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The Good and (and some Bad) of TOC Frankfurt Coverage

The session from TOC Frankfurt that seems to have generated the most interest in the trade press here at Frankfurt is the one from Brian O’Leary discussing the research he’s been doing on the connection between p2p filesharing activity and book sales. I’m glad to see that, and I hope it persuades some other publishers to join in the research.

Today’s Bookseller includes a piece titled Improved TOC to Return in 2010 by Catherine Neilan that takes issue with the program from Tuesday’s event. Without a hint of irony, Pan Macmillan’s Sara Lloyd, after noting that she’d been a keynote speaker here in Frankfurt and in New York, said that trade publishers weren’t represented.

There is no shortage of events and platforms for mass-market trade publishers to talk about and amongst themselves. (Though I’ll note that there were speakers from Random House, HarperCollins, PanMacmillan, Wiley, Cengage, and Hachette in 2009′s New York program.) There are many at those houses doing interesting and innovative things, and while it’s great to hear from them, TOC is also about expanding that conversation to include voices from outside the traditional publishing circles.

And while Catherine reports that “No one from O’Reilly could be reached for comment,” I can say with certainty that no one tried to reach anyone from O’Reilly at either the email address or phone number listed on every page of the TOC Frankfurt website.

I’m disappointed that some of those from organizations that already have a loud and powerful voice in the industry like Pan Macmillan, Random House, and the Bookseller would choose to criticize TOC for not giving them even more say.

  • http://thedigitalist.net Sara Lloyd

    Hi Andrew

    As you know I appreciate hugely the opportunity to speak at TOC – and I really enjoy it! I also love to hear different perspectives. For example, The Guardian’s Matt McAlister was truly inspiring on their open platform approach and I took a great deal away from that, as well as other sessions on Tuesday.

    I’m afraid my comments in the Bookseller have been taken slightly out of context, here. I was asked quite specifically about the piracy session, where I thought the content was misleadingly skewed and no attempt was made to suggest how different the patterns might be for a mass market, highly commercial author, for example. I thought the speaker should have made that clearer. So, for example, he should have made clear that although the evidence suggestes that O’Reilly books generally do not show up on illegal file sharing sites for several weeks or months after publication, a Harry Potter or a Dan Brown would more likely be leaked to the Web immediately on publication (if not before!).

    I have made the same remarks in my feedback form on the conference, which I hope you’ll be happy to receive, since we should all be entitled to our opinions. I am equally happy to receive the mixture of praise and criticism for my own part in the conference, since constructive criticism is always useful in terms of making improvements the next time.

    No hard feelings, I hope.

    Best

    Sara

  • http://toc.oreilly.com Andrew Savikas

    Thank you for the clarification, Sara, I value and appreciate your opinions and perspective (and enjoy our lively conversations). It would be fantastic to have participation from more trade publishers in the study (we’ve asked, but haven’t had much luck — perhaps you can help!).

    Thanks for speaking at the first TOC Frankfurt, you helped make it a successful event.

  • http://www.fictionmatters.com Bradley Robb

    It seems only logical that as the mass-market trade publishers start to do more than dip their toes into the electronic publishing markets, that they’d pay attention to those whom have done so for a while now. That goes doubly so for the technological underpinnings of the undertaking – which are the knowledge of developers and engineers rather than printers and typesetters.

    I have to say, I’m rather unimpressed with the article Neilan wrote, and nearly apologetic for the bit about no one being available for contact. No, I wasn’t involved, but as digital peer, it seems sheepish and shameful.

    Also, is Brian’s presentation going to appear online?

  • http://thedigitalist.net Sara Lloyd

    Andrew

    Thanks for the quick response. I’d be interested to talk more re how we can broaden studies like yours, re piracy, to cover different categories of books.

    Another area where I noticed a gap in perspectives was around the mobile space. As you know I am as exicted as anyone re the potential for mobile, and Pan Mac was the first trade publisher to start experimenting on the iPhone, for example. However, we are very, very far from seeing iphone apps outselling print sales (as you have been seeing for some of your titles). Perhaps we could find a way without sharing confidential commercial information to compare our experiences in that space, too?

