Nathan Bransford, Author

Friday, April 9, 2010

This Week in Publishing 4/9/10

This week! Publishing!

So apparently the iPad is still for sale. Amid news that Apple's iBooks has registered 600,000 downloaded books (note: not necessarily sales) so far compared to 450,000 iPads sold. While many are excited by the iBooks app, TeleRead wonders if the iBooks will be publisher's Waterloo (via @DonLinn).

Meanwhile, former Random House CEO Peter Olson has some tough words for book publishers, who he perceives as "scared" of the coming e-book era. Olson: "In a sense, many book publishers are trying to buy time, to postpone a reckoning with reality."

And amid the shift to e-books and all the disruptions it's bringing, Smithsonian Magazine looks back at another format change that rocked the publishing world: paperbacks. (via John Ochwat in The Forums)

Ever wondered how to pronounce author names like Chuck Palahniuk and Jhumpa Lahiri? Buzzfeed spotted a helpful link.

The Guardian UK is wondering about a trend in children's literature: why are there so many bad parents?

In author advice news, the Rejectionist would like MFA grads to wake up and smell the real world publishing industry roses, Eric from Pimp My Novel explores the world of trade paperback originals and asks if you're 100% completely no seriously this time sure you want to self-publish, and if you're thinking about paying for a critique at a writer's conference, Editorial Anonymous has some very helpful tips.

This week in the Forums... people discuss their favorite writing/procrastination tipple, what makes you re-read certain books, what did adverbs ever do to you, and, of course, actually we may be starting to find some clarity about Lost.

Comment! Of! The! Week! goes to.......... Amy, whose comment notes a very successful DRM program that is working in the world of video games and wonders if its principles could be applied to books. An excerpt:

I hate DRM, but I accept DRM on my Steam games (and prefer buying from Steam than from anywhere else, even if the Steam version is not discounted from retail) because what they offer is so compelling. I own the game forever! I can install it anywhere and on anything! I can even let a friend play it--though while my friend is playing, I can't use my Steam games myself. (This restriction is 100% fair.)

Steam has turned this DRM-hater into an eager, satisfied, and loyal customer. I wish the publishing industry would come up with something equivalent. Realistically, a Steam-for-books isn't feasible until e-readers are better and cheaper. But I hope that's the direction the industry is heading in. I don't think it will get far trying to persuade readers to buy the same book twice at full retail price.

And finally, this isn't strictly book related, but Mashable had a pretty great list of the Top 10 Recut Movie Trailers. My favorite has to be Shining, a romantic comedy about a hilarious dad struggling with a writing project:

Have a great weekend!


Kate Evangelista said...

There's just something about Shining...romantic comedy? I love it!

Mayowa said...

Two things struck me about Peter Olsen's article and i think they are related.

"So the ongoing power struggle between publishers and key online retailers like Amazon remains an open question." - The power struggle completely excludes authors. We seem to be mostly okay with that. Why?

"The situation is fraught with complications. It's a mess. It's wonderful" - Despite how exciting and dynamic this era of change is, i'm not sure that the author/publisher relationship will change much. Sure more (or less) people will read in different formats. It seem's though that the core weakness of the author in the author/publisher relationship will remain.

Don't mean to harp on this issue. I just truly feel that the status quo (traditional publishing) is bad for authors and this bright future of ebooks isn't changing that status quo much.

Now ignore all my pessimistic rambling and have a wonderful weekend.

Ink said...

Okay, those recut trailers are gold.

Alenta said...

Seen several of those recut trailers before, though I'm disappointed the Toy Story/Dark Knight trailer mashup didn't make the list:

Kristi Helvig said...

As I'm a big fan of The Shining--and anything else by Stephen King--thank you for that video. I loved it. Happy Friday!

Margaret Yang said...

The soundtrack on The Shining spoof made me fall off my chair. Thanks for the laugh.

Matthew Rush said...

Okay, can't watch the video at work but just from the descriptions it sounds delicious!

Thanks for sharing Nathan.

Shameless promotion for all your reader/followers:

I have an awesome guest post today on my blog by Cole Gibsen.

This one is pure query/submission gold folks in which she shares the ACTUAL query that landed her an agent and the correspondence that ensued.

Please stop by to read, comment and follow.


Chuck H. said...

From what I've heard, King wasn't too happy with the way they did The Shining. Maybe he'd be happier if they did it this way.

