In honor of on-campus interviewing everywhere… an excerpt of The Promotion (on sale now at Amazon.com):
When Big Law Meets Big Trouble…
“Humor, depression, and hope all together in one short book… The Promotion was my first book by Jacke Wilson, and now I am wondering if I have been sleeping under a rock not to have noticed this amazing author…” – My Author Within
You need to understand this first: I have a weakness for people with passion. Continue reading →
Ugh, is there anything worse for today’s author than to think about someone reading their book on a smartphone? We like the image of a reader luxuriating with a stately hardcover, a sleek paperback, or—in a pinch—an e-reader. But a tiny-screen phone? Is no tradition sacred? Why not throw words out too, while we’re at it?
That small-page format was quite common back in the 18th century. It’s known as octavo with pages that are about 6 inches by 9 inches. The entire Conjectures is only about 8,000 words long, but it was common to print essays in this pretty little style, because it had great ergonomics: It made for easy one-handed reading and portability.
Thompson has much more on his blog, including a brief history of printmaking (explaining the size) and photos comparing it with today’s smartphone screens. He even offers this personal benefit of the format:
In fact, one of the oddly useful things about reading War and Peace on your phone is that the octavo-like format makes the epic enormity of the tome less intimidating: It’s just one little page after another, each one oddly inviting. I tend to blow up the font on my phone to quite large, so each page has only a few hundred words on it, precisely the way that [an 18th-century book] is laid out…
Fascinating. And of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that my books The Promotion and The Race are available in a variety of formats, and from a variety of booksellers. Happy reading!
Newspapers, magazines, television. How are these companies going to make money? What’s the future for them?
So this has been—the media industry is a microcosm of the changes that are happening, and it’s been fascinating to watch. People are always going to love music, movies, TV, and news—it’s evergreen; people are always going to get value out of media. So it’s not a question of whether people want media or not. And in fact, global consumption of media is rising very fast. It’s a huge growth market.
Agreed! So how’s it going to change?
The challenge I think is that in newspapers, magazines, and television, in particular, and books to a certain extent, you had businesses that looked like they were content businesses but were actually distribution businesses. They had controlled distribution rights on the newsstand, on your front porch, on the cable or broadcast dial.
Yesterday I wrote about the possibility of small presses playing a key role in the publishing process – not as a filter deciding which books get published in the first place, but in their ability to make already published books more widely available.
this small publishing house uses e-book and print-on-demand publishing to bring out-of-print books back into print. It was born of [their] realization that digital technology meant there’s no need for a book to stay out of print.
This small press handles digital conversion and e-book preparation. They also cover marketing. They give authors 50% (and higher) of the royalties and sign them to fixed-term contracts the authors can opt out of if things aren’t working well.
And they have no editorial staff.
Now presumably they can get by with no editors because the books have already been published. If they were looking at books that hadn’t been traditionally published, they’d likely require a layer of editing from the authors or build editing costs into the business model.
In any case this sounds like a great plan to me, in which authors and readers should both come out ahead, and IntoPrint gets paid for the value they’ve added rather than the gatekeeper function they’ve served. I expect to see hundreds and thousands of these little presses popping up, trying to find works that have been published (whether by a publishing house or an author) and could use some small press value-add to help the books reach a wider audience.
And in the meantime, might I suggest that the good people at IntoPrint take a look at the Great Brain Series by John D. Fitzgerald?
We need to embrace digital reading as its own medium, not just a book under glass. That means imagining a new language for reading as an experience, starting with a new word to use instead of book.
Their solution comes from “a crack team of novelists, journalists, and publishers conducting a gonzo experiment in the future of publishing”:
With some trepidation, we would like to nominate codex, a word with a rich history that most of us don’t know anything about. Codex, derived from the Latin caudex (meaning “trunk of a tree”) even happens to contain the English word code, which will be central to the future of reading in a variety of ways. The things we’ll be reading in the future will not only involve a lot of programming; they’ll also require readers to decode complex, multilayered experiences and encode their own ideas as contributions in a variety of creative ways. Since standard printed books are technically codices, we propose (with significantly more trepidation) to distinguish our variant with one of those annoying midword capitals: codeX, to remind us that these new things involve experience, experimentation, expostulation … you know, all those X things.
They go on to refer to X-Men and the X games and make other arguments.
I’m not sure I agree with all the reasoning here, and I’m not even sure you can improve on the word ebook, which to my ear conveys a notion of these things being booklike but slightly different, with the e as the subtly perfect stand-in for the difference. How many calls for renaming email have you heard lately?
That said, I do like the nod to the old texts that you get with codex. Now that I’ve gone through the process, I feel like there’s something very monklike in handcrafting your own book.
Ah well. I guess the fair way to consider this is that each new book only has to earn $25 to break even. Plus another dollar for its share of the website costs. So I need to earn $26 dollars. Exactly the same as where I was before!