WRITING ON THE ETHER: Happy Holidata

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Table of Contents

  1. Surveying the Realm: And a Note to Bowker
  2. Surveys: The One You Can Take Now
  3. More Holidata: A Little Survey of My Own
  4. Self-to-Trad: Speaking of Looking for a Publisher
  5. Exciting Times: Also Confusing
  6. Ownership: Who Needs It Anymore?
  7. Several Good Ones: Accelerated Ether
  8. Con­fer­ence Me In
  9. Hugh Howey’s WOOL: He Holds Digital Rights
  10. Collective Bargaining: A Noir Christmas
  11. More Books: Reading on the Ether
  12. Last Gas: Gatsby for Everybody

Surveying the Realm: And a Note to Bowker

The vast majority [of responding self-publishing authors] cited marketing and publicity as the main area they’d like to access the support from a traditional publisher –  the very same area that had authors railing against their publishers.

Like Santa’s sleigh backing up to your desk — meep! meep! meep!The Bookseller’s TheFutureBook seems to deliver itself of everything it has for us within a single tinseled week in December.

agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, Authors Launch, TOC Authors, Author (R)evolution Day, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, FutureBook, #fbook12, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Nigel Roby, The Bookseller, TheFutureBook, Digital CensusThe excellent FutureBook 2012 Conference was held on the third of the month, of course, and The Bookseller’s Digital Census 2013 was released the next day.

When asked what advantages [self-publishers] foresaw in a traditional book deal, they gave many answers ranging from validation, distribution, translation rights all the way to increased financial security (which may raise some eyebrows among many traditionally published authors).

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Mrs. Fezziwig

Sam Missingham is not only the Mrs. Fezziwig of The Bookseller but also has just been named runner-up in the UK’s Women in Publishing Pandora Awards, an honor well earned for “significant and sustained contribution to the publishing industry.”

In her new post, The author paradox, Missingham looks at what turned up when the annual Digital Census — 13.2-percent of the respondents Stateside — surveyed authors for the first time.

agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, Authors Launch, TOC Authors, Author (R)evolution Day, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, FutureBook, #fbook12, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Nigel Roby, The Bookseller, TheFutureBook, Digital CensusLet’s take just a festive twinkling here to note this moment. End of 2012: authors have been added to a major publishing community survey for its first time. Far be it from me to rub anybody’s face in the rising position of the author in the industry! the industry!  But you’re one retrograde little elf if you’re not getting the point yet.

agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, Authors Launch, TOC Authors, Author (R)evolution Day, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, FutureBook, #fbook12, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Nigel Roby, The Bookseller, TheFutureBook, Digital CensusJust as telling, however, is the confusion this particular survey of self-selected, voluntary respondents shows up in the author corps. Missingham:

When asked what advantages [self-publishers] foresaw in a traditional book deal, they gave many answers ranging from validation, distribution, translation rights all the way to increased financial security (which may raise some eyebrows among many traditionally published authors).

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Source: Digital Census 2013, The Bookseller

Missingham briefed me ahead of the FutureBook 2012 Conference in London on what was coming in this report.

And — following some of the highlights I gathered in Ether for Authors this week at Publishing Perspectives — I want to call your attention to the interesting incongruities Missingham is spotting in the responses of 220 traditionally published authors (9.8 percent of overall respondents) and 125 self-publishing authors (5.3 percent of the overall pool).

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Source: Digital Census 2013, The Bookseller

I’ll differ with her, in only the most figgy-pudding-jovial sort of way, in regard to her line about how separating self-publishing and traditionally published authors in the survey “makes less and less sense.” I think it makes great sense. It’s thanks to that line being drawn that we see the holly’s-always-greener effect going on between the two camps.

Self-publishing authors told the survey they’d like to be traditionally published for the very reasons that traditionally published authors seem to be most put out with their publishers.

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Source: Digital Census 2013, The Bookseller

The newly created authors section in the full Census report — which comprises the responses of an overall 2,459 people “with professional links to books or publishing” — is titled, not accidentally, “Traditionally Published Authors: Demanding More.”

While it’s nobody’s rout as yet, it’s clear from the spread of responses that authors “on the inside” aren’t uniformly happy with what they’re getting from their publishers. “Marketing strategy? Don’t make me laugh,” is one pointed comment picked up by the survey from a traditionally published author.

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Source: Digital Census 2013, The Bookseller

Among the traditionally published:

  • Only 18.5 percent of responding authors strongly agreed with the statement “My publisher does everything in its power to sell my books.”
  • Some 58.7 percent of them either strongly or mildly agreed with the statement, “I think self-published authors can be more nimble than (traditionally) published ones.”
  • And, in what I’d like to think might give some publishers a pause under the mistletoe, 42.8 percent of these authors said they’ve considered switching to self-publishing.

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Self-published authors enjoy a relatively high level of satisfaction which one would expect based on being in control and having a direct hand in one’s own success. Perhaps surprisingly given this broad satisfaction level we found that 43.3% of self-published authors would ultimately like to get a trade book deal, with 44.3% expressing ambivalence at the idea and only 12.4 % set firmly against.

And the Digital Census includes commentary in many areas from respondents, some of it pretty telling.

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Source: Digital Census 2013, The Bookseller

From author-respondents, a selection of a few comments:

Pricing is too high, especially for backlist. Covers are poor. Findability on websites, awful.

