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Posts Tagged ‘Cory Doctorow’

Cory Doctorow: ‘It Is Impossible to Monetize Obscurity’

In this encore edition of the Morning Media Menu, we spoke with novelist and blogger Cory Doctorow, author of the 2010 book, For the Win. He spoke about online currency, book promotion and the feasibility of unions in digital culture.

Doctorow discussed his strategy of releasing a free eBook edition of his book alongside the print book. Press play below to listen on SoundCloud. Here’s an excerpt:

I make the books available as free downloads under a Creative Commons license that encourages my readers to share them and remix them, provided they are doing so non-commercially. That means one reader who loves the book who knows another reader who would love the book can put the book in that reader’s hands … Tim O’Reilly says: ‘The problem with writers isn’t piracy, it’s obscurity.’ It may be hard to monetize fame, but it is impossible to monetize obscurity.

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iPad Reviews: Critical Cheat Sheet

ipad23.jpgApple only let a small, influential crew of tech writers actually review the iPad before the April 3rd launch day. GalleyCat Reviews has collected a few early reviews of the iPad reading experience. You can use this critical cheat sheet when some literary person in your life asks, “will the iPad save publishing?”

Here’s NY Times journalist David Pogue on the iPad bookstore: “The new iBooks e-reader app is filled with endearing grace notes. For example, when you turn a page, the animated page edge actually follows your finger’s position and speed as it curls, just like a paper page. Font, size and brightness controls appear when you tap. Tap a word to get a dictionary definition, bookmark your spot or look it up on Google or Wikipedia.”

Author Cory Doctorow bashed an iPad comic book application: “I can’t even count how many times I’ve gone spelunking in the used comic-bins at a great and musty store to find back issues that I’d missed, or sample new titles on the cheap … So what does Marvel do to ‘enhance’ its comics? They take away the right to give, sell or loan your comics. What an improvement. Way to take the joyous, marvellous sharing and bonding experience of comic reading and turn it into a passive, lonely undertaking that isolates, rather than unites.”

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Jon Stewart to Introduce Condoleezza Rice at BookExpo America

9780446691864_154X233.jpgBookExpo America (BEA) has today announced that Jon Stewart will make an encore BookExpo America performance–serving as master of ceremonies at the Author Breakfast on Thursday, May 27. In a crazy political pairing, the host of The Daily Show will introduce memoirist and politician Condoleezza Rice.

According to the Grand Central webpage, the host’s book The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents Earth (The Book) will be published in September. Stewart first hosted the BEA breakfast in 2004. Among other big guests at the two-day fair are: Cory Doctorow, William Gibson, John Grisham, Sara Gruen, Christopher Hitchens, Patton Oswalt, and Mary Roach.

Event Director Steven Rosato had this statement: “We are incredibly fortunate to have these authors assembled at our show and I know that will be a great draw for BEA and will ensure that these events will sell out. Above all, I am thankful to the publishers who support us, and who bring their authors to BEA so that we might all enjoy meeting them, and hearing what they have to say. It’s a very unique and special opportunity for anyone who is part of the book industry and who attends BEA.”

The complete release is embedded below.

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The Top Audiobooks Stories of 2009

Susan23.jpg.jpgTo find out more about the year’s biggest audiobook stories, GalleyCat caught up with self-identified audiobook fanatic Susan Dunman (pictured)–host of the website Audiobook DJ. She assembled an excellent list of the top audiobook stories of 2009, complete with commentary–reflecting on a year of digital innovations and controversies.

Audiobook question of the year:
“What exactly is an audiobook? Controversy erupted over the text-to-speech function of the Kindle 2 when the Authors Guild claimed it was a violation of copyright for the device to read e-text aloud. As a compromise, Amazon said it would allow authors and publishers to decide whether to enable the function on a per-title basis.”

Digital downloads-only debate:
“More publishers are offering titles only as digital downloads– there are no equivalent physical CDs to purchase. While this may help publishers defray costs and publish more titles in audio, it has serious ramifications for brick-and-mortar bookstores and libraries. Some publishers do make CDs available to libraries for titles that are offered as ‘download only’ in the retail market, but in many cases, if a physical copy of an audiobook is not available, then it does not ‘exist’ for customers/patrons without computers or broadband access.

Tweeting an audiobook:
BBC Audiobooks America embarked on an experiment using Twitter to create an audiobook. Written entirely from a compilation of individual, 140 character tweets, ‘Hearts, Keys, and Puppetry’ was crafted with 875 tweets from 124 contributors in 6 countries writing 14,385 words. Read by award-winning narrator Katherine Kellgren, the project brought audiobooks to the attention of a broad audience in a unique and imaginative way. The audiobook can be downloaded for free at this link.

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The Future of Free Books

speaker_susandanziger_100x100.jpgIn the an afternoon session at mediabistro.com’s eBook Summit yesterday, three new media literary pioneers debated the recent trend of offering free content online.

Electric Lit founders Scott Lindenbaum and Andy Hunter spoke about eBook lessons. Earlier this year, they gained 10,000 followers and grew traffic by 300 percent while serializing a Rick Moody story on Twitter–they now have more than 60,700 followers. Using a print-on-demand print schedule, they can pay authors $1,000 for a story. Nevertheless, they noted that they have only raised enough money (so far) to publish for a year.

