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Old 12-13-2009, 02:28 PM   #31
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actually, in my calculation I forgot to include the cost of the ebook device itself for the consumer. assuming they factor in the total cost of ebooks and they resell their device for a $100 discount to the new retail price after 50 books read....that comes to $2 per book.

So....this means the ebook would have to be an additional $2 cheaper for the consumer.
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Old 12-13-2009, 02:35 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by Jack Tingle View Post
I didn't carry it out explicitly, but in most businesses, a one or two year payback time is very generous. In publishing, with common book press runs of only 10-50,000 books and returns of over 50%, what happens next year is likely irrelevant, unless your name is Nora Roberts or Steven King. Most books never earn out. Most also disappear from shelves within a year.

One of the small, but real benefits of ebooks to both authors and publishers is the ability to keep backlist books "in print" for an indefinite period of time without running afoul of the "Thor Power Tools" inventory ruling. It means you might be able to _buy_ the ebook of that obscure third volume of the not-very-well-selling series Joe Midlist wrote in 1993 instead of scouring used book stores for it.

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I think that Ralph Sir Edward was only referring to the ebook portion of the equation which was all that was being referenced in the article he was referring to. In that case, as long as the retailer (company running the website and the servers that are storing the ebook) is willing to leave it up there is a potential for sales.
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Old 12-13-2009, 03:24 PM   #33
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actually, in my calculation I forgot to include the cost of the ebook device itself for the consumer. assuming they factor in the total cost of ebooks and they resell their device for a $100 discount to the new retail price after 50 books read....that comes to $2 per book.

So....this means the ebook would have to be an additional $2 cheaper for the consumer.

Doesn't count any more than a bookshelf or reading lamp.

I don't necessarily agree with your calculation either, because everything is not really included, such as returns, print runs, etc.
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Old 12-13-2009, 05:28 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by JSWolf View Post
eBooks & pBooks are the same cost up to a point. After all the writing, editing, rewrites, and what not to get the book finished, all the costs are the same. But now we diverge from the costs. The costs to setup the pBook & eBook may be similar. I cannot say. But once the eBook is sorted, there the cost differences become very clear. You don't have the cost to print the eBook, no cost for the materials, no cost for shipping and storage. No cost for remaindered books. No cost for the store the books are sold from. Yes, you have the costs for the computer(s) used at the data center, but that should be less then the cost of the physical store. So really, most of the costs after the book is done don't exist.
Another factor that reduces the long-term cost of ebooks is that it is minor work to reformat them for future ereaders, especially if the source text is adequately formatted.

To provide an illustration, steps for initial release of a/an:

ebook: writing, editing, formatting, finalizing, electronic storage of final version, electronic release in the appropriate format(s), and final sale.

pbook: writing, editing, formatting, finalizing, electronic storage of final version (hopefully), printing, binding, packaging, shipping, shelf stocking, final sale, and disposal of unsold copies.

Steps for the subsequent release of a/an:

ebook: Retrieval of final version, electronic release in the appropriate format(s), and final sale.

pbook: Retrieval of final version (either in electronic form or by OCR scanning), editing and formatting of the text (if OCR scanned), printing, binding, packaging, shipping, shelf stocking, final sale, and disposal of unsold copies.

The above shows that there are many costs associated with pbooks that don't exist with ebooks. Among them are the need to provide a physical item for each book to the reader.
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Old 12-13-2009, 08:51 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Nate the great View Post
There's an interesting article in today's NYTimes on this topic. From the article:

from:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/13/bu...er=rss&emc=rss
Oh, jeez. Again?

Random House went around this with Rosetta back in 2001, trying to claim they had electronic rights for books published back when electronic editions couldn't even exist.

See http://www.rosettabooks.com/pages/legal.html and http://itlaw.wikia.com/wiki/Random_H..._Rosetta_Books for information.

Random House didn't get very far then. I'm not sure why they think they'll succeed now.
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Old 12-13-2009, 10:02 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by markbot View Post
actually, in my calculation I forgot to include the cost of the ebook device itself for the consumer. assuming they factor in the total cost of ebooks and they resell their device for a $100 discount to the new retail price after 50 books read....that comes to $2 per book.

So....this means the ebook would have to be an additional $2 cheaper for the consumer.
That's a very good point. In terms of the medium for reading the material, the cost of paper, glue, ink and transport has been replaced by a higher initial cost to the consumer. We pay for the technology that allows publishers to make their product using a much much cheaper method.

If anything we are baring the vast majority of the cost, and yet we still get publisher fretting about e-readers and their possible rammifications. I shelled out hundreds of dollars so you can see me an ephemeral product consisting of binary data which you can duplicate at no cost and send across the internet for about $0.00001. They don't have to pay much carbon tax on an ebook, compared to fuel/paper/ink/pollution/glue involved with making a paperbook and which might incur up and coming environmental taxation.

They should be rejoicing but instead make the consumer's life harder with restrictive DRM, poor selection, poor pricing and poorly converted electronic versions which slow consumer adoption of the devices. Publishers should be helping people transition to the new medium, not dragging their feet..

Sorry, rant over!
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Old 12-13-2009, 10:10 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by DMcCunney View Post
Oh, jeez. Again?

Random House went around this with Rosetta back in 2001, trying to claim they had electronic rights for books published back when electronic editions couldn't even exist.

See http://www.rosettabooks.com/pages/legal.html and http://itlaw.wikia.com/wiki/Random_H..._Rosetta_Books for information.

