Skip

No more posts until Matt starts paying up
April 2, 2008 9:47 AM   Subscribe

Home taping downloading is killing music authorship. The Society of Authors warns that authors will simply stop writing if they aren't compensated for piracy of their work (as unlikely as that seems). Perhaps they should follow the example of Jim Griffin, newly hired at Warner Music to persuade broadband providers to attach a $5 per month surcharge for the benefit of the major labels, in exchange for halting the lawsuits that have thus far been their mainstay weapon against piracy.
posted by Horace Rumpole (88 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
$5 a month for an effective end to copyright seems reasonable to me. I accept your offer, Warner Brothers.
posted by mullingitover at 9:53 AM on April 2, 2008 [11 favorites]


Hey, this is just like when all the journalists stopped contributing to newspapers after the rise of the photocopier -- um...wait a minute.

Authors are simply going to "stop writing"? This is a less than credible threat. First of all, writers don't write because it makes any kind of sense (because it largely doesn't), but because they're insane, obsessed, narcisstic, maladjusted and creative. Being poor doesn't improve any of those conditions (I can assure you).

You know, I wish Big Content would make good on its threats and stop mass-distributing stuff for us to buy, because the minute there's no more internationally mega-produced songs to download or media empire vetted books to read, we'll all discover how many talented singers and storytellers live in our own neighbourhoods.

I call the bluff: the arts will never go away, even if the global Rube Goldberg distribution model breaks down. Sorry -- I just don't believe you.
posted by CheeseburgerBrown at 9:57 AM on April 2, 2008 [40 favorites]


Or perhaps the record companies could use some of the millions of dollars they collect from the makers of recording machines to pay the authors.
In 1992, Congress passed the Audio Home Recording Act34 ("AHRA"), an amendment to the federal copyright law. ... The AHRA also provides for a royalty tax of up to $8 per new digital recording machine and 3 percent of the price of all digital audiotapes or discs. This tax is paid by the manufacturers of digital media devices and distributed to the copyright owners whose music is presumably being copied.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:59 AM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


$5 a month even if I don't download music? I still buy all my music in CD form but probably fewer than one a month. That means I have to pay an extra $5 per CD that's overpriced to begin with.
posted by octothorpe at 10:00 AM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


$5 a month for an effective end to copyright seems reasonable to me. I accept your offer, Warner Brothers.

Heh, no kidding. A lot of people were criticizing this (essentially as a protection racket, which it is) but it's a pretty good deal. The problem of course is that the money would go directly to the labels, rather then the people actually making the music. Unsigned bands would get nothing.

What I'd rather see is the government simply tax each person an additional $60 a year, and then allow people to voluntarily report what music they listen too (this could be done automatically through players). I wouldn't mind a tax going to support artists at all. And a progressive tax would be even better.
posted by delmoi at 10:05 AM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


HOME SEWING IS KILLING THE FASHION INDUSTRY!
posted by isopraxis at 10:09 AM on April 2, 2008 [11 favorites]


Yeah, authors will simply stop writing. Then teenagers will stop awkwardly groping each other and bees will stop making honey.

I recently read The Count of Monte Cristo on my handheld and enjoyed it immensely. Now I'm looking for even more books. If publishers could sell me books I'm interested in reading in rtf or txt at a reasonable rate then I'd be all for it.

Also, what the hell does this mean:
Google is locked in legal disputes with authors and publishers over its plans to make available free electronic copies of every book over the next ten years.
posted by ODiV at 10:11 AM on April 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


As a writer, I can promise you that I am not going to stop writing. I don't know how insane, obsessed, narcisstic, and/or maladjusted I am, but I am creative, and I wouldn't want to just dam that up for fear of getting a serious case of psychological blueballs. The trick, therefore, is to figure out new ways of a) getting published and b) making money. Some writers make chunks of their work available on their sites, in hopes of attracting paying customers. Others go the Print on Demand (POD) route. This $5 per month surcharge, though, I don't know about that. I can't really see it being that effective in the publishing world, but perhaps I'm wrong.

It really al lcomes down to marketing. This has been the purview of the big players, but that is changing. While this is a Good Thing, I believe, it will cause a bunch of nuttiness i nthe short term -- as it is doing.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 10:15 AM on April 2, 2008


I wouldn't mind a tax going to support artists at all. And a progressive tax would be even better.

The artists might mind it. Especially when politicans get to decide how much each one gets.

Death metal and Christian rock futures would swing wildly in opposite directions with each election.
posted by three blind mice at 10:19 AM on April 2, 2008


this isn't about saving the artists, it's about saving the middlemen
posted by pyramid termite at 10:19 AM on April 2, 2008 [14 favorites]


The Society of Authors warns that authors will simply stop writing if they aren't compensated for piracy of their work

Oh no. Then where will anybody turn for writing on the internet?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:22 AM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


There's piracy of books? This isn't like music: even if I had a pile of JPGs of a book, I'd still buy the book.
posted by smackfu at 10:25 AM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'll title this one "Death of a Middleman"
posted by eclectist at 10:25 AM on April 2, 2008 [6 favorites]


Authors will stop writing if they aren't compensated for their work? Let me introduce you to the internet, in whose darker corners writers will pay $5 for the privilege of writing without compensation.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:26 AM on April 2, 2008 [15 favorites]


smackfu writes "There's piracy of books? This isn't like music: even if I had a pile of JPGs of a book, I'd still buy the book."

You might feel differently when you're a college student paying $200 for a textbook you'll use for one year.
posted by mullingitover at 10:30 AM on April 2, 2008




"$5 a month even if I don't download music? I still buy all my music in CD form but probably fewer than one a month. That means I have to pay an extra $5 per CD that's overpriced to begin with."

Well, then you'd have an incentive to start downloading music, wouldn't you?

Or to not buy the bundled broadband service that allowed you lawsuit-free access.

Buggywhips still exist, gramps, even if you don't use the highways.
posted by klangklangston at 10:34 AM on April 2, 2008


media empire vetted books to read, we'll all discover how many talented singers and storytellers live in our own neighbourhoods.

Judging from what I've seen on Lulu and the like the answer is... not very much.