    Best

    Sara

  • http://www.thebookseller.com Philip Jones

    Bradley, as I have made clear at theBookseller.com we tried to contact Andrew at his O’Reilly email address at about 2pm yesterday, when no response came back we were referred by the Frankfurt Book Fair to Thomas Minkus. I have now made contact with Andrew (via the same email address we used yesterday), and we will be running his response in full. The Bookseller has no issue with TOC or its agenda, we are simply responding to publisher concern about what was widely regarded as the set-piece digital conference at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

  • bowerbird

    the dinosaurs will continue to ignore any and all evidence, and
    dispute its importance, just as they have for over a decade now.

    the evidence is as crystal-clear as cory doctorow’s meteoric rise.

    but even if the dinosaurs were able to understand it all rationally,
    they’re unable to change; their raison d’etre is to manage scarcity,
    whereas the way of the future is to be awash in a sea of plenty…

    i know it’s hard for all of you people chasing the almighty dollar
    to fathom a world where it won’t matter, but that’s the way it is,
    and the sooner we leave all the corporations behind, the better…

    the artists of the world are taking over, without firing a shot.
    the only question left is whether or not all the greedsters have
    ruined the planet beyond all repair, or if we can still rescue it.

    -bowerbird

  • bowerbird

    one more thing.

    i am endlessly amused that you publishers think that _you_
    will be creating the future.

    as if _you_ were the creative ones in this equation.

    i’ll be frank: you can’t create your way out of a wet paper bag.

    writers are the ones who’ll mold the future of the written word.

    and we ain’t sitting around asking your permission any more,
    just in case the rise of blogging didn’t impress that upon you…

    that’s all. you can go back to kissing your wallets now.

    -bowerbird

  • http://www.magellanmediapartners.com Brian O'Leary

    The presentation in question is available on Slideshare. Take a look and judge for yourself how misleading you feel I was at TOC.

    http://bit.ly/dX5Qy

  • http://medialoper.com/author/admin/ Kirk Biglione

    @sara

    Since you attended the Piracy session I assume you heard the disclaimers indicating that the results presented are far from being the final word on the issue.

    Also, it sounds like you may have missed the call for more publishers to participate in the research. Since you’re keen on broadening the study to reflect more categories of books you should probably contact Brian O’Leary about signing up to participate.

  • Fionnuala Duggan

    Hi Andrew

    I was quoted in the Bookseller piece. In that press interview, I was speaking specifically about the piracy session at the conference. While I enjoyed hearing about the ongoing research project being carried out by Magellan, I understand the very limited scope of that research (which was made clear) and I do not feel it bore much relevance to what the trade publishing houses are doing (Random House’s involvement in the study was extremely limited) or should do in the future. There was a clear missed opportunity for a high level and serious discussion about the potential impact on the publishing industry of piracy and what we can do to minimise this, to avoid the well documented fate of the record industry (where I used to work). Not just P2P piracy but also ‘pass along’ piracy of unprotected PDFs, which needs to be considered in any serious discussion on the topic.

    On a more general point, my personal view is that the careful use of well moderated discussion panels with senior executives is a good way to air a diverse range of viewpoints on any topic. Topics of great interest to European publishers such as territoriality and the role of existing retailers/wholesalers would be interesting to include in this way.

    With best wishes

    Fionnuala

  • bowerbird

    i look forward to the toc conference in new york in february,
    where i hope the old-guard corporate publishers will stage a
    twitter rebellion during some youngster’s anti-drm session…

    -bowerbird

  • bowerbird

    that’s funny.

    i say:
    > writers are the ones who’ll
    > mold the future of the written word.

    and just a mere 2 days later, cory doctorow
    lays out his next experiment to do just that:
    > http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6702526.html

    cory doesn’t seem to be worried about “piracy” in the slightest.

    nope, he’s using cyberspace’s pervasive ability to make copies
    to work for him, instead of against him. he’s a good mammal…

    -bowerbird

  • bowerbird

    and the funny keeps on coming.

    i say:
    > writers are the ones who’ll
    > mold the future of the written word.

    and also a mere 2 days later, we have
    the mark of a pilgrim out on the road:
    > http://diveintomark.org/archives/2009/10/19/the-point

    i won’t even try to summarize the post,
    i’ll just pull this one juicy quote out of it:

    > I don’t write for money; I write for love
    > (or passion, or whatever you want to call it).
    > I choose open content licenses because
    > this is the way I want the world to work,
    > and the only way to change the world
    > is to change yourself first.

    that’s the kind of claptrap i’ve been telling you about,
    how us artists are gonna transform your greedy world,
    and yeah it’s easy to spout this rap, but read mark’s post
    to see where it takes him — reminds him of “the point” –
    if you really want to know what it’s like to be a mammal…

