books on the radio


Cory Doctorow Interview Redux: For the Win

Cory Doctorow's new book is For the Win, published by Tor Teen. Photo by Joi Ito.

I recently had a chance to hook up with Cory Doctorow again via skype for a quick 37 minute interview about all kinds of interesting things.

Click here for the audio edit of our skype interview.

For the Win

He’s on tour for his new book, For the Win, and was in Toronto and environs doing publicity ahead of an event at the Merrill Collection.

In this wide-ranging talk we cover quite a lot of ground.

I start off by asking Cory about his new Print on Demand (POD) project that he’s been documenting for Publisher’s Weekly that’s called With a Little Help.

What I love about this project is that Cory is leading from the front.

He’s seen the opportunity to put some real numbers behind a POD project, has laid his process bare and is experimenting with a number of price points for fans and consumers.

Anyone interested in self-publishing or Print on Demand needs to know more about this project.

From there we discuss his new book, specifically the idea of ‘gold farming’, which, very generally, is the act of gamers in 3rd world countries working their way thru complex gaming levels and amassing treasure, loot or gold which they then sell to 3rd parties who then sell it on to others.

Sounds ridiculous, right? Sounds like something out of a science fiction story, right?

Except that it’s real. A weird new kind of colonialism, or a virtual sweatshop.

This leads us to discuss ‘Benevolent Dictators’, hackable devices, technical vs information challenges before moving on to discuss DRM, digital locks and possible consequences of the proposed new Canadian copyright legislation contained in Bill C32.

The conversation ends with Cory offering some advice to young creators – digital natives – who may be confused by the current discussions of ‘piracy’, DRM, windowing, POD.

Some very interesting insights on creative strategy, partnerships.

What do you think about the ideas that Cory expresses in this interview?

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SFU Summer Publishing Workshops: Sign Up Now to Attend

Sign Up Now to Study Book Publishing in Vancouver, Summer 2010.

Summertime in Vancouver

+ studying book/magazine publishing at SFU

= some kind of perfect bliss.

It’s time for you to do some serious thinking about coming out to Vancouver to bask in the glory of one of the best book publishing programs in the world.  And to experience the radiant, sublime amazingness of this city at the height of summer.

Bleeding Edge Ideas Calmly Discussed.

SFU has unveiled their program for the 2010 Summer Publishing Workshops and it looks pretty serious.

Some of the best and most experienced people in the business combined with some of the brightest lights in new media will be on hand to give students an unforgettable learning experience.

Vancouver is home to some of the best doers and thinkers in the digital area.

People who not only actively engage the web, social media and the digital landscape but who are excellent communicators about that experience.

There’s no better example of this than Lisa Manfield and Rebecca Bollwit on Marketing Magazines Online.

Unless, of course, we’re talking about the Justice League of America style panel that’ll be leading students through the session called Digital Strategy: Editor’s Intensive featuring: John ‘Hawkman’ Maxwell, Joy ‘Invisible Plane’ Gugler, Boris ‘Aquaman’ Mann and Monique ‘Super Girl’ Trottier.

Just take a moment to think about those people.  Check out those links and look at the quality of work that they do.

What kind of ideas are they capable of unlocking in you?

And I haven’t even mentioned industry powerhouse thinkers like O’Reilly Media’s Andrew Savikas, Neelan Choksi of Lexcycle, Mark Coker from Smashwords, Chris Lanbonte, Ali Cairns and Jesse Finkelstein from D&M Publishers, Sarah ‘Smart Bitches‘ Wendell, Richard Nash, and Kobo’s Michael Tamblyn to name only a few.

Learn the Fundamentals from Industry Masters.

And there’s much knowledge and wisdom to be gleaned from the best minds in traditional publishing, too.

Take a look at this roll call of industry vets:

Tom Best from HB Fenn and Key Porter Books, Randy Chan, Brad Martin and Kristin Cochrane from Random House Canada, Simon and Schuster Canada’s Kevin Hanson, Donna Hayes from Harlequin Enterprises, the legendary David Kent from Harper Collins Canada, Brian Lam from Vancouver’s Arsenal Pulp Press and Kevin Williams from TalonBooks will all be on hand to give you the 411 on the real challenges and opportunities that the book publishing industry faces going forward.

Pretty frickin’ amazing.

*

So here’s the deal: Think about it, then do something about it.

