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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

B&N totters

It was interesting to notice during the recent SFWA campaign how completely clueless most of the authors were about the present state of the publishing industry.  They genuinely believed that the status quo remains viable, which was part of why Random House was accused of creating Hydra simply because they are obviously wicked and evil.

Nor did they rethink their position when Nightshade Books went under.  As I said at the time, it would probably take the bankruptcy of Barnes & Noble and the concomitant effects on the genre publishers to get them to realize that the traditional publishing game is all but over.  But that could happen sooner than even a skeptic like me had imagined:
Barnes and Noble has not had an easy go of it. The brick-and-mortar stalwart has seen its revenues and profits steeply decline as we've entered the age of the e-book. In fact, profits haven't just shrunk; they've disappeared. During the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2013, the company suffered a net loss of $118.6 million, down significantly from the already poor showing it posted in 2012 when it lost $56.9 million in Q4. For the year, that put Barnes and Noble's losses at $154.8 million -- more than double what it lost in 2012.
It's somewhat of a pity, as some of my favorite memories include spending Friday evenings wandering through the stacks with Spacebunny.  The only book signing I ever did was at Barnes & Noble and I was told it was one of the most successful ones that branch had ever had.  When I first graduated from college, I used to set myself a $50 monthly book budget that I would spend there; I'd usually manage to spend it by the second or third week.

But then, I still recall my last visit there, and walking out without buying anything.  The SF/F section was full of media tie-in novels and fantasy novels with badly Photoshopped covers, the history section had all but disappeared, and most of the remaindered hardcovers were picture books.  So perhaps the structural rot that is now apparent had already set in.

I imagine the executives at Barnes are already trying to figure out what sort of pitches they can make to Amazon and Google.  Anyhow, if you're an SF/F writer who writes actual SF or epic fantasy, feel free to contact me about publishing through our in-game store.  We've already got some excellent original works of fiction, including a few set in Selenoth, but we're looking for about 20 more.

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128 Comments:

Anonymous dh June 25, 2013 1:08 PM  

There are still lots of people who buy and read books. It looks like it could be set to devolve into smaller book stores and niches sellers.

It's hard to imagine that B&N liquidating is going to have a negative effect on, say, Murder Ink.

Blogger CarpeOro June 25, 2013 1:10 PM  

The last time I went to a B&N, the only even marginally interesting new author work I saw was Larry Correia. A few other authors of some value (and titles several years old in some cases), but a dearth of new authors. I used to spend hours at Walden Books, Borders and B&N also. Now I might as well search Amazon or a used book store.

Anonymous VD June 25, 2013 1:10 PM  

It will have no effect on the publishers and authors who don't sell through there. It will likely halve the revenue and income of those who do.

Anonymous dh June 25, 2013 1:14 PM  

include spending Friday evenings wandering through the stacks with Spacebunny

I have been very skeptical of some of your theories on race and civilization. But this is sort of a clearing moment. Each of our friends and family with strong marriages and - all of them - involve time spent at bookstore. I have the same experience with my then-future wife (different chain, same story).

Compared to my minority friends, who are the types, generally, that Derbyshire urges you to associate with, it's pretty stark. There are a few that are urbane and have that shared experience, but the rest all met in clubs, or online.

Anonymous dh June 25, 2013 1:16 PM  

It will have no effect on the publishers and authors who don't sell through there. It will likely halve the revenue and income of those who do.

Half. Wow. Well, that's no great. Still a lot of weight. Where are those dollars going to go?

Anonymous Scintan June 25, 2013 1:16 PM  

The shame of it is that ebooks suck and they'll still end up dominating the market. They are another example of consumers making really stupid decisions en masse.

Anonymous Brendan June 25, 2013 1:20 PM  

Adapt or perish, really. They were very late to the party when it came to digital distribution. Not quite as late as Border's, whose mismanagement was truly collosal, but only marginally better. By the time they realized that the entire market was shifting, and they decided to try to participate in the new market in a meaningful and proprietary way, it was just too late. Amazon has that business down cold now, really, and pretty much on lockdown.

The local B&N, at which I also used to browse quite regularly until ... well, I guess I stopped doing so sometime in the early to mid naughts ... recently closed. It had been there for around 20-25 years or so, and dring much of that time prior to the past 5-7 years had been quite busy and crowded. There was just a tipping point somewhere along the line where the bulk of the market went digital, and people stopped browsing bookstores in significant numbers. I remember the last time I was in there maybe 6 or 8 months ago to pick up a gift. Around 15-20% of the floorspace was dedicated to promoting the Nook and accessories, and the shelf space was, of course, reduced. The Nook space coupled with the assorted/sundry/gift items space took up around 25-30% of the total retail space. I remember thinking to myself "this won't end well". It's being replaced by a Bed, Bath and Beyond, which is a very odd placement for this particular retail space. The Starbucks that was attached to the B&N, and was always quite busy, can't be too happy either.

Anonymous JartStar June 25, 2013 1:22 PM  

My wife and I spent many hours browsing Half Price Books while dating and I think in part because the choice of books was superior, particularly for the price.

Anonymous RINO June 25, 2013 1:22 PM  

This is sad .. Borders is already gone. I have noticed the major decline in the history section as well, the one near me has only 2 small bookcases .. one sided.

Anonymous Hyperphrenius June 25, 2013 1:30 PM  

Scintan June 25, 2013 1:16 PM

The shame of it is that ebooks suck and they'll still end up dominating the market. They are another example of consumers making really stupid decisions en masse.


What is about ebooks that sucks? Why is it stupid to prefer electronic text to printed?

Anonymous GreyS June 25, 2013 1:34 PM  

Amazon killed them. I used to go to BN once a week and just cruise the aisles, usually buying one or two things which interested me. My wife and I used to go in after going out to dinner and walk around together with brief separations while each of us found something of interest. We'd spend a lot of time talking and discussing things which various books brought up and end up buying one or two each. Then we gradually realized how small the selection was and how it was getting even more limited. As we began shopping on Amazon, we found how you could easily go from book to book to book in the same category, read the descriptions, the reviews etc of all of the possible choices instead of the small amount of choices available at BN (and Borders). Plus Amazon was always cheaper. We ended up only going to BN if we needed a copy right away, and used our after-dinner strolling for other places-- including other book stores with unique selections like Warwick's in La Jolla.

Anonymous fnn June 25, 2013 1:38 PM  

When you think about it for a second, it's pretty obvious that only more guns and badges can save publishing:

http://www.theburningplatform.com/?p=56479
(...)
Public libraries have been lending out books to people, for free, for the last 500 years or so. Publishers are OK with it because the library is paying for the book, and if it’s a popular book, they’ll buy multiple copies so multiple people can check it out at once. Then they’ll replace those every couple of years, because if you read a book too much it falls apart at the binding.

But then the publisher invented a better book. An indestructible book called an ebook that could be read 10 billion times without ever falling apart. How much does it cost to manufacture this marvel? Not a goddamned penny. The readers have the ability to “manufacture” copies of their own, on their computer, at no cost to the publisher. It’s a post-scarcity book.

So for the publishers, the next step was clear: Make the book destroy itself.

An ebook sold to a library will thus delete itself out of existence after a year, or after X number of times it had been lent out. This is a big source of controversy between publishers and public libraries, maybe because both of them know they’ve found the loose thread that can unravel all of society. After all:

A. Why can’t the library just buy as many digital copies as are needed for the customers, and keep them forever, if they don’t naturally degrade?

B. Wait a second. It’s just a digital file. Why not just buy one copy, and just copy and paste it for every customer who wants to read it?

C. Wait a second. Why do you need the library at all? Why can’t a customer just buy a copy from the publisher and “lend” copies to all of his friends?

D. Wait a second. If no printing and binding needs to be done, why do you need the publisher? Just buy it directly from the author.