I published many of my books as e-books myself. My print publisher is
not reacting to changes in the market, formats and the need to address
e-book lending via school libraries. My publisher does not understand the
importance of metadata and e-marketing.

Pricing seems motivated by nothing more than word count, which is
frustrating. I know that I miss out on sales because my books aren’t
priced as well (low) as other books in the same genre.

I believe that e-books should be a further platform, not used to sell cheap
a creative commodity from which I earn my living.

[My publisher] has been very slow to respond to the changes in the
marketplace and is just now considering e-book price reductions,
which I think has been detrimental to my sales.

Such phrases as “all over the map” come quickly to mind, even with so small a sample in play.

 

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Analyzing the authors right now is like keeping watch over our flocks by night.

agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, Authors Launch, TOC Authors, Author (R)evolution Day, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, FutureBook, #fbook12, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Nigel Roby, The Bookseller, TheFutureBook, Digital CensusAnd this is where I’d like to see Bowker Market Research come into play. (You thought I’d lost track of Bowker, didn’t you?)

For Christmas (OK, next year is fine), I’d really like to see Bowker consider bringing its trademark analytic rigor to bear on just this kind of material — the viewpoint of the author-as-an-industry-driver. Could you give us a proper study on this to back up the good work started by The Bookseller’s Digital Census, please? 

We’re accustomed to Bowker’s insights into the consumer’s interests and expectations. Ethernauts have seen these gases graced with Bowkeritical wisdom many times.

So what about this “other customer,” as Amazon’s fine Jon Fine likes to talk of the author?

Shouldn’t we be getting some serious survey workups on that many-guised creature? As we know, we don’t know how much output this sector of the industry is responsible for, and we won’t — too much has got out already without ISBNs. And that adds to how skinny our concepts of these folks can be.

Statistically speaking, not any more than between 20 and 30 American authors’ input is represented in TheFutureBook and The Bookseller’s Digital Census. That’s not a complaint or criticism, by the way — it’s pretty impressive that on a first-ever inclusion of author analysis, the Census can put together this much workable info.

As we all know, the new impact of the creative core is prompting such new developments as the O’Reilly Tools of Change’s Author (R)evolution Day conference and Publishers Launch’s Authors Launch conference. (More on those two in the conferences section below.)

But, boy, could we use some scientifically herded, shorn and dipped data amid all the woolgathering going on out there.

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Peter Turner

Our colleague Peter Turner and I are fond of getting riled up in column comments on the subject of “the street view” that authors bring to the business. That’s the nice way of saying that they, the authors, desperately need better informed, more sophisticated understandings of their own, broad-based collective influence and insights. The street is an alley of anecdata (thank you, Brett Sandusky for that term). And the last thing we need more of in this rumor-rife business is “did you hear” hokum.

Bowker is in the business of hacking through hokum by widening a survey universe to a really respectable pool of carefully graded participants, and could render a truly ground-breaking view of just who these creative industry players are, what they actually know, and (maybe more important) what they don’t.

And I’ll bet Bowker could do it without using the terms “author-preneur” or “co-opetition.” Which would be a worth a trip to Bethlehem on a donkey in itself.

 

As Missingham tells us in her write on the Census (starting with one of those “publishers should” lines that Philip Jones has pointed out seem to be everywhere these days):

Publishers should seek to tap into the huge wealth of enthusiasm and drive present in their roster of authors. Not every author wants to become a marketing guru but many would be happy to be much more involved if they were encouraged (and provided the resources) to do so…The contract between authors and publishers will probably have to evolve to become more of a partnership agreement with more evenly distributed rights & responsibilities on both sides.

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The full Digital Census report is available from TheFutureBook and its parent, The Bookseller, at £97 (US$157) for subscribers. My thanks to Sam Missingham, Philip Jones, and Nigel Roby for the chance to offer a just few of the Digital Survey’s results, which include digital readership; reading devices; publishers’ digital readiness; routes to market; growth formats, genres, and markets; Waterstones and Amazon’s Kindle; the future of bookshops; libraries; and “digital winners and losers.”
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Surveys: The One You Can Take Now

It’s short and sweet, and it’s still up until sometime next week, I’m told by O’Reilly Media’s Kat Meyer.

agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, Authors Launch, TOC Authors, Author (R)evolution Day, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, FutureBook, #fbook12, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Nigel Roby, The Bookseller, TheFutureBook, Digital CensusJoseph Esposito has led the way on this one, and is being supported by Joe Wikert and O’Reilly, with the participation of Forbes. In his introduction post on the survey, A short survey about turning discovery into sales, Esposito writes:

We are living at a time of enormous innovation in all aspects of publishing. Well, almost all: the primacy of the distinctive author has not changed at all. But everywhere else–how we produce books, where we buy them, how we share them (if we can)–innovation and disruption are the norm. Not all of the new ventures in the book business will survive, but it is far too early to be predicting a shakeout.

The point of the questions on this one are to determine how you discover books you buy for yourself, not as gifts. How do you hear about books? Which media influence you?

If you’re too pressed for time to read Esposito’s rationale in his post, you can go directly to the survey.

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More Holidata: A Little Survey of My Own

I’m interested in hearing from women writers who use their initials rather than their names for their work.

I’m respectfully looking at you, J.K. Rowling. And all your initialed sisters.

