the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘Publishing Industry’ Category

Over the weekend we went to the GrandCon gaming convention in Grand Rapids, MI. See here for the photo dump post. There was gaming, there were demos, there were oversize plushy dice, there was a promise of kittens in a blender (relax! it’s a card game!), there was an excellent dealer room jammed with comics, artwork, boardgames and more, there was artwork and RPG’ing and cosplayers and epic amounts of geeky fun.

On a lark, I decided to go to the Saturday afternoon Worldbuilding panel. I haven’t read Dragonlance since junior high school, but seriously, who doesn’t want to hear Tracy Hickman, Ed Greenwood, Steven Schend, and Jeff Grubb talk about creating giant worlds for all their friends to come play in? And when I say “world they’ve created”, I mean shared worlds. A role playing world that is designed for other people to add to and build on. These guys give you the basic rules and foundations, and the other game designers get to go crazy (to a point) building scenarios.

Jeff Gruff, Steven Schend, Ed Greenwood and Tracy Hickman

Jeff Gruff, Steven Schend, Ed Greenwood and Tracy Hickman

Topics of discussion included what happens (for good and ill) when others begin making unexpected changes to your world, the difference between designers making changes to the world and gamers and DMs making changes to the world, why creators shouldn’t get too attached to anything in the space, the complexity of religion in role playing worlds, copyright and legal issues when writing tie-in novels, building sympathy for villains, and the limitations of computer games, just to name a few. The conversation was dominated by Hickman and Greenwood, which was fine, because Ed Greenwood is an excellent speaker with decades of experience. I want to buy this man a beer just so can tell me a story. Tracy Hickman as well, wonder speaker, a lifetime of experience, plus experience dealing with the publishing and marketing aspects of the industry. I’d like to buy both of them a drink so they can tell me stories all afternoon!

These two guys have been living the dream their entire life, and listening to Greenwood and Hickman bounce ideas off of each other was definitely a  highlight of the weekend.

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There was a great piece on NPR on Monday morning about how two industries who love books – publishers and libraries – are having a tough time agreeing on how library patrons should check out e-books.

It’s a quick 7 minute story, and well worth the listen:

E-Books Strain Relations Between Libraries, Publishing Houses.

npr libraries

Publishing Houses are businesses.  If they don’t make a profit selling their product – books – they will not be selling books for very long (as Nightshade Books learned the hard way).  Publishers love libraries, and publishers have always sold lots and lots of books to libraries, often at discounted prices. A patron gets the book, loves the book, buys the book, maybe buys a copy for a friend. Or a patron gets on the waiting list for a book, doesn’t want to wait 8 weeks to read the latest bestseller, so they go out and buy the book. Even if every patron isn’t purchasing the book, it’s still a win-win for everyone.

Enter e-books, and the win-win becomes not so much.

With e-books, libraries face the same DRM you and I face, as in they are not buying the e-book, but merely leasing it. An e-book that you purchase for $10 on Amazon might cost a library up to $85, with restrictions on how long it stays in their catalog, or how many times they can lend it out. (those dollar figures are directly from the NPR story, I trust they have done their own fact checking)

Publishers are rightfully concerned that if their e-book makes it to an interlibrary loan site with no restrictions, what’s to stop a state library system from purchasing one copy of the latest bestseller and lending it to thousands of people, all at the same time?

What’s the answer? E-books and e-book lending is too new, so no one really knows yet.

Luckily, the news story mentions some projects that are moving in the right direction:

Simon and Schuster has a one year pilot project with a few public libraries in New York. The project allows an unlimited number of library patrons to check out the e-book when it’s first released, and offers patrons the opportunity to purchase the e-book through the library portal, giving the library a percentage of every sale.  Simon and Schuster is running a giant library fundraiser, and selling their own digital content at the same time.  Will they make a profit on this, proving that it can succeed across the country? I have no idea. Is Simon and Schuster sewing a ton of goodwill and starting a much needed conversation? YES.

Over in Colorado, the Douglas County library system as found a different option that  bypasses much of the troublesome DRM. They purchase what they can afford through the big publishers, but are now working with over 500 smaller and independent publishers, including Smashwords, to build their digital content library.  They may not have that specific best seller title you were looking for, but they certainly have a veritable “stack” of e-books in the same genre. Might libraries be the next big thing for self published authors?

well, what do you think?

if you’ve gotten e-books out of the library, what’s been your experience?

If you work at a library, what’s been your experience sourcing e-books, and getting them into the virtual hands of your patrons?

978-0-441-0615-9

 

Incredible Super Buttery Nuggat?  I would so eat that.

Ikea’s Somewhat Burnt Nutella?  I would so NOT eat that.

International Superficial Blockbuster News?  Don’t we already have this?

Itty Snitty Bitty Numbers?  you’re getting close!

Or, something far less interesting, the International Standard Book Number.

Pick up any modern* book, look for the bar code on the back.  See the numbers above or below?  That’s the ISBN – 10 or 13 digits, and unique to that edition.  It’s a searchable field on Amazon, and is 100% percent required for any book that wants to be sold in any bookstore, online, or catalogued in any library.  You can thank our obsession with organization, computers, and the gazillions of books that are published every year for that.   

* Modern???   Maybe the book you picked up was printed before 1970 (I have a lot of these), or maybe it was printed outside the US/UK/Western Europe (I have a few of these), or it might be a newer,  uber-custom print. In that case, it may not have an ISBN.  Good luck cataloging that baby on Goodreads, Shelfari or Librarything.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.