free isn't free

In the latest ROLLING STONE, U2's manager wrote an essay on what Free means to the music industry and ways to solve the problems it's causing. Best estimates:95% of all downloaded music is pirated.


Let's just take a minute and think about that.


95% of all downloaded music is pirated.

Now, apply that to the book industry.


Yup.  Fuck. 


Don't think it's not here already. (It's here.) I have an idea most of my readers pirated my book. It's a common problem and who goes to bat for their books? Mostly the authors. We have to send a cease and desist letter, to which we often get a resounding FUCK YOU from the pirate. If anything at all. Not something I've looked into a lot, but I know that much. If anyone wants to email me pirating sites, I'd love to look for it.  Haven't googled my book in a while.


Some things I took from the article, which requires another read and a whole hell of a lot more thought:


New technology does not equal free. Hell, free doesn't even equal free. Who is making assloads of money? Internet Service Providers and the phone companies, that's who. The same kid who won't pay for music pays through the nose for a decent ISP and 100 bucks a month to keep connected via his iPhone. All so he can download his pirated songs and watch youtube.


Artists are the ones bending over. Artists have long
xxx gotten the shaft xxx 
in the selling process. It's exponentially worse now in the regular music industry. Getting signed is tougher than ever. (Sound familiar?) Music stores are closing all over the nation. (Remember when you could buy books at Walden in the mall?) And it's tougher than ever to live off making music. (Day job, anyone?)


So yeah. This whole shaboogle is coming to a book industry near you. Wherein I recount the reasons. Be patient. I'll get there.


Digital music on tiny earbuds sounds mostly like crap. Oh shut up, it does. I can even tell and my hearing isn't for shit anymore. Go to as many concerts as I do, and you'll be able to hear how the music is really supposed to sound. 


I have a topnotch home theatre downstairs. Today I'll likely take my new Linkin Park album and play it on that sound system while I write on my laptop to hear all the nuances. Our 20+ year old speakers in my study are actually still excellent, but my hearing isn't. Surround sound helps. 


Where I'm going with that: the Kiiiiindle           is slo0000w and doesn't include page numbers. The iPad screen is so shiny I can see meself in the glare. Even paperbacks fall apart in the sun (for you print0philes). And so on. Some of this will be solved by early next year with new screen refreshing technology. Can't do anything about melting glue, sorry.


The best bet for solving music industry woes is a two-pronged approach.


1) They suggested making ISPs pay their fair share. Good fucking luck. Instead, make ISPs pay their share by requiring them to regulate pirating. They have the technology, the know-how, and pirating bloats their coffers.  

(For the record, I'll be shocked if pirating regulation happens in the US. Big Business OWNS the US, Obama, and everyone under him. ISPs earn BILLIONS of dollars off pirating.)


2) Book subscription services
Music subscriptions (download as much as you want for 15 bucks a month) are picking up in the UK and Europe. Soon it'll cross the Pond and I think that could take off, especially if they provide a quality listening experience, vs pirated and iPod versions. It's working gangbusters for gaming and film subscription services. I believe that's in the works behind the scenes 9fuckingbetterbe0, and technology will drive it. We I don't want to keep 1000s of books on our  iPad iGor, right? Hell, if we want the book we buy a paper one, throw some duct tape on it to fix it when the glue melts, and put it on our shelf. In a month of owning the iPad, I've bought something like 10 books and a few comics. (read3ofthem) So far Kindle isn't organizing them very well for me. I like the idea of books living on some server rather than my machine and me getting to check one out and keep it for as long as I want whenever I want. How about 20 bucks a month for all the books you can read? Sound good? It's worked for libraries for years.  

(Notable trend: libraries are starting to provide eBooks.)

Would you try out books you might not? Would you read just part of books that have info for you? Would you write more reviews? Would you talk more about the good ones? Would you read more? Would you read more? Would you read more? Would you read more?


But, one thing the article doesn't touch on is that Free Sells. Literally.  
Free content sells.  
Google Cory Doctorow and JA Konrath to learn more. HOWEVER$, and they're big one$,  

Doctorow is a technology and social guru who ruminates about where tech is taking us.   


So don't take no 100,000 $ales number$ and apply it to little old you. He also write$ in a very popular genre.  


And, for the naysayers who read Lunch and are going to throw this at me:
The Harris Poll released an interesting survey on ereading conducted among almost 3,000 adults conducted in August. They find that 8 percent of American adults currently use an "electronic reader device, such as a Kindle, an iPad or a Nook." Another 3 percent are "very likely" to purchase an eReader in the next six months, and another 9 percent said they were "somewhat likely" to do so. But a big fat 80 percent are not likely to do so.
Hey book industry! 80% of the people DON'T READ, except for Facebook. They might, on the outside, read a book a year.Or well, they used to buy them in airports. Now they have a movie on iGor, so they don't need books even for vacation anymore.


