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Old 09-13-2010, 09:41 PM   #31
Robert22
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Originally Posted by speakingtohe View Post
@Robert22
I agree to most and succinctly put.
Still not a concrete solution.
I think authors, publishers etc. would lower prices considerably if they could see a chance of making it a success.

All the above are available and in use but generally by unknown authors or mavericks.
Gotta give them a viable alternative and a reason to switch that is in their interests as well as ours or we sound a tad like self centered babies saying gimme because I want you to.
Thanks for your reply.

What I'm saying is, what value do publishers bring to the table that we would not have without them? Before electronic books they were great facilitators and very necessary to get a book from an author to a reader. But what are they good for now (as far as ebooks are concerned)?
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Old 09-13-2010, 10:29 PM   #32
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I do not like DRM and I do not like the idea that I do not own the book when I buy it although we should all be used to that through software licensing.

I do not see a viable alternative for publishers at the moment. Self publishing authors or authors in general could request donations, but not a hope in hell for publishers.

Publishers have been doing business for quite a while and generallly doing a reasonable job with no hue and cry up until recently. Perhaps they are doomed, but one can't fault them for trying to stay in business.

What would you do in their shoes? Just give up?

....
Except that Digital Restrictions Management doesn't keep anyone from copying ebooks. The proof is left as an exercise for your favorite torrent site.

For that matter, go take a look at how easy it is to get any of the Harry Potter books as an illicit ebook -- books which have never been released in electronic format.

As a counter-example, take a look at Baen. Thanks in part to their DRM-free policy, they have become one of the top SF publishers. And they are not a small press.

Anybody who wants an illicit copy of an ebook can get it, and often with less effort than getting a DRM-encumbered version. DRM removal is also minimally difficult for anyone who really cares. The book has to be displayed, so one way or another -- even if it requires screenshots and OCR software -- that is unlikely to change.

What DRM really does is enforce device lock-in. People with Kindles (people who don't jailbreak their books, anyway) have to buy new Kindles, etc. That's what the publishers want. That, and the destruction of the secondary market (used book stores).

They see their customer as someone who buys a half-dozen hardcovers a year. Precisely why they don't think someone who buys dozens of paperbacks a year is also their customer remains a mystery. That's where companies like Baen and O'Reilly and their kin are smart: they realize that if we can get books cheaper, we'll buy more books -- and specifically, more of their books. So they sell us cheap books (a new release from Baen is usually $6.00, for instance, and no weaseling with ".99" either) and we buy them by the bucketload.

It's anything but true that publishers "need" to impose DRM to keep people from copying their books. The torrents are full of copies of their books; that horse is not just out of the barn but cantering down the highway. The publishers can't stop them. It's all about device lock-in, and always has been.
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Old 09-13-2010, 10:48 PM   #33
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I'm really getting the feeling (can't tell you exactly why) that retailers care a lot less about DRM than the publishers do. I wonder if they'd all open up if publishers didn't insist on "protecting" (aka "crippling") their ebooks with DRM.

I've sold x-many copies of Risen at Smashwords, without DRM. I've sold 3x-many copies of Risen at Amazon, without DRM. I've sold, as far as I know, zero/zilch/nada copies of Risen at B&N and the Sony store and Kobobooks with DRM.*

What do I think of DRM? Guess.

*I know this is not a scientific study with controlled variables. It could be any number of other factors. I'm just saying.
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Old 09-13-2010, 11:06 PM   #34
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DRM stands for Digital Rights Management.

It's not about "restricted"; it's not about "protection".

Adobe's ADE, and the way it is implemented using the Overdrive facilities for public libraries is a great example of "management". It provides for tracking digital rights from the library to the borrower (temporarily removing the rights from the library and giving them to the borrower) and then tracking the "return" of the item from the borrower to the library. Multiple copies can exist and remain -- but in the expired borrower hands, the management scheme renders the item useless, whereas the library copy is magically "whole" again and read to be loaned out again.
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Old 09-13-2010, 11:11 PM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Strnad View Post
I've sold x-many copies of Risen at Smashwords, without DRM. I've sold 3x-many copies of Risen at Amazon, without DRM. I've sold, as far as I know, zero/zilch/nada copies of Risen at B&N and the Sony store and Kobobooks with DRM.
I'll bet hardly any of the Amazon buyers know they are buying Risen without DRM or, even more likely, don't care one way or the other -- they just want to enjoy your book.

