Posts Tagged 'DBW'

I think I heart pirates

Today I followed Twitter more closely than I usually do because of
Digital Book World day 2, the Apple iPad unveiling and then the RWA announcement about the changes to their rules concerning eligible publishers.

Now, I’m coming down from a publishing buzz, and gathering some of the links I found while reading today.

First, one of Brian O’Leary’s tweets led me to this article about Chris Anderson’s “latest” idea. I’m almost done with Clay Shirky’s book, and I completely agree with Brian about the similarities between the two guys’ ideas. Can great minds think alike when one of them thought it two years ago?

Then, there was piracy.

Yesterday’s speech by Macmillan president Brian Napack has been making the rounds. Teleread had a summary; PW focused on it in their wrap-up. Napack’s gist seemed to be that piracy is bad. We should stop it however we can.

But there is something in me that can’t fully accept this dictate.

I keep seeing too many stories about free (pirated) books increasing sales. Take this Publishing Perspectives piece, for example. The article is mostly about Amazon’s e-book “exclusives,” but inside there is an interesting side note about The Pirate Coelho. A long clip from the article:

In his keynote speech opening the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2008, Coelho laid out his philosophy quite clearly, describing his decision to create a site, The Pirate Coelho, where he links to free pirated downloads of his books in any language he can find them online:

“Why not share the whole digital content of books for free? Contrary to what common sense tells us — and common sense is not always a good guide, otherwise publishers, booksellers and writers would probably be doing something more profitable — the more you give, the more you gain. I was lucky enough to see this happening to my books in Russia, back in 1999, where I had a very difficult beginning. Given the great distances, my books were very poorly distributed and the sales were very low. Yet, with the appearance of a pirated digital copy of The Alchemist sales took off in an amazing way. In the first year, the sales had jumped from 1,000 copies to 10,000 copies. In the second year they soared to 100,000 copies and the year after I sold a million books. To this day, I have reached the mark of over 10 million books in this territory. The Russian experience stimulated me to create a site: “The Pirate Coelho”.

“The Pirate Coelho” was there for three years, being fed by readers worldwide, and nobody in the industry noticed — because my sales were steadily growing. However, from the moment that I mentioned it at a Technology Conference at the beginning of this year, I started hearing some complaints. However, in the end, my US publishing house, HarperCollins, for example, fully understood the possibilities. So once a month during 2008, I have uploaded one of my titles, unabridged, to be read online. Instead of seeing a drop in sales, I am pleased to say that The Alchemist, one of the first titles to be made available online, by September has completed a full year on the New York Times bestselling list. This is living proof of our industry’s momentum: use the web to promote and you will see the results in the physical world.”

And then @screeny sent me this fantastic in-depth interview with a book pirate. For this guy, piracy equals passion. Not only did he scan physical books–a task I know is annoying based on the many photocopies of old books I used to have to make–he spent up to 40 freakin’ hours editing the design to be more readable. Would it be too audacious to suggest that this “pirate” is really spending numerous unpaid hours building an audience for the authors he loves?

In my head, I know piracy is a bottom-line problem, for publishers and for writers. But in my heart, I am with this guy. I can’t help comparing his urge to find and share books with the many, many ways I myself have gorged on free and cheap books. I get books from work. I share books from work with friends and colleagues. I am a heavy library patron, both Brooklyn Public and New York Public. I was once also a heavy used bookstore patron, turning in one new copy of a Brenda Joyce for four tattered copies of whatever looked good.

(The only reason I’m not such a heavy used bookstore patron today is that NYC doesn’t have the kind of stores I like–filled with romance and eager to make trades on anything I bring in. The Strand is great, but not of the same caliber as my old college haunt, Brant’s Used Books.)

Isn’t electronic piracy really just sharing, at a larger scale? And maybe the increased sharing is what’s needed now that we’re serving a larger, global market. The numbers seem big, yes, but I can’t help thinking about how many used books are sold online every year and how many books are loaned by large library systems. Does all of that sharing count as piracy, too? I’m not convinced an electronically pirated book is actually a lost sale. I’d rather consider it a widely distributed sample.

I know there are a lot of folks who disagree, and the continuing collection of data may eventually prove me wrong. I’ll be watching the debate. Let’s see if it will lead to a change of heart.


#DBW–day 1

So not only did I miss what seems to have been great discussions at Digital Book World today, I have been nearly offline for the last week and a half catching up on reading for work.

Now that my deadlines have loosened their grasp just a bit, I scrolled through as many #dbw updates on Twitter as I could handle.

I was especially impressed to see Angela James’ (@angelajames) impact on the New Business panel.

amywilkins: Heehee RT @IrisBlasi Audible gasp from the audience when @angelajames said Carina’s books have no DRM–across the board. #dbwnewbiz #dbw

booksquare: RT @rilnj: RT @calreid: #dbw @angelajames No advances, 30% royalty/cover price & no DRM. R. Nash howls “you’ll be pirated!” angie: probably.