For what I've seen the Soc of Authors thing is being thought a bit silly. I can't see the mass-market paperback dissapearing, with them being cheaper now than they had been for years... what with reading a book of a screen still being a pain. Though when it comes to recipe books and other reference material I think they might have a point... as I just google recipes now. Though I'm hardly going to weep over Jamie Oliver...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:38 AM on April 2, 2008


The Society of Authors warns that authors will simply stop writing if they aren't compensated for piracy of their work

This is simply not true. Look at Steven Brust, he wrote a book, was told he wasn't allowed to make any money on it, so he freely released it to the public. All the writers I know are fairly obsessive in their urge to create, and the idea that they might not get paid up front wouldn't slow them down a bit.

I'm not in any way suggesting that authors shouldn't get paid, just that SoA is being disingenuous by making statements like this.
posted by quin at 10:39 AM on April 2, 2008


$5 a month for an effective end to copyright seems reasonable to me. I accept your offer, Warner Brothers.

I want a $50 rebate on a hard drive, too.
posted by carsonb at 10:42 AM on April 2, 2008


Home Fucking Is Killing Prostitution
posted by acb at 10:44 AM on April 2, 2008


There are musicians and authors, hundreds and thousands of them, who create, record, and sell their work on a daily basis, all without recourse to the traditional distribution system. In fact, most of these independent artists benefit from the internet and from downloading. Sorry, but the idea that human creativity is going to go away without royalties (or without the very concept of money, for that matter) is laughable. The entirety of history speaks otherwise.

That said, I think the author's society in the linked article has the right idea -- innovation, not legislation.
posted by vorfeed at 10:45 AM on April 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


The article strikes me as highly speculative - there's not much in the way of firm evidence to really back up the claim. I suppose cookbooks are a case in point inasmuch as you use individual recipes - and Harry Potter is a special case. But I can't see people downloading and printing 350 page novels to save the few dollars most paperbacks can be bought from on amazon.

(Yeah, yeah, yeah I know that e-books could change all this. But for all the technophile hoopla, most people don't really like them very much).
posted by rhymer at 10:52 AM on April 2, 2008


ODiV:

If publishers could sell me books I'm interested in reading in rtf or txt at a reasonable rate then I'd be all for it.

Two things spring immediately to mind:

MANYBOOKS.NET
Free eBooks for your PDA, iPod, or eBook reader. Many things under CC licensing.
Please donate to them if you like what you download.

Fictionwise ebooks
A huge amount of what they sell is NOT DRM crippled, including some of the big-dog science fiction mags like Analog, Asimov's and F&SF.
posted by dno at 10:55 AM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]




rhymer writes "I suppose cookbooks are a case in point inasmuch as you use individual recipes"

Interestingly, recipes (or directions) can't be copyrighted in the US, but a cookbook can be.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:58 AM on April 2, 2008


I'm still waiting for my check from metafilter. We get paid for this, right?
posted by ornate insect at 11:03 AM on April 2, 2008


Most writers I know only want to get paid for their writing so they can skip the day job and have more time for their writing. I know that that's the full extent* of my daydreams.

*okay, one time I read that Stephen King bought the house next door to his, had a tunnel put between them and used the other house soley for storing books. A bookhouse! And sometimes that creeps into the fantasy too.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:05 AM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Society of Authors

so... nobody.

warns that authors will simply stop writing if they aren't compensated for piracy of their work

this is flatly untrue. so nobody said anything of any consequence.

Perhaps they should follow the example of Jim Griffin, newly hired at Warner Music to persuade broadband providers to attach a $5 per month surcharge for the benefit of the major labels, in exchange for halting the lawsuits that have thus far been their mainstay weapon against piracy.

Now THIS i'm interested in hearing more about. What this means, as near as I understand it, is that if you have internet, you have free access to all music ever recorded so long as your isp has gone along with the plan. If they haven't, then you don't have access to it, and presumably the companies will continue suing you and your isp. But what's even more interesting is this idea that you don't have a choice. The record companies get your money, no matter what, even if you don't want what they're selling. Can you opt out of the fee?

Moreover, what exactly do the artists' get? What exactly is the record company now doing to even earn its share? Presumably there are better people out there to run an itunes type service than the record companies, and for less of the profit, so how much is their cut?

Right now the only thing that prevents an independently recorded and distributed group of sufficient salability with a record from exploding across the market is getting their name out there. that requires radio time, extensive touring, print-radio-television-film advertising, guest spots on talk shows, mtv air-time, and record availability in stores. or some combination of the above. bands tour exhaustively on their own power simply for love of touring, so that's handled. advertising requires a marketing firm which the record company usually hires so cutting out the middle man is in the bands' best interests. record availability in stores is a non-issue if this new system goes into effect. all public appearances would be handled by an agent and/or manager. what's left is mtv and radio time. where this is concerned the record companies are not a benefiit but a hindrance. they form an almost impenetrable wall between a given band and nationwide exposure. When they sign bands and put them on the air all they've done is to simply stop hindering that band. This is why when major market exposure hasn't resulted in increased sales the band simply disappears off the major outlets. It's essentially racketeering, where the record companies charge an exhorbitant fee to NOT torpedo the band.

Imagine Prohibition era America, where gangsters prowled around neighborhoods threatening bar owners who didn't want to stock bootleg booze. something could... happen... to their establishment, and wouldn't that be a shame. they need someone to... protect... them. Except that now, in addition to muscling the bar owners, they're also going door to door once a month and demanding $5 from every citizen of the country.

thug: $5. pony it up.
citizen x: for what?!
thug: access to da bar. then youse can go to da bar any time ya wants ta.
citizen x: but I'm a member of the ladies' temperance society! i don't drink!
thug: dat's funny. I don't recall askin' yas who ya was. I recall tellin' ya ta fork over a fiver.

don't get me wrong, that whole end to the modern notion of copyright sounds awesome and all, but that could happen without the record companies given sufficient support from the artist community. not that that'd ever happen. what it sounds like to me is that we're being told that we're about to start paying for music whether we want it or not and the RIAA is going to make an enormous power grab in order to provide almost no service to either the artists or the consumers.
posted by shmegegge at 11:10 AM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why does the Society of Authors hate the earth? Don't they know about global warming?
posted by Krrrlson at 11:13 AM on April 2, 2008


I expect e-books to eventually overcome most of their disadvantages. If flexible e-paper became cheap enough, you could make an e-book reader with the form factor of a book. It could be read in broad daylight, no incremental power necessary to read it; you'd get to turn pages and all. If you're really attached to hard-copy, because you love to highlight and write in margins (or whatever), you could pay extra for a print-on-demand copy.

Most of the middle-ground between fancy expensive book as art object, and the most ephemeral, disposable printed matter, would go away, and piracy concerns would be as important to book publishers as music publishers.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I don't want to try to figure out how to fit more bookcases in my home. On the other, I didn't get to that point without loving to have physical books.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 11:27 AM on April 2, 2008


Some of us write and compose because we have to, not because we make money off it.

This is actually a fantastic time to be an author or songwriting. So many ways to do one's own creating, publishing, recording and marketing-cutting out middleman who are looking for profit instead of art to begin with.

Viva the revolucion!
posted by konolia at 11:30 AM on April 2, 2008


Some writers make chunks of their work available on their sites, in hopes of attracting paying customers.

That is what I do, but I really reel the chumps in. I give them almost the entire book for free, in order to make them invested in finding out what happens, but they have to pay if they want to read the end. Here is an example, copied from my site:

. . . And so, with the mystery of Jesus's gold solved and the nuns of St. Giglione's exposed as just an uber-secret high class brothel that had been founded by George Washington, Buck Rockington returned to his castle to jam with his rocket powered laser funk band and possibly bone a hot chick and await the next mystery.

THE . . .

*Want to read the end of ND¢'s latest Buck Rockington mystery, "Search for Jesus's Gold and George Washington's Uber-Secret High Class Brothel"? Paypal $10 to [redacted].*
posted by ND¢ at 11:30 AM on April 2, 2008 [5 favorites]


Man, Buck Rockington would make a great username.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:39 AM on April 2, 2008


TM, copyright and patent pending!
posted by ND¢ at 11:40 AM on April 2, 2008


The vast majority of content in this country (and around the world) is made by people who don't get paid for it. My experience is that the content provided by the major outlets is no better than, and often worse than the self-published folks.

What's happened is that major outlets have stopped adding value to content because technology has made it possible to bypass the dinosaur distribution systems the have set up.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:43 AM on April 2, 2008


Reading MetaFilter threads on copyright issues has taught me as much about the economics of intellectual property as listening to speed metal has taught me about music. Author John Scalzi says he made $164,000 from his writing last year, and he has some Unasked-For Advice to New Writers About Money.
"... Why am I offering this entirely unsolicited advice about money to new writers? Because it very often appears to me that regardless of how smart and clever and interesting and fun my fellow writers are on every other imaginable subject, when it comes to money — and specifically their own money — writers have as much sense as chimps on crack. It’s not just writers — all creative people seem to have the “incredibly stupid with money” gene set for maximum expression — but since most of creative people I know are writers, they’re the nexus of money stupidity I have the most experience with. It makes me sad and also embarrasses the crap out of me; people as smart as writers are ought to know better. ..."
People used to call Robert Heinlein iconoclastic for saying stuff like this.
posted by paulsc at 12:10 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have never met a non-journalist writer who makes a living off of her or his writing. I know there are a few out there, but it's my understanding that they're about as common as musicians who regularly produce top 40 hits.

In my grad writing program we had seminars on how to find a good work/writing balance in one's life, because it went without saying that 99.9% of us were never going to see any serious monetary compensation for our artistic labor.
posted by treepour at 12:20 PM on April 2, 2008


Well yes, fairly obviously this is not about whether or not people will continue to create. Of course they will.

Strip away the bodywork and what this is at the chassis (along with some recent post I recall reading here in which professional writers were bitching about all the amateurs making it harder for them to get paid, and pretty much every other complaint about how the content industry works) is an argument that creative types should be supported in some way by society FOR their creative works. In other words, that "artist" in whatever medium you choose, should be a sustainable lifestyle by itself and if you're an artist, creating your art should be the only thing you have to do. As opposed to a sideline you carry on in addition to the day job that supports you economically. (Or doesn't, as the case may be.)

I agree that would be nice, but we don't always get what we want. Indeed absent the Internet there were always a few highly proficient and successful artists at the top who could do that, and a vast horde of wannabes clamoring to get into the winner's circle. The digital revolution might have slanted the field in a new direction, causing some people to slide into that circle and perhaps some who were once inside it to slide out and complain loudly. But it hasn't really changed the underlying truth that it's always been a tough sell to get people to go out and work to grow food and make stuff for you in exchange for your stories or songs or paintings or whatnot.
posted by Naberius at 12:21 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


So, for all my warezed books, is there a good electronic book thing yet that's not a cell phone locked into some online store?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:31 PM on April 2, 2008


Reading MetaFilter threads on copyright issues has taught me as much about the economics of intellectual property as listening to speed metal has taught me about music.

I'm trying to figure out whether and what this sentence is praising or mocking but I'm not quite getting it.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:33 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you're afrer DRM free scifi/fantasy ebooks in sane formats, try the Baen Library. They do a number of free books, and DRM-free paid versions you can download as many times as you like. They also recreate the serialized novel with the webscriptions service for novels soon to be published.

Authors using this service have actually seen profits go up after making books free to download - here's the philosophy. It defines much of my approach to copyright.

Common sense, applied to the practical reality of commercial publishing. Or, if you prefer, the care and feeding of authors and publishers. Or, if you insist on a single word, profit.

I will make no bones about it (and Jim, were he writing this, would be gleefully sucking out the marrow). We expect this Baen Free Library to make us money by selling books.

How? As I said above, for the same reason that any kind of book distribution which provides free copies to people has always, throughout the history of publishing, eventually rebounded to the benefit of the author.

Take, for instance, the phenomenon of people lending books to their friends — a phenomenon which absolutely dwarfs, by several orders of magnitude, online piracy of copyrighted books.

What's happened here? Has the author "lost a sale?"

Well. . . yeah, in the short run — assuming, of course, that said person would have bought the book if he couldn't borrow it. Sure. Instead of buying a copy of the author's book, the Wretched Scoundrel Borrower (with the Lender as his Accomplice) has "cheated" the author. Read his work for free! Without paying for it!

The same thing happens when someone checks a book out of a public library — a "transaction" which, again, dwarfs by several orders of magnitude all forms of online piracy. The author only collects royalties once, when the library purchases a copy. Thereafter. . .

Robbed again! And again, and again!

Yet. . . yet. . .

I don't know any author, other than a few who are — to speak bluntly — cretins, who hears about people lending his or her books to their friends, or checking them out of a library, with anything other than pleasure. Because they understand full well that, in the long run, what maintains and (especially) expands a writer's audience base is that mysterious magic we call: word of mouth.

Word of mouth, unlike paid advertising, comes free to the author — and it's ten times more effective than any kind of paid advertising, because it's the one form of promotion which people usually trust.