Random House didn't get very far then. I'm not sure why they think they'll succeed now.
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Old 12-14-2009, 04:45 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by JSWolf View Post
eBooks & pBooks are the same cost up to a point. After all the writing, editing, rewrites, and what not to get the book finished, all the costs are the same. But now we diverge from the costs. The costs to setup the pBook & eBook may be similar. I cannot say. But once the eBook is sorted, there the cost differences become very clear. You don't have the cost to print the eBook, no cost for the materials, no cost for shipping and storage. No cost for remaindered books. No cost for the store the books are sold from. Yes, you have the costs for the computer(s) used at the data center, but that should be less then the cost of the physical store. So really, most of the costs after the book is done don't exist.
Yes. That was my point.
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Old 12-14-2009, 01:33 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by DMcCunney View Post
Oh, jeez. Again?

Random House went around this with Rosetta back in 2001, trying to claim they had electronic rights for books published back when electronic editions couldn't even exist.

See http://www.rosettabooks.com/pages/legal.html and http://itlaw.wikia.com/wiki/Random_H..._Rosetta_Books for information.

Random House didn't get very far then. I'm not sure why they think they'll succeed now.
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They most likely won't. Though it never went to trial, RH got the door slammed in their face twice by the courts. They will, most likely, have to live with the results of the Rosetta Books deal. I think this is sabre rattling on RH's part, in the hopes that no one wants to spend money on the lawyers. I'm not sure RH really wants the phrase "in book form" to be defined in a courtroom, since it's not likely to go their way.
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Old 12-14-2009, 02:05 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by jasonkchapman View Post
They most likely won't. Though it never went to trial, RH got the door slammed in their face twice by the courts. They will, most likely, have to live with the results of the Rosetta Books deal. I think this is sabre rattling on RH's part, in the hopes that no one wants to spend money on the lawyers. I'm not sure RH really wants the phrase "in book form" to be defined in a courtroom, since it's not likely to go their way.
I suspect a fair number of agents are telling Random House "You just got crossed off the list of publishers I'll submit to, and I'm advising all of my clients currently published by you that I will be looking for new homes for future books..."

I'd hope a court would come down on Random House. Even back when, different kinds of rights were known to exist, and magazine rights, hardcover rights, paperback rights, and subsidiary rights were separate items, along with movie and TV rights.

Attempting to claim rights for a new format that didn't exist when the original contracts were signed really shouldn't get very far.
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Last edited by DMcCunney; 12-14-2009 at 02:28 PM.
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Old 12-14-2009, 02:17 PM   #41
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Originally Posted by DMcCunney View Post
I suspect a fair number of agents are telling Random House "You just got crossed off the list of publisher's I'll submit to, and I'm advising all of my clients currently published by you that I will be looking for new homes for future books..."

I'd hope a court would come down on Random House. Even back when, different kinds of rights were known to exist, and magazine rights, hardcover rights, paperback rights, and subsidiary rights were separate items, along with movie and TV rights.

Attempting to claim rights for a new format that didn't exist when the original contracts were signed really shouldn't get very far.
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Unless the contract said "All and future rights in all forms..." I've seen some copyright notices along those lines...
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Old 12-14-2009, 02:28 PM   #42
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Unless the contract said "All and future rights in all forms..." I've seen some copyright notices along those lines...
Oh, certainly. Buying all rights was commonplace once upon a time, and contracts may still specify more than one type of right.

Back in the 50's and 60's, for example, Doubleday Books had a hardcover SF line. It was aimed primarily at the library market. Library sales covered Doubleday's direct costs. But Doubleday's contract specified that they got half of any paperback sale, and that's where they made the money on the line.

I'd expect a current contract, for example, to try to cover hardcover, paperback, and ebook rights, with the exact final form a matter of negotiation between the publisher and the author or author's agent.
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Old 12-14-2009, 02:28 PM   #43
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They most likely won't. Though it never went to trial, RH got the door slammed in their face twice by the courts. They will, most likely, have to live with the results of the Rosetta Books deal. I think this is sabre rattling on RH's part, in the hopes that no one wants to spend money on the lawyers. I'm not sure RH really wants the phrase "in book form" to be defined in a courtroom, since it's not likely to go their way.
Although if "book form" is legally defined to include ebooks, that opens the door for a claim of legal rights to give away or resell ebooks. Publishers who want to restrict that right would have to be a lot clearer about "licensing" instead of "selling" ebooks--including matching legal requirements for a license, like a time-restriction.

Telling customers "you can purchase the right to read this for one year" would result in a severe drop in sales. Right now, they bury the "this is a license" claim in EULAs and site FAQ pages, rather than saying it anywhere near the shopping cart area--and the claim doesn't hold up to legal rulings about what's considered a license instead of a sale.
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Old 12-14-2009, 09:00 PM   #44
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I suspect a fair number of agents are telling Random House "You just got crossed off the list of publishers I'll submit to, and I'm advising all of my clients currently published by you that I will be looking for new homes for future books..."
I doubt it, in no small part because I'm certain almost every other publisher is also attempting to clarify their status in this matter. Plus, all new contracts explicitly include book rights.

Besides, the real question is whether the actual contract bestows an unspecified publication format onto the publisher, or if it will revert to the author. Since contracts vary from one publisher to another (and most likely, each publisher and inprint has used a variety of contract language over the years), there is no clear-cut answer.


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Originally Posted by DMcCunney
I'd hope a court would come down on Random House. Even back when, different kinds of rights were known to exist, and magazine rights, hardcover rights, paperback rights, and subsidiary rights were separate items, along with movie and TV rights.
Random House isn't doing anything particularly wrong -- or to be precise, the writers are doing exactly the same thing as Random House and with exactly the same motivation: attempting to clarify the terms of the contract, in the hopes it will go in their favor for their commercial gain.

If the contract doesn't grant comprehensive rights, then it doesn't grant comprehensive rights and (afaik) unspecified rights should revert to the author. But without actually reading the contract and the benefit of experience in contract law, you cannot say what the outcome ought to be.
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