I’m reading OUTLANDER for the first time. It’s … been enlightening.
Last night I texted Jenn with updates.
Today I made her listen to me complain on gchat. Please excuse our pidgin typing.
I’m reading OUTLANDER for the first time. It’s … been enlightening.
Last night I texted Jenn with updates.
Today I made her listen to me complain on gchat. Please excuse our pidgin typing.
But I cannot make that promise about Jeff Bezos.
We all know that there was an article in the NY Times about us evil, evil, horrible publishers colluding against the poor, wittle book seller innocent Amazon. (I may be simplifying things a bit.)
Sue me, I’m feeling mean today.
When things like this happen, and the news comes out, every blog and every article (barring some industry specific ones) make publishers out to be these money hungry monsters. Like we’re all sitting on big piles of money laughing about all those dumb customers buying expensive eBooks.
Oh, would that our lives look like that.
Really, we’re sitting around trying to figure out how to get our rapidly dwindling audience of readers to a) keep reading and b) read more. I know, I know. How could we??
So when Amazon comes along, with its “Oh, we’re selling eBooks at a loss to keep our customers happy you evil publishers!” it’s more than little offensive to those of us who honestly love reading and want to spread the good words among the populace, but can’t, because we don’t have any money to do so. Because you know what happens? Amazon knows that they can come back and say: This is the standard; we are now going to give you less money for the same product so that we can sell it for a cheap price.
I realize that the way we do business is not working. And there are many, many problems within the publishing industry. We’re doing our best to catch up.
However, I think that with most book stores, publishers feel a sense of partnership. Amazon is a bully. They want to get their grubby little paws on every aspect of an industry they honestly don’t care all that much about. I keep saying “they” but I should say “Bezos.”
I’ve been talking about him for years, I know. But seriously. Do you know what’s going to happen when Amazon slashes the eBook prices of those books you love so much?
Independents will not be able to compete. Brick and Mortar will not be able to compete. None of us will be able to compete. Because they are a behemoth. Did you know that the agency model actually made Amazon more money? What does that tell you? This isn’t about the profit for them. It’s about the power and squashing the competition.
But we need competition! Do you really want one company controlling what kind of books you do or don’t see? I understand that it shouldn’t be on the shoulder of the readers to see through all of this… that you should be able to just buy the cheapest and have that be that. But if you care about the books you read and the authors who write them and the people who help get them into your hands, think twice about where you’re buying your book. It matters. Books aren’t such a huge moneymaker that we can disregard our customers. Every single book buyer has an effect on all of us. This industry is not doing so well. But we all got into books because we love them. I can personally guarantee that it was not for the money.
And that brings me what is most terrifying about this episode. It’s just another instance of the government supporting Big Business. Not to say, of course, that the Publishers are mom and pops. But, I have a strong feeling that Amazon lobbyists had quite a bit to do with this investigation. This outcome will have a huge effect on independents, as well. In a nation where being a corporation means you have more rights than I do, it’s not all that surprising. Money talks, people. I just wish it wasn’t saying such hateful things.
“Independent bookstores are the places where freedom of speech and anti-censorship are integrated into everything we do. We are spaces where difference–of ideas, sexuality, spirit, politics, and philosophy–is embraced and not feared. Politics and Prose has been exactly this kind of place for the past 27 years. Independent bookstores are essential to their communities and hence to a truly democratic nation. The survival of our bookstores relies on children becoming informed and engaged in our midsts. Only through the nurturing of this future community will we ensure having a customer base on which to rely.”
It is a pretty verbose way to say: “Indies promote thought” (and of course, I mostly agree with it, grand statements aside). A few paragraphs down, there was a note about how big chains were faring in today’s largely digital world – about the big chains’ need to remake themselves to better understand and serve their communities.
I wonder how these big chains ARE serving their communities. As far as I can see, on some level, Indies still cater to their community in the same way that a local Barnes & Noble may do so – they order the books they think the people who come into their stores will buy. Most may not have coops that are quite as influential as say, having your book on the front page of Amazon, or in the front table at B&N. So, with chain stores and digital behemoths, should they have the same sense of responsibility to their customers? To keep them informed of not just when the new Stephenie Meyer or Dan Brown novels are coming out, or when they can get that next Glenn Beck picture book, but also of books highlighting local politics or a title you may never have dreamed of buying in a thousand years, without someone saying – hey, you should check this out.