    -bowerbird

  • bowerbird

    even more funny…

    i say:
    > writers are the ones who’ll
    > mold the future of the written word.

    and now, a mere 4 days later, we have
    the latest book from concord free press:
    > http://www.concordfreepress.com/

    so… let’s get things straight here, ok?

    it’s a _very_ nice thing to give away your book,
    as an e-book, for free… but it’s not _difficult_,
    because an e-book doesn’t have variable costs.

    once you’ve made your e-book, it doesn’t cost
    you anything to give someone a copy for free…

    this is why authors in the future will be able to
    give away their books free without any difficulty.

    but that’s not what concord free press is doing.

    concord free press is giving away free p-books!

    that’s right. they pay to have their books printed,
    pay to distribute them to independent bookstores,
    and then readers get these printed-books for free.

    all concord free press asks in return is that those
    readers pass on the books after they’ve read them,
    and make a donation to a charity of your own choice.
    (further, the size of the donation is also up to you.)

    this — quite obviously — is not a way for authors to
    “get paid”. it _is_, however, an excellent demonstration
    of the way that authors have set out to change the world.

    they explain it on their “about us” page:
    > http://www.concordfreepress.com/about-us-page-2/

    as they put it:
    > we’re publishing books that connect
    > _reading_ and _giving_ like never before.
    > And that’s enough for us.

    and their motto?
    > “free their books and their minds will follow.”

    here’s to you, concord free press, a model of inspiration!

    -bowerbird

  • bowerbird

    and still more funny:
    > http://ascii.textfiles.com/archives/2287

    jason scott has a cat — sockington — who is
    a twitter phenom, with 1.3 million followers…

    jason is often asked how he intends to monetize
    sockington, a question which offends him deeply.

    and when ad marketer john battelle said publicly
    that sockington’s owner is “a guy who has a price”,
    and therefore could be bought, that made jason mad.

    jason simply isn’t looking to sell out sockington, see?
    sockington means more to jason than just a paycheck.

    maybe you wouldn’t understand.

    then again, maybe you don’t have 1.3 million followers.

    -bowerbird

    p.s. sockington is hilarious. you should definitely follow him.
    you should also follow @mikecane, who is also quite hilarious.

  • bowerbird

    the funny just won’t stop…

    on a forum over at if:book (future of the book, there’s this:
    > I am Professor Emeritus of History from
    > Northeastern Illinois University and owner of
    > one of the foremost archives of historic films,
    > MacDonald & Associates. I have recently onlined
    > a free novel intended to introduce students
    > to the methodology and ethic of historians.
    > It is aimed at high school students and their teachers.
    > The novel, THE HISTORY SHOPPE, is filled with
    > vintage films and still pictures of cultural artifacts that
    > range from the French Revolution to the Cold War 1950s.
    > We have just received an excellent review in
    > THE HISTORY TEACHER journal, and I want to
    > make your organization aware of the book.
    > It is totally free for viewing and downloading
    > by teachers and students.
    > It is my give-back to the profession that I followed–
    > and continue to follow–for more than three decades.

    here’s a professor emeritus (so i guess that answers the
    “quality” question in this case) who’s put up a free book,
    as his “give-back” to the profession, and society at large.

    this is the kind of book that most publishers would yawn at,
    because they wouldn’t know how to sell sufficient numbers,
    but professor macdonald doesn’t have to worry about all that,
    because the variable cost of a putting a book online approaches
    zero, zip, zilch, nada, and nothing, plus all of those combined…

    here’s the link to the if:book forum, if you wanna check it out:
    > http://www.futureofthebook.org/blog/archives/2006/03/next_text_new_media_in_history.html#c322529

    thank you, professor macdonald, for your gift to humanity!

