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Old 07-17-2009, 09:25 AM   #46
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The idea that an author should have to rely on people who are "fanatics" (and that's what the word "fan" is an abbreviation of, don't forget) strikes me as a little odd. If I sell a book, it is a product like any other. I (or my publisher) sets a price for it; the customers decides whether or not to buy it. When I go to my local supermarket and do my shopping, I don't buy specific products because I am "fanatical" about them, but merely because I like them as products. Why try to pretend that "creative" works are any different?
When you sell a book, you sell a creative idea, you sell the rights to a publisher who then transforms those ideas in to a physical object made of atoms; 'the paper book'. The object is then sold as is any other object in the marketplace. It has an inherent value because it is an object after all, doesn't matter what you did to make up the words or how long it took, the object itself has a price that nobody can deny (paper costs money, printing etc).

Once the object becomes digital the price is reduced to zero. Digital objects have no inherent value, comparisons to atom-based real-world examples are pointless and do not work. And there's no pretending going on here, 'all' digital works have zero inherent value, they are nothing but zeros and ones re-arranged into a particular order. The audience gives those zero's and ones value, if they deem it right. Creative works aren't any different than anything else, except when they are. You can't digitize an apple or a bowl of Kellog's Cornflakes, you will always have to pay for them at whatever price the market and the producer decide will make them a profit. But when it comes to fiction there's an abundance of digital product. You could stop buying books right now and happily read for the rest of your life without paying anyone anything if you kept it to the digital side of the equation.

So that begs the question; in an age of abundance, where there is no scarcity (apart from the false scarcity imposed by DRM) how does an artist make a living? According to Chris Anderson there's a gap appearing between those who are 30+ and those below 30 years of age. One side, still routed in the physical payment model really can't surmount the idea of object=fixed payment, the other side, having grown up in a digital culture that is almost always zero cost, don't understand the idea of digital object=fixed payment. Think of it like this, if I have a choice between two authors (both whom I admire) and one of them offers work for zero cost and the other offers their work for £5, who am I more likely to read first? Who am I more likely to recommend blind to other readers? Who am I more likely to feel an affinity for after the reading is done (even if I didn't like the book) and give a 'donation' or other payment?

A whole generation 'expect' free product. From open-source operating systems, to the bands they're growing to love on Myspace and Youtube, they're all offering work for free and foregoing the old payment model. Product=fixed price just doesn't work anymore in the world (apart from those who still think it works, but that won't last very long).

And lest we forget your zeroing in on one word to make your whole argument. Fan could just as easily be replaced with 'donator' 'sponsor' 'patron' or 'customer' in my first quoted statement.
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Old 07-17-2009, 09:33 AM   #47
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So that begs the question; in an age of abundance, where there is no scarcity (apart from the false scarcity imposed by DRM) how does an artist make a living? According to Chris Anderson there's a gap appearing between those who are 30+ and those below 30 years of age. One side, still routed in the physical payment model really can't surmount the idea of object=fixed payment, the other side, having grown up in a digital culture that is almost always zero cost, don't understand the idea of digital object=fixed payment. Think of it like this, if I have a choice between two authors (both whom I admire) and one of them offers work for zero cost and the other offers their work for £5, who am I more likely to read first? Who am I more likely to recommend blind to other readers? Who am I more likely to feel an affinity for after the reading is done (even if I didn't like the book) and give a 'donation' or other payment?

A whole generation 'expect' free product. From open-source operating systems, to the bands they're growing to love on Myspace and Youtube, they're all offering work for free and foregoing the old payment model. Product=fixed price just doesn't work anymore in the world (apart from those who still think it works, but that won't last very long).

And lest we forget your zeroing in on one word to make your whole argument. Fan could just as easily be replaced with 'donator' 'sponsor' 'patron' or 'customer' in my first quoted statement.
Hmmm... and to add further: A good portion of that generation (18/35) does not read at all, or less than older generations. Just try to sell them a book!
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Old 07-17-2009, 09:33 AM   #48
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Hmmmm...sounds great...lets give it an name. 'Uitgeverij' would be a nice one. For the people who don't speak Dutch it literaly translates as: Hand it Out place
The more common translation is 'publisher'
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How is it pronounced? "out-geh-vreej" ?

The idea of an ebook coop has been bantered about on this site for quite a while. But some authors do not want the additional chores of managing the sales of their work and rely on agents, most often publishing houses, to just bring in the bacon. Most are artists and have no salesmanship talent. To each his own.
No, there's a difference... Right now, an author "sells" his book to a publisher. That publisher is then allowed to print books up to a certain amount. If the author decides that that other publisher would be better, he can't switch as he has signed a contract.

