How hard can it be for a couple of larger publishers to start a common book streaming service with a note that all other publisherss welcome, you become a member in the coop and get to say how the coop works, coop takes a fee from sales just to cover operating costs and rest goes to publisher/author?
It's bad enough that at least one of the Big Five (to my definite knowledge, as I work with them) has fired up an internal start-up publisher, mostly using the same editorial team and production facilities, but where the distinguishing characteristic is that (a) they totally rewrote their book contracts to make it possible to do new and exciting stuff, and (b) target ebook sales as a primary channel. (Disclaimer: this is my primary publisher in the US market right now and I'm very happy with the way things are going.)
But when you're dealing with multinational publishing corporations you've got to bear in mind they have tens of thousands of book contracts going back decades which can't easily be dragged around onto a new business model, and they suffer from activist shareholders and an ever-constant threat of hostile takeover (see the ongoing Simon and Schuster takeover by Penguin Random House).
It's just that more often than not, participants in western economies don't start co-ops because the profit potential for the founders isn't remotely close to what it could be for starting a run of the mill corporation.
I was actually surprised when I bought a book on an online bookstore yesterday and was given the option to download it as an epub in addition to reading it in the Play Books app. Apparently that's a flag that anyone can set, but most authors/publishers choose not to.
Intangible stuff is always really hard to sell. Despite Spotify, most of the revenue in the music business still went to the Walkman, the iPod, the iPhone, and now $160 AirPods. Indeed I think AirPod sales are comparable to the entire music industry’s revenue.
They don’t "miss the point", they just disagree with you.
The term monopoly power is colloquial doesn't require a market to only contain a single company. It's enough for a single dominant player to have market-setting power in either a region, nationally, or globally.
Amazon lumps in rip-off photocopy books with the actual print editions and calls them all "hardcover" or "paperback" with different prices. You get an ISBN for some edition of the book, but not necessarily the one you have selected when you add it to your cart.
I've taken to buying more print books from B&N for this reason. (War and Peace, Shogun, Moby-Dick... it's hard to find proper hard cover editions of these books, especially if there's a particular translation you're looking for, like in the case with Tolstoy.)
I have this silly hope that the market will begin to swing away from Amazon as consumers attempt to avoid the rampant counterfeiting, and the lack of specificity and control for what you're actually buying.
Time will tell.
And companies like O'Reilly have been running services like Safari since before Apple named their browser Safari.
But piracy apologists continue to claim that the publishers aren't tech savvy enough or business savvy enough. The services are there. I can only presume that readers prefer to buy their books one at a time, often printed on paper. That's the only reason the services haven't become household names like Spotify or Netflix.
I know from their perspective it's a calculus – they'll lose some money to piracy, and maybe that adds up to a lot more from what they'd gain from selling to persnickety people like me, so maybe they're making the right call. But what I want as a consumer is to sometimes buy hardbacks, mostly buy ebooks, read them in the reader of my choice, and to support my local bookshop and the authors and editors, which I guess is an impossible dream.
Often i want to buy some ebooks in English, but i legally cannot. UK based publisher has rights to the series, but doesn't sell ebooks, while US based one has an ebook but cannot legally sell it to me.
The whole ebook industry is absolutely atrocious from consumer PoV. DRM, locked down systems, the problems outlined above.. and for some reason ebooks usually cost more than physical books over here!
I mean one has draconian DRM and license attached, can be purged from your device and account for no reason.. while other is a physical good without such restrictions, that i can legally lend to my friends.
They prevented what happened to music so nothing will change ever.
They can sell the ebooks on the web and have you download it onto your iPhone. It doesn’t have to be all in one app.
The reading experience is no different.
Then also do distributed search so that one can find things. Something with supper nodes for those of us who want faster and more complex queries. html, with some minor upgrades, again seems good enough.
DRM is a silly idea, we should forget about it. Just write free works until the audience is impressed enough to donate to current effort.
And finally some simple to use aggregation formula so that authors can learn what we want to read about.
No more middle men.
Writing free stuff works for a few people. Most people can't afford it. This means we'd end up with significantly fewer written works, and almost of what remained would be the highly-marketed James Patterson-type formulaic crap that sells well. In fact...James Patterson is the personification of your aggregation formula. He doesn't even write his own books anymore (and hasn't for almost a decade); he looks at trends in reader data and pays other writers to ghost-write his novels for him.
Middlemen exist because they provide valuable services: editing/proofreading, printing, distribution, and marketing. And in book publishing, they provide one of the most valuable services of all: discovery based on an author's talent, not their personal marketing abilities.
>Writing free stuff works for a few people. Most people can't afford it. This means we'd end up with significantly fewer written works
You cant monitor and control what people read nor should you want to. The desired goal imho is to make available to the reader as much material as possible. Readers have finite funds (if any) You could similarly argue that if some 4% ends up with the writers most can't afford to write.
> James Patterson-type formulaic crap...
I don't dare have an opinion. If people are buying this its their money.
> Middlemen exist because they provide valuable services
We buy lots of services. They should ideally never control us. If measuring talent is worth something the author can pay for it.
Your suspicion is right tho. Indeed I would prefer to see the entire industry die and switch to a basic income.
