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Old 02-02-2009, 04:01 PM   #46
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Originally Posted by RWood View Post
Like most industries, the management is overly concerned with numbers. For them it may well come to a make or buy decision -- do we build our own systems or simply buy a small successful operation. More often than not the "buy" decision is the less expensive one.
I agree, except with the state everything is in, they might not be able to even buy a small scale ebook publisher, or at least they might not get the OK to. I can only hope though that small publishing houses will take the industry back where it needs to be- smaller advances (with bigger percentages), Print on Demand and more of a focus on ebooks. I doubt the big houses that aren't listening now will take notice until it is too late.
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Old 02-02-2009, 04:02 PM   #47
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NEW books are already digital. Books more than 10 years old, often are not, or not anymore; whatever digital files were used in the creation process are long gone. So creating ebooks out of out-of-print books often involves scanning & OCRing them, with all the accompanying proofreading hassles.

And the process between "Receive Word doc" (or similar) and "print paper" involves some conversion--fonts, paragraph settings, layout, swirly pictures at chapter breaks, and so on. The process between "Word doc" and "proper ebook" (lit, mobi, epub, ereader for the most part) is a different conversion--it has to create metadata, a digital table of contents, page breaks by chapters, and so on. They could auto-convert to basic text, or to "text + bold & italics," but more than that takes formatting time. Also, it gets more complex when there are pictures involved.

I believe It's no harder than setup for print--but it's <i>different</i>. And while a good XML markup could work for both, most publishers haven't yet figured that out. (And it does take both technical awareness & real time/money resources to set up to do on a large scale--they first have to be convinced it's worth the investment.)

However... even with all those setbacks, the people here are aware that "convert well-formatted document to good ebook" can be as little as a few minutes, perhaps a couple of hours if it's very complex. (Dictionaries are complex.) Most of the extra time involved in book conversion is fixing formatting problems or typos/OCR errors.

The idea that a publishing house can't afford to spend ~2 hours per ebook (let's assume some time for metadata & other weirdness) in order to release an edition that costs no storage fees and has no return from the distributors is insane.
That makes sense.
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Old 02-02-2009, 04:37 PM   #48
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Ah, this topic. I try not to wade into it too often, but it's been over a year so....

I'm actually one of those folks who generally agrees with the publishers that in the current publishing climate eBook prices from major publishers are not way out of line. There are a lot of title costs involved in producing a salable ebook - some fixed, some marginal and some opportunity costs - and generally a fairly low first year sales run over which to capitalize these costs. Believe me, it can cost a couple of thousand dollars to convert even an electronic final copy manuscript into salable, professional (ie DRM) eBooks, and that's for titles that may only sell a few hundred copies.

The figures become far more positive when the eBook-to-pBook ratio favors eBooks, and downright delightful for eBook only publishing where one does not have to maintain both a physical and electronic delivery channel.

That said, this particular publisher goes a little off the deep end. If the industry weren't so paranoid about disclosing figures, he could probably have made a better case by laying out the actual costs, rather than exaggerating for effect.
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Old 02-02-2009, 04:49 PM   #49
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Concerning the views of Mr. Michael Justus (CEO…) I have just one line for him: “you poor thing…”
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Old 02-02-2009, 04:51 PM   #50
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When publishers sell books to bookstores they allow the bookstore to return the unsold portion of books, which are often then destroyed. So a bookstore can order 100 books, sell 50, and then return 50, which are destroyed. This means that if you bought one of these books then in reality you paid for both the book you read and the one that was destroyed. This practice shouldn't apply to ebooks, so ebooks should be cheaper.
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Old 02-02-2009, 04:55 PM   #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daithi View Post
When publishers sell books to bookstores they allow the bookstore to return the unsold portion of books, which are often then destroyed. So a bookstore can order 100 books, sell 50, and then return 50, which are destroyed. This means that if you bought one of these books then in reality you paid for both the book you read and the one that was destroyed. This practice shouldn't apply to ebooks, so ebooks should be cheaper.
I think this counts as overhead. But the same practice applies to magazines. That's why subscriptions are cheaper.
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Old 02-02-2009, 04:56 PM   #52
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Concerning the views of Mr. Michael Justus (CEO…) I have just one line for him: “you poor thing…”
I think "bless his heart" is more appropriate.......
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Old 02-02-2009, 05:10 PM   #53
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Well... There's a point... They are supporting ebooks but continue to support pBooks, so eBooks are really an extra expenditure. An extra expense that will possibilitate their clients to get the products for a lower price.

An exclusive ebook store should have lower prices. But mantaining both paper and electronic book industry might be really not very appealing in this initial stage...
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Old 02-02-2009, 05:23 PM   #54
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I think "bless his heart" is more appropriate.......
Yup, Sir, you are a Texan!!!
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Old 02-02-2009, 05:29 PM   #55
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They are supporting ebooks but continue to support pBooks, so eBooks are really an extra expenditure. An extra expense that will possibilitate their clients to get the products for a lower price.
From the interview it seems they are actually afraid of e-books becoming a success...
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Old 02-02-2009, 05:54 PM   #56
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(I have heard one editor lamenting how, when trying to hook up with an ebook publisher, his house's lawyers had sent them draft legal contract boilerplate that included terms governing the return of stripped covers for credit -- with the word "e-book" slipped in to replace "paperback".)
That's frustrating. Even though the World Wide Web has been around roughly a generation (give-or-take), that kind of thinking still persists. Though, on the bright side, when the Singularity comes, folks like this publisher's legal department can distract the feral calculators and the grey goo so the rest of us can get away

I have a strong hunch that the only way this thinking is going to change is when the "old guard" running most of the publishing industry retires and a tech-savvy "new guard" takes over... Provided the old guard hasn't terminally infected the new guard with their toxic meme of a business model.
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Old 02-02-2009, 06:48 PM   #57
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Umm, Mr. Publisher Dude? That part about costs for e-media being similar to published books??

