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Old 07-17-2009, 10:57 AM   #61
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The discussion at hand seems to be focused on only one part of the ebook market. Let me put on my "professor" hat and elucidate...

The ebook market breaks into 3 portions.

1. New creations coming out.
2. Old creations that aren't yet legally free.
and
3. Old creations that are legally free.

All the discussion is about #1. Will quality creativity be killed by the inability to make money via the old model. But that leaves out all existing art under #2 and #3. Like it or not, new creators, they are your competitors every bit as much as your current creative competitors. And their costs are already sunk. (I.e. whether or not money is made of those works, in essence, immaterial, because they have already been created and release into the public world.)

How do you compete with them in the P-book world. You compete by having them disappear! They go out-of-print, and are no longer on the new book shelves as a competitor. And it used to be that it was hard to find an individual title, used, providing an additional protection. Even ignoring ebook piracy, you can now go onto the internet and find just about any book you want, used, online for purchase and delivery. That's competition that didn't exist 20 years ago.

Now, let's look at item #3. The public domain. It has different definitions in different localities, but I'll make an low-ball guesstimate of 30,000 titles. At 300 WPM reading rate, that would work out to 10 year of reading 24-7. Since that's impossible, say 12-7 and 20 years. All of it free - by definition.

Number #2 - existing works still covered by copyright is where the crux of the issue is. The number of books involved is well into the 6 figures. As they get converted into ebooks, legally or not, they provide even more competiton to current creative writers. And the competition is fierce - Chandler, Hemmingway, Agatha Christie, Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, Louis L'Amour, Ian Fleming, Forsythe, Steinbeck, and the list goes on and on....

#2 and #3, readily available, are enough to destroy the publishing industry as we know it. Nobody could read them all in a lifetime. #3 is free, and #2 is steadily becoming so, albeit illegally.

This is your reality, current creative writers. The old ways are dying. If you write strictly for money, (and there's no sin in that) you need to retread into some other career that pays better. If writing is your passion, go ahead and write, but don't expect you'll make a living off of it in the long haul.

As for me, as I fill my liseuse with 3-4,000 titles, when I get done in the next few years, I won't be getting anything else, free or not, be cause I'll never get around to reading it.
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Old 07-17-2009, 11:30 AM   #62
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Originally Posted by Ralph Sir Edward View Post
This is your reality, current creative writers. The old ways are dying. If you write strictly for money, (and there's no sin in that) you need to retread into some other career that pays better. If writing is your passion, go ahead and write, but don't expect you'll make a living off of it in the long haul.
As it was, so shall it be. The majority of published writers don't make a living now. What is it, 5% of everyone published makes a living, 1% get rich, and the rest need a day job.

I think writers have bought into a fantasy that has been perpetuated by the industry the last thirty or so years (maybe a little less). The fantasy is one where you get to write for a living, where your singular passion and view of the world provides enough sales for you to earn your daily bread. This fantasy is perpetuated in countless 'how-to' books and advice sites who tell you to do A to get to B and that will lead eventually to C. Then there are the agents and the editors and all the folderol between your writing and the reader. You never hear that only 12 publishing companies insist on an agent (the BIG guys). That there are, what is it, something in the region of 10,000 actual book publishers available for the new author to approach with their writing.

The fantasy promises you money, fame, notoriety, importance and all kinds of other intangibles, but it never truly talks about art or what's important in writing. And it never truly gives you the cost of that partnership, which is measured in frustration and ill treatment.