    -bowerbird

  • bowerbird

    funny funny funny…

    those computer-manual self-help books that
    you used to buy as p-books at the bookstore?

    well, now people are offering them as a free .pdf:
    > http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/the-incredible-free-manual-for-every-mac-user-pdf/

    -bowerbird

  • bowerbird

    a writer comments that:
    > I have no idea what a new writer would do now

    and continues:
    > Publishers are beyond risk-averse
    > and are currently decision-averse.

    still, that same writer says:
    > for now, the part of my job which is
    > consistently inspiring involves
    > seeing and feeling the energy of readers,
    > meeting that immense enthusiasm for wonders
    > – in all kinds of people in all kinds of situations –
    > Ilkley, Ely, Toronto … it doesn’t seem to matter where.
    > If that energy and intelligence steps up to
    > the next level of organisation, there could be hope for us.
    > And I need never go on another TV or radio show and
    > find that, however the discussion was described beforehand,
    > what we’re really meant to talk about is how poetry is dead,
    > or the novel is rubbish, or the short story is irrelevant.
    > Fuck that, quite frankly. Really.
    > Fuck that with vigour and from a strange direction.
    > It truly leaves me more than annoyed.

    and here it is, in a nutshell, the thing that will
    ensure that writers keep writing in the future
    – “seeing and feeling the energy of readers”…

    > http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2009/nov/03/al-kennedy-fiction-writing

    -bowerbird

  • bowerbird

    and the funny gets even funnier…

    a “cooperative” of 26 authors —
    “award-winning and best-selling”
    – has been formed to sell work
    directly (sans publisher) to kindle,
    and the ereader and the iphone too.

    the press release says of the authors:
    > All professionally published,
    > and many currently under contract
    > with traditional New York firms
    > such as Random House, Tor Books
    > and Simon & Schuster

    do the names “ursula k. le guin
    and vonda n. mcintyre” ring a bell?

    motivation? the authors decided to
    “band together and take charge.”

    their press release makes no bones:
    > No outside publishing house
    > will be involved and the
    > profits go directly to the authors.

    as project manager sarah zettel puts it:
    > “Ebooks give us a fantastic opportunity
    > to bring our best work straight to the readers.
    > It’s truly an exciting time to be an author.”

    > http://www.bookviewcafe.com
    > http://www.bookviewcafe.com/index.php/Press-Room/Press-Releases/Author-Cooperative-Goes-Direct-to-Kindle

    so it sure sounds to me like authors are
    now creating “the future of publishing”,
    and just leaving the corporate dinosaurs
    behind wondering where everyone went.

    -bowerbird

  • bowerbird

    funny, it is, how easy it is for me to continue this series
    of comments about how _authors_ will create the future
    of publishing, while leaving dinosaur corporations behind.

    > http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/jacketcopy/2009/11/xkcd-book.html

    but before going there and reading today’s episode,
    see if you can correctly answer this question posed there:

    > What’s the most stupidly ambitious aspect of
    > “XKCD: Volume 0,” the book based on the
    > wildly popular yet still very underground webcomic:
    >
    > Is it the assumption that cartoonist Randall Munroe’s
    > uber tech-savvy audience would pay for
    > a hard-copy version of the comic strips
    > it gets for free in a comprehensive online archive?
    >
    > Is it that Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Conde Nast’s
    > Reddit, turned his “un-corporation” Breadpig into
    > a publishing company for his friend Munroe’s book,
    > while Munroe, 25, declined several offers from
    > established publishers, despite their persistence?
    > “I kind of make it hard to e-mail me,” Munroe said
    > on the phone from Somerville, Mass.
    >
    > Or how about the pledge to build a $32,000 school in Laos
    > from a portion of book sales without the luxury of
    > advertising or having copies on major bookstore shelves?

    well, what do you think?

    -bowerbird

  • bowerbird

    funny funny funny.

    another day, another writer deciding to make a go sans publisher.

    this time it’s warren ellis.

    you might not know him. or you might worship him.
    either way, he’s got a lot of credibility, so this is just
    one more reason why publishers should be shuddering.

    > http://www.warrenellis.com/?p=7931

    -bowerbird

  • bowerbird

    fun fun funny fun…

    ok, here’s another one:
    > http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/11/announcing-the-view-from-your-window.html

    this is a guy from “the atlantic” who has put together
    a bunch of user-generated content into a book which
    he is now going to sell back to the people who made it.

    since “the atlantic” is an old-school publisher, this project
    doesn’t really fall under the “writers will create the future”
    topic that has guided these comments of mine so far…

    but…

    there is one thing that this guy is doing right that many
    people haven’t picked up, when doing their own projects,
    and that is that he is taking _pre-orders_ for the book…

    with enough pre-orders, he will then do a _print-run,_
    and save a good amount of money for the “subscribers”.

    most writers these days are relying on print-on-demand,
    which is good, because it requires no up-front expense…

    however, if you have developed your audience to the point
    where you can get ‘em to pre-order, even pay in advance,
    you can give them a much lower price by doing a print-run.

