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The moose likes Meaningless Drivel and the fly likes Friggin book piracy ! Book authors perspective welcome Big Moose Saloon
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Friggin book piracy ! Book authors perspective welcome

Lexington Smith
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Joined: Sep 29, 2012
Posts: 67
Any book that you need, is probably available for free online - on a file sharing website or as a torrent. What do you feel about this ? Does it affect you financially ?
How do you guys try to solve this problem ? By releasing soft cover, International or black and white editions ? By offering per only chapters that you need for sale/rent ?

Some authors are in well paying IT jobs. So they probably don't feel the effects of piracy. A $10-20,000 loss per year may not be a big thing for them .
But what about the authors who get a large part of their income from their books (IT/Non IT) ?

Piracy is wrong. But, if i was an author and I saw "financially challenged", but intelligent/hardworking kids pirating my books, I would do my best to overlook it. It would be nice if they could buy my books after getting that job at Google or MS
and then donating the books to someone or to a library. But, some folks don't even do that. Sad.

But, what I don't understand is why "financially sound" people pirate books, even the "cheap" $20-30 ones. Even those who go to college and don't really need scholarships do not pay for cheap books. Some of these folks spend $180 (yes, 180)
on head phones even when $80 headphones offer similar quality. But, they won't buy 3 cheap books for $90 !

In some cases, isn't the logic for buying genuine (used or new) simple ?
You spend about $30 * 6 = 180 for 6 used Java books (Core Java, Algorithms and DS, Design Patterns, Spring, Hibernate, SQL). Then, learn the stuff well (yourself and with help from Google). Get a $ 1000 per month internship.
You can easily recover this $200-300 with your internship money. If the internship went well, you get better job prospects and you can get more money.

Point - $ 300 investment can generate way more than 1000 dollars for you. So, why pirate these cheap books ?

Okay, now what about the books that cost $150+ ? In some cases (too many errors, poor style of writing etc) , these costs may be not justified. I guess that piracy is justifiable only in these cases.

Bert Bates
author
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8815
    
    5
Great line of questions!

Most of the computer book authors I've talked with agree that they end up spending 2 hours / page. So a 400 page book represents 800 hours of an author's time - almost half a work year!

One of the world-wide trends I see that scares the crap out of me is the idea that "content" should be free... really?

What I hope continues to be true is that quality content, vetted by reliable publishers, is a good investment for busy learners. I hope! So book piracy is, plain and simple just another form of theft. I feel the same way about music piracy. It takes musicians hundreds, if not thousands of hours of work to record quality music. Unless they offer it for free, why should pirating music be considered any different than any other form of theft?

Back to "free content". It's not easy to make quality "content" in any form I can think of. Tying this back to a different thread, Salman Khan has published roughly 1000 hours of training videos that he made himself. On the one hand, he is "gifted" in some ways. On the other hand, his stuff isn't very good, and it undermines the value of what truly skilled teachers provide. To me it's another form of society imagining it can get "something for nothing".

So, here's to the makers of quality "stuff" everywhere! Reward them appropriately!

(Now, get off my lawn! ;) )


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Ulf Dittmer
Marshal

Joined: Mar 22, 2005
Posts: 41863
    
  63
I think you and Bert both got it right - there's a substantial investment in a book by the author, and it needs to be rewarded. I'm not in the industry myself, so I can't speak to the variations of paper vs. electronic publishing, but my understanding is that so far, pure online/electronic publishing does not pay enough for an author to make a living (i.e, a profit) off a book.

As I see it, a 50$ investment in your career (by buying a book that helps you professionally) is negligible compared to the financial gains you make by mastering the technology explained in the book. The same goes for 500$ for 10 books.

As to your point about more expensive books, I don't agree that those make piracy acceptable. There aren't many books that are that expensive, and those that are are probably not designed for a mass audience - in other words, not everybody needs them. As an example, TAOCP -possibly the best known set of books in computer science history- goes for 190$ on Amazon. Is it worth it? Most people who buy it will probably never read it in full. But even getting 10 nuggets of wisdom out of it over 10 years may make it a worthwhile investment. But it's not like you can't get those nuggets elsewhere, so you may be just fine without the books.


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Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
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Joined: Jan 10, 2002
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  66

Few people who haven't written a book themselves would understand all the work that goes into one. Before embarking on my first I was warned, and I completely didn't understand what I was getting myself into.

