of the City on the Edge of Forever...I think that's the title...the first of the time travel Star Trek episodes that ends with Kirk saying "Let's get the hell out of here." Harlan fought really hard for that one. Was ultimately furious with how they hacked his script (I've read the original and it was greatly changed, but the final version was still pretty outstanding) but that line got through. It might have been a first for network TV.

Even when I began submitting in the late 80's some publishers still wouldn't let you use profanity, esp the F word. It's one reason I ended up at Warner rather than DAW because not using it in the 'NetWalkers books would be...I dunno, disingenuous? I guess that covers it.

Highroller
04-05-2010, 08:12 PM
Heh heh...don't know about spamming. But being a pirate of my own work. That's just so bent...


Yep, I did a quick check, All I found of your work up for dl was the Rings trilogy and Upstart and a short story.

I don't think I have EVER read any of your books and I have a pretty substantial paper library. Some 3500 books. 98% of which is paperback and bought 2nd hand. So either your books when bought are held onto or have poor distributation in first place at least in my area.

I commend you for making an effort to make your older books available as e-books at a reasonable rate. Most of the publishers could learn a lot from you. I always thought they were idiots to not sell older books as e-books cheaply. I only recently found out the publishers don't have the digital rights to most of those books, in which case I owe them a small apology. But more recent stuff that has been taken out of print to avoid the warehouse tax you mentioned would be great prospects for lesser priced e-book releases.

I would venture to say they already have most of the books from last decade or 2 in electronic form. All that is required at that point is some formatting as I see it assuming they have the digital rights. But I am just a reader, being neither an author nor a publisher, I certainly don't have all the answers. But I know charging as much or more for the ebook as a paper copy is overcharging.

JaneFancher
04-05-2010, 09:41 PM
Yep, I did a quick check, All I found of your work up for dl was the Rings trilogy and Upstart and a short story.


(Since this is coming right after your post, I figured this was enough for a referent. :D)

I hear this a lot. Warner, my first publisher, was trying to kill the Questar imprint in the year my first book came out. I'd have gotten better distribution if I'd bought a truckload and traveled the country tossing them out the window! :rofl: Most writers who came out from Questar in the early 90's have a similar story.

I don't have that many out...each of my books is at least two normal sized ones. :D they run the better part of 200,000 words because I really like complex plots with complex characters. Each book takes a couple of years to write. And my second publisher kept taking books, claiming they were going to publish...only to tell me a year ago that it had been too long since the last books in the series, and sorry, but thanks but no thanks. That's when I decided to go the ebook route, not being particularly inclined to write the next Urban Fantasy.

My whole tale of woe is various places on my website and blog, but the important thing is, we do have options now. It's just hard for most of us older writers to find the energy to start all over again. At least we have some established readership to cheer us on.

You'd be amazed how slow most publishers were to start accepting electronic files. I don't know how easily the "typeset" versions will translate, tho it'd be way easier than OCRing. I think it was the late 90's before they finally took one of mine from file rather than retyping the whole thing. It's crazy how slow to embrace electronic technology most publishers were.

As for e-rights...very few publishers actually specifically licensed them, tho DAW had an interesting clause for "computer versions" even back in the 80s (that's thinking ahead). But as I understand it, many publishers are fighting authors now claiming the license implicitly extends to e-rights. This is making it that much harder for writers to commit to doing it themselves.

I was lucky. All my books are mine, e-speaking free and clear. My main series, the hard SF 'Netwalkers books, are completely mine now. Certainly the six new ones I have waiting for covers and hope to have out this year are!

But for most authors, it's really hard to know just which way to jump. I think a lot are hoping the publishers will get their act together and get the backlist available. I can't blame them...it's a heck of a lot of work.

Steven Lyle Jordan
04-06-2010, 12:21 PM
You'd be amazed how slow most publishers were to start accepting electronic files.

Around here? No, we wouldn't. Disgusted, yes... ;)

BooksForABuck
04-06-2010, 01:14 PM
The back list is a powerful asset and it's also something that the eBook world makes possible to fully use. That said, I don't understand why it should be offered at super-low prices.