E. Waaaaait a second. Why buy it? Once the author makes one copy available, why can’t everyone just grab it for free?

Stop and think about everything that just vanished there. Skyscrapers full of publishing company employees, warehouses full of books, book stores, libraries, factories full of printing presses, paper mills, all the stuff the author bought with his writing money. Gone.

To keep all that stuff up and running, the publisher is resorting to what experts call FARTS–Forced ARTificial Scarcity. Or they would call it that, if they were as awesome at naming things as I am.

Mark my words: The future will be ruled by FARTS.

(...)

Anonymous Orville June 25, 2013 1:48 PM  

My B&N experience is the same as above. The local store has a lot more floor space dedicated to Nook-knacks, gifts, games, etc. The only reason they have a lot of floor traffic is because it's located next to a cinemaplex, and because they were trying to discourage the feral young'uns the took out all the comfy chairs.

Anonymous Idle Spectator, Two-Time Award Winning Cruelty Artist, and esteemed recipient of the Voxian Silver Cross for Freedom of Wit June 25, 2013 1:51 PM  

I wonder if personal printing presses are going to come along, in the same way that you have personal publishing. Then you'll have electronic and hard copies of books by one-man shops.

The 3D printing of guns looks like it is leading the way.

Anonymous VD June 25, 2013 1:53 PM  

Stop and think about everything that just vanished there. Skyscrapers full of publishing company employees, warehouses full of books, book stores, libraries, factories full of printing presses, paper mills, all the stuff the author bought with his writing money. Gone.

The funny thing, of course, is when they claim that no one will be writing books then. The reality is that the quality of the books written might actually improve a bit, because then all the hacks writing purely for money will be gone.

Anonymous Daniel June 25, 2013 1:57 PM  

The shame of it is that ebooks suck and they'll still end up dominating the market.

Myth. Ebook growth currently looks to secure, and probably top out, at a minority market share in the 30-45% range. That is an important share, but not dominant. Don't forget that it is quite nearly as easy to publish a printed book as it is to publish an ebook, and that even the kids who have been raised with a kindle or books on the ipod are more likely to possess more paper books than kids who don't read ebooks (last point not scientific, just my observation of the ebook immersed gen), and what you have is a balanced-format market.

Paper has advantages, and you will always be able to print off your own book at the very least.

That doesn't suck at all, even from your perspective.

Anonymous FUBAR Nation Ben June 25, 2013 1:58 PM  

You're right about the B&N SF/F section. It's filled with SFWA type of garbage.

Blogger James Dixon June 25, 2013 2:01 PM  

> The shame of it is that ebooks suck and they'll still end up dominating the market.

I second the above question by Hyperphrenius. What exactly about ebooks is it that sucks so badly?

Anonymous Daniel June 25, 2013 2:02 PM  

I wonder if personal printing presses are going to come along, in the same way that you have personal publishing. Then you'll have electronic and hard copies of books by one-man shops.

They have had these book printers available for at least 5 years. I've been to a lovely independent bookstore that not only had a niche focus, but could sell you any book in their database and print it off for you in about 20 minutes. It was hardback, if I recall, and was less than hardback price and a little more than paperback.

Anonymous Jill June 25, 2013 2:04 PM  

You've probably already answered this somewhere, but are you looking for short stories or books or both?

Anonymous jack June 25, 2013 2:05 PM  

Vox: I know that Alpinwolf has not yet kicked off fully [Nov you said?], so you probably don't know yet if there will be any extra authors beyond the original 50 slots you mentioned. Have you guys set up the thing to expand by any significant degree? I would hope there are special cases with hot new authors that can really write that you can 'work' into the on line store. Also, you mentioned, I think, that folks can win tokens to exchange for books and stuff. You still are going to allow a non game player to buy the credits to exchange for books and stuff? no?

Anonymous Will Best June 25, 2013 2:11 PM  

About a month ago or so somebody one of those financial rags was pitching B&N as a natural fit for Amazon to gain a store footprint the way Apple has. Personally, I thought the guy was on something, because I can't see how Amazon's infrastructure would make it profitable and it would immediately cause it to collect sales tax in the rest of the states without having forced its smaller competitors to do the same.

The shame of it is that ebooks suck and they'll still end up dominating the market. They are another example of consumers making really stupid decisions en masse.

Yeah being able to fit a bookshelf in the palm of my hand totally sucks. I also hate being able to get off copyright works for free or 99 cents formatting costs. If I didn't have ebooks I wouldn't have room to buy more books as I don't really have a place to put them.

Anonymous dh June 25, 2013 2:11 PM  

Would you write with no profit motive? Is hackery tied primarily to profit motive?

Anonymous VD June 25, 2013 2:11 PM  

You've probably already answered this somewhere, but are you looking for short stories or books or both?

Ideally short stories to novellas. We'll have a few novels up there - such as mine - but we believe the bulk of the initial interest will be be in the shorter ranges. We've also worked out an arrangement to publish the more popular stories conventionally in anthologies published by Marcher Lord.

I would hope there are special cases with hot new authors that can really write that you can 'work' into the on line store.

We can make changes of this sort at will.

You still are going to allow a non game player to buy the credits to exchange for books and stuff? no?

Sure, as long as someone registers, they can buy credits and access the store from inside the game. They don't actually have to play.

Anonymous Porky June 25, 2013 2:12 PM  

Why limit it to ebooks? A Selenoth themed animated series or live action drama in short installments would be great.

Anonymous dh June 25, 2013 2:12 PM  

About a month ago or so somebody one of those financial rags was pitching B&N as a natural fit for Amazon to gain a store footprint the way Apple has. Personally, I thought the guy was on something, because I can't see how Amazon's infrastructure would make it profitable and it would immediately cause it to collect sales tax in the rest of the states without having forced its smaller competitors to do the same.

Amazon is on the cusp of collecting tax basically everywhere. They are pushing for a national policy to avoid having compliance issues in all 50 states.

Speculating about Amazon's motives are irrelevant. They appear to be a business run as a non-profit.

Anonymous Jake June 25, 2013 2:16 PM  

Mark my words: The future will be ruled by FARTS.

This is why I think intellectual property "rights" will be one of the great legal battles of the next century.* You have new developments which have radically shifted how the market wants to be structured, to the benefit of billions but at the expense of lost jobs for the tens of thousands who made a living off the old structures. Those tens of thousands want to use laws to preserve their old ways. There are analogous conflicts building across society.

*Assuming our society lasts another century...

Anonymous ridip June 25, 2013 2:16 PM  

While they teeter, if you want an inexpensive Android tablet grab their Nook HD or HD+ on sale for $129 and $149+ respectively.

The wife just gave me an HD+ for Father's Day. Love it. In addition to B&N's moribund book store it has access to Google Play and all its available readers as well as the Kindle app.

DH, the wife and I (re)met and started dating around books too. Our church was physically assembling 50,000 Russian Bibles that we got to help deliver a few months after we got married.

Anonymous VD June 25, 2013 2:17 PM  

Why limit it to ebooks? A Selenoth themed animated series or live action drama in short installments would be great.

Because we don't have the wherewithal to produce it. And it's not limited to ebooks. There will be other digital goods as well.

Blogger Conan the Cimmerian, King of Aquilonia June 25, 2013 2:20 PM  

JartStar:My wife and I spent many hours browsing Half Price Books while dating...

Used book stores are excellent.

"Half price books for everyone"

Anonymous VD June 25, 2013 2:21 PM  

Would you write with no profit motive? Is hackery tied primarily to profit motive?

I do write with no profit motive. My publishers usually have to beg me to take my royalties. Yes, hackery is tied to it, although there are no shortage of bad writers who do it for love.

Heck, I sometimes design games with no profit motive. I have several card games and board game designs I've done simply for fun; never even thought of sending them anywhere. Creators create for its own sake. It's what they do.

Blogger Hylean June 25, 2013 2:23 PM  

I happen to be a budding author and have a sci-fi short story. What should I do if your offer is very interesting to me?