Now the writer is free, and trades in money/fame for something far more valuable. Freedom. Without a publisher I can say whatever the hell I want. I don't have to hold my tongue on any topic, I don't have to have an agent or PR idiot telling me how to behave and what morning show talk host to talk to or which insipid magazine wants to do an interview. Without having to pander to a market, your book can be about anything you desire, there's nobody to tell you what 'sells' or doesn't. In fact it doesn't matter if it doesn't sell any longer, or if nobody gives you a cent. You still get to write it and have the possibility of it being read, communicating an idea with another human being, or beings. Isn't that what writing is supposed to be about? Aren't writers supposed to be passionate individualists with opinions and viewpoints they want to share with other people? Or are we, as so many of the terrible how-to books instruct, supposed to fade behind our words and become invisible?
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Old 07-17-2009, 11:33 AM   #63
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Not all writing is the same, Moejoe. When I wrote my physics textbooks, I did so for crass commercial reasons - to make money. I got a contract for it, I wrote the books, I got paid. Simple as that. No "passion" involved, I'm afraid. It was a job, like any other.
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Old 07-17-2009, 11:34 AM   #64
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There are already free versions of books available at libraries. I know of many people who know our library has their favorite authors books on the shelf but they still want to buy books instead. I will definetly be purchasing ebooks once I get an ereader even though I can borrow for free. I will download free books as well. There is something about owning the books you love and going back to them again and again but I don't have room in my house for all the books I read. The library has been a help with this but ours can't possibly buy all the books I want to read.
In recent years the cost of hardcover fiction has gotten way to high in Canada and our library will not buy them unless they are discounted at a store such as Costco. Hardcover non-fiction is still bought but still rarely at list price.
There will always be people who buy books in paper even as they become more affordable in ebook form. I am the only person I know even considering an ereader most will stick to paper.
One has to look at all forms of creativity in it's own right. Music is listened to over and over again by each person. A book may only be read once and then passed on to others. Movies are watched once in awhile but like a book if good will be watched again. Newpapers have always been about what is current and the same with magazines.
Ebooks offer an opportunity to publishers and writers to actually sell more not less because cost does matter when purchasing. Newpapers and magazines are at more peril because their value is mostly short term.

Last edited by onewayherway; 07-17-2009 at 11:36 AM.
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Old 07-17-2009, 11:39 AM   #65
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Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
Not all writing is the same, Moejoe. When I wrote my physics textbooks, I did so for crass commercial reasons - to make money. I got a contract for it, I wrote the books, I got paid. Simple as that. No "passion" involved, I'm afraid. It was a job, like any other.
Now you're onto something with what you said. You were paid for a job, a job I could no more do than most (I am clueless when it comes to science). What you were doing was providing a specialized service and that kind of fixed payment for work done model will continue unabated in the future. Not everyone can write a physics book, most people can write fiction (look at Dan Brown).

In fact I'd think most writers would love the contract work as described above, I know I would have little problem with it if I was paid a living wage to produce X amount of books per year for a company. Because then it is a job, there is no pretense to art or passion, which the publishing industry still seems to hold onto.
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Old 07-17-2009, 11:48 AM   #66
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I would imagine that there are very few full-time fiction writers. Most "professional" writers work in journalism, advertising, PR, or similar fields.
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Old 07-17-2009, 11:48 AM   #67
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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.
How many actual reads per download did you have?
I'd be surprised in more than 7 out of 100 downloaded files was actually read.

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Old 07-17-2009, 11:51 AM   #68
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How many actual reads per download did you have?
I'd be surprised in more than 7 out of 100 downloaded files was actually read.

I always worked on the 5% rule. 5% is what the subscription sites work on - 5% paying customers provide the free version of the same site for the other 95% users.
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Old 07-17-2009, 11:52 AM   #69
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Edit.

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Old 07-17-2009, 11:52 AM   #70
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I would imagine that there are very few full-time fiction writers. Most "professional" writers work in journalism, advertising, PR, or similar fields.
Then we're arguing at crossed purposes. I have no clue how those other professional writers will fair in the future (my guess is that most of them will be obsolete).
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Old 07-17-2009, 11:58 AM   #71
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Moejoe, I do like a lot of what you say, but you do at times seem to take a real glee at the prospect of professional writers having their earning potential dragged down to your own level.

There used to be, and still are some, house writers for book series (Beastquest, which my niece is rapid about, for one, uses a team of writers). Or any number of franchised series, like Dungeons and Dragons or Star Wars. I don't think that's an answer to anything.

As for Harry, we all know the only time he gets passionate is when he's exterminating something.

BTW, can I just say Richard's example of what happens when you go free, is pretty depressing.
Not glee, please don't think that. I'm on the side of the writer, always. The publishers are not on the side of the writer, and never have been. And my earning potential is ZERO. My writing would never get published traditionally, and even if it was, it would never sell enough to make me a living - a fact that I reserved myself to a long time ago. That's why places like Feedbooks and others excite me, why writing without thinking of money is so liberating. Before ebooks and ereaders there was little chance to be read, to put your work out there. One of my uploads has near enough 900 downloads and by my 5% estimation, 45 people might have read it. That's 45 people who wouldn't have read it if I'd tried to make money from the story.
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Old 07-17-2009, 04:59 PM   #72
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To backtrack a little bit....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moejoe View Post
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.
This is incorrect.

