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Old 02-02-2009, 07:18 PM   #61
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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.
I stand corrected.
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Old 02-02-2009, 07:24 PM   #62
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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.
I think that depends if you use a suitable method or not. If you add suitable markup in the book to produce the paper and ebook version automatically then it should not be more work than you do now creating the paper version.
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Old 02-02-2009, 07:27 PM   #63
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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.
In Amazon's contract, it is Amazon that insists on using DRM.
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Old 02-02-2009, 07:32 PM   #64
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I think that depends if you use a suitable method or not. If you add suitable markup in the book to produce the paper and ebook version automatically then it should not be more work than you do now creating the paper version.
It isn't more work (or not a great deal more) than creating the paper version, it is the the same (or some more) but it is different so it is nearly like starting with raw manuscript again. No matter how it is done, it isn't as easy as simply choosing a convert-to-ebook option in a dropdown menu. It may be less complex with a straight-text novel, but it is certainly neither quick nor easy for nonfiction books.
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Old 02-02-2009, 07:39 PM   #65
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It isn't more work (or not a great deal more) than creating the paper version, it is the the same (or some more) but it is different so it is nearly like starting with raw manuscript again. No matter how it is done, it isn't as easy as simply choosing a convert-to-ebook option in a dropdown menu. It may be less complex with a straight-text novel, but it is certainly neither quick nor easy for nonfiction books.
If the non-fiction book is properly marked up in for example LaTeX is should be relatively easy to have programs that automatically produce the different versions.

I suspect that the difference in work between paper and ebooks is because nobody has abstracted the tasks so they become common and can be automatically translated to the specific output format.

I mean SGML was invented to solve this problem and it is surprising that SGML or similar approaches are not used. Or it is not surprising since if you only produce one format (paper) there are no profit in introducing a more complex system. But with the demand for many different versions the situation is different.
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Old 02-02-2009, 07:49 PM   #66
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Interesting arguments. Based on his facts I calculate that by self publishing Tracy Falbe and Steve Jordan must have each invested more the $1 million and are actually losing $5 every e-book they sell. For the sake of all thing right.... stop the madness you two!!! The money is going to run out sooner or later.
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Old 02-02-2009, 07:53 PM   #67
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If conversion was as troublesome the the publisher thinks, then how come we have so many freely donated books in our upload section?
It takes a lot more than 5 seconds to make a conversion, but is not nearly as onerous as he thinks.
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Old 02-02-2009, 08:12 PM   #68
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If the non-fiction book is properly marked up in for example LaTeX is should be relatively easy to have programs that automatically produce the different versions.
Well, you are welcome to develop, test, certify and support an application system that does, and provide it for free and support it for free if you'd like. I'm sure one or two mid-sized publishers would be willing to re-tailor their workflow and input files to meet your systems needs providing the system was robust and suitable for an enterprise solution, and free. Providing conversion of the input files from the original manuscript into your input format doesn't end up equating to twice as much work as they are currently doing.

Still, of course, that just covers some of the fixed costs. The marginal costs including retailer share, encrypting transaction and storage fees, and opportunity costs for the loss of pBook sales still have to be accounted for.

Some people get it, and some people don't. Publishers are not in the business of publishing, they are in the business of making money. In fact, if they are publicly traded, the have a legal responsibility to attempt to make money and maximize profits.

There are more costs associated with producing and selling an eBook than most people realize, plus eBook sales can make up such a small run for a given title that they aren't even profitable at today's prices. As a matter of fact, that's even true of pBooks today. It's the $25 hardcover bestsellers from headline name authors that support publishers taking a chance on the $9.95 new authors' paperbacks.

I understand the desire for cheap eBooks - I've been hooked since the Rocket back in 2000 - but an awful lot of people seem to think the books should be just short of free because they don't understand the costs involved.
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Old 02-02-2009, 08:16 PM   #69
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Interesting arguments. Based on his facts I calculate that by self publishing Tracy Falbe and Steve Jordan must have each invested more the $1 million and are actually losing $5 every e-book they sell. For the sake of all thing right.... stop the madness you two!!! The money is going to run out sooner or later.
I imagine if Tracy and Steve were a) publishing pBooks as well as eBooks and b) Paying themselves $25 an hour for their time publishing, handling sales, support, pr and anything not directly related to writing the original manuscript, they would be deep in the red.
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Old 02-02-2009, 08:28 PM   #70
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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.
Ok, now this is interesting, and it's going to take a small stretch to understand this, but unsold books are costed on the basis of the production and fulfillment (shipping, storage, etc) costs only. There's no royalty, retailer profit, share of marketing, etc, because all of those cost are shared fixed or marginal costs that apply to books sold. The remaindering and pulping is an overhead cost that is capitalized evenly across the total number of sold pBooks and eBooks. Even if it was applied only to the cost of pBooks, it actually a very small part as printing and shipping represent typically less than $1 per title.