That being so, an author can hardly complain — since the author paid nothing for it either. And it is that word of mouth, percolating through the reading public down a million little channels, which is what really puts the food on an author's table. Don't let anyone ever tell you otherwise.

Think about it. How many people lend a book to a friend with the words: "You ought a read this! It's really terrible!"

posted by ArkhanJG at 12:40 PM on April 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


If your art isn't significant enough to produce on its own merits, then why should I even care if you don't produce it?
posted by Skwirl at 12:51 PM on April 2, 2008 [5 favorites]


You sure you should be reposting that without permission, ArkhanJG? ;)
posted by ODiV at 12:51 PM on April 2, 2008


You sure you should be reposting that without permission, ArkhanJG?

He paid his $5. Maybe not to the right people, but he paid it.
posted by maxwelton at 1:01 PM on April 2, 2008


I like how “societies” and such groups dictate to the rest of us writers what we need to be doing with our lives (while taking our dues). If I choose to write and am making money at it, or am otherwise pursuing my happiness, without making money at it, it's really none of their goddamn business what I do.

I've also done accounts receivable at a corporate office for a multi-million dollar company and handled $60 million in receivables with an over-90 due of $1.2 million per month and brought it down to $300K within a few months. Got a nifty Six Sigma duffel bag for my troubles, too. I found the Scalzi article to be a load of condescending crap. I’ve worked with artists and other writers, and lumping them all into financially-deficit human beings only propagates a negative stereotype that needs to be put to bed, and no, it can’t have one more glass of water.

One of my writer friends stopped by Borders today, as he is publishing a POD book. The manager took him on a tour, gave him lots of info, and promised to stock his book if he provided the copies. I say let the buying public decide what they want to read. Let the work stand on its own.

You want to know what these people are really upset about? That there is an outlet for creative people called POD and the Internet. Tough shit, old establishment, roll with the times, ‘cause we are not going to shut up and we are not going to stop writing due to some hand wringing.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 1:06 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Content wants to be free, but authors need to get paid"

I forget who said it, but I heard it at a conference years ago. I think we tend to assume, wrongly, that this issue was ever really settled, even prior to the "digital age," to begin with. The truth is there has always been a struggle and tug-of-war here between the creators and the sellers, and the recent mass digitization of so much content and easy access it now brings only throws that conflict into bold relief.

So we need to be careful to distinguish between what is a genuinely new conflict and what is only a very old conflict rearing its head once again. Furthermore, the way people read and what they read has also changed: thus, the regular "concern" about whether or not long prose forms such as the novel (and indeed much of "literature" itself) have (has) become antiquated among our limited attention spans and overload of 24/7 infotainment. That variable (the changing reading habits of the age) also tends to muddy the waters of this discussion.

Information continues to be monetized in a number of ways. Libraries (academic and corporate, public not so much), for instance, continue to pay giant distributors like Elsevier vast amounts of money to subscribe to STM databases of the "high end" information researchers need (a lopsided model being both directly and indirectly challnged by alternatives all the time). Legal and business information is also sold for great sums to law firms and corporations. All of this stuff is hidden behind firewall for most of us. So the googlization of information has not really happened yet: far from making the info-landscape flat, the info-explosion has made all sorts of niche areas (that people pay for) possible and more desirable. Not everyone wants to wade through the entirety of the internet if they are searching for highly specific information. Thus, we don't help matters much for evaluation purposes by lumping all "content" together. A scholarly research paper in biochemistry, a legal brief, a live feed of mergers and acquisitions, a corporate newsletter, an academic monograph, a poem, a reference work, and a magazine article about Bermuda are not all just "content" in need of the same distribution model or solution.

I don't think the struggle between OA/free content-for-all and slicing-and-dicing/business-model of-the-week will ever "resolve" itself completely. I do think, however, that we should do all we can to help the content creators, since historically they are the ones not getting paid. For proof of this one need only to look at a website such as the one we are currently on in this thread, and I'm only half-joking about that.
posted by ornate insect at 1:08 PM on April 2, 2008


"... Think about it. How many people lend a book to a friend with the words: "You ought a read this! It's really terrible!"
posted by ArkhanJG at 3:40 PM on April 2

I'm not a big believer in the hereafter, but one compelling argument in my mind for a special Hell, is those earnest souls who insist on pushing bad books upon me, with a personal recommendation. Inevitably, they are insistent about following up with me a couple of days later, as if I had nothing better to do than read whatever turgid treatise lately claimed their imagination. "To the fires with them!" I used to think, as I simply tried to smile down their earnest inquiries, which sometimes went on for weeks.

And for many, I discovered that it was never, truly, an unasked gift they were giving. For, I've found, often, that if I haven't enthusiastically responded to them with my personal book report on some subsequent meeting, many were not shy about asking for their books back, "in order to pass it on to someone who will enjoy it." And then, they think I'm obligated to haul back whatever doorstop they'd pressed upon me, to a destination and time convenient to them.

It's worse with cheap paperback copies, I think. A publishing innovation that should have wiped out the necessity for these prats to personally re-circulate a few expensive hard bound copies of a book they highly regard, has only encouraged many of them to proselytize with greater abandon, as if sending more copies of twaddle into the world with damp handshakes and earnest looks is a greater good. It's one kind of silly to be asked to give back a hard copy of something I never wanted, and didn't ask to have, but it's a depressingly awful meanness of spirit on the part of these would be literary pimps to inquire after $5 paperbacks. And, yet, some do.

I hate that, and the people who do it, for making me a target of their insipid marketing efforts. And so I tell them, more and more often, that I hope there are eternal fires.

I've secretly rooted against e-books, not because I don't think carrying around a library with me in a PDA wouldn't be the bee's knees, but because I expect that were the technology to become widely adopted, earnest damp handed people would be pressing free copies of e-books upon me, and probably wanting them back, if I didn't file book reports with them, timely. It already happens, too often for my taste by far, with .mp3 files, thanks to the iPod. Not a frickin' day goes by anymore than some twit has emailed me another 15 minutes of audio nonsense he considers vital to my understanding of the universe. I'm rapidly losing my ability to tune in music I want to hear, and tune out all the other noise in an increasingly noisy world.

The right to buy what I want to read, and ignore the rest is a delight to me. I like bookstores, and I like my books, and I never lend them, or push them upon people who might not care for them as I do, any more than I would do that to friends.
posted by paulsc at 1:24 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


$5 a month for an effective end to copyright seems reasonable to me. I accept your offer, Warner Brothers.

