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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Superversive Press shutters

Joshua Young, one of the Superversive stalwarts, announces the closing of Superversive Press:
It is with great sadness that I bring you the announcement that the owner of Superversive Press has made the decision to shutter the press. His reasons are his own and personal, and I understand that running even a small company is a large amount of work.
It's much harder to run a small independent press than most people, even most writers, understand. And doing so since the advent of Kindle Unlimited, which reduced the ebook market by about 80 percent, has made it next to impossible.

That doesn't apply to Castalia House, however. We intentionally set it up as a zero-risk structure that will keep running, more or less automatically, regardless of what just about anyone, including us, does in the future. And, of course, we have been aggressively exploring other markets, which has tended to strengthen our core business. But our biggest strength is our modestly-sized, but fiercely loyal base of our regular readers.

So don't worry about Castalia. I can't say for certain that things have never been better, as we did have a really good moment there in 2017 before the bottom dropped out of the ebook market, but things have definitely never looked more promising.

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43 Comments:

Blogger White Knight Leo #0368 January 22, 2020 9:54 PM  

Semi-related, listening to audiobooks from VDH have gotten me to start searching out the classics. I had read and listened to 'The Persian Expedition' but I genuinely had no idea Xenophon was actually a prolific writer - I just ordered a copy of Oeconomicus.

The more I learn about the history of WestCiv from VDH the more I'm stunned at how little of it I got from my schooling - and I went to a *good* public school! (Class of '05) So much of this would have been fascinating even to 16-year-old me. My nephew is only half that age and he listens with rapt attention at my abbreviated versions of what I've been learning.

VDH reportedly faults his own profession for failing to make the public case for the importance of the classics - and he's probably not wrong - but considering how common classical education was until the latter half of the 20th century I'm going to assume that failure was either exacerbated with or else driven by anti-Western bias within the academy.

Blogger Pathfinderlight January 22, 2020 10:05 PM  

Kindle is run as the Walmart of the book world. Run at a loss, propped up by the company's other holdings. It's a disgusting, but effective way to do business, at least until the customer boycotts start happening.

Blogger Warunicorn January 22, 2020 10:14 PM  

"It's much harder to run a small independent press than most people, even most writers, understand. And doing so since the advent of Kindle Unlimited, which reduced the ebook market by about 80 percent, has made it next to impossible."

Does that include mass market? That's depressing. I bought quite a few books for my Kobo last year (and this was after giving up my Kindle). I even re-bought titles that I had on the Kindle like SJWs Always Lie.

Blogger Glaivester January 22, 2020 10:29 PM  

And doing so since the advent of Kindle Unlimited, which reduced the ebook market by about 80 percent, has made it next to impossible.

How did Kindle Unlimited reduce the ebook market? I'm a hardcopy kind of guy, so I don't really understand how these things work.

Blogger Newscaper312 January 22, 2020 10:52 PM  

Keep fighting thew good fight. I support with some $$s here and there, though no subscriptions yet.
I do work in the occasional on topic plug for SJWAL or Corporate Cancer over on Instapundit, throw in "Once again Vox Day was right", and otherwise try to help move the Overton Window.
Had a chuckle when an Insty guest blogger's post recently had a secondary link to something older from Jordan P. Chimed in with how he's a self-avowed leftie who is merely trying to keep the SJW excess form driving young men to the right.
Most downvotes I've ever had there. Even more funny with an actual Canadian chimed in w detailed knowledge of JP's party history backing me up. Crickets.

Blogger Beau January 22, 2020 11:07 PM  

Sorry to hear this, maybe Castalia can be a platform for some of the Subversive authors.

Blogger Ingot9455 January 22, 2020 11:58 PM  

@4 Kindle Unlimited is a $10 a month subscription service that gives you access to electronic books library-style as opposed to you-buy-you-keep style. In general, a heavy reader will be able to read more bad books and pay less on Kindle Unlimited, even though he loses access to them later.
Theoretically an author gets a cut of his subscription fee paid that month if someone checks out his book and reads through the pages; but if a heavy reader reads 10 books in a month that means that there's essentially nothing for an individual author to get paid after Amazon takes a cut for running the service. Essentially, it's a Spotify rip-off for e-books.

