Round up #142: Stanislaw Lem bargain, college system doomed?
The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.
Cory Doctorow on why authors get paid what they get paid
by Cory Doctorow is one of the best insights into publishing I have ever read.
Doctorow and I don’t agree on everything, and I know that there are people who follow Cory’s ideas with a passion.
This column explains the pricing pressures that affect how much authors get paid, why mega-mergers in publishing will have a negative impact on that…and the effect of piracy (the last one is one we tend to approach differently).
I strongly recommend it.
Kindle Review: “An Author’s Story of Walking Away from His Publisher”
I’ve written several times about why authors might stay with their traditional publishers. This
by Ed Ditto gives a great, personal, detailed, insider story of why an author might leave one.
Not surprisingly, e-books are a large part of the tale: both in the lack of attention paid to them by the publisher, and in the way they provide the author with an alternative, potentially more lucrative, to traditional publishing.
Any tradpub that wants to survive in an evolving world should read this one.
Coincidentally, my rotating column in The Writer’s Guide to E-Publishing this week was
What do tradpubs do…and can you do it?
TechCrunch: “How California’s Online Education Pilot Will End College As We Know It”
Gregory Ferenstein has an interesting opinion piece in this
California, which you may remember mandating e-textbooks for some high school classes years ago, is a piloting an online college class program which the article author says will change college (and the story offers a timeline of how).
I don’t think anybody thinks college education has been a model of consumer efficiency (and we could debate about whether or not it should be).
This is, in my opinion, a brave line:
“As someone who has taught large courses at a University of California, I can assure readers that my job could have easily been automated.”
I love the interaction I have with my students, but my situation is very different. I don’t have two hundred people in a lecture hall. Most often, I have fewer than ten. I’ve taught in situations where there were more, certainly, but the feel of a class is very different if Waldo could be hidden in the crowd.
It’s an intriguing perspective, although I think many of you will find it a tad hyperbolic.
By the way, the picture used to illustrate it is of John Belushi in Animal House, and I don’t think I’ve ever told this story here.
Many, many years ago, I had a director who was a big fan of Belushi’s (I wasn’t really a Saturday Night Live watcher, didn’t know much about the show). There was a “Stars of Saturday Night Live” tour coming to town, and the director wanted somebody to go and give John Belushi a gift.
Well, I went, and the show was terrible. It was Belushi and a couple of the writers, as I recall. People expected Chevy Chase and Gilda Radner, but there were some clips and such and Belushi. The star was aggressive with the college audience, and it wasn’t going well. In fact, the college later would offer anyone who wanted it their money back.
One of Belushi’s taunts was to say, “Do you want to come up here?”
I had informed a Security Guard about this gift (it was a gag thing…not important to the story). When Belushi ended up saying to me connected to the giving of the gift, “Do you want to come up here?” (remember, that was a putdown, the way it was delivered), I said, “Sure,” and hopped up on the stage.
I spoke for a minute, and Belushi was making funny faces or something behind me.
Belushi said, “You’re a real professional, you know?”
I replied, “Well, one of us has to be.”
There was a big “oohing” sound up through the first several rows of the audience.
Belushi went backstage, got a chainsaw, and chopped up the lectern (which may have been designed to do that). A piece of the lectern, though, stuck in the giant screen they had been using for projection…that had to have been expensive!
My little ad ib actually got into the local newspaper, where I was described as “one nervy spectator”.
After that, I wouldn’t watch anything with Belushi in it, because I didn’t want the actor/comic to benefit from it.
Of course, after Belushi’s death, I realized there might have been a lot of factors in the nasty, unfunny performance. Nowadays, I would have been more forgiving (although I might have still said the line…it was funny), but I think you can learn more tolerance for “bad behavior” over time: I have.
GigaOm: “Google Books and the librarian backlash”
GigaOm has an
from Jeff John Roberts’
which is only $2.99 (the print length is listed at 55 pages).
I’ve sent myself a sample, and will probably listen to it driving to work today.
I’m sure many libraries saw it (and perhaps still see it) as a great thing when Google used their (literally) patented technology to scan books in their collections.
I’d love it if somebody could do that with my books, without damaging them, of course.
Well, it created a big hullabaloo of a legal situation (which still isn’t over).
Today’s Kindle Daily Deal: Lem and Block
There are a couple of well-known authors in today’s
Remember to always check the price before you click that Buy button: this deal may not apply in your country, for example.
Stanislaw Lem was a Polish science fiction writer, but the works were much more concerned with communication than technology. I think that’s made them particularly difficult to translate well: Lem played with specific language, and you can’t always translate a pun on an idiom very effectively. However, these are books that can make you think about yourself (and humanity generally). When you read a book about FTL (Faster Than Light) travel, well, you just aren’t likely to experience that. If the point of the book is in how you exchange feelings and ideas with someone (or something) else, if it’s about understanding another perspective, that’s something you do every day.
is not Lem’s best known book (that would arguably be Solaris), and I haven’t read it…but I did buy it at $1.99.
The other one that stood out to me today was Lawrence Block’s
I’m going to venture that this might be a bit less complex than Lem’s Eden but it’s a well-reviewed book in the series, and I understand that you could start with this one. I always like to go from the beginning, but not all series require that.
One interesting thing: lately, the ad on my Kindle Fire has sometimes been for the book of the day, and it’s produced like a fine print ad. You actually see the book in the ad, meaning they are at least customized for this one-day deal (if not constructed from scratch for them each time). That’s nice…I like that the ads are often for books. They also use ads for current media (not available on the Fire) quite a bit…I was getting a bit tired of that House of Lies ad with Dan Cheadle’s pants on fire.
KHOU.com: “‘BiblioTech’ paperless library will be first of its kind in S.A. and nation”
Thanks to Chris Baker who tweeted me about this
It’s about, yes, San Antonio, Texas, opening a paperless public library later this year.
I wrote about the idea of public libraries going paperless back in 2010, and I’m curious to see how this works out for them.
Update: longer article on the library:
By the way, seeing this tweet this way reinforced for me my decision not to be on Facebook. I see my Twitter feed in my morning Flipboard read, but I rarely go to the site. I wouldn’t have seen this question if it hadn’t been in Flipboard. I feel a bit bad about that: I know some people expect Twitter to be an active two-way communication tool, but I just don’t have the social capital to use it that way. I’d be terrible at maintaining a Facebook page with everything else I do, so I think it’s better that I just don’t do it.
What do you think? Will people taking classes online affect brick-and-mortar college viability? What could tradpubs (even small ones) do to keep their authors from leaving and publishing independently? Is piracy good for authors? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.
Thanks to my reader Riva for helping to make this post more accurate.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.