 

If you’re a woman author whose books carry your name as initials, drop into the comments below (use the link, it’s quite a long way down there in the Ether) and fill me in on:

  1. Your intent in using your initials, and
  2. Your assessment of whether it has helped or hindered you in any way.

And how often does someone meeting you call you by your initials? I’m convinced that more than one person has shaken that fabled hand and said, “Nice to meet you, JK.”

If you’re so under the cover of your initials that you’d rather not say anything in comments, you can shoot me a private email and my secretary will disavow all knowledge of your actions: my contact page is here.

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Self-to-Trad: Speaking of Looking for a Publisher

In the end, I believed there was still a measure of credibility in having a traditional publisher. Reviews come more easily and you are taken more seriously. That is changing, but I believe it is still widely the case.

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Judy L. Mandel

Before we get away from the self-vs.-traditional publishing questions around authors these days, there’s a new post from author Judy L. Mandel here at Ether host Jane Friedman’s site that works as one case study in crossing over.

In Getting a Traditional Book Deal After Self-Publishing for her book, Replacement Child — set for a March release from Seal Press — Mandel writes of knowing in advance that she had a tough sell on her hands.

I knew I wanted an agent and a traditional publisher, but I also knew that as an unknown memoirist, it would be a tough road. I gave myself a year to query, send out chapters when requested, and do my best to procure an agent for my book. I wasn’t getting any younger.

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I had been in marketing for twenty years and knew how to manage any creative project—although, looking back, I didn’t know exactly all of what I was taking on. I hired an editor, a designer and an online marketer to start.

That marketing background and a lot of work — including touring at her own expense — eventually got Mandel’s book to some 2,000 print sales, she writes, and “a few hundred” ebooks. But there was enough heft for it to get a promotional slot at BarnesAndNoble.com.

 It turned out I was selling around 4,000 e-books a month.

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Exciting Times: Also Confusing

As much as they clarify and educate, maps quickly become misleading when the terrain is constantly shifting. For authors trying to make sense of the publishing landscape today, even with the best map it is always wise to carry a compass.

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Anne Hill

In An author-centric map of publishing, author marketing advisor Anne Hill asks, “What would the publishing ecosystem look like if we placed authors at its center?”

Writers may prefer to focus on storytelling, but publishing is about cultivation and commerce.

Hill is longer on metaphor than method. For example: “With the ebook explosion an entire new water cycle has emerged, where instead of having to ship product downstream, anyone can set up a still and evaporate content directly into the cloud.”

But in her piece advancing O’Reilly Tools of Change’s Author (R)evolution Day, she manages to approach one of the most controversial elements of the authorial career:

I find the term “author platform” misleading. It exacerbates the competitive, zero-sum anxiety all authors have, while completely missing the point of what we need to build. At the risk of pushing my organic map metaphor too far, it’s not just the height of the platform that makes an author successful, but the quality of the soil beneath.

Before being swallowed whole by a Dune worm from that “soil beneath,” Hill does make a perfectly worthwhile pitch for “working together, pooling resources and sharing insights.”

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Ownership: Who Needs It Anymore?

There’s been plenty of speculation about creating “the ‘Spotify’ for books” and I tend to think that model will be more successful than most would assume. A few years ago I never would have considered a streaming music subscription. I wanted to own my songs and have the ability to take them onto whatever platform I chose. Now I can’t tell you the last time I bought a song but I can tell you I use Spotify every week.

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Joe Wikert

It’s an issue that keeps circling around, as folks think more and more about what once was book ownership and now is ebook licensing.

Joe Wikert, in Ebook lending vs. ownership at O’Reilly’s Tools of Change, again uses Joshua Gans’ book, Information Wants To Be Shared (very nice discount at Harvard Business Review with code ADINFO1) as his jumping-off point.

And, sure enough, he finds yet another smart concept in Gans’ book to pass on — the group approach. Quoting Gans now:

Gather enough friends to pitch in for a subscription and you can all access it. The mobile phone companies worked this out with “friends and family” plans that reduced the costs of communicating within social circles. If a newspaper adopts a sharing philosophy to information, it should be thinking in terms of clubs rather than individuals when it comes to subscriptions.

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Publishers have desperately reacted to digitization by replicating the offerings to consumers available in the physical world. That has meant a model of book ownership rather than of shared use. But book ownership is a recent development, prior to which books were shared goods.

I like what Gans is saying here, and like Wikert, many people are starting to realize that once they’ve moved into digital consumption, the idea of ownership isn’t as important to them in creative material as it once was.

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Brian O’Leary

Meanwhile, Brian O’Leary at Magellan Media heads right into the issue in a post titled Ownership vs. Access: Lessons for Publishers via iTunes. He writes:

Apple recently upgraded its iTunes application, in the process dashing the hopes of users worldwide.  It turns out iTunes is the Apple product you’re most likely to hate: bloated, clunky and ultimately an appendage on mobile devices.

After some consideration of how iTunes has come to be such an albatross, being “built as a media hub, storing everything from music, movies and television shows to podcasts, books and apps,” O’Leary goes on:

The success of Pandora and other streaming services may reflect a growing preference for access over ownership. A more open API could help iTunes (and Apple) retain a leading position among those consumers who remain ready and willing to buy.

 

And, as O’Leary can be depended on to do, he points out to publishers that there are indicators of ways forward:

There are lessons for publishers, too: if the digital content model shifts from ownership (to the extent that an eBook is owned) to simply access, container-driven formats may give way to more web-like standards. We might see new business models that could include subscription services and pay-as-you-read options.