It's also rewarding in other ways than monetarily, but that is not an excuse for someone to cheat and steal.


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Sabarish Venkat
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 18, 2012
Posts: 136

How online pdf books are avail for free download in torrents or some where else? Who will upload it with the same quality how it was written ?

Questions to answered , for sure a person related to publishers or related to author may steal and publish. otherwise how it will be avail in online without author's knowledge.


Just noted this is my 100th post in ranch happy as my 100th post supports for anti-piracy
Lexington Smith
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Joined: Sep 29, 2012
Posts: 67
Sometimes people pirate only because they need 3-4 chapters of a book. Have authors/publishers ever considered renting/selling only the parts people need ?
Would that work ?
Lexington Smith
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 29, 2012
Posts: 67
I thought of one business model to reduce the costs of books -
Make a large cheap printing company, like a Amazon-7-11 hybrid(call it A7). Set them up like 7-11 all over the place. The 7-11's will mainly store printouts shipped from mega-printing warehouses, with the option of paying extra to get printouts immediately.
Authors can self-publish using A7. A7 could even have an author page where he/she can communicate with readers for errata, feedback etc.
A7 get its cash from all kinds of printouts, banners, flyers and such. Maybe even do custom wedding cards, greetings etc to add sources of cash...any more sources ?

Has this even been tried before ?
chris webster
Bartender

Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1713
    
  14

Interesting thread!

"Free content": I'm just a consumer, not a creative type, but I am strongly of the view that expecting all "content" to be free is a threat to the quality and sustainability of all creative work, from tech books to classical music. We seem to be moving from the 1980s "greed is good" philosophy, where people knew the price of everything and the value of nothing, to a culture where people know the value of nothing and expect everything to be free as well. This is basically a form of parasitic elitism.

As Bert and Bear reminded us, it takes a lot of work to produce a good quality book, and it also takes a lot more work to become good enough at what you do before you even start writing the book (the "10,000 hours" principle). But in a capitalist society, most people - apart from a wealthy elite - have to be able to earn a living from their labours, which means this valuable work must also earn a fair price somewhere along the line, or the person doing the work will have to find some other way to sustain themselves.

Writers often work in their "spare" time around a day-job, and hope that eventually they will be able to earn a living from their writing. Domain experts can earn a living from consultancy, teaching, lectures etc, but only once they've acquired the skills and reputation to get this kind of work. Classical musicians have to work for years to become good at what they do, and even when they've done this, it takes a lot of money to maintain a classical orchestra, so they need to be able to raise income through concerts, recordings etc. And so on.

Of course, lots of people give away some of their work for various reasons - free books or articles, free concerts, free software, all the work that goes into keeping JavaRanch running, etc - but this must be the free choice of the person who is giving the fruits of their labour away: nobody else has the right to insist that you work for free - that's slavery, not generosity. And if you insist as a consumer that other people can afford to work for free in order to sustain your consumption, then that's clearly both elitist ("I don't have to work for free, but you should!") and parasitic.

I'm sure Richard Stallman would disagree, but I also think the open source software movement, for all its many undoubted benefits, confuses this issue and encourages this unthinking assumption that people should give you stuff for free. Most open source projects are sustained by people working around their day jobs i.e. somebody else is paying them enough to earn a living, while they devote their skills and time to open source software outside their working hours. In other words, open source work generally enjoys a massive hidden subsidy from the world of conventional paid work. Of course, many big companies actively support open source work as well - Google, IBM, even Oracle (somewhat grudgingly!), and many others - but they do this partly because they hope to make money out it - through consultancy, selling additional services and products, developing the skills of their engineers, etc. If they decide at some point they can no longer afford to maintain these hidden subsidies, then they will stop doing so. Without a system that pays people to gain the skills and experience required to contribute to free software, there would be no free software.

So I think the open source movement has had a strong influence on the rise of "digital culture", where technology and ideology have combined to create this culture of expecting any digital content - music, books, software - to be free, and there seems to be no means of preventing the wholesale copying of digital content. We are now in the bizarre position where people are happy to pay $5 for a burger at their local fast food outlet, but refuse to pay anything at all for work that represents hundreds or even thousands of hours of effort by people with real skills. And because of the "free market" system, this seems to be a self-reinforcing process where it gradually becomes ever harder to challenge the "wisdom of the market" by charging a reasonable fee for one's work. It would be great to live in some kind of utopia, where people were free to pursue their interests without having to worry about earning a living, but right now we seem to live in a society that increasingly values burgers more highly than books.

