Author Cory Doctorow has good reason to be wary of digital rights management. After switching from Mac to a Linux OS, he tells of the months-long task of laboriously converting his extensive DRM-controlled audiobook collection to the universal MP3 format. Ouch.
Digital rights management has long had its critics, who argue that piracy prevention efforts are more of a burden on honest consumers than on illegal sharers, who will find a way to "crack" the content—DRM or no DRM.
Random House has joined the many music labels who have decided to abandon what some characterize as draconian protection measures on content sold online in favor of—they hope—more sales. The publisher announced last week that it will now sell audiobooks on eMusic.com in MP3 format, which has no restrictions on where it is played. That means customers will be able to buy the product and listen to it however they like, whether that be on an iPod, Zune, burned CD, etc.
Compare that to Audible.com and iTunes, who refuse to sell non-DRM audiobooks, even if the author doesn't want such protection. (Random House will still use rights management for those publishers who feel it will prevent illegal distribution.) Amazon.com, new owner of Audible, has said it will stop encoding audiobooks if the public complains. So if you're for universal file formats, barrage them with annoying emails and phone calls!
In its refreshingly down-to-earth announcement (PDF link), Random House acknowledges piracy as a "fact of life," and shares the results of an experiment it conducted with eMusic that bolstered their decision to discontinue mandatory DRM. They watermarked MP3 versions of a variety of titles, sold them through eMusic, and hired a company to watch for them to show up on filesharing networks. Not one has yet appeared, according to Random House.
A big step has been taken by a publishing giant, opening the door for further changes in audiobook distribution—and many thinkers in the book industry are hoping this development will soon extend to e-books.
Trackback URL for this post:http://www.greenleafbookgroup.com/trackback/2042
When I first found out that I was expected to write a piece for the Big Bad Book Blog, I was stumped. As I sat staring at the blinking cursor on my computer screen I realized I could use this to my advantage. I decided to write about writer's block. We’ve all had it dozens of times: the feeling of blank impossibility in the face of a writing project.
Writer’s block is generally defined as a temporary condition that prevents a writer from finishing–or beginning–a piece of work. It’s a phenomenon that almost every writer (of any genre) has experienced, and when it hits, it often seems insurmountable, as if the writer will never again be able to access his or her creativity and move the work where it needs to go. Luckily, there are some things you can do to overcome it.
1) Free Write
One of the best ways to get your creative juices moving again is to write–about anything. It doesn’t even have to be good. Just sit down, pen in hand, and let the ideas flow. A great way to do this is by using “free association.” Psychologists sometimes use this exercise with their patients to determine the subconscious cause of a problem. It can be similarly used by writers to understand the basis of their writer’s block or just to generate ideas.
2) Writer’s Exercises
We all know how important it is for athletes to warm up before a competition. Writers need to do the same, especially when the right words just aren’t coming. There are many sources for writer’s exercises; you can buy a book or “toolkit” meant to help writers overcome writer’s block in creative and fun ways. Some of these include:
• The Writer’s Toolbox: Creative Games and Exercises for Inspiring the “Write” Side of Your Brain by Jamie Cat Callan
• The Write Brain Workbook: 366 Ways to Liberate Your Writing by Bonnie Neubauer
• Creative Block: Over 500 Ideas to Ignite Your Imagination by Lou Harry
Or, you can browse websites offering exercises and advice. Some great sites are:
• Writing Resource Directory – offers links to writing exercises, writing forums, and samples of flash fiction, a format well-suited to jump-starting creativity
• Quotes for Writers – a huge compilation of quotes from literary heroes that will make you eager to put pen to paper (or, more likely, finger to keyboard). Sample: "Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else." –Gloria Steinem
• Get Writing – This site from the BBC offers some great resources, among them writing minicourses and a word cut-up tool
3) Get Out and Do Something
The easiest thing to do when you’re out of ideas and frustrated is to step away from what you’re working on and do something else. You’ll be surprised what taking a walk or going to the park or local coffee shop will do for your writing. You might see an interaction between people in a crowded place that sparks an idea. Or you might, during a moment of quiet contemplation, think of just what’s missing in your writing. Whatever you choose to do, it’s important to distance yourself from your work if you’re having trouble moving it where you want it to go.
Don't forget that writer’s block is a temporary problem. It might go away after the first few exercises you try or before you round the block for the second time during a walk. Or it might stick around through hours of free association and dozens of visits to the coffee shop. But if you keep trying, you’re sure to have a breakthrough and get your writing back where it needs to be.
Trackback URL for this post:http://www.greenleafbookgroup.com/trackback/2040
It’s time again in the publishing industry to start preparing for industry trade shows. There are easy ways for authors to exhibit even if they don’t have the time or money to travel or invest in a full-fledged booth. Combined Book Exhibit can display your book for you at a number of regional shows and some of the industry’s largest shows, such BookExpo America (BEA), the American Library Association annual conference, and the Frankfurt International Book Fair. For a single fee, you can tap their expertise to show your title or titles for you; interested attendees will be given catalogs with all contact information should they be interested in the book, and you can buy full-page ads in the catalog if you choose. You’ll also be included in the CBE searchable online database for a year. Visit this page for details on registration.
Trackback URL for this post:http://www.greenleafbookgroup.com/trackback/2041
2007 was fun, wasn't it? Between Judith Regan, O.J. Simpson, Amazon's Kindle, the AMS bankruptcy, and James Frey vs. Oprah redux, there was plenty of shock, titillation, and Schadenfreude to go around. (We're pointedly excluding a certain boy wizard. Months later, we're still fatigued.) But bigger than any one of these stories was the industry's continued march into the brave new world of technology.
