gone dark

Saturday, October 17

this blog has gone dark. check the adventures of jenn I(n) R(eal) L(ife) for further updates.

ARCreader: not just in it for the freebies

Monday, May 4

as i've been preparing for the ABA's Day of Education panel on Digital Content, i've been thinking a lot about the best way to talk about digital content -- including digiARCs. and it occurred to me at some point that i have a pretty clear stake in my modest proposal for the ARCreader: i'm looking for a handout. 

regardless of my motivations, be they green, efficiency-centric, techno-centric, whatever, at the end of the day it may be easy to dismiss it all as "oh, well, she just wants a free ebook reader." so i decided to take myself out of the equation. i'm not exactly rolling in dough,* so i took a good, long, hard look at the options and made a few discoveries along the way. based on those discoveries, meet my ARCreader: the iPod Touch.

not your first thought for an eReader, right? well, here's the deal:
  1. the Kindle is ruled out right from the start, for obvious reasons. in case you don't know those reasons, here they are: AMAZON and PROPRIETARY. as an indie bookseller, i can't in good conscience support a system that doesn't allow any other source of books to customers. there may be ways around that, but that brings us right back to AMAZON. also, MY GOD IT IS EXPENSIVE.
  2. the Sony eReader is, as someone put it on Twitter the other day (i'd attribute but can't remember who it was), a one trick pony. it reads books. which is great and all, but when you've got little money to spend and you're not even going to give me WiFi for what i can afford, well, that puts you out of the running.
  3. all those other Readers (of which there are many and soon to be even more) may be cheaper, but will they work? i couldn't find reviews compelling enough to take chances on companies i don't know and devices i haven't heard much about.
which leaves us with Jessica's request that publishers buy her an iPhone. i have to admit, when i read that i was pretty skeptical. not only because of the insanely expensive data plan you have to have with it. but really? reading on what i considered a teeny tiny LCD screen? for serious?

enter a family wedding in AZ. i spent four days with my family, three of whom own iPod Touchs (Touches?). and of course i already had iEnvy, since i am a big fan of most things Mac. one morning at a coffee shop i was poking around on my dad's iTouch and discovered WattPad, which happened to have a copy of The Lightning Thief that someone pirated. i've always wanted to pick the book up but never quite got around to it, so i thought "hey, why not?"

26 pages later, it was time to go, and i hadn't even realized how long i'd been reading. and that's when it hit me: i could buy an iTouch and get lots of other bang for my buck, aside from reading books. i could have email at BEA! a calendar of all the appointments and parties and panels! my very own virtual koi pond! i could finally play with the IndieBound app! AND, last but most important, i could have an ARCreader.

so i did it; i bought one. i won't get to go shopping or get a haircut for a while (that scruffy girl shuffling around the Javits Convention Center at the end of the month? yeah, that'll be me) but so far, it's totally worth it. i've been working my way through the digiARCs that one rep so kindly sent me (shout out to PGW) and so far am thoroughly satisfied with the experience. 

is it the final solution? definitely not. i can imagine a better reader, an ARCreader that has a bigger screen and WiFi and maybe even a normal OS and a touchscreen and USB ports for keyboards, etc. (i'm referring here to the fabled Mac tablet/reader). as Alex Beckstead, Drew Goodman, Rich Rennicks, and Patrick from Vroman's and i were discussing this morning on Twitter, everyone has their own idea of the perfect reader, and the technology still has a ways to go. but for now, it's a start.

so publishers, be on notice! i'm not just in it for the freebies. now if only you would send me some digiARCs.... over to NetGalley i go!


*i should mention here that my employer pays me plenty -- really, they are fantastic! however my significant other works part time to give him more time to write, so that puts a little more pressure on the budget.

the adventures of jennIRL

Tuesday, April 28

From advanced.reader

ARCreader: the chicken or the egg?

Monday, April 27

well, it's official. it's no longer a numbers game. GalleyCat came along and did the math on the ARCreader.
Let's examine the costs:

1000 reviewers 
x $3/galley 
x $1/ U.P.S. mailing cost 
x 375 titles/year 
$1.5 million /year

That's $1.5 million a year the average major publisher is spending printing and mailing out to the same 1000 reviewers every year.

Now, let's examine how much it would cost to mail each reviewer all a Kindle, including shipping costs.