When an object takes a digital form, the distribution cost drops but does not necessarily fall to zero. The costs to distribute digital products is actually substantial: you need bandwidth, you need servers, you need IT staff, you need customer support, you need management. In theory you can distribute your product via some type of P2P environment, but in doing so you lose all control over quality, security and reporting. E.g. I can take a Harry Potter e-book, infect it with a virus -- or alter the text in critical passages -- and the publisher and/or author will be unable to alter the situation.

Meanwhile, you still have all the other costs to deal with: research, writing, editing, copyrighting, marketing, promotion, management, legal fees. None of this goes away just because you're using a digital medium.

As to the "value," aside from the fact that pricing is far from an exact science, ultimately the value of an object offered for trade is "whatever the market will bear." This does not necessarily correlate to production or distribution costs, scarcity or abundance, customer expectations or even demand. I.e. no object has an "inherent value," although it will have production and distribution costs, regardless of whether it is a physical or digital object.

Meanwhile, you can download a copy of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 for free, and use it for 120 days. After that, you have to pony up $5,000 or more. It is irrelevant that it is distributed initially for free, or that competing products may be free, or that it is "made of ones and zeros" that do not require a physical medium. You want it, you pay for it.

I could sit here all day and list examples of companies that successfully charge, and even charge significant prices, for digital content.

Free has a role to play, but this does not mean that everything in digital form can or must or will be free.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Moejoe
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).
Actually, entire generations have gotten free media. It's known as "broadcast television" and "terrestrial radio," among others. (It's worth noting that cable providers convinced customers to pay for a previously free service....)

And the expectation or desire for free product does not grant punters the moral or legal right to demand free product.

And yet again, many of the free or even ad-supported outlets are money pits. MySpace is flaming out; YouTube loses money; and Facebook still hasn't quite figured out how to turn a profit. None of these sites even have to pay for content -- and yet they still lose money. So, I'd be careful about holding up some of these companies as Paragons of Free, until they perform better.

The alternate methods of revenue generation that Anderson envisions are not necessarily available to or optimal for authors. E.g. musicians can sell merchandise and go on tour, most authors cannot -- especially if they no longer have a paper book to sign. The "donation" model might work, but some would regard this as a step backwards, as the author will inevitably become beholden to powerful patrons, whether they be governments, individuals or corporations.

If the "new model" cannot support the creation of digital content, then content creators will suffer. Fortunately, this does not necessarily have to occur, as long as most readers can be encouraged to pay for what they read, hopefully by setting a reasonable price.


P.S. - "open source" = "free software." Those guys get kinda picky about the distinction.
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Old 07-17-2009, 06:40 PM   #73
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Richard Herley.
I must apologise. I am one of the people that have downloaded your books with the full intention of making a donation if they were good. I have a huge list to read and your books were some way down that list but I will start Refuge tonight and will make a donation if I like it. That's a promise. What I must do is make sure that Authors such as yourself are put to the top of my list so that payment can be made. The huge raft of totally free books can wait a bit longer.
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Old 07-17-2009, 07:29 PM   #74
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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.
That's quite some understandable laziness (it's human after all), but it still is laziness. Authors will stand more of a chance if they are within reach of their readers as directly as possible. No publishers, and definitely no distributors. They both suck their amount of money out of the system.
And any eBookstore is a distributor. Who gets paid for the creative input of other people. Doesn't matter if we are talking about the physical or the digital world here.

And, yes, 35% from Mobipocket are more than an author will usually receive for a printed novel. But you lose some of the control over the files, an essential control, that is, since Mobipocket doesn't allow/enable the deletion of any files once they are uploaded.
They need to keep the files for "statistics". Even after I may discontinue my business with them? Quite interesting ... and, this I experienced with another large website, too.

Doesn't really increase my trust in those online distributors/bookstores.
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Old 07-18-2009, 03:25 AM   #75
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And, yes, 35% from Mobipocket are more than an author will usually receive for a printed novel. But you lose some of the control over the files, an essential control, that is, since Mobipocket doesn't allow/enable the deletion of any files once they are uploaded.
They need to keep the files for "statistics". Even after I may discontinue my business with them? Quite interesting ... and, this I experienced with another large website, too.
You can, however "deactivate" a book at any time from your control panel. This removes it from sale. You can also (as I found it the hard way ) overwrite it with a file of the same name, thus deleting the original file.
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