Free Ebooks by Randolph Lalonde

Free Ebooks by Randolph Lalonde
Free Ebooks by Randolph Lalonde

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Utopian Publishing System

This discussion started on the Spinward Fringe Crew Facebook Page, and I realized that I had said something in a lengthy response that hasn't been voiced too often in the publishing world. Most likely because it's a pie-in-the-sky idea that no one knows how to bring into being yet.

I call it the Utopian Publishing Model.

I'd love to see a cooperative group lending system come about, where the readers and the artist are taken care of. From what I can see, Amazon is working on something similar but they are missing the mark right now. On the readers' end, they have to have a special type of credit card with Amazon. On the author's side, they have to make the titles in this upcoming program exclusive to Amazon / Kindle. It's not the right solution right now, but the seeds of an open coop are there.

It's the necessity to make money to survive that makes the co-op difficult to develop. How do you provide books for all people regardless of their income, cover the costs of servers, etc... and make sure the author is paid for their work? It's a difficult system to develop, especially since current systems aren't truly accomplishing what they have to.

Publishers have to protect themselves against the inconsiderate few, and it costs the kind majority. The best example is piracy. On average a spinward fringe book is found on a piracy site three times a month. There is also a clear example of legal piracy in the fact that Amazon forces indies to enroll in their lending program when publishing a book. If an indie doesn't enroll, their royalties are cut in half. I don't have anything against the lending program under most circumstances, but enrolling should be a choice connected to marketing strategy and personal prefference.

Those kinds of things make companies (and some authors) too paranoid or bitter to participate in a new system.

Some of these companies also don't understand ePublishing, or their customers, and you'll find an easy indication of their block headed-ness in the way they price their books. Here's a couple example of "grossly overpriced" books:

From my point of view, the price setters of these books suffer from profit and piracy paranoia. They're also setting themselves up for a big fall. Thousands of readers are noticing that price and turning away from that book - for good - so lowering the price in a year won't help sales much. I could go on about strategy of pricing, but you already get the point.

I wish we didn't have to bring big publishers kicking and screaming into the eBook market. The fact that it really did happen that way tells me that future systems where you guys get to read for a few pennies a novel, or nothing at all, and I get paid fairly will be even harder to figure out.



Dan Shaw said...

You are absolutely right about the pricing. Unless the Author is a well established with sales to match like a King, then I absolutely refuse to purchase a Kindle book over 9.95 unless it's a hardback release and I absolutely have to read it NOW. Very few ever fall in that category.

I really don't think most Kindle users look for bootleg copies of books. There are programs that can be purchased to convert the ebook format Kindle uses to a regular PDF format and they aren't expensive.

Michael Lockridge said...

It would be nice if Amazon did not make the whole process complicated in simply publishing with them. Epub uploads to Barnes and Noble are easy. Amazon requires greater investment in formatting, and thus far I have not had the funds to hire a service, nor the inclination to learn the formatting for myself.

Still, the process is a lot easier than traditional modes of getting published. I hadn't even considered the lending/library issue, up to this point. It will be interesting to see how things develop.

Mike Fisher said...

There are 'indie' E-book formatters popping up out there. I found his one yesterday. Budding E-book authors can get their new epics formatted fast and relatively inexpensively. Just another brick in the crypt we're building for Old World publishing companies.

The formatters I found, if you want to post it:

Dave said...

I have not yet used a "lend me" feature for an E-book yet, but would be likely to but an ebook I had borrowed and liked for myself. I am an avid reader who usually keeps books as trophies of sorts. I will often re-read them a year or two later (or perhaps a decade or two later).
That being said...I too agree that if an ebook (with no paper, printing, shipping, warehousing....etc. costs) is priced more than a paperback I will either not buy it or just go buy the paperback version.

Of course I have heard of "Subscription" novels where readers pay a fee for each chapter as it is available or they are ready for it...might be something in that model for the future.

Anonymous said...

One publisher, Baen has gone out of their way to make their books affordable ebooks, and even in many cases the first 2 or 3 books in a series are available for free in their free library. Others are available in their monthly packages.