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The Apple Tablet Event?

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I'm convinced that there are endless ways of doing the job and making money at it. Remember all the "Give It Away" business models during the long birth of the World Wide Web? There was a big shakeout but there were also survivors like Google. Perhaps, in the future, authors will start selling ad space in their free e-novels. Software giveaways? Secret passwords for goody-filled Web sites. Perhaps the novels will be packaged with action figures from the novel or other giveaways like maps or posters or music. Or maybe they'll go with product placement in the story itself, like TV and films are doing now. Who knows?

 

But M's article reminded me of another in today's NY Times (magazine section cover story). It's about the world's bestselling living novelist: James Patterson. Never heard of him? You're not alone. He doesn't even use a computer, much less a tablet. Read this article on how he does it. He may just be the model for future successful writers.

 

- Thoth.

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There is an irony about using the term "best-seller" for free, no? Apple uses the distinction "top downloads" which is far more accurate.

I was adopting the language of the New York Times article: "Bestsellers Don't Always Sell" (quoted from memory). Probably I should have put it in quotation marks, since as you note a "bestseller" without a price is a contradiction in terms.

 

The rest of the points you make are all good ones. I, too, would prefer to live off money I earn for my novels, not least because I could then spend much more time writing novels instead of cramming fiction writing into whatever time I have left after working to feed myself. And at the moment, while I retain hope of attracting an agent and a publisher, I do not intend to distribute my work through the Kindle Store, Authonomy, or anywhere else. But I would note that if the alternative to earning 70¢ a download is earning 0¢, selling a book through the Kindle Store for 99¢ as a way of attracting an audience, an agent, and eventually a print publisher or e-publisher is more appealing than posting it on Facebook one chapter at a time.

 

The article that Thoth links to from Sunday's New York Times Magazine explains what has happened to publishing in the last 30 years. In particular, corporate publishers favor blockbuster writers like James Patterson because they bring in big profits, and the more resources the publishers devote to the blockbuster writers, the fewer they have left over for the unknowns. That forces up the definition of "blockbuster" and pushes the cycle further in the same direction, making it more and more difficult for unknown writers to break in.

 

So I agree with your big point: artists should be able to charge for their work. The question is how to extend that right to all artists, not only the big names. Device-specific DRM is too limited, and an Internet free-for-all not limited enough. A device-independent DRM standard might work (good luck getting it adopted!). I do hope we don't end up with in-book advertising, though.... :lol:

Best,

M

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I, too, would prefer to live off money I earn for my novels, not least because I could then spend much more time writing novels instead of cramming fiction writing into whatever time I have left after working to feed myself. And at the moment, while I retain hope of attracting an agent and a publisher, I do not intend to distribute my work through the Kindle Store, Authonomy, or anywhere else. But I would note that if the alternative to earning 70¢ a download is earning 0¢, selling a book through the Kindle Store for 99¢ as a way of attracting an audience, an agent, and eventually a print publisher or e-publisher is more appealing than posting it on Facebook one chapter at a time.

 

Absolutely. I agree completely with all of that. And nothing wrong with 99¢; in the music world, I always priced our digital music as cheaply as the particular venue would allow. My personal "gut feeling" is that digital downloads of full albums/novels/movies should be $4.99, and that the hardcopies (discs, paper books, etc) should be about double that. Something in me sees that as "fair." As a consumer, spending $5 for something I end up not liking very much isn't a great loss, and as a producer getting about $3.50/download seems fair (and adds up significantly, if you can sell thousands).

 

The article that Thoth links to from Sunday's New York Times Magazine explains what has happened to publishing in the last 30 years. In particular, corporate publishers favor blockbuster writers like James Patterson because they bring in big profits, and the more resources the publishers devote to the blockbuster writers, the fewer they have left over for the unknowns. That forces up the definition of "blockbuster" and pushes the cycle further in the same direction, making it more and more difficult for unknown writers to break in.

 

Perhaps our problem is that our novels don't have snakes being shoved up raped women's backsides?

 

Anyway, the same thing has happened to music, BTW. 30 years ago, record companies used to sign artists who they thought might sell a million records over a career, and nursed them through songwriting, recording, and touring, in the hopes that they could. Now, the only artists signed are those who they feel will sell that million records out of the gate, and if they don't, unless the record company is making a ton of money off the group touring, they're dumped.

 

So I agree with your big point: artists should be able to charge for their work. The question is how to extend that right to all artists, not only the big names. Device-specific DRM is too limited, and an Internet free-for-all not limited enough. A device-independent DRM standard might work (good luck getting it adopted!). I do hope we don't end up with in-book advertising, though.... :lol:

 

I severely doubt in-book advertising would take off. :)

 

As for piracy, I think the way to cut into that has a lot to do with pricing. People want two things: the free lunch, and convenience/user experience. If they can get one of them, they're wiling to give a little on the other. In other words, for a seamless enough user experience, folks will pay. That was Steve Jobs's revolutionary announcement when iTunes Store was introduced: "we think we can compete with free." And he was right—people were paying for convenience as much as for the music. No fiddly BitTorrent, and the prices seemed reasonable.