Personally, I'm happy to pay for my books and music today, because I want to be able to read books and listen to music in the future as well, which won't be possible if we fail to accept that these cultural artefacts have real value, regardless of what the dumb "free market" might suggest. But I wonder how long this growing tension can be sustained before we find ourselves in the situation where only rich people can afford to write books or create music (apart from the rare blockbusters), almost a return to the 18th century when only a wealthy elite and their small band of selected artists could afford this kind of indulgence.

OK, rant over. But at least you didn't have to pay for it, eh?

No more Blub for me, thank you, Vicar.
Jeanne Boyarsky
internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 30537
    
150

Lexington Smith wrote:Piracy is wrong. But, if i was an author and I saw "financially challenged", but intelligent/hardworking kids pirating my books, I would do my best to overlook it. It would be nice if they could buy my books after getting that job at Google or MS
and then donating the books to someone or to a library. But, some folks don't even do that. Sad.

I disagree. Students pay tens of thousands of dollars for a college education. Even high school students think nothing of paying $5 for a burger or $10 for a movie. Plus books can be shared. (Physical books that is; not sure about the rules for e-books.) Or books can be borrowed from the library. And there are many tutorials available for free. Also, some books really are available for free like older versions of "Thinking in Java." That's how an author says it is ok.

Lexington Smith wrote:Okay, now what about the books that cost $150+ ? In some cases (too many errors, poor style of writing etc) , these costs may be not justified. I guess that piracy is justifiable only in these cases.

Why should anyone buy a book with two many errors in it? If the book is bad, the time spent reading isn't justified either!


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Mike Simmons
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Joined: Mar 05, 2008
Posts: 3014
    
  10
Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:Why should anyone buy a book with two many errors in it?

To be fair, I think two errors is an acceptable number.
Bert Bates
author
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8815
    
    5
Now we're off on a bit of a tangent, but what the heck... ;)

"Too many errors"

Hmmm, interesting idea. I'll take the radical position that in the end, the ONLY two things that matters are:

1 - the reader learned how to do stuff she couldn't do before. (the "right" stuff)
2 - the author respected the reader's valuable time, and made the "learning to do" as time-efficient as possible.

Of course at some point a huge number of errors gets in the way of the goals above. But, for my money, I'd rather that the author spends his authoring time figuring out great ways for me (the reader) to learn, and if that results in a few more errors I'd say the author made a good choice.
Paul Clapham
Bartender

Joined: Oct 14, 2005
Posts: 18570
    
    8

Lexington Smith wrote:But, what I don't understand is why "financially sound" people pirate books, even the "cheap" $20-30 ones. Even those who go to college and don't really need scholarships do not pay for cheap books. Some of these folks spend $180 (yes, 180)
on head phones even when $80 headphones offer similar quality. But, they won't buy 3 cheap books for $90 !


This is a very good point. Here's a quote from an author in an entirely different field (Steve N. G. Howell):

Many birders I know balk at paying $30 or $45 for a bird book full of color images. Yet these selfsame people happily -- and frequently -- spend that much on a single meal or even a bottle of wine at a restaurant. A book, in contrast, can last a lifetime and would seem a far better investment.


I don't have an answer to that, except perhaps that when you buy the restaurant meal or the bottle of wine, you're showing off to other people that you can afford it ("conspicuous consumption"), whereas when you spend $60 for a book about the birds of Ecuador, nobody notices.

Paul Anilprem
Enthuware Software Support
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Joined: Sep 23, 2000
Posts: 3293
    
    7
Interesting thread indeed. I know we are kind of a pariah in "authors" world but we face the same issue magnified multiple times because we have a very simple licensing that is not tied to any machine (as compared to kindle books) and anybody can use the s/w with that license. We did so to make the life of our paying customers a little easier and we just hope people who use our product without paying at least give us a good review


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Pat Farrell
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Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4658
    
    5

Book sales follow a power-law distribution. A tiny number of authors sell a zillion books. It quickly decays towards zero, most authors sell only a small number of copies of their books. Additionally, except for a teeny tiny number of exceptions, book sales follow an exponentially decay curve from the date of publication -- if its not sold out in two months, it never will.