Well, see, here's the problem. The "e" in ebook stands for "electronic", otherwise known as technology. The thing is, many early adopters of ebooks are techies, you know, people who work with computers, build them, program them, etc. Most of them know what it takes to convert a Word document to an ebook file. Consequently, most of them think you're pretty stupid.

We know there are cost for converting to an electronic format. But it's a one-time conversion cost. After the up-front investment, ebooks can save us a lot of money.... and make you a lot more as well. If you were smart, you could see that... but then, your article shows how smart you aren't.
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Old 02-02-2009, 07:05 PM   #58
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In short, by being worried about 'piracy' of ebooks, and insisting on DRM 'solutions', they have wasted an enormous amount of capital up-front, and are wasting large amounts of money on an ongoing basis.

Sigh... The music industry has finally wised up, after having their arms twisted by Apple to do away with DRM on music over the past six or seven years.

Amazon seem to be entirely uninterested in twisting publishers arms over DRM, and publishers seem to be too stupid to discard it on their own at the moment.

Perhaps in another five years, publishers will finally wake up to what a disaster DRM is for the ebook industry, and since that's the long-term future of publishing, for them too.

It took Apple only five years to go from selling 25 million songs in 2003 to selling over 1 billion songs in just the last half of 2008 -- and one eighth of all music sold in the US.

Also, consider that Apple pass on around 70% of the price of the music sold to the music publishers. Amazon passes on just 35%, although that is of the list, not actual sale price. I suspect publishers would be a lot happier with 70% of actual sale price!



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My understanding is that Hachette spent something like EUR 16 million on their ebook virtual warehouse infrastructure.

Because they treat vendors like Fictionwise as virtual wholesale customers, and have to handle accounting for ebook sales exactly the same way they would handle dead tree sales, and in turn allocate royalty payments accordingly. And stick DRM checksums on each outgoing ebook copy; sell 5000 copies, ship 5000 files (which each have to be generated separately on an encryption server).

They've done their best to port their existing business model to the electronic world, because nobody has the authority to say "this business model is obsolete -- here's a completely new one" (not merely because it would screw their career if they made a wrong call, but because there's internal corporate resistance to it: lots of people will lose their jobs if the old business model is junked).
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Old 02-02-2009, 07:35 PM   #59
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I was just thinking that - If the book is digitally created in the first place (by digitally created, I mean written on a computer in a word processor), it's ALREADY in a digital format (obviously) and it takes about five seconds to convert it to almost anything ELSE you want it in,
I'm sorry, but this is simply wrong, and that's one reason there's so much misunderstanding between the e-reading audience and the people putting out ebooks (or not putting out ebooks). Taking an author's digital file and turning it into a properly formatted ebook is NOT a matter of a few seconds, or even a few steps. It's a time-consuming process that involves inputting minute editing corrections, formatting changes, and going through a different conversion process for every one of those damn ebook formats, and then finding things that are screwed up in the process and fixing them.

Someday it'll be automated, and will seem as simple as you describe. It'll require the creation of ebook-formatted files to be incorporated into the typesetting process. But right now, it's not nearly that simple.

If it were, e-reads would have at least twice as many books out on the market instead of caught in a production backlog, and Tor would have had an ebook store running for months now.

And yeah, I think the multiple formats are part of the problem. Newcomers to ebooks don't want to worry about formats, they want to read books. And they certainly don't want to have to think about converting formats. It's just one more stupid obstacle to people adopting the technology.
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Old 02-02-2009, 07:52 PM   #60
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I'm sorry, but this is simply wrong, and that's one reason there's so much misunderstanding between the e-reading audience and the people putting out ebooks (or not putting out ebooks). Taking an author's digital file and turning it into a properly formatted ebook is NOT a matter of a few seconds, or even a few steps. It's a time-consuming process that involves inputting minute editing corrections, formatting changes, and going through a different conversion process for every one of those damn ebook formats, and then finding things that are screwed up in the process and fixing them.

Someday it'll be automated, and will seem as simple as you describe. It'll require the creation of ebook-formatted files to be incorporated into the typesetting process. But right now, it's not nearly that simple.

If it were, e-reads would have at least twice as many books out on the market instead of caught in a production backlog, and Tor would have had an ebook store running for months now.

And yeah, I think the multiple formats are part of the problem. Newcomers to ebooks don't want to worry about formats, they want to read books. And they certainly don't want to have to think about converting formats. It's just one more stupid obstacle to people adopting the technology.
By the way, thanks for uploading your books I've got it downloaded, now I just have to get to it
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