This is the right time to be thinking about the implications of new formats and business models on how we create, maintain and disseminate content. Coming on the heels of a lot of backlist conversion efforts, that might be hard to embrace, but it will help publishers remain agile as consumers (quickly) evolve their reading preferences.

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Several Good Ones: Accelerated Ether

Book publishers may have had little choice but to adopt ebooks, but they have been wary of them, in particular the threats from lower prices and piracy. But for news publishers, ebooks offer a far less risky way to turn content into cash – leveraging archive material at minimal expense opens up new revenue streams. And the potential market is huge: Britons bought £84 million worth of ebooks in the first half of 2012, according to the Publishers’ Association.

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Jasper Jackson

That’s Jasper Jackson writing at The Media Briefing about newspapers’ proliferating efforts to turn reportage into ebooks for added income and visibility.

In Making ebooks a news publishing revenue stream: Newspapers, B2B, events case studies, Jackson includes the report from Laura Hazard Owen at paidContent.

Laura Owen

It covered the the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s move in this direction.

That article, as you may remember it, is from August: eBook Bestsellers: A newspaper’s longform experiment pays off.

But this just in: Owen writes up the New York Times’ plan to launch ebook programs with Byliner and Vook:

Through the partnership with Byliner, the NYT “will co-publish up to a dozen New York Times/Byliner Originals in the next year featuring narratives in areas in which The Times has reporting expertise including culture, sports, business, science and health.” They will be available for sale at Byliner, through ebook retailers and at NYTStore.com…

Through the partnership with Vook, the New York Times will publish “TimesFiles” — “curated selections of articles” from the paper’s archives “assembled into compelling narratives about a particular topic or event.” 25 of them will be available on December 17 through Kindle, Nook, the iBookstore and NYTStore.com.

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Here’s what I didn’t see coming: an ironically reversed “things of the internet” scenario, in which our formerly networked, interoperable apps and web services evolve into siloed products that can’t and won’t talk to each other. Welcome to the future: you can use gadgets like Twine and WeMo to make your air conditioner talk to your toaster, but you can’t make your Instagram photos show up on Twitter, or your iPhone work natively with Google Maps.

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John Pavlus

John Pavlus is at  the MIT Technology Review in Twitter, Instagram, And The Internet of (Disconnected) ThingsHe does take a moment to point out that this networking nightmare that seems to be going into gridlock isn’t just the headache of a frivolous few — when he mentions the outback, he’s referring to Apple’s replacement of Google Maps, in case you haven’t been following the story.

Not being able to share photos seamlessly from one social network to another may be the epitome of a “first world problem;” getting lost in the Australian outback because your smartphone manufacturer replaced a bulletproof mapping app with its inferior homemade version is a bit more serious.

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We know what an e-book is. It is pure digital spirit. It alights on one device or another and is conceived to be containerless…It is exhilarating to think of e-books in this way. You can almost feel the air beneath your wings as you stop reading on an iPad and then open up the same book — opened to the same page — on a mobile phone a few minutes later.

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Joseph J. Esposito

We’re back to Joe Esposito, he of the short discoverability survey I’m hoping you’ll take. Here, he’s in “The Scholarly Kitchen” blog, his base of operation, with Theory of the eBook. And there’s some really fine writing here about the non-newness of the literary theory of text uprooted from all material incarnation: “It must be lonely for the book to be so digitally disembodied,” he writes, in this highly worthwhile meditation.

In the end?

Of course, it is only a metaphor, this book without an author, this containerless collection of words; and like all metaphors, it breaks down at some point. We are not there yet. The theory of the e-book still has a distance to ride, but when it comes to the end of the road, new metaphors will rise up. We will know that time has come when the e-book unfriends us on Facebook.

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Con­fer­ence Me In

If you have a publishing conference event coming, please notify me through the contact page at porteranderson.com, and I’ll be happy to consider listing it.

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Registration continues for Digital Book World (#DBW13) (January 15-17) — and the associated Children’s Publishing Goes Digital (January 15) and Authors Launch (January 18, see below). Substantial savings are available, and you’re welcome to use my affiliate code PORTER to trigger them as you register.

agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, Authors Launch, TOC Authors, Author (R)evolution Day, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, FutureBook, #fbook12, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Nigel Roby, The Bookseller, TheFutureBook, Digital Census

Hugh Howey

Among “persons of interest” scheduled for this one is Hugh Howey, WOOL author, just mentioned in Laura Hazard Owen’s writeup at paidContent, Byliner, Simon & Schuster strike print deals for a digital era. Howey appears at #DBW13 in a tailor-made panel, Case Study: Self-Published Author, with conference chair Mike Shatzkin and agent Kristin Nelson. (See Thursday, January 17 at 9aET on this grid of the conference’s sessions.)

See below for a bit more on the Howey-S&S story.

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agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, Authors Launch, TOC Authors, Author (R)evolution Day, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, FutureBookA 20-percent discount has been offered on registration for the all-new January 18 Authors Launch one-day conference.

It’s being produced by the Publishers Launch team of Mike Shatzkin and Michael Cader (seen, for example, at Frankfurt Book Fair).