For 40 years, I've earned my living by putting black pixels on a white screen. Some of this was writing code. Some writing architecture. Some non-fiction, some proposals. Some music and some photos. I expect to get paid. I expect others who do the same to also expect and deserve to get paid.

Piracy is theft. No amount of rationalization will make it moral.

I expect that the printed book business model is near death, its been dying for a long time. I won't even offer a guess as to when those in the industry recognize that its dead.
Andrew Monkhouse
author and jackaroo
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Joined: Mar 28, 2003
Posts: 11460
    
  94

Lexington Smith wrote:Sometimes people pirate only because they need 3-4 chapters of a book. Have authors/publishers ever considered renting/selling only the parts people need ?
Would that work ?


Many technical authors have their books on Safari Books Online or Bookx 24x7 or similar. That is probably the model that comes closest to renting/selling only the needed information that I can think of that works. For one price you get access to thousands of books that you can read just the parts you are interested in, or the entire book.

I can't see it working in the physical dead-tree world - most publishers seem to dislike publishing anything less than 200 pages. And I sometimes get the feeling that people don't like purchasing anything that cannot later be used as a blunt instrument. Even with novels, it seems that publishing small parts (serials) has gone out of fashion. The only people who seem to do it are the industry giants who want to experiment with it, for example Stephen King's The Green Mile, but even they don't seem to stick with it.


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Jeanne Boyarsky
internet detective
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Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 30537
    
150

Mike,
Yes two is an acceptable number of errors .

Bert,
I've only read one tech book that had enough errors to be a problem. The review is here. The relevant part is
... is one of those books where it appears nobody edited. Java class/method names and acronyms are used in lower/upper case interchangeably. Writing class names in all lowercase in a Java book doesn't inspire much confidence in the accuracy of the rest of the book. There are many typos and inconsistencies that make it hard to read.

This is what I was thinking of when I was suggesting not buying. The errors decreased my confidence in being able to trust the authors.

Note: Kyle Brown was a moderator here at the time. I talked to him before posting that review. All his other books are excellent so we can conclude he is a good author.
J. Kevin Robbins
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Joined: Dec 16, 2010
Posts: 956
    
  13

Pat Farrell wrote:I expect that the printed book business model is near death, its been dying for a long time. I won't even offer a guess as to when those in the industry recognize that its dead.


I hope you are wrong about this. I dislike ebooks and will never make the switch. I want a real book to hold in my hands. I can't loan an ebook to a friend or donate it to the library.

I never realized that book piracy was such a big problem. We've heard about music and movie piracy, but not books. I never even considered looking for a pirated version of a book. I feel bad when I buy used books on Amazon because I know the author doesn't get a cut of used book sales, so I try to buy new if the price difference isn't too extreme.

And Ulf, thanks for the mention of TAOCP. I'd never heard of that but it's on my wishlist now.



"The good news about computers is that they do what you tell them to do. The bad news is that they do what you tell them to do." -- Ted Nelson
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4658
    
    5

Jk Robbins wrote:[ I dislike ebooks and will never make the switch. I want a real book to hold in my hands. I can't loan an ebook to a friend or donate it to the library.


Printed books will exist, but they will be a niche market for the very picky and very rich who demand to hold a real book in their hands. The economics simply won't support mass market paper books.

Some of the eBook systems do allow you to lend a book to a friend. Of course, the publishers want the friend to buy his own copy so they get more $$$
Lexington Smith
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 29, 2012
Posts: 67
Jk Robbins wrote:
I can't loan an ebook to a friend or donate it to the library.


I think amazon kindle lets you loan ebooks to friends. But, real is better than ebook cause it does not hurt the eyes.
Lexington Smith
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 29, 2012
Posts: 67
Pat Farrell wrote:
Printed books will exist, but they will be a niche market for the very picky and very rich who demand to hold a real book in their hands.
The economics simply won't support mass market paper books.


More strain on the eyes then...
Bill Clar
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 21, 2006
Posts: 152

Pat Farrell wrote:Printed books will exist, but they will be a niche market for the very picky and very rich who demand to hold a real book in their hands. The economics simply won't support mass market paper books.


That's true for books with a narrative structure but what about for learning and reference? We all use our books for reference and a print affords us quick access to a bookmarked or dog-eared page. I've previewed "Effective Java" on my kindle and the miniscule display cannot encompass all the code and the formatting it requires.