Do they have a responsibility to personalize the experience, I guess, is what I’m asking. Not a responsibility in a moral sense, or from some sense of duty – but tradition? Customer service? People are getting cheated out of knowing any better!
… You think that maybe this (and the ease & accessibility of the internet) is why a lot of chains may be falling under? … Of course, this is all conversation that’s happened and is happening and will probably continue to happen for quite some time. But, whatever. I’ma say what I’ma say.
With the enormity of what Amazon gives us, there’s also a sense of panic when trying to figure out what you really want. And so, I believe (or maybe just really want to believe) that independents are (or will) make a comeback, among people who value the experience, conversation, and above all the sense of community involved in book shopping.
… Of course, this is all tied in with whether or not book publishing itself will figure out a way to stop being so damned costly and damned repetitive (if I like this, then MAYBE I WANT SOMETHING DIFFERENT AND NEW). (But I will not go on that rant today, no, sir.)
To go back to the “promoting thought” comment, we (…I) like to complain about the obscene amount of power Amazon holds over the book industry and book buying habits of the masses – but I sometimes forget the political and psychological effects of the big-digital-business experiment. I don’t necessarily mean “political” in an industry way, but, how big business defines what people are exposed to.
I’ve mentioned before how this country seems to get less and less “American” with every passing day – with one group or another being legally or illegally put down for being different. You see it in the media – Oh hello Ground Zero Mosque that is niether at Ground Zero, nor a Mosque. And you see it in our book stores with the perpetuating of certain titles or authors, or even just trends (ahem, Vampires).
Not to say that one is equal to the other – but, if all we’re exposed to is one point of view, well, then, shit. How will books that aren’t like anything else out there be released? I’d suppose their platform would have to be the independents that may not need to rely on history for every title that comes through their stores.
With the word count I’m at, I’ve come too far to comfortably publish something with the thought: Sure, my friends will read this – because they won’t. It’s too freakin’ long.
… My bad.
Well, this is all kind of a roundabout love letters to Indies. I support them, you should, too. Unless you want to get stuck with getting a goddamn John Grisham novel or, dare I say it, a Sarah Palin book of Essays (Times, They Are a’Changin’) every Christmas because no one decent gets published anymore.
Chew on that you kindlers.
As I get further and further into my (damned damned damned) thesis, and closer to the end of my comfort zone student-ness, I find myself questioning where I am and where I want to go within publishing. I’m reaching and grasping in the air for this thing that doesn’t exist anymore, or at least… it feels like it doesn’t exist anymore. A… figment, if you will. [Insert cheeky grin here.]
It used to be, you had a track. Overly simplified, it was Editorial intern –> Editorial Assistant –> Editor.
Alas, this is not necessarily the case anymore. In an industry rife with nepotism and aging management, it is tough for a kid to get a break. (/whining).
Beyond just the things working against us, there’s also the constant change that’s happening within the industry (UM HAI iPAD!), and the pundits opinions as to what it all means or where it will take us. Obviously, no one really knows.
Instead of jumping on every bandwagon you see, or stealing and slightly altering someone else’s AMAZING INCREDIBLE SPECTACULAR-SPECTACULAR idea for the future, how about doing a little brain storming and coming up with something new and improved and (dare I suggest it?) unique.
… Yes, yes, I’m ranting. What else is new?
It might be said that now’s not the time for one person to be doing anything. Everything that can be owned is already owned, and someone’s already done everything that could possibly be done. (… maybe). Not that we’ll ever really know when everyone who can actually make a real difference in publishing is too scared to actually do anything interesting.
(I will note here that HarperStudio was new and interesting and done by a company that was big enough to make a difference. Of course, the imprint is now defunct, but the thought was there! The potential was there! Yay Harper! … Now just get rid of that ole’ dinosaur you call Dad, and we’ll be good to go.)
In an example of the ridiculous end of the spectrum: I went to a luncheon a few weeks ago to see a group of industry bigwigs talk about the future of publishing. First of all: HA. Ha ha ha. Ha ha ha ha.
… Sorry, I just had to get that out of my system.
So, a question was posed to the two people representing traditional book publishing. The question centered around the consumer who will actually be purchasing the book. The representatives fumbled a bit before noting that, well yes, they didn’t really have a lot of contact with the actual consumer and so couldn’t really answer the question.
And people think the issue is that no one is reading anymore and there are too many venues for content and entertainment.