    you can do a print-run and get a much better rate than
    print-on-demand even with 300 copies, and especially 500.
    and if you get 1000 pre-orders, you could get a great rate.

    of course, this also means you have to deal with fulfillment
    – sending out the p-books — not to mention the hassle of
    money-handling (bounced checks, foreign orders, and so on),
    so it’s definitely not for the faint-of-heart. and you must have
    the discipline not to over-order, or you’ll get stuck with boxes
    and boxes and boxes of unordered books sitting in your garage,
    which is doubly bad since you lost money on every single book.

    but if you’re capable of pulling it off, a print-run is very cool.

    -bowerbird

  • bowerbird

    funny fun fun fun funny fun fun…

    this series of comments is based on the proposition that
    writers will create “the future of publishing” ourselves…

    but really, the concept is much broader than just writers,
    and the future of “publishing”…

    we’re really talking about _artists_ in general, and thus,
    “the future of art”.

    the first thing the middlemen tried to tell people is that,
    if we disintermediated the middlemen, the artists would
    not get paid, and would stop making art.

    as you might imagine, artists objected, very loudly.

    artists have made art since time began, or even before,
    and we’re not going to stop just because we aren’t paid.
    the concept of “starving artist” isn’t just a big bad myth.
    artists have put up with some pretty shitty lives, just so
    we could focus on making our art. money is immaterial.

    that’s right, folks. artists don’t make art for the money.

    i know that’s hard for some of you people here to believe.
    you’re accountants, and you do accounting for the money.
    and you wouldn’t do accounting if nobody paid you to do it.
    you’d walk out so darn fast that peoples’ heads would spin.

    and i don’t blame you. if i did accounting, i too would be
    doing it just for the money, and i’d walk if i wasn’t paid…

    and it’s not surprising that you would assume that artists
    are just like you, and would refuse to do art if not paid…

    but guess what? you are wrong. artists will do art anyway.

    the other part of this equation which is very humorous is
    middlemen have done more than anyone to rip off artists.
    recording companies regularly use accountants to steal
    money from musicians. film companies are notorious
    for how they use accounting tricks to keep movies from
    reaching the “profit” status that would trigger royalties,
    to the point that post-profit royalties have been called
    “monkey points” because you have to be as stupid as a
    monkey in order to settle for such payoffs in a contract.
    and yeah, publishers have ripped off writers, and you all
    know it, as much as you wanna say “but not my company!”

    but let me get to the point. the point is “yes, of course,
    artists have bills just like everyone else, so how can we
    make sure that artists can get paid for the work we do?”

    i’m of the opinion that there will be lots and lots of ways
    for artists to get paid. and one of those ways will be for
    artists to go directly to their fans and just ask for money.

    because the internet lets artists and fans connect directly.

    and fans love artists. heck, that’s why they’re called “fans”.

    and we don’t have to strict about how we define “artists”…

    whatever you do, you might consider it to be “art”, and you
    might collect fans along the way, fans who will support you.

    it is with that preface that i now introduce you to jason scott.

    jason has done a lot of things on the internet. one of them is
    > http://www.textfiles.com

    you’ll see that i already referenced jason earlier in this thread.
    like i said, jason has done a lot of things on the internet, and
    – in the process — he has apparently gathered a lot of fans.

    so anyway, jason recently got laid off from his job, so he was
    sitting around trying to decide what to do as the bills mounted,
    and he hit on the idea of asking his fans to help him out a bit…

    so he went to kickstarter.com (which i will discuss tomorrow)
    and started a project asking fans to contribute $25,000 to him.

    i am happy to report that, as of last night, jason reached his goal;
    some 315+ people have pledged $25,000+ for jason’s “sabbatical”.

    you can read about jason’s project here:
    > http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/textfiles/the-jason-scott-sabbatical

    congratulations, jason. now go create the future of art, young man.

    -bowerbird

  • bowerbird

    jason has put up a thank you video:
    > http://bit.ly/IDSRN

    320+ contributors now, for a total of $25,900+.

    his thank-you tweet read:
    > Well good morning! It is a brand new day for me,
    > is it not? A day in which hundreds of people
    > banded together to give me freedom and time.

    this is the attitude of the 21st-century artist.

    notice how jason understands, clearly and deeply, who
    his patron is: an audience who has appreciated the gift of
    his art, now willing to return the favor with a gift of cash,
    precisely because they understand their crucial role as
    causative agents in the creation of more art by this artist.

    also of important and particular note here is that this
    specific dynamic will create a positive reinforcement loop.