I simply can't imaging doctors, lawyers, and IT personnel shunning print for a PDF or E-Book.



Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
Marshal

Joined: Jan 10, 2002
Posts: 61218
    
  66

Novels I read on my Kindle. Technical books, usually in PDF, don't lend themselves well to that device, but they are brilliant on my iPad. So I use each device to their best advantage.

While print books aren't dead to me, the vast majority of my book purchases in the past two years have been electronic. YMMV.
Greg Charles
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 01, 2001
Posts: 2851
    
  11

Bear Bibeault wrote:Novels I read on my Kindle. Technical books, usually in PDF, don't lend themselves well to that device, but they are brilliant on my iPad. So I use each device to their best advantage.

While print books aren't dead to me, the vast majority of my book purchases in the past two years have been electronic. YMMV.


I agree with this. I only have an iPad, but I read novels in the Kindle or iBooks app, and tech books as PDFs in Good Reader. When I'm reading a paper book, I'll sometimes poke on a word and it takes a beat to realize that a menu offering to define the word or search for it on Google isn't going to appear.

Bringing this back around to the OP though, I think the e-books legal framework needs to evolve. As far as I know, there's no legal way for me to lend an e-book to a friend, sell it used, or donate it to a library. On the other hand, sometimes an e-book comes free with the paper version. I could easily sell or lend the paper version without losing my access to the e-book. I'm not even sure if that's illegal, but it should be.
Wendy Gibbons
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Posts: 1107

I refused to buy books on my iPad, they cost the same as a real book, but they haven't had to pay for printing, shipping etc. and it hurts my eyes and you can't read them in the bath.
Greg Charles
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 01, 2001
Posts: 2851
    
  11

Some of them are cheaper. Manning, in particular, gives a pretty nice discount on the electronic versions of their books. For a small fee, you can read your books in the bath, shower, or at the bottom of a swimming pool. Try that with a paper book!
Lexington Smith
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Joined: Sep 29, 2012
Posts: 67
Greg Charles wrote:Some of them are cheaper. Manning, in particular, gives a pretty nice discount on the electronic versions of their books. For a small fee, you can read your books in the bath, shower, or at the bottom of a swimming pool. Try that with a paper book!


Swimming and reading ? Whats next, reading while sleeping ?
Greg Charles
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 01, 2001
Posts: 2851
    
  11

Lexington Smith wrote:
Greg Charles wrote:
Swimming and reading ? Whats next, reading while sleeping ?


Some of my college dorm-mates slept with a textbook under their pillows the night before a final exam in a sort of "can't hurt to try" desperate hope that they'd absorb the information through osmosis. Someday one of them is going to create an app for that, make millions of dollars, and those of us who actually did the reading will end up working for him (or her).
Bert Bates
author
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8815
    
    5
I'm getting used to reading a novel on an iPad or a kindle, seems ok.

But I'm a huge fan of as many pixels as I can get while I'm working. To that end, I think of reference books like "cheap pixels". I think that we're still a few years away from doing a good job of replacing a dog-eared, sticky-noted, self-annotated reference book sitting next to your monitor.

But maybe that's just me?
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
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  66

Wendy Gibbons wrote:I refused to buy books on my iPad, they cost the same as a real book

This is a very naive outlook. The reason they cost about the same is because they cost pretty much the same to produce as a real book. The vast majority of the cost of a book is producing the content, not the printing. Printing is a commodity and isn't even close to the major cost of producing a book.
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4658
    
    5

Bear Bibeault wrote:The vast majority of the cost of a book is producing the content, not the printing. Printing is a commodity and isn't even close to the major cost of producing a book.


Depends upon one's definition of "producing the content." I agree, physically printing the book is a tiny amount. But managing the manufacture, shipping and distribution, handling from print to distributor, to wholesaler to retailer, etc. is a big deal that adds a lot of cost. Plus with traditional (dead tree) books, the selection, editing, publishing and advertising are huge costs. Once you take an axe to most of those costs, the value of the publishing house starts to look shakey.

I can see a day when an author hires an editor and perhaps a layout person, and cuts out all the rest. Then the price would drop by 80% or so, and the author would still make more money.
Bert Bates
author
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8815
    
    5
Pat,

I think you're view of a publisher's contribution is a bit limited.
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
Marshal

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  66

You know at the end of a movie, when the credits for everyone who worked on it scrolls by? Have you ever marveled at just how many people have their hand in making the movie?

