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Old 01-09-2009, 02:37 PM   #61
DaleDe
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The number of errors I see in many of my purchased ebooks tells me that people do, in fact, automate the process. If you want a good quality ebook, you still need to have someone check it but that's not very expensive when you think of it terms of thousands of copies.
Actually it is more likely an indication that the process is adhoc and happens after the paper book is already published. Those same errors are not usually in the paper book so there was not a common source for the book and eBook. Often the paper book is scanned to produce the eBook since there is not a single point source for the electronic copy. (no source control)

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Old 01-09-2009, 02:59 PM   #62
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Actually it is more likely an indication that the process is adhoc and happens after the paper book is already published. Those same errors are not usually in the paper book so there was not a common source for the book and eBook. Often the paper book is scanned to produce the eBook since there is not a single point source for the electronic copy. (no source control)
So they produce the ebook edition from the paper edition, so there's no reason why the cost of producing the paper edition should be transferred to the ebook price (it was already included in the paper price), so the ebook price should reflect only the cost of one single paper book (i.e., divided among all the ebooks expected to be sold), plus the cost of scanning and creating the ebook (plus electronic distribution, author rights, etc.), but it should specifically not include the cost of correcting proofs, editing, etc.

(It's a bit like a painter selling photographs of his pictures at the same price as the real pictures)
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Old 01-09-2009, 05:16 PM   #63
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So they produce the ebook edition from the paper edition, so there's no reason why the cost of producing the paper edition should be transferred to the ebook price (it was already included in the paper price), so the ebook price should reflect only the cost of one single paper book (i.e., divided among all the ebooks expected to be sold), plus the cost of scanning and creating the ebook (plus electronic distribution, author rights, etc.), but it should specifically not include the cost of correcting proofs, editing, etc.
Unfortunately, scanning an e-book also leads to errors, so you still need editing/proofing of all material. A recent e-copy of the Hitchhiker's Guide series I purchased was filled with over a dozen instances of the same error, an improperly-recognized set of characters generated by OCR, that a proofer should have caught (not to mention other OCR errors, but the one recurring error was particularly noticeable after the third instance).

Actually, there are ways of improving the accuracy of OCR (such as xeroxing a printed page and enlarging it to the size of a letter or A4 page, and running scan and OCR on the larger pages... I've done it, it works), but few scanning personnel want to take even that extra step for accuracy. The Hitchhiker's errors I mentioned above would have been caught by this method.
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Old 01-09-2009, 06:40 PM   #64
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Which comes back to the question, what sort of effort is a publisher willing to make to create e-books. They could use the long tail, they could use credit lines (which cost them nothing!) They could even (gasp) pay some money. Instead, they create crappy scan's with little to no proofing and then complain about the cost! There's a hundred plus authors I'd scan and do a triple level proof for free, just for the credit line in the e-book. And they're not all big name authors, either. :whitemencomeinwithstraightjackets:

Big publishers don't want a quality product... :Gaggoeson:
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Old 01-10-2009, 05:27 AM   #65
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Unfortunately, scanning an e-book also leads to errors, so you still need editing/proofing of all material.
Of course, and if they make the effort of properly creating an ebook, it's fair to reflect that in the price.

My point was that if they just make a quick, crappy, unproofed OCR conversion of paper into ebook, then I don't see a reason to transfer the cost of creating the paper book to the ebook price. And especially, the ebook price should not include the cost of editing and proofing the paper book.
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Old 01-10-2009, 10:06 AM   #66
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I must be missing something! Why would they go through all the trouble of scanning a paperback when the original was probably submitted in some digital form, ie. MS doc, etc (this applies to more recently published books)? I would think that this file would go through the editting process and saved and if they are anything like me, archived as well). It is this file that would then be formatted into whatever ebook format you want. Granted it's been a while since my programming days, but I would think that with the ease of use of the programming languages today, that software could be written to do any additional formatting needing for e-publishing. It would be great if someone would then physically edit the e-file for chapter breaks, etc., but not totally necessary as software can be written to do that as well. I understand that the process to create a paper book would be different, but I've written and in-house published fairly complex user's guides in both paper and digital formats and the process just wasn't that complicated - and that was 25 years ago.