I doubt that this extortion fee would end copyright. If anything, paying protection money reinforces and legitimizes the worst aspects of copyright law.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:32 PM on April 2, 2008


paulsc writes "earnest damp handed people would be pressing free copies of e-books upon me, and probably wanting them back, if I didn't file book reports with them, timely"

I think the whole point of e-books (at least for publishers) is that they *can't* be shared, and if they could be, then there'd be no point in 'returning' the bits.
posted by mullingitover at 1:33 PM on April 2, 2008


Sounds like the innocent would pay $5.00 per month for the guilty. *not download-ist*
posted by Cranberry at 1:47 PM on April 2, 2008


Cranberry writes "Sounds like the innocent would pay $5.00 per month for the guilty. *not download-ist*"

More like the record companies, realizing that perhaps they don't command the tides, are scrambling to build a life raft before they find themselves underwater. Most people under the age of 18 aren't getting the majority of their music from overpriced physical media, and they never will.

It's also a full frontal assault on the iTunes store...
posted by mullingitover at 1:56 PM on April 2, 2008


"Reading MetaFilter threads on copyright issues has taught me as much about the economics of intellectual property as listening to speed metal has taught me about music."

Ah. You mean that you come to it with idiotic assumptions and then, after enduring something with no interest in appreciating it, you dismiss it and continue to pontificate unchanged?

It's probably a pretty apt comparison.
posted by klangklangston at 1:56 PM on April 2, 2008


Treepour:

"I have never met a non-journalist writer who makes a living off of her or his writing."

Hi, Treepour. I make a living writing novels. Nice to meet you. Charlie Stross is around here somewhere; he does it too.

Re: Piracy -- interestingly enough Tor books recently gave away an electronic copy of my novel Old Man's War to anyone who signed up for its newsletter (they got my permission to do this, mind you). I was curious to see what the short term effect would be on my sales, so I had a friend with access to BookScan check my sales numbers the week after the free eBook went out.

Turns out three of my books had significant sales jumps: the paperback of Old Man's War was up 20%, the paperback of the sequel was up 33% and a third unrelated novel was up 9%. Each of the books was selling hundreds of copies weekly before, so the bump in sales was not insignificant. More interestingly, since the release of the free eBook version more than a month ago, weekly sales of the sequel (The Ghost Brigades) have yet to dip below what they were prior to the free eBook release.

This is one data point (and for various reasons I might be considered an outlier to this whole discussion), but it's also more data than what most people bring to the party when they are wringing their hands about how awful the future is going to be.
posted by jscalzi at 2:07 PM on April 2, 2008 [5 favorites]


Lady Temperance Society is going to be my nom de plume.
posted by Null Pointer and the Exceptions at 2:13 PM on April 2, 2008


From the first article:

In the 19th century and before, other models of paying writers existed, including lump-sum agreements and profit-sharing. [Chevalier] sees no reason why the book industry should not be equally innovative. She suggested four possible sources of income at an industry discussion on copyright law last week: the Government, business, rich patrons and the public.

Makes sense to me. When I want to read a book, I usually borrow it from my local library, which is funded by the municipal government. The library keeps track of how often books are borrowed. When a new book is published, the library decides whether to buy a copy, based on how popular they expect it to be. (If they expect it to be really popular, they'll buy multiple copies: when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published, the library bought 100 copies.)

A similar model might work well for the Internet: set up a government-funded agency which acts as the library for the Internet. It buys the right to electronically distribute a book for free from the author or publisher. Some authors might donate books for free (the open-source software model), or solicit donations from readers (the tip-jar model); others would negotiate a substantial payment if their books are expected to be popular.

Ideally there'd be ongoing payments based on how many people actually read the book. A naive approach would be to count downloads, but it'd be easy to manipulate this kind of system, e.g. by getting a botnet to download thousands of copies of your book. You'd need some kind of Nielsen-type survey to check how many people have read a particular book.

Another approach would be to set up a private library, paid by subscriptions. I pay $70/year for access to the online archives of the New York Review of Books (which goes back to 1963). Questia charges $20/month for access to a large collection of non-fiction books; it pays publishers based on page views.
posted by russilwvong at 2:25 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


"... This is one data point (and for various reasons I might be considered an outlier to this whole discussion), but it's also more data than what most people bring to the party when they are wringing their hands about how awful the future is going to be.
posted by jscalzi at 5:07 PM on April 2

Interesting anecdote, jscalzi. But what do you take from this experience?

That any publicity is good publicity? That ebooks are so hard to read, people rush to buy print copies of works they hear about via ebooks? That ebooks are still so hard to pass along, that your fans are buying hard copies to pass out to their pals?

Correlation may not be evidence of causation, particularly when it comes to book sales numbers, as you certainly know. But I, for one, would be interested to hear you speculate, if you think it might be.

David St. Lawrence has been equally supportive of parallel free distribution of his self-published book "Danger Quicksand: Have a Nice Day!" but I think has abandoned his idea of it being much of a money making venture. His blog posts about personal publishing make interesting reading, however.

He's returned to niche woodworking as his main economic endeavor, and is now making custom frames for artwork.
posted by paulsc at 2:26 PM on April 2, 2008


OMG America, this problem already has a solution. Many other democracies have a Public Lending Right organization and there's no reason why the idea couldn't simply be extended to downloading.

Except that the money would go directly to artists, of course, and that would never do.
posted by joannemerriam at 2:28 PM on April 2, 2008


jscalzi writes "I make a living writing novels. Nice to meet you."

Hi John! I must confess I haven't read your novels yet, but I am a huge fan of your work with cats and bacon.
posted by mullingitover at 2:28 PM on April 2, 2008


paulsc writes "That ebooks are so hard to read, people rush to buy print copies of works they hear about via ebooks?"

I did some support work for an anonymous corporation (known for its work with photo editing software and portable document formats) a few years back, and had to deal with customers who ran afoul of their ebook DRM. I spoke to countless people, and not a single one ever got their ebook working. Some screamed, some cried ("I need this fucking book for school!") but none ever got their stupid ebook open.

Let me be clear on this: ebooks are one of the most user-hostile technologies ever conceived by humans. Using them is a nightmare, supporting them was a nightmare, and the only value they offer mankind is a lesson in how utterly loathsome DRM is. I have yet to meet a living person who has something good to say about DRM'd ebooks.
posted by mullingitover at 2:35 PM on April 2, 2008


I did some support work for an anonymous corporation (known for its work with photo editing software and portable document formats)

If I know who you're talking about, they're a real brick and mortar kind of company.