Blogger wreckage January 23, 2020 12:06 AM  

@4 KU acts like a library-for-hire, where readers pay by the pages they read, rather than outright buying books. A lot of the big spenders for the ebook market, guys who like to read great big series, serials and the like, went to a KU sub instead of buying ebooks outright. Really sucked the cream right off the top for some publishers and authors.

What I hear is KU works fine for the guys writing or publishing serial-type fiction, not so much for anyone not doing that kind of high-output pulp fiction. And it is a bit of a fenced-in yard, those big KU readers now tend to just read whatever is in KU rather than wandering more widely. So, all the fattest cows are now exclusively in that one paddock being milked flat out, if I may extend the analogy.

Blogger J Van Stry January 23, 2020 12:06 AM  

There have been some interesting developments with how Amazon is managing KU. I don't know how these will pan out for Amazon, but Amazon is struggling with it. A number of us have noticed that Amazon is now controlling the advertising (Also reads) that it shows KU program subscribers in order to cut down on their reading. Certain segments of the ebook market that used to get huge KU sales have seen rather precipitous drops in numbers.
The readers are still there, Amazon is just not showing them the books, because they were losing too much money.
Amazon is also lowering the per page payout. It used to be cyclic, but in the last year it has been continually trending down. Most subscription services eventually collapse, because they never turn a profit. Amazon is not immune from economics, sooner or later, something will have to give.
Amazon has also been pushing out authors who were basing their entire market around KU sales, even though those authors did not engage in anything illegal or against the TOS. Because they were losing too much money to those authors sales.

Sometime in the next year or two, I suspect we are going to see a major shift in the ebook world due to Amazon. What it is going to be I have no idea.

Blogger J Van Stry January 23, 2020 12:14 AM  

@7 that's not how it works. Amazon looks at all the pages read, then divides the pot of money equally between all of those pages read. Everyone gets paid from that pot. And a heavy read will read 5 to 10 books a DAY not a month.
One of the problems with KU however is that if you get enough page reads in a month, say 8 million, you get a two thousand dollar bonus. The person with the most gets like a ten thousand dollar bonus. So Amazon rewards authors who get lots of page reads.
And then if they do that too many times, it bans them. Kind of psychotic, isn't it?

Blogger God Emperor Memes January 23, 2020 12:40 AM  

I read maybe 50 books per year but refuse to use KU. Authors should get more than a token amount for their efforts.

Blogger Uncle John's Band January 23, 2020 3:06 AM  

"I just ordered a copy of Oeconomicus."

If you like that one, check out his other Socratic dialogues. He was, like Plato, a student of Socrates and loved his teacher, but paints a different picture of him in some ways. His writings provide a nice counterpoint to Plato's Socrates.

Blogger JC January 23, 2020 3:18 AM  

This is sad but I hope the name can go on in some way. The lesson seems to be that any business model which relies on any of the big tech companies is doomed. That goes even if you're fully on-board the Globo-Homo float.

Hope we'll be seeing more physical books from John C. Wright!

Blogger OvergrownHobbit January 23, 2020 3:42 AM  

@6 It would be amazeballs if Castalia picked up StarQuest.

Blogger Scuzzaman January 23, 2020 4:27 AM  

OT:

Tulsi Gabbard is suing Hillary Clinton for 50 million after Killary called her a favourite of the Russians.

Be interesting to see how that piece of lawfare progresses.

#TulsiDidntKillHerself

Blogger Duke Norfolk January 23, 2020 4:31 AM  

Warunicorn wrote:I even re-bought titles that I had on the Kindle like SJWs Always Lie.


I'll say what I've said before here. Everybody should take control of their Kindle property so that you don't have to re-purchase something that you own.

Get Calibre

Then download all of your Kindle books onto your Kindle, if they’re not already on there. (See paragraph 3 before doing this, if you have a Kindle that’s less than a couple years old or so.)

Attach your Kindle to your computer and then copy your books from the “documents” folder (on the Kindle) to your computer. You only need to grab the AZW3 or Kindle Content file types for each title, not the others.

Then you’re going to use Calibre to strip the DRM from your books. If you’ve got an older Kindle (especially like mine, a Kindle Keyboard) then there’s no problem. If you’ve got a very new Kindle, one with firmware higher than 5.10.2, apparently they are encrypted with a new Kindle KFX DRM, and this won’t work for books downloaded with your Kindle.