As a side not - if I were a book publisher, I would want to make sure that any books coming out of my publishing house were availble in all formats so they anyone who wanted to buy it could. Why limit availablity to only those who read ereader, Mobi, etc, or paper for that matter!!
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Old 01-10-2009, 10:22 AM   #67
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I must be missing something! Why would they go through all the trouble of scanning a paperback when the original was probably submitted in some digital form, ie. MS doc, etc (this applies to more recently published books)? I would think that this file would go through the editting process and saved and if they are anything like me, archived as well). It is this file that would then be formatted into whatever ebook format you want. Granted it's been a while since my programming days, but I would think that with the ease of use of the programming languages today, that software could be written to do any additional formatting needing for e-publishing. It would be great if someone would then physically edit the e-file for chapter breaks, etc., but not totally necessary as software can be written to do that as well. I understand that the process to create a paper book would be different, but I've written and in-house published fairly complex user's guides in both paper and digital formats and the process just wasn't that complicated - and that was 25 years ago.

As a side not - if I were a book publisher, I would want to make sure that any books coming out of my publishing house were availble in all formats so they anyone who wanted to buy it could. Why limit availablity to only those who read ereader, Mobi, etc, or paper for that matter!!
I think you are missing your gullibility.
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Old 01-10-2009, 10:28 AM   #68
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I think you are missing your gullibility.
Excuse me?
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Old 01-10-2009, 11:02 AM   #69
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I must be missing something! Why would they go through all the trouble of scanning a paperback when the original was probably submitted in some digital form,
Publisher have not had the tradition of saving the source material or even having the concept of a final electronic version that everynody know about.
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Old 01-10-2009, 12:25 PM   #70
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I must be missing something! Why would they go through all the trouble of scanning a paperback when the original was probably submitted in some digital form, ie. MS doc, etc (this applies to more recently published books)?
That last bit is exactly it--digital submission of manuscripts has only been industry standard for a few years. When Steve Jackson Games started demanding digital submissions for their magazine, back in about 1990, there was much shrieking and yelling about how that was unfairly biased against people with typewriters and not computers. And that's a tiny, geek-oriented company with a strong online following; they ran one of the early popular BBSes. (io.com)

Anything published before 1990 probably doesn't have an existing digital edition. Anything published before 2000, it's questionable--a digital version may exist somewhere, but might be in an unusable format. (Wordstar? Saved on a floppy disc nobody can read? Stuck on a Win95 hard drive in a basement?) Even since then, if the publisher wasn't being conscious of ebook sales possibilities, they may have discarded the original as soon as a print-ready file was made, and discarded that as soon as the print run was done, for mid-level authors where they don't expect a second edition.
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Old 01-10-2009, 12:57 PM   #71
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Tompe and Elfwreck, thanks for the informational responses to my question! I agree that my supposition would only apply to more recent publications. Back in the early 80's, I worked for a government agency that was pretty much on the cutting edge of technology and we practically had to beg our end users to use the software we developed to make their jobs easier! You can lead a horse to water. . .

I know my view was/is a little simplistic, but I get frustrated with the short-sightedness of publishing companies or any company for that matter that doesn't take advantage of the technology available as long as it is cost effective.
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Old 01-10-2009, 02:12 PM   #72
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Anything published before 1990 probably doesn't have an existing digital edition. Anything published before 2000, it's questionable--a digital version may exist somewhere, but might be in an unusable format. (Wordstar? Saved on a floppy disc nobody can read? Stuck on a Win95 hard drive in a basement?) Even since then, if the publisher wasn't being conscious of ebook sales possibilities, they may have discarded the original as soon as a print-ready file was made, and discarded that as soon as the print run was done, for mid-level authors where they don't expect a second edition.
This is very true, even for nonfiction books that I edit. I was always my policy to maintain an electronic copy of the final edited version that I produced for years -- just in case. But I wasn't being paid to store these files for my client publishers and every so often I would discard older files, especially if it looked like there would be no newer edition. But even if the publisher were to ask for the files, in these cases, they would not be exactly what appeared in the print version because after my editing, the files were returned to authors for review and any changes they may have made were not incorporated in my files. The same is true for the proofreading stage, which followed the author review.