WINK!

WINK!
posted by shmegegge at 2:44 PM on April 2, 2008


russilwvong: for what it's worth, google (book search and scholar) are trying, through a kind of semi-open-access (limited view) to become the content-kings/Alexandria of our age, and have teamed w/most of the major publishers and many of the major academic libraries to position themselves as such. (Amazon's kindle is an attempt to make themselves the e-content standard, and they've designed a top-down hand-held proprietary model that ensures the big publishers do not have to have any anxiety about getting their money or losing sales). The AAP and the AAUP have been legally wrestling with google over the details, but that seems as much a business matter as it does a legal one. Google just wants content, and they'll let the details sort themselves out (Questia and netlibrary and some others paved the way somewhat, but they also ended up spending too much on conversion, something google can afford to do--as it has more money than God). The LOC or some other .gov is not funded enough to offer much competition to google. All the other players, and I am familiar w/most of them, are staking their claim on whatever portion of the publishing/information universe they happen to command. Obviously the newspapers and reference publishers are the most anxious about all of this. There will be other subscription sites like the two you mention (I know the two you mention well, having worked at one and directly competed w/the other), but whether or not these will rise above a cottage industry outside of library subscription, remains to be seen. I expect we will see a plurality of models for some time to come. Most of us fail to realize how fragmented information is and will continue to be, and we do so b/c there's a lot of areas of content we don't normally all use or think about. But the one size fits all approach is the least likely to take hold. The most "valuable" info remains the most guarded: financial, business, science, technical, medical, legal. That's where the money is, b/c the market is captive and willing to pay through the nose. The real long-term question mark is educational content, especially textbooks, e-textbooks, e-bundles, and other variations: the big players there have been trying every which way to keep that cash cow going, and since they have a captive market they have been able to do so.
posted by ornate insect at 2:56 PM on April 2, 2008


"... I have yet to meet a living person who has something good to say about DRM'd ebooks."
posted by mullingitover at 5:35 PM on April 2

They are not quite as rare as living authors who earn a living from writing, mullingitover, and they reproduce, faster, I think. Enough of them are already loose in the wild that I'm getting emailed ebook links or attachments regularly. Not the crapflood of .mp3 links and attachments, that if it weren't for procmail, would have already overwhelmed me. But still, a low drumbeat of ebook links or attachments, at the rate of one or two a week now, like jungle drums in the distance, warning of herds of angry, damp trunked, ebook bearing elephants, heading my way to demand ebook reports from me, soon, in their zeal to improve my mind.
posted by paulsc at 3:05 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


I hope some of them do stop writing. Ugh. Some song lyrics today are the absolute worst. They don't make any sense, they aren't poetic...we're not exactly living in the Golden Age of Lyricism.

I hope they find better paying jobs in marketing or whatever...I'd suggest writing jingles for ads but, wait, they don't really have those anymore. They use songs now. Oh well.
posted by onepapertiger at 3:20 PM on April 2, 2008


Seriously paulsc - you need to get some better friends. Or at least be more careful who you give your email address to, and who you accept books from! You seem to know a lot of people with no taste. Do you work in publishing, perhaps?
posted by ArkhanJG at 3:23 PM on April 2, 2008


John! Loved the books! Got me interested with Old Man's War from Tor and Agent to the Stars (which I still need to send you a dollar for, but I suck with snail mail). One of those converts where, after the first taste being free, I had to shell out for the rest of the fix.

Actually, I've been really happy with my Palm TX for ebook reading. I did a whole little blurb on it a while ago. It's easily portable, fairly readable in varying conditions, does many other things other than books, and I carry the damn thing anyway. Mind you, I've invested a little in some easy format translation software too.

Plus I am one of those that give the lie to the whole thing. Most of the time I read a good ebook, I quite happily invest in dead tree versions of the same thing as a way of thanking the author for their hard work. One of them is Mr. Scalzi, another is David Wellington. (One of the neat things about the online ebook culture, in my book, is the chance for readers to actually get involved with the creation and production of the book, even if it is just a proofreading or cranking it out in an alternate version.)

So, to sum up a rather wandering and barely coherent post... For me, the ebook is an easy way for me to spend money I know ahead of time I will be happy spending.

(And, yes, I actually ended up buying The Plant twice. Once for the serialized version and once for a comprehensive edition. Also, Fictionwise has denuded my wallet more than once.)
posted by Samizdata at 4:10 PM on April 2, 2008


(Oh, also, I ended up buying some of Charlie Stross' books after taste testing them on Amazon, but I am not sure that counts.)

(And don't mock me if I bungled the possessive, please.)
posted by Samizdata at 4:11 PM on April 2, 2008


I am one of the most successful playwrights to come out of Omaha. I'm also a pretty well-regarded arts journalist who has worked in the world of alternative newsweeklies for over a decade. I make, oh, maybe $600 or $800 per play produced, and I have maybe two or three productions per year. I have made as little as $11000 a year as a freelance writers, despite writing between one and three stories per week. And the market for writing isn't getting better. Additionally, it's a pretty rigid environments, and writing in that world gets pretty dull pretty quickly.

This year I decided, fuck it. I'm getting paid pennies per word anyway. I might as well just write what I want to write and give the stuff away online. Maybe I can find enough of an audience to make a little scratch from ad sales. Maybe I can parlay some of my writing projects into book deals. Maybe not. But writing has moved fro, being a chore to being an adventure, and has gotten to be a lot of fun again.

And what are the options anyway? The only places that pay arts journalists enough to make a living are daily paper, and they are slashing their staffs and turning arts writing over to stringers. I know of one paper that has their staff do arts reviews for free. And my other writing? Reviews of William Shatner films? Reviews of weird candy I find at dollar stores? Pitching things like that as column ideas and trying to find a paper or magazine to bankroll them would double the amount of time it takes me to do the writing, and for precious little financial return. Fuck it. I do it because it's fun -- I don't want to start thinking about it as a product that I have to hawk in the market.

No screw the market. I write for an audience, and, were I to try and find that audience for the things I was to write through mainstream channels, it might never happen. But if I release it freely on line, even if the audience is only a few dozen, they will find it. That's more important to me than scratching for pennies.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:16 PM on April 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Perhaps my problem is that I make random words plural. What the fuck, s-key?
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:17 PM on April 2, 2008


“I recently read The Count of Monte Cristo on my handheld and enjoyed it immensely.”