Riding weather this weekend if I can just get through the mud to the pavement.

Have a happy.

Michelle R said...

"I don't understand what you're winning in the pricing war," Olson says. "It's really only an advantage if you think each e-book cannibalizes print book sales. If you don't believe e-books grow readership at all, then Macmillan's push-up-the-price strategy is more understandable."

Since I discovered the Kindle application on my iPhone Dec. 2, 2009, I now have 156 downloaded/paid/read books on a kindle account (don't own a kindle). That’s 156 books in just over four months!!! I now read like a mad woman! I read while sitting in any of the four (yes four kids at four different schools) drop off or pick up lines. I read walking on the treadmill or around the lake twice a day.. I read while my 15 year old drives me around town practicing so I won't shriek in fear. I read while waiting at gymnastics, dance, soccer, baseball.... I read instead of watching TV...
I've always read lots of fiction and nonfiction, but never like this. And now I will read stuff I would have been too embarrassed to buy and walk around with. (I will leave it to your imaginations) It is just so easy to get the next book in the series, or to see it on Oprah and just download it instead of thinking "I need to pick that up".
Not touching the money plays into it too I just hit “buy” and it goes onto my credit card. I don’t really see a total of how much we spent on books unless I go to the effort to total it. (yep it is a bunch.. With 4 people with their own Kindle and B&N accounts, we are funding more than one of you out there, so play nice) My sons have iPhones and read in school. Yep. School. Every kid has to have a book for down time. Them's the rules. So just whip out the phone and start reading. - Left To Kill A Mocking Bird under your bed? No problem. Pick up the phone. It’s free! (Really loved that surprise.)
Personally I think you have a market that is literally FORCED to read. Putting it in a format that is so easy and comfortable is a great way to make it a passion when they are older.
I think the opportunity is there to have people spend more of their entertainment dollars on books. Don’t resist. Persist.

Josin L. McQuein said...

Those recuts should be enough to illustrate to anyone that it's not the material that makes it a story, it's the presentation.

I kind of liked Scary Mary, myself, though my all time favorite is the Buffy/Twilight mash-up where she kills stalker Edward. ;-P

Thermocline said...

I loved Amélie but, yeah, that whole wide-eyed intense stare can be a little creepy.

Amy M said...

I am really liking the iBooks app - more than I thought I would. Not a ton of stuff there yet that I want to read, but a few things, and I know I need to be patient.

Usually, I read library books, and I only purchase (for myself) books from much-loved authors. Books at iBooks are so much cheaper than what I'm used to paying, I see myself buying more books than I would otherwise. But I don't see me buying ONLY ebooks just yet.

Kinda funny in that Olsen article - he mentions not wanting to hold something as heavy as the iPad in his hands. Do people really read like that?? Whether I'm reading books or on an electronic device, I rest them in my lap. I can see if you read while standing up, but not everyone does that.

Marilyn Peake said...

Interesting information at those links. Speaking of this week in publishing, last night I saw Stuart Neville – whose name I first came across as a commenter on Nathan’s blog – on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, speaking about his novel for which Craig Ferguson has optioned movie rights. Anyone else here watch that show last night? It was awesome to see Stuart on one of my favorite TV shows and to see his novel doing so well!

ryan field said...

Great trailor. I've seen the movie five or six times and it's amazing at how the entire concept can be changed with just a little creative editing.

Mira said...

I think Michelle R's comment should be copied and sent to all publishers on the planet, stat.

I completely agree. I think many don't realize that books are hard to access. You have to go to a special store for them, it's hard to even find the right section sometimes, how do you know what's good, etc.

T.V. is very, very accessible. If you had to go to a special store to buy T.V. programs, how would that affect T.V. viewership?

It's no one's fault, but if books become much more accessible, then I predict readership will exponentially increase.

Mavowa - I think no one's talking about the author because they are hoping that authors won't notice what's happening. It's the pink elephant in the room.

So, the author isn't invited to the debate. But the author will have a voice by beginning to make choices.

So, the comments got me all hopped up, and I didn't even thank you for the links, Nathan. Thank you.

I'll be back to comment after I read them. :)

Have a wonderful sunny weekend everyone!

Crystal Fields said...

I think the new e-book electronic machines are interesting in some aspects, but that can never top my love of holding a book in my hands, smelling the pages as I flip through, and the sound of the crackling of the spine the first time the book has been opened...

