Yep, I’m still alive.
It’s been a busy couple weeks, due 100% to my day job. As a result, I barely had time to read through the blogoshphere, let alone commit to writing everything down. Tonight I’m taking a break from other things and starting to assemble the posts I’ve really wanted to talk about for at least half of March.
I don’t usually do this with podcasts, but Joanna Penn has a great piece on why authors might consider adapting their work to graphic novel form. The biggest eye opener for me is that comic book artists are actually looking for opportunities to do this. I guess because they want to make those type of adaptions, tapping into that customer base, but it’s just as hard to get George R. R. Martin to let you adapt his work as it is to become him. It’s definitely a macro thing, a way of expanding the portfolio once it’s reached critical mass, but it’s an intriguing one none the less that I am very interested in from a far reaching, keep your pants on perspective.
Then we move on to the thing that made my fingers itch. I thought about making a whole post about it, but just couldn’t find the time. Basically, two amazing stupid announcements came out. First, the founder of Waterstones has said that ebooks are a fad that are about to go away.
Are you kidding me?
Look, this isn’t even up for debate anymore. Ignore trad vs self, ignore what authors should be making, ignore the whole business side for authors, just look at what consumers want. Print is still here, and I’m not one of those that says it will go away, possibly ever, certainly not within the next few decades. But digital is the way everything is going. Even the Guardian agrees on this point. At the very least the people who prefer paper are, frankly, going to die. It happened with newspaper, it will happen with books.
The second amazingly stupid thing to his the news was a consultant who’s stated ebooks should in fact be more expensive that paper books, because they’re more convenient.
TeleRead does a fantastic job of tearing this apart, but I just can’t imagine the mindset behind this. Yes, things get dicey when you start comparing inflation, and every industry is different, but in this one, it is hard to justify an even higher price than what publishers want to set for print. You know what, just go read TeleRead.
Orna Ross discusses how both the business of self publishing and the flood of new authors it’s brought are good for literary culture.
I found both of these on the Passive Voice. Porter Anderson discusses the new voice in the literary world, authors. It’s a quaint idea, I know, but the “standard industry practices” of publishing have left less and less room for authors to be involved, giving rise to the revolt you’re seeing now. Tying into that, he looks at authors who are looking at hybrid options, not as a self pub going trad, but leveraging trad into a better self pub career.
David Farland has great career advice.
Barnes and Noble had a bad month. First, people are proposing that Apple may have surpassed the bookseller in sales (DBW proposed this, which I tried to link to, but they’re site was and still is down). DBW then announced (in a link that works) that one of their chief investors, Liberty Media, has sold their stock, effectively pulling out of B&N. That’s probably worse news by far, as it seems many expected this media group to be the one to bail out the bookseller. I’ve usually argued that B&N was stronger than most big box stores, but for the first time I can actually see the demise of America’s biggest bookstore in the future.
The legal battles in big publishing have continued to be waged.
Amazon and other booksellers have begun to issue credits to consumers for overpriced books. Apple continues to fight the judgement while Judge Cote authorizes a class action suit by consumers against the tech firm. And apparently, this isn’t the only industry Apple has gamed.
This all comes about as more and more becomes apparent why Publishers are, potentially, very bad for authors. HarperCollins won a suit, I’m sure the first of many to come, in which they’ve argued that just because the medium wasn’t included in the original contract, they still have the right to publish an author’s book digitally. This is what happens when lawyers and judges argue about what something seems to say vs what it actually says, to the detriment of those that own the work itself.
Tracy Hickman, writer of the Dragonlance series, has basically told authors that they’re shit out of luck. Joe Konrath took this to task and I’m glad he did. I’m sorry, but Hickman is a very, how shall I say, commercial author. He attached himself to a series that was a licensed property of dungeons and dragons and has ridden that hard for many years. I’m not saying he’s a bad author, The Seventh Gate is one of my favorite series and one of the series that helped introduce me to fantasy, but lets look at that for what it is. He didn’t dabble with adaptations, he built his career around a single one. The pain he’s feeling has to do with these properties (especially with the wane of high fantasy) losing their luster. Instead of whining about how much more he has to write, I would expect him to turn out something different, and I certainly wound’t expect him to discourage others because of his fading business model.
TeleRead discusses why GenCon is becoming more and more relevant to authors and publishing than BookExpo America. I’ve never really been one for conventions, mainly because I live in a part of the country where none are held (and I have no travel budget) but also because large crowds tend to make me want to do something sociopathic. Still, I love the idea of them and TeleRead makes a great point.
Speaking of TeleRead, they were on fire the past two weeks. Whether its discussing why literary writers won’t publish their own work (namely, that they need someone to vet their literary quality), pointing out the humor in editors saying they really do edit, or asking why it is publishers find themselves having to remind people they’re open for submission.
This was a biggie, to say the least. The Authors Guild has expanded its criteria of applicants to include authors who have made $5,000 or more in sales. You can even apply for associate membership for $500, which puts many people in the running, myself included. This is a big step and I’m happy to see it happen. Why I or anyone else should join a Guild or Association, well, I’ll get back to you on that.
Hugh Howey has a pretty damn good idea for how to sell books everywhere ala the RedBox model. It’s not perfect, one of my hangups on RedBox is when people browse (even thought, literally, everything is available for them to browse at home) at the machine. Books would be worse, people really like to browse books, there’s more of a selection, and it would take time, even if it was minutes, to print the book. All that said, it would be awesome to be able to walk into a Walgreens, CVS, Kroger, and be able to have a book printed right there.