To get the reduced rate, use code AL395 as you register.

agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, Authors Launch, TOC Authors, Author (R)evolution Day, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, FutureBook, #fbook12, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Nigel Roby, The Bookseller, TheFutureBook, Digital Census

Jane Friedman

This is the daylong series of specialized presentations from a roster including Peter McCarthy, Dan Blank, MJ Rose, Randy Susan Meyers, Jason Ashlock, Meryl Moss, Ether host Jane Friedman, David Wilk and more.

My own session in this one is In the Public Eye: Media training for authors.

.

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agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, Authors Launch, TOC Authors, Author (R)evolution Day, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, FutureBookAuthor (R)evolution Day (#TOCcon) (February 12) from O’Reilly Tools of Change and Publishers Weekly has special early pricing ending December 20.

You’re welcome to use my affiliate code AFFILIATEPA for a discount of $350 on your registration. I’ll be doing an onstage conversation with Grub Street’s Eve Bridburg on The Author Blueprint for Success as part of this program, looking forward to it.

agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, Authors Launch, TOC Authors, Author (R)evolution Day, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, FutureBook, #fbook12, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Nigel Roby, The Bookseller, TheFutureBook, Digital Census

Kate Pullinger

Among other featured presenters:

Cory Doctorow, Laura Dawson, Allen Lau, Jesse Potash, Dana Newman, Kristen McLean, Peter Armstrong, Tim Sanders, Michael Tamblyn, Rob Eagar, Kate Pullinger, Kat Meyer, and Joe Wikert.

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agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, Authors Launch, TOC Authors, Author (R)evolution Day, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, FutureBookO’Reilly Media’s Tools of Change (#TOCcon) Conference  (February 12-14) has a December 20 cutoff date for early pricing.

Use my affiliate code AFFILIATEPA for an immediate discount of $350 on any registration package.

#TOCcon 2013 includes a major brace of workshops for industry professionals during Author (R)evolution Day (your pass must include Tuesday), plus two more days of multi-tracked offerings.

agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, Authors Launch, TOC Authors, Author (R)evolution Day, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, FutureBook, #fbook12, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Nigel Roby, The Bookseller, TheFutureBook, Digital Census

Edward Nawotka

Among key sessions: America vs. The World (and Itself): Publishing in the Age of Globalization, with PublishingPerspectives.com Editor-in-Chief Edward Nawotka, host of Ether for Author on Tuesdays.

And check out Book as API with PressBooks’ Hugh McGuire and Solve for Interesting’s Alistair Croll.

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For an updated list of planned confabs, please see the Publishing Conferences page at porteranderson.com.

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Hugh Howey’s WOOL: He Holds Digital Rights

As Erik Wrecks at Wired writes in eBbook Success Hugh Howey Sells Print Rights to Woolthe Simon & Schuster deal for simultaneous paperback and hardback publication of WOOL leaves Howey’s ebook rights intact — and in his hands.

The deal is quite lucrative for Howey, giving him wide print distribution of his book in North America and allowing him to retain his current Amazon Kindle contract which gives him 70% of the list price on every ebook he sells. This is on top of his international publishing contracts for Wool, which is currently being published in 20 countries, and his movie contract with 20th Century Fox to have Ridley Scott direct the film adaptation of his book.

agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, Authors Launch, TOC Authors, Author (R)evolution Day, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, FutureBook, #fbook12, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Nigel Roby, The Bookseller, TheFutureBook, Digital Census

Hugh Howey

Howey, himself, has posted on Kindle Boards a note about the deal — oddly titled “WOOL to be published by Author Solutions.” That’s incorrect. the print copies are being published by S&S.

In the text of that note and in the attached video in which he talks about the deal, Howey reaffirms that the print copies are to be published not under the ASI-controlled Archway but by Simon & Schuster, proper.

We covered the Archway arrangement between S&S and Author Solutions — hated by so many authors — on the Ether here: Vanity Pressed.

agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, Authors Launch, TOC Authors, Author (R)evolution Day, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, FutureBook, #fbook12, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Nigel Roby, The Bookseller, TheFutureBook, Digital Census

Mike Shatzkin

But, for that matter, the message may be a bit confusing as it comes across with comments from Mike Shatzkin, who is to interview Howey and his agent, Kristin Nelson, onstage at DBW13 in January.

In Jeremy Greenfield’s write for Digital Book World, A First in the Ebook World for Simon & Schuster, Greenfield quotes Shatzkin saying:

“If S&S in print and with their marketing machine can turn this into a two-million selling book, maybe that means he sells another half-a-milion, even 700,000 ebooks,” said publishing consultant and DBW partner Mike Shatzkin.

“And that sends the message that the big publishers can do a lot that an author can’t do for himself and that Amazon can’t do for them. That would make it easier to convince the next author that they shouldn’t keep all of the ebook rights after the publisher comes into the game because the publisher adds value to those rights.”

agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, Authors Launch, TOC Authors, Author (R)evolution Day, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, FutureBook, #fbook12, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Nigel Roby, The Bookseller, TheFutureBook, Digital Census

Jeremy Greenfield

I may be missing some comments that Howey and or Nelson have made elsewhere, but everything I read from the WOOL-y ones indicates that they could not be more happy they held onto the ebook rights, lock, stock, and barrel. I get that they, in fact turned down other offers which would have compromised their control of the e-rights. S&S is agreeing to go forward, as Wrecks writes, without a piece of the e-rights.

