[Marxism] advantages of ebooks | Piety on Kierkegaard

David P Á david at miradoiro.com
Wed May 21 08:50:53 MDT 2014

On 21/05/2014 7:31, Ratbag Media wrote:
> I'm not sure what you mean since the ebook industry is the fastest growing
> sector in  publishing with some distributors concentrating on
> ebook distribution alone. Hard copy books may have grown faster than ebooks
> during 2013 (although not the years prior) but ebooks nonetheless  comprise
> 27% of adult book sales
> http://www.publishingtechnology.com/2014/02/ebook-sales-growth-where-its-really-coming-from-an-analysis-of-author-earnings/

I'm really positive on ebooks. I'm blind and therefore the mainstreaming
of ebooks has made my life immeasureably easier, considering that the
best I could do if I wanted to read a pBook was buying it, taking quite
a few hours to scan and OCR it, and at the end I'd get a file with lots
of errors.

Still, although it's true a lot of people are buying ebooks, a lot of
people are also downloading them for free. I know they are because I am,
and someone has to put them up.

Whether having a potential larger audience and a lower cost of
production compensates the ease in accessing the works for free is hard
to tell. My guess is it does for some authors, but not necessarily all.
Advances by publishers were a means whereby successful authors funded
risky ones, so to speak, in that publishers used revenue from their
works to fund books knowing in most cases they wouldn't recover the
advance. With the new models, this is not so much possible.

Of course it can be argued that authors don't need publishers anymore,
and it may be somewhat true (though good editting, proof-reading,
typesetting and cover design as well as marketing haven't gone away, and
they're often a large part of the cost of production of books, even if
they're a fixed cost). But this results in a much more precarised
freelancey deal for authors, which is not necessarily great when people
need some form of economic security.

Similar considerations apply to music: yes, groups can reach larger
audiences and have creative control, but that doesn't necessarily make
up for not getting advances and hence having the time and space to
become good. Doing it on one's spare time is possible for some, but
problematic for others (such spare time not always being available).

> There are many discourses  about torrenting  and the play out relative to
> the very popular torrents suggests that the more an item is downloaded the
> greater the buzz and the interest is generated in it. Theres' a dynamic in
> play that hard copy obscures. This attitude moderates Home Box Office/HBO's
> attitude to torrenting for instance.

Sure, but HBO has a huge marketing arm, and we don't. As you say, groups
or authors that manage to establish themselves and access a large
audience are probably not going to lose much if at all, but the system
in place that took risks on new unknown people by paying them advances
from the revenue made from the successful products is going away. And
yes, it had all kinds of problems and it was biased, and so on; but
what's replacing it isn't perfect either.

> The REAL QUESTION in ebookery is not the means of distribution but the lock
> up with DRM.But even there, publishers , like MacMillan  are forgoing that
> option.
> http://www.forbes.com/sites/suwcharmananderson/2012/04/25/macmillans-tor-abandons-drm-other-publishers-must-follow/

I don't think DRM is a serious problem with ebooks right now. Amazon's
DRM at least is trivially breakable with widely available tools, and I
believe the same is true for Adobe's. The existing DRM is more of a
token effort, probably so that the software houses can tell the
publishers that at least they tried. There are ongoing efforts on
watermarking which might actually prove more effective, since
watermarking can be very hard to detect and hence to remove.


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