Medieval Helpdesk, No Doom and Gloom


The feud between Amazon and Macmillan continues with the Macmillan buy button yet to return. If Amazon blinked, they must have forgotten to open their eyes again. Undoubtedly much talk continues, not only between the two but also with other publishers.

Reading through the neverending comment threads on the subject, one of the things I’ve found surprising is how much the emergence of ebooks seems to freak out many writers. I feel strongly that digital books will be good for scribblers, but maybe I’m just too starry eyed or read too much science fiction.

Here’s a video clip for a bit of perspective. It’s in Norwegian with English subtitles, but that just makes it better. I’m recklessly stealing this idea from Adrienne Kress, whose blog I came across in one of those comment threads. I just bought her book as a form of repayment. If it weren’t for our digital age, I quite likely never would have heard of Adrienne, Alex, or the Ironic Gentleman.

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2 Comments

Filed under Tangent

2 responses to “Medieval Helpdesk, No Doom and Gloom

  1. Brian Thornton

    Great video- those wacky Norwegians!

    Don’t know whether you’re starry-eyed, but I definitely understand why so many writers are freaked out by the “coming ebook wave”: it’s because their publishers are freaked out by it, and they’re passing it right along to their author lists.

    Like Perlstein said in that WaPo piece I sent you the other day, it takes a while for a paradigm shift in business to shake out into an effective business model that passes the profits around a bit (usually through “market corrections”) and in the interim someone makes an obscene amount of money, something Amazon is obviously trying to do with the ridiculously overpriced and hilariously limited Kindle. Say what you will about the iPad, with its price point and everything it does that Kindle can’t (surfing, email, color screen, music, etc.) it’s a better deal than Kindle, and that’s a good thing for those who want to see a little competition here.

    Me, I just want to make a living doing what I love, and I’m not convinced that competing one-on-one with the sea of self-pubs currently giving away their work for free on Kindle is the way to go. It’s sort of like swimming in the world’s largest “sci-fi-fan-cum-wannabe-sci-fi-writer” slush pile (and I’m a mystery writer, so that understandably freaks me out!).

  2. D.J. Morel

    I think publishers are freaked out primarily because nothing has changed in their industry since the paperback was introduced. Probably for the most part too, they don’t like change all that much. They also hear how ebooks are going to wipe out publishers.

    There have been multiple posts from established authors, over just this week alone, about how they very much like having a publisher to take care of all the editing, copyediting, proofreading, cover art, marketing. Oh, and paying them an advance. They like that bit too. Publishers aren’t going anywhere. They’ll just need to adapt their business models and pricing strategies, which will happen.

    And yes, if you want to make a living as a writer self publishing (either in ebook or print book form) isn’t the way to go. You’re much better off finding a good publisher and agent. The only problem is that you need a good bit of luck to get on their rosters. Just look at all the year end roundups, where agents ask to read 120 full manuscripts and agree to represent one, just one. That’s full manuscripts, not queries.

    Still, somebody has to get lucky. And there are things we can all do to position ourselves in a spot where the odds improve. One of those things may be self publishing. Any mystery writer who can paraglide over the “sci-fi-fan-cum-wannabe-sci-fi-writer” slush pile surely merits a closer look. That’s a last resort though. First resort: good old fashioned connections and short story sales.