I wrote a long time ago about the changes in the publishing industry around how physical books would become luxury items of desire.

While out in Cheltenham, UK, today, as well as a book shop full of board games and pretty stationary, I saw this display which I took a photo of to share.

Sets of popular out of copyright novels, bound in hardback in beautiful designs. They look absolutely fabulous. But they are objects of desire – coffee table books if you will – and priced accordingly, I saw £15 or more price tags.

If you really want to read some of these works – they are out of copyright, which means public domain, which means this content is free (when you buy them in physical printed form you are only paying for the cost of making, shipping and storing the physical media, the publisher has no obligation to pay any money to the author, their heirs or estate, so the rest is pure profit for the publishing house) – then Project Gutenberg is the place to read them. In digital format for free.

If you prefer a physical book, there are cheaper options. Back when I was a student in the early 1990s I would purchase classics in paperback editions from Wordsworth for £1. They are still publishing and a quarter of a century later only £2.50, which is much more reasonable than the beautiful hardbacks I saw on display today.

Or you can scour what we call charity shops in the UK and from memory what are thrift stores in the USA. These often carry books at significant reductions on retail. Or eBay.

  • For the record I am not being paid to endorse anyone here, I would recommend Gutenberg which is free, but I would also suggest if you must have a physical book when you buy out of copyright, go with the cheapest option, whether that is second-hand or a reasonably priced publisher.

Books with sound?

September 29, 2011

One of the latest innovations in e publishing is books with sound effects.

Hmmm… I may be wrong, but I have to say, I am not convinced. Why would you want your eBook to play music throughout, like the incidental music in films.

Surely, you just need to buy an audio book and have it read to you with the incidental music there, rather than alongside your actual text? I often listen to random music when I read, but it is usually something I block out when I get engrossed (usually only noticing the sound when the playlist ends and some random mp3 comes on).

So, I remain unconvinced by the innovation of reading with its own pre-defined soundtrack, as do others. But let’s see what the eBook buying public think.

The Harry Potter books are to be sold as eBooks for the first time.

As far as I can tell from reading the various articles, JK is set to earn herself another fortune as she never sold the digital rights to her books to her publishers.

Which means when Pottermore sells a book, instead of the author receiving 10% of the sale as is often the case in traditional bookselling, as she appears to own Pottermore, she will make every penny.

Good for her by the way.

What this shows is an established author can sell direct to the public via digital means (and remember Radiohead did a similar thing with In Rainbows) but what does it mean for authors without the name recognition of JK and her boy wizard?

The Chief Exec of Bloomsbury (big publishing house) says ebooks “will change the publishing business model” in an article here.

(Been saying that in this blog for a while now)

He also goes on to say the “publishing world is handling its own revolution” – which is interesting to hear, and makes me wonder if the industry has taken heed of the cluster f**k way in which the music industry handled the transition to a digital world. Time will tell.


Print on Demand trends

February 8, 2011

When Caxton invented the printing press he revolutionised communication. Copies of writing could be created far quicker using the machine than the existing technology of having someone copy it word for word in handwriting.

From Caxton’s time onwards the ownership of a press required lots of capital up front and this was reflected in the cost of printing. Every page of a document had to be set in metal before being printed, this was an expensive process – the cost of which was divided among the number of copies printed, meaning it was always cheaper per unit to print as many copies as possible.

Thus, publishing anything in great numbers came with a large financial risk.

In the last few years, the advent of digital printing has removed many of the old costly methods involved in printing. Because great sheets of metal do not need to be indented, much of the upfront cost of publishing has disappeared, or at least it has reduced to a manageable rate.

Within the publishing industry this seismic shift is called Print On Demand (POD).

Instead of printing thousands and thousands of copies of a book to reduce the per unit price enough to make it an economical process, we are at the stage where the economical rate is down in the hundreds.

Instead of printing 10,000 copies of a book and hoping to shift them all in a couple of years, with all the inherent business risks carrying that much stock would bring, a publisher can print a decent sized initial run and depending on the actual demand from the market, print more copies.

In my opinion the logical extension of POD will see book stores with every book ever written stored on a PC’s hard drive connected to a printing and binding machine capable of producing one copy of any book while the customer waits – most probably the waiting will be done over a cappuccino in the store’s coffee shop!

For now that is science fiction, but with the advances we have seen recently in printing technology, it can’t be that far away…

Thanks to Astra for bringing this story about Amazon sales to my attention.

A watershed moment?

A new era for book covers?

January 25, 2011

This concept is kind of sweet.

But it makes me wonder why anyone would want to make your modern digital device look like the analogue version circa 200 years ago.

Anyone fancy doing this to their device? Please tell me, why?

%d bloggers like this: