The Morning Coffee – 13 October 2014

The Monday morning reading list includes a fisking of the latest anti-Amazon lunacy, first impressions of iOS8, a question of whether publishers should remove hostility-provoking posts, the evils of ebook creation apps, and more.

About Nate Hoffelder (11474 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

12 Comments on The Morning Coffee – 13 October 2014

  1. AltheGreatandPowerful // 13 October, 2014 at 1:35 am // Reply

    Acclaim for Dan Meadows, his article on Agency and Anti-Competitive Behavior is excellent. Cogent, well argued, with copious relevant quotes and links to the entire sources so nobody can accuse him of cherry-picking them. I want to email it to Lee Child immediately… maybe he’ll finally see what’s wrong with agency…

    Brickbats to Baldur Bjarnason, whose screed “Ebooks suck for learning” is one man’s weak-sauce whinge that ebooks aren’t written the way he wants… He has trouble reading without cues on the page, and can’t comprehend that anyone might be able to learn that way. Pshaw. That’s just sad, Baldur. TAKE NOTES as you read, that would help much more to set the content into your brain.

    • Interesting…
      Meadows’s reference sheds light to a nearly forgotten bit from January 2010 and the MacMillan–Amazon cafight. When Amazon “caved” (after getting the price fixers to document that they were acting in coordination) their public concession release got a lot of jeers for referring to MacMillan as having a monopoly on their books. It looks as if Amazon was referring to the concept of “production monopoly” and laying the groundwork for a potential antitrust lawsuit of their own. Which never came to pass because the class action lawsuits made it unnecessary…
      A concept worth remembering.

      Apparently they have a good legal staff and listen to it.

  2. One of these weeks AMZN stock will explode like the Hindenburg.
    Will this week be the one?
    If you can’t make money w/o being a monopolist, you can’t make money.
    Apple doesn’t need anything near AMZN’s market share to make money.

  3. While there are definite issues with Agency pricing and with the legacy publishing model, I have a difficult time taking bloggers like Joe Konrath 100% seriously because of their approach to the issues.

    I am far less willing (or frankly, able) to listen to someone who pads their opinions (or even their facts) with dripping sarcasm, little, irrelevant asides designed to appeal to their “fan base”, and just general nastiness. I want the facts, but I don’t want to join the “cult” to get to them.

    I think there is room for all retailers…but if one is allowed to overwhelmingly dominate, the future of books, and of ebooks in particular, will not be as bright as these indie authors would like it to be.

    As a consumer and as a competitor who also loves books, what we want is books to be valued as the valuable cultural artifacts that they are. And that goes for the authors who create them. Brick walls rarely change the world, until they come down. But books often DO change the world for the better. That’s our two-cents, anyway.

    • Cultural artifacts? That baloney again?
      Come on! The overwhelming majority of books, especially the bestsellers, are dispossable entertainment. No more special than a TV reality show.
      The few litfic titles the ivory tower types fawn over don’t even rise to the level of entertainment.
      No special snowflakes.

      • Disposable entertainment in YOUR opinion. And that’s the real issue. When certain people or companies are put in a position to decide for the majority what is “disposable entertainment” and what is a not, it becomes a dangerous and slippery slope.

        Also, you state, “…the overwhelming majority of books…”. Do you have attribution for this statement? Or is it really just your opinion and the opinion of others who think as you do?

        One man’s Edgar Rice Burroughs is another man’s Tolstoy.

    • “what we want is books to be valued as the valuable cultural artifacts that they are”

      If books are cultural artifacts then why do so many publishers treat them like shoes, and produce them assembly line style at the lowest cost?

      • And put the price on the packaging and angst so much over the retail price?
        Deeds not words.
        They may spew “cultural” as a smokescreen but their deeds say “widget”.

        • There is nothing wrong in selling art as commerce. But when the commerce entirely takes over the art and controls it to the degree that legacy has been doing, and that I believe Amazon wants to, then it crosses over into something dangerous.

          • The commerce has taken over.
            It took over in the 80’s.
            That is the reason for all the whining.
            Look, when was the last book you saw on the front tables of a bookstore proudly proclaiming: “culturally significant author!”.
            Instead, every other book screams: “NYT BESTSELLING AUTHOR!”
            Or, when was the last time you heard of an author getting a rejection letter that said: “We appreciate that your book of yet another gritty tough guy kicking psycho bad guys in the nuts is going to sell 10 million copies easy but we really must pass because it does nothing to raise the cultural discourse in the country.”
            Instead, you hear; “It’s a great story but its too niche.” Or ” I personally loved it but it doesn’t fit our line…”
            Everything you hear from the publishers is about money.
            Everything you hear from their supporters in the media is about culture. Riiighhttt…

            And, as for the disposable part; just ask the operators of HALF-PRICE BOOKS, or the zillion paperback trade-in shops in suburban strip malls all over the country. Or the hundreds of used book stores and used book dealers on ebay,, to say nothing of Amazon. Or the people who read a book and then donate it to the public library, most of which books end up in fund-raising library sales.

            It’s *all* about commerce.
            Even the “prestigious award winning” “meaningful” titles the publishers trot out as window dressing are just brand-building bones they throw at the literati.

            Money, money, money…
            And hypocrisy.

            Culture? That’s just the excuse they give their bought and paid for lapdog politicians every time they cook up another scheme to rip off consumers.

        • Oh, and I forgot to add: that’s what is so great about the indie movement. By controlling their pricing and their product, authors can free themselves from the “gateway” model of publishing. That’s a great thing, I think. But again, allowing one company to dominate that does not necessarily mean it will continue as a great thing under their “umbrella”.

  4. Nate, I could not agree with you more. I am neither pro-Amazon nor pro-Publisher, for those reasons you mention and many more. Obviously, there are issues with both Amazon and legacy publishing, and in my opinion they are serious ones. Legacy has NOT treated books or authors with the respect they should inherently be accorded, and that must change for legacy to continue to have credibility or sustainability. They’re certainly not doing themselves many favors in the current environment.

    As I have said elsewhere, I see a middle ground for both sides of the “Amazon argument”, and neither side seems to want to reach a consensus. In my opinion, everyone in this industry needs to spend more time on reaching a common ground instead of slinging proverbial rocks, calling each other names, and playing the “blame game”.

    Forming a neutral think-tank backed by hard data would be ideal. But then, that’s one of my issues with Amazon and how they view the book market: as something to be conquered, not something to be developed for the good of books, reading, and literature, which can also be a strong point of commerce. They don’t share their data on a level that would make such a think-tank possible.

    As an experienced artist and businessman, I can’t help but think there’s a reason for this policy that goes beyond simple competitiveness. Legacy needs to do the same thing, but compared to Amazon, they’re a proverbial open door when it comes to data.

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