I say: LOL.
So where do we go now? It’s never been more difficult to get into this industry. And once you’re in, it’s never been more difficult to move around. The thought of the future makes me want to vom a little. I can’t lie. It’s a big question, I know. And one that currently has no answer.
I am where I am, and I be where I be.
But not really! (Fooled you, suckas!)
I’m gon’ take this here future into my own hands (which will be full and complete because no matter what emails I get today, I will not cut my own fingers off in protest).
… I am a cocky little bastard, aren’t I?
Remember those days when we could spend forever on the internet perusing tripod and geocities webpages of our favorite actors and boy bands? (ahem).
… Maybe it’s just me.
Above is an angelfire site designed by my cousin pre social networking days… and it’s so perfectly indicative of what “cool websites” used to look like, I couldn’t help myself. (please disregard my excessive use of tabs. I have a problem.)
Anyhow, so Internet and I have known each other a long time, more than ten years now I guess. Got my first screenname (via AOL of course… oh shoot, they’re Aol now aren’t they?) at the tender age of 13 – Pretti, for those of you who care. I’m still convinced my brother couldn’t spell my name right, but that’s neither here nor there.
Sidenote: Did you know kids born in 2000 have no idea what the dial up sound means? You all just heard it in your head, didn’t you?
At first, holy crap there was so much to do! So many chatrooms, so many creepy people to talk to!
And the websites, oh man – ohai backstreet.net
It occurs to me that I’m probably revealing more about myself than I should be – but such is our life on the internet now. Look at my life, read about it, and then comment and tell me what you think about me, please.
So, ten plus years with the internet, I find myself missing that spark, that connectivity we used to share. Those days of yore –
Stumbleupon could have brought that back, but it’s been repeating itself lately and that depressed me far more than it should have.
Is it me? I mean, did I do something to offend you o, Internet Gods?
I kid, I kid. Sort of.
Don’t get me wrong – I would probably die without those series of tubes connecting us all together. I mean, what do you do without the internet? I was out of the country for about a month recently, and every time I got to check my email or update facebook, it was like a fix that I needed.
I’m trying to pinpoint exactly when my trouble started – maybe it’s the explosion of the term Social Media. I’ve bitched about it before here, mostly with regards to my industry of choice.
Wikipedia’s got an interesting definition of the term:
“Social media is media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media uses Internet and web-based technologies to transform broadcast media monologues (one to many) into social media dialogues (many to many). It supports the democratization of knowledge and information, transforming people from content consumers into content producers.”
“Democratization of knowledge” and “content producers” just sounds so great, doesn’t it? Of course, then we have to ask, who do we trust as experts, and how do we find these experts in the new world?
I’ve strayed from my point… or maybe created it. Who knows? (OnoesNoseKnows)
How do we find quality? Sometimes, I find myself just cycling through the same sites over and over again, (most of which may or may not be gossip/news blogs because I am a very nosy person). But really, recently I’ve been finding myself just staring at my laptop in consternation, “… What am I supposed to do with you today? I’m not sure I really need anything from you.” Then the apple on the back anthropomorphizes and starts crying. It’s all fairly embarrassing for everyone involved.
But then, even though I don’t necessarily have that same NEED TO BE ONLINE ALL THE TIME OMG, and I know I use our world wide wafting web for different things than I used to – I’ll never really be over the internet. I just love it so hard.
If it weren’t for Twitter, I wouldn’t be half as informed as I was about publishing or ebooks as I am. If it wasn’t for Facebook, I wouldn’t have, you know, 20 friends + 450 that I kind of remember from college and high school. If it wasn’t for LiveJournal, I wouldn’t be able to remember the nerdbomber that I used to be am. (Also, I’d never have met my movie soulmate). I mean thanks to the internet, my cousin can instantaneously gchat me a youtube video, and then say, “This isn’t anything you’re going to be interested in,” and I’m going to click play any way because it opened up right above his head and what the hell, why not? (I was not interested, but I was okay with it).
I love you. I love you more than Lady Gaga hates pants. I love you more than Jeff Bezos loves control. I love you so much I don’t think I’ll ever find a boyfriend.
Sometimes, I take advantage of you I know that, and I’m sorry. But that doesn’t mean I don’t care about you. And it doesn’t mean I want you to be regulated or anything. I love you just the way you are. Huge and awkward and free, sometimes lewd and uncomfortable for everyone else in the room. You’re, yeah, wow, lovely.