But you can get an older version of Kindle for PC or MAC and download your books to be able to strip the DRM protection and gain control of your books.

See this page for all the details on doing all of this: Calibre DRM Removal Plugins

Then I use Calibre to put all of my books onto my Kobo eReader. I’ve never purchased a book through Kobo.

Blogger ÆtherCzar January 23, 2020 5:02 AM  

I'd love to get more information on this, because I'm not seeing anything approaching an 80% decline in ebook revenue. Hugh Howey used to have an informative report at his Author Earnings site, but that appears defunct.

KU has been paying just under $0.005/page since I started in the program a few years back. A KU read-through of my books nets me more than I get for the $2.99 price of my first book, and not much less than I get from an outright purchase at a $4.99 price point for my later books. It's a good low-risk way for a reader to get into my series and has only had a positive impact on me as far as I can see.

My (low five-figure) take from my Hidden Truth series since 2016 has been 61% ebook, 14% paperback, and 25% KU. My revenue was flat last year, despite not having released a new book since October 2018. I'd be interested in the breakdown from folks with bigger exposure to the market.

I can't speak for every author, but the best way for a reader to support me is to read through my book on KU. If you really like the book, want to read it again, and think I deserve to be paid more, buy the ebook, so I get paid a second time. If you want a paperback or hardcover copy, buying direct from my publisher (Silver Empire Press) gets you a discount over the Amazon price, and puts more of a royalty in my pocket.

Blogger VD January 23, 2020 5:13 AM  

What I hear is KU works fine for the guys writing or publishing serial-type fiction, not so much for anyone not doing that kind of high-output pulp fiction.

Not really. It rewards those few authors that the algorithm pushes, for whatever reason, at the expense of everyone else. The core problem is that the amount the author gets for a KU book that is read is about half the amount he gets for an ebook sale.

Throw in the fact that the author gets the full amount for a sale, whether it is completely read or not, and each full average KU read (measured in pages) is worth about one-fourth an ebook sale. Multiply that effect by the total amount being paid out to KU authors by the pool and you can see the estimate of the amount of ebook sales being destroyed on a monthly basis.

As it happens, Castalia has seen its ebook revenues fall by about 75 percent in that time frame, as have many indy authors and small presses. That's precisely why we set up the Castalia Direct and Arkhaven stores.

This is not a bitter author talking about the algorithm either. I've seen it at work with my own books, such as the ATOB audiobook. It went from doing 50 sales a month to 2000, then dropped back to 50 once the algorithm decided to push something else. And we've repeatedly seen that even the biggest-selling KU authors have almost no ability to make sales outside of Amazon.

Blogger VD January 23, 2020 5:33 AM  

A KU read-through of my books nets me more than I get for the $2.99 price of my first book, and not much less than I get from an outright purchase at a $4.99 price point for my later books.

That means your books are more than 700 pages, which is atypical. The December KU payment is $0.0046644849 per page. So, in order to make the same $3.41 that you'd make on a $4.99 sale, you'd need 731 pages read.

Also, note that the authors who benefit most from KU are those whose books appeal to the most undiscriminating readers. In addition to the financial aspects, it's also penalizing any attempt to write quality material that doesn't appeal to the hog trough all-you-can-read subscribers.

Blogger Brett baker January 23, 2020 5:43 AM  

As Sailer says,"It's to keep icky boys from being interested".

Blogger Zaklog the Great January 23, 2020 6:26 AM  

@1 The more I learn about the history of WestCiv from VDH the more I'm stunned at how little of it I got from my schooling

I had a similar feeling recently, although for me, it was inspired by a heavy metal band, not VDH. The failure of our education system is catastrophic.

Blogger ÆtherCzar January 23, 2020 6:49 AM  

My books do tend to run long. My longest is ~120k words and 400 print pages which Kindle works out to 599 pages for purposes of their algorithm (Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count). At the $0.0046644849 per page rate, a KU read through nets me 80% what an outright sale gets me. Many of those KU readers wouldn't have picked up my book in the first place if it weren't in KU, so I don't see that as harming my revenue, particularly since KU is only about 25% of my gross sales.

For a KU read through to be ~25% of a sale, you'd have to be trying to sell something like a relatively short ~60k word novel with a ~300 KENP count at $7.99 or so. That's pretty aggressive pricing. Are those numbers about right? Are you getting impacted by including low-page count graphic novels in KU? Because certainly it would be a rip-off to accept $0.00466 per page for one of those, and it would really skew your average down.