Readers have a limited number of hours per day to read. Which means they can justify buying only a limited number of books. If they pirate a book and read it, that means they have just spent some number of reading hours on a pirated book and have no need to purchase a book to fill those hours. Sure, if it were a matter of bringing in a new reader, it might be worth it. And it might be worth it for a particular author who's been pirated to attract a new reader for the rest of his back-list. But for the industry as a whole, there are only so many hours in the day, so many books that can be read. Face it, books are cheap entertainment even at list price. Free books can work as promotion, to attract new readers to an author, to introduce new formats, that kind of thing, but ultimately we need readers to pay if we want to keep authors and publishers in business.

Rob Preece
Publisher, www.BoksForABuck.com

Ralph Sir Edward
04-06-2010, 01:21 PM
The back list is a powerful asset and it's also something that the eBook world makes possible to fully use. That said, I don't understand why it should be offered at super-low prices.

Readers have a limited number of hours per day to read. Which means they can justify buying only a limited number of books. If they pirate a book and read it, that means they have just spent some number of reading hours on a pirated book and have no need to purchase a book to fill those hours. Sure, if it were a matter of bringing in a new reader, it might be worth it. And it might be worth it for a particular author who's been pirated to attract a new reader for the rest of his back-list. But for the industry as a whole, there are only so many hours in the day, so many books that can be read. Face it, books are cheap entertainment even at list price. Free books can work as promotion, to attract new readers to an author, to introduce new formats, that kind of thing, but ultimately we need readers to pay if we want to keep authors and publishers in business.

Rob Preece
Publisher, www.BoksForABuck.com


Life + 50? Life + 70? Life + forever? They help keep publishers in business, but not authors. Once you're dead, you're no longer in business....

I keep thinking - Thomas Jefferson freed his slaves upon his death. Why not authors and their books...

Steven Lyle Jordan
04-06-2010, 02:45 PM
The back list is a powerful asset and it's also something that the eBook world makes possible to fully use. That said, I don't understand why it should be offered at super-low prices.

I can understand paying more of a premium for brand new material when it comes out, then later a reduction in price to equal most "fairly recent" (1-5 year old) material. I wouldn't have a problem paying for backlist at a significant discount of the cost of "fairly recent" books... but it wouldn't have to be "super-low." Say, 33-50% of the cost of 1-5-year old books, and possibly variable upon the popularity of the book. I agree, I see no reason to essentially "give away" backlist, just because they're old.

Elfwreck
04-06-2010, 03:28 PM
The back list is a powerful asset and it's also something that the eBook world makes possible to fully use. That said, I don't understand why it should be offered at super-low prices.

Reason 1: many people buying from the backlist have already read the book in another format, and there's a limit to how much they'll spend for repeat entertainment. They may want to share the book with a friend--but for that, you run into the wall of nontransferability; they have to convince the friend that she should pay full price for a book that, obviously, did not catch her attention when it was on the charts.

Reason 2: with the removal of several of the costs & risks involved in a first print run (editing the manuscript, promoting the book, finding a readership for this author/series), the books can be offered at a low price, low profit per sale, and long-term volume of sales can make them worth the hassle of converting & proofreading.

Obviously, publishers don't have infinite time & resources to convert their entire backlists. But publishers *should* be converting the most-wanted sections of it (whatever that is)--and should be advertising how they'll be doing so, to drive up sales. Publishers should be telling the public, "we'll convert 3 books/month from our 1985-1990 publications in [X] line," or "we're working to bring you the complete series of ____."

DawnFalcon
04-06-2010, 03:32 PM
Nuts, sorry. The back catalogue is the single key to making ebooks work. They should be engaged in a crash project - with temp staff if need be - to bring every single last work they have rights on into ebook format.

pdurrant
04-06-2010, 03:53 PM
Nuts, sorry. The back catalogue is the single key to making ebooks work. They should be engaged in a crash project - with temp staff if need be - to bring every single last work they have rights on into ebook format.

But publishers aren't in business to make ebooks work. They're in business to make money. Spending lots of money now on temp workers to convert a massive back catalogue is a good route to bankruptcy.

Not that back catalogue isn't important! But I think that they can't afford a crash program.

