Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist

Archive for the 'e-books' Category | back to home

25 March 2013
Filed under:e-books,Personal at10:56 pm

I just bought a (paper) copy of Cannery Row and caught myself thinking “£9 for 148 pages? For a book published in 1945 (which I would prefer to be in the public domain by now)?” And yet why not? It’s a work of well-established literary value, attractively produced with a 16 page introduction (thanks Penguin Classics). I’m a fast reader but even so this will likely give me several hours of reading pleasure – more if I reread it later or lend it to a friend.

Alas, years of immersion in free or cheap digital content (plus access to academic libraries for free and exam copies of the texts I think relevant to the courses I run) seem to have undermined my willingness to shell out for content – even though I frequently remind my journalism students that if they won’t pay for content they can hardly expect others to pay for their content when they get out into the working world!

Makes me feel like going and shelling out £27.95 for some Hemingway short stories just to balance out my stinginess…

21 March 2011
Filed under:e-books,new authorship,research at11:03 am

I found it interesting that Stephen King’s experiments with e-book publishing seem to have been interpreted quite differently by two different authors I’ve been reading recently. According to Kovac’s “Here Comes the Book: Never Mind the Web: The Printed Book is Alive and Kicking” (p. 50, referencing Gomez “Print Is Dead: Books in Our Digital Age“), when, at the end of 1990s, King published his novel ‘The Plant’ electronic only “the outcome was disastrous, with sales … being at least five times lower than the usual sales of his printed books.” On the other hand, according to John B Thompson in “Merchants of Culture“, publisher expectations of the success of ebooks “…were also raised by the startling success of one of Stephen King’s experiments with electronic publishing. In March 2000 he published his 66 page novella ‘Riding the Bullet’ electronically, available only as a digital file that could be downloaded for $2.50: there was an overwhelming response, resulting in around 400,000 downloads in the first 24 hours and 600,000 in the first two weeks.” (p. 313). More recently, in 2009 (and too late for either author) Stephen King released “Ur” in Kindle-only form and it sold “five figures” in three weeks.

4 March 2011
Filed under:e-books,new readership,Old media at8:28 pm

I’m unimpressed at Harper Collins’ move to limit the number of times an e-book that is bought by a library can be loaned to 26. Most limits on distribution of content are at least partly justified by the fact that they are designed to prevent new copyright infringing uses of that content (even if in practice they also limit fair uses of that text). However, this new rule limits libraries from operating in perfectly normal, legitimate ways. One might conceivably argue that some limit could be set to account for the fact that physical books bought by libraries have always had the physical limitation of only being lendable for a certain number of times before they deteriorated (that’s why they tend to buy more hardbacks). But would a hardback become effectively unreadable after 26 readings as a Harper Collins e-book now will be? And is that the rationale they are offering libraries?