I can honestly say I would not buy something at Smashwords, that was also at Amazon for about the price, regardless of DRM. I would assume the Amazon version was better formatted and would buy on that basis. (It may not be true, but in some cases, at least for me, it has been.)
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Old 09-14-2010, 01:58 AM   #36
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This is entirely incorrect. Calibre does an excellent job of converting from Mobipocket format to ePub.
This is entirely "I did not read the original post". This wasn't a DRM'd AZW (mobi) file. It was a Topaz .PRC file. Guess I wasn't precise on this.

More on Topaz that I could find here:

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=94753

Calibre won't convert. Apparently there's a combo of Python scripts that might convert it to something usable...with some issues.

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Old 09-14-2010, 02:56 AM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Strnad View Post
I've sold x-many copies of Risen at Smashwords, without DRM. I've sold 3x-many copies of Risen at Amazon, without DRM. I've sold, as far as I know, zero/zilch/nada copies of Risen at B&N and the Sony store and Kobobooks with DRM.*

What do I think of DRM? Guess.

*I know this is not a scientific study with controlled variables. It could be any number of other factors. I'm just saying.
Well, one obvious factor is that your book is $2.99 at Amazon and Smashwords while it's priced at $3.96, $4.70 and $3.89 at the other retailers respectively.
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Old 09-14-2010, 03:26 AM   #38
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Thanks for your reply.

What I'm saying is, what value do publishers bring to the table that we would not have without them? Before electronic books they were great facilitators and very necessary to get a book from an author to a reader. But what are they good for now (as far as ebooks are concerned)?
The primary thing that publishers bring to the table is filtering out the garbage, and editing those few books that are worthy of publication such that they become readable. Alas, you only have to look at the overwhelming majority of books by independent authors to see the result of not using a professional editor.
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Old 09-14-2010, 06:44 AM   #39
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The primary thing that publishers bring to the table is filtering out the garbage, and editing those few books that are worthy of publication such that they become readable. Alas, you only have to look at the overwhelming majority of books by independent authors to see the result of not using a professional editor.
Hi Harry,

If you look at my original post you'll see my second point of requirements to create an ebook is an editor (just not the whole infrastructure of a publishing house).

And I certainly agree with you, there is a lot of junk out there, and a lot of stuff that each one of us may not be that interested in. In traditional publishing there is so much cost in producing a book not directly related to the writing of it, that the responsibility of insuring that money is not poured down a rat hole is the publisher, who puts up the money in the first place. So they become the gatekeeper. But when you decide to read a particular book, how often is your decision based on the fact that Random House is the publisher? You may partially base reading a book on a publisher if that publisher specializes in a genre that you like.

When those costs are no longer there, there needs to be other mechanisms for judging the merits of a work. That's where blog reviews, forums, reviews by readers on websites the sell ebooks, book clubs and recommendations by authors you like come in. I think those sources are a much better judge of the value of a book than publishers are.

Additionally ebooks do not need to generate the profits that pbooks need in order to support the people involved in their creation. Cheaper ebooks for the reader generates more profit for the authors who keep a higher percentage of the sale, and more books being sold since they are more affordable.

So why do we need publishers for ebooks again?

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Old 09-14-2010, 07:01 AM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
The primary thing that publishers bring to the table is filtering out the garbage, and editing those few books that are worthy of publication such that they become readable. Alas, you only have to look at the overwhelming majority of books by independent authors to see the result of not using a professional editor.
You don't need a publisher to use the services of an editor, but I can see why a lot of first time or amateur writers wouldn't bother with one.

What publishers really do is choose which books they think are the most likely to sell, based on what is currently selling. So if you had a book about sparkly vampires versus zombies you would have a better chance of being published than if you had a book about snail racing. Any subjective "quality" difference between the two books would be irrelevant.

This is why Harry Potter was turned down so many times. I'm not saying it's a "quality" book, I've never read it, but it seems to sell well. But when it was first pimped out to publishers there was no similar books with a proven sales record, so it was turned down. When it did sell, it opened the doors for other writers with boy wizard type stories.
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Old 09-14-2010, 07:35 AM   #41
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A big part of the problem is not the people who should be making the decisions, but the bean counters upstairs who know (or think they know) money and nothing else. "The competition just sold a boy wizard books? Buy all the boy wizard books you can get!" They've become so driven by blockbusters that they're not only throwing the midlist authors under the bus, but they're insisting on buying books that will never sell, or never earn out their advance, because they "have to" have a boy wizard, a sparkly vampire, a celebrity tell-all, or whatever is hot this month. Instead of a series of good, solid sellers (see: Baen) they're shooting their bolt on hoped-for blockbusters and generally missing, to the detriment of pretty much everyone, the authors and readers most prominent among them.