And, of course it complete ignores remaindering in place, which is where the books are not returned but instead toted to the bargain bin and highly discounted. Or pulped, where the cover is removed and shipped back for credit and the rest of the book supposedly destroyed.

Simply put, remaindering and pulping are not a huge expense given the number of pBooks sold, and therefore not a huge savings in favor of eBooks.
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Old 02-02-2009, 08:49 PM   #71
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Even if it was applied only to the cost of pBooks, it actually a very small part as printing and shipping represent typically less than $1 per title.
Do you mean $1 per book? You don't think the publishers would want an extra $1 per book sold. Seems like not a small amount.

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Old 02-02-2009, 09:41 PM   #72
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I just took the Word document of Richard Herley's eBook Refuge and converted it to LRF using Book Designer. Took my maybe 10 minutes to do so.

Most books without any sort of complex formatting are rather easy to convert to eBook form from the original source document which is usually some sort of word processing document such as from Word. Now, if I want to go to Mobipocket from here, it would take maybe 15-20 min.
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Old 02-02-2009, 10:01 PM   #73
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Some people get it, and some people don't. Publishers are not in the business of publishing, they are in the business of making money. In fact, if they are publicly traded, the have a legal responsibility to attempt to make money and maximize profits.

There are more costs associated with producing and selling an eBook than most people realize, plus eBook sales can make up such a small run for a given title that they aren't even profitable at today's prices. As a matter of fact, that's even true of pBooks today. It's the $25 hardcover bestsellers from headline name authors that support publishers taking a chance on the $9.95 new authors' paperbacks.
I thought in Canada they were in the business of protecting our National identify and culture and that's why there are foreign ownership laws to protect the book publishers against companies that just want to make money.

But seriously, I understand that there are large additional one time costs in creating an ebook and the market is relatively small. The market place will eventually determine the correct price. I personally think that Amazon is closer to the correct price then the publishers.
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Old 02-03-2009, 12:33 AM   #74
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I just took the Word document of Richard Herley's eBook Refuge and converted it to LRF using Book Designer. Took my maybe 10 minutes to do so.

Most books without any sort of complex formatting are rather easy to convert to eBook form from the original source document which is usually some sort of word processing document such as from Word. Now, if I want to go to Mobipocket from here, it would take maybe 15-20 min.
Jon, I don't think that's a representative illustration. When I gave you my files of The Chaos Chronicles for conversion to LFR, I had already spent many, many hours preparing those files so that they'd be in proper shape for conversion. And even at that, I didn't proofread them as thoroughly as I should have, as witness the number of errors that were brought to my attention after they were up. (And I just heard from a reader--there are still some in there!) I've just finished proofing the basic text file of another book to go into production at ereads, and that was as time-consuming as, say, correcting proofs of a book going to press. (Meaning, it was more than several full days of work on my part.) And that was just to give them a clean RTF file.

One thing not mentioned yet is that standard manuscript format for editing purposes is not the same as the format you want for ebooks. (Or for pbooks, for that matter.) Maybe that, too, will change. But right now, you can't take a typical author's Word file and just feed it into conversion software. Not unless you want crappy ebooks.
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Old 02-03-2009, 01:06 AM   #75
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By the way, thanks for uploading your books I've got it downloaded, now I just have to get to it
You're very welcome. I hope you enjoy them!

But to spin that toward the present topic, my reason for doing that was to introduce the books to an audience that didn't know them, and it certainly has worked at least with some of the readership here. But if we were analyzing the process as if looking at a publisher's bottom line, we'd just have to say, well, it's an investment in publicity and promotion, and we hope it'll pay off one day in book sales. But we can't prove it by present returns.

Oh, what the hell--I'll give some numbers.

My free offering of the Chaos Chronicles has brought in a few hundred dollars in Paypal donations--and I thank everyone who's kicked in a contribution. It's a welcome thank-you. But if that alone represented the return I was looking for, I'd do better joining the people holding out cans at the traffic light. Fortunately, it doesn't; my main purpose was outreach.

But what about my commercial ebook editions, which are intended to make a profit? Well, some of them have been available on fictionwise and elsewhere for years (for under $9), and they have yet to earn me a nickel. (That is to say, the earnings have not yet paid off my share of the production costs.) That's not such a good picture.

I hope and expect that this will change, or I wouldn't be continuing to put books up. But at the same time, I'd like folks to realize that putting out ebooks, even when you do it right, is still pretty much a business gamble on a market that's still small.
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