DawnFalcon
04-06-2010, 04:14 PM
You're drastically over-stating the costs involved. Hiring freelance editors to convert novels is not that expensive, especially when you're doing a few thousand books. It might cost, conceivably, as much as a single marketing campaign for a bestseller, and will have a much greater long-term effect on the bottom line.

delphidb96
04-06-2010, 04:37 PM
But publishers aren't in business to make ebooks work. They're in business to make money. Spending lots of money now on temp workers to convert a massive back catalogue is a good route to bankruptcy.

Not that back catalogue isn't important! But I think that they can't afford a crash program.

What? In *THIS* economy?!? Temp workers are cheap, Cheap, CHEAP!!! Hell, just hiring 20 temps and building 20 of those digicam book scanners would be cheap enough to do the job for any major publisher. Or they can just wait it out. In which case, the average reader will become so dissatisfied that you'll see thousands of $100 digicam book scanners being built at home and the used-book stores raided for those OOP titles. (Remember, after the first 4 dozen titles purchased, one can, by trading back in, get another 3 dozen for free.) :D

But then, I believe I've made it clear that the major publishers are taking a 'Please let me cut my nose off to spite my face' approach to ebooks. :D

Derek

CyGuy
04-06-2010, 05:28 PM
Heck, they could do it even easier than that. They can actually download the "Darknet" version legally (since they own the copyright and likely would not sue themselves). Then just clean them up to the highest quality standards, and sell them. Better than starting from scratch I would think...

JSWolf
04-06-2010, 05:33 PM
You're drastically over-stating the costs involved. Hiring freelance editors to convert novels is not that expensive, especially when you're doing a few thousand books. It might cost, conceivably, as much as a single marketing campaign for a bestseller, and will have a much greater long-term effect on the bottom line.

You don't need editors. You need proofreaders who can a/b compare the paper copy to the OCRed electronic opy and you may then need one other person to do the conversion to different eBook formats.

Logseman
04-06-2010, 05:44 PM
Heck, they could do it even easier than that. They can actually download the "Darknet" version legally (since they own the copyright and likely would not sue themselves). Then just clean them up to the highest quality standards, and sell them. Better than starting from scratch I would think...
They could be doing it already, but that wouldn't work for translations, in my opinion. Proofreading translations usually equates translating the original text yourself, because you have a different grasp of the original text than the translator had.

pdurrant
04-06-2010, 05:45 PM
If I'm wrong and you're all correct, I can't understand why publishers aren't doing it.

A good question to ask the head of a big publisher?

DawnFalcon
04-06-2010, 05:56 PM
If I'm wrong and you're all correct, I can't understand why publishers aren't doing it.

Um, are you serious?

pdurrant
04-06-2010, 06:31 PM
Um, are you serious?

Yep. You're suggesting that the big publishers could digitise their entire back catalogue (of which they have rights, at least) for a relatively insignificant sum.

I don't believe this to be the case, or they would be doing it, or at least, be planning to do it, very quickly.

As if they could do it, it would be a no-brainer to do it. Since they're not doing it, there must be some reason why they're not doing it. Cost seems most likely, if not in the actual digitisation work (which would need to include proofing), perhaps in the legal aspects of finding out which books they have ebook rights to, and which they don't.

DawnFalcon
04-06-2010, 06:48 PM
That assumes they know what they're doing with ebooks.

As the Agency Cartel and the following confusion shows, they don't have a bloody clue.


Do you really think Baen's success is a coincidence? The Baen Free Library is a good part of it, for instance - but try to explain to a big book exec why he should give away some of his company's ebooks for free.

Elfwreck
04-06-2010, 06:59 PM
As if they could do it, it would be a no-brainer to do it. Since they're not doing it, there must be some reason why they're not doing it. Cost seems most likely, if not in the actual digitisation work (which would need to include proofing), perhaps in the legal aspects of finding out which books they have ebook rights to, and which they don't.

1) Digital rights--they don't have the right to digitize their entire backlist, even the early books of series. They may have the right to digitize #1 because it's re-released in paperback when #5 comes out in hardcover, but not have access to #'s 2 & 3.

2) They really are, for the most part, oblivious to how the web works away from corporate sponsored websites. They don't know how to find books on the torrents, and their IT departments have filled their heads with visions of viruses and trojans that will destroy their entire network in seconds if they download anything from an unapproved site. (The IT dept's have done this mainly to keep them from downloading malware from doom while trying to get a free copy of SuperBlasterMegaKill II, or whatever the video game of the week is. And somewhat to keep them from accidentally uploading the company's entire email archives to some torrent somewhere.)