Anonymous Reston June 25, 2013 2:32 PM  

The local B&N, at which I also used to browse quite regularly until ... well, I guess I stopped doing so sometime in the early to mid naughts ... recently closed. It had been there for around 20-25 years or so, and dring much of that time prior to the past 5-7 years had been quite busy and crowded. There was just a tipping point somewhere along the line where the bulk of the market went digital, and people stopped browsing bookstores in significant numbers. I remember the last time I was in there maybe 6 or 8 months ago to pick up a gift. Around 15-20% of the floorspace was dedicated to promoting the Nook and accessories, and the shelf space was, of course, reduced. The Nook space coupled with the assorted/sundry/gift items space took up around 25-30% of the total retail space. I remember thinking to myself "this won't end well". It's being replaced by a Bed, Bath and Beyond, which is a very odd placement for this particular retail space. The Starbucks that was attached to the B&N, and was always quite busy, can't be too happy either.

Same with our local B&N, which closed recently and will be replaced by a Container Store (boo, boo). Suddenly it was all toys, games, and Nooks. I half expected them to start selling cigarettes and lottery tickets...

Spent lots of time with the wife in there, and also with my son when he wanted to play with the Thomas trains in the back. I was sad when it closed. Still, it has to be said, I used it as a place to browse but I can't remember buying anything other than greeting cards. When I found a book I liked, I'd go home and order it from Amazon.

Anonymous JartStar June 25, 2013 2:37 PM  

Creators create for its own sake. It's what they do.

That wasn't me who did a quick wash and dry brush on 382 pieces from Risk Godstorm. Nope. I wasn't thinking at all that the pieces would look much better with a little paint. Art's a weird thing... you just can't stop doing it when it is in your blood.

Blogger jamsco June 25, 2013 2:39 PM  

So, Vox, any thoughts about book signings as a marketing tool for writers?

Anonymous VD June 25, 2013 2:39 PM  

I happen to be a budding author and have a sci-fi short story. What should I do if your offer is very interesting to me?

Email it to me with SUBMISSION in the subject. Epub is preferred format; use Sigil to convert a text file.

Anonymous JartStar June 25, 2013 2:40 PM  

I now remember as a small child we'd go to the large public library at least once a week during the school year, and a couple of times a week during the summer. As we got older I noticed that the large bookstores functioned much the same as the libraries as a meeting place for people and just to hang out.

Anonymous dh June 25, 2013 2:42 PM  

A quick and dirty analysis appears to confirms what I feared/initially thought. There appears to be a nasty negative correlation between bookstores and the ghettoized half-civilized areas of the country. Damn it.

Working to see if there is a way to rule out class/economics. Or maybe add in Libraries as a control..

Anonymous Anonagain June 25, 2013 2:45 PM  

Damn it.

Reality sucks for Leftists. That's why they pretend it doesn't exist.

Anonymous harry12 June 25, 2013 2:45 PM  

dh June 25, 2013 2:42 PM
There appears to be a nasty negative correlation between bookstores and the ghettoized half-civilized areas of the country. Damn it.

.
RACISS
.

Anonymous NateM June 25, 2013 2:49 PM  

Conan- Glad I'm not the only one that immediately started humming that jingle..

Anonymous Anonagain June 25, 2013 2:55 PM  

appears to confirms what I feared

Why would anyone fear what is simply reality?

Ooh. Things falls down if there's nothing to support them. Oooh. It gets daylight in the morning. Oooh. It gets dark at night. Oooh. Bookstores are populated by mostly white people. Ooh. There are more black rapists than black doctors. Ooh. I can't look anymore. Make it stop!!!

I fucking hate leftists.

Anonymous Alexander June 25, 2013 3:00 PM  

Not sure what dh is upset about: would you prefer to discover that literature *didn't* have a noticeable correlation with civilization?

It's like being saddened that places lacking water tend to be dry...

Blogger IM2L844 June 25, 2013 3:04 PM  

LOL!

dh, apparently your sense of humor's got no chili around here.

Anonymous Steve Canyon June 25, 2013 3:08 PM  

I don't think this trend is just limited to Barnes and Noble. I don't go there as often as I used to, when I basically treated the place as a library back when I was poor, but the only thing I'll go there for is a couple of magazines here and there.

I probably spent more time at the local Half Price Books than all the other bookstores combined. They're going downhill too. Most of the genres I enjoy (non-fiction business, military history, and automotive/aviation topics) are overrun with factory seconds and overstocks rather than some esoteric/eclectic topic that was sold to them by a private customer unloading their unwanted books.

Ebooks are okay, but there's nothing like the tactile sensation of flipping the pages yourself. Skipping ahead to look at another chapter while retaining your finger in the spot you just left. That musty book smell. And my personal favorite, having a pile of them on your bookshelves to look at and remember the fun you had reading them.

Anonymous Porky June 25, 2013 3:16 PM  

Would be funny if he hadn't actually supported the ghettoization.

As it stands he sounds like a Marxist party hack joking about how the 5-year-plan seems to be correlating with starving masses of peasants. Damn it!

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus June 25, 2013 3:18 PM  

The sentimental attraction of bulk fades when your walls and shelves are full. It gets strained during house-moving too.

But for me the turning point was the twentieth consecutive time I couldn't get what I wanted from my local bricks and mortars chain outlet, but Amazon had it.

Anonymous Josh June 25, 2013 3:20 PM  

My books are like old friends, getting rid of them would be like cutting off a foot

Anonymous Randy M June 25, 2013 3:24 PM  

"So, Vox, any thoughts about book signings as a marketing tool for writers?"

Don't sign the front of the kindle.

Anonymous RedJack June 25, 2013 3:25 PM  

Some of my best memories are of wandering bookstores. To this day, when I travel somewhere I look for small stores to "get a feel" of the town.

Noticed a few things.

After B&N and Borders ate all the small stores, they started to lose quality. This was before the ereaders, probably in the mid to early 2000's. I used to walk into a small Waldenbooks in Ames that was so small and so packed with books that I had to walk sideways. During the time of Borders, they went to a larger footprint, and a standardized selection. Then they cut the selection and added in a coffee bar and gifts.

Now, you walk into a B&N or a BAM, and it looks like a cheaper Sharper Image. I still taking my kid to a bookstore, but now we go more and more to the Libary. Better selection, and less crap.

Anonymous RedJack June 25, 2013 3:27 PM  

Josh,
I understand. But I currently have over 300 books on my ebook reader, that I can move with my finger.

Still buy (and sell) DTB, but not near as many as before.

Anonymous Earl Ragnar Cheddarman June 25, 2013 3:27 PM  

I plan like to start a company specializing in Selenoth themed vacations, for men only.

After passing a fitness test and paying a fee, A man takes on the persona of a Northern Reaver, and joins a raider ship crew. The crews form a fleet and pillage yachts, then cruise ships, working their way up to rich coastal cities like Dubai.

If you successfully capture and hold for ransom the Sultan of Dubai or members of his immediate family, you are given a charter to start your own Northern Reaver company.

Before I launch the company, I need to complete negotiations with Vladimir Putin regarding use of some former Soviet naval bases.

Anonymous Idle Spectator, Two-Time Award Winning Cruelty Artist, and esteemed recipient of the Voxian Silver Cross for Freedom of Wit June 25, 2013 3:29 PM  

A quick and dirty analysis appears to confirms what I feared/initially thought. There appears to be a nasty negative correlation between bookstores and the ghettoized half-civilized areas of the country. Damn it.

When I was in the Latino ghettos (barrios), I noticed the screaming lack of books. It was the damnedest thing. The living rooms were filled with huge HDTV sets with deluxe speakers and lots of movies, both DVD and Blu-Ray.


Not. One. Single. Book.


As the Latino proportion of the population increases, I expect that to have an effect on book sales.

Anonymous Anonagain June 25, 2013 3:37 PM  

It's like being saddened that places lacking water tend to be dry...

