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Old 07-16-2009, 09:31 AM   #1
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"The book industry is gonna get Napstered..."

Although the article talks mostly about the Kindle, the issues raised are quite relevant to all ebook readers. This sort of short-sighted thinking on the part of publishers won't work in the long run and will only serve to fracture the market further. Sadly, Sony doesn't seem to have Amazon's foresight in trying to drive the market to a new place by subsidizing ebooks and forging alliances with major publishers to issue Sony versions at reduced prices.

http://www.slate.com/id/2222941/

I especially love the remarks about how bad the early MP3 music stores on the web were:

"The other commercial sites, wrote the New York Times, were "complex, expensive and limiting" and "failing because they were created to serve the interests of the record companies, not their customers."

Sound familiar?
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Old 07-16-2009, 11:32 AM   #2
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thanks for the interesting article, coase. i'm going to move this thread to the news and commentary forum which seems more appropriate.
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Old 07-16-2009, 03:17 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by coase View Post
Although the article talks mostly about the Kindle, the issues raised are quite relevant to all ebook readers. This sort of short-sighted thinking on the part of publishers won't work in the long run and will only serve to fracture the market further. Sadly, Sony doesn't seem to have Amazon's foresight in trying to drive the market to a new place by subsidizing ebooks and forging alliances with major publishers to issue Sony versions at reduced prices.
Alas, Sony can't afford to subsidize ebooks. Neither do they have the clout Amazon has over publishers. Remember, Amazon also sells paper books and not just ebooks. They've got considerably more bargaining power than Sony.
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Old 07-16-2009, 03:24 PM   #4
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The Napster of books is already here, it's called the ebooksbay. Fully searchable, indexes torrents and pdf giveaways etc. It's been around for awhile too Some of these 'tech' journalists really need to do some research.
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Old 07-16-2009, 03:39 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Moejoe View Post
The Napster of books is already here, it's called the ebooksbay. Fully searchable, indexes torrents and pdf giveaways etc. It's been around for awhile too Some of these 'tech' journalists really need to do some research.
Yes, but it's not as big as Napster was in its golden days (and it didn't offer legal stuff only at that time either!). It is as he writes, right now, it's hardly worth the trouble. But what if the prices rise spectacular or books just won't be published?
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Old 07-16-2009, 03:48 PM   #6
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Yes, but it's not as big as Napster was in its golden days (and it didn't offer legal stuff only at that time either!). It is as he writes, right now, it's hardly worth the trouble. But what if the prices rise spectacular or books just won't be published?
The more I digest of Chris Anderson's book (Free: The Future of a Radical Price) and the more I experience of the culture around me as it grows, the more convinced I am that selling any digital product will become frankly impossible in the future. Writers are going to have to pair free digital downloads along with something of value made of atoms if they want to survive (this goes for publishing companies also). Books will always be published, maybe more now than ever before because of the ease of digital publishing. You won't need a Napster if everything is free to begin with (approaching that state ever more rapidly).
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Old 07-16-2009, 05:09 PM   #7
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I have to say, I think mis-pricing could harm the book industry as a whole, and in some cases delaying the e-book version will very likely turn some people to piracy. But I don't think e-books will get pirated to death. Let's face it, it takes all of 2 brainless minutes to make a high-fidelity copy of an entire CD; it takes hours to scan, format and edit a paper book into a digital format. A book will have to be fairly popular for someone to put that effort into it.


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The more I digest of Chris Anderson's book (Free: The Future of a Radical Price) and the more I experience of the culture around me as it grows, the more convinced I am that selling any digital product will become frankly impossible in the future....
Yeah, well. Free e-books, for anything other than promotional or early-career-advancement, is a dead end. You can't put enough ads into an e-book to turn a real profit, especially if you do not want to ruin the reading experience; and unlike musicians, writers don't have separate sources of revenue streams like merchandising or concerts.

Let me know when Facebook and YouTube actually generate a profit -- or better yet, let me know when Anderson releases an e-book version at no charge. Then we can talk about how everything should be Free.
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Old 07-16-2009, 05:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kali Yuga View Post
I have to say, I think mis-pricing could harm the book industry as a whole, and in some cases delaying the e-book version will very likely turn some people to piracy. But I don't think e-books will get pirated to death. Let's face it, it takes all of 2 brainless minutes to make a high-fidelity copy of an entire CD; it takes hours to scan, format and edit a paper book into a digital format. A book will have to be fairly popular for someone to put that effort into it.



Yeah, well. Free e-books, for anything other than promotional or early-career-advancement, is a dead end. You can't put enough ads into an e-book to turn a real profit, especially if you do not want to ruin the reading experience; and unlike musicians, writers don't have separate sources of revenue streams like merchandising or concerts.