3) The labor that's freely available on fansites, including Gutenberg, is not freely available for HarperCollins or Macmillan--and they don't even know how to shop for the people who do the kind of work they'd need for ebook conversions. If they figure it out, they don't know how to justify the expense; they can't measure the market for products that have never existed.

4) They don't know that there's enough interest to justify it. There might not be--I won't be buying any $9 DRM'd backlist titles, when I could get a used paperback for $2 and scan it myself. (Most people won't go that route--but still won't buy the backlist title instead of a new one.)

Hamlet53
04-06-2010, 11:23 PM
I think a lot of people here are underestimating the expense and difficulty involved for a publisher to convert a book that they do not already have an accurate digital copy for into an e-book. Right now I am finishing up converting a used paperback book into an epub file for my personal use and I can tell you the process will ultimately have involved about 40 – 60 hours of work. That is to get a work that matches the original text and is in a nice format for my reader. I should mention that this is a book of about 200 pages; a cost per page model is appropriate here. Sure the publishers could not pay for all that effort for proofing the OCR output from scan and be able to sell it for a relatively cheap price, but that's all it would be worth. And this assumes that the publisher already has rights to publish as an e-book without having to go back and negotiate for these rights with the author or copyright holder.

random50
04-06-2010, 11:52 PM
hamlet53, I would much, much, much rather have a poorly OCRed digital version of a book that has blatantly not passed through the eyeballs of even a single proofreader than no digital version at all. Hell, that's mostly what I already have! Many of them weren't that cheap, either. They were more expensive than a used copy and similar to a new copy, for the most part.

This doesn't have to be either/or. Sales of the poorly OCRed version could be used both to determine whether a cleaner version is worth funding, and also to fund that cleaner version.

Worldwalker
04-07-2010, 06:39 AM
As if they could do it, it would be a no-brainer to do it.

No-brainer? Remember, this is the publishing industry we're talking about.

By the way, I'm 3 stories into Kai Lung Raises His Voice and loving it. :)

P.S. Hamlet, if it costs the publisher $10 an hour to hire some college students for that 40-60 hours, that's $400-$600 to convert the book. In publishing terms, that's too small even to be pocket change. Even when you account for royalties, etc., if they're selling the book directly, they'll be turning a profit after the first couple dozen copies.

They're afraid to cut into the sales of their hardcovers. But here's something to think about:

What if movie studios had refused to release movies on DVD for fear of cutting into their LaserDisc sales? (remember LaserDisc? pretend for the sake of the example that it lasted longer than it did) How much money did they ever make off of LaserDicsc? Not a whole lot, because only a handful of aficionados could afford the $100+ discs and the insanely expensive player. How much do they make off of DVDs? Enough so that DVD profits can surpass theatrical profits, and enough so that they can do straight-to-DVD movies (generally awful ones, but still) and make a profit off those, too. It was getting the price of the movies down to something within the impulse purchase range that made all the difference. Cheaper movies drove sales of DVD players, which expanded the market for movies, allowing economies of scale (and even some competition) to operate and produce still-cheaper movies, etc. Ebooks are still in the LaserDisc stage. Unfortunately, publishers seem to be very slow on the uptake.

pdurrant
04-07-2010, 06:50 AM
No-brainer? Remember, this is the publishing industry we're talking about.

:)


By the way, I'm 3 stories into Kai Lung Raises His Voice and loving it. :)

I'm very pleased to hear it. When you've finished it, a review at Amzon would be much appreciated.

Ralph Sir Edward
04-07-2010, 09:28 AM
Yep. You're suggesting that the big publishers could digitise their entire back catalogue (of which they have rights, at least) for a relatively insignificant sum.

I don't believe this to be the case, or they would be doing it, or at least, be planning to do it, very quickly.

As if they could do it, it would be a no-brainer to do it. Since they're not doing it, there must be some reason why they're not doing it. Cost seems most likely, if not in the actual digitisation work (which would need to include proofing), perhaps in the legal aspects of finding out which books they have ebook rights to, and which they don't.


It's all about control. The publishing culture has many, many, years of control of content. (and I include many authors in the culture as well).