Then insisting that water's wetness is nothing but a social construct, and proceeding to declare sand to be equally as wet as water, then passing laws forcing everyone to wash, drink and irrigate their plants with sand and only sand.

Anonymous Josh June 25, 2013 3:38 PM  

Josh,I understand. But I currently have over 300 books on my ebook reader, that I can move with my finger.Still buy (and sell) DTB, but not near as many as before.

Absolutely. I do most of my reading on the kindle fire now.

Anonymous Mike M. June 25, 2013 3:39 PM  

I concur with the effect of Amazon. It's the thousand-pound gorilla, especially since they branched out into selling just about everything. Amazon is the early 21st Century equivalent of Sears & Roebuck in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

As to e-books, I think there are too many of us who just plain like hard-copies. The younger generation seems to get along with them better...and I will admit to considering a Kindle for travel use.

Anonymous Luke June 25, 2013 3:45 PM  

Vaguely related, and kind of interesting in the patriarchy-reasserting-itself (over newtech-facilitated progeny dissoluteness) news category:

http://consumerist.com/2013/01/09/hiring-online-assassins-to-take-down-your-sons-avatars-is-one-way-to-curb-his-gaming-habit/

video games

Hiring Online Assassins To Take Down Your Son’s Avatars Is One Way To Curb His Gaming Habit

By Mary Beth Quirk
January 9, 2013

"The parental instinct is usually one of protection — gotta save the baby so my genes get passed on — but what if your son just refuses to stop playing video games online? Then it’s time to take him down in the virtual world, as one father in China decided to do when he hired online “assassins” to kill off his son’s avatars every time he logged on. Harsh, pops. Way harsh.

The BBC reports that the man didn’t like how much of his 23-year-old unemployed son’s life and energy were being poured into the gaming world. So he hired a bunch of other players to make that game experience less than a pleasant one..."


Anonymous Desiderius June 25, 2013 3:46 PM  

"They appear to be a business run as a non-profit."

Non-profit is were the money is, has been for awhile.

That's what happens when Soft Marxist pseudo-Leftism becomes the Established State Religion. It will continue until our Henry VIII comes around to dissolve our modern-day monasteries (academia) and their associated enterprises within and without the State.

Anonymous Alexander June 25, 2013 3:49 PM  

I like the anonymity of the book. I can go to the bookstore, pay in cash, and no one need to run algorithms on what other books I probably own or would like to own, or whether my copy of 1984 was not copyrighted properly and needs to be removed, replaced or doubleplusgoodfixed.

I've tried the ebooks, but the enjoyment I get from owning the physical book combined with an increasing desire for privacy has drastically pushed me back towards the brick and mortar stores. Whether this remains viable... we'll see.

Blogger George Turner June 25, 2013 3:49 PM  

The e-book issue hasn't been addressed properly by the traditional publishers who can't think out of the box. What are the key drawbacks of the e-book? For this we need a good conspiracy theory, which unfortunately contains way too much truth to be comfortable. But here goes:

After the NSA developed social networking so they could better utilize pattern matching algorithms, they came up with ubiquitous webcams and Facebooking to tie all those citizens to pictures and video, and tracked every word people said online, allowing them to build personality profiles. But those were only based on people's daily interactions with other people on the Internet. The NSA still couldn't see what books people read, and reading books is how dangerous, subversive ideas get planted. So the NSA invented the e-book, online sales, and platforms like Kindle and Nook. Now they can follow what you read not just by the book, but by the page. In many cases they can even turn on your laptop's webcam, triangulate on your face, track your eye movements, combine that with the reader's page information, and judge your pupil response down to the word. They might as well be scanning your brain because they're seeing your responses to the text as you read it. You don't read the e-books, the e-books read you - and tell all to the government masters.

So, step one in defending the paper book business model is to spread the above bit of paranoia far and wide.

Step two is to put up themed posters in bookstores, urging customers not to go along with the NSA "read-along" program, and buy low-tech paper books with cash - not credit cards or any other traceable transaction. The posters could even go so far as to tell customers not to bring GPS enabled cell-phones into the store, so sales transactions can't be associated with a particular phone's location near the register.

So fill the bookstores with posters, and newspapers with print ads, urging people to flip the FBI and NSA the bird and buy untrackable books made out of cellulose instead of silicon. Make artwork showing people being followed around by a Kindle that's wearing a trench coat and taking notes.

Step three, if necessary, is to have a few publishing houses warn that a high-altitude EMP burst from a nuclear weapon will wipe out all the Kindles, and thus everyone's personal libraries.

That could be followed by hinting that Apple and Amazon are secretely working on an H-bomb to do just that, so everybody would have to buy all the same music files and e-books AGAIN. They would of course deny it, just like all the phone companies and ISP's initially denied turning over data to the NSA, and paper publishers should point that out.

The traditional publishers can either take such steps, or they can read the above story on their Kindle as a Neal Stephenson novel - as they stand in the unemployment line.

Anonymous Desiderius June 25, 2013 3:50 PM  

"Each of our friends and family with strong marriages and - all of them - involve time spent at bookstore."

Just visited a "Unique Book Store" (used/collectible) with my SO and hope-to-be-in-the-medium-term-wife this past weekend. Much warmth and mutual delight.

Anonymous Hyperphrenius June 25, 2013 3:52 PM  

@VD

The funny thing, of course, is when they claim that no one will be writing books then. The reality is that the quality of the books written might actually improve a bit, because then all the hacks writing purely for money will be gone.

Even in the event of a total collapse of the print book industry and copyright, people would still find ways of making money off writing. Many modern authors get paid large sums to speak at universities and other venues, for example. A surge in demand for e-zines could also form a revenue stream, offering free stories to readers that have been ideally been filtered for quality's sake, the e-zine making its money off ads, the writers being paid like they always have. There would be media promoting tie-in novels which authors could get paid to write, and ghost writing gigs, as well.

And there's Kickstarter, with which a kind of mass-patronage has become possible. So a writer who's been publishing books online for free, and has amassed enough of a following of a particular series, could start a Kickstarter campaign, and keep the next book in his series hidden until the goal is reached.

This all discounts the honor system. There are still tons of people who refuse to pirate books, movies, games, etc, even when they can so without consequence. It's wrong, they say. Even many people who pirate will pay for something when they like it. They want to support the authors, they say. And while it may come to the point where only a tiny minority of people are willing to pay for ebooks, that minority will be the ones who control the fiction market.

The existence of bad writing doesn't depend on a monetary incentive, either. One only need to browse fanfiction, or look at what passes for much of "literary fiction" these days, to realize that. What a writer writes in a reflection of his soul. And the souls of men are shaped by our upbringings, our cultures, what we are taught to value and understand, how we are taught to think, what we are told to honor, respect, and love. As long as there are lots of nihilists in this world, there will be lots of nihilist fiction. But at least with the passing of the old nihilist gatekeepers, other souls will, and already are beginning to get a chance to tell their stories.

But then the physical publishing of books is not going to go away. Though hopefully the tech companies, the ISP providers and the HDD manufacturers, will realize how much they, and society have to gain from the abolition of copyright, and will lobby to that end. Really, copyright has never done anything to promote literacy and culture, and it must be eliminated if we are ever to cure our culture, our society of the liberalism, corporatism, and nihilism that afflict it.

Anonymous VD June 25, 2013 4:00 PM  

When I was in the Latino ghettos (barrios), I noticed the screaming lack of books.

I've noticed the same thing in some Asian houses, both in Japan and the USA.

Anonymous dh June 25, 2013 4:02 PM  

Not. One. Single. Book.

Yes, my personal experience has not been this, but I tend to have friends who are minorities in the upper-middle to upper-classes. I think with the white ghetto, it's the same story, no books, not even little fun fiction.

I was not expecting the middle and middle-lower classes of any race to have completely abandoned books. It's inexpensive and available, and so I figured that it was still alive. There is a correlation with the nice people I know who are all readers which I hadn't really noticed until VD pointed out his little love story with bookstores.

