Big Six Publishing Kills Writers, Books, And Itself

Trying to Buy le Carré

No one wants to sell me a book by an author I enjoy, in a format I prefer to read it in. I could game the system, get a gift card, use a US address, and buy it that way.

Or I could pay more attention to the results I get in Google when I search on “ebook our kind of traitor” — half the first page listing is comprised of torrents. The torrents have it free in EPUB, HTML, LIT, LRF, MOBI, PDF, RTF format options.

To mangle Clint Eastwood: “How honest to you feel today?”

Does Penguin believe that only Americans and the British read English? Pay attention to Twitter? LibraryThing? GoodReads? No one else in the world reads English and notices new books are available from famous authors? No one else in the world wants to buy ebook versions of those new books (hardcover versions are more widely available)?

He did a dangerous thing there.

Made me curious. 

And what he stated was true. In less than five minutes, I had this illegal booty on my hard drive (which was deleted after making the screensnaps for this post because writers need to be paid for their work).

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And here are samples from that pirated ePub edition:

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I’m providing full-screen samples so the publisher can establish it is indeed their eBook — and to induce a heart attack in them too. Because I am mean.

Seeing that happen, I wondered what else was available. I searched for two writers I will not name whose works I like. They were not available. Good for them. They’ll still be able to pay their bills.

Then I wondered if the Moby Dick of eBooks was out there — The Millennium Trilogy.

Yep. And the pirates are doing what the publishers will not: make them a bundled set!

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Not just all three books in one file — but three formats for each of them (I leave out the PDF, which is for a single book): LRF (Sony), ePub, and Microsoft Reader LIT.

And here are samples from this.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, ePub:

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The Girl Who Played with Fire, ePub:

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The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, ePub:

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How many times will the Big Six have to see this happen before it wakes up?

1) Your eBooks are too damned expensive. People don’t give a damn about your “fixed costs” (which includes your too-fat salaries at the very top). Google dominated the entire world starting from nothing. We should pity your overfed overpaid fat asses?

2) There are no more regional rights. The new regions are the boundaries of language. You get to sell English-language worldwide. All other languages are now the sub-rights for “regions.”

3) Start making bundled sets. Or you’re going to screw every writer with a series whose backlist is too damned expensive as single buys.

4) What is your mission? To sell books or to keep your jobs? You can do the latter by lowering the prices to make the former larger than you ever dreamed.

This won’t be the last post I’ll do like this.

You lot never learn.

It’s amazing how Random House could find the backbone when presented with Obyssey Editions — a few backlist books! But when it comes to manning up, making the above changes, not one single Big Six publisher has the guts to do what’s needed.

And that’s why the Big Six are killing writers, books — and themselves.

1 Comment

  1. roonblah19 October, 2010

    I agree. I’m in the “African” region so a lot of books I’m looking for don’t show up here either. I’m heavily into fantasy and science fiction, so perhaps they think it’s a genre that won’t be successful here – but so what? There’s no risk in selling an eBook. Maybe Africa is seen as a niche market, but I can’t really figure out why they wouldn’t want to sell their books to as many people as possible. I’m willing to buy in dollars, so it’s not that my money isn’t green enough. I hope they pay attention. I don’t want to use a “workaround” to get what I want either.


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