There was a time when a publisher's imprint meant that a book could be expected to reach a certain standard of quality. In the past decade or so, unfortunately, it seems that it mostly means that the book reached a certain standard of similarity to other publishers' offerings. I have bought more crap with covers on it (thankfully, usually at the charity book table) than I ever have as ebooks. There are times I wonder if any editor has ever actually read a book. It fits the formula du jour, so they buy it; next month, they'll be buying something else. Instead of looking for good books to promote, they're looking for books that fit their planned promotions, whether they're good or not, and the results, a disturbing percentage of the time, come up "not". And let's not even get started on how much editing (line or copy) the books don't get anymore; I'm getting ready to start hitting someone.

So since the publishers seem to be not only abandoning but actively discarding that gatekeeper role ... what, exactly, is left for them to do?
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Old 09-14-2010, 09:20 AM   #42
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Well said mr ploppy & Worldwalker! I couldn't agree more...
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Old 09-14-2010, 09:56 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
The primary thing that publishers bring to the table is filtering out the garbage, and editing those few books that are worthy of publication such that they become readable. Alas, you only have to look at the overwhelming majority of books by independent authors to see the result of not using a professional editor.
As others have already said, the editing can be done without the publishers and I think the position of independent editors or editing bureaus will become more important. And the publishers do quite a lousy job of filtering. Their filtering is based on the profits they think they can make, but if you look at the big number of returns they are not very good at selecting the proper books to publish. Also the customer is not interested in what books will generate profit for the publisher but what books are worth reading, which might be a different category. In the rejected books there might be several ones that are worth reading but with not enough interest in readers to warrant a commercial print run. But still interesting enough for a sufficiently large group of customers to warrant an ebook version, maybe together with a POD version. If it is produced by a low-overhead organisation or by the author it will be worthwhile to publish it. But it might not fit in the large scale bureaucratic mode of operation of a publisher. I think it is inevitable that this kind of publishing will shift away from the publishing houses and their importance will diminish.
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Old 09-14-2010, 11:55 AM   #44
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A big part of the problem is not the people who should be making the decisions, but the bean counters upstairs who know (or think they know) money and nothing else. "The competition just sold a boy wizard books? Buy all the boy wizard books you can get!" They've become so driven by blockbusters that they're not only throwing the midlist authors under the bus, but they're insisting on buying books that will never sell, or never earn out their advance, because they "have to" have a boy wizard, a sparkly vampire, a celebrity tell-all, or whatever is hot this month. Instead of a series of good, solid sellers (see: Baen) they're shooting their bolt on hoped-for blockbusters and generally missing, to the detriment of pretty much everyone, the authors and readers most prominent among them.
I read somewhere that most of the books that are published make a loss, and it is only the big selling books that keeps publishers afloat. So I can sort of understand why they would go for lowest common denominator type books that might make it on the coat tails of other books. The trouble is, by the time they have noticed a trend, that trend is already a few years old so by the time they get their version out it's already lost in a sea of other similar books. But they have to follow that trend just in case, they can't afford to take a chance on something with no proven sales no matter how good it is.

I see self published ebooks the same way I see self published music. When everyone realised they could put out their own records very cheaply and sell them direct to customers we had a massive explosion in the types of music being released. Whereas what comes from more mainstream music publishers all sounds about the same because it's chasing mass market appeal.
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Old 09-14-2010, 01:26 PM   #45
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What I'm saying is, what value do publishers bring to the table that we would not have without them? Before electronic books they were great facilitators and very necessary to get a book from an author to a reader. But what are they good for now (as far as ebooks are concerned)?
I honestly don't know. Some good obviously or they would be out of business. And pbooks are still read although maybe not by us

I would not like to see the effect on global economy if all the publishers, printers, bookstores, and other industries that depend on pbook/newspaper/magazine publication and distribution go out of business. Major newspapers are already discussing shutting down the printing presses. Whole areas whose main industry is pulp and paper would be devasted.

I got an ebook reader because books aren't sold in the town I am currently in, and I am glad that I did, but it takes very little thought to realize the vast number of people whose livelyhood depends wholly or partially printed works distributed daily.
Bound to happen but hope it is a very gradual process.

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