    (“positive” in that it is self-reinforcing, and will increase
    in its frequency, to the point it becomes a stable force.
    the nature of the relationship between artist and audience
    will be “positive” — e.g., pleasant — for the most part too,
    although the exception will surely arise and be interesting.
    but of more import is that this will be a stable phenomenon.)

    -bowerbird

  • bowerbird

    i said:
    > this is the attitude of the 21st-century artist.
    > notice how jason understands, clearly and deeply, who
    > his patron is: an audience who has appreciated the gift of
    > his art, now willing to return the favor with a gift of cash,
    > precisely because they understand their crucial role as
    > causative agents in the creation of more art by this artist.

    whoa.

    and you don’t have to be an indy artist to have the attitude…

    john mayer is signed to some label, i’m sure, and even if you
    don’t care for his music, you have to love that he tweeted this:
    > I don’t own any material good
    > or an opportunity in life that
    > wasn’t given to me by my fans.
    > Touching my stuff like I was high on E.

    i’m sure mayer is beholden to whatever label he’s signed with,
    but the important thing is that he knows that his _audience_
    is “out there in the world”, and he has to appeal to them…

    the beauty of the independent artist, though, is that he knows
    without a doubt that the audience is the patron for the artist…

    in the old days, you might have a king or queen as your patron.
    you had to make sure the king or queen was happy. or else.

    in the last century, the publishing company was the patron.
    you had to make sure the publishing company was happy.

    for the last 25 years, the publishing company was a corporation,
    so a corporation was the patron. corporate money, corporate art.
    you had to make sure the corporation was happy.

    now, finally, the relationship is as it should be, with audience as
    the patron. with all the gatekeepers blown away. by grenades,
    if necessary. you have to make sure the audience is happy.

    these are exciting times for artists… we are being enticed by
    the opportunity to connect and work directly with our audience.

    and although we might not yet know exactly what that means,
    there’s no question that it’s exciting, we’re filled with adrenaline.

    -bowerbird

  • bowerbird

    more holiday fun…

    here’s a mother-daughter writing team creating the future:
    > http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6709882.html?rssid=192

    they have a children’s holiday book that was released in 2005
    – self-published, because no big house wanted it — and made
    $100,000 that year, with a $7million take projected for this year.

    -bowerbird

  • bowerbird

    ho-hum, more fun…

    > http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/15/technology/companies/15amazon.html
    or
    > http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2009/dec/14/random-house-digital-rights

    and now the big trees are starting to fall, so it’s
    very hard not to hear them, unless you’re deaf…

    even if you don’t know who stephen covey is,
    you’ve probably heard of a book that he wrote
    called “the 7 habits of highly effective people”.

    the book was published in 1989 — two decades
    ago — and it still managed to sell about 200,000
    copies this year, which is more than about 98% of the
    frontlist books (published this year) manage to sell.

    in other words, this book is a cash cow.

    moreover, it’s not the only book in his stable, either.

    mr. covey is moving into e-books, and self-publishing.

    covey just granted e-book rights for “7 habits” and
    another book to amazon, and will soon make more
    of his books available exclusively to amazon as well.

    covey is working through rosetta books, a name that
    will sound familiar to long-time followers of e-books,
    since there was a major law-suit between rosetta and
    random house over whether publishing contracts that
    were issued in the old days applied to electronic-books.

    random house was losing the case, so they settled it
    out-of-court, so as not to establish the precedent…
    but rosetta knows which way the wind blows.

    rosetta is giving covey big royalties — more than half
    of the net proceeds — which outstrips the 25% digital
    royalty paid by covey’s current publisher, simon & shuster.

    as you might imagine, this kind of move is quite upsetting
    to the old-guard publishing dinosaurs. they’ve been trying
    to _lower_ the amount of their digital royalties, as well as
    lower the advances paid, and the set-aside for marketing.

    and in spite of the fact that they’ve been dragging their feet
    for well over a decade now on moving to electronic-books,
    they were counting on their backlist to give them a big lift.