And curling up in the covers on a cold night while the moon beams in through my window, well, you can't take that away.

Amy said...

Ooh, comment of the week! I'm tickled pink!

M Clement Hall said...

Thank you for the usual Friday evening excellent leads.

annerallen said...

Ink said it: the trailers are solid gold. Not just hilarious entertainment, but a perfect lesson in how tone and editing can change a work entirely. Thanks much!

Mira and Michelle, your comments about ebooks make sense. Maybe there is an upside to this new layer of technology that will further complicate all our lives. (Still, I never had to spend an hour on hold with somebody in India because my paperback had a glitch.)

T. Anne said...

LOVED the Rejectionist post. But then again if MFA's heed the advice they might actually get a book deal and take up room at the trough. SO I hope MFA's are far too busy pumping out their next short to pay it any mind.

BTW, I finished "Looking for Alaska". I liked it up until 3/4 of the way then it fizzled for me. I really liked the authors voice. I will be reading more from him just for that reason.
Have a great weekend!

Susan Quinn said...

Bad vs. absent parents - this definitely makes you wonder how a good parent could figure into a MG or YA story without being hopelessly sappy or unappealing to kids. One of the golden rules of kidlit is that the younglings need to be the ones to "solve" the conflict, whatever it may be. Still, one would think there would be room in there for a helpful parent or two. Or perhaps a wizened grandparent that guides the way.

P.A.Brown said...

Something else that shook up the publishing world back in the early twentieth century was the advent of book clubs. They insisted on selling their offerings at a fixed price and publishers cried foul. That it would destroy publishing as we know it.

What it did was open up a whole new market for people who weren't readers before that time. So it increased sales but publishers had to take a cut.

Hmm, does that have a familiar ring to it? I'll bet if you could talk to a someone in the days of the Gutenberg press you'd find someone who said it would be the end of publishing as we know it. Just like movies were going to destroy radio and TV was going to destroy movies.

Zoe Winters said...

I think the point about books not being very accessible is a really good one. Unless you order online (where you have to wait for delivery), you have to go to a special store which might not have exactly what you want anyway. I know some people LOVE browsing bookstores but I find bookstores completely overwhelming because there are just so many books and I have no clue how to sort through them or how to know what's good.

Just because they were all "vetted" doesn't help me. Lots of "vetted" books bore the crap out of me. I'm pretty much addicted to Amazon reviews. I often read the 1 stars and 3 stars then the 5 stars. But if I find a book I want on Amazon, chances are good my local bookstore won't have it, so I have to wait for it. By then I may have lost interest.

I figure 1 stars gives me the worst-case scenario and half the time I'll buy books based on one-star reviews because people's issues are amusing and half the time what bothers one person is a selling point for me.

I also think maybe we've blown up this whole 'look and smell and feel of paper books' idea in our head a little bit. I mean who is REALLY sitting around sniffing their books? I mean really.

Before ebooks did so many people ever come out to talk about how great paper is and how much they love the smell of a book? It wasn't until a competing "threat" was introduced that suddenly everybody has turned reading into an aromatic experience.

I'm excited about all these changes in publishing and ebooks. It's good for me as an indie author and it's good for the state of books period. Because I *do* believe not only are ebooks a growth market from people switching over from print, but they are growth for people who are just discovering a love for books because of that accessibility and having that convenience and limitless choice at their fingertips.

Nick said...

Sad part is I would totally pay to see that version of the Shining...even if it would be fairly stereotypical romcom (with a much greater cast).

Jil said...

I hear that the e-pad is very difficult to read outdoors, which would cut out many potential buyers, I would think.

Loved "Shining". Thanks.

Jil said...

Sorry, I-Pad. Nnow I'm confused!

Kristin Laughtin said...

I love re-cut movie trailers. There was an amazing one for The Terminator floating around a while ago.

The rest of the articles for the week were all very interesting/insightful/educational.

And now I am off to learn how to pronounce some last names! If/when I'm ever published, I hope to see my own on such a list!

just one foot said...

So you're telling me that Jodi Picoult is really pronounced "PEE-koo"? WOW! I'm in shock. I work in a library and EVERYone I have ever heard say her name pronounced it pi-KOLT. Every news story I've heard, every Today show report. So should I believe she would prefer for it to be pronounced the French way?
Blew my mind....but a great web link. Thanks!