Love the gasping visual! And I’m intrigued by Angela’s response to accusations of letting in the pirates.

The DBW webinar last Thursday dealt with piracy, in a limited way (focused mostly on O’Reilly titles.) But the guest researcher, Brian O’Leary, said the initial data shows that the most pirated titles are also the titles with the most sales. Correlation? Causality? It’s unclear. (If I remember correctly, he said that the titles that were the most pirated also had 2/3s more sales than titles that were not pirated.) It seems to lazy-ol’ me that when it’s easier to buy than to steal, people will pay for the convenience, if for nothing else.

Also, aren’t publishers always giving away free reads? Like dope pushers, they know a good book will bring the addicts back for more. Samples, excerpts, advanced review copies, and libraries. Free e-books, just from anecdotal evidence, seem to do the same job. So maybe encouraging piracy is a good thing?

And then the conversation took a turn:

IrisBlasi: Discussion about ebooks getting heated. @angelajames offers to “take it outside.” #dbw #dbwnewbiz

A duel at dawn? Thunder Road? If only… It was probably more like, “Time’s up. If you want to keep chatting let’s go outside.” In any case, I can’t wait to read more about this panel from Angela and others who were there.

A few other updates stood out that were not Carina Press-related.

concentricdots: Most crucial message for publishers from #dbw today is STOP marketing products and START cultivate customers. Use the tools of change

This is where social media comes in, I suppose–but only when done right. IMO, Harper Studio’s blog is an example of the publisher getting it right. I read their blog because the posts are interesting. The blog writers, who all work at Harper Studio, cover timely topics related to publishing, media, entertainment, editing and, of course, their books. But when they do get around to writing about their books, the posts are about more than just what’s coming out and why it’s great. Instead they discuss something cool or personal that is related to their books.

Those blogs that only say “see this book/interview/author”? Ugh.

charleenbarila RT @IrisBlasi: Mindshift: Publishers are not selling the book, we’re selling the author.-@R_Nash #dbw #dbwnewbiz

Is this really a mindshift for publishers? Hmm. Isn’t that what happens with those blockbuster names like Nora Roberts, James Patterson, etc.? Harlequin folks always talk about “growing the author.” The assumption is that authors will always write more than one book, and future books will be just as good as, if not better than, the one that first caught an editor’s eye. Holding that assumption as true, an author’s audience should grow as she becomes known by more readers. Other publishers don’t think this way?

geogeller we are in the business of selling experiences, food for imagination #dbw #140conf @jeffpulver @chrisbrogan @garyvee @lizstrauss

I love this! Reading is always about the narrative experience for me, even for non-fiction. Now we readers can add to the imaginary world with other virtual experiences. Like that time when I was ten and I baked scones to go with my Philippa Carr novel–except way better.

nyefwm RT @alicepope: Sara Nelson: One of the truisms in publishing is that publishers don’t spend money promoting their backlists. #dbw

As someone who works on backlist quite a bit, I found this truism interesting. If publishers don’t spend money promoting those older titles, and authors have nearly forgotten that they wrote those books, how can editors best help get the word out? Homework for me!

Digitize me!

So I listened in on my first webinar today, a roundtable discussion hosted by Digital Book World. Today’s topic was about editors’ roles in the digital publishing space.

I learned several things:

1.) There is an awesome “new” blog called The New Sleekness. It has a lovely look and very interesting publishing punditry.

2.) I wish I had a winning scratch-off ticket so I could go to the Digital Book World conference. My budget dictated that I choose between Tools of Change and DBW, and a colleague I greatly respect suggested TOC. But the DBW organizers have impressed me with their ability to be everywhere I go and to talk about everything I’m most interested in. Do you think they’d let me check coats or clear tables in exchange for a free afternoon of conferencing?

3.) Stories are stories are stories. One participant, when discussing the role of a multi-media editor, said that many book editors look at the digital space (video, Web sites, etc.) and think, “That’s something else. That’s not what I do.” But others are beginning to think about their authors’ stories in a more integrated way.

Every editor I’ve ever worked with analyzes all stories, whether in TV, film, books or online. Most of us also see narrative arcs when others don’t (the beauty of the right political timing, for example). Once you learn to find and manipulate narrative, it’s hard to stop. Maybe multi-media editing is just an extension of this, with different tools.

4.) There is passion out there in this new publishing world. Book lovers are called lovers (and not buffs) for a reason. We love reading. We love stories. We love words. Most of all, we love to share all of that with others. The greatest boon of combining books with digital media is the ease of connecting with other book lovers and sharing our passions.

5.) If you want to go digital, love to learn. So, count me in for the next webinar, and this upcoming February talk with Richard Nash and Colin Robinson.


I work as an editor at Harlequin, but the posts on this site are all mine and don’t represent my employer's positions, strategies or opinions.
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