Well there you go. Dumas hasn’t written anything for well over 100 years.
(Unless you count “Vicomte de Chimps du Crack”)
posted by Smedleyman at 4:31 PM on April 2, 2008


60 million broadband subscibers * 12 months per year * 5 dollars

3.6 billion dollars.

Ars Technica suggests a current incoming revenue stream of for all music sales to be in the 12 billion range, just under half of that from physical media.

I would suspect that the major labels would be extremely happy to have a permanent, zero-effort, ever growing, unkillable revenue stream that starts worth about half their income.

It's a double boon when you consider they get to keep suing people that aren't covered. Question: if you can target x suits a year, each suit brings in y dollars (expected), and your potential target pool just went down by 5 orders of magnitude, do you bring any less suits?
posted by enkiwa at 5:43 PM on April 2, 2008


enkiwa writes "It's a double boon when you consider they get to keep suing people that aren't covered. "

I get the feeling few people would be left to sue if there were actually 60 million connections indemnified. The suits would have to target genuine commercial pirates or they'd be even less popular than they are now (if that's conceivable).

Of course, when the ISPs are the direct gateway to the revenue stream, how are the labels even necessary at that point? If it's possible for a new artist to directly tap into that stream, why would they have a middle man at all? The internet offers free global marketing and distribution, and a decent recording studio costs a pittance. What do the labels even have to offer anymore, besides coke and limousines?
posted by mullingitover at 6:07 PM on April 2, 2008


mullingitover writes "The internet offers free global marketing and distribution, and a decent recording studio costs a pittance. What do the labels even have to offer anymore, besides coke and limousines?"

Well, the fact remains that a really good recording still requires expensive equipment in a treated space and trained people, and therefore a lot of money. You can make a pretty decent recording at home for less than $10K and produce something that used to cost almost ten times that much, but when you're dealing with acoustic instruments, voices and wide dynamics, the quality of the mics, preamps, mixer and whole signal path becomes much more important than with some amplified or electronic setups. And then there's mastering. Even amped and electronic music sounds better when it's mastered with good equipment and a trained tech. And although marketing sounds easy, when you get past a certain point it's like any other business. I'm not saying I like the current arrangement, but I think that labels could still have a place, if perhaps with a less parasitic approach. I think the roles may change somewhat. A label in the small label market still means something. It's all about the philosophy of the label and the music that comes out of it as a result. Although a lot of the small labels have been bought or started under a big label, if it all fell down tomorrow, the small labels would still serve as a place which gathers and releases a certain type of music and/or with a particular family/collective of artists. In many cases, it's a beneficial arrangement, and I'd like to see that sort of thing continue.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:23 PM on April 2, 2008


I am one of the most successful playwrights to come out of Omaha.

That sounds like being the best bull-rider in Lappland.

But I hear what you're saying regarding the alt-weeklies. It's a shame, because there's clearly a lot of people who want to read this stuff, and a lot of people who want to write it, but the mechanism for connecting writers, especially good writers (since most of the people who want to write arts reviews are fucking terrible at writing arts reviews), with the audience seems to be pretty terrible.

Or maybe it's just that I'm not good at business. But the hassle of trying to make sure that I get paid for writing, and constantly trying to find places to buy my writing, man, it just becomes a chore. When I was trying to make a go of just freelance, I think I was spending about 80% of my time in not-writing activities related to the business of freelance, and that was reflected in my ever-more morose columns.

I went back to school full-time and lived off of loans after getting a check for $92 from my regular publisher and being told that I couldn't cash it for a week.
posted by klangklangston at 6:59 PM on April 2, 2008


Home ______ing is killing ________.

This year I decided, fuck it. I'm getting paid pennies per word anyway. I might as well just write what I want to write and give the stuff away online. Maybe I can find enough of an audience to make a little scratch from ad sales. Maybe I can parlay some of my writing projects into book deals. Maybe not. But writing has moved fro, being a chore to being an adventure, and has gotten to be a lot of fun again.

It's odd. Like so many of my old friends, I've always wanted to get paid to write, you know, as long as I got to write what I wanted. Or maybe just write, and get paid for it, is a better way to describe it. After more or less giving up last year (not that I was actually trying at all (in the sense of sending things to editors and stuff)), and accepting that the stuff I was writing on my various websites, well-received as it always has been, just wasn't going to bring me any offers of traditional writing jobs, I've kind of lost the urge. Lately, at least. Everything I've written over the past 8 years is still up on the sites, and people who arrive there via search engines get served ads (thanks for the idea, Matt), which make literally pennies a day whether I write anything new or not, but somehow the joy has gone out of it for me. Maybe it will come back. I don't know.

Of course, I've also written close to 700,000 words (literally: I've seen the results of an SQL query) here at MeFi over the years, too, and that has been and continues to be for the sheer pleasure of interacting with people in text form, learning from them and learning what I think by saying it.

But if I release it freely on line, even if the audience is only a few dozen, they will find it. That's more important to me than scratching for pennies.

I think this is the way I feel about it, too. I must admit, though, that I am jealous of (and simultaneously happy for) a fellow expat-in-Korea buddy of mine, who spends enormous amounts of time -- far more than he spends actually writing -- making proposals and chasing editors, and has been very succesful doing it, with his writing (which is solid and good and not flashy) appearing in Important Places like the Guardian and an array of other newspapers and other publications. I wish I had whatever personality twist it requires to be able to do that kind of self-marketing, because that's clearly what is necessary -- along with talent, of course -- to be able to make some money with your words.

And maybe luck, too. Ah well. Postcount++
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:07 PM on April 2, 2008


klangklangston: a lot of the people writing blogs and on websites like this one are no doubt either working writers, people w/freelance writing experience, part time journalists, aspiring writers, aspiring journalists, etc. Some are great, some good, some bad, some lousy. So here's my question: why have we, the very people who stand the most to gain by the internet, allowed it to grow in such a way so that almost no one is compensated, and everyone is either writing for free or writing for peanuts? I think I know the answer (it's obvious) but I find asking the question to be useful, and even possibly empowering. The answer, it seems to me, as to why writers are more than willing to work for free online, is b/c they've never organized well enough to do otherwise. We're now over a decade into the internet revolution and so far almost no economically sustainable business models have emerged to challenge traditional publishing and journalism. If anything, the situation (for being a poor, underpaid, or totally unpaid writer) is worse now than ever: b/c there are literally more people writing (without compensation) than ever before. So while the information and distribution channels have all exploded, the result has been really bad for establishing any kind or workable situation in which the internet features all kinds of new places for writers to get paid to write. Even metafilter itself is probably better in its content than a lot of on-the-stand magazines, and yet no one here is getting paid. It's a painfully ironic situation to think about: it's like we've advocated for our own obsolescence as working writers without even fully realizing it yet.
posted by ornate insect at 7:15 PM on April 2, 2008


I guess I didn't make it clear that I am a union writer and trained in contract and labor negotiation.

