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Old 09-18-2007, 11:20 AM   #31
NatCh
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That, however, opens a really nice market niche. A small specialty house, just like some POD houses do currently, can focus on bringing back out-of-print titles by appealing to authors directly.
I was thinking something very similar: call it an ... agency that takes pubs' backlists, figures out who has the e-rights to the titles and contacts them to match them up with an e-press that would then create the book and offer it for sale.

Actually, that "specialty house" could be very small, indeed, if it just handled that, plus perhaps creating the e-text, and then handed off the book to be marketed and sold by someone else, like fictionwise or wherever. That would be a very pivotal position if someone wanted to exercise a bit of influence on what formats (like, say, .epub) were dominant in the market too.

This may be the only entrepreneurial notion I've ever liked enough to actually consider what it might take to actually do it. I'm not saying I'm gonna, but I admit it's got me thinking about it.
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Old 09-18-2007, 12:40 PM   #32
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This may be the only entrepreneurial notion I've ever liked enough to actually consider what it might take to actually do it. I'm not saying I'm gonna, but I admit it's got me thinking about it.
I wish somebody would do it. I've got way too many projects going right now to even consider it, but it badly needs to be done.
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Old 09-18-2007, 12:45 PM   #33
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The biggest obstacle I see offhand is what sort of a price structure would be best? If it couldn't be made to pay, then it couldn't go on very long. I don't see a flat fee that was big enough to be worthwhile being very palatable to anyone on the chain, but I don't see a percentage of sales as being a viable alternative either.
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Old 09-18-2007, 12:50 PM   #34
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Flat fee to the publisher (if they hold the rights), advance and residuals to the author? Get the authors to write a blurb about themselves on your website as a value-add and use a commission system to pay them, maybe? There's software out there now that will handle that. You want the bookkeeping to be as automated as possible.

I'd suggest looking at a web CMS like Drupal (http://drupal.org). I think it may have everything you need from the software side.

The harder part is likely to be tracking down ownership of the ebook rights per title, especially when the author is deceased and/or the publisher has gone out of business.

Even with that hurdle, you'll soon have more titles than you can process immediately. One form of prioritization that you might use is customer requests, of course, but another is cross-checking these requsts against used book prices -- if the used book price is high, you've probably got a good market.
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Old 09-18-2007, 01:06 PM   #35
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Good notions. I'd want to do a lot of research before I even thought about actually going ahead with something like that though. Especially since it would almost certainly require getting a copyright lawyer involved in the enterprise.
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Old 09-18-2007, 01:15 PM   #36
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Yes. If the publisher still holds e-rights and hasn't exercised them, a flat fee would be best. The next step would be authors, their agents, or whoever is the executor of the literary estate. Those should be done as royalty payments.

Whether or not an advance is involved would probably depend on the demand for particular titles. If the book is out-of-print and lying fallow, any productivity is better than none. Most authors, for all the promotional reasons we've mentioned before, would be happy to get their OOP books back out and available. It would make sense to spend some advance money for some bigger-named, high-draw authors, but I think the upfront acquisition costs for most of the list would be relatively low.

As to the infrastructure. I don't think out-of-the-box Drupal would do it, but it could certainly be tweaked. At P&W, we're currently in the middle of a really large Drupal-based project. There is a lot of media type tuning involved and a lot of integration with custom apps. The upside is that Drupal is incredibly customizable. You can plug in anything you need and still end up with a clean, manageable system. (Goodbye, Dreamweaver!)
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Old 09-18-2007, 01:32 PM   #37
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Yes. I love Drupal. I work at a university and recommended that we use Drupal for our college. (Each of the units maintains their own web presence, which I think is nutty, but that's not my decision.) Our implementation has gone quite well, despite rather a large number of "feature requests" that keep popping up. Usually I can find a published module to meet our needs. Occasionally I tweak the code a bit or ask for an enhancement from one of the many Drupal developers.

I'd been considering the idea of a sort of web-based bookstore for a while now, where one could choose which review to buy a book based on, and that reviewer would get the "referral" credit from whichever of the major online stores the customer chose to buy it from. Authors could also write a blurb for their own books so you could buy a book directly from the author. This would be a way to provide a revenue stream from used book sales directly to authors, as well as making it worthwhile to people to write good reviews. I had some more complex ideas about recommending content based on previous purchases or other content ratings, as well, some of which Amazon has since implemented (I've been thinking about this for years).

I started thinking about this again recently when I started working heavily with Drupal, because I think I could set up all the features I was thinking of in Drupal. But I really don't, as I said, have time to start another project right now. I've already got a full time job, family, doctoral studies, and a game design sideline. If I had time for another project, I'd return to writing fiction.

I love chatting about it, though.
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Old 09-18-2007, 01:42 PM   #38
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I'd been considering the idea of a sort of web-based bookstore for a while now, where one could choose which review to buy a book based on, and that reviewer would get the "referral" credit from whichever of the major online stores the customer chose to buy it from.
That's a really cool idea. It's like ThemeStream, where the tip jar comes through book sales. It also completely eliminates the need for a micro-payment system.
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But I really don't, as I said, have time to start another project right now. I've already got a full time job, family, doctoral studies, and a game design sideline. If I had time for another project, I'd return to writing fiction.

I love chatting about it, though.
I can relate to that completely. I like brainstorming business plans that I know I'll never, ever have time to do anything with. And every time I do, my internal taskmaster whispers ("And why aren't you writing? Hmmm?")
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Old 09-18-2007, 04:20 PM   #39
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Indeed it does. I've only recently started exploring their digital offerings. It's limited, so far, but it's kind of cool that they're doing it at all.
Looks like about 1/2 of what Cleveland's library has. Guess there is less to do here.

Fiction
http://dlc.clevnet.org/BDF8CC71-4749...rchID=13827319
Nonfiction
http://dlc.clevnet.org/BDF8CC71-4749...rchID=13827341
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