J. T. Shea said...

You mean THE SHINING isn't a romantic comedy?
Re E-books, in the last three years I have downloaded a hundred or more E-books, i. e. book length electronic texts, most free, all legally sourced. Most are PDFs. None have DRM. I read them on laptops or desktops. I have no standalone reading device. So the winner for me, and probably most readers so far, is neither Amazon nor Apple, but Adobe.

John, Andrew, and Elizabeth Burke said...

Will one be able to insert music into an e-book?

Zoe Winters said...

J.T. I got tired of reading off my computer screen. It's annoying and cumbersome. I just got a Kindle.

Jude Hardin said...

Those trailers are too cool. Thanks for the laugh!

Angelique said...

Back prior to the depression--prior to the paperback novel--there were "The Little Blue Books." These were reprints of the classics in hardbound maybe 3 x 5 size. They were traded amongst the hobos of the time and probably sailors too as they were small and portable. Sometimes you can still find them in antique stores and used book stores. They were reprints of Shakespeare, Voltaire, H.G. Wells, etc. Ironically they had red covers.

J. T. Shea said...

Is the screen backlighting your main concern, Zoe? I don't have a problem with it, and it is interesting that Nathan moved from a Kindle to an I-Phone (and eventually to an I-Pad) despite the backlighting. But many people do prefer the unlit E-Ink. I believe dual-function screens have been developed and I await a simple cheap ($50?) E-Ink reader onto which any E-book or file, PDF, Word or whatever, can be loaded and read. As I've suggested before, the current situation with Kindles and I-Pads is like Sony trying to sell a TV that displays only Sony movies!

Steppe said...

If and when the Ipad shakes itself
out a little I shall give it serious consideration as a writing device to
replace the laptop.
Battery life would be my main concern.
The layout seems promising from the on
air advertisements.

Sara J. Henry said...

Nathan, have you seen Emilia's cool video "featuring" you?

Jennie Durant said...

As a former MFA student, I found the Rejectionist's article HYSTERICAL. I love this line in particular: "The important thing to remember is that big publishing is owned by Satan, and what Satan cares about is money, and the prevailing sentiment in publishing is that short story collections/high fullutent literary fiction projects don't sell."

Ah, if only MFA grads really understood this! The trouble is that the workshop format works easiest with short stories instead of chapters. The other problem is that I find it rare that an MFA program even prepares writers for a publishing career--what a loss! Anyway, thanks for the link!

Jennie Durant said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marilyn Peake said...

Rather sobering article by The Rejectionist. After reading that article, I've decided to buy more books from university and indie presses. I hadn't thought about researching those presses more thoroughly until I read the aticle. I've already bought quite a few books from small presses, but up until now only when I came across such books. I never actually looked at those publishers' websites to find books to purchase. A lightbulb went on over my head as I read that article. Thanks!

John said...

I'm leaving for Spain late this month and I'm stuck deciding what to buy since I want to travel light.

Which: iPad, Kindle, Nook, anyone?

Mira said...

Okay, great posts, Nathan - really interesting. Quite a time for publishing! Love that you brought up paperbacks. That's a really good point. I feel empathy for publishers - truly - not sarcastic - quite a change happening.

In terms of short stories, what about publishing those to Kindle? I think that it is really hard to find a home for them in traditional publishing, but maybe there would be an audience in e-books, even if it's small.

In terms of bad parents - well, hmmm. That's a longer conversation, but...well, think about fairy tales. Almost all of them have bad parents in them....

I thought the discussion about adverbs in the forums was really funny.

Loved Amy's commment - very smart!

The trailer for the Shining was unbelievable! That is just so funny.

Hope you had a nice weekend. A fresh new week here - what wonders does it hold in store for us.....?

Anica Lewis said...

So, in essential iPad news, apparently cats love 'em.

DeadlyAccurate said...

Something else to consider with Steam: we trust Valve. They earned their trust over the years, so the player base trusts them not to shut down their servers unduly soon and screw people over.

I'm a happy Steam customer, too. I always look on Steam first when it comes to buying games, and even if it's the same price as the in-store retail copy, I'll choose the Steam version.

There are two things about Steam I don't like, though: they don't cloud-save your games (allow you to store your saved game files on their servers so you can access them anywhere) and you can't sell or give away a game when you're done. I would like to be able to transfer my games to someone else when I'm done playing them, the same way I could hand a game disc over to someone else. Right now, the only way to do it is to allow someone else to log in to my account.

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