Let me know when Facebook and YouTube actually generate a profit -- or better yet, let me know when Anderson releases an e-book version at no charge. Then we can talk about how everything should be Free.

Anderson has released the book at no charge. I listened to it as an audio book on Spotify, there's a PDF version at Scribd, a Sony version through their store. Can we talk now?
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Old 07-16-2009, 05:37 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moejoe View Post
The more I digest of Chris Anderson's book (Free: The Future of a Radical Price) and the more I experience of the culture around me as it grows, the more convinced I am that selling any digital product will become frankly impossible in the future.
Nah, there will still be sales. It may only be the "click here to donate" type of sale, but that's still income.

Think people won't pay for what's available for free? Look at the bottled water industry. They'll pay for convenient packaging (which, in the case of ebooks, may mean "nice format" and/or "download from a site I already visit") and sometimes from brand loyalty.
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Old 07-16-2009, 05:42 PM   #10
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Quote:
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Yeah, well. Free e-books, for anything other than promotional or early-career-advancement, is a dead end. You can't put enough ads into an e-book to turn a real profit, especially if you do not want to ruin the reading experience; and unlike musicians, writers don't have separate sources of revenue streams like merchandising or concerts.

Let me know when Facebook and YouTube actually generate a profit -- or better yet, let me know when Anderson releases an e-book version at no charge. Then we can talk about how everything should be Free.
i don't know much about facebook, but there was an ad in one of the various bookstore emails this week for a book called "the accidental billionnaires". the billionaires in question are the two guys who created facebook, which made them rich.

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Nah, there will still be sales. It may only be the "click here to donate" type of sale, but that's still income.

Think people won't pay for what's available for free? Look at the bottled water industry. They'll pay for convenient packaging (which, in the case of ebooks, may mean "nice format" and/or "download from a site I already visit") and sometimes from brand loyalty.
i agree. it might be more about the service than the content but people are definitely willing to pay for convenience, otherwise all those frozen dinner companies would be out of a job too.
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Old 07-16-2009, 05:43 PM   #11
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Nah, there will still be sales. It may only be the "click here to donate" type of sale, but that's still income.

Think people won't pay for what's available for free? Look at the bottled water industry. They'll pay for convenient packaging (which, in the case of ebooks, may mean "nice format" and/or "download from a site I already visit") and sometimes from brand loyalty.
Now you're at the heart of the matter, and what is described in the book more eloquently than I ever could. The 'donation' model, or even merchandising, or fundraising to complete the work will all be viable methods of 'payment' its just that 'payment in the first instance' will become obsolete and unexpected. The product itself will be valueless (because of its digital nature) the writer/publisher will have to make profits from either an enhanced product, selling some kind of atom based product (as we stand this is the pbook) or taking part fully in the gift economy.

It's not such a bad future, profits will still be made, livings will be had, but it will disrupt and dismay the trad publishers along the way.
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Old 07-16-2009, 05:51 PM   #12
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Speaking as a novelist, if my books were free or on a donation basis, I'd turn to another way to make a living. I'm not in this for charity.
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Old 07-16-2009, 05:59 PM   #13
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Speaking as a novelist, if my books were free or on a donation basis, I'd turn to another way to make a living. I'm not in this for charity.

Who mentioned charity? You are being paid not for the digital product which has zero worth in the digital economy, but for your time and effort/your perceived value to the reader. At least that would be the case on any donation based model used. Actually I would have thought authors would be elated to know that fans were subsidizing them out of genuine love and a desire to nurture their talent, rather than just buying a product (a product that can be ignored and tossed aside, because in the end that's all it is, a product made of atoms).
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Old 07-16-2009, 05:59 PM   #14
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I'm trying to figure out how to get a copy of the ebook. Can't visit Scribd from work (they seem to think it's a content storage & download site, fancy that), and a couple of the reviews online seem to say it can't be downloaded from Scribd. I have a Sony, but the Library software isn't working for me; I can't get it to connect properly. (I suspect it has something to do with dialup. Too slow; the pages crash before they finish.)

I don't think the product itself will be valueless, but money will be based on presentation, not contents. We may see a return to the pay-per-chapter cliffhanger; when the author gets enough money, the next chapter is released. Or we may see subscriptions to publishers or authors--$15/month or $120/year gets you two ebooks per month, with heavy social DRM (your name and address in the headers, maybe your CC#... editable, but that'd take some work).

One of the worries about digital content dropping in price, is we may see a return to exclusive, tiny print runs, for authors who would rather get $50 from each of 200 readers, than the maybe-chance for $2 from each of 5000 readers.
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Old 07-16-2009, 06:02 PM   #15
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Totally agree with the article, even if it's misinformed about current illicit availability.
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