Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Used Book (file) Store?

Once again from Christopher, this link to a quite fascinating article on Gizmodo about what it means when you buy an e-book. In short, it means you are licensing that material, not buying it outright, which means you cannot resell it. It's all intellectual property and information control folks - read up.

What I particularly liked was the extensive, exhaustive comments section. No, I wasn't merely envious that a posting could generate such discussions in comments - hm. - but rather I liked when a known author threw in his two (hard earned) cents - which I'll quote (for free) at length:

I make my living as an author, and the numbers involved in publishing are tiny compared to music and movies. That is, a book that sells 10,000 copies in a week can easily make the New York Times best-seller list. That kind of number would be a joke in music or movies.

When MP3 downloading took the profit out of selling recorded music, bands changed their revenue model to performance. What used to be a long commercial to sell the record, now is the main source of income for performers. Authors can't charge $60.00 and up per ticket for performance. All of our income is based on royalties, which is based on sales.

We accept that people will borrow books, will get them at the library, and will sell them back to used book stores, and that is built into the business model, but I'm a little worried about a time when books can be peer-to-peered the way music is. I think a lot of authors are going to have to go back to waiting tables for a living.

(Please, please, please, don't bring up Cory Doctorow. He doesn't make a living on his novels. He is not representative of most professional writers.)

For those of us who make our living on this, I think it would be better for Amazon and Sony to change the "term" for electronic books. Yes, you rent them. You can keep them as long as you'd like, but you rent them. Like Amazon Unbox, say. I have the movie on my Tivo or computer, but I have limited use of it. The average e-book of my novels costs $9.99. The hardcover usually goes for $24.00, the paperback $14.00. So there is a discount for the cost reduction in production and distribution -- maybe there can be a limit to use as well. It's all how you look at it.

Oh hell, nevermind. Wuld you like rice or baked potato with your steak?

Christopher Moore

Useful addition to the conversation, I say, even if later commenters talked up some serious trash.

Though I worried about the aesthetic loss to going all e- all the time, I hadn't considered the resell aspect. I know many of my colleagues cringe at the use of the term "used bookstore" but I love 'em, could live in one. I'm one of those cliches: I like the smell and the dust and the finds. I find them whenever I'm on vacation, and I try to spend money in them whenever I do.

So yes, this article I found useful in my fear of the book's extinction. Luddite for life?

Well in a non-Luddite turn, I've discovered the catalog of blogs on Blogged and am adding favorites all over the place, so I should start linking soon. Bear with me, and if you found me through there, welcome!

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