Shatzkin is absolutely right that many things S&S does will help amp up the digital sales, no question. All boats will float, unless we’re all badly mistaken.

But I haven’t heard word from the Howey camp yet that might suggest that authors should consider giving up any part of their e-rights in a case of this kind — another rare one, mind you — when it comes to dickering with a publisher.

See my emphasis below in what Howey is writing in his Kindle Boards post:

This is the contract I’ve been hoping for, and not just for myself. To be honest, I didn’t think it would happen to me. I thought this was a contract for the future — for other authors. But my agent and I went into these several rounds of discussions telling each other that it was crucial to have these conversations with publishers so that they would get used to hearing what was important to authors. And what’s important to authors isn’t *always* large advances (which are just piles of horrid royalties). We want long-term stability; we want to retain our rights; we want the freedom to publish our way; we think digital rights should either remain in our hands or pay a whole lot better.

By keeping my digital rights, I’ll be able to retain the sensible (i.e. cheap) price of my ebooks so that they will (hopefully) continue to sell. I can lower the price and do promotions anytime I want. I can see my sales in real-time like I always have so I know what works and what doesn’t.

Simon and Schuster, meanwhile, will do what they do best: They are releasing WOOL in March under their prestigious, titular imprint (not under Author Solutions).

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I hope you can join us when Hugh Howey and his agent, Kristin Nelson, appear at Digital Book World’s Conference in January, #DBW13, with Mike Shatzkin. There’s more in our conferences section here, and registration with the best discounts available is here.

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Collective Bargaining: A Noir Christmas

agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, Authors Launch, TOC Authors, Author (R)evolution Day, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, FutureBook, #fbook12, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Nigel Roby, The Bookseller, TheFutureBook, Digital CensusAs regular Ethernauts know, I keep a close eye on The Rogue Reader (RR) collective of suspense writers brought together by Movable Type Managament (MTM).

I see RR as one of our best tests yet of the potential for a gathering of authors — in this case, writers selected by an agency and assisted in self-publishing — to aggregate their work into a de facto imprint of their own without ceding gravity to a publisher.

  • agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, Authors Launch, TOC Authors, Author (R)evolution Day, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, FutureBook, #fbook12, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Nigel Roby, The Bookseller, TheFutureBook, Digital CensusMTM opened the Roguery with two novels of Ro Cuzon in October, Under the Dixie Moon and Under the Carib Sun.
  • It followed after a hurricane delay with two novels of Michael Hogan in November, Sistine and Dog Hills.
  • And with author Edward Weinman’s Rogue debut coming in January, the Reader has taken December as a chance to feature all three plus future-Rogue Don Rearden in a $1 four-story anthology, great for gifts or for reading, oneself, when being with the family starts to make you feel a little ho-ho-homicidal: Dreaming of a Noir Christmas.

It’s a way to get new work to fans of the existing Rogue Reader authors, Cuzon and Hogan, and to introduce the voices of the coming Rogues, Weinman and Rearden.

Roasting on an open Kindle Fire near you.

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More Books: Reading on the Ether

As each week, the books you see here have been referenced recently in Writing on the Ether, Ether for Authors, or in tweets.

I’m bringing them together in one spot each week, to help you recall and locate them, not as an endorsement. And, needless to say, we lead our list weekly with our Writing on the Ether Sponsors, in gratitude for their support.


Writing on the Ether Sponsors:


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Last Gas: Gatsby for Everybody

Funny thing is, The Great Gatsby already belongs to every Australian, in the sense that Australians have the right to read and copy it free without anybody’s permission. In the US, it belongs to the CBS Corporation, and if you want to read it on Kindle, it’ll cost you $7.80.

agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, Authors Launch, TOC Authors, Author (R)evolution Day, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, FutureBook, #fbook12, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Nigel Roby, The Bookseller, TheFutureBook, Digital Census

Eric Hellman

In his post at “Go to Hellman,” Heisenberg’s Uncertain Copyright, Eric Hellman examines the peculiar relation of place to copyright.

If you copy Gatsby in Australia, no problem, it’s cool, because Gatsby has entered the public domain. There’s an excellent version available from Project Gutenberg Australia. If you do it in the US without permission from the CBS, it constitutes copyright infringement and is punishable with jail time and statutory damages up to $150,000 per incidence of infringement. So it really matters where the copying occurs.

agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, Authors Launch, TOC Authors, Author (R)evolution Day, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, FutureBook, #fbook12, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Nigel Roby, The Bookseller, TheFutureBook, Digital CensusAnd he starts asking questions:

Suppose you have a book sitting on a computer in Australia. The computer breaks the book into thousands of UDP packets and sends them into the Internet…Now suppose the packets are reassembled on my hard drive in New Jersey. A copy of “The Great Gatsby” has materialized. Has a copyright been infringed? If I was in Australia and the source of the packets was in the US, would the answer be different?

agent, author, books, digital, ebooks, Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, publisher, publishing, Writing on the Ether, Tools of Change, O'Reilly Media, author platform, blog, blogging, journalism, Authors Launch, TOC Authors, Author (R)evolution Day, Publishing Perspectives, Ether for Authors, Ed Nawotka, FutureBook, #fbook12, Philip Jones, Sam Missingham, Nigel Roby, The Bookseller, TheFutureBook, Digital CensusCalling these issues of cross-border copyright in our digital age “quantum copyright” matters, Hellman speculates:

Maybe it doesn’t even matter where the copying occurs. Maybe it depends on who’s in control of the copying. In the age of quantum copyright, action at a distance is not at all a problem.

