EBook Wars, Episode 1 & 2

EBook Wars, Episode 1

Originally Posted on March 14, 2012 on http://GordonKessler.com

In a Galaxy not so far away!

Did you miss it–all the news about the battles being waged behind the scenes. On the surface, the eBook and ePublishing industry seems smooth and calm—as it should be? But there’s been a war being fought since before even the first Kindle found it’s way onto the retail shelf. In the past week, the battles have been about price-fixing, collusion and censorship.

So what’s this big war really boil down to? Fear. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

The good news? I think the “good guys” are winning. And who are these “good guys”? It’s you and me; Jill and Joe Reader. We should be the ones influencing this incredible new industry. After all, we are the consumers. Next in line are the writers. Being a part of this group as well, I have some pretty deep-rooted and passionate beliefs about how we writers should be able to influence today’s market, too.

The bottom line is this: readers want quality fiction of their own choosing at a reasonable price–and writers want to give it to them! It’s just that simple!

But, when you get big conglomerate corporations involved with high payrolls and stockholders who are focused on their own bottom line, this simple little process gets so-o-o complex. Of course it’s been that way for years.

So what’s new? What’s the big hub-bub about? Control is shifting and the big girls and boys of yesteryear publishing no longer have a chokehold on the readers and writers, telling writers: “You’ll write what we want you to write for the price we want to pay.” Telling readers: “We’ll decide what you can and can’t read, and you’ll pay what we say for it–and that’s going to be enough to finance our big NYC offices, all of our extravagance and hoopla.” They tell us, the reading public, that they’ll dig as deeply into our pockets as “the market will bare” and we’ll put up with it because we don’t have a choice.

You don’t agree? Well, two major developments have come up in the past few days. The first one you probably already heard about: the US Department of Justice is investigating price-fixing and collusion with the good ol’ girl and boy traditional publishing houses, as well as other somewhat shady practices that many of the eBook publishers have been involved in. This is fascinating stuff. You want to learn more? Check out JA Konrath’s March 10 blog post at: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/ . VERY ENLIGHTENING!

How about censorship? Legal is one thing: if what you want to read is within the law, you should be able to read it, right? And writers should be able to write and distribute any of their legal works, correct?

But what if a few folks don’t like some of the things that writers are putting out, and they don’t think, as readers, you should either? Hmm. Big Brother government, “Father Knows Best” publishing houses, and now “Mommy Dearest” wants to get involved, too? It seems that way. I’ve got to admit that there’s a whole bunch of new eBooks out there that I wouldn’t even touch—I find myself feeling guilty just having laid eyes on the stuff in a glance. But, if it’s legal, who am I to say you shouldn’t be able to read what I don’t care for?

Thanks to some really well-versed and vigilant warriors to champion the side of free speech, including Smashwords.com’s founder Mark Coker, PayPal and the credit card companies are relenting their earlier stand against processing funds for material they decide is inappropriate. This could have had a major negative affect in eBook sales and set free-speech back decades. This kind of censorship infringes on every American citizen’s right to free-speech.

Another victory for the “good guys”!

Your really need to read the details on this censorship battle. It’s important to us all. Find more at: http://blog.smashwords.com/

All this is about fear. Fear of change. Fear of the inevitable. Fear of losing a way of life that the big publishing conglomerates have learned to enjoy. They’ve been on the ropes for decades. Without the control over both writers and readers they’ve enjoyed for more than a hundred years, they can see the end is near. They’re afraid this new ePublishing industry is going to be their knock-out punch–and it could well be.

As writers, let’s provide the product readers want at a reasonable price. Don’t let those wonderful consumers down. Entertain them, enlighten them, inform them and enhance their lives.

EBook Wars, Episode 2

Originally Posted on March 24, 2012 on http://GordonKessler.com

Okay, so being a new sailor on a very shifty sea, I shouldn’t trust everything I read (forgive me for butchering Hannah Parker Kimball’s wonderful poem “One Way of Trusting”). And there is so much to read.

Should I believe “The Big Six Publishing Houses” (a.k.a. “the Cartel”–sorry, I couldn’t help my cynicism) and their allies, including Authors Guild president and bestselling author Scott Turow? I wanted to trust them. I trusted them for years because I had no choice and knew no better. They were doing what they wanted—and surely what they wanted was to benefit their suppliers, their members, their writers. They were selling books–but not mine.

When I signed that publishing contract back in ’92, I dreamed of what it would be like as an Authors Guild member, one of thousands of professional writers, many making a living from their writing and enjoying the benefits of the Authors Guild’s protective arms.

Man, has that changed.

So here we are in the electronic age. It is our future—the one we must embrace (until the day that giant EMP from the Sun knocks out all our eGadgets) if we wish to become successful authors. Some folks aren’t willing to embrace the future and don’t understand that they can’t hold back time and live in the past. This eFuture is inevitable. Everyone must adapt, even bestselling authors. They must understand that the old and familiar isn’t always the best, and who we dealt with in the past didn’t necessarily have our best interests in mind.

If what readers want to do is read, let them read. If what writers want to do is write, let them write. If what Amazon and a few of the other big Internet booksellers want to do is to satisfy their customers by getting them lots of product for very reasonable prices, let them channel the writers’ works to the readers’ eyes as cheaply and as efficiently as possible.

Check out JA Konrath’s most recent post on his blog at: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/. Barry Eisler, joins in, as he did in the last post. And, once again, they’re discussing what Scott Turow has said, this time in a recent interview about “why we should fear Amazon”. It will absolutely floor you!

In these shifting seas, who are you to believe? For now, I’m plotting my course with those who seem to have the authors’ and readers’ interests in mind—Internet booksellers like Amazon and Smashwords—the ones accepting and selling our books to the consumer at reasonable prices and for very generous royalties. As for The Big Six Publishers and Authors Guild’s president Scott Turow: Wake up! Grasp the future, remember your customer, and give them what THEY want!

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