The SF Signal Podcast #26: Lou Anders, Sue Lange, Mike Resnick and John Picacio Talk About the Impact of eBook Publishing

In episode 26 of the SF Signal Podcast, we have something very special for you. We’ve given our regular panelists the night off so they can recharge and refresh and have asked some very special guests to convene and discuss the future and impact of eBook Publishing:

  • Is the quickly rising eBook market going to save the publishing industry or further erode an already dwindling market?
  • Is the printed book dead?
  • Is eBook publishing good for authors in the long run?
  • What about piracy?
  • How will the (impending?) death of Borders affect publishing?

Our virtual convention panel includes:

Tell us what you think – leave us a voicemail for free!

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21 thoughts on “The SF Signal Podcast #26: Lou Anders, Sue Lange, Mike Resnick and John Picacio Talk About the Impact of eBook Publishing”

  1. During my daily work schedule I have a lot of traveling to offices, or the warehouse and factory, not to mention field work, with hurry up and wait stuff in between, and toting an Ipad (or kindle, or nook) -sized object, in addition to whatever else I have to carry (laptop, tools, guns, etc), really wouldnt be feasible.

    I have found that since the only electronic device I keep on me nearly 24/7, I do the majority my my ebook reading on my phone, and I tend to treat Ebooks much like I did paperbacks for years:  Something to throw in a pocket (or in a toolbox, or on the dash of the truck – you get the picture) and devour as the opportunity presents itself.

    I have never expected to buy/read a paperback and have it to be a work of art, ie to have tons of interior artwork or chapter iconography, and a legible map always seemed to be the exception more than the rule, or really to even survive the time it took to read (I have disintegrated more than my share of poorly bound paperbacks over the years).

    So personally. I dont mind if the ebook is not “pimped” up with interior artwork, or maps, or hyperlinks or whatever.   As a matter of fact that tends to be more of a distraction than any real benefit to me.

    I guess what I am long-windily saying is that decking out an ebook with all the bells and whistles seems to be a “hard cover” mindset, and I think of them with a “mass market paperback” one.

    TW

    PS- I wonder how much of an odd duck I am in thinking ebooks arent replacements for “stay at home hardbacks” but rather for “use and destroy” paperbacks?

  2. I must admit I am getting bugged by the debate between pbooks and ebooks, honestly I don’t care… I just want to read the book… paper has a distinct advantage in that it is entirely user friendly, I can pick up any book (thats printed in English) and instantly read it. When it comes to ebooks they are great I am intrigued by the opportunities that ebooks give, but I am really discouraged by the issues of format and DRM…

    Regardless I want new novels to feed my prodigious demand for reading materials… that is my prime concern… That’s IT! I don’t care about anything else, it also strikes me as bizarre the amount of concern there is in the scifi community…. ebooks are a huge technological advance, they are the biggest and most important advance to hit the world since the intervention of the printing press… this is right up our street… this is scifi made real. What is coming is CHANGE, just change….

    Instead of bemoaning the end of print we should be demanding the future we want… For me the most important thing I want is format free ebooks… I want to be able to read my ebook with the ease at which I can open a paper book… I also want to be sure that an ebook I buy is mine, that I can keep it.

  3. What happened to Cheryl Morgan?  Then again, her last apocalyptic blog post here made my balls recede, so maybe it’s better delaying her appearance.

     

  4. I hope that e-book piracy doesn’t have the effect that music piracy has had on that industry. As we all know, piracy has completely destroyed that industry. What? They’re making more money than ever? Hmm…

  5. I know, who would have thought that exposing your music to far more people would have actually been good for business…. I see so many books that grab my eye and back covers the sound exciting but can only afford to buy a few (or find them in the library) that I am sure I am missing out on scores of authors who i would happily spend money on…..

  6. Great discussion.

     

    I love my Kindle and have bought a number of books that I already owned as paperbacks as e-books.  I do wish my purchase of the hard cover or paper back would entitle me to the ebook for free, but I do understand that there are extra cost involved in creating the book into ebook format.

     

    I sure hope that the ebook and digital editions will get more immersive.  I love that Locus is finally available digitally, but would hope that advertisers will eventually pay to make the adds in the digital edition include hyperlinks to relative content online.  I do believe the same will happen more and more with actual book content.  Links to relavant information online, maybe a author run or endorsed web site (alas the autumrain2110 web site for David J. Williams’s Autum rain trilogy).  Maybe some interactive maps for fantasy novels.  Definitely maps you can zoom in and out of.

     

    All in all I ma quite excited about what the ebook future holds.

     

  7. I hate reading on electronic devices.  Miss the tactile feel of a book and viewing 2 pages at once.

    Am also afraid the rise of Ebooks will kill off bookstores. I love to browse and discover new authors something it’s harder to do online.

    Plus I can resell books I don’t want to keep-can’t do that with Ebooks. If you buy a clunker you are stuck with it.

  8. @tam: Er, thanks for the visual.  I think you’re confusing our podcast with my appeance on Cheryl’s podcast, which will be appearing soon.

  9. Wow, a great discussion!  It was neat to have some many points of view.  I do wish you all had speculated more about small bookstores and POD.  I think if that technology gets more affordable, it could help a lot.

    A couple of things no one mentioned… first, a real strength of ebooks is that you can get a free sample and “taste before you buy.” This, I think, will make it much easier for authors to sell their books to new readers.  