After getting through eight scenarios, six of which “have uncertainty as to the fact f infringement,” Hellman gets right to his point and out the door fast:

This whole situation with territorial copyright variation is ludicrous and prehistoric and we really should be spending our time and money curing malaria instead.

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Main image / iStockphoto: LdF


Posted in Writing on the Ether.

Porter Anderson / @Porter_Anderson

View posts by Porter Anderson / @Porter_Anderson

Porter Anderson (@Porter_Anderson) is a journalist and consultant in publishing. He's The Bookseller's (London) Associate Editor in charge of The FutureBook. He's a featured writer with Thought Catalog (New York), which carries his reports, commentary, and frequent Music for Writers interviews with composers and musicians. And he's a regular contributor of "Provocations in Publishing" with Writer Unboxed. Through his consultancy, Porter Anderson Media, Porter covers, programs, and speaks at publishing conferences and other events in Europe and the US, and works with various players in publishing, such as Library Journal's SELF-e, Frankfurt Book Fair's Business Club, and authors. You can follow his editorial output at Porter Anderson Media, and via this RSS link.

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The path to traditional publishing today may be non-traditional.Timely Articles and Books — Fiction NotesNew data on publishing authors proves we need more, wider surveys. | New Writers Resources | Scoop.itGrigoryRyzhakovMary DeEditor Recent comment authors

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Joanna Penn

Porter – I think the lines are blurring between the supposed “2 camps” as well re self-pub and trad-pub. Look at authors like CJ Lyons, Chuck Wendig, Scott Sigler, James Scott Bell who successfully do both – self pub and trad pub – plus bigger names like Jackie Collins who has a self-pub book now – and other big name authors who will do the same. I think the “two camps” think is becoming less important (but then you know I’m a glass half full girl! Like Sam!)

Porter Anderson

@google-04ada1e3afce619df1f4847d369cc8d3:disqus Hey, Joanna, Thanks for the good input! Agree completely that you “hybrids” are turning up more and more, and with greater and greater success, which is super. And no intent to be half-empty here, either, lol. But I do think that such issues as the discrepancy between what Sam and Nigel and Peter’s Census shows us in terms of self-publishing folks wanting a contract in order to get what the traditionally publishing folks say they’re NOT getting from their publishers is a very valuable insight. And I’m not sure we’d have seen that if we didn’t have that separation,… Read more »

Victoria Noe

I, too, like the distinction in the survey. What it points out to me is that both self-published and traditionally published authors are operating with a somewhat romantic view of the other’s reality. This is especially true of self-published authors looking at traditionally published, because traditional publishers are pretty quiet about what they offer and to whom. On a somewhat related note, I also think it’s odd to ask an author if they want a traditional deal for the “prestige” of a Big 4/5/6 name on the spine of their book. I don’t believe most readers give a damn who… Read more »

Porter Anderson

@twitter-240542789:disqus That’s very well said, Viki. I think you’re exactly right — it’s a kind of romanticized idea of each other’s status that self-publishing and traditionally publishing authors have right now. I also agree that the traditional side is much, much quieter — and this is largely, of course, because their contracts, which frequently include gag clauses controlling what they can say and can’t about their arrangements. And you’re not alone in suggesting that a hybrid category would be a good idea (perhaps, even as you say, self-to-trad or trad-to-self in a very extensive, complex survey scenario). At this point,… Read more »

Victoria Noe

I’ve been thinking about that hybrid thing and about writers I’ve talked to and read about who fit the definition… As a purely unscientific observation, it seems that the overwhelming majority of hybrids are traditionally published authors who are now self-publishing. BUT (and it’s a big but) they are doing so because the rights for their backlist have reverted to them. They are now free to publish their out-of-print titles. Most seem to be doing ebook only. Those authors are not in the same league as those who defensively self-publish. But (there’s that word again) they are willing to take… Read more »

Bob Mayer
Bob Mayer

Glad I’m not the only one who found Mike Shatzkin’s comment about Hugh Howey’s deal a bit convoluted. Mike seems to be twisting himself into a pretzel insisting that every author MUST have print distribution. Print is great, especially for authors who get a push from publishers, but my experience is that midlist authors get their books tossed out there along with all the rest and if some sell, great, but otherwise, as Seinfeld says, whatever. And I think the trade-off in royalties for someone who has success indie publishing to give up eBooks rights to a trad publisher is… Read more »

Porter Anderson

@google-09a2be7b6f84fae4eec329151af4fc09:disqus Hey, Bob, thanks for the input here. Yeah, you definitely want the Survival Manual in print .. no batteries needed when the Mayans arrive. 🙂 I do hear what you’re saying about the frequent assertion of the importance of print, but I’m not so sure it’s wrong, either. For my own part, I’m completely digital and am at a point now at which I’ll actually pass up something if it’s not available in a e-version of some kind. But you and I and many of our publishing colleagues are ahead of the curve, and it’s still true that print… Read more »

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Anne Hill

Thanks for linking to my TOC article, Porter. I plan on expanding my comments about author platforms in future pieces. I’m particularly interested in the tension between platform and community building models, and would like to dig deeper (sorry) into collaborative examples that help bridge that gap.