Writers should not work for zero pay if they are being published, and a lot of you can ignore the assholes who tell you that your work is meaningless because you "only do this or that" and not what they do.

ornate insect: if you want to make a point, I suggest you do so in plain English, with correct grammar and paragraphs, let alone capitalization.

"We, the very people," as you suggest in your comment, are not working for peanuts. I am working for a living wage as a free ance writer and researcher. I also write my own personal novellas on the side. Do not generalize all writers into your psyche, please, leave most of us out of it.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:37 PM on April 2, 2008


And yes, I make typos; I'm a writer, not a secretary. Free Lance, I meant. But that's why I have editors. I write and they catch it and edit, so fuck all you hyper-typo-freaks anyway.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:47 PM on April 2, 2008


I prefer unplain English. Your rather tart rejection of my post tells me exactly why so many writers will never make more than, at most, a living wage: there are too many primadonnas. By your very admission your are writing "personal novellas" (as opposed to impersonal?) "on the side," which indicates your freelance and research work may not be your first choice. But even if it is, you would surely admit that you are the exception, not the rule. My point, in plain English: the internet has been far less of a bonanza to the profession of writing than it should have been or could be. On the contrary, it has made it even harder in many ways to write for a living. But, barring any real organization among those writing on the web for free, or any paradigm shift in which people begin to pay for content online, this will likely not change.
posted by ornate insect at 7:51 PM on April 2, 2008


Everyone knows that the best bull-riders come from Lappland.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:31 PM on April 2, 2008


And yes, I make typos

of course you do - people who correct other people's english on the internet just about always make typos when they do it

you'd think they'd learn
posted by pyramid termite at 8:33 PM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


If the music industry gets $5/month, what does the movie industry get? What about the games industry?

Since games cost so much more than songs do, both in terms of creation and sales price, I'd say we'd probably be charged $10 for games. Add another $15 for movies...

...$30/month for the Digital Media Pirating Triple Play(tm)!
posted by andreaazure at 11:25 PM on April 2, 2008


It is cool that there are so many writers here. I am not a writer, other than a few posts here and there, usually with mispelled words and usually about uninteresting things like rants about fortune cookies, but I am a reader and am often buying books. So here is my perspective:

The article mentions cook books for good reason. Most cook books only existed because people needed general recipes for household cooking and couldn't always count on Aunt Betty being available by phone when needed. With the Internet, these books are simply superfluous. Every Aunt Betty out there has put their recipes on the net. The only time you buy a cookbook is when it is really special--maybe a cook from a famous restaurant.

The article also mentions Google scanning books. I have bought several books after finding what I wanted by using their book search engine. There is no way I would know these books existed otherwise. I can't believe any author or publisher is upset with Google. It is free advertising direct to the customers most interested in their books (as a result of a search).

I am probably reading more novels than I used to as a result of finding more interesting books by searching for people's comments and suggestions on sites like Amazon. I could never imagine reading a novel on the internet and am not interested in an e-book device. Is this different for anyone else? Do people really steal (share?) and read novels to any extent on the Internet?

But for news writing, editorials, blogs, and other short pieces, as are often linked to by Metafilter, most of us use the Internet, not newspapers and magazines. In my opinion, this is the writing that is no longer being paid for, unless it is a popular blog with advertising.
posted by eye of newt at 12:32 AM on April 3, 2008


Authors will stop writing? Oh, thank God, then only the good ones will keep it up for sure!
posted by zouhair at 2:12 AM on April 3, 2008


And yes, I make typos

you also make tremendous social gaffes. and you can take your capital letters and shove them where the sun don't shine.
posted by shmegegge at 8:46 AM on April 3, 2008


Did anyone else notice that this would gut Apple's dominance over online music sales? Apple is now the #1 music retailer now. This would decimate their market power, so much so that I wonder if that's what this is designed to do.
posted by mullingitover at 1:15 PM on April 3, 2008


jscalzi: nice to meet you too. So now I "know" at least one non-journalist writer who makes a living off of what he/she writes.

Still, though, I don't write anything remotely marketable. What I really like to read and write is what some people call "post-avant" poetry. That type of poetry is generally circulated among homemade zines and small press publications that lose far more money than they make.

Which isn't to say that the kind of writing I gravitate toward is somehow "better" and "therefore" less marketable. It's just what I like, what makes me feel intimately engaged with language and (therefore) artistically alive. (And there's certainly not an insignificant amount of cross-pollination between sci-fi, horror, and avant-garde writing, as evidenced by such talents as Samuel R. Delaney, Dennis Cooper, or Dodie Bellamy, and publishers such as Omnidawn.)

I don't think, however, that the fact that my writing is never going to make money necessarily means that I'm stupid about money.
posted by treepour at 10:31 PM on April 3, 2008


ornate insect: for what it's worth, google (book search and scholar) are trying, through a kind of semi-open-access (limited view) to become the content-kings/Alexandria of our age, and have teamed w/most of the major publishers and many of the major academic libraries to position themselves as such.

Interesting. (I've already started linking to books on Google Books instead of Amazon.) I wonder what their business model will be. Google does a great job of providing technically superior services for free (Internet search, Google Maps, Gmail, etc.). That model works fine for public-domain books; not so great for books which are still under copyright. They provide links for buying the book; is that it? Or are they going to provide access to the full text of a book for a fee, which is then shared with the publisher and author?

By the way, if you've worked at the New York Review of Books website, the team behind the site has done an awesome job. It's incredibly fast, simple, and straightforward, reflecting a great design: short and simple URLs, author index pages. Because it uses standard HTML, it's easy for me to download long articles to my handheld Zaurus and read them on the bus.
posted by russilwvong at 12:21 AM on April 4, 2008


« Older Who was Jim Crow?   |   R.I.P. Klaus Dinger, the king of motorik Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post