In 90 minutes of looking up anecdotes, I have found that there is probably a link that is not just class based. For example, nice middle-class black neighborhoods like North Point, St Louis (well actually in St. Louis County), which by most is, I think, a "civilized" area that is mostly black, is empty of bookstores, and appears to have no library.

I was not expecting it to be purely racial, but it appears that it is.

Anonymous dh June 25, 2013 4:03 PM  

That's what happens when Soft Marxist pseudo-Leftism becomes the Established State Religion. It will continue until our Henry VIII comes around to dissolve our modern-day monasteries (academia) and their associated enterprises within and without the State.

That's a convenient scapegoat but the reality is that Amazon is not held together by the state or anyone else, but by investors, who are happy to keep the stock price high while running on the promise of ever-future profits.

Anonymous Noah B. June 25, 2013 4:05 PM  

"Not. One. Single. Book."

Obviously they spend most of their free time at the library and have no need for books of their own.

Anonymous Feh June 25, 2013 4:14 PM  

I like the anonymity of the book. I can go to the bookstore, pay in cash, and no one need to run algorithms on what other books I probably own or would like to own, or whether my copy of 1984 was not copyrighted properly and needs to be removed, replaced or doubleplusgoodfixed.

I like the cheapness of the books from Amazon more than I like my privacy.

I just don't give a damn if the gummint knows what I buy from Amazon or check out from the library.

As to e-books, I think there are too many of us who just plain like hard-copies.

That's me. I hate ebooks. I only ever buy the dead tree versions.

If the price of an ebook is close to the price of the used real book - and so far it always is - I'll go used real book every time.

Anonymous Alexander June 25, 2013 4:14 PM  

This was obvious.

When I worked at Borders, blacks were well underrepresented among our customers. And then 95% of them went straight for the African American Literature which basically consists of romance novels that involve black pastors or gang members with a little Maya Angelou or W.E.B. Du Bois thrown in for good measure.

The only under 40 I ever saw go into the history section was a black girl who had to write a book report on America and wanted to write about how we'd be better off with communism. I never sold a classic.

Middle class whites weren't exactly scrambling to read Homer or Shakespeare (and keep in mind this was a college town, so you would have at least assumed some pretense of scholarly ambitions), but they didn't hit absolute 0.

DH, of course it's across the race. And that's not at all surprising: the liberal elite has spent what - two generations? - propogating the idea that classical literature is filled with nothing but racist, oppressing, dead white males with nothing of merit to offer our modern multicultural progressive utopia. Once you take that as true... the total shunning of literature makes complete sense.

Anonymous Reston June 25, 2013 4:16 PM  

By the way, racists, my local library is always full of blacks and Latinos, so there!

Oh wait, they just came to use the free internet. Never mind...

Anonymous Sensei June 25, 2013 4:17 PM  

Anyhow, if you're an SF/F writer who writes actual SF or epic fantasy, feel free to contact me about publishing through our in-game store. We've already got some excellent original works of fiction, including a few set in Selenoth, but we're looking for about 20 more.

I contacted you and didn't get a response. Don't know if the email fell through the cracks or if you're only looking for published authors. I have written quite a bit, but am certainly willing to conceded that having published at least one book does seem a fair place to set the bar.

Anonymous Stickwick June 25, 2013 4:18 PM  

The SF/F section was full of media tie-in novels and fantasy novels with badly Photoshopped covers ...

Most SF/F covers these days are terrible and uninspiring. Just look at the difference between the old and new covers for John Gardner's Grendel: the old 1970s version is powerful and grown up; the new version looks like an illustration from a kid's story. If I want a dead-tree version of a classic, I go to Half Priced Books just so I can get a 1960s or 1970s cover.

Anonymous Sensei June 25, 2013 4:18 PM  

*Contacted you after the original post asking for writers, that is.

Anonymous JartStar June 25, 2013 4:30 PM  

Most SF/F covers these days are terrible and uninspiring.

Two main factors contribute to this: the cost of a good artist, and the scarcity of good artists. Assuming that the average writer or publisher had enough cash laying around to pay good artists for 90% of their books, and the prices were static for a couple of years, they literally couldn't find enough of them to fill the demand.

Good art, like any other creative endeavor is difficult and takes time.

Anonymous GreyS June 25, 2013 4:31 PM  

I use both "real" books and ebooks. My kindle has choke books on it and I love the ease of using it before bedtime or sitting outside. I still get hardcovers for certain categories, such as war map books, theology, etc, and of course out of print things.

To put things in perspective re BN-- I literally have a storage unit full of books-- and I haven't been to BN in a year and a half. Heck, since I don't have to drive that way very often, I don't even know if they are still in business. I buy almost all my stuff from Amazon, Abebooks, Loome, Ignatius Press, and ebay.

Anonymous VD June 25, 2013 4:33 PM  

I contacted you and didn't get a response.

Try again. I didn't get it.

Anonymous Sensei June 25, 2013 4:34 PM  

Oh wait, they just came to use the free internet. Never mind...

I actually enjoy the environment of B&N more than the paltry book selection which Vox mentioned. (Actually it's even worse here locally than he described)
So I end up using the free wi-fi to find e-books actually worth reading and read them in the bookstore. This seems subversive on some level, but I always buy something in the cafe since I'm taking up their space and AC...

People here seem to use bookstores for similar purposes somewhat more than to actually buy any of the books there. I have a theory that with good marketing and an intelligent business plan one could open a very successful chain of "comfortable space" locations for reading, studying, and out-of-the-office work. There's a lack of that kind of space even in college towns.

Anonymous . June 25, 2013 4:37 PM  

I have a theory that with good marketing and an intelligent business plan one could open a very successful chain of "comfortable space" locations for reading, studying, and out-of-the-office work.

I call these locations "Starbucks"...

Anonymous Stickwick June 25, 2013 4:38 PM  

JartStar,

Fair enough. What I don't quite understand is the difference between now and 40-50 years ago, when covers were really cool. Is it that there are so many more authors and books these days than there were back in the 60s and 70s?

I wonder if it's possible to bring back some of the old "retro" covers for the classics, like Clarke, Heinlein, and C. S. Lewis. I know zilch about the publishing biz, so maybe it's not feasible. But I'd be willing to shell out for a new copy of, say, Childhood's End with a cool retro cover.

Anonymous Maximo Macaroni June 25, 2013 4:39 PM  

E-books are convenient. I became convinced of this when i downloaded a Kindle book when I was on vacation in Ecuador. Lying in bed in my hotel room, thousands of miles from home, I push a few buttons, Bingo! Fresh new reading material. Magic.

E-books have some problems, namely maps, charts, graphs diagrams and pictures. Reading about the Franco-Prussian War is frustrating when you can't see a coherent graphic of the siege lines around Paris or the Prussian encirclement of Sedan. And economics is less comprehensible when the charts of unemployment, inflation and gold prices are all broken up. Oh, and I like BIG maps, not tiny sketches. Zooming in just doesn't cut it.

I've noticed that when I find a book I really like, I want to have the e-book, for convenience, and the dead-tree book, for readability.

Anonymous Scintan June 25, 2013 4:44 PM  

What is about ebooks that sucks? Why is it stupid to prefer electronic text to printed?

Outside of space, which is a non-issue since you can trade books anyway, and price, which should be a non-issue if you really like the book,


everything. Sadly, one major problem with people making the terrible choice to go with ebooks is that both new and used book stores will be in financial peril. Ebook readers are not only choosing a vastly inferior product, they're screwing over those who prefer the better one. It's an electronic Walmarting.

Anonymous Alexander June 25, 2013 4:45 PM  

Daniel, if you see this comment:

What was the bookstore in question, and do you know of any others that offer this service. It's something I've thought for a long time, "hey, this is a neat idea..." but my google skillz are only showing me how to bind my own books and how I can pay to have lovely hardback photo albums. If you can point me in the right direction that would be appreciated.

Thanks.