Thank you for being you, Internet. I’ll never let you go. They’ll have to pry you out of my cold, dead fingers. For sure.
That being said, here’s fun stuff I found on the internet recently.
(This post devolved real quick like, didn’t it?)
Here’s Jake Gyllenhol photobombing the shit out of Ang Lee. Makes me lol irl, srsly.
This is a Crabbit. And it’s what I found when I googled the phrase: “Cat what”
And this is a song from an awesome Indian movie I saw in the theater last Thursday. Then I got home and got to watch it on youtube. (Where I bemoaned Kareena Kapoor’s dancing and ugly, ugly horse face.) (… Please don’t sue me.)
BAI. (happy emoticon.)
So there’s a whole to-do going on in my workworld right now – not that many of you will care, because c’mon, how many people really even read now days anyway, right? (You’ll excuse me if I’m bitter).
Anyhoo – so, here are the basics. Amazon sells e-books for their e-reader, the Kindle. K, that’s cool. Their Kindle is closed format. Still, good for them, their company, their rules. Unfortunately, because they are the biggest book seller, this puts them in a position of habitualizing people who read electronically. They are creating the norms for e-publishing, and it seems that this doesn’t really matter to them. It’s more about Mr. Bezos’ control and bank account than it is about literature they’re selling. Which is very un-book-like. Rarely has publishing been about the profit, the reason that there are 8 billion books published a year is because hopefully one of them will take off and make us enough money that we can publish the other 7 billion blahblahblah and 99 without making a profit because we love them and they deserve to be out there… even if only a few people will ever really even read them. Sorry, /rambling.
So, this past week, Macmillan (a publishing house that includes Tor, FSG, :01 to name a few) went to Amazon to be like hey what’s up, let’s work on this pricing strategy you guys have. Right now, Amazon prices e-books at 9.99, often times selling them at a loss. This doesn’t matter to Amazon because while they are taking a loss, they’re also gaining customers who will read on their kindle as well as buy other things from Amazon. This matters to book publishing because if you price every book (regardless of cost of production) at 9.99, what does that mean for the future when e-books make up more than 3% of our market? So, Macmillan goes to Amazon with a new suggestion like hey, let’s maybe think about:
“Publishers would like to be able to set eBooks at a higher price, say $15, then degrade the price over time to a much lower price. How much? CEO of Macmillan says “Our plan is to price the digital edition of most adult trade books in a price range from $14.99 to $5.99.”
Not every book costs the same to make, why pretend they all cost the same to read.
Ah, but any way – this is not about the pricing. This is about Amazon’s response…
WHICH WAS TO TAKE EVERY MACMILLAN BOOK OFF THEIR WEBSITE AND ONLY MAKE THEM AVAILABLE THROUGH THIRD PARTY VENDORS.
What in the absolutely stupendously ridiculous flying fuck, Amazon?!
For a pretty great explanation as to why this is bad on a point by point front, check out this guy.
Now, I’ve been bitching about Amazon forevz and evz. But this is a big bully move, like seriously. Think about going into an indie book store, there’s a personality there – an understanding that this literature is important to people.
Yes, Amazon is hurting (“giant conglomerate evil”) Macmillan by doing this, but it is also hurting the writers and the editors and all the people who put a ton of work into a book to be made. Amazon wants to be considered a book seller by the customer and a book publisher by the publisher. They consider e-books “licenses.” This is, of course, ridiculous. Amazon’s made their point very clear with this move, monopoly is most important to this company. Monopoly of the publisher’s business as well as the customer’s business. And no fucking publisher is going to tell them what to do. Tobias Bell sums up the author issue pretty well in his crazy long post about this shiz:
“I’m not trying to exhort anyone to do anything, but to explain the situation I’m in, and to educate. I’m seeing a lot of people state things with certainty (points I try to knock down above) who have no involvement in the trade. A lot of readers are going to take this out on authors, and I wanted to basically show my homework to explain things that people may not be aware of. People toss out prices of what eBooks ’should be’ who’ve never even stopped to understand how the math of something like this works. They demand things they’d never demand of a jacket salesman, just because they think economics and supply and demand and volume don’t apply to eBooks. They do. Seriously. I’ve thought about these things a lot. Mostly because I have a novel series that has not been renewed, and I keep running the numbers to see if I could write it as an eBook, and when I run these numbers, I come up looking at making a few thousand dollars for half a year’s worth of work based on how eBook sell now. Yes, there are a few J.A. Konrath’s selling well on Amazon, but as I’ve linked, other authors aren’t automagically selling thousands of eBooks there. Most who follow these footsteps sell hundreds. Not everyone becomes JK Rowling.”