On the subject of data gathering, I’d be most interested in the differences between fiction and non-fiction authors. Perhaps if Bowker takes up your challenge we’ll see even more granular, and useful, information to help us filter out the anecdata (favorite new word) and view actual trends.

Victoria Noe

Oh, yes, Anne – the differences between nonfiction and fiction writers. That would be incredibly useful.

Porter Anderson

@twitter-240542789:disqus
Totally agree with you and Anne on this, Viki, just dropped a note to Anne.

Our wish list for Bowker, then, includes requests for breakouts of data on:

Self-publishing viewpoints

Traditionally publishing viewpoints

Hybrid authors

Fiction authors

Nonfiction authors

I feel like Gallup in the Early Days. 🙂

-p.

Porter Anderson

@twitter-19042214:disqus You’ve actually caught me in one of my most disingenuous moments here, Anne — I love “anecdata,” myself. It was coined by Brett Sandusky two DBW’s ago, just for those who think in publishing time, and it’s been popping up in our community ever since. I find it so useful because as soon as you say it, people understand you mean that kind of “here’s my experience” moment that is normally foisted off on everyone as “proof” of something, as genuine data might be. As for the disingenuous thing, I can’t stand such terms as “author-prenurial” and ” co-opetition,”… Read more »

Malena Lott

Porter, I enjoyed the “grass is greener” data. I do like to see the data separated at this point, but a third component would need to be included – ones who do both. I know some authors who use a pen name and self-publish and actually do better than the other name they use with trad pubbed books. For me, the distribution factor is the most important thing with going trad, however, many new authors may assume if you’re distributed to B&N for example that you would be in EVERY store, when in reality, you are only with the ones… Read more »

Porter Anderson

@facebook-1441642069:disqus Hey, Malena, Thanks so much for taking the time to read the Ether, ride the donkey, and drop a note, so kind of you! I think you’re in good company on the idea of the hybrid author (publishing both ways) as an important component in good survey work. The B&N situation sounds fairly maddening, really, especially with your own nearby store not getting the book. (I assume you tried getting to the local management and having them ask for it from the mothership?) And yeah, consignment, to me, sounds so close to the old system of returns — if… Read more »

Teresa Robeson

Ahhh, reading this was like partaking of smart-juice-spiked eggnog! Loved how you infused the holidays into the post (“…worth a trip to Bethlehem on a donkey in itself”…heh heh). 😉 But speaking of Christmas, can you please send me a parcel (gaggle? herd?) of elves to do my writing for me so that I can have time to read the Ether and all the other posts here that I’ve not gotten around to yet? I seriously don’t know how other writers manage to find the time to write, keep up with the industry, *and* have a life at the same… Read more »

Porter Anderson

@skepticgal:disqus Let me know when you find that super agent under the tree, Teresa, I’m coming right over, lol. Thanks for your comments (and for appreciating my preacher’s-son jokes, they’re unstoppable for us PKs this time of year, I’m afraid). The time constraints are just horrible, really, and of course it’s a delusion that they get better for traditionally published people. The agents, themselves, in fact, are running day and night, trying to keep up. Part of the problem of our Wonderful Modern Media is that they (“media” is still a plural word) come with responsibility — we suddenly have… Read more »

Teresa Robeson

You, getting dumber? I will never, ever believe that. You know, Porter, you’d make a great general; you really know how to “rally the troops.” I feel slightly better. 🙂 Thank you for the pep talk, and have a wonderful Christmas season!

p.s. re RescueTime: if that works on family – e.g. turn off the kids’ access to me for X amount of time a day – I will pay for a lifetime membership. 😉 (Just kidding, kids…sort of…)

Mary DeEditor
Mary DeEditor

Who the f*** is Ginger Clark? WHY do you have these moronic tweets, blog after blog, week after week? This is detrimental to your own fine work, Mr. Anderson. Could you please dump these idiots? Pleeese?

GrigoryRyzhakov
GrigoryRyzhakov

There is a such thing as sense of humor. Some people have it. G. Clark is a literary agent at Curtis Brown

Porter Anderson

@GrigoryRyzhakov:disqus

Well said, Grisha — I may need you to handle some more comments at the Ether for me. 🙂 Thanks!

GrigoryRyzhakov
GrigoryRyzhakov

Do Feedbooks know about The Great Gatsby copyright issue? I can still download it for free in the UK http://www.feedbooks.com/book/5543/the-great-gatsby

Porter Anderson

@GrigoryRyzhakov:disqus Hey again, Grisha. Yes, in the UK, if you’re able to access Gatsby free, then it has moved into public domain, as it has done in Australia. The copyright duration here in the USA was substantially lengthened by a special bit of legislation — the Copyright Term Extension Act, which many believe was badly misguided. The Extension Act added 20 years to the protected period, making it the life of the author plus 70 years. Here is the Wikipedia writeup on it. -http://ow.ly/g92LO You’ll see, in fact, that the US effort was meant to follow the European laws, but… Read more »

GrigoryRyzhakov
GrigoryRyzhakov

It’s good to know these copyright nuances, saves you from trouble 🙂
I read Gatsby in Russian as a teenager, wanted to remind myself in English before the film comes out next summer (im so furious they postponed its release)

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[…] Writing on the Ether: Happy Holidata! Guest post by Porter Anderson on JaneFriedman.com blog. Jane has her pulse, as always, on the future of publishing and Anderson’s post is about a survey of the digital landscape: […]

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