Blogger VD January 23, 2020 6:59 AM  

For a KU read through to be ~25% of a sale, you'd have to be trying to sell something like a relatively short ~60k word novel with a ~300 KENP count at $7.99 or so.

No. You're making the mistake of thinking that everyone who BUYS an ebook reads it through in its entirety. My estimate is based on the idea that people read every ebook sold halfway through, on average.

Are those numbers about right? Are you getting impacted by including low-page count graphic novels in KU?

Yes. We are, but I have not included that in my analysis. KU was not meant for comic books.

Blogger Daniele Grech Pereira January 23, 2020 7:44 AM  

It's true. I trust Castalia when I fund a project or buy a book.

Blogger Z MAlfoy January 23, 2020 8:11 AM  

This is sad for me, since it was Superversive that rescued the MAGA anthology that had my first published short story. It's a harsh world, but I'll always have a soft spot for Jason and the team that first gave my writing a chance.

Blogger Avalanche January 23, 2020 8:15 AM  

@11 "Authors should get more than a token amount for their efforts."

Yeah, when I buy a book from Amazon -- a REAL book, made of paper -- I usually grumble a bit at giving up the 'used book discount' and buy new at the higher cost. Second book-sales don't reward the author who spent life-energy writing it; it rewards the guy who bought it, read it, and is now getting rid of it.

If for some reason, I'm buying a book by an idiot liberal -- or a cuckservative -- then, second-hand it is! And, of course, I always start book-hunts at Castalia!

Blogger Akulkis January 23, 2020 10:01 AM  

"but considering how common classical education was until the latter half of the 20th century I'm going to assume that failure was either exacerbated with or else driven by anti-Western bias within the academy."

Definitely the latter.

Students at Stanford in the late 1980's:

Hey hey, ho ho
Western Civ has got to go.

[Note how they continue with the same stale, and extremely unclever rhyme that they've been using since before the Johnson administration.]

Blogger Russell Newquist January 23, 2020 10:28 AM  

"It's much harder to run a small independent press than most people, even most writers, understand."

Can confirm. Even so, Silver Empire is still running strong and has several major announcements coming in the next few weeks.

Blogger Mr. B.A.D. January 23, 2020 10:49 AM  

Oh! I know Josh. He was the editor on my book.

Blogger Warunicorn January 23, 2020 11:39 AM  

Duke Norfolk wrote:Warunicorn wrote:I even re-bought titles that I had on the Kindle like SJWs Always Lie.

I'll say what I've said before here. Everybody should take control of their Kindle property so that you don't have to re-purchase something that you own.

Get Calibre

Then download all of your Kindle books onto your Kindle, if they’re not already on there. (See paragraph 3 before doing this, if you have a Kindle that’s less than a couple years old or so.)



I've actually done this and I hated it. I wasn't able to peruse Tables of Content properly, nor have a proper way to check out footnotes to a book. Yes, I could read the book and the formatting was...acceptable, but I didn't like it. I'd rather have an eBook that's properly formatted and annotated. I love to annotate and source, especially with books like "Rebel Yell" which is an enormous read with a boatload of footnotes.

The good thing is that books like Vox's are in EPUB format as I could go to his sites to buy a book, so there's that. I switched to Kobo because even though they have a streak of SJW in them (go see their stupid blog for examples), I don't have to deal with ads (yes, I know I can pay an extra $20 to get rid of them on Kindle) and their Kindle Paperwhite equivalent (the Clara HD) has a blue light filter.

Blogger Lushtree January 23, 2020 12:21 PM  

I was weeks away from getting my first book, Echoes of Gold, out with Superversive when I got the news. A sad disappointment that they had to shut down. I continue to be extremely grateful to Mrs. Wright and Superversive for helping me polish the novel and grow as a writer.

Blogger CS January 23, 2020 12:31 PM  

How about a book on the Castalia House publishing model?

There must be thousands of small time publishers eager to learn more on how to reach the audience that undoubtedly exists for any decent book without the soul-destroying and profit decimating dependence on Amazon and the hard-copy book distributors.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash January 23, 2020 12:47 PM  

CS wrote:How about a book on the Castalia House publishing model?The model? How about
1) find out what your audience wants to buy.
2) provide it
3) don't screw your creators, offer a fair deal, and pay promptly, with honest and open accounting.