1000 reviewers 
x $400 /Kindle
x $0 / galley 
x $0 / U.P.S. galley mailing costs 
x 375 titles/year
they go even further and point out that if publishers pooled their money to buy ARCreaders, they'd save even more -- the article is well worth the read. i actually think the Kindle is not a great example practically speaking (given most booksellers would rather DIE than own a Kindle, except of course GC is talking about reviewers, not necessarily booksellers, but still) but it is useful because it's on the high-end of the price range. and, GC uses a low figure for ARCs; my info stated $3 - $7. so taking that into account, this is a conservative estimate of the potential savings. so why haven't publishers done this already?

i followed up with my reps this week, as i suddenly realized i'd been waiting for over a month on hearing whether or not they'd be able to send me digital ARCs. and the answers all around were a resounding "No," except for the one yes i reported earlier on. these reps, i should mention, are at the big publishing houses. 

however, some independent publishers, most notably Unbridled Books, have already gone ahead and are offering digiARCs right now, through NetGalley, and i've heard that there are many more participating publishers soon to be announced. my bet, though, is that these new additions will not include the big houses.

so what's the difference? if it's not cost, what is holding some publishers back where others leap forward? my money, my friends, is on DRM. especialy after the kerfuffle involving Stephenie Meyer and the internet leak of an early draft of Midnight Sun, my guess is that the big publishers are on notice regarding digital piracy. and you can't really blame them, per se -- when a bestselling author pulls a project because of something like this, it's a pretty big hit for them. 

so i don't blame them, but i do think it's misguided to let fear of piracy stop a money-saving, efficiency-improving move to digiARCs. just this past week, Gizmodo pointed out a Norwegian study that showed that music pirates bought 10 times more music online than non-pirates (is that right? non-pirates? there has to be a better word. landlubbers? e-lubbers?). i have anecdotal evidence that tells me the same thing, in the form of a good friend. he rips, burns, downloads, and pirates music -- and then goes out and buys the albums. crazy, right? not really. if you think about it, the music you can get through piracy is often of poor quality, and pretty much never a complete album. so the free music just whets your appetite, and makes you willing to pay to get the full "meal". 

as many have pointed out, the book industry is not the music industry, so the analogies only go so far. but i am betting that the independent publishers are operating on the old maxim, "There's no such thing as bad publicity." pirated manuscript? PEOPLE ARE READING YOUR BOOK. and if you're publishing good books, they're going to like them and want more. and if you like a book, you're (insert really high number here)% more likely to want to actually own it -- whether in audio, ebook, or book form. 

the DRM issue is huge, and scarily technical, and i can't say that i understand the nuts and bolts of it. there's a lot going on right now, and who knows which way it will shake out. the part that i'm especially interested in is what it means for the ARCreader.

obviously publishers are not going to pony up money to buy booksellers a device they're not offering content for, and neither will booksellers. some who already have one will participate in NetGalley or solicit digiARCs from willing publishers, but the vast majority of booksellers won't jump on the bandwagon until digiARCs are a reality across the board. and as industries struggle with DRM, the independent bookstores get farther and farther behind the technology wave that is sweeping customers online. 

do i believe that one day the book will be a thing of the past? no. do i believe that ebooks will have (and already have had) an impact on indie bookstores? absolutely. as Jessica pointed out, familiarity with ebooks and ereaders will make us better booksellers. we need to get on board, and get on board now. 

how do we do that? we've made real progress this month with the ABA's release of the IndieBound iPhone app, and we'll hopefully see some more in the near future. while this doesn't directly relate to the ARCreader or digiARCs, it's a great example of independents joining the game on the digital front. but there's more, so much more, to be done within the stores themselves. hopefully we'll come up with some good ideas on our BEA panel (Going Digital). what do i really want to see?
  • digiARCs
  • content bundling (this is another post for another day, but it's coming)
  • bookseller education on e-content across the board
what do you want to see?

not-so-sexy vampires: THE STRAIN

Sunday, April 26

these vampires don't sparkle. not even a little bit. and if they're playing baseball, it's probably with your head.

Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan breathe new, fetid, life into the vampires of our nightmares. i don't want to give away the specifics, but these vampires Are. Completely. Terrifying. Del Toro is a pro at bringing the supernatural into vivid, eery, disturbing life (i'm thinking particularly of Pan's Labyrinth, although the Hellboys give most comic-based horror movies a run for their money), and THE STRAIN retains all his cinematic genius. i haven't read any Chuck Hogan, so i'm not sure where his influence comes in -- i assume that the literary style (sparse, action-centric, and fast-paced, the book reads like a really well-done book-based-on-the-movie) is his, but that is really an assumption. no lightweight first installment, THE STRAIN does more than set the stage for the trilogy: it could have been a trilogy all on its own. at times predictable in plot, and with characters you'll want to periodically yell at, it's far from perfect, but it's a great addition to the horror genre and a much needed antidote to the saccharine and sexy vampire novels of late.