I keep thinking of Don Rickles in Kelly's Heroes.
Telly Savalas: "Nobody's moving that Tiger."
Don Rickles: "Then make a deal."
Telly Savalas: "What kind of Deal?"
Don Rickles: "A Deal deal! Maybe the guy's a Republican..."

The publishing industry refuses to make a Deal deal. Here's sample deal.

Publisher X has print right to author Y's back list, or most of it. No e-books have been released. Publisher X offer the following deal...

A 50/50 split of revenue. The publisher has a new imprint - call it Backlist Books. Price $5 per book, no DRM. The publisher does nothing to provide the text, that's the author's job. The publisher point out that the author can scan his own, or see what's available on the "darknet" to steal back and use them if they wish. The publisher doesn't care. If the OCR proofing is bad, readers can complain to the authors.

The revenue is small ($2.50) an e-book, but the costs are even lower. From the publisher's viewpoint, just web hosting costs. From the author (or heirs and assigns) either scanning costs, or downloading effort. And of the authors were really smart, they'd put a placeholder for their books not yet offered, begging for a fan to do a nice job scanning for the author. ;) Offload to cost to the customer. ;)

$2.50 a copy gross may not seem like much, but you're making $0 as is now. Piracy? Is it not better to get some revenue and some piracy than no revenue and some piracy? That's been Baen's bottom line for years. They, and their authors, don't seem to be at bankruptcy's door because of it.

But you give up control....

djgreedo
04-07-2010, 10:04 AM
P.S. Hamlet, if it costs the publisher $10 an hour to hire some college students for that 40-60 hours, that's $400-$600 to convert the book. In publishing terms, that's too small even to be pocket change. Even when you account for royalties, etc., if they're selling the book directly, they'll be turning a profit after the first couple dozen copies.



I think you're dramatically underestimating the costs to the publisher and probably overestimating how much return they are likely to get from the ebook version (in the short term, which is all the shareholders care about).

Firstly, a publisher isn't going to hire a bored college student to do this work. Believe it or not they would hire professionals who would be getting paid a lot more than $10 per hour. On top of that hourly rate there are taxes, etc. You cost your employer a lot more than whatever your hourly rate is. And there will probably be at least 2 rounds of proofreading on the manuscript. And someone will need to format the ebook to the desired format(s) - again professionally.

I think several thousand dollars is a conservative estimate for getting a book into ebook format if the book wasn't already in electronic format.

When the publisher sells that ebook, some of the 'cover price' is going towards overheads, royalties, the retailer, etc. To recover the costs of creating an ebook they may have to sell hundreds or even thousands of copies. And ebook sales are still a tiny fraction of the book market.

random50
04-07-2010, 10:44 AM
I think you're dramatically underestimating the costs to the publisher and probably overestimating how much return they are likely to get from the ebook version (in the short term, which is all the shareholders care about).

Firstly, a publisher isn't going to hire a bored college student to do this work. Believe it or not they would hire professionals who would be getting paid a lot more than $10 per hour. On top of that hourly rate there are taxes, etc. You cost your employer a lot more than whatever your hourly rate is. And there will probably be at least 2 rounds of proofreading on the manuscript. And someone will need to format the ebook to the desired format(s) - again professionally.

I think several thousand dollars is a conservative estimate for getting a book into ebook format if the book wasn't already in electronic format.

When the publisher sells that ebook, some of the 'cover price' is going towards overheads, royalties, the retailer, etc. To recover the costs of creating an ebook they may have to sell hundreds or even thousands of copies. And ebook sales are still a tiny fraction of the book market.

Believe it or not? I don't believe it, and with excellent reason. Instead of speculating about what they *would* do, why not just look at what many of them *are* doing? There is nothing remotely professional about the quality produced by some publishers. It is a simple scan and dump job with literally no proofreading. If you doubt this, consider the fact that I have one *series* of books in which one of the central character's name is incorrect, in a very obvious way, roughly 80% of the time throughout 7 titles, another 2 book series with exactly the same issue, though less frequently occuring, and a third which, when originally released, just cut off mid sentence about 10 pages from the end. Three different publishers.