Blogger idprism January 23, 2020 2:00 PM  

I would be very interested to know more about the nearly-automated business model. My buddy told me "that's not what you want as a business" and I had to disagree, though I couldn't say exactly how it would work as it exceeds my knowledge.

Would there be any way for me to learn about or from the model you've set up? Not expecting you to give it away, but am interested. Is this the likind of thing brain storms used to be about?

Blogger Hank Brown January 23, 2020 3:20 PM  

Really sucks about Superversive. I want every non-leftist publisher/author to succeed. It sure has been rough for me. "The bottom dropping out" of the book market is exactly what it felt like from where I sit. Fortunately, books aren't my sole income. It was nice while it lasted, but I'm not going to sell my soul and start vomiting out feminist globohomo message fiction for a piece of the pie.

BTW, Vox: I bought the audio version of the Law Dog Files and have been having trouble with it. There might be an easy solution, but I've sent a couple requests for help or advice through Castalia's help/contact us form, and never got a reply back.

Blogger CS January 23, 2020 3:36 PM  

Snidey,

Re: "The model? How about ..."

Your points are mere platitudes.

It's the distribution that matters: How to get the damm book to the attention of people who would want to read it is the problem for small publishers, who have neither the means nor inclination to wine and dine (and otherwise bribe) reviewers, nor the distribution channels to match those of the handful of international megapublishers who now dominate the industry.

Blogger VD January 23, 2020 3:37 PM  

How about a book on the Castalia House publishing model?

Definitely not. I don't do the "writers write about writing" thing. And I definitely don't sell it.

Blogger VD January 23, 2020 3:40 PM  

I've sent a couple requests for help or advice through Castalia's help/contact us form, and never got a reply back.

We don't provide tech support for how to use basic file formats. We don't have the time or the manpower to educate everyone on these things.

I'm not trying to sound sarcastic here, but would you contact Sony to ask them how to use the mp3 file that you bought from them?

Blogger Snidely Whiplash January 23, 2020 4:13 PM  

CS wrote:Your points are mere platitudes.
No, they are not. They are precisely where the Big 5 publishers fail. They produce books nobody wants, filled with gimmicks and stunt writing, and try to shove them onto the market with bribes and marketing.

They screw their writers, never producing real accounting numbers and delaying payout for months or years. The old joke was that "X publisher pays upon lawsuit" is not far from truth. Getting and keeping a stable of popular writers is half of the marketing problem.

Blogger Dave January 23, 2020 4:30 PM  

Sorry to hear this news. I had recently bought some John C. Wright Superversive releases including NOWHITHER.

Now I see John is working with https://chriskennedypublishing.com/ and recently released TERRORS OF PANGAEA via Theogony Books. Kennedy was at one time a Castalia Associate.

Blogger Zeke OF Confettii January 23, 2020 5:02 PM  

Very sorry to hear this. I received _The Terrors of Pangea_ and found it s Wright fine read.

Blogger Dave January 23, 2020 5:40 PM  

http://www.scifiwright.com/2020/01/changes-afoot/

Jagi, here.

Some of you may have heard, but Superversive Press–the publishing company that was publishing John’s more recent books and some of his older ones–has shut down. This means that any links you have for John’s new books are no longer any good.

The non-fiction and possibly, in the future, some fiction collections, are now posted on Amazon directly by us. The fiction that is not in the hands of Castalia House, Tor, or Theogony Books, is going to Silver Empire and will be appearing again over the next few months.

Here are the links for the books that John and I have reposted. Currently, the reviews are gone from The Last Straw and From Barsoom to Malacandra. We have written to Amazon about possibly getting them put back. If this does not work, we will ask you, our intrepid readers, if you could repost any reviews that you posted. I believe I was able to copy all but one review. If we need reviews reposted, I will post the ones we have here, so that if you posted one before you can just cut and paste your old review.

Blogger Jack of Shadows January 23, 2020 8:21 PM  

I am probably atypical. I use KU and read approximately 1 book per day. For short books more than one per day. 2 reasons - I am a fast reader, and I ride the train every day, so I have plenty of time to read. Unless the book is really bad, I read the whole book. If it is bad, I dump it after a couple of chapters. So most authors get good payment from me since I read every page.

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