Anonymous Sensei June 25, 2013 4:49 PM  

I call these locations "Starbucks"...

I almost mentioned Starbucks because I figured someone would bring it up. Most Starbucks are a terrible place to study, and some actively discourage students from spending time there. I am thinking of a more peaceful environment with actual space to spread out books and working materials, stable internet, that is a good enough alternative to most coffeeshops that people would be willing to pay to spend a few hours there.

Anonymous GreyS June 25, 2013 4:55 PM  

"I call these locations "Starbucks"..."

! ! !

Blogger James Dixon June 25, 2013 5:04 PM  

> everything. ... Ebook readers are not only choosing a vastly inferior product, they're screwing over those who prefer the better one. It's an electronic Walmarting.

In most cases, they're also paying a Walmart price.

Anonymous Idle Spectator June 25, 2013 5:13 PM  

I've noticed the same thing in some Asian houses, both in Japan and the USA.

Japan might be due to lack of space. No room for a lot of bookshelves.


DH, of course it's across the race. And that's not at all surprising: the liberal elite has spent what - two generations? - propogating the idea that classical literature is filled with nothing but racist, oppressing, dead white males with nothing of merit to offer our modern multicultural progressive utopia. Once you take that as true... the total shunning of literature makes complete sense.

Not to mention the public schools. The books they force-feed people probably made them hate reading like contracting the clap. I think Gatto covered this.


Yes, my personal experience has not been this, but I tend to have friends who are minorities in the upper-middle to upper-classes. I think with the white ghetto, it's the same story, no books, not even little fun fiction.

Sounds about right. If you look at the upper classes in Haiti, they are cultured and have lots of books, despite the country being a complete shithole. Maybe an aristocracy really is developing after all in the United States.


Obviously they spend most of their free time at the library and have no need for books of their own.

In between visits to the strip malls for Quinceañera dresses and chop shops. And weed. And tequila.


By the way, racists, my local library is always full of blacks and Latinos, so there!

Oh wait, they just came to use the free internet. Never mind...


Don't forget the homeless guys I see all the time. They must be the most well-read of all.

Oh wait, they just came to whack off to some internet porn and use the restrooms.

Is that being classist?

Anonymous JartStar June 25, 2013 5:16 PM  

Is it that there are so many more authors and books these days than there were back in the 60s and 70s?

Yes. Here's just one bit of data.

I wonder if it's possible to bring back some of the old "retro" covers for the classics

It's firstly about the rights to use the images which may be difficult to obtain let alone find the original painting to rescan and use, secondly about the market. Is there a market for books with retro covers? Probably.

Dungeons and Dragons (WOTC) have sold a lot of older edition reprints with modified original covers and old rules. I don't know if the younger kids are buying them because retro is cool and the rules are better, or Gen-X is purchasing them to admire on their shelves and teach their kids. Regardless they have been popular.

Blogger papabear June 25, 2013 5:16 PM  

"I've noticed the same thing in some Asian houses, both in Japan and the USA."

Space is at a premium in Japan. In the US (East) Asians will usually go to the library instead of buying books. (Despite their love of book learning, there isn't as much of a love for books as such.) Also, I wonder how many Japanese purchase manga, rather than renting it.

Blogger papabear June 25, 2013 5:20 PM  

"I almost mentioned Starbucks because I figured someone would bring it up. Most Starbucks are a terrible place to study, and some actively discourage students from spending time there. I am thinking of a more peaceful environment with actual space to spread out books and working materials, stable internet, that is a good enough alternative to most coffeeshops that people would be willing to pay to spend a few hours there."

Instead of a internet cafe with its computer stations, one would be renting a carrel or table by the hour. Not a bad idea, but I don't know if it is economically feasible in the long run, not with the death of the middle class.

Anonymous Idle Spectator June 25, 2013 5:22 PM  

Despite their love of book learning, there isn't as much of a love for books as such.

I've noticed that too. The only time they crack the book is when they need it for some academic credential or some other pragmatic endeavor.

Blogger Nate June 25, 2013 5:25 PM  

I only buy DT editions of truely beloved books... like The Black Company series for example... or Return of the Great Depression... otherwise... its all ebooks all the time.

Blogger njartist June 25, 2013 5:42 PM  

Hyperphrenius June 25, 2013 1:30 PM
What is about ebooks that sucks? Why is it stupid to prefer electronic text to printed?

E-books are hardware and software dependent: What will happen when B&N goes away and you have a large amount of books on Nook; what will happen to all those books if another book seller/publisher becomes dominant and decides to create an exclusive reader and text application; thus forcing you to purchase an entire new collection? We've already seen this past year when one major seller decided to remove copies of one of its books which were already purchased an on the buyers' devices?

What happens to all your books on a reader if it suddenly becomes unusable?

The same questions pertain to downloadable pdf formated books; some of which are long out of print.

Blogger Bob Wallace June 25, 2013 6:34 PM  

"A quick and dirty analysis appears to confirms what I feared/initially thought. There appears to be a nasty negative correlation between bookstores and the ghettoized half-civilized areas of the country. Damn it."

Some years ago i saw a young black man on TV say (very bitterly), "If you want to hide something from a black man, put it in a book."

Bookstores and classical music drives off the hoodlums, whatever ethnic group they belong to.

Anonymous Hyperphrenius June 25, 2013 6:38 PM  

njartist June 25, 2013 5:42 PM

E-books are hardware and software dependent: What will happen when B&N goes away and you have a large amount of books on Nook;

You can still read them on the Nook, or move them to another device. Any DRM is easy to remove. Of course the e-books should be backed up like all valuable data. If you lose all copies of a book for which you've paid, that's what piracy's for. If you can't find it to pirate it, then it's just like losing a physical copy; you can either buy another or go without.

What happens to all your books on a reader if it suddenly becomes unusable?

A prudent man would have backed up his e-books to every available storage drive in the house. As e-books are relatively small, this is easily done. Data migration is the key to preservation. Not doing so is like leaving your printed books out on the lawn, instead of up on an inside shelf. But of course a lost e-book is easier to replace than a lost printed one.

Anonymous Fail Burton June 25, 2013 6:44 PM  

And we're forgetting that for the first time in history, I can simply get thousands of books for free, and I don't even have to go anywhere. No one knows how much money that's costing the industry.

On the other hand, people are taking at least some books for free, out of curiosity, they wouldn't have bought anyway if they had to pay, due to marginal interest that doesn't quite get the wallet out. And it's not like this diminishes stock, cuz there is none.

But you have to imagine the cumulative effect is definitely on the negative side.

Then add to that pros having ebook versions alongside nobodies from nowhere. The sheer chance one will encounter really shoddy work will act to turn off all but the more enthusiastic genre connoisseurs and people who simply can't tell good from bad or don't care.

Not much of an upside to this scenario. The advantage lies with those with no dog in the hunt by way of an existing company who will react to reality with a flexibility BN can't, and find innovative ways to address this new reality. That means start ups.

As for SFF specifically, you have too much enthusiasm by too many writers and not enough art. You might think that's all the more opportunity to make one's mark. Well, it is if your fan base are connoisseurs. But when master writers die and writers admit they never ever read them, even the writers aren't connoisseurs. In that particular case, the women in question, Aliette de Bodard, may as well title all her work "Woe Is Me: Da Colonialist Whites." How fun is that? Not exactly E.E. Smith.

Then throw on top of that SFF institutions that are either rabidly gender and race hateful or standing on the sidelines trying not to ruffle those feathers, and again there's not much of an upside.

Like BN, SFF itself is going to have to reinvent itself and establish new institutions that conspicuously will have nothing to do with race and gender flame ups that at their heart have nothing to do with fantastic literature. It's like going to the post office and being constantly asked to sample cheeseburgers to mail a letter.

