I feel like we’ve heard this before but it still sucks

You can go back through the archives of this blog, hardly an authority on anything (unless AI content farming has really killed off every other blog and then maybe we are), and you can see so many instances of “This is going to kill [some aspect of the publishing world]” and largely it just hasn’t happened.

This one does sound bad. SPD, one of the last small distributors, is going under. They’re doing it quickly, and so far leaving some clients unpaid. It’s already incredibly hard as a small author to get your book noticed by the mainstream, and if nothing else steps in to fill the void left by SPD’s demise, it’s going to be a whole lot harder. People are very stubbornly clinging to their paper books, and while I don’t entirely blame them, it’s just not sustainable going forward.

I have a fair bit of faith in authors and their ability to pivot, but we keep making it harder on them and that’s no way to encourage creation.

For example, Kameron Hurley is one author offering a monthly Patreon subscription where you get exclusive stuff. It’s cool. I absolutely love her universe where some people can inhabit corpses. It’s a really well-developed universe that she has sadly (to me, at least) not written nearly enough in. But plugging an author I like is not the point (though it’s a bonus). This is all extra work. It used to be you could just be an author and your agent would work and get your books in front of people. Maybe that worked and maybe it didn’t, but that was about it. Now authors have way more opportunity but also way more hats they have to wear.

We’ve been talking for a decade at least about alternate paths to success for authors and they mostly haven’t materialized. Maybe authors should try using the electrical output of a mid-sized country to write a book and maybe Silicon Valley would take notice and throw some venture capital at them.

The demise of the newspaper will make us better off

Much has been made of the impending demise of the newspaper, as the Old Media (With a few exceptions) has steadfastly refused to embrace the new opportunities of digital delivery of content.  Many seem to think that, without newspapers, we will have no accountability, no one to peel back the layers and expose the wrongdoing in the world and in our government.

Meanwhile, Comedy Central and The Daily Show are making a pretty strong case that we may actually have more accountability.

Stewart’s point was that Wall Street got fat off of all our pension plans, 401K’s and long-term investments, while the “Fast Money” crowd cashed in our long-term investments — and CNBC was complicit in the entire gambit…

Click through below and watch the video, which I believe includes unaired content, and watch Stewart skewer Jim Cramer over CNBC’s role in our financial mess.

Far from needing newspapers to keep everyone honest, perhaps the time has arrived when newspapers are actually holding us back.  If they go away, we won’t see an end to journalism.  In fact, with greater freedom, unshackled from the old ideas of what journalism is, we may see a renaissance.  In some ways, with anyone who cares to observe and share the world, we already have.  People can complain about the quality of much of this sharing all they want, but the fact that much of it is well-produced, well-thought-out, and spot-on is inescapable.

The world does not need newspapers.  It simply needs good journalism.  And that shows no signs of going away.

via Jon Stewart slaughters crazy finance guy Jim Cramer — video – Boing Boing.

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Ebooks – will we ever learn?

There’s a long and interesting article at Ars Technica from a guy who’s been in the ebook business for a long time.  His point is, basically, that everyone has gotten it wrong for the last ten years, making the same mistakes, over and over.  And the big players today are still making those mistakes.

He lists many of them, and most will sound familiar – Ebooks are too expensive;  DRM hurts honest customers and doesn’t do a thing to stop piracy, which is a vastly overstated problem anyway;  No one has tried anything really and truly new with ebooks.

It’s all a little depressing.  I was hoping he’d get to some brilliant idea to save the book industry, but he never really does.  But he gets it – he sees the ridiculous state of the industry now, stubbornly clinging to the old way of doing things instead of embracing all the new things you just couldn’t do before.

The world is still looking for publishing business models that work and will continue to work when all books are ebooks.  Someone could make a lot of money . . .

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