This doesn't cost thousands. Actually, even $100s may be an overestimate. I can scan a book using our work photocopier in minutes - remove the binding then feed the whole lot in at once - so I'd be surprised if there aren't more sophisticated and task specific machines available that would do the same, and more reliably. Labour costs should be minimal given this is unskilled work.

Yes, the quality will be poor, but a poor option is better than no option.

theducks
04-07-2010, 11:03 AM
Perhaps because people who make ludicrous assertions such as "ebooks cost virtually nothing to produce" clearly know absolutely nothing about book publishing. The majority of the cost of publishing a book comes from such things as copy editing. This has to be done for an eBook just as much as for a paper book. If you honestly believe that copy editors work for free, I'm afraid you're sadly mistaken.

Like many other products. there are Development costs and there are Manufacturing costs.(I am leaving out Marketing/Hype costs which vary widely :p )
I work in electronics.
4+ engineers spent almost 1 year developing and testing the circuit, software for a device that costs just $30 to manufacture in large numbers. (cost is not the retail price)
With e-books, the reader has to buy expensive specialty hardware/software to read the book. With print books, no additional equipment is needed.

Let me propose the reasoning that the real Pirates were the Publishers that have been consistently cheating the Authors on the number of copies sold through the mechanism of "return hold backs".

With e-books, the sales numbers are hard numbers that can not be fudged. In order to keep their revenue stream intact and pay the Author their due, they had to raise prices.
This even in the light of almost nil manufacturing costs (now just a server farm that serves the entire catalog).

mr ploppy
04-07-2010, 12:30 PM
ultimately we need readers to pay if we want to keep authors and publishers in business.
Publisher, www.BoksForABuck.com

How many people pay for their Google searches?

mr ploppy
04-07-2010, 12:32 PM
I can understand paying more of a premium for brand new material when it comes out, then later a reduction in price to equal most "fairly recent" (1-5 year old) material. I wouldn't have a problem paying for backlist at a significant discount of the cost of "fairly recent" books... but it wouldn't have to be "super-low." Say, 33-50% of the cost of 1-5-year old books, and possibly variable upon the popularity of the book. I agree, I see no reason to essentially "give away" backlist, just because they're old.

Since nobody outside the second hand market is making anything from the sale of those old books, I would have thought any price they could get for them as ebooks would be a bonus.

Scott Nicholson
04-07-2010, 12:33 PM
I don't understand the reasoning that an author needs to make as much on an ebook, when the reality is they will sell many more times the number of ebooks over the life of the format (which, presumably, is the period of your copyright, extending past our deaths). I am making more per copy selling $1.99 ebooks than at $7 paperback through a major publisher, plus I will make far more than I ever would off a traditional print book that will only be available for a certain amount of time (a year or two at best). That changes with POD, of course, but the audience for a $15 trade paperback and a $2-$5 e-book are entirely different. I'm putting my bets on the $2-$3 ebook. Plus, Amazon is raising its royalty rates to 70 percent in July.

As for piracy, sure, it will happen, but I can never call it a "good thing," no matter the justification. Nobody would steal a Ford and then say they were advertising and "helping" the Ford brand by driving it around on the street.

Scott

mr ploppy
04-07-2010, 12:34 PM
But publishers aren't in business to make ebooks work. They're in business to make money. Spending lots of money now on temp workers to convert a massive back catalogue is a good route to bankruptcy.

Not that back catalogue isn't important! But I think that they can't afford a crash program.

They could use the fan-made versions. Most of those will be better proof read than anything they have e-published themselves.

kad032000
04-07-2010, 12:48 PM
As for piracy, sure, it will happen, but I can never call it a "good thing," no matter the justification. Nobody would steal a Ford and then say they were advertising and "helping" the Ford brand by driving it around on the street.

Off topic, but if I could duplicate a Ford, and drive it around in a manner that it would be seen by a virtually unlimited amount of people, particularly in places where people typically don't have access to Ford, who could all test drive it (simultaneously) if they wanted, you'd better believe people would claim it was advertising and helpful to Ford.

DawnFalcon
04-07-2010, 01:04 PM
With e-books, the sales numbers are hard numbers that can not be fudged. In order to keep their revenue stream intact and pay the Author their due, they had to raise prices.
This even in the light of almost nil manufacturing costs (now just a server farm that serves the entire catalog).