What I meant was: there is a company that does nothing but offering server space and a way for buyers to buy products. (Compare it a bit with PayPal. I can sell products, by using PayPal. The money goes on my PayPal account and I can then either spend it directly or let it be put on another bank account. If you earn more than a certain amount of money, you have to pay a percentage to PayPal.)

An author writes a book and then "uploads" that book to the site, he sets a few settings (TTS enabled yes/no, DRM enabled yes/no, Printing enabled yes/no, pricing, etc). You then buy the book and the money goes directly into the author's account, minus a small percentage (required for maintenance of the site). If the author decides he wants to retract the book, he's free to do so, as he still is owner of the book.
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Old 07-17-2009, 09:36 AM   #49
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No, there's a difference... Right now, an author "sells" his book to a publisher. That publisher is then allowed to print books up to a certain amount. If the author decides that that other publisher would be better, he can't switch as he has signed a contract.

What I meant was: there is a company that does nothing but offering server space and a way for buyers to buy products. (Compare it a bit with PayPal. I can sell products, by using PayPal. The money goes on my PayPal account and I can then either spend it directly or let it be put on another bank account. If you earn more than a certain amount of money, you have to pay a percentage to PayPal.)

An author writes a book and then "uploads" that book to the site, he sets a few settings (TTS enabled yes/no, DRM enabled yes/no, Printing enabled yes/no, pricing, etc). You then buy the book and the money goes directly into the author's account, minus a small percentage (required for maintenance of the site). If the author decides he wants to retract the book, he's free to do so, as he still is owner of the book.
So! How do you pronounce it?
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Old 07-17-2009, 09:36 AM   #50
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What I meant was: there is a company that does nothing but offering server space and a way for buyers to buy products. (Compare it a bit with PayPal. I can sell products, by using PayPal. The money goes on my PayPal account and I can then either spend it directly or let it be put on another bank account. If you earn more than a certain amount of money, you have to pay a percentage to PayPal.)

An author writes a book and then "uploads" that book to the site, he sets a few settings (TTS enabled yes/no, DRM enabled yes/no, Printing enabled yes/no, pricing, etc). You then buy the book and the money goes directly into the author's account, minus a small percentage (required for maintenance of the site). If the author decides he wants to retract the book, he's free to do so, as he still is owner of the book.
That's exactly what sites like Mobipocket do. Anyone can sign up with them and upload their books. You may, of course, not consider the 35% of list price that they pay you to be "reasonable", but they do do a lot for you, including offering the book for sale via dozens of resellers. I consider it a pretty fair deal, personally.
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Old 07-17-2009, 09:38 AM   #51
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Old 07-17-2009, 09:40 AM   #52
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Hmmmm...sounds great...lets give it an name. 'Uitgeverij' would be a nice one. For the people who don't speak Dutch it literaly translates as: Hand it Out place
The more common translation is 'publisher'
:-). Something like http://www.boekwinkeltjes.nl/ does for people that have pbooks to sell is probably what Sweetpea has in mind.
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Old 07-17-2009, 09:41 AM   #53
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Old 07-17-2009, 09:41 AM   #54
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Hmmm... and to add further: A good portion of that generation (18/35) does not read at all, or less than older generations. Just try to sell them a book!

Actually that's a fantastic point you make there. A large swathe of the generation growing up on 'free' don't even want the product when it is 'zero' cost, or they deem the value proposition too low to even partake in reading. Average novel = 80,000 - 100,000 words. Avg Reading Time: 20hrs. There's a whole generation who would consider 20hrs too much time to spend on anything (even video games). We have a whole generation communicating in 140 character Tweets, Instant Messenging in short random, vowel-less bursts. Music, that most universal of all creative arts, is struggling (I'll find you five people right now who don't read on a regular basis, but I'd be hard pressed to find one who doesn't listen to music).

A fixed price model in the face of all that competition is ludicrous.
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Old 07-17-2009, 09:49 AM   #55
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And a far better return than you'd get through traditional publishing. I like the idea of buying directly off an author, but ultimately writers should be writing, not worrying about building a web-shop and promoting their work.
The other reason I don't like the idea of author-specific web sites is that I really don't want to have to look at 100 different web sites. I just want a single bookstore, where I can browse for books by lots of different authors.