In the near future, I wouldn't be surprised to see a group of SFF writers, editors and prominent fans circulate a petition with a broad definition of hate speech they sign declaring they'll have nothing to do with people in the SFF community who in any way indulge in such speech outside the literature itself. If you're looking for the NAACP, it's over there, buddy. Yeah, I think it's time to stand up and call this what it really is, without morons using skin and gender to act as a cover: it is naked racism, and it has to go.

Anonymous Heh June 25, 2013 6:46 PM  

I've noticed the same thing in some Asian houses, both in Japan and the USA.

Japan might be due to lack of space. No room for a lot of bookshelves.


Check it out - this is basically my dream house, heh heh:

http://inhabitat.com/shelf-pod-an-entire-japanese-home-lined-with-a-maze-of-bookshelves/

What do you do when you have a large book collection? And we mean a ridiculously large collection. Well, you could live in an entire house lined with bookshelves like this one! Designed by Japan’s Kazuya Morita Architecture Studio in Moriguchi City, the entire interior of the home, which has been dubbed Shelf-Pod, is lined with an extensive latticework of laminated pine board. Th

Blogger Nate June 25, 2013 6:56 PM  

"E-books are hardware and software dependent: What will happen when B&N goes away and you have a large amount of books on Nook; what will happen to all those books if another book seller/publisher becomes dominant and decides to create an exclusive reader and text application; thus forcing you to purchase an entire new collection? We've already seen this past year when one major seller decided to remove copies of one of its books which were already purchased an on the buyers' devices?"

This reads like a terrified gun control female screeching about blood in the streets.

I've got e books that I first read on my Handspring in 1997... and I can still read them today on my Z10... or my playbook... or an ipad... or my laptop.

What kind of shape are your paperbacks in 10 years later?

How about 20?

Anonymous Desiderius June 25, 2013 7:29 PM  

"That's a convenient scapegoat but the reality is that Amazon is not held together by the state or anyone else, but by investors, who are happy to keep the stock price high while running on the promise of ever-future profits."

Who do you think sit on the Boards of Directors of those Universities?

You missed my point entirely. I'm saying that the real money is to be made in enterprises that can plausibly portray themselves as "non-profit" due to the demonization of the concept of profit by those who create the culture for going on two generations.

Blogger njartist June 25, 2013 7:31 PM  

This reads like a terrified gun control female screeching about blood in the streets.

Thank you Nate for your informed and rational opinion: it added much to the conversation.

I have backup of my backups which I had to create because one computer decided after a few months that a that USB will no longer work in it; even though that same USB will work in the computer that originally loaded it.

Blogger James Dixon June 25, 2013 7:32 PM  

> E-books are hardware and software dependent:

Nope. A simple text file can be read by pretty much anything. As can an epub or mobi. Do you complain that dead tree books are incompatible because they are published in different languages? You don't buy a book in a language you can't read, you don't buy an ebook in a locked format. Or if you do, it doesn't stay in that format.

> What will happen when B&N goes away and you have a large amount of books on Nook;

The Nook will still work. And it's easy enough to convert them to another format if I want.

> ... what will happen to all those books if another book seller/publisher becomes dominant and decides to create an exclusive reader and text application; thus forcing you to purchase an entire new collection?

That's a battle that's already lost. There are two dominant formats: epub and Amazon's modified mobi format. Anyone other than Amazon would be a fool not to use epub.

> We've already seen this past year when one major seller decided to remove copies of one of its books which were already purchased an on the buyers' devices?

What makes you think I won't have backups?

> What happens to all your books on a reader if it suddenly becomes unusable?

Your Amazon and B&N books are usable on any compatible device registered with your account. You're not limited to one device. Besides, what did I say about backups above?

> The same questions pertain to downloadable pdf formated books; some of which are long out of print.

Only if the pdf is DRM'ed. You can read a pdf on pretty much any computer.

The only valid complaint you have is with DRM'ed titles, and that's an issue that any computer literate person who can use Google can deal with.

Blogger njartist June 25, 2013 7:33 PM  

And Nate, my thirty - forty year old paperbacks are doing fine.

Blogger James Dixon June 25, 2013 7:34 PM  

Oh, and please note that I don't even own an ebook reader. The fact that I personally don't buy ebooks doesn't mean I don't recognize their benefits.

Anonymous Jill June 25, 2013 8:49 PM  

Somebody way the heck up there mentioned that there are a lot more authors now than in the 60s. Yeah, everybody's an author these days, which has led to numbing silence from the gatekeepers for even well-written work. There just aren't enough publishing slots. That's why I decided to self-pub and move on. I'm simply having a hard time with the moving-on part. It's like ripping a big hole out of my ego.

Anonymous K. Tempest Racist Fishstick Vampire and Human Blimp June 25, 2013 8:51 PM  

What's a Nook? Is it edible?

Anonymous N.K. Axolotl Tank, Didn't Invent the Automobile, Am Racist June 25, 2013 9:22 PM  

Jill, you just have to become more famous for outrage than art. Then, people will by your books no matter how stinky they are. Worked for me.

Anonymous kh123 June 25, 2013 9:29 PM  

"The old 1970s version is powerful and grown up; the new version looks like an illustration from a kid's story."

Pedobear: The Journey to Penn State.

Was looking at some of Ralph McQuarrie's illustrations from the 1960's on, the non-Star Wars sci-fi stuff. Even with some of the dated palettes and wonky anatomy, there's still an aspect of awe and wonder - with actual paints on canvas - that quite a bit of digital art hasn't been able to capture for a decade-plus. That (especially) includes CG in film.

Blogger hadley June 25, 2013 9:59 PM  

"When I was in the Latino ghettos (barrios), I noticed the screaming lack of books. It was the damnedest thing."

The New York Times/Atlantic/Harpers ran an article a year or two ago that said there were no bookstores in Mexico City anymore. I believe it was on the occasion of the last general purpose bookstore closing. At the time it seemed bizarre, so I remember rereading it a couple times.

Apparently Mexicans of most any class just don't read.

Anonymous nick digger June 25, 2013 10:32 PM  

"If you want to hide something from a black man, put it in a book."

I always thought you "put it under his work boots". Or is that just his welfare check?

Anonymous dh June 25, 2013 11:20 PM  

Nope. A simple text file can be read by pretty much anything. As can an epub or mobi. Do you complain that dead tree books are incompatible because they are published in different languages? You don't buy a book in a language you can't read, you don't buy an ebook in a locked format. Or if you do, it doesn't stay in that format.

This is not given. What is a "simple text" file, in terms that will be understood in 10, 20, and 50 years?

Anonymous Daniel June 25, 2013 11:36 PM  

Alexander
What was the bookstore in question, and do you know of any others that offer this service. It's something I've thought for a long time, "hey, this is a neat idea..." but my google skillz are only showing me how to bind my own books and how I can pay to have lovely hardback photo albums. If you can point me in the right direction that would be appreciated.

Oh, man, you would ask that. It was...in Washington state. At first I was going to say it was in Bellingham, but it could have been Seattle.

Let me check here...

Found it. Bellingham. Village Books. Here's a little article about their machine.

http://www.villagebooks.com/espresso-book-machine-print-demand

Now, I don't think those machines can beat big POD printers, but if you really need a book "right now" or there's an out of print book that you can't get otherwise, these machines can do the trick. If you just want a bunch of your own books printed, a place like createspace can do it at a much more reasonable scale. It was cool to see it work, and I would def. pay them to get me a bound copy of something weird I've been hunting down for ages if I lived in the area.

Anonymous Writers Gawking At VD June 25, 2013 11:45 PM  

""If you want to hide something from a black man, put it in a book."

I always thought you "put it under his work boots". Or is that just his welfare check?"

We said we were done gawking at Vox, but this is too much to resist. The claims of racism have been flung at Vox from all quarters for his "savage" comment. But then you take a look at this thread and see what Vox finds worthy of commenting on in the comments section. We see he has no apparent desire to even comment on the extraordinarily racist comments he inspires. Rather, he must think, let them sit here, unanswered, so the world can see.

It confirms a lot and explains a lot.