    so the idea that authors might lay claim to the digital rights,
    and move their digital books to other publishers, is giving
    those dinosaur publishers nightmares, especially given that
    rosetta seems to have presented them with a huge setback…

    random house made an announcement just last friday that
    – as far as they are concerned — they own digital rights to
    all of their backlist books. but it’s clear this was a big bluff,
    and that backlist authors (and their agents) will challenge it,
    so that the matter _will_ be decided in court (at long last)…

    just as frightening is the fact that covey is self-publishing.

    his organization has already self-published one of his books
    in hard-copy (again going with rosetta for the e-book version),
    and will soon be duplicating that approach with a second book.

    everybody — including the corporate publisher dinosaurs –
    knows that they make the bulk of their profit off bestsellers,
    so when the big-dog authors abandon them, they are toast…

    just another example of my theme here, which is that
    the publishers won’t be creating the future of publishers.

    it is the _writers_ who will be inventing the new world…

    the publishers can resign themselves to watching from
    the sidelines…

    -bowerbird

  • bowerbird

    hmm. haven’t updated this page in a while, but
    i came here because amazon made a big move.

    and i see that the last entry i posted was also a
    big move by the world’s biggest bookstore…

    anyway…

    j.a. konrath is a mid-list author who has been
    putting his work up on amazon for the kindle,
    and documenting the full process on his blog.

    konrath has paid close attention to the dollars,
    and he has increasingly become convinced that
    his future career will switch focus from print…

    indeed, it’s rather astonishing how quickly that
    his conversion has taken place — within a year.

    so it was not a big surprise when he announced
    that amazon would be publishing his next book:
    > http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2010/05/shaken-by-ja-konrath-press-release.html

    the amusing part to me is that konrath _tried_
    to sell this book to the major print publishers,
    but none of them wanted it, even though it is
    the next book in a series that’s been successful.

    konrath would have published it himself, but he
    evidently got an amazon offer he couldn’t refuse.

    i would say this is the beginning of the end for
    print publishers, but we’re well past that point.
    we’re now at the middle of the end, or perhaps
    even at the beginning of the end of the end…

    now let’s just make sure we do not get trapped
    once again by the middleman known as amazon.
    (or the one called apple, or the one named google.)

    -bowerbird

  • bowerbird

    while i’m at it, i might as well point to this video:
    > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsB587cVMd0&

    youtube is having its 5th birthday, and this video
    is a reminder that artists now can do it ourselves.

    -bowerbird

  • bowerbird

    well, gee, here we are, about a year later, and i was
    reminded of this old thread by yet another author
    who has set out to create the future of publishing
    – a future that doesn’t _include_ any publishers,
    but rather writers connecting directly with readers.

    this time it’s douglas rushkoff, and he says this:

    > Why would a bestselling author, capable of
    > garnering a six-figure advance on a book,
    > forgo the money, the media, and the mojo
    > associated with a big publishing house?
    >
    > Because it would make my book
    > twice as expensive for you,
    > half as profitable for me,
    > less purposefully written, and
    > unavailable until about two years from now.
    > In short, the traditional publishing system
    > is nearly dead. And publishing a book
    > under its rules can mean the death of ideas
    > within it, as well. Until it utterly reworks its method,
    > gets rid of a majority of its corporate dead weight,
    > releases its publishing houses from the conglomerates
    > that own them, and embraces direct selling models,
    > the publishing industry will remain rather useless
    > to readers and writers alike.
    >
    > Authors and readers no longer need Big Publishing
    > to find and engage one another.
    > The sooner we all realize this, the better off we’ll all be.

    well, yes, that about sums it up…

    but if you want, you can read more here;
    > http://www.arthurmag.com/2010/09/29/rushkoff-why-i-left-my-publisher-in-order-to-publish-a-book/

    authors will create the future. corporations, go home…

    -bowerbird

  • bowerbird

    well, here we are, just 18 months later,
    and just as i was saying, it is _writers_
    who are creating the future of publishing,
    with big thanks to a huge lift from amazon.

    more and more midlist authors are finding
    that they can make a ton of money offering
    their backlist to kindle customers, and even
    some bestselling authors are now jumping
    on the e-book self-publishing bandwagon.

    moreover, authors now have a taste of the
    _control_ that they never had with publishers,
    and they like having power over their art and
    their destiny, and aren’t about to give it up.

    they’re also using their newfound freedom to
    concentrate more on _making_art_ instead of
    just _making_money_, and they like that too.

    meanwhile, the corporations remain clueless.

    -bowerbird