Back in July 2006 I wrote:
E-books will push this change even more. There is no reason why authors’ royalties should be the same on e-books as they are for paper books and in many ways there is no reason why the authors cannot sell e-books themselves rather than through a publisher. Why should you sell a paper publisher your digital rights when there is no need?
Authors Will Drive Change
And the change was forthcoming. The last six or seven years it has been rapid in fact. If anything marks that change more dramatically then the new that a once self published author doing a deal with a big New York house that did not include ebook rights, I don’t know of it:
In the end, it was Simon & Schuster who crafted a deal specifically to my needs, a deal for the print rights that would augment the success I was having on my own by doing what they do best: bringing out a book and getting it in the hands of booksellers. On March 12th, paperback and hardback editions of WOOL will become available to a wider audience. Soon, an entirely new readership will have an opportunity to sink into the world of the silo. They will get a chance to feel Holstons grief, follow Jahnss journey, and meet Juliette for the very first time. I couldn’t be happier about this deal. I am very appreciative of the opportunity I’m being given, appreciative of the readers who kept WOOL going long enough for a deal like this to come to fruition, and appreciative of an agent who was willing to say “No” with me even when it was against her best interests, all because she believed in seeing the same publishing future that I believe in.
via Hugh Howey: How WOOL Got A Unique Publishing Deal.
Philip Jones has a nice take on what publishers need to do to work with self publishers and much of what he says is valid, but I think the key point is that publishers must recognize that there has been a power shift on the field of play and the author is no longer without options.
Traditional Publishing isn’t going away because of this shift mind you, and importantly not every author has the market power to resist the demand to pass over ebook rights, but this does mark a new and important acknowledgment of the shift driven by digital and authors.
A nice post from Zoe Faulder about how publishers are positioned for the “third generation” of ebooks:
There is a third generation of ebooks that exists but is far less prolific than the previous two generations – primarily due to cost. Unlike a straight text ebook, or even enhanced ebooks to a degree, this generation cannot be tacked on to the existing production cycles and requires completely new skill-sets. The third generation of ebooks has been called apps, but I would argue that there is more to it than what we have come to expect of applications available in the iTunes App and Google Play stores. The third generation of ebooks is about taking the content and spinning it into something grander than its original form. It encompasses all the tools made available in today’s networked world. Ebooks could become immersive digital experiences based on locative media, social interaction, interactive narrative and gamification.
via A New Kind of Publisher: On Merging Creative Industries.
Colour me intrigued. Van Lancker is one of a trio involved in new ebook venture Oyster (good description and round up of the issues the start up will face by Martyn Daniels here). I found the section posted below in a rather interesting essay on Van Lancker’s blog. It suggests that ebooks are but the tip of Oyster’s iceberg of ambition and that while the public facing pitch is one that speaks of Spotify, the goal is actually something more refined controlled than that:
We are at an exciting impasse for the accessibility of content (e.g., images, writing), but simultaneously are confronted with a litany of services focused on incomplete collection and organization. This abundance of sources, media types, and proprietary systems has led to a fragmented and often frustrating environment. Few services promise the comprehensiveness of being your definitive library. Netflix, while likely replacing many viewers DVD libraries, offers no tools for curation and no sense of collection apart from a to-watch list queue.
via The Finite Library | Willem Van Lancker.
I rather like this idea, I really do:
Crowdsourcing the funding to self-publish books isn’t a new idea. Kickstarter got the trend going more than a year ago, Unbound took it a step further (just to name two examples). But how about using a service like Kickstarter to sell print, translation and film rights — as well as to secure bricks-and-mortar retail distribution? Author Alex de Campi and illustrator Jimmy Broxton are doing just that. Using Kickstarter as a platform, the duo seeks to raise $27,000 over the next two months to fund production of their latest project, a futuristic dystopian graphic novel called Ashes.
via Graphic Novelist Alex de Campi Uses Kickstarter to Sell Print, Film and Foreign Rights | Publishing Perspectives.
Not confusing at all! Interesting to think through this post and follow the competing agendas, reader’s, author’s, agent’s and publisher’s:
If I sell Title X for North American rights only, then that means the US publisher is only allowed to sell its English version in the US, Canada, US territories (aka Philippines etc), and non-exclusive in select countries in the rest of the world (clearly listed in the contract). Print or ebook. The reason for this is that we want the ability to sell English to UK or ANZ (Australia) separately and UK/ANZ insists on certain “exclusive territories” for its print and electronic edition.
Are you starting to see the problem? If UK/ANZ hasn’t been sold, then no eBook version in English is available in let’s say Denmark because Europe is considered exclusive to UK in terms of selling the English edition.
via Pub Rants: Why You Can’t Buy An eBook In English Outside The U.S..