Books, movies, politics, and whatever I want

Interview Toni Weisskopf, publisher of Baen Books

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Teleread has a very good interview with Toni Weisskopf, the publisher of Baen Books.  Now, as those of you who have followed my ramblings for a while know, I’m a fan of Baen and their policies on e-books.   Go read the whole article, but here are some of the “money quotes.”

TW: Well, part of the “secret” there is that we don’t pay for expensive DRM (“digital rights management”) schemes. I’ve never understood why we should add to our costs with the sole outcome that it’s harder for readers to buy and read the books we want to sell. On the contrary, I want to make it as easy as possible for my readers to find, purchase and read my books. That goal influences every publishing decision I make from our marketing to what typefaces we use.

Specifically, I think ebooks will extend the market for books, not reduce it. But then what I am selling is good stories; I don’t care what medium I sell those stories in. If my readers tell me they want it chipped on stone, I will find some way to do that. If they want me to beam the story directly to a chip in the brain, I will do that.

In a nutshell, the problem of the midlist author or publisher is not piracy, but lack of exposure.

The other side of the coin is that Jim Baen didn’t believe our readers are thieves and neither do I. I believe they will buy the book when they have the money. And I don’t believe our readers are ignorant. The understand TANSTAAFL. Our readers understand that we can’t continue to find great books and the authors continue to write them if we don’t get paid. So we don’t treat our readers badly by trying to micromanage the use of the ebooks, and we have been amply rewarded for that trust.

Tags: ,

The Kindle “Creep Factor”

Monday, July 20th, 2009

As I’ve noted before, it is my theory that Amazon does not actual sell e-books on it’s Kindle device, it leases the book to the reader.

Another point of evidence to support that theory has just come out. According to this New York Times story, Amazon can delete e-books off your Kindle, that you have “purchased” from them, without your knowledge or consent.

One of the books removed, George Orwell’s “1984

Update: Keep in mind that Amazon was the first company to grab a noticable portion of Apple’s iTunes digital formated music business by offering MP3 files without copy protection. Amazon is using it’s dominate position in the online bookselling business to force an ugly “DRM” scheme on its customers that assumes that they are thieves.

Amazon, and publishing companies, need to recognize that they make most of their money off avid readers who are willing to spend money to support their favorite authors. Their fear driven reaction to the fear mongering of the RIAA is pushing them toward a business model that is hostile toward their best customers. They would better serve their customers, and their stockholders, by working with the customer instead of treating them like criminals.

Tags: , , ,

Leasing ebooks from Amazon

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

I came to the conclusion a while ago that you don’t buy ebooks from Amazon, you are only leasing them.

First off, the highly restrictive Amazon DRM not only limits access to the ebook to their proprietary Kindle device, it restricts it to your specific device. Once you are done with the ebook, you can loan it to friend or sell it at used book store. If you want your friend to read the book, you have to give them your Kindle, because that is the only place that ebook will be displayed.

Second, Amazon doesn’t pay it’s associates a fee for any Kindle books “sold” through them. Why not? They pay the associates for just about everything else sold through their sites. Could it be that Kindle owners really are not “buying” the ebooks, but are just paying for a very restrictive lease in order to access the ebook?

Next, Megan McArdle just discovered a catch in the Amazon ebook fine print.

…there is always a limit to the number of times you can download a given book. Sometimes, he said, it’s five or six times but at other times it may only be once or twice. And, here’s the kicker folks, once you reach the cap you need to repurchase the book if you want to download it again.

I know people who buy paper books in both hardcover and paperback, but that is a different scenario. You have two separate versions of the book in different formats. One for the shelf and one to carry around and loan to friends. Amazon wants its customers to buy the exact same content, in the exact same format, multiple times, because their business model assumes that their paying customer are thieves.

That is not a consumer friendly business model.

Also posted at Urbin Technology.

Tags: , , , , ,