Susan Danziger (pictured), founder and CEO of the newly free DailyLit, a company that serializes books and stories in daily newsletters. “We had a number of pay titles that didn’t have a lot of traction,” she said, explaining why they switched to a new free model. However, with the site’s new free model, they will experiment with “pay what you want” model and a donation model patterned after Kickstarter. “Our subscribers are amazingly affluent,” she said, “but they like free content.” She also announced that popular novelist and blogger Cory Doctorow will launch a science fiction channel for the site.

Follow all the summit action on Twitter: @galleycat and @eBookNewser and @RonHogan; also, check the hashtag #ebooksummit for even more 140-character wisdom.

Indie Bookstore eBook Dilemma

changinghandslogo.jpgAs the publishing world debated delays in eBooks this week, another, no less important conversation sprang up on Twitter about the difficulty of bundling digital and print content for indie publishers.

To find out more, GalleyCat caught up with Brandon Stout (the “book-besotted PR and design guy” from Changing Hands Bookstore). His commentary was honest and compelling, and we’ve included most of his email interview here: “Our marketing department met one afternoon with the idea that we’d ‘figure out’ eBooks once and for all, including how to bundle them with hardcover purchases–even if it meant giving them away at cost,” explained Stout.

“The more we looked, the more we found that eBook pricing wasn’t just bloated, it was erratic. No clear patterns emerged. Worse still, from publisher to publisher and from book to book we had no reliable way of determining our cost, which of course makes selling eBooks at cost problematic. Very quickly the fantasy that eBooks would be the great equalizer, that they would allow us to compete with Amazon and B&N, vanished.”

He continued: “To make bundling viable at Changing Hands–to make e-books viable for indies at all, really–it’s not enough to sell them at cost. We’d have to sell at a significant loss. Jeff Bezos, as you know, is working to recalibrate public expectation to $9.99 for e-books, and Cory Doctorow and Chris Anderson are working to recalibrate that recalibration to free. Meanwhile, as independent booksellers wait for pricing to come down and DRM issues to shake out, Amazon tightens its grip on early tech adopters — readers who will be far less likely to abandon their Kindles when indies finally limp into the game.”

After jump, Stout offers some suggestions for the future.

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Author and Poet Phyllis Gotlieb Has Died

phyllisgotlieb.jpgPhyllis Gotlieb, an author dubbed the “mother of Canadian Science Fiction,” has died.

Among other works, Gotlieb was the author of the novels “O Master Caliban!” and “Emperor, Sword, Pentacles,” as well as the poetry collection “Within the Zodiac.” In addition, the annual Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic was named after her first science fiction novel.

Here’s a tribute from novelist Cory Doctorow: “I first met Phyllis at Ad Astra, the Toronto area science fiction convention. She and I were co-panelists on the very first panel I ever sat on. I was 17 and I’d just sold my first story. Phyllis was well into her senior years. She was delightful. I don’t remember what the subject of the panel was, but I remember the warmth and wit with which Phyllis engaged with little pipsqueak me, the welcome she made me feel as a freshman writer.” (Image via)

Cory Doctorow Novel Serialized

doctorow.jpgToday Tor Books launched an 81-part, illustrated digital version of of Cory Doctorow‘s upcoming novel, “Makers.”

The hardcover comes out in November from Tor.com, but the serial edition gives readers a chance to read a new excerpt every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The digital serial features original artwork created by the Idiots’ Books team (the first image is pictured here).

The 81 pieces of artwork can be re in an endless series of combination, as explained in the release: “[E]ach one a kind of tile will interconnect with the other illustrations in the series, offering limitless possibilities for mixing and matching. In a week or so, after we’ve posted a number of tiles, we’ll release a Flash game in which you will be able to re-arrange the illustration tiles on a grid and create your own combination of layouts and designs.”

O’Reilly Media Heads to Frankfurt Book Fair

tocconf.jpgOn Tuesday, October 13, 2009, O’Reilly Media will host a one-day Tools of Change conference near the Frankfurt Book Fair–hoping to lure some old-school publishers with some new technological tricks.

According to Bookseller, the line-up of guests includes author and blogger Cory Doctorow; Shortcovers’ VP of Content, Sales, and Merchandising Michael Tamblyn, Internet Archive director Peter Brantley, and Pan Macmillan UK digital director Sara Lloyd. The New York City version of the conference has sold out for the last two years, and GalleyCat has reported on the publishing event for years.

Here’s more from O’Reilly’s VP of digital initiatives, Andrew Savikas, from the article: “Tools of Change for Publishing is helping shape the future of the publishing and media landscape, and bringing that message of change to the international audience attending Frankfurt is recognition that many of the opportunities for publishers are now truly global ones.”

Are You Pure Enough to Write YA?

A few weeks back, Guardian blogger Sian Pettenden called attention to a morality clause in Random House‘s contracts for children’s book authors: According to an alert distributed by a UK-based support group for writers and illustrators of literature for young people, the publishing conglomerate is now attempting to tell authors

“If you act or behave in a way which damages your reputation as a person suitable to work with or be associated with children, and consequently the market for or value of the work is seriously diminished, and [sic] we may (at our option) take any of the following actions: Delay publication / Renegotiate advance / Terminate the agreement.”

It is unclear based on Pettenden’s reporting, however, whether this clause is appearing in contracts offered by the American division of Random House as well. Picking up the story for BoingBoing, Cory Doctorow notes that “Random House Audio published my young adult novel Little Brother and did not request this clause.” An agent at a New York-based literary agency that specializes in representing authors of young people’s literature said that, although it had been a while, the most recent contracts he’d seen from Random House hadn’t included any such clause, either. But, he observed in passing, “there’s a lot of strange language that goes into UK contracts that has little bearing on the American market.”

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