And yeah, yeah, years in review are so rampant come January, but 2007 wasn't just any year. It saw the digital world and the book world become slightly less uncomfortable bedfellows. Shelfari, LibraryThing, and GoodReads brought social networking to book lovers, e-books continued their long and arduous journey to popular consumption, and publishing in general proved itself more savvy online. That's not to say the more disturbing trends didn't continue---independent bookstores dropped like flies (although MySpace came to the rescue in a few instances) and the battle to keep book review sections in newspapers raged on as literary bloggers multiplied. Before moving into exciting, uncharted 2008 (ready for 979 ISBN prefixes?), the Big Bad Book Blog presents a brief overview of some of the more interesting developments of 2007.
- Wowio.com, an ad-supported site that offers free e-books, officially launches when it strikes a deal for one hundred of Oxford University Press's titles.
- The Last Messages, an epistolary novel for the 21st century, is published in Helsinki. It consists entirely of text messages.
- Amazon invests in Shelfari, giving the online bookshelf social site a huge boost.
- HarperCollins and Random House launch competing widgets, allowing readers to browse inside their titles from blogs and other sites. Random House now has over 600,000 widgets on 2,000 sites, according to Publishing Trends.
- Microsoft differentiates Live Book Search, its online book search program, from Google Book Search. What's the difference? We respect copyrights, Microsoft says.
- Random House starts a book club in the Second Life "metaverse."
- Mignon Fogarty, a.k.a. Grammar Girl, compiles an audiobook from her popular podcast, which she proceeds to sell on iTunes. She also appears on Oprah, so this must've been important.
- Macmillian sees huge viral marketing success for Quirkology. A video clip supporting the book reached 800,000 viewers, according to Publishing News.
- The Espresso Book Machine, which prints books on-demand in a matter of minutes, is unveiled and later installed in the New York Public Library.
- Roberto Bernocco releases Compagni di Viaggo, a 384-page novel the Italian author wrote on his cell phone.
- First annual O'Reilly Tools of Change conference is held in San Jose, California.
- Simon & Schuster launch bookvideos.tv, which features interviews of over 40 authors.
- Richard Charkin, head of Macmillan in the UK, steals laptops from Google’s BEA booth, saying he’s just playing the same “trick” on them they play on authors with copyrighted work.
- Microsoft adds copyrighted material to its Live Book Search; Google offers co-branded book search to member publishers of Google Book Search.
- Penguin joins the e4book initiative, announcing plans to ask all business partners transact business completely electronically in 2008.
- Pioneering a new university publishing model, Rice University releases Images of Memorable Cases, one of the first titles in its return to publishing after a ten-year hiatus. The book is formatted digitally by Connexions, and available in a hard copy from print-on-demand company QOOP.
- Amazon finally releases the much buzzed-about Kindle, hoping to jump start the e-book market. EV-DO capable and reportedly quite functional, the device sells out in a matter of hours, although it received mixed reviews from some sources---primarily for its hefty $399 price tag. Many find it "ugly."
- Conrad Black's myriad fans are delighted when he begins using the Margaret Atwood's LongPen, a device that allows him to sign books remotely by way of a touchpad connected to an "autopen" in the store. Black was unable to promote his Nixon biography as he was confined to his Chicago home before being sentenced to six and a half years in prison for fraud and obstruction of justice.
Trackback URL for this post:http://www.greenleafbookgroup.com/trackback/2039
Conservation is humanity caring for the future.
–Nancy Newhall, US photography critic
According to some estimates, 20 to 30 million trees are harvested each year for paper and paper products, and the US publishing industry is one of the biggest culprits. On average, only about 5% of the paper used by US book publishers comes from recycled paper or paper managed in an environmentally friendly way. What's wrong with this picture?
Fortunately, some publishers are trying to do better than the average.
For example, Simon & Schuster recently announced a new environmental initiative and paper policy with a 2012 goal of deriving 10% of the company's purchased paper from forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)–an international organization headquartered in Bonn, Germany that sets standards worldwide for responsible forest management. If paper is FSC certified, it came from forests that are managed in a socially and environmentally responsible way.
Random House set the bar even higher with its goal of raising the proportion of recycled paper it uses to 30% by 2010. It used 3% recycled paper in 2006. And according to paperrecycles.org, the US paper industry has set an industry goal of recovering 55% of all the paper consumed in the United States by 2012.
But it's not enough, especially when you compare those numbers to the new figures showing that the European Union (EU) paper recycling rate reached 63.4 percent in 2006 (according to statistics released by the European Recovered Paper Council, or ERCP).
There's much more that can be done in the United States. Don't believe those tired old arguments about higher costs and customer indifference. A 2005 survey conducted by Book Business magazine showed that "17% of publishers using at least 30% post-consumer recycled fiber were able to achieve cost parity." And a 2005 study co-sponsored by BookTech magazine, Co-Op America, and Green Press Initiative found that "80% of consumers who had purchased a book or magazine in the past six months would be willing to pay more for a book or magazine printed on recycled paper." More than 42% of respondents were also willing to pay an additional $1 to purchase a book printed on recycled paper. And what about the future costs of not doing much of anything?
And it's not just readers who are concerned about the environment---authors such as J.K. Rowling, Alice Walker, and Margaret Atwood are joining their voices in the call for conservation. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which boasted a record-breaking print run, was produced with great environmental care. Six new types of paper were developed specifically for the book, and Markets Initiative, a Canadian environmental group, presented the Order of the Forest award to Rowling for saving trees and encouraging other publishers to do the same.
This holiday season, why not give the gift of trees to your readers?