    Second, no one described streamlining workflow.  Yes, ebooks are extra work right now.  That’s partly because everyone’s workflow is to take a Word or other word processing file and moving it into a print format like InDesign.  Them and only then do they think about the ebook. I work for a legal and regulatory publisher and we made the jump over a decade ago by going to an SGML-based system.  These days XML is more common, but either one works.  The workflow that makes the most sense is:

    1. Convert to XML or SGML and maintain the files in a database

    2, Write output programs to generate print pages, ePub, Mobi, HTML, whatever

    3. Proof from print, but make correctoins to the master XML copy and output again

    Basically, publishers, no matter how much they love books, need to start seeing them as data.

     

     

     

  10. @john d: I was referring to Cheryl’s post here:  http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2011/01/mind-meld-the-future-of-publishing/

    @karen theoretically an ebook should look just like a webpage, except on the ipad a webpage doesn’t rewrap the words when you change the font size.  Michael Stackpole uses software that lets you create an ebook in some text format, and then convert it to epub, mobi, etc.  I thought he had a guide on his website, but I can’t find it.

     

  11. Odd for Lou Anders of Pyr to be talking about quality of digital product, when most of their books on Kindle are the wretched ‘fauxbook’ worst format in the world Topaz variety.  Which was developed as a quick and dirty way for Amazon to cheaply and quickly make some material sellable.  Certainly not worth paying for, or extra for in the quality sense.

  12. He is also wrong about piracy and his anthologies, too :-

     

    Masked certainly has been uploaded, too

     

    Clearly not as widely available, but it certainly is there.

     

    Maybe not surprising as I would think that superhero fiction not going to be as popular as more general secondary world fantasy.

  13. Blue Tyson – it was precisely my dislike of Topaz that has lead us to take charge of our own ebook production. I’m currently supervising the conversion of around 90 titles, and when we have them, we will substitute the new versions for the “wretched” Amazon created ones. Then you will see what I am talking about.

    Meanwhile, the fact that one anthology has been uploaded doesn’t diminish my point about the extreme number of torrents picking up the other one. I’ve been getting daily torrent alerts since the summer for one anthology, only one or two for the other.

  14. Lou, that is great to hear, because as you know can’t buy them anywhere else if not in the USA barring the usual identity-faking proxy using business that I’d rather spend the time on doing something useful.

    Because it has been bugging me for a long time about wanting to do a study of James Enge – and I did try the first book in that format, but it would have been just as easy to scan it myself as far as getting it to be usable.

    Swords and Dark Magic is also still not buyable outside the USA, either – heading for 8 months, soon.  The cover’s pretty dull and kid’s-book looking for that sort of thing, too, seeing you were talking about cover art especially in contrast with the Del Rey Moorcock and Howard for example.  Not as bland as say the Richard Morgan Steel Remains that has one of those boring fuzzy silhouette of person in indistinct location suspense thriller cheap-looking jobs.  When you have Frazetta and Vallejo and Windsor-Smith and all the recent comic artists running around in people’s heads?

    Not that it is necessarily affordable in the whole process, but ‘alternate covers’ is an interesting possibility for some ebooks, maybe not the whole 8 variants comic nuttiness of course.  Not sure I have seen anyone do the Baen E-Arc thing and throw in ‘Picacio Variant Cover plus wallpaper’ when you buy the 2.5 x the cost early edition.  Be an interesting experiment on SF fans and their valuing of artwork, too.  Don’t think I have even seen ‘cover with text etc. removed’ in addition – evil unbranding marketing anathema?

    Given an artist on the podcast too, it is always seemed a bit odd that you can’t get a ‘super flying gorilla’ cover poster or ‘Kresnov for President’ t-shirt or whatever after all this work has been done?  Costs too much to license that sort of thing from the artist?  Not enough interest?  Or if you do it like ‘Pyr cafepress store’ the partner takes too much money for your effort to do things like that or 100th volume centenary poster of all covers?

     

     

     

     

  15. I don’t really care for pimped up ebooks. Maybe I’m in the minority there, but I use my ebook reader primarily for reading Gutenberg books or freely available books and stories. It’s pretty easy to get them into a readable shape (Calibre and Sigil are my tools of choice). TOC, correct formating, it takes me at most 2 to 3 hourse to get a pretty good result. But I admit that I like my ebooks minimalistic, I don’t need covers (which mostly look pretty awful in gray shades anyway), maps for fantasy books are one of the most useless accessory I can think of and the rest is easy to do.

  16. I was never talking about “enhancements” and it was a mischaracterizing of what I was saying when the discussion went in that direction. I was only talking about my belief that the interior of a print book should be accurately replicated when it is converted to an ebook, that things like maps and graphs inside a print book (or charts or reference photos in nonfiction) ought to be readable when you pay for a professionally-produced ebook. This is becoming a very big concern in the text book category.

  17. re: Blue Tyson

    …wait – what?!

    Swords and Dark Magic… The cover’s pretty dull and kid’s-book looking for that sort of thing

    WHAT?  Seriously?  I really like that cover.

    ~P
    @atfmb

  18. Hey, Lou, maybe you should name the books that are being pirated.  Maybe by playing it up, you can generate more interest in them (“most pirated of the year!”).  There’s probably a lot of non-techie people that don’t have bittorrent at the ready.

     

  19. Hi! I was linked to this page through the Hugo Voter Packet. The links to this episode seem to be broken. Just thought I’d let you know!

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