Cory Doctorow at #ARDay #TOCcon

A series of live dispatches by if:book’s own Meg Vann from the O’Reilly Tools of Change Publishing Conference in New York City.

Cory Doctorow has three laws.

1. “If someone puts a lock on something that belongs to you and doesn’t give you the key, then they are not looking out for your interests.”

DRM basically puts bookcase sellers in charge of the market for our art. Once intermediaries take the whip hand, all of their offers converge on a basic set of terms which are not favourable to the artist.

There aren’t enough lawyer hours between now and the heat death of the universe to eliminate copyright infringements on YouTube. Converting fame into money is hard alchemy, and most people who do it, fail. Those who success use 5 strategies: sell things, ask for donations, charge for tickets, sell ads, sell licence, or take commissions – but only happens if you can reach an audience – which takes an intermediaries channel.

2. “Fame can’t make you rich, but you won’t get rich without fame.”

The collateral damage from organising computer networks to make it illegal to know what our computers are doing, and making it easy to hide what people are doing, all for censorship and copyright – well, that’s bad sauce. Cory becomes emotional when discussing the work of Aaron Schwartz.

3. “The job of the artist is not to be responsible for censorship and surveillance – if that’s how you’re doing art, then you’re doing art wrong.”



Live notes from the (R)evolution

A series of live dispatches by if:book’s own Meg Vann from the O’Reilly Tools of Change Publishing Conference in New York City.

Cory Doctorow is about to kickoff the Author (R)evolution Day (#ARDay) at O’Reilly’s Tools Of Change for Publishing (TOC) conference. I am front and centre, and will live blog some notes throughout the day.

Yes, I’m pretty damn excited.

I am bunkered in midtown New York for the next three days of TOC. I have a cream cheese bagel, a really big, really bad cup of coffee, and a laptop. Let;s do this!

Contrary to Gil Scott Heron’s awesome song, the (R)evolution will, in fact, be televised – you can live stream the day.

So I won’t cover everything – I’ll just share a few useful links and interesting resources that I hear about, and if the coffee kicks in I may recover enough from jetlag to add some thoughts about how TOC from the perspective of Australian writers.

And we’re off!

Joe Wikert up first: he says the pendulum of power has shifted towards authors, and that publishers need to articulate what they can offer authors, especially if authors already have a strong platform.

Kristen McLean of Bookigee (who helped Kat Meyer program the ARDay) steps up to announce that hybrid authors now out-perform and out-earn their traditionally published and self-published peers. They are sophisticated, have a knowledge of publishing, are entrepreneurial, and keen to work with the new publishing ecology.

Cory has started! I’m going to tweet a photo – I’m on @meg_vann and the hashtags are #toccon and #ARDay

Paul Jennings jumps into ebooks

Of all Paul Jennings’ eighty books, which have earned him many awards, The Bird Said Nothing is the first to become available exclusively as an ebook.

Jennings decided to take the leap into the world of ebooks after conceding that there is a huge market for them. As he says in his blog,

I have said previously that I prefer traditional paper books, and this is still true. However I have to accept that many people enjoy eBooks.

He also explains the advantages over traditional publishing.

There are also benefits for the author as one can obtain instant exposure in overseas markets such as the United States and the UK. And of course, I am in total control of the text, design and the publishing date.

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Fanado: Artist, meet fan

Are you a fan wanting to connect with a celebrity? Or maybe you’re a celebrity (aspiring or otherwise) wanting to connect to and build up a fan base? Or maybe you’re both. Either way, Fanado might just be the answer to your prayers.

Does a cover die for every e-book born?

I love the look, feel and smell of a book. This physicality, however, is still not entirely transferable in today’s digital offerings. Author and cover designer Chip Kidd said it best in his most recent TED talk:

Much is to be gained by eBooks: ease, convenience, portability. But something is definitely lost: tradition, a sensual experience, the comfort of thingy-ness — a little bit of humanity… I am all for the iPad but trust me, smelling it will get you nowhere.

Making your e-book reader have that nostalgic smell is now possible with this – as long as you’re not bothered by the possible side-affects of dizziness, hallucinations, or an itching and runny nose.

Maybe scent hasn’t been successfully integrated into e-books yet, but the look truly has and is going beyond what a traditional book can offer. Continue reading

What he said

Links, articles, and webbish ephemera that have passed muster with if:book over the past week or so.

Though his argument buys somewhat into the notion that ‘only one shall survive’, Tim Parks at the New York Review of Books mounts a splendid case in favour of ebooks over print. This article  has been passed around quite a bit in the last week and for good reason. Really, the only significant thing we can add to this is: ‘what he said…’

E-Books Can’t Burn

Only the sequence of the words must remain inviolate. We can change everything about a text but the words themselves and the order they appear in. The literary experience does not lie in any one moment of perception, or any physical contact with a material object (even less in the “possession” of handsome masterpieces lined up on our bookshelves), but in the movement of the mind through a sequence of words from beginning to end.

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Digital Rights and Publishing Agreements

Something unrelated to technology and publishing if:book is discovering during TOC 2012: engaging with exciting developments in reading, writing, and technology via webcast at three in the morning is much more difficult than we anticipated.

The irony that we would discover that while working on a project called The 24-Hour Book is not lost on us. But that will be totally different, right?

Just as well we have Meg Vann in the correct timezone who can send us almost live notes from events in New York.

From O’Reilly:

The Changing World of Digital Rights & Publishing Agreements

Dana Newman (Dana Newman)

Join Dana Newman as she discusses the changing world of digital rights and publishing agreements. Authors, agents, and publishers alike will appreciate this workshops which promises to offer a clearer understanding of the issues, with a variety of topics to be addressed. Read more.

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Magic Eight Ball

Our proxy in New York City, Meg Vann, has delivered notes from a presentation by Kristen McLean at the BOOK2CAMP (Book Squared) Unconference. There are a few choice quotes within, but I particularly like the sentiment behind the last line. In a rapidly changing environment, we’re all learning.

Magic Eight Ball: Questions about readers/audience/market that we don’t yet have the tools to discover

This discussion was led by Kristen McLean, a book futurist who focuses on disruptive services and products to flatten the publishing market.

‘Discovery’ usually helps consumers find our book, but what if we apply the term more broadly ‑ to authors and publishers? We could use powerful data tools for insights into our audience, and understand the risk factors better by building a tool to measure it.

The publishing chain usually starts with the author at the top – but it’s possible now to test the market and edit the book in response, to know your audience before writing the book, using ‘forward data’ instead of ‘following data’.

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Accidents of digitisation

A semi-regular reference to the articles and webby things that have piqued the interest of if:book in the past week or so.

The digitisation of books is not the product of robots. Well, not entirely as The Art of Google Books shows us. Accidents of digitsation are surprising beautiful and compelling. No really.

The aim of this project is twofold; to recognize book digitization as rephotography, and to value the signs of use that accompany these texts as worthy of documentation and study. Ultimately, the startling and diverse adversaria of Google Books merits examination and exhibition.

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Linkage round up

Articles, posts, and ephemera around the web that have caught if:book’s eye in the last week or so.

Digital Textbooks Go Straight From Scientists to Students by Dave Mosher

FLOW isn’t the first or most feature-rich publication tool, nor is Cachalot the slickest interactive textbook on the market (a market in which Apple just announced its interest). But Johnston’s title is an easy-to-update, “good-enough” product that didn’t require millions of dollars and years of effort to create and manage. A cadre of Duke computer science graduates, in fact, built the platform in one semester on a $5,000 budget.

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