Interesting Link | New era, new god, says Paul Saffo | The Economist

Three technologies have brought us to the edge of another axial shift today. Air travel has given entire populations unprecedented mobility. The intermodal container has delivered a cornucopia of products to every corner of the globe. And cyberspace has become a promiscuous, meme-spreading hotbed of ideas.

Throw in the usual round of human misery served up by war, revolution and natural disasters, and the result is a potent cultural Petri dish from which a new god could spring. Populations around the world are struggling to find security and identity in this strange new future-shock world. The rise of fundamentalism is a sure indicator of dissatisfaction with the current religious order. Unhappy believers first look back to their roots for comfort, but origins rarely comfort and thus they will inevitably search for a new god.

via The World in 2036: New era, new god, says Paul Saffo | The Economist.

A Point Of Two On The Mike Cane And JA Konrath Thing

So I read this, and I disagreed, whereas normally I’m on board with Mike.

1) Ebooks are new and exciting, new names are making their way to the top of the pack, some of them are interesting names with back-stories in ‘traditional’ publishing, some of them are not. Some of them are loud and self promoting, some of them are not.

Should we condemn the loud ones for having had a change of heart regarding self publishing as Mike would JA Konrath (the target of his post)? Should we say that the self promotion makes his case somehow less valid? And should we call his numbers into question? I don’t think so mainly because it doesn’t really serve a purpose. The ebooks are selling, if Konrath’s taken the wrong message from those sales then soon enough the sales will drop and someone else will suck them up, if he hasn’t he’ll stay up on top.

Personally, if it works for him, I say good luck to Konrath. He’s worked hard to get where he is. I would caution writers to look at the work not the results before deciding if Konrath’s route is for them, but that’s about it, after all as Keynes said, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

2) In all of this, we shouldn’t ignore the fact that the authors who have sold over a million ebooks to date are HUGE traditionally published writers like James Patterson and Stieg Larsson. It seems to me that as ebooks become more mainstream, mainstream authors will dominate more.

There will of course still be surprises and outsiders. Digital publishing IS democratic in that it provides access for all but NOT equal in that outcomes differ very widely and often randomly for no discernible reason.

We can expect print bestsellers to be ebook bestsellers, at least until the notion of having started in print and then moved into ebooks becomes something so distant and rare that we find it novel or amusing.

Getting riled up about it won’t change it, that much is clear!

Go Read This | Predictions for 2011 from Smashwords Founder – GalleyCat

That Mark Coker is one smart fellow!

8. International ebook market explodes, causing publishers to rethink territory rights restrictions – The proliferation of affordable, high-quality dedicated ereading devices, smart phones and ereading apps, and the international expansion of big US-based ebook retailers into green field markets, will power significant revenue for US authors, publishers and retailers. Large publishers will miss some of this growth due to self-inflicted territory rights restrictions, whereas indie authors and small publishers won’t face the same limitations. Publishers begin to realize geographic territory rights hinder ebook sales by limiting distribution, and will instead look to carve rights (or hold on them) language by language.

via Predictions for 2011 from Smashwords Founder – GalleyCat.

Go Read This | The E-Publishing Success Narrative Will Have to Change

This is a nice corrective to the Ebook story, though in some ways too it glosses over the access point (that ebooks opens access to distribution for many unpublished authors, some good, others not).

Playing the either/or game is dangerous and misses the point of the whole discussion. So let’s repeat some more platitudes: e-books taking 10% of total trade market share is still 90% accounted for by print. E-publishing, at least for now, favors writers who generate or have generated a sizable backlist, ergo favoring genre fiction.

via The E-Publishing Success Narrative Will Have to Change.


I’m always amused by press releases that include either selective or somewhat confusing stats. Kobo’s press release if full of those. However I’m intrigued by them. Try and see if you can get anything meaningful from it. Nice to see Emma Donoghue in the top gifted though!

Kobo became the first eReading service to launch an eBook gifting and gift card program and for the first time in history, eBooks “arrived” digitally in people’s email accounts this Christmas morning. The top three most popular eBooks gifted this holiday were:

• “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson

• “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest” by Stieg Larsson

• “Room” by Emma Donahue


Go Read This | Joe’s Picks for 2010: Reckless Enthusiasm and the Platform Wars « The Scholarly Kitchen

Look for platform wars to lead to the shutting down of more bricks-and-mortar bookstores; for the amount of shelf space in bricks-and-mortar stores given over to used books and nonbook items to grow; for some technical platforms to exit the business (no, I won’t say which ones); for a surge in online discovery services for books; and for publishers to feel for the next several years that they are not in control of their own industry.

via Joe’s Picks for 2010: Reckless Enthusiasm and the Platform Wars « The Scholarly Kitchen.

Go Read This | 5 E-Book Trends That Will Change the Future of Publishing

So many things wrong here. I’ll deal with them one by one.

1) Enhanced EBooks

Imagine video that shows how to fix a leaky faucet or solve complex math problems in statistics; audio that pronounces foreign language words as you read them, and assessment that lets you check what you remember and comprehend what you just read. These interactive features and more are being developed now and will be on the market in a matter of weeks, not months.

Websites that do this pretty much already exist. Howcast has had a version up since 2008, EHow since even earlier. Why would ANYONE buy an ebook version of the web, unless it was truly valuable and niche orientated? I’ve more sympathy with the testing features, but suspect that such a set of tools would be better delivered over a subscription website rather than an ebook.

2) Devices

Because most developers are developing e-reader software that will work on multiple other devices (Kindle also works on the iPad, iPhone, and computers, for example), consumers will care less about the device and more about the user experience of the e-reader software, portability of titles from one device to another, and access to a full catalog of titles.

My fear about this is that as devices go multi-media, reading faces great competition from other media, something I’m fairly sure is detrimental to the medium.

3) Price

This has caused confusion among many consumers who simply think every e-book should be $9.99 or less. But the majority of titles offered on Amazon are priced above $9.99, especially those with unique interactive features. For professional and technical publishers like McGraw-Hill, our e-books cannot stand the low, mass market pricing some consumers think should be applied to every e-book. Our costs are invested in extensive product and editorial development of sophisticated and technical content; the cost of paper, printing, and binding are a fraction of the real expense. And for some very specific and technical subject areas, our markets are much smaller. We simply couldn’t afford to publish the work if it must be priced at the everyday low, low price of $9.99.

This confuses a publishers business model with the market. The Market has changed radically and many people can now publish cheaply. This will impact on existing business models. Believing that because your costs are high the market should pay you more is a recipe for disaster.

4) Contextual Upsell

E-books allow publishers to interact with their customers in new ways. Imagine customers who are trying to learn statistics and get stuck on a particular formula. They ask friends but no one can explain it well. They’re stuck.

They click a help button, which points them to the publisher site where they can download relevant tutorials about specific formulas for $2.99.

I’ve some respect for this kind of thinking, especially if it is deployed properly. I fear many publishers will not get to grips with it though!

5) Publishers Importance

Despite the hype around self-publishing via the web, publishing houses will play an even greater role in an e-book world. Commodity content is everywhere (and largely free), so high-quality vetted, edited content — which takes a staff of experts — will be worth a premium.

The problem with this is that it DOESN’T require a staff of experts. It requires AN EXPERT with access to the web and MAYBE an editor. No publisher need interfere. And increasingly, they probably won’t.

via 5 E-Book Trends That Will Change the Future of Publishing.