 

My gut feeling is that $5 would prove a "breaking point" for piracy. In other words, for $5, most people who are truly interested (meaning, potential purchasers) would rather just find something quickly and intuitively on the iTunes store and impulse buy, rather than futzing around with BitTorrent or whatever to try and steal it. There will always be piracy, but a lot of piracy is people who would never buy, kids downloading all the media they can to trade it for games or porn. I think Amazon has done an admirable job with the Kindle Store, but as you say, that's a transitional device—most Kindle books are read on the iPhone/iPod Touch, and I can't imagine that being a pleasant reading experience. Then again, I'm a stones throw from 40 and grew up on paper books...

 

Take care,

Orren

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As for piracy, I think the way to cut into that has a lot to do with pricing. People want two things: the free lunch, and convenience/user experience. If they can get one of them, they're wiling to give a little on the other. In other words, for a seamless enough user experience, folks will pay. That was Steve Jobs's revolutionary announcement when iTunes Store was introduced: "we think we can compete with free." And he was right—people were paying for convenience as much as for the music. No fiddly BitTorrent, and the prices seemed reasonable.

 

My gut feeling is that $5 would prove a "breaking point" for piracy. In other words, for $5, most people who are truly interested (meaning, potential purchasers) would rather just find something quickly and intuitively on the iTunes store and impulse buy, rather than futzing around with BitTorrent or whatever to try and steal it. There will always be piracy, but a lot of piracy is people who would never buy, kids downloading all the media they can to trade it for games or porn. I think Amazon has done an admirable job with the Kindle Store, but as you say, that's a transitional device—most Kindle books are read on the iPhone/iPod Touch, and I can't imagine that being a pleasant reading experience. Then again, I'm a stones throw from 40 and grew up on paper books...

 

Take care,

Orren

People also like the feeling of staying within the law (i.e., doing the right thing), so long as they don't have to pay an exorbitant amount and can get hold of the music (books, movies, TV shows) they want. One of the particularly neat features of the Kindle is that you can download free samples, which I do quite often, especially with authors I haven't read before. Admittedly, that skews the experience a bit too (slow starters, watch out), but no more than skimming a paperback in an airport bookstore and deciding which one to buy based on the opening paragraphs. That makes it less likely that someone will buy a book and not like it (although books can fall apart midway, so it's not a guarantee).

 

There are still big hurdles for e-book readers to jump. Pricing is one; standard formats another; established technology (the printed book) a third. As an author, I want my book available to as many people as possible, and I want them to pay for reading it. As a reader, I want to buy a book once in the store that offers the best price; read it on any device that I like (with the device handling the DRM, not me), in any location and at any time (during airplane takeoffs and landings, e.g.); then lend it or sell it or give it away when I'm done with it. And I would like it to be as beautiful as a book, although I'm willing to compromise on appearance and other sensory elements of books for the convenience of having access to hundreds (thousands) of them in one gadget, especially if that gadget also lets me look up descriptions in Wikipedia or read Storyist posts (which is technically possible on the Kindle but not awfully feasible in practice). When e-books can do all that, they will replace books. Until then, they're going to remain a niche market, even if the niche gets larger over time.

 

I also like knowing that I'm saving trees (see doing the right thing, above). I'm perfectly willing to pay up to $9.99/book for the privilege of reading an author's work, and in some cases publishers are making more money off me than they would if I didn't have a Kindle, because I don't buy hardcovers except in very rare instances, but I am willing to pay $9.99 rather than wait for a paperback version that costs just a few dollars less.

 

More than you wanted to know, probably, but the point is simple: get the technology right, charge a reasonable price for it, and people will buy. Now, will the iTablet, if any, fit the specs? Guess we'll find out Wed.!

Best,

M

 

P.S. There can be a lot of dreck in free files. I'm sure I'm not the only person who's been known to pay Amazon.com a few bucks for a cleanly formatted version of something available free of charge on the Web.

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Just a few comments...

 

Perhaps our problem is that our novels don't have snakes being shoved up raped women's backsides?

An extreme example. The author's point was that sex and violence sells. But I'm sure you know that.

 

I severely doubt in-book advertising would take off. :lol:

The formula has worked for newspapers, magazines and comic books since before I was born. Many paperback books devote several pages to ads for other books by the publisher, and even TV shows and travel. Hardcover books are another matter. Ads would be too tacky for gilt-edged books with heirloom covers.