All of it once again proving, our gawking is legitimized.

The writers of the world thank you, again, Vox.

Anonymous Writers Gawking At Vox and Hadley June 25, 2013 11:50 PM  

"The New York Times/Atlantic/Harpers ran an article a year or two ago that said there were no bookstores in Mexico City anymore. I believe it was on the occasion of the last general purpose bookstore closing. At the time it seemed bizarre, so I remember rereading it a couple times.

Apparently Mexicans of most any class just don't read."

Hadley....You're just stupid.

Try googling "Mexico City Bookstores".

You be dumb lots too, good?

Anonymous Fail Burton June 26, 2013 12:12 AM  

Joking is racist? Is there some special official sanction for a stand up comic, TV as opposed to a non-professional here? Who knows how many whitey jokes I've heard in my life, many from black people. They don't bother me. And this isn't an office or a cocktail party. Nor are we reacting to rhetoric that is polite towards us. The Root black culture website has a section called "The Blackest Whites Folks We Know." Who cares? Except for one thing: I'm not allowed to do the same. This is a case of you violating your own principles, not mine, and being too stupid to see it.

The true difference is that when Scalzi, and the moronic Kate Elliot and her "male gaze," the viciously racist N.K. Jemisin, the miserable Aliette de Bodard, the crazy Foz Meadows, rape-hobbiest Jim Hines and a zillion others make stereotypical, negative and profiling comments about white men as endemic racists, sexists, privileged supremacists and homophobes, they're not joking.

Hell, if those asssholes were only joking, I'd be happy. There is especially not one single female black author in SFF that doesn't go at white men day and night on blogs and Twitter, and I have the quotes to prove it. If they were joking, I couldn't prosecute them in Canada for hate speech. But they're not, and so I can.

The gulf between my first two paragraphs is one you are literally incapable of intellectually crossing. And so you'll carry on, because you're addicted to it, possibly suffer from mental health issues about persecution or self-pity plus a healthy dose of plain stupidity.

Anonymous Alexander June 26, 2013 12:28 AM  

Thanks, Daniel. I appreciate the response.

Blogger Conan the Cimmerian, King of Aquilonia June 26, 2013 12:36 AM  

NateM June 25, 2013 2:49 PM

I knew I would mind virus someone.

Blogger Conan the Cimmerian, King of Aquilonia June 26, 2013 12:37 AM  

Writers Gawking

Blow it out your vagina, you homo.

Anonymous Writers Gawking At Vox and Conan June 26, 2013 1:32 AM  

"Blow it out your vagina, you homo."

We're guessing you aren't a writer.

Anonymous Writers Gawking At Vox June 26, 2013 1:34 AM  

"Joking is racist?"

Who said that?!? Who....?? Was it you? How about you over there??

No, my friend. Joking is not racist. However, jokes can be racist.

Go over to the corner and say 100 times.

Blogger Justthisguy June 26, 2013 1:34 AM  

You and Mrs. Hoyt are right. (I've spent the last three or four days reading all of the back posts on her blog.) I have noticed this, too. The last 10-15 years or so, when I've gone into Books-A-Million or B&N with money in my pocket, I mostly left with the money still in my pocket. Thank got for Gutenberg (which has most of H. Beam Piper, yay! and the Baen Free Library, if one is desperately poor, as am I.

Blogger Justthisguy June 26, 2013 1:55 AM  

Oh, dh @2:42pm? I went to a couple of concerts done by our local (excellent) municipal volunteer band a few months ago, and with the exception of one of the sound guys, absolutely everybody (but one, in the audience) in the band and audience was White. Most of us had gray hair. The black exception in the audience got bored and left, halfway through. The rest of us applauded till our hands hurt, and yelled for encores.

To paraphrase the popular song, "The Doctor says, give him wind band music, it seems to make him feel just fine!"

Jtg, old band nerd, over here at The Right of The Line, with The Colors.

Blogger LGB June 26, 2013 2:49 AM  

Just a comment on Night Shade Books, that was an implosion anyone who wasn't a total dumb could see coming, I mean, people knew Night Shade wasn't paying royalties and etc. years ago, these problems weren't new, they seemed to lurch from year to year in constant Crisis Mode and other people were willing to laugh it off for the past decade "Oh you didn't get paid (or whatever other problems)? Ha ha, well, That's Just The Way They Are, those nutty funsters." Even as the company imploded like it should have done long before, leaving many an author and designer and illustrator in the lurch, the two dorks in charge were still going on about Their Enemies, one of them penned a defensive letter that could be summed up as "What's Your Problem? It's Not Our Fault! Plus We Have Enemies, Who Wanted Us to Fail!" and the thing is these two will probably continue to coast along in their new positions at the "new" Nightshade via whatever these two outfits that snapped up their catalog are called.

Blogger James Dixon June 26, 2013 6:58 AM  

> This is not given. What is a "simple text" file, in terms that will be understood in 10, 20, and 50 years?

ASCII is a well defined and implemented standard for English text, dh.

> Rather, he must think, let them sit here, unanswered, so the world can see.

Exactly as he does your comments, unless they're directed to him.

Blogger Nate June 26, 2013 8:29 AM  

"Thank you Nate for your informed and rational opinion: it added much to the conversation.

I have backup of my backups which I had to create because one computer decided after a few months that a that USB will no longer work in it; even though that same USB will work in the computer that originally loaded it. "

Look mate.. the fact that you suck at computers is not really relevant to the conversation.

So you're good at storing dead trees? Good for you. I'm sure there were plenty of people who had great arguments in favor of ice boxes over refrigerators too.

And hell... if you want to go buy a cooler and keep ice in it... you're welcome to do so.

Blogger Bernard Brandt June 26, 2013 10:35 AM  

Anyhow, if you're an SF/F writer who writes actual SF or epic fantasy, feel free to contact me about publishing through our in-game store. We've already got some excellent original works of fiction, including a few set in Selenoth, but we're looking for about 20 more.

I will take you up on that offer. I have written a SF/Horror novel entitled Bad Trip, which is currently on Amazon, here:

http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Trip-ebook/dp/B00AA3PDB8

The first two or so chapters are available as samples. I would be happy to send you an epub version, or whatever other version you would prefer, were you to take an interest.

I receive e-mail at bfbrandt AT hotmail DOT com


Blogger Conan the Cimmerian, King of Aquilonia June 26, 2013 11:28 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Conan the Cimmerian, King of Aquilonia June 26, 2013 11:30 AM  

Writers
We're guessing you aren't a writer.


Typing does not a writer make.

And I'm guessing you ain't too bright.

Anonymous GreyS June 26, 2013 1:42 PM  

"Sounds about right. If you look at the upper classes in Haiti, they are cultured and have lots of books, despite the country being a complete shithole. Maybe an aristocracy really is developing after all in the United States."

Self-limiting; self-propelling. Same as in many African countries, but in addition to "upper class" it's also certain tribes and peoples (within countries) which traditionally value education and literacy very much while others in those same countries do not (both types regardless of wealth).. I know Africans who simply cannot believe how "unread" many Americans are. They think of it as "Why in the world wouldn't you take advantage of all there is available!?!?" Heh-- Our government sends them Peace Corps teachers who are so unread and untrained that the locals are convinced they are CIA. No joke.

Blogger LP 999/Eliza June 26, 2013 7:55 PM  

Ah! Charlotte's B & A was a day trip for friends, family and I. I used to enjoy browsing from one area to the next, these days, the B & A's are out of my driving range.

Anonymous Hmmmm June 26, 2013 9:14 PM  

This doesn't sound like a winning strategy for B&N:

Barnes & Noble will stop making its Nook tablets after a 34 per cent drop in sales of Nook devices and e-books

The company will continue to make its black-and-white Nook e-readers but will seek a partner in the production of the devices

The retailer plans to close up to 20 stores this year


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2348839/Barnes--Noble-stop-Nook-tablet-production-close-20-stores.html#ixzz2XNJ3kLqO

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