Books are like that.

The amount of people who contribute to creating the content amazed me.

To think that only the author and an editor are involved in writing a book is like assuming that movies are completely created by the star and the director.
Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
Marshal

Joined: Jan 10, 2002
Posts: 61218
    
  66

Pat Farrell wrote:I can see a day when an author hires an editor and perhaps a layout person, and cuts out all the rest. Then the price would drop by 80% or so

As would the book's quality.
Paul Anilprem
Enthuware Software Support
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Joined: Sep 23, 2000
Posts: 3293
    
    7
Bear Bibeault wrote:
Pat Farrell wrote:I can see a day when an author hires an editor and perhaps a layout person, and cuts out all the rest. Then the price would drop by 80% or so

As would the book's quality.

Could you please share your thoughts about why do you think so? Other than Author, Editor, Reviewers and Typesettor, what is the contribution of other roles in the quality of the content of a book (specially, technical books). For example, it is difficult for me to imagin the contribution of cover designers, marketers, printers, accountants, assistants, the whole nine yards of running a publishing house, in the quality of content of TAOCP referred above? To me, they just seem to increase the cost of the book.

Movie and books are probably similar only for books meant for entertainment. For technical books, I don't think there is any similarity at all.
Lexington Smith
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 29, 2012
Posts: 67
Pat Farrell wrote:
Bear Bibeault wrote:The vast majority of the cost of a book is producing the content, not the printing. Printing is a commodity and isn't even close to the major cost of producing a book.


Depends upon one's definition of "producing the content." I agree, physically printing the book is a tiny amount. But managing the manufacture, shipping and distribution, handling from print to distributor, to wholesaler to retailer, etc. is a big deal that adds a lot of cost. Plus with traditional (dead tree) books, the selection, editing, publishing and advertising are huge costs. Once you take an axe to most of those costs, the value of the publishing house starts to look shakey.

I can see a day when an author hires an editor and perhaps a layout person, and cuts out all the rest. Then the price would drop by 80% or so, and the author would still make more money.


Could the authors use something like this ?

Lexington Smith wrote:I thought of one business model to reduce the costs of books -
Make a large cheap printing company, like a Amazon-7-11 hybrid(call it A7). Set them up like 7-11 all over the place. The 7-11's will mainly store printouts shipped from mega-printing warehouses, with the option of paying extra to get printouts immediately.
Authors can self-publish using A7. A7 could even have an author page where he/she can communicate with readers for errata, feedback etc.
A7 get its cash from all kinds of printouts, banners, flyers and such. Maybe even do custom wedding cards, greetings etc to add sources of cash...any more sources ?

Has this even been tried before ?


Bert Bates
author
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8815
    
    5
Could you please share your thoughts about why do you think so? Other than Author, Editor, Reviewers and Typesettor, what is the contribution of other roles in the quality of the content of a book (specially, technical books). For example, it is difficult for me to imagin the contribution of cover designers, marketers, printers, accountants, assistants, the whole nine yards of running a publishing house, in the quality of content of TAOCP referred above? To me, they just seem to increase the cost of the book.

Movie and books are probably similar only for books meant for entertainment. For technical books, I don't think there is any similarity at all.


Well most anytime you get a group of people on any kind of project you end up with accountants and often assistants, so those are a wash.

To me a key factor that publishers bring to the equation is a stamp of quality. I buy a computer book because I value my time. If I had unlimited time and patience I think I could "google" my way to find the technical answers I want. But for me $50 for a quality book is a no-brainer in terms of time savings.

What also might not be apparent to the average reader is how hard it is to create a "quality technical book". From the end user's perspective it's easy to find errors and to finds lots of valid critiques. I suspect that if average readers experienced a few "first draft" chapters from most technical authors, their jaws would drop. When the typical tech book author sends in a first draft, it's almost always horrible. (Bear, you don't fall into this category ).

Th work that goes into taking a first draft and turning it into something useful, is truly extraordinary. It would be nice to think that an author and an editor alone could do this, and there might be a few that can, but that's rare.
Andrew Monkhouse
author and jackaroo
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  94

Lexington Smith wrote:Could the authors use something like this ?

