Monday, 12 March 2012

News: Authorship Has No Privileges? And E-Books Are Like Apps?

"You have no right to make money anymore"
Seth Godin, whose book Stop Selling Dreams was kept out of Apple's iBooks store because of the buy-from-Amazon URLs in that book, has apparently come out and told authors to drop any sense of entitlement (like the big fat advances) and go out there and fight to hawk their wares. "Who said you have a right to cash money from writing?" he said. "I gave hundreds of speeches before I got paid to write one. I’ve written more than 4000 blog posts for free."

Authorship ain't the fabled aerie in the arts no more, what with indie publishers and self-published e-books bucking trends and flooding markets. But no complaints from Godin, it seems. "Poets don’t get paid (often), but there’s no poetry shortage. The future is going to be filled with amateurs, and the truly talented and persistent will make a great living. But the days of journeyman writers who make a good living by the word–over."

He's got something to say about libraries and literary agents as well.

...So, still wanna be a writer?

Books: From Hardware to Software
Writing for the Guardian, Frédéric Filloux argues that, as books go digital, publishers will look more and more like software houses. And like software houses, publishers need to 'debug' their 'apps', i.e. e-books to distinguish themselves from the pack.

"Like the app business where abundance creates a need for more human-powered guidance and suggestions," says the general manager of the French ePresse consortium, "book sections of magazines and newspapers will have to adapt and find ways to efficiently suggest e-readings to their audience. ... The most potent selection tool will remain the quality of the product."

...So I left that field only to return to it?

Filloux may think that Apple is a quality app provider, but somebody at TIME thinks the late Steve Job's company should avoid vetting books for publishability.

Future of Books at Bath Lit Fest
At the Independent Bath Literature Festival, the future of the book, discussed. Hardbacks will become luxuries (as they'd been before Gutenberg came along), and authors will become "brands".

What Charlie Redmayne, CEO of JK Rowling's online venture Pottermore, said about publishers more or less concurs with Godin's exhortation to authors to 'come out more':

"...publishers should learn from the fate of the music world. Just as record companies make money only by sending artists out to play live, book publishers will expect authors to promote themselves more – to have a media 'presence,' acquire followers on Facebook and Twitter, interface with current readers and fans and establish a 'community' to buy their books on Day One."

Oh, and spend lots of time at literary festivals.

(Speaking of Rowling: it's been reported that she's no longer a billionaire, thanks to "Britain's high tax regime" that left her with "less than £640 million in the bank." How. SAD.)

Some E-Reader Pitfalls
E-book readership is growing, but are e-reader devices selling? Right now, says ZDNet, the market is dominated by the iPad, Barnes & Noble's Nook and the Amazon Kindle - all of which are from companies that are not playing nice with each other.

A major problem, claims CBSNews, when consumers ditch one platform for another. I wouldn't really know about that; though file formats such as EPUB are 'universal', issues such as ownership rights (when I 'buy' off iBooks, do I really get to keep it?) will mean that buyers will think twice before pulling an e-reader off the shelves. That, and the hefty prices (I think) of e-readers.

Other News
  • The £130,000 (RM617,022) Sheikh Zayed Book Award for the "best literature in the Arab world" has reportedly been withheld because all candidates weren't up to mark. The advisory council for the Abu Dhabi-based award came to this decision after six titles were "longlisted" (shouldn't it be "shortlisted"?) for the honour. ...It's kind of like the Burj Khalifah of book awards, isn't it?
  • A collection of World War II memories from residents of a retirement home became a surprise hit. More on the book, World War II Remembered, here.
  • The Syrian tumult is keeping the country's publishing houses from the Riyadh International Book Fair. For the first time in six years, Syrian publishing houses were absent from the event but, from the report's headline, it looks like their presence was not missed much. However, "Abdul Aziz Khoja, [Saudi Arabia's] Minister of Culture and Information, expressed his regret over the no-show of Syrian publishing houses."
  • In You Can't Read This Book: Censorship in an Age of Freedom, Nick Cohen says you can't always read the books you want. "...not because they have been banned but because they have not been written."
  • UK-based e-publisher HopeRoad continues being a platform for Caribbean, Asian and African writers.
  • One of the last of his kind: book scout Wayne Pernu.
  • Trying to donate books to a library? It can be painful, as one donor in New York learns.
  • As libraries are threatened with closure in the US, a book-printing machine comes to the Brooklyn Public Library.
  • Some more self-publishing successes. And oh, look, a housewife scored a book deal with Harlequin. More endorsement for the genre. How many more "shades of grey" will be written about?
  • Oh yeah... about those Nazi myth-busting Mein Kampf excerpts? No go.


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