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Old 03-17-2011, 03:52 PM   #1
georgeeveryman
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The biggest threat facing authors and publishers today is not piracy, it's

obscurity




Very interesting read




http://blog.smashwords.com/2011/03/r...s-against.html
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Old 03-17-2011, 03:59 PM   #2
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Thanks for the link
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Old 03-17-2011, 05:00 PM   #3
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Yep, Doctorow's been beating that drum for a while.

Quote:
That's because my biggest threat as an author isn't piracy, it's obscurity. The majority of ideal readers who fail to buy my book will do so because they never heard of it, not because someone gave them a free electronic copy.
I also rather like Eric Flint's take on it, written on October 11, 2000
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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.

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Old 03-17-2011, 05:13 PM   #4
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This idea has been around for a while. But I think it's only true for authors who are obscure.

The biggest threat facing Nora Roberts or Tom Clancy is not obscurity.
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Old 03-17-2011, 05:18 PM   #5
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Is piracy a threat?

My book has been pirated twice, once on Amazon and once on eBay. In both cases I fired of the appropriate fax and it was taken down fairly promptly. It appeared a third time on the Filipino equivalent of eBay, but I could see I was onto a loser there.

It's a pain, but a threat...? If I can't get anyone to buy the damn thing, I don't see how they're going to.
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Old 03-17-2011, 05:27 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew H. View Post
The biggest threat facing Nora Roberts or Tom Clancy is not obscurity.
Is it... bad plotting?
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Old 03-17-2011, 05:29 PM   #7
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Is it... bad plotting?
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Old 03-17-2011, 05:41 PM   #8
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"The biggest threat facing authors and publishers today is not piracy, it's obscurity. Anything that makes a book less accessible and less enjoyable makes it more obscure."

This may be true but the Internet has made everything, including books, several orders of magnitude less obscure. Even in the days of BBS systems it was far easier to find things.

I spent years trying to find a Time Magazine article with no luck. It took a while on the Internet because I had "remembered" the wrong date.
But it was very obscure and now I have it. Shoebox
If you are paranoid remember that anything that fit in a shoebox then would be about a pin head in size and hold more than 16 words. THEY might well be listening.
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Old 03-18-2011, 12:13 AM   #9
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For an unknown author it is obviously an advantage if copies of his books are getting popular on the darknet. My guess is that nobody on the dark side would care to download something completely unknown, however, unless somebody wrote a rave review.
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Old 03-18-2011, 05:55 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew H. View Post
This idea has been around for a while. But I think it's only true for authors who are obscure.
So we're talking about 99+% of the writing population, correct?

Quote:
The biggest threat facing Nora Roberts or Tom Clancy is not obscurity.
Not them, perhaps, no. But then, they sell their books anyway.
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Old 03-18-2011, 08:45 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MartinC View Post
Is piracy a threat?

My book has been pirated twice, once on Amazon and once on eBay. In both cases I fired of the appropriate fax and it was taken down fairly promptly. It appeared a third time on the Filipino equivalent of eBay, but I could see I was onto a loser there.

It's a pain, but a threat...? If I can't get anyone to buy the damn thing, I don't see how they're going to.
How much were they selling it for? I had a look at yours on Amazon and was surprised at how high you pitched it. Your cover is good, I don't know about your blurb because I'm not in your target audience. But you will be up against more established writers selling at less than half the amount you are asking.
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Old 03-18-2011, 09:18 PM   #12
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How much were they selling it for?
99 pence on Amazon. The Filipino one worked out at about 10 pence - another reason for not chasing him: he probably needed the money more than me.

I'd be the first to admit that I haven't got the pricing sussed yet.

I'm not keen on the 99 pence thing - in the long term I don't think it's a good idea to encourage the assumption that ebooks are necessarily cheap books. If you add to that the fact that a lot of the 99 pence editions are... well... not produced to professional standards... You can see where that leads.

Also, I think there are already several markets for ebooks. The people who hang out in these forums are early adopters, a bit geeky, interested in how things work, full of opinions and don't see why they should pay much. There's another growing market of people who just want to read. They will go to Amazon and they (I hope) will think "Hey, not much more than Oxfam..." I personally regularly buy mainstream books for my Kindle which cost twice as much.

Glad you liked the cover - I was proud of that.

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Old 03-18-2011, 09:40 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MartinC View Post
I'm not keen on the 99 pence thing - in the long term I don't think it's a good idea to encourage the assumption that ebooks are necessarily cheap books. If you add to that the fact that a lot of the 99 pence editions are... well... not produced to professional standards... You can see where that leads.
There's a shift in perspectives between physical & digital sales.

For physical, the key issue is, "how much per-unit can we get, in order to offset the marginal costs?" If you had the ability, you'd sell one copy per year for $50,000; that makes the best economic sense.

With digital, there's no marginal costs. (Well. Tiny. Cost of registering each transaction, I suppose, which are absorbed into the seller's percentage.) The key pricing question becomes, "how low can I price this and sell enough volume to reach the income level I want?" It's better to sell 50,000 copies at $1 each, than 10,000 copies at $5 each--the former means you've got more potential fans for the next book. There's no disadvantage to selling more copies, the way there is with print. (With print: more copies = more chances for mistakes, more external costs, more storage issues, and so on.)

I don't know if the $1 ebook is "the perfect way to go," but there's a lot to be said for the $1 enticement and a string of $3-5 other books.
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Old 03-18-2011, 09:58 PM   #14
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There's a shift in perspectives between physical & digital sales.
Good point. But what if, in ten years time, serious readers are all choosing from the audiobook department because of the reputation ebooks have gained for cheap tat? Amazon is already well on the way to becoming the new ebay.
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Old 03-18-2011, 10:08 PM   #15
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So we're talking about 99+% of the writing population, correct?
Probably 99.999%

Although it's that .0001% who sells most of the books that people want to read.
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