But let's take it to the readers, us illustrious 20% (I $r$ly think I'm being generous here.) How did you feel about listening to music electronically 10 years ago? 15? Hell, it wasn't even an option then. Now I look at my big dusty stereo and keep thinking I'd better replace it with something that plays my iPod (or better device). I have a reasonable library of CDs but we're downloading more and more music, and I can't play it on my house stereo. We have 10 CD players, including our cars and computers, and only 2 get any use at all.  $r$ly doubt we ever buy another CD player. For crissake, one of the main reasons we chose my truck over the Escalade is because of the iPod jack.


??????????????????Now, a question????????????????

Does anyone have links to accurate figures on what it takes to create a book from the ground up in print vs electronic? I've seen lots of figures thrown about, but generally they're by people who lean to print or electronic.  

I have a sense eBook figures are skewed cuz the writer gets le$$ on eBook deals. 

7 comments:

Laurel said...

I can't find straight numbers, either. But you cannot convince me that the cost of developing and selling an eBook is the same.

1) The content starts digital now. STARTS in MS Word, which converts to .mobi, .pdf, .pub, dot whatever.

2) Cost of materials= computer and server

3) Nothing to store, ship, or pulp once the product is created.

Editorial and marketing budget should be similar for either format.

The frustration I have is that everyone is so paralyzed by the fear of piracy (and it's real, and real bad, I know this) that the publishing industry is making things worse. Out of print titles are available, battered and used, for upwards of $40 but no one has converted them to digital except the piracy sites. People who would, who WANT to purchase these books are seeking digital copies and the only way to get them is to download illegally.

I bet after they've done it once, it is easy enough that they would consider doing it again.

The international copyright stuff is so convoluted that non-US residents can't get a book unless they manipulate the system, like share a Kindle account with a US based user or something.

Piracy is bad news but pretending that DRM or print only will keep it from happening is insane. The only way to slow the bleeding is to make digital easy and the price point non-offensive. The smaller ePubs are making money so it can be done.

Oh, and hell to the yes on who is making money on piracy and who is in their pocket. It will continue into the next administration, too, because they all suck. It's not an R or a D thing, it's a money thing.

Unless artists go union or get a lobby, though, I don't see how they won't continue getting screwed.

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

Well, pirates compare themselves to the used book industry.

For me, for whom books are almost more of a decorating object (I own many many more books than I've read) it's crazy. I download books because I want to READ them.

And stealing is stealing is stealing is stealing is stealing is.

Natasha Fondren said...

I'd totally pay for a subscription service. Heck, I'd pay $50 a month for it.

I've always wondered, though: how does the money trickle down to the artist in that scenario?

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

I imagine we'd be paid similarly to how we are now and then the publisher would go from there. But maybe it would have to do with download numbers or whatever. Not entirely sure and the RS article doesn't go into it.

Wonder how the movie subscription services pay the filmmakers?

Todd Bradley said...

The music business went through it first. The big dumb rich people resisted, tried to sue people, tried to use DRM to protect music, etc. But then they realized what's most important is to give people what they want.

I learned a simple lesson from a smart boss of mine once: Make it easy for me to do business with you. Why do I buy music online when I could download it somewhere for free? Because it's easier to pay! The only people who prefer to download it for free:

a) wouldn't have paid for it anyhow because they don't really like it, or

b) place the value of their time at zero, which means they probably COULDN'T have paid for it anyhow, or

c) can't find it legitimately for sale (in other words, the owners aren't smart enough to grok the long tail)

I can't speak for how movie subscription services pay filmmakers. But I do know how flat fee music subscription services pay. Let's say the monthly fee is $10. The distributor/publisher/website takes their cut, say 50%. Of the remaining $5, they divide it up evenly among all the songs you paid $10 to download. If you downloaded a ton of songs that month, I may only make less than a penny. If you only downloaded five, then I make a buck.

No musicians went broke because of online music piracy. In fact, it's the opposite. No-name musicians (like me) who wouldn't make a dime 30 years ago now are able to advertise and distribute electronically and earn some cash today. If 20 people pirate one of my band's songs for every 1 who pays, that just comes with the territory. It's the price I pay for having access into a global market.

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

Well, I'm trying to actually get paid for my writing. So if way more people steal my work than pay for it, it hurts my pocketbook. There's a point where promotion leaves off and it's simply stealing.

Honestly, I think most people aren't thinking about the millions of musicians working shit jobs and busting their asses to support their music career. They just think about the few musicians who are big. I wonder if they did, if they'd still steal?

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