Meccano, the French toy manufacturer, has announced an open source, build your own robot project. Details here. As far as I can tell from the website, it isn’t yet available to buy.

I havent had a play with a real one, but I am excited. A robot you can build and adapt, using open source software (which i guess reflects the nature of Meccano, which is a bunch of pieces which can be assembled and re-assembled in any way you can imagine – similar to Lego for the unfamiliar), is a big deal in my world.

There are two versions of the robot, I link above to the larger one of the two. The massive social change around a robot in every home is coming and while the Honda Asimo is the early runner, there are so many players in this arena it is certainly unclear who will end up being the Microsoft, Google, Amazon or Apple of this brave new world.

#meccanoid

 

 

The first chapter of The Joy of Ex is below as a free PDF to have a sample of what the novel is about.

JoyOfExExtract_ch1_

The book is available from Amazon in Kindle and paperback.

Joy Of Ex Cover Front web

 

 

Digital publishing should be leading a revolution in publishing bringing great books to the masses – but this is stalling due to price.

Allen Lane, the founder of Penguin, introduced paperback novels in 1935 with the intention that books should cost no more than a packet of cigarettes.

I don’t buy cigarettes, but my friend Google tells me in the UK they cost a bit less than £6.50 for a pack of 20.

Second on the Amazon best selling book as I write is by Bradley Wiggins, the paperback costs £7.19 from Amazon (RRP £7.99)  while the Kindle edition costs £6.29 (and the reason I have selected 2nd on the best seller list is because first doesnt appear to have a Kindle edition thanks Jamie Oliver)

So the paperback costs more than the cigarettes, while the digital edition costs marginally less than they do.

Let’s think about this for a minute – the difference between a paperback and the Kindle edition is 90p.

That 90p must account for the cost of printing, the cost of paper, the cost of shipping, the cost of storage and possibly other costs I am not factoring in. And bearing in mind publishers sell to retailers at least 50% discount for paper books, then we should be looking at 45p as being the cost of each of those things.

While the Kindle edition is some data uploaded to Amazon who then download it after the customer purchases. Quite often the data is a couple of megabits which if it costs anything at all to store and transmit, cannot be more than a few pence.

So why does a couple of MBs of data cost not much less than a paperback (with all the costs of printing, transporting and storing) ????

I don’t know what is going on in the offices of big publishing houses across the planet, so I hesitate to say this is all about profiteering – they may have a legitimate reason – which I would really like to hear (feel free to comment to explain yourself if you work at a big publishing house).

However, what I do know is I have four books available on Amazon* – three are almost out of print as paperbacks (and the publisher doesn’t plan to print anymore as they will be available forever on Kindle) – but all are available in Kindle.

The paperback prices are in the range you would expect as compared to books from other publishing houses. But, the Kindle editions all retail at £1.92 (which is based on the US price of $2.99 which I understand is the minimum price you can put on a Kindle book). 

I mention the prices of my books primarily to make the point I am practicing what I am preaching (and if Amazon removes their minimum price I think they would go down again – publishing to a literate world should be about volume of sales not price per unit – the industry values best sellers (not highest priced sellers) after all.

Market forces will win out and the big publishing houses will flourish or not in the digital era. But keeping prices more or less the same for paper objects compared to couple of MBs downloads is probably not sustainable – look at what Apple has done to CDs with iTunes at 79p a track. Look at what Netflix and others are doing to movie and box set DVD sales.

The digital revolution is here and if the old publishers cannot change the price then new ones who will change the cost and the business model to compete will rise up and take their place – it is how the market works.

 

*My books available on Kindle:

The Joy of Ex

Fragments

UHF Shadow

The Great Wide Open

My first published book The Joy of Ex  is available from Amazon here.

The Joy of Ex was published in 2008 on Oktober Books.

The back page blurb says:

“It all starts with a drunken bet, well actually it starts with a lot of Jose Cuervo, some casual sex with strangers and a drunken concept, the drunken bet kind of follows naturally along behind. Nick is convinced the spark that gets a girl to sleep with him is still there between them forever, however the relationship ends.

His best mate Blake doesn’t agree. Instead Blake believes the fire between two people is gone, on one side at least, when things come to an end.

To find out who is right Nick bets Blake he cannot seduce and bed six of his ex girlfriends/one nighters – and provide photographic evidence. So is an ex girlfriend ripe for seduction, or is everything truly over when one partner says goodbye? Blake is about to find out when he discovers The Joy of Ex.”

My first published book is available from Amazon here.

The Joy of Ex was published in 2008 on Oktober Books.

The back page blurb says:

“It all starts with a drunken bet, well actually it starts with a lot of Jose Cuervo, some casual sex with strangers and a drunken concept, the drunken bet kind of follows naturally along behind. Nick is convinced the spark that gets a girl to sleep with him is still there between them forever, however the relationship ends.

His best mate Blake doesn’t agree. Instead Blake believes the fire between two people is gone, on one side at least, when things come to an end.

To find out who is right Nick bets Blake he cannot seduce and bed six of his ex girlfriends/one nighters – and provide photographic evidence. So is an ex girlfriend ripe for seduction, or is everything truly over when one partner says goodbye? Blake is about to find out when he discovers The Joy of Ex.”

The world of publishing is changing rapidly and the iPad in my humble opinion may do more to speed this up than the Kindle )altho, I may be proved wrong in the end, but on the evidence so far, the iPad is winning).

The latest piece of evidence is called The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris and appears to be much more than just a book. Thanks to the iPad it is part open world game, part movie, part educational tool and probably many more things beside. And it has apparently outsold Angry Birds, which is something of an achievement.

An article in The Times (which I won’t link to due to Rupurt’s paywall) says that in the future it is possible this book “will be regarded as one of the most influental titles of the early 21st century.” High praise indeed (altho taken with a pinch of salt as Rupurt isn’t great when it comes to the internet – remember MySpace?)

One of the key points of interest here is that the book was not written by a single person, nor a collaboration of a pair or small group of people, no this was created using a studio method – I can only compare this to the gaming world where once games were produced by single coders in their back bedrooms whereas now they are produced by huge studios.

Perhaps the historic lone writer who works in a room cut off from the world to produce his masterpiece will disappear as books are produced in studios with huge development budgets…

My first published book is available from Amazon here.

The Joy of Ex was published in 2008 on Oktober Books.

The back page blurb says:

“It all starts with a drunken bet, well actually it starts with a lot of Jose Cuervo, some casual sex with strangers and a drunken concept, the drunken bet kind of follows naturally along behind. Nick is convinced the spark that gets a girl to sleep with him is still there between them forever, however the relationship ends.

His best mate Blake doesn’t agree. Instead Blake believes the fire between two people is gone, on one side at least, when things come to an end.

To find out who is right Nick bets Blake he cannot seduce and bed six of his ex girlfriends/one nighters – and provide photographic evidence. So is an ex girlfriend ripe for seduction, or is everything truly over when one partner says goodbye? Blake is about to find out when he discovers The Joy of Ex.”

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