Well, this is cool! As a repeat visitor to Turkey, it’s fun for me to watch an ad for by books in Turkish.
Over at Galleycat, there’s plenty of commentary about Apple’s new iPad, which has been described as a possible “Kindle killer.” Well, I don’t know about it being a Kindle killer, since the Kindle still has the edge when it comes to portability and battery life. I don’t plan to run out to buy an iPad — at least, not yet.
What’s got me excited, though, is the fact Apple will be selling e-books on its own iBooks site. If this is anything like their iTunes site, it will be a huge boon for authors and publishers alike. I understand the books will be offered in pdf form. Apple will make the books a snap to download, and no doubt they’ll be temptingly priced (assuming they can come to an agreement with publishers.)
This is our best weapon against online piracy. If you can make it easy and inexpensive to obey the law, maybe people actually will.
Head on over to Murderati, where I blogged about where I think publishing may be headed in the decades to come.
And for those who doubt that anyone who downloads for free would actually pay for the books, here’s an interesting news bit, which I first mentioned over on Murderati yesterday:
“Within just one week of implementing Europeâ€™s Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED), Sweden has already seen legal digital music downloads double, according to one digital media distributor.
One report last week said Swedenâ€™s overall internet traffic was down by 30 percent a day after the lawâ€™s introduction. A 100 percent hike in pay-for music downloads seems unlikely – but thatâ€™s what digital white-label distributor InProdicon tells Swedenâ€™s English-language TheLocal.se site, which says the company supplies half of all Swedenâ€™s legal music downloads.”
So free downloads were indeed sucking up profits — and once free downloads were made illegal, music profits from LEGAL downloads increased by 100% in Sweden.
They’re the subjects of 2009’s most-often downloaded books from pirate sites.
10 most pirated books of 2009:
1. Kama Sutra
2. Photoshop Secrets
3. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Amazing Sex
4. The Lost Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci
5. Solar House: A Guide for the Solar Designer
6. Before Pornography: Erotic Writing In Early Modern England
7. Twilight: Complete Series
8. How To Get Anyone To Say YES: The Science Of Influence
9. Nude Photography: The Art And The Craft
10. Fix It: How To Do All Those Little Repair Jobs Around The Home
Hmm. I’m getting a more complete picture of the average downloader. They’re sex-obsessed photographers who need help with their little home repair projects.
And over at the blogsite “Alien Romances”, there’s a thought-provoking blogpost about the demographics of e-book thieves, and why this is particularly bad news for science fiction writers. No surprise, the downloaders tend to skew young and male.
over at Jonathan Mayberry’s blog.
I just got the call from California: TNT has ordered “Rizzoli and Isles” as a regular TV series for 2010 – 2011! I don’t yet know when the first episode will air, but as soon as I find out, I’ll let you know.
This has been an absolute dream come true, a miracle that I never really allowed myself to hope for. I think I need to lie down.
And here’s the press release from Hollywood Reporter.
RIZZOLI & ISLES (working title)
RIZZOLI & ISLES, starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander, is based on Tess Gerritsen’s popular mystery novels. It comes to TNT from Warner Horizon Television and is being executive-produced by Janet Tamaro and Bill Haber’s Ostar Productions (TNT’s Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King, TCM’s upcoming Moguls and Movie Stars: A History of Hollywood). Michael M. Robin (TNT’s The Closer) directed and executive-produced the pilot, which was written by Tamaro (Bones, Lost) and co-executive-produced by Jeff Hayes.
“TNT is home to some of television’s most powerful female characters, and RIZZOLI & ISLES certainly fits that identity,” said Wright. “We’re delighted to be working with Angie, Sasha and the rest of the talented cast of RIZZOLI & ISLES as well as the show’s outstanding production team, as we bring Tess Gerritsen’s vision to television.”
In RIZZOLI & ISLES, Harmon plays Jane Rizzoli, a Boston detective who works closely with medical examiner Maura Isles (Alexander) to solve crimes. Lorraine Bracco (The Sopranos) plays a recurring role as Jane’s mother. Also starring in the series are Lee Thompson Young (FlashForward), who plays Jane’s current partner, Barry Frost; Bruce McGill (Law Abiding Citizen) as Det. Vince Korsak, Jane’s seasoned former partner; Jordan Bridges (Dawson’s Creek) as Jane’s brother, Frankie, a patrol cop who hopes to become a detective; and Billy Burke (The Twilight Saga) as FBI agent Gabriel Dean.
Photos for RIZZOLI & ISLES (working title) are available on the TNT online pressroom at the following link: http://news.turner.com/section_display.cfm?section_id=572&vsec=3
Over on Galleycat, it’s Piracy Week, which coincidentally matches exactly what I wanted to blog about. We’re both addressing this topic because of last week’s Publishers Weekly article about e-piracy, in which publishing losses from illegal downloads are estimated to be three billion dollars. Of the titles they tracked, the average number of illegal downloads was 13,000.
I confess to being a voice of doom on this topic. A good friend of mine is a legendary singer/songwriter, a man who wrote one of the defining songs of our generation. He made a fortune in the music business and is still very much in demand on the concert circuit, but he says that with rampant illegal downloading of tunes, there’s no way he would be able to achieve that success today. He’s already a big name, so he can make a good living playing live concerts. But these days, if you aren’t already a big name, the only real money in music is if you sell your tune for advertising jingles or write theme music for TV. “I feel sorry for truly talented young musicians,” he says. “No one will be able to do what I did thirty years ago Piracy has destroyed the industry.”
And that, I fear, is what lies ahead for writers.
To assess just how much illegal downloading is hurting me personally, I went onto one of the websites mentioned in the Publishers Weekly article ( 4shared.com) and checked out how many Tess Gerritsen books were available for free downloading. I found over ninety files available, in a variety of languages, including the entire Jane Rizzoli series. The site tells you how many times the files have been downloaded, and at least 4,000 copies in English have been downloaded. That’s 4,000 book sales I never made. And that’s just the English titles, on just one site. Were I to track down every site on the web that offers free downloads of my books, I’m guessing the number would be many times that number. Thousands and thousands of book sales that never happened because readers got the stories for free.
For the moment, illegal downloading represents only a fraction of total book sales, but I guarantee, that’s about to change. As e-readers become more popular, as consumers gradually abandon the old-fashioned book and embrace the electronic book, those free downloads are going to look pretty tempting. The only thing that stands in the way of our complete ruination as an industry is the lingering popularity of print books. We want to believe that the print book will always be with us, that our children and grandchildren will prefer a real book, just as we do.
Buggy whip manufacturers probably thought the