Some hope for readers and publishers alike.

June 21st, 2012  |  Published in commentary

If you spend enough time paying attention to the evolution of e-books, a curious trend emerges. It seems that readers and publishers are at odds. Readers say that they want to be able to read books on whatever device they want once they buy it, publishers say that they will lose their hats if their books aren’t locked down with DRM or if they were willing to sell to libraries. All of this seems to ignore the whole part about readers wanting to read books and publishers wanting to give them books to read. Of course there are exceptions to this, but they are just that, exceptions.

Yesterday, however, I ran across something that gives me some hope, a site called unglue.it. The idea behind unglue.it is that people want to read books and are willing to pay for them and that rights holders (publishers, authors, and estates, mostly) want to receive money for their books. How it works is that it negotiates with the rights holders for a particular work to determine a fair price, then raises that money through crowdfunding (similar to kickstarter) and pais the rights holder. In return, a Creative Commons licensed ebook edition is released, available for free, to everyone on every device with no DRM.

Of course, this won’t be a panacea for the dysfunctional ebook landscape, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.

 

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Faith In Publishing

January 9th, 2009  |  Published in Uncategorized

I probably don’t need to tell you about the dismal state of publishing these days, so I won’t.  What I do want to tell you about is where I see hope.  Mainly that is the in electronic publishing.  First, let me tell you about what brings this up.

I recently submitted a couple of pieces of flash fiction to a new publication called Flash Scribe.  Although they do not offer vast sums of money as I would prefer, I really like flash (my favorite piece that I have written is Bob: Employee of the Future) as a format and figured, ‘what the heck?’  So a couple of days go by.  Then I get an e-mail saying that they couldn’t open one of the files that I sent them.  Two things.  One is that it only took them two days to reply.  I realize that flash is, by definition, very short, but they still have to be on the ball to have that sort of response time.  The second is that they did not automatically reject it, which would have most certainly been much easier.

This is the sort of behavior that I simply would not expect from traditional media.  Why?  Because they are traditional, and therefore, by definition, established.  To them, innovation is not an opportunity, but a threat.  It is innovation that will save the industry, but for innovation to occur, people must take risks (especially on unknown writers like myself :).  In short, I want to say that innovation is a necessary condition for hope, as it is rarely the past that saves the present from the future (quite the opposite, but that is a different debate).  In addition, I want to wish the best of luck to the various people and groups that are making a go of doing things differently.

Disclaimer – I have yet to get word on my submissions, and I am not writing this as an attempt to flatter my way into anyone’s good graces, I just thought it needed to be said.

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Cognitive Enhancement

May 4th, 2008  |  Published in commentary

Yesterday, I wrote a brief post about an exercise that might increase certain types of intelligence.  When I looked at the related links that WordPress generated, I found a post from last year about the effect of exercise on the brain.  To sum it up, it helps.  This makes perfect sense, as human beings are essentially just very complex systems, and so anything that affects one part will inevitably affect the system as a whole.  As our bodies evolved to suit a lifestyle vastly different from ours, it is no surprise that we need to take extra steps to ensure that they function properly.  If we have any hope of ever becoming posthuman, we must first realize the full potential of being “merely” human.

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