As for the books that I edit and typeset, I do have the final typeset versions with all corrections incorporated. But prior to a few months ago, none of my publisher clients had any interest in having the manuscripts prepared for the possibility of ebooks; the focus was strictly on print. Consequently, even though the electronic files exist, they are not wholly suitable for conversion to ebooks. They would require some work to be made so. Again, these books are not novel-like, that is, essentially straight text; these books are significantly more complex. Only in the past few months have my publisher-clients decided that it is worth the time and cost to have these books prepared from the start for possible conversion to ebooks.

But the point is that the publishers rarely maintain their own libraries of the electronic files. If they are maintained at all, they are maintained by the vendors who did the typesetting, and the typesetting industry has dramatically changed in the past 2 decades. Many typesetters have gone out of business; others have consolidated; an increasing number of books are typeset in a country other than the publisher's country; and an increasing number are typeset by freelancers. There is no set repository or control over the final files.
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Old 01-10-2009, 03:28 PM   #73
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Tompe and Elfwreck, thanks for the informational responses to my question! I agree that my supposition would only apply to more recent publications. Back in the early 80's, I worked for a government agency that was pretty much on the cutting edge of technology and we practically had to beg our end users to use the software we developed to make their jobs easier! You can lead a horse to water. . .

I know my view was/is a little simplistic, but I get frustrated with the short-sightedness of publishing companies or any company for that matter that doesn't take advantage of the technology available as long as it is cost effective.
Kaz
I agree for any other company. However, there IS a mindset within the publishing industry of being a bastion of staid gentility, of nearly 'Victorianism'. While the rest of the world has raced to the future, one works best within the publishing giants if one imagines oneself sharpening one's quills prior to receiving pads of foolscap straight from Charles Dickens himself.

In such an environment, there is no 'computer', no 'digital storage', no 'electronically-formatted text file'. No doubt several of the CEOs of major publishing firms who lovingly maintain massive buggy-whip collections.

Derek
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Old 01-10-2009, 03:38 PM   #74
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While I do believe there are costs associated with eBook production, I also believe there is no viable reason why an eBook should cost more than a mass market paperback edition, and actually think it should be about a dollar or so less.

Let's take the average $8 paperback as an example. Most bookstores get at least a 45% discount off cover when they buy from the distributor (or at least they did when I managed a bookstore) which means the distributor is going to have to pay less than that to stay in business. I'm not sure what a distributor pays for a book, but I don't see any way it can be more than about 40% of cover (or 60% discount from cover to keep the numbers the same).

That means taking $1.00 off the mmpb cover price for the eBook edition will cost the publisher $0.40 in lost revenue, and as we've seen from earlier in the thread that figure is in the approximate ballpark of the printing costs.

As to DRM, that's a distribution cost.

So from what I can tell, there's no reason eBooks should cost more than the mmpb edition of the same book, and they should actually cost less as both distribution and retail costs are lower. In the worst-case scenario, they should be available for the Amazon cost of the mmpb edition.

Baen can make a profit on $6.00 eBooks, and Webscriptions has enough other publishers on board at the same price point that it's not unique to Baen. So the question becomes why can't other publishers?

(Please note - I do understand publishers not wanting to release a low-priced eBook simultaneously with the hardcover - that's the same as not doing a simultaneous hardcover and mmpb release. However the low-priced eBook edition should at the very least be released with the mmpb.)
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Old 01-10-2009, 06:06 PM   #75
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Excuse me?
You lack the gullibility to believe making an ebook generally involves scanning paper manuscripts into a computer at the publisher level.

I can't imagine anyone writing books on a yellow legal pad then typing it on an old manual typewriter these days.

It is an even further stretch to ask me to believe that the editors in even the tiniest publishing house are using a red ink pen, some whiteout, and a manual typewriter to edit a book before it goes to print.

Ergot, the publishers have the book in electronic format already.

Or they are so incompetent that they need to be pushed out of the market place and are therefore no loss.
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