Tag Archives: Publishing

The Future of Publishing

I Tweeted about this video and sent it to my friends, but I like it so much I decided to have it here for a while. Last week was Read an ebook Week and this video would have been most appropriate. For at least ten years I’ve said that content is more important than format. This video explains it in a very clever way.

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The First Chapters Club

It’s not a tale of money, revenge, and it’s not modeled after the story of three women intent on plucking their husbands dry. But the First Chapters Club could lead you to laughter, tears, passion, fear, discovery, love, travel, murder, adventure, ogres, fairies, evil, aliens, evil aliens, zombies, samurais, and much, much more.

Zumaya Publications has assembled a collection of first chapters from its catalogue, in addition to one short story and the full text of my first novel, Metered Space, and offers them for free at Scribd (http://www.scribd.com/zumayabooks). You can read them online or download them in .pdf or text format to read on your own computer or reading device. Continue reading

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The Dawn of ebooks… again and again

I sat on a panel at WorldCon this year on whether the future belongs to ebooks. It was almost an exact repeat of the panel I sat on 10 years ago. I was the only one who was one hundred per cent pro ebooks. The entire panel resulted in a diatribe from other panelists against ebooks. The same gripes. The same arguments. The same “nothing replaces the feel of a real book.” One panelist bemoaned the fact that he couldn’t freely copy ebooks like he did music. Another said that whoever got published in ebook format was a stupid moron. Obviously he hadn’t bothered finding out about my own published work. It was as if I’d gone back in time. It was disheartening, to say the least. Continue reading

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On critique partners

I was reading Write Anything Andrea Allison’s post about Beta Readers (the first person who reads your draft to seriously critique it) and it got me thinking about how lucky I am.

One of the most important criterion for a critiquer is trust. I’ve dropped from writing groups before because I didn’t trust the people who were critiquing my work. Let’s face it, as Annie Lamott funnily says, writers are basically envious of each other’s successes. Some are just meaner about it than others.

I have three readers I completely and utterly trust. They’re painfully honest and sometimes I want to tell them “you’re not my friend anymore” (that’s usually when they’re right; I hate that). The beauty of it? They are avid readers and much better writers than I am but they have decided not to put themselves through the publishing ringer. They leave that to me.

This means that I get the benefit of their great talent, abilities, insight, and honesty without the competition.

I have no idea why they still go through my manuscripts. We started out taking writing classes together and critiquing was part of the process. Fifteen years later, although I’m the only one who was fool enough to keep at it, they are still watching my back.  I find myself blessed.

So Peggy, Robyn, Jim (you know who you are), thanks. Again.

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Zumaya joins Espresso Project

The following is a press release from my publisher, Zumaya Publications. I’m particularly pleased that there are three places in Canada on trial:

Late in April, Zumaya Publications completed the paperwork that places all our titles currently being printed at Lightning Source into their pilot program with On-Demand Books, makers of the Espresso Book Machine. Other participating publishers are John Wiley & Sons, Hachette Book Group, McGraw-Hill, Simon & Schuster, Clements Publishing, Cosimo, E-Reads, Bibliolife, Information Age Publishing, Macmillan, University of California Press and W.W. Norton.

Through this program, our books will be available for printing at all facilities that have an Espresso. There are currently 12 EBMs operational worldwide, and my understanding is that this pilot program is the first phase of a marketing plan to place more of them in the next few years. The ones already in operation are located at:

  • World Bank InfoShop, Washington D.C.
  • New York Public Library, New York, NY
  • New Orleans Public Library, New Orleans,
  • LA 
Internet Archive, San Francisco, CA
  • University of Michigan Library, Ann Arbor, MI
  • Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT
  • University of Alberta Bookstore, Edmonton, AB, Canada
  • McMaster University Bookstore, Hamilton, ON, Canada
  • Newsstand UK, London, England
  • Library of Alexandria, Alexandria, Egypt
  • Angus & Robertson Bookstore, Melbourne, Australia
  • University of Waterloo Bookstore, ON, Canada
  • Blackwell’s Bookstore, London, United Kingdom

Just about a decade ago, the first on-demand book printer came into being. The quality of the product, compared to the traditional printing methods, left a good deal to be desired; and the cost to print each copy was much too high for most book publishing uses. However, where only a limited number of copies-or a single one-was wanted, those early machines were both economical and sensible.

It was then that Random House editor Jason Epstein wrote Book Business, in which he stated that on-demand printing was the future of the industry. Epstein was one of the founders of On-Demand Books.

Since those early days, the quality of on-demand printing has grown exponentially, and today a digitally printed book is indistinguishable from its offset-printed counterpart with one exception: it will always have a glossy cover for technical reasons. By utilizing the improvements in digital printing technology, On-Demand was able to complete development of a compact machine that could revolutionize the way books are printed and sold.

The EBM, which costs $95,000 in its current incarnation, prints and binds a trade paperback book while you wait. Literally. In Blackwell’s bookstore, they’ve replaced the metal frame with glass so the buyer can watch as their book goes from digital file to finished product. You can view the process yourself at http://www.ondemandbooks.com/video2.htm.

The capability to print a book on-site in a bookstore or library means that shipping costs, both financial and environmental, are eliminated. Although no one has, as far as I know, calculated the environmental impact of the machine itself, it has to be borne in mind that the book would still need to be printed, yet that the now-standard print runs wouldn’t be necessary. Given 25-50% of those runs are returned and discarded, logic would suggest the EBM is a much more environmentally sound way of producing print books than any of the alternatives.

The benefits to independent booksellers in particular are clear. One of the biggest obstacles they currently experience trying to compete with superchain and online booksellers is their inability to offer a large range of titles. With an EBM, this would no longer be the case. They will be able to store the files for thousands of books and print off a copy when it’s wanted-and without paying fees to wholesalers and distributors.

In addition, they could, if provided with the proper files, print books for local people who may, for example, only want five or ten copies of a family history for personal use, thus providing an additional revenue stream.

The advantage for authors is that overseas sales will no longer be plagued by expensive shipping costs. This opens the whole world to the exchange of ideas through printed books in the way it has so far only been managed via ebooks.

We’re very excited about being part of this project, for all of these reasons. There’s something particularly exciting about being part of the future of an entire industry.

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