Lexington Smith wrote:I thought of one business model to reduce the costs of books -
Make a large cheap printing company, like a Amazon-7-11 hybrid(call it A7). Set them up like 7-11 all over the place. The 7-11's will mainly store printouts shipped from mega-printing warehouses, with the option of paying extra to get printouts immediately.
Authors can self-publish using A7. A7 could even have an author page where he/she can communicate with readers for errata, feedback etc.
A7 get its cash from all kinds of printouts, banners, flyers and such. Maybe even do custom wedding cards, greetings etc to add sources of cash...any more sources ?

Has this even been tried before ?


I'm not sure what you are trying to suggest (for the second time). It could be:

  • A store that holds copies of books. Kind of like a book store. I think that has been done before.


  • A publish on demand system. Multiple companies do this today, including Amazon (Create Space)


  • Interestingly, the Wikipedia article on book stores can be read to imply that both having a source for getting multiple different books and publish on demand were the standard model in 300 B.C.
    Paul Anilprem
    Enthuware Software Support
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    Joined: Sep 23, 2000
    Posts: 3293
        
        7
    Bert Bates wrote:
    Could you please share your thoughts about why do you think so? Other than Author, Editor, Reviewers and Typesettor, what is the contribution of other roles in the quality of the content of a book (specially, technical books). For example, it is difficult for me to imagin the contribution of cover designers, marketers, printers, accountants, assistants, the whole nine yards of running a publishing house, in the quality of content of TAOCP referred above? To me, they just seem to increase the cost of the book.

    Movie and books are probably similar only for books meant for entertainment. For technical books, I don't think there is any similarity at all.


    Well most anytime you get a group of people on any kind of project you end up with accountants and often assistants, so those are a wash.

    To me a key factor that publishers bring to the equation is a stamp of quality.


    Well, that is what I am trying to understand. How does a publisher do it. What are the roles that add quality to the book content. A publisher becomes reputable as they consistently hire good participants on a book project. For a technical book, who are those people? I can imagine only the author, editor, reviewer(s), and type setter. Is there any other role involved? If no, why can't an individual come up with a quality book?

    One reason could be that it costs a lot to hire quality editor and typesetter and an independent author cant afford to hire one? But these days you can find good editors and type setters on the net for a reasonable price. Since there is no middleman, they actually make more money that way than working for a publisher.

    The only thing a publisher adds is instant recognition and marketing might. Hence more sales. But that doesn't ensure quality as you can see several duds from reputable publishers. For example, the first edition of "SCWCD Exam Study Kit" by original authors was very good and got very good feedback. At that time the authors were unknown, the publisher Manning was not that famous for technical books either. Yet the book was a success. For the second edition, the publisher was the same, editors, copywriters, typesetters were the same but the original authors were gone and the book sank without a trace. So that proves my point that it is the Authors who matter most for the quality of the book rather than the publisher.
    Bert Bates
    author
    Sheriff

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        5
    I think the way I'd break it down is this:

    - good authors are rare
    - good editors are rare
    - market visibility is important initially

    So, I'd say that a good author and a good editor and an established name can make a successful book without a publisher.

    But those are 3 big "ifs", and most authors over-estimate their abilities.

    A publisher can keep adding eyeballs to a project as necessary, and has the judgment to know when it's necessary.

    So my guess would be that if a typical author partnered with a typical editor and self-published, they'd get a mediocre book that no one will ever hear about.
    Paul Anilprem
    Enthuware Software Support
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    Joined: Sep 23, 2000
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        7
    Bert Bates wrote:
    So my guess would be that if a typical author partnered with a typical editor and self-published, they'd get a mediocre book that no one will ever hear about.

    While that is very true, I am not sure if that is the point here. Essentially, the questions are: 1. Can a typical author paired with a good publisher bring out a good quality book?
    and 2. Can a very good author (paired with self hired good editor) bring out a good quality book?

    I think, no and yes, respectively and for this reason, I think a publisher does not really add much value for the consumer and for the author because 1. it doesn't guarantee a qood quality book 2. consumer pays more 3 authors don't make much money.

    And when neither the content producer nor content consumer gets a fair return for their effort/money, it can be said that the middleman is potential dinosaur
     
    I agree. Here's the link: http://aspose.com/file-tools
     
    subject: Friggin book piracy ! Book authors perspective welcome