Yea, they "had" to raise the price to the customer so they could ...er... cut the author's share. Wait what? Oh right, sorry, your argument flails.

Shaggy
04-07-2010, 03:20 PM
As for piracy, sure, it will happen, but I can never call it a "good thing," no matter the justification. Nobody would steal a Ford and then say they were advertising and "helping" the Ford brand by driving it around on the street.


Of course not, but stealing a Ford has nothing in common with piracy.

DawnFalcon
04-07-2010, 04:45 PM
...Bearing in mind that if they drive it around and then leave it, that's TWOC and not theft.

Worldwalker
04-08-2010, 06:50 PM
I think you're dramatically underestimating the costs to the publisher and probably overestimating how much return they are likely to get from the ebook version (in the short term, which is all the shareholders care about).
Shareholders' concern for short-term stock prices is crippling if not destroying American business. But that's a totally different rant.

Firstly, a publisher isn't going to hire a bored college student to do this work.

No, they're probably not. But they should be.

Believe it or not they would hire professionals who would be getting paid a lot more than $10 per hour.

Yeah, they probably would. That doesn't mean it's what they should be doing. Look at the PG Distributed Proofreading project. Anyone can sign up and help proofread their scans of public-domain books. Not professionals, just the average Joe. Books that have been through PGDP are of significantly higher quality than most ebooks scanned/OCR'd by commercial publishers. It would appear that proofreading does not demand exotic and expensive skills, just an attention to detail: does this look like that? Hell, they could outsource it to China for that matter. You don't even need to know English to see if this looks like that.

I think several thousand dollars is a conservative estimate for getting a book into ebook format if the book wasn't already in electronic format.

Your estimate of the cost being more reliable than mine because ... ?

When the publisher sells that ebook, some of the 'cover price' is going towards overheads, royalties, the retailer, etc. To recover the costs of creating an ebook they may have to sell hundreds or even thousands of copies. And ebook sales are still a tiny fraction of the book market.

Royalties: 15% of cover on a good day. Overhead: bandwidth, which compared to how much they waste on unnecessary glitz on their websites, is trivial. Retailer: that would be themselves. Slap it up on the website and sell it.

If, to be hugely conservative, they sell an ebook for $5, and give the author $1 for it, just to keep the numbers round, selling only 50 ebooks would provide $1000 in gross revenue. That would pay for the conversion right there, with money left over for donuts for the office.

Scanning, OCRing, proofreading, and formatting books is not some esoteric skill that requires years of training and experience. It's something done by volunteers the world over, many of them people right here in these forums. It's something you can get college students to do for minimum wage, or random people on the Web for that matter. We're already doing it.

Ebook sales are a small part of the book market because of a number of factors:

high prices
poor quality
DRM
the cost of reading devices
backlist availablity

Selling more and better ebooks cheaper will alleviate three of those. Doing away with DRM (which has been successful for Baen, as an example) will remove another. More ebooks available will increase the demand for ebook readers, which will potentially lower the device cost, thereby (along with the availability of desired books) will increase device sales. More people with ebook readers means more demand for ebooks.

There's a market out there. There's a potentially huge market. The publishers need to focus on creating and expanding that market, not stifling it.

Iphinome
04-08-2010, 07:47 PM
If, to be hugely conservative, they sell an ebook for $5, and give the author $1 for it, just to keep the numbers round, selling only 50 ebooks would provide $1000 in gross revenue. That would pay for the conversion right there, with money left over for donuts for the office.



$5 *$50 = $250

Worldwalker
04-08-2010, 08:47 PM
$4 x 500 = $1000. I slipped a decimal place somewhere.

(the other $1 per book is royalties)

There is clearly too much blood in my caffeinestream today.

DJHARKAVY
04-08-2010, 09:32 PM
Firstly, a publisher isn't going to hire a bored college student to do this work. Believe it or not they would hire professionals who would be getting paid a lot more than $10 per hour. On top of that hourly rate there are taxes, etc. You cost your employer a lot more than whatever your hourly rate is.

Freelancers.
Freelancers get $1-2/page (fiction publishers usually pay lower than others) and do not get benefits.

And someone will need to format the ebook to the desired format(s) - again professionally.

Once it is proofed and set, it is easy to format to desired formats.