Via Abel, I found this piece suggesting that such cheap offers – mostly from amateur writers, is destroying literature:

Bowker Market Research reported last week that self-published ebooks now account for 12% of the entire digital publishing market. In some cases, the number actually rises to a very respectable 20%, but is fairly genre specific to crime, science fiction, fantasy, romance, and humor. 95% of these books are insufferable and are written to capitalize on trends in publishing, with authors trying to emulate successful writers such as E.L. James or Cassandra Claire.

At a recent publishing conference in London, Andrew Franklin, founder and managing director of Profile Books, blasted authors who self-publish. “The overwhelming majority of self-published books are terrible—unutterable rubbish, they don’t enhance anything in the world.” He ranted on by saying, “These books come out and are met with a deathly silence, so the principle experience of self-publishing is one of disappointment. I was very shocked to learn you can buy Facebook friends and likes on social media. That is what passes for affirmation in what I think is the deeply corrupt world of self-publishing.” {…}

One thing indie authors have done is devalue the work of legitimate published authors. You know the type that write for a living, who have an editor and are considered accomplished, or at least well-read. The average indie title is $0.99 to $2.99, and the average publisher price is $7.99 – $12.99. Book buyers have been so conditioned to pay as little as possible that often they will not even consider a more expensive book.

I’m not a believer in markets being perfect, but it seems to me that books are one of those things where it will sort itself out. I mean, if one of these book sucks, the loss isn’t the $3 it cost you to buy it. It’s the hours you spent reading it, or trying to. I purchased a cheap book a while back, made it half-way through, and am mulling over whether or not to finish it. But the sunk cost fallacy I am contending with has nothing to do with the $3 I bought it. If these books suck so universally, people will stop buying them. And Mr. Kozlowsky has his own solution: Don’t pay cut-rate prices. Get one from the publishers. If their filtering mechanisms are worthy of the additional $4-10, then it’s really a no-brainer, isn’t it?

Despite the bad experience mentioned above, Clancy and I have a large number of independent books. They’re usually not as good as the filtered stuff, but only one has proven itself to be borderline not-worth-reading. In addition to looking for a publisher’s name, you can also look at reviews and whatnot and get an idea as to whether or not this author has any following. It’s a risk, but the half-illiterate type books he is referring to are not even the ones you need to worry about. Those are easy to identify (samples are free!). The problematic ones are the ones that are well-written but boring. It’s those that you realize half-way through that you only half-care what happens next.

From PaidContent, a new kind of DRM that I can live with:

Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute is working on a new ebook DRM dubbed SiDiM that would prevent piracy by changing the actual text of a story, swapping out words to make individualized copies that could be tracked by the original owner of the ebook.

The idea behind SiDiM is similar to the way rights holders have been trying to protect music and video for some time. Instead of trying to lock down copies through technical measures that prevent copying, so-called fingerprinting measures simply add markers to a work that make it possible to identify the original purchaser. In theory, this prevents people from sharing their works for the fear of being caught.

My primary issue with DRM is when it inconveniences my use or protection of a product that I lawfully purchased. This manages to sidestep that because I am pretty much free to do with it what I like so long as I do not mass-distribute it. Which is fine, because I’m not remarkably interested in mass-distributing it. Three dozen changes of single words creates millions of variables, so we’re not talking about having to change very much.

I am skeptical of the extent to which this would work. If I were interested in mass-distributing an illegal copy of a book, I don’t think it would be hard to compare documents to find the different words. Which is the first thing I’d do before putting it on BitTorrent. Then again, maybe that is sufficient, if you can’t easily get other copies to compare it to? I’m really not sure. I do like the concept, though.

I’ve been collecting children’s ebooks for Lain. There’ve been a few that I’ve gotten for free (legally!), though there was less than I would expect. This one has been a favorite. I’ve installed Moon Reader+ on my devices, which is what I use to read them. It’s also handy for me, because it lets me read non-Kindle books and with Dropbox it remembers my progress. With that well having run dry, I’ve basically gone and purchased some Kindle ebooks for a nominal sum. The best piracy prevention is to allow me to buy it for under $3.


Category: Theater

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