Posts filed under 'Publishing Industry'

Why wait for an Apple eReader when the iPhone is already here?

Image by William Hook

The iPhone has been grabbing my attention. As if to reinforce the now undoubtable shift in the publishing paradigm, it seems that the number of books being published as apps on the iPhone is growing … fast. Book apps releases in the appstore overtook game apps for the first time ever. 20% of the apps released in September were books. It seems publishers and indie authors are not waiting for the mooted Apple eReader, the one that’s easy on the eyes and the batteries (… yada, yada …), but rather are willing to take advantage of another distribution channel for eBooks here are now. And why not? There are, no doubt, more iPhones than eReaders out there. There’s a huge user base who scan the appstore everyday. Sure, there is eReader software like Stanza on the iPhone, but I can see the attraction of a custom app in terms of its attention, customization, regular updates, linked interactive content, options for free/purchase content, etc. I’m not the only one.

There’s early adopter advantage to be had here. After all, where is an Apple eReader likely to get its content? Are they likely to do a content distribution deal with a competitor like Amazon who have their own eReader to shift? I don’t think so. Maybe Google? Or Stanza. Or will they open up a bookstore of their own, just like they’ve done for every device they’ve made recently. Perhaps. The answer might be simpler than that. It wouldn’t surprise me that many of the books will just come from the appstore anyway, and run on the eReader as they would on the iPhone.

Perhaps its time to dust of my programming skills and write my first iPhone app. As I know from writing software for other handhelds, its not trivial — beyond the ken of most authors. Maybe I should make the fruits of that effort available to other authors and publishers too? Well, let’s see where it goes – that’s pretty much the mantra for the whole publishing business right now.

1 comment November 3rd, 2009

Print on demand (just give us 2 weeks)

I’ve been meaning to try out the print on demand process, to see what it’s like (not for self-publication, but for an idea I have as part of my marketing plan).

Anyway, two weeks ago, I discovered a genuine excuse to try it out. I have a couple of beta readers lined up to gauge opinion on a novel. I planned on giving typescripts, but having given one out before, I know how cumbersome a ream of printouts can be for a casual reader. I also feel that casual readers would treat the manuscript more honestly as a book for review if it is actually presented to them as a book.

Aha! Now that’s a use for print on demand!

One reader was heading on holidays soon, so giving him a “holiday read” copy would be ideal (it’s probably the only time he’d find time to read it anyway!) So I chose Lulu because they can do private projects (where only the author can see and purchase them, and author retains all copyright). For safety, I retired the project after shipment. I’m sure publishers might balk at this behaviour, but – hey – I ain’t got that problem yet! This is my solution to ARCs for the unpublished! The trim sizes are a little limited, but I picked a suitably bookish one. For the cover, I left it all black with no title, no text .. nothing. I figure he’d love the kudos of reading an all-black mystery book in the airport lounge. A copyright notice figures prominently too, in case he leaves it there (that’s the disadvantage of giving less cumbersome review copies – maybe too portable!)

I can see why so many frustrated authors get sucked into POD vanity publication. It so damned seductive. Shiny black novel arrived this morning. Now, getting it to market – that’s not so easy, and not “on demand”! As a way of generating review copies though, it’s perfect, and seeing one copy in print might be a good catharsis to keep the impatient author submitting to agents just that bit longer.

A triumphant success. Just one problem – my reader left for holidays three days ago.

Yet again, “on demand” it ain’t. It takes up to five days to print, as I learned, and then there’s delivery time after that.

Oh well, maybe next holiday …

In the meantime, I’ve got a copy of my very own novel on my desk … to keep me going that bit longer.

Add comment April 21st, 2009

The Death of the Book? – Part II

Previously, I bemoaned technology’s shrinking of attention spans and shrinking of the book form.

Size isn’t everything; there are greater threats for the book out there.

Prescient to this article is a hot debate that broke out on Litopia this week about copyright infringement on the internet. Copyright infringement could be the greatest single contributing factor to the demise of the book. The demise I talk of (as in Part 1) is the loss of cultural significance of the book and the loss of its artistic merit in general.

Here’s how it happens. Forgive me, but I’m going replicate one of my Litopia posts here, where it is openly accessible:

Copyright is the consequence of mass distribution technologies that began with the printing press. A world without copyright means the end of the profession of writer. Without copyright there is no legal mechanism to enable monetization of artistic effort. It leaves the world filled with only amateur artists, or with potential artists who opted never to create in the first place because the time demands are too great, and the bills have to be paid.