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In the US fiction reading must be going through the roof. Have you seen the Fox News website?
LOL . Definitely akin to getting your knowledge of world events from "The Sun" .
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Old 07-17-2009, 09:53 AM   #56
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Something Moejoe said yesterday about attaching extra value to an ebook made me think of this.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/arti...of-EGP-Apparel

An attempt by a bunch of indie game developers to spread their message by selling tee shirts in Walmart, with the CD of the game attached. Stealth-selling the game, in a way.

I don't think there will be as many people making a living creatively, but people will still make music, write books, even make films.

As for the donation model, and fanatics - go back far enough and that's exactly how the arts were funded, almost universally. By patronage.
Not directly related to the link you provided, but the Escapist magazine is a good example of a new model.

Every Wednesday I watch Escapist Magazine's video game review show - Zero Punctuation. I don't pay for that. It's just available for free. But I like the show and I want to show my support so that it continues. There are two ways I do this. I click on their 'advertising' when I visit the site and I buy merchandise. I have two Zero Punctuation shirts, and I'm going to buy a plush imp in the next few weeks. This is the 'value-added' proposition we were talking about. I think writers should be doing the same, whether that's in collectives or by themselves. I know that when I launch my site at the end of this year I'll be offering t-shirts, but the fiction will always be free and before we get started on will I make a living etc, the answer is NO. A big fat NO. And I never expected to either, not with what I write and the stories I prefer. If you're a straight genre writer you'll probably find it a lot easier to maintain your income in the coming years. If you're literary you'll be where you were before all this; small sales, but big prestige. If you're in the middle like me, you're screwed
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Old 07-17-2009, 10:14 AM   #57
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Old 07-17-2009, 10:20 AM   #58
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The problem with the Escapist model is that people like me don't see the ads, because we're using Adblock. There are only a handful of sites I don't adblock. And I only wear plain black tees. Put some trousers on, they say. But no, just plain black tees. The escapist business model washes over people like me. If my choice between two bottles of water was a plain one and one with a ZP cartoon on it, I'd be influenced to buy the one with the cartoon but I can't see that happening any time soon.

I'm actually amazed that the business built around advertising has lasted as long as it has. It started with those travelling shows where hucksters sold lethal medicines to wide-eyed rubes, and rapidly degenerated from there.
I use adblock too, and like you I unblock sites I want to support - ZP, MobileRead (which I visit a couple times a day without logging in and click on the ads). Advertising seems to be the way forward at the moment (not sure about books, don't think it would work there) but I'm happily using Spotify that has ads and I like it. If I could get Hulu I would also use that. In both instances piracy is pointless, you get what you want (for the most part) when you want it with little inconvenience and the bills are still paid.
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Old 07-17-2009, 11:47 AM   #59
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That's exactly what sites like Mobipocket do. Anyone can sign up with them and upload their books. You may, of course, not consider the 35% of list price that they pay you to be "reasonable", but they do do a lot for you, including offering the book for sale via dozens of resellers. I consider it a pretty fair deal, personally.
Ah, didn't know that... But yes, something like that, but not connected to a player like Amazon that only wants exclusivity...

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So! How do you pronounce it?
Well, just as you write it... (I've no idea how to write down how you pronounce it...)
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Old 07-17-2009, 11:47 AM   #60
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This is a thread I find specially interesting, because I have just changed my approach to payment from readers. Previously I adopted a "shareware" model, asking people to pay a small fee per book if they had enjoyed it. Compared with the colossal number of downloads, the results were meagre.

Having taken advice from Alexandra Erin, I now say that my books are entirely free. In turn I ask readers to support the process that brought them the books by making a donation of their choice.

I only made the change earlier this month, but it is interesting that since then not one single donation has been made.

My first book was published in 1978, so I belong to a generation of writers who grew up with the old methods. Rotten as they are (from an author's point of view), at least they hold out the possibility of some financial return. Most readers, I suspect, have little idea of the practice and hard work needed to get a foothold in the craft of writing novels; or of the hundreds or even thousands of hours of work that go into a full-length piece. It's a pretty steep gradient to climb, even if you already have a publisher's advance.

DRM does not protect intellectual property. It is too easily cracked. Once a book is in digital form there is nothing but the integrity of computer-users to stop it from being replicated, and I think we know how much, taken overall, that is worth.

The ebook revolution may bring about the death of professional writing of fiction (and quite a few other genres, too). What you will have instead is a plethora of amateur work, some of which will be worth reading but the majority not -- a bit like blogs are today.

I am not saying this is necessarily a bad thing. Much of the output of professional authors has never been worth reading either. And since younger people and many older ones never read a book anyway, authorship is just one of those outdated jobs, like being a blacksmith, which will survive only in niches here and there.
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