 

Which brings us back to the iTablet: believe it or not, many people are persuaded to buy a book by its packaging. And I don't just mean the cover. Barnes & Noble has made a pretty penny on their beautifully bound classics series. An e-book will have none of this package appeal.

 

My gut feeling is that $5 would prove a "breaking point" for piracy.

My gut tells me that there is no "breaking point" for piracy. At least not in terms of cash. Adults steal penny candy. They even steal pennies from the take-a-penny leave-a-penny jar. I've seen this. Penny ante (and $5) crime is more about opportunity. If it's simple enough to steal without getting caught there is a certain personality that will steal. Sad but true.

 

Oh well.

Live long and prosper.

- Thoth.

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P.S. There can be a lot of dreck in free files. I'm sure I'm not the only person who's been known to pay Amazon.com a few bucks for a cleanly formatted version of something available free of charge on the Web.

I've been known to buy DVDs of TV shows just to avoid the commercials. Yes, I know I can edit them out of a copy of the original broadcast but that's my "breaking point" (as Orren says). It's just not worth my time. The price is not an issue.

 

Yes, I still use DVDs.

- Thoth.

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As an author, I want my book available to as many people as possible, and I want them to pay for reading it. As a reader, I want to buy a book once in the store that offers the best price; read it on any device that I like

 

Amen to that! :lol:

 

(with the device handling the DRM, not me)

 

Honestly, I dislike any DRM. It's probably a musician/punk-rocker thing but ultimately it causes more problems than it solves. The people who really want to steal something can get around the DRM, and it's just an added expense/complication for the publishers.

 

I also like knowing that I'm saving trees (see doing the right thing, above).

 

Apple themselves try to minimize the impact of their devices, but it would be interesting to see what the environmental impact is of, for example, a Kindle. Now, intuitively, I think that in the long run, a Kindle/Apple Tablet is far kinder to the environment. It may be something like 1 tablet = 20 books as far as environmental damage goes (random guess), and I think it's safe to say that most eReaders will buy that number of eBooks in no time. I don't know. And I'm certainly not saying that eReaders are *worse* for the environment than paper books. But the real figures won't be as cut and dry as we wish they were.

 

Orren

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I've been known to buy DVDs of TV shows just to avoid the commercials. Yes, I know I can edit them out of a copy of the original broadcast but that's my "breaking point" (as Orren says). It's just not worth my time. The price is not an issue.

 

Yes, I still use DVDs.

- Thoth.

 

I buy a lot of blu-ray discs. :lol: I love them for TV, movies, etc. The resolution is great, they hold a ton of data, etc. I buy DVDs too, if there's no blu-ray.

 

I have only bought a single documentary digitally, and only because it wasn't available any other way. I'm personally not into sitting in front of the computer to watch longform video, and I certainly can't see myself wanting to watch a major motion picture on my iPhone!

 

Orren

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Honestly, I dislike any DRM. It's probably a musician/punk-rocker thing but ultimately it causes more problems than it solves. The people who really want to steal something can get around the DRM, and it's just an added expense/complication for the publishers.

I dislike DRM too, but is there an alternative? I guess the "iTunes Plus" model might work, so long as the bookstores can offer something that the pirates can't duplicate (better formatting? the haze of legality?). But before the e-bookstores can get creative about pricing, they first have to get over the idea that people will buy their e-readers and happily become their captives forever more. Amazon.com has benefited from that shortsighted mentality so far because it has large enough share of the market and offers the best prices anyway, but for Barnes and Noble it's just stupid. I would have bought a nook (this was before it came out and people realized how buggy the Android software still was, but I'm sure they'll fix that part eventually) if I could have purchased books from Amazon to put on it, and probably I would have bought some e-books from B&N, too. But I couldn't see locking myself in to a store that charged crazy prices on half its books and $2 more, on average, on the other half.

 

Amusing side note from a LinkedIn group I belong to: when asked what obstacles e-books had to overcome, one person said "Amazon.com, which is preventing ePub from becoming the standard." Excuse me, at last count, 70% of e-book readers sold were Kindles. That means that, like it or not, AZW/Mobi is the standard. That will change when and if a technologically superior reader (probably not eInk) can read AZW files. Could be the iSlate. Could be something else. But ordinary, non-early-adopter-type people are not going to trade in their Kindles for something that can't read those files, whether or not people in publishing think ePub is superior. And e-publishers are not likely to say, "Oh, we're ePub purists. We just won't worry about that 70%." Are they? :lol:

 

Of course, so far, it's 70% of a very small market, so there's still room for Apple (or someone) to sideswipe the Kindle juggernaut.