What this would mean for the quality of artistic output in general … I think you can guess.

This is why defending copyright is so important.

If writing a damned good book becomes no longer financially viable then fewer people will make the effort to hone their craft up to publication quality. Case in point: this week, I saw one self-publisher advertising the book with a banner ad proudly stating that it “may be the worst novel ever!” Inept art now carries with it a badge of merit! Kudos for the marketing nouse in grabbing attention with that one, but trashing your own artistic merit as a starting point, proving that selling the book is more important than what’s between the covers, says more that I ever could about where all this is going.

In a world created by copyright pirates, fewer people still will bother writing at all. So fewer artists emerge, and the quality of available books diminish.

Alternative models of reimbursement won’t help the craft much either, because the book then becomes a vehicle to sell something other than itself. How many of us, of a certain age and older, have seen the instances of quality television programming decrease over the decades because TV programmes have transformed into something little more than scaffolding to support their advertising output?

Payment of artists is the measure of how a culture values art. If we’re no longer willing to pay for it, but just want it all for free, then what does that say about the place of art in our society?

There is no conclusion yet. The publishing industry is in such flux now that even Nostradamus himself would have difficulty seeing the outcome to all this. The conclusion will only reveal itself in its own good time – in the future. For the present, writers and publishers need to stay vigilant … and defend our beloved little story book form … lest we sleepwalk into a world where it is no more.

I hope all this talk of “art” doesn’t sound pretentious. Art and business always make uncomfortable bedfellows. But these things do matter, and if not – they should – and we need to remind ourselves and others why.

Add comment March 28th, 2009

The Death of the Book? – Part 1

Book accessory
Image by Mr. Velocipede

Today is World Book Day (… albeitin the UK and Ireland only – what an oxymoron!)

With Amazon launching the Kindle 2, and sneaking Kindle ebook reader software onto the iPhone, it seems a good time to take the temperature of world opinion on the future of the book form that we celebrate so confidently this day.

Is the poor little book losing its cultural identity or – worse – its cultural significance?

In the same week that research showed social networking sites shortening children’s attention spans, Cory Doctorow warns that this aspect of the twitter generation could transform, if not destroy, the eBook.

What would The Lord of the Rings have become if Tolkien’s publisher’s son had said, “Yes, I love it Dad, and I think you should publish it … but I think he should rephrase it in 140 characters tweets that could fit on my iPhone screen.”

I fear the day when just such editorial demands will be made of authors. My feelings on the prevalent page-turning sentence fragment editorial thriller style is already documented, but how much more destructive will it be for the form when the dictates of the technology determine the style of the writing or – heaven-forbid – the form of the story? How can anything of significance or importance be constructed on such miniscule real-estate? Perhaps, as Doctorow hints, the internet and small-screen eReaders will cause a new renaissance of poetry.

Two years ago I started this blog and with it my journey towards the publishing world. The most important thing I have learned is that the publishing industry is changing – rapidly. Technological shifts combined with recessionary pressures are altering the publishing business of old. My publishing research coalesces my future approach to writing projects and even as I write this, it leaves me wondering am I getting this writing thing all wrong? Should I be reinventing myself as the world’s first haiku cyber-novelist instead?

Perhaps not.

The transformation of the book form may not be all bad. There is hope, but … I’m running out of the necessary cyber-spatial real-estate to complete my point. I’ve kept you here long enough and there are, no doubt, several important tweets demanding your attention at this very moment.

So tune in next time, brave reader, for the concluding bite-sized installment of “The Death of the Book”.

Add comment March 5th, 2009

Kindle 2 Controversy

Not yet out of its box and the Kindle 2 is already causing controversy.

It seems the Author’s Guild considers the text to speech function akin to a public performance of the book, or a publication in a different medium, thus illegally transgressing Amazon’s publication remit..

Will this prevent the launch of Kindle 2? I don’t think so. The battle between author and mighty Amazon rages on …

Add comment February 11th, 2009

Next Posts Previous Posts

Blog | About | 

Broken Evolution

Follow brendancody on Twitter

Substack Newsletter



April 2023

Posts by Month

Posts by Category