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The Death of the Slush Pile
Now, slush is dead, or close to extinction. Film and television producers won't read anything not certified by an agent because producers are afraid of being accused of stealing ideas and material. Most book publishers have stopped accepting book proposals that are not submitted by agents. Magazines say they can scarcely afford the manpower to cull through the piles looking for the Next Big Thing.
What impatient folk we are. While publishers are delaying the release of a book's Kindle edition to give the hardcover edition a chance to sell, Kindle readers (kindlers?) despair over the wait.
Case in point: the much buzzed about new book "Game Change," which spills secrets about the 2008 presidential election. The book has been deluged with one-star, negative reviews from apparent Kindle fans who are protesting publisher HarperCollins' decision to delay the Kindle version to Feb. 23. Those one-star reviews have contributed to a ho-hum average customer review rating of a 2.5 stars (out of 5). Customer reviews are an important factor for book sales on Amazon, and it will be interesting to see if the Kindle protests spread.
Here's one example of a customer's review of "Game Change": "This is time-sensitive material. No one is going to care in 6 weeks when it is released for the kindle. People want it now. The publisher is shooting themselves in the foot. They'd have made more money overall by offering the kindle version now."
Even though it's technically just a rumor, many are speculating that a new tablet computer from Apple could act as a savior to the newspaper and magazine industries. The tablet computer concept has been around for a long time, but with an Apple announcement expected at the end of the month, digital media consultant Mark Potts says it's for real this time.
Now, the public has an opportunity to show support for this innovative, common sense idea. Since December, the OSTP has been hosting an involved discussion on their blog, asking for input on every angle of public access, including which federal agencies should adopt public access policies, which file formats could help solve compliance and archival issues, and what the ongoing role of the government should be.
Open Access Concept Map
Laura Briggs says "I originally created an open access concept map so that I could develop a better understanding of open access. It's a living document so feel free to send me any references or concepts that you think are missing. Send me your open access concept map and I'll post it here!"
Over at the Scholarly Kitchen, a blog of the Society for Scholarly Publishing, the question is asked as to why scientific publishing hasn't been "disrupted" yet. Everybody else saw changes erupt since Sir Tim Berners-Lee let the genie out of the bottle in 1991 so why not the scholarly publications?
1. 95% of all reading will be on screens.
2. There will be fewer bookstores, though books will be more plentiful than ever before.
3. The entire book supply chain from author to customer will become atomized into its component bits. Value-adders will continue to find great success in publishing.
4. Most authors will be indie authors.
5. Successful publishing companies will be those that put the most net profit in the author's pocket.
6. If the big six NY book publishers (the fat head) today publish 50% of what's sold, and the long tail of thousands of indie publishers comprise the rest, then 10 years from now the fat head will shrink to 10% and the long tail will get both taller and longer.
6. There will be more published authors than ever before, and collectively they will earn record revenues, yet individually the average "published" author 10 years from now will earn less than the average "commercially published" author today.
7. 10 years from now, we will all be authors, publishers and booksellers
8. Digital books will most commonly be referred to as "books," not ebooks.
9. For those who still call books ebooks, it'll be spelled "ebook," not E-Book or e-book. Who today still calls email E-Mail?
10. Authors will write for a global market.
But what is a magazine?
If you’re holding one, you can turn the page. But it’s very possible that you’re nowhere near a turnable page now. You’re reading on a computer or a hand-held device, even though this column was intended for a magazine — a Sunday newspaper supplement that started in 1896. Like hardcover books in Kindle editions and “Daily Show” clips on the Web, this column is produced in large part for a medium other than the one in which it is consumed.
That creates some dissonance. Magazine-making is a 20th-century commercial art, with time-honored conventions, protocols and economics. But the effort that goes into making a print magazine — lighting photo shoots, designing layouts, affixing page numbers — produces little value for those who find its elements deracinated on the Web. If you’re reading these words online, why should you know, or care, that they are meant to follow an illustrated cover, a table of contents and some feuilleton pieces? You don’t expect it to precede a “well” of reported stories. Nor do you anticipate a first-person essay or a crossword puzzle.
Full piece in the NYT Magazine
Here is the first prediction:
1. At least one major book will have several different enhanced ebook editions. This will result from a combination of circumstances: the different capabilities of ebook hardware and reader platforms, the desire of publishers and authors to justify print-like prices for ebooks, the sheer ability of authors and their fans to do new things electronically, and the dawning awareness that there are at least two distinctly different ebook markets: one just wants to read the print book on an electronic screen and the other wants links and videos and other enhancements that really change the print book experience. (Corrolary prediction: the idea of an enhanced ebook that is only sold “temporarily” in the first window when the book comes out, which has been floated by at least one publisher, will be short-lived. Whatever is made for sale in electronic form will remain available approximately forever. Or, put another way, if you have a product that requires no inventory investment that has a market, you’ll keep satisfying it.)
Twelve more predictions at the IdeaLogical blog
Shelf Awareness contributing editor Jenn Northington, general manager at breathe books in Baltimore, MD offers her opinions on the pros and cons of a variety of e-readers, particularly as they pertain to booksellers:
"The first order of business was to pick my weapon of choice. Lord knows, there are umpteen million e-readers. However, I tend to ignore reviews in favor of my "poke it before you buy it" policy--if a piece of software or hardware doesn't do what I want or expect it to do, I move right along (unless I am absolutely forced to use it for some reason). This puts 90% of e-readers out of the running; the only ones you can try before you buy are the Sony Touch and Pocket Editions, and Barnes & Noble's nook. (The Kindle was out of the running automatically because--need I say it?--if it doesn't support the ePub format, it doesn't support independent bookstores. Plus, you can't get your hands on it without purchasing it.)"
She concludes "Because of the high demand for e-readers, the only one available immediately (when I went looking; things may have changed in the past week) was the Sony Pocket. So I'll be waiting until February for my nook to arrive. But not to worry! The next of the installment of her column in Shelf Awareness (the Nitty Gritty): what to do while you're waiting for your e-reader."