Home » Amazon, Big Publishing, Disruptive Innovation, Ebooks, Non-US » Ebooks: the giant disruption

Ebooks: the giant disruption

27 February 2012

From The Guardian:

In the past 12 months, I’ve never bought fewer printed books – and I’ve never read so many books. I have switched to ebooks. My personal library is with me at all times, in my iPad and my iPhone (and in the cloud), allowing me to switch reading devices as conditions dictate. I also own a Kindle, I use it mostly during summer, to read in broad daylight: an iPad won’t work on a sunny cafe terrace.

. . . .

This leads to this thought about the coming ebook disruption: We’ve seen nothing yet. Eighteen months ago, I was asked to run an ebooks roundtable for the Forum d’Avignon (an ultra-elitist cultural gathering judiciously set in the Palais des Papes). Preparing for the event, I visited most of the French publishers and came to realise how blind they were to the looming earthquake. They viewed their ability to line up great authors as a seawall against the digital tsunami. In their minds, they might, at some point, have to make a deal with Amazon or Apple in order to channel digital distribution of their oeuvres to geeks such as me. But the bulk of their production would sagely remain stacked on book stores’ shelves. Too many publishing industry professionals still hope for a soft transition.

How wrong.

. . . .

“Vanity publishing” was often seen as the lousiest way to land on a book store shelf. In a country such as France, with a strong history of magisterial publishing houses, confessing to being published “à compte d’auteur” (at the writer’s expense) results in social banishment. In the UK or the US, this is no longer the case. Trade blogs and publications are filled with tales of out-of-nowhere self-publishing hits, or of prominent authors switching to DIY mode, at once cutting off both agent and publisher.

. . . .

Amazon is intent on taking over the bulk of the publishing business by capturing key layers of intermediation. At some point, for the market’s upper crust, by deploying agents under the leadership of Mr Kirshbaum and of its regional surrogates, Amazon will “own” the entire talent-scouting food chain. For the bottom-end, a tech company like Amazon is well-positioned for real-time monitoring and early detection of an author gaining traction in e-sales, agitating on the blogosphere or buzzing on social networks. (Pitching such schemes to French éditeurs is like speaking Urdu to them.)

Link to the rest at The Guardian

Amazon, Big Publishing, Disruptive Innovation, Ebooks, Non-US

9 Comments to “Ebooks: the giant disruption”

  1. Articles like this one keep emphasizing the intangibles–recognition by big publishing as a goal–over the tangibles: money.
    They never seem to get that the READER is getting a great bargain–knowing that about the same amount goes to the AUTHOR of a $2.99 ebook at 70% (around $2.00) as the author would get of a much more expensive hard cover.
    As a reader who wants more from authors I like, this is a huge advantage: I can afford more of the author’s work at $2.99 than at $26.99. Simple economics.
    In my view, big publishers are going to lose me unless they bring those ebook prices down very, very soon.
    Assuming that I would get better quality (someone has to pay for good editors), I still can’t see paying their prices ($14.99? Come on!) when I know how little it costs to duplicate a digital file.
    And if the authors I choose to read don’t neglect to get good editing (sadly still a major problem for me–I don’t read just for story, and I care if the language is awkward and the characters cardboard), the one reason for buying from a major publisher vanishes.
    In some cases, it already has. There are many authors I can’t read any more because no one has told them they have no clothes: they are so famous they just call it in, and no one edits THEM.
    I support authors who do their job. Period.

    • ABE – Good points.

    • Yes, I agree, their prices are ludicrous.

    • I feel the same way. There is an author who essentially introduced me to fantasy novels and now I can no longer read her without feeling cheated. I even tried “borrowing” her books before deciding whether or not to make a purchase and even then I felt cheated. The editing has always been bad (not just typos, but continuity errors that started out minor but have only gotten worse).

      The final straw was when she forgot she’d already wrapped up a scene and just rewrote it. To be specific:

      In Chapter A – two characters clean up after all in a bandit camp are dead. They gather materials they had stolen from them as well as other materials that would make their chances of survival on their journey more likely. They gather the dead and deal with them. End chapter.

      Chapter B – other characters and their arc of the story.

      Chapter C – The two characters look at the dead bandits and start cleaning up, gathering the things stolen from them, finding slightly different objects that they need to survive (instead of one good tent, they find two or three tents they can patch together into one good one; etc), and I believe even a different way to deal with the dead.

      Seriously? If ANYONE had read her work they would have noticed the repeated/rewritten chapter. It’s not remotely like her previous errors where she forgot that in one book she said that emperors of a certain country had never gone mad and two books in the series later specify that it wasn’t the first time an emperor of same country had gone mad. Or mixing up the names of a pair of background characters so one sister is the smart one and then later it’s the other sister. Those, while confusing, might reasonably be missed by even a good editor. This one shouldn’t have been missed by anyone who read the work.

  2. I’ve had a Kindle for almost 2 years now and I’m amazed at how quickly I’ve come to prefer electronic books over the printed version. For a very short time after getting Kindle, I continued to buy both, but now I almost exclusively buy ebooks. In the past year, I’ve only purchased ONE print book — and that’s because it was a friend’s. Besides being cheaper, it’s more convenient. And the immediate gratification of buying a book online and getting it instantly is addictive.

    Ebooks are the future. Print books are dinosaurs in a mammal world.

  3. One of the authors I keep following, despite my growing “indieness”, is C.J.Cherryh. Just before Christmas last year, she had a nasty surprise when checking out the “galleys” before print : the Copyeditor had done BAD things to her book !

    “Luckily” 1) her editor stood by her, and 2) she only had to spend a few days to check and get the Gremlins out, reverting all mistakes one by one.


    Talk about Publisher’s value…

    • holy crap. I would have been halfway to NY before the rage cleared my eyes. between this example and CR Reaves’ example above…

      Sadly, my experience with reading trad pub books the last decade has been so full of stupid erros that I kind of assume when I read a clean book it’s because of the author being careful and not anything the editing team did. I have no illusions that my own anecdotal experience is why I don’t find that line of argument compelling for myself as a writer.

    • “she only had to spend a few days to check and get the Gremlins out, reverting all mistakes one by one.”

      Just the idea of that brings me shudders. It’s rice-painting tasks like that which can crush my soul a bit, and throw in the anger and resentment I’d feel about someone borking my text and I’d be in tears of some sort when I wasn’t gnashing my teeth.

      There is no “only” in that to me. Ie: “only” a few days. Horrors.

      Also, some of the changes mentioned make me go ???? – changing the word ‘clan’ to ‘district’. Really?

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.