The best minds in traditional book and magazine publishing + guiding lights in new media + sunlight, Stanley Park, mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

The answer to the question is Yes.  As in “Yes, I’m going to do it,” and “Yes, I’m going to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Imagine what you’ll learn.  Imagine the new ideas, fresh perspectives and great people that you’ll meet.

And I’ll be there, too.  I’ll be reprising and updating the talk that I gave last year called Digital Rights Management vs the Inevitability of Free Content.

For more info on what courses are available, a full list of faculty and details on costing and accommodation please check the SFU Publishing Workshops website and/or send me an email.

Hope to see you there.



Makers: The Cory Doctorow Interview (Built from Scratch)
Cory Doctorow Banner

Cory Doctorow Photo by Jonathan Worth.

This interview has it all.  Well, some of it.  In pieces.  Kinda glued together.

Click here to hear the podcast of my interview with Cory.

I called Cory on Thursday November 12th, 2009 from Control Booth B at CJSF.  He was in his hotel room getting started on a day of media publicity for the launch of his new book, Makers, published by Tor Books.

I have no idea whether I was his first interview of the day but I am certain that I wasn’t his last.

He did TVOntario, CBC’s The Hour with George Strombo and countless other interviews throughout the day.

He eventually finished with a talk at the Toronto SF reference library, the Merril Collection, where his old friends at Bakka Phoenix Books (where Cory once worked as a bookseller) sold out of books for him to sign.

His talk the next day at the National Reading Summit was a huge success according to all of my sources in Toronto.

Well, all of my sources except the Globe and Mail’s John Barber, who apparently couldn’t be bothered to actually show up.  Not that a little detail like being physically present prevented him from writing about it.

But back to the interview that you may or may not have already started listening to.

It’s a bit of a reanimated corpse brought together by magic and electricity.  The sound quality is off and my recording software kinda crashed about half way through then came back to life again and then died for good.

So I apologize for the quality and I promise that I’m going to get this whole ‘sound’ thing figured out.  I finish the show off with a recording of Cory’s reading from the Makers that night at the the Merril Collection Science Fiction Reference Library in front of his home town audience.  It’s a great piece about Suzanne Church’s first encounter with a few of the Makers. A scene that I allude to earlier in our talk.

I still like the interview, though.  I’m sorry that an infernal machine ate chunks of our conversation about DRM and most of the talk on Google Books and everything about his With a Little Help Project that he’s cataloging for Publisher’s Weekly.

Here’s the video from his excellent talk on TVOntario:



Simon and Schuster Test Waters w/ Stephen King eBook Release

Stephen King

UPDATE: This post has been refreshed from its original state.  That’s what I get for taking Publisher’s Weekly at its word.

Anyway, mid-way through this piece I ask readers to suspend their disbelief – difficult to do when reading a post on book publishing, pricing and digital content, I know – and  follow my argument as I use the information from the Publisher’s Weekly column slightly out of context but not entirely out of the realm of possibility.

Mark Coker from Smashwords.com lends useful insight via this Huffington Post piece. Follow the hashtag #publishersmatter on Twitter.

Please add any comments that you think are helpful.

***

Interesting piece from Publisher’s Weekly about Simon and Schuster’s decision to delay the release of the eBook version of Stephen King’s massive new novel, Under the Dome.dome

Apparently S&S will be releasing the 1000+ page novel on November 10th and then dropping the ebook on the market on December 24th.  Timing is everything, I guess.

The Publisher’s Weekly piece also notes that the S&S will be charging $35 for the eBook, however some further research conducted at StephenKing.com indicates that the ebook will sell for standard Kindle-pricing.

Mr King asks his readers not to “believe the press reports that the e-book reader price for Under the Dome will be $35. This was the result of confusion from a press release from the publisher… It is true that you cannot order the book as an e-download until December 24th, but the physical book, which is a beautiful thing, you can pre-order for less than $9–so who’s better than us?”

So, pricing right?  It’s all up in the air.  Nobody knows what anything is worth whether it’s a brand spankin’ new hardcover or an infinitely replicable digital file.  Are they both worth $9?  Really?  Are publishers seriously asking the public to swallow that crock?

But they’re trapped between the ruthless capitalism of dominant retailers at war with each other and the ruthless efficiency of the digital age.

***

Let’s say for example that the Great Book Pricing War of 2009 wasn’t happening and skewing this argument beyond proportion and let’s say that S&S thought that $35 for a hard cover was a fair price – which it is – and that $35 for an eBook was also a fair price – which is arguable to say the least.