I get that people think if the music industry dies some will drop their instruments and stop singing. History was the other way around. When people got radios everyone stopped making music themselves. I think we don't even have to bother comparing it to the polished fast food. I liked how Prince put it: Finally people can make music for the sake of making music.
I get the rest of the comment, but I don’t understand that part: unless you already have too much money, there’s absolutely no reason you should work for free.
While some components might be legitimate there is really no end to greed in rent seeking formulas. We can look at the TV license in the UK to see what the future might look like. They didn't even have the modern tools to monitor everyone. The system involves a database of houses where the license was not purchased. Agents will make unannounced visits to search your house.
In stead of impossible some would argue it was simply a hard problem to write into law. From that perspective we failed to create a carefully balanced set of rules. As long as the demands are small steps the copyright industry gets what they want every time while the consumer, the party argued to so greatly benefit from these laws (what a joke),..... well.... the consumer gets to play and sing songs from before 1923!
When Swartz downloaded a pile of ancient garbage articles he was going to get 35 years in prison for wire fraud, computer fraud, unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer and recklessly damaging a protected computer. This is complete nonsense and everyone knows it. If the industry wants to go full retard it should be treated as such.
Therefore we should burn it to the ground and keep the authors and keep the artists. Pay them for what they do. The only thing that matters is that the unwashed masses who already cant find work get access to educational materials. Everything else is either not important or simply entertainment. You cant use tax money for entertainment as long as you are taking it from people who can barely pay their bills. You can use it to sponsor crowd funding so that they can learn useful things and ponder the many intelligent thoughts others wrote down. To me this sounds a lot better than [say] sponsoring scientific journals with public funds so that they can paywall the stuff we've paid for.
There are tons of old books. People can go read those first before demanding more free work from authors for the benefit of publishers.
It is also easy to remove % fees from app stores by writing some laws. Or are we to think it will bankrupt google and apple? I cant recall paying Microsoft any fees.
It is my country. The legal system is there to serve me.
Aside: I have met several people who admitted to downloading my books on torrents, and they gave me the $2 I would have made if they'd bought it :)
Still waiting for hunderds of US dollars worth of royalties :(
Standard book royalties for first-time authors in the U.S. are 15% for paperbacks and 20% for hardcovers. Established authors can make more than that.
>...royalties, at least among the top houses, are basically the same. Authors are paid, for hardcovers, 10% of the cover price on the first 5,000 copies sold, 12.5% on the next 5,000, and 15% thereafter. For paperbacks authors receive 7.5% of the cover price (occasionally with an escalator) and for eBooks 25% of the publisher’s net receipts. Many independent publishers pay lower royalties than these, but rarely do they pay higher. Competition between publishers takes the form of advance competition, with royalties generally being very similar, especially at the big houses.
"Under standard royalties, an author gets roughly 20 to 30% of the publisher’s revenue for a hardcover, 15% for a trade paperback, and 25% for an eBook. So, very roughly, every hardcover release that earns out brings the author something like 25% of all revenue earned by the publisher. This percentage would drop once the paperback comes out, if it sells in significant numbers."
10% of cover price is usually the same as 20-30% of the publisher's revenue. You only drop down to 1.5% territory if your books are being discounted, meaning, if they aren't selling at cover price and they've been put into the bargain bin.
Computer books is a tiny fraction of the book market.
But I would say that the argument is even less favorable for them that Apple exerts an unfair monopoly over the outlets for them to publish their works. They have a world of ways to publish their content and simply want a bigger cut of this one. No principles about it.
I just want to click "Pay", and then click "download PDF" so I can annotate the books in my favorite app. Why do they have to make it more complicated than that.
This reminds me of a few months ago when I accidentally bought a 90 USD Ebook that came with DRM. I didn't realize it until I clicked the download button and got some Adobe digital editions file. I immediately Googled for a PDF copy of the book and saw that there were plenty on the first page of Google, so I don't know what the point of the DRM was other than to make me have to download some crappy reader just to read it. Thank goodness the company that sold the Ebook was willing to refund me.
I would pay for my content if I actually got to own it. But no, ironically I have a greater sense of ownership by obtaining my content via alternative means than the traditional legal means.
The only media that I still have on streaming services is music. Spotify is just so damn convenient. I need to find a way to move off it though, as over the years I’ve found many of my favorite albums just disappear as Spotify ends licensing deals or whatever.
To let me find the critical part faster next time, I wanted to highlight the relevant part of the manual. Sadly the manual was DRM protected and didn't want to let me annotate the manual...
So I had to find a way to work around it, but I felt like a criminal, just because I wanted to use a highlighter on the digital manual of a physical product I bought.
Whether or not you think those points on their own is enough to warrant specific action is up to you. The problem is people talk in these threads as if arguments they don't agree with don't exist which leads to a lot of the same discussions every time a thread about this comes up.
My personal take is the official store should be able to set whatever percentages as long as the option to use 3rd party distribution and 3rd party payment is there. I.e. let people decide if alternatives are better not try to force Apple to set certain cuts. I can see a lot of why others don't think that though but for me it really comes down to full vertical lock in being as damaging to competition as full horizontal lock in IMO.
Imagine credit card company taking 15 or 30%...
I'm not saying that Apple doesn't have a healthy profit margin, only that comparing them to a card processor is simplistic.
This whole tone of "straight face" and "I dare you" comes across as affective and childish.