Apple’s outlook is a little better – though they have their hangups as well. (Can’t put your iBook on your iPhone?! Lame.)
It’s really more scary than anything. Sigh. I can’t rant about it anymore.
What’s troubling is that people don’t seem to care… even readers. You keep buying your kindles and your books off amazon, despite their big brotherness. What the hell, man.
This really is an opportunity for Indies and for Indie enthusiasts.
Buy stuff from independents. Do it! Indiebound will help you locate indie book stores and even specific books you want IN YOUR AREA. Or just go to Barnes & Noble. At least they remember that they’re in the business of books and not just in the business of business.
There are a lot of words in this post and not a lot of pictures. I was totally going to shop a Devil Bezos and put him in here, but meh. Not worth it. Instead, I’ll put in a video about what book publishing used to be like in 1947:
And a photo because I’ve habitualized you people in expecting such things from me:
If you are interesting in what’s going on, follow DigitalBookWorld on twitter, they’re recapping the situation nicely.
from blogging. But not from real life.
In which I discuss things that come into my head.
So, I’m not going to make this a publishing centered blog – for serious, because I know a lot of people just. don’t. care. (which I could go on to say “is the problem.” but I won’t.) However, as now is a tremulous time in the industry, and I hold a lot of anger in my heart, there may be rash posts with lots of words about how everyone is fucking everything up. That being said, this is not one of those posts. (mostly).
This post will begin with me talking about other people’s babies. I saw the cutest baby ever on the train the other day. I know I say that often, but this time, boy do I mean it.
Cutest. Baby. Ever.
Like, if there was a rictor scale for cute, this baby wouldn’t even register she was so darn cute eating her pink cookie.
So, in searching for a baby picture to use – found out: not all babies are cute. Wow. people have a lot of ugly babies. And shoot, I don’t feel bad for saying that. Apparently, there are also alot of “Michelin man babies” – which I will not put up here because it kind of skeeves me out. Seriously. Oh, poor, poor chubby, segmented babies. (I almost googled “segmented babies” just to see, and then realized what it could show me and decided against it.)
I’m glad I’m going to know so much about things I am not interested in.
I’d like to take the time now to reflect on some of the previous posts excitement. So, I’ve had time to calm down since the big announcement. Turns out it’s not nearly as awesome as we’d all hoped. (insert sad george michael gif here). Sure I can lend you one of my books, but only once. And, word on the street is, most publishers don’t want anything to do with it any way because (gasp) they’re afraid of the repercussions. Because oh, god – what will happen if people start lending books?!
The best part of this post is that I found a super fun blog while I was searching for macros. Freakin sweet google karma! Anyhow, so yes – the Nook is still exciting because I do think it’s targeting us reading-oriented-folks, but it won’t be nearly as groundbreaking as it needs to be. Sigh.
I realize this isn’t the most coherent blog entry, but I think there might have been some sort of logical train of thought maybe. Who knows? My fingers generally get on the keys and think for me. Articles tell me that you shouldn’t blog without a message. I think this may have been my way of rebelling.
TAKE THAT SOCIAL MEDIA
Um, I mean. Jay-kay. Sigh. (coy)
Maybe it’s a good thing that I have to go to a social media meeting at 9 am tomorrow morning. Sigh. Obviously, I do not know what I am doing. Damn, son. Get off my back. It’s interesting to me how inevitably, you see generational gaps when learning about media that nobody really totally gets yet. You can have three teachers teaching the same subject with wildly different information. So much of it is trial and error any way. Make your own way, holmez.
How many of these words do you think are going to disappear in five years: widgets, tweeting, apps? Maybe not disappear, but certainly shift and evolve into something else. Maybe combine, Twidgets! (… I kind of love that, not gonna lie.) Any way –
… Let’s do something fun!
I used to know this by heart. A long time ago.
And I’ll leave you with the creepiest video ever:
Maybe I should just start doing a lot of lists. What do you (THE READERS) think? (I almost bolded that ‘t’, that would have been embarrassing).
Funnel is a funny word.