I float this scenario forward for your consideration because I have heard book publishers say the very same thing – that a digital file should be priced at the same level as the physical product.

To me this notion of equal pricing for physical/digital looks more like a series of test balloons designed to reinforce industry fears than skillful marketing strategies for new books by some of English language’s most beloved authors.

Who gave the final OK on that pricing strategy and where is he/she getting their information?

It’s well documented that the last Harry Potter book – itself a hefty tome – was pirated and disseminated almost immediately upon release (in fact, an in-house perp at Scholastic did the job even before the book hit the shelves) and surely the people at Simon and Schuster are aware that this will happen here, too.  I expect that this book will be seeded widely within 24 hours of officially going on sale.

I have documented the bibliographic zeal that Stephen King’s fans show toward his work online in my presentations on DRM and Free Content.  I expect that a great majority will look at the cost of $35 for the hard cover version as a fair price to pay – and indeed many of the people who use P2P/torrent sites to download and share Stephen King’s books are dedicated enough to purchase the physical copy – and will see the same price for a digital file as incomprehensibly expensive.

This will certainly bear watching.  I have to believe that this is some kind of Big Author Test of Current Market Conditions rather than a strategy that S&S expects to trot out for every new hard cover release.

Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol showed us something about this new digital/print landscape and the new Stephen King promises to yield even more data even if it seems that it will come at the expense of common sense.

But one must keep an open mind.  Hopefully this publishing event will show us something new.



Impact of Piracy and P2P on Book Sales: Frankfurt

Impact Of Piracy And Free ( T O C F F)

View more presentations from bfoleary.
Brian O’Leary of Magellan Media has updated the data for his Impact of P2P and Free Distribution on Book Sales.  He presented this update at the 2009 Frankfurt Book Fair.
Brian’s research and methods have been very influential on my own work.


Cranbury v. McGuire: The Future of Publishing Interview

masthead

Sometime around the middle of August I got an email from Amy Logan-Holmes at Open Book: Toronto asking whether I would be interested in participating in something called the 48 Hour Interview that would run in their Fall Issue.

She described it as an email exchange or co-interview between two people working within the books/publishing industry.  The participants are free to discuss whatever they like provided that the ‘interview’ occurs within 48 consecutive hours and, I suppose, is at least tangentially related to the business at hand.

So I’m thinking, “Ok, that sounds doable.  I wonder who she’s going to pair me up with?”

And, of course, it was Hugh McGuire, co-creator of Book Oven and Librivox.org.  Organizer of BookCamp Toronto and well-coiffed confidante of the Digital Literati.

No pressure, right?

None.

It was a great, if somewhat long, interview that really dug into some key issues facing the evolving – convulsing? – book publishing industry today.

The whole thing was edited and punched into shape by the very talented Clelia Scala.  Many thanks to Hugh and everyone at Open Book: Toronto.

For an example of something that I wrote for the interview that may or may not be interesting, please click the little red (more…) button below.

Continue reading



Piracy and the Concept of ‘Free’ in Book Publishing

Today I had the privilege of speaking to Kirk Biglione of Medialoper.com and Quartet Press in Pasadena, California about DRM and the current state of uncertainty in book publishing.  He led me to look into a man named Brian O’Leary of Magellan Media who has just published a manuscript called ‘Impact of P2P and Free Distribution on Book Sales‘ with O’Reilly.

First, I found this audio interview between Kirk and Brian about the findings in Brian’s book.  Essential listening.

I then tracked down this video of Brian’s presentation of his findings at the Tools of Change in Publishing Conference in February.  Essential viewing click the image below.

[blip.tv ?posts_id=2011560&dest=-1]

The text below summarizes the video.

As digital content has become more available and more commonly distributed in book publishing, fears of piracy and lost sales have grown. The rise of peer-to-peer file sharing sites has likely amplified these fears. While the debate over the impact of ?free? content has been at times heated, the discussions are more often than not characterized by a lack of hard data. To address this data gap, O?Reilly Media began a project in 2008 to characterize the ?free? universe, catalog and assess recent experiments, establish ways to measure the benefit or cost of free distribution and conduct some follow-on experiments of our own. O?Reilly is joined in this effort by Random House, which contributed data for several of its own tests. Come to this session to hear an interim report on the initial phase of this ongoing study, including a preliminary model of where and when free distribution works as well as what?s worth continuing to track over time.