 

Honestly Apple themselves try to minimize the impact of their devices, but it would be interesting to see what the environmental impact is of, for example, a Kindle. Now, intuitively, I think that in the long run, a Kindle/Apple Tablet is far kinder to the environment. It may be something like 1 tablet = 20 books as far as environmental damage goes (random guess), and I think it's safe to say that most eReaders will buy that number of eBooks in no time. I don't know. And I'm certainly not saying that eReaders are *worse* for the environment than paper books. But the real figures won't be as cut and dry as we wish they were.

Orren

Yes, the environmental impact of e-book readers is not wholly positive, I'm sure. (Remember the "scandal" when it was discovered that the components for the Prius have a huge carbon footprint because they're shipped all over the globe?) But it's not limited to books purchased vs. e-books, either. I estimate that I've probably cut the amount of printer paper and toner I use by half: that was one of my major reasons for investing in the Kindle despite believing that it's transitional.

 

And there are probably other costs, too: in design jobs, for example. Although I suspect that in the long run the designers and editors will move to e-publication, because as heady as it is to have a zillion e-books available and self-publishing opportunities galore, there is something to be said for gatekeepers. But we can hope that the gatekeepers don't just move their blockbuster mindset to the Web.

Best,

M

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According to today's NY Times (business section), there is a tablet, and people have seen it: 10" touch screen, permanent Internet connection via WiFi and 3G, runs all the apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch, no word on cost.

 

And that and $1.99 will buy you a cup of coffee, if not at Starbucks. :lol:

Best,

M

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Saw it. You're right, M, about what this speculation is worth ($1.99?). Apple has been working on a tablet for over a decade so I'm not surprised that they have something to show people off the record. For all we really know, Apple is going to announce a weed whacker tomorrow, as the little video attached to the article suggests.

 

But I'm still hoping for a tablet.

- Thoth.

 

Apropos of nothing, Groundhog Day is due a week from today.

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For all we really know, Apple is going to announce a weed whacker tomorrow, as the little video attached to the article suggests.

 

A friend of mine that works at Apple smiled and said "what if they just announce iLife '10?"

 

He knew I wasn't buying it, considering the invites to the event said "come see our newest creation," not "update," but point was still taken; it could be anything, although the tablet is the worst kept secret in the industry...

 

Orren

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A friend of mine that works at Apple smiled and said "what if they just announce iLife '10?"

I vote for iLife on an iTablet. And give it a built-in camera. And maybe a microwave oven. Or just let it shoot a microwave death-ray. I don't care; just let it be worth all the hype!

 

- Thoth.

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http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2010/01/...nt-liveblog.ars

 

http://www.engadget.com/2010/01/27/live-fr...&refresh=15

 

My prediction no one else has hit on. I think there will be a third version of OSX

 

There is a Mac OS, iPhone OS and there will be a 3rd Tablet OS, all based on OSX.

 

This will allow things like multitasking etc the iPhone OS doesn't do, hopefully it will allow the installation of more useful apps as well.

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My prediction no one else has hit on. I think there will be a third version of OSX

 

The developer in me says "another code base to maintain? They're already stretched too thin with two."

 

We'll find out soon enough, though...

 

-Steve

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The developer in me says "another code base to maintain? They're already stretched too thin with two."

 

We'll find out soon enough, though...

 

-Steve

Tell me about it. My G5 and G4 went into repeating kernel panics after Sir Percy came home with a dual-base Time Capsule. Apple's solution? Upgrade to Leopard or buy a new machine. Well, if they'd taken the trouble not to break CS2 when they introduced Leopard, I'd have upgraded then. And I still have clients who need CS2, so forget that. Through inspired tweaking, I have managed to get rid of the kernel panics, but honestly, what an attitude! Not to mention that every time my Mac has gone into hysteria for the last three years, Apple software has caused it. 'Cause it's a "legacy" machine, and they don't care.

 

The last thing I need is for that lot to come up with another bright, shiny operating system to take up their time and attention. :lol:

 

OK, rant over. Bring on the panini sandwiches: it's past 10 AM PST. :lol:

M

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Technology Live is providing a live, moment by moment update.

 

1:12 p.m. ET: It's official. Jobs unveils the very thin iPad tablet computer. Jobs claims it will offer the best browsing experience you can have, like "holding the Internet in your hands."

 

1:16 p.m.: Jobs is demonstrating the iPad, visiting the home pages of The New York Times, Time Magazine and Fandango.

 

So it has a name: The iPad.

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And the bookstore is called iBooks, so score one for Steak Pirate! (A nice ribeye, maybe? :lol:)

 

iPad, huh? Are they hoping people will get confused and buy an iPad for $$$ when they meant to buy an iPod? Suppose it works the other way?

 

I guess iSlate sounded too much like grade school.

 

I'm impressed, sorta, but to bite, I'd need to be able to do some real work on the thing: say, edit Darth Processor or Storyist files, at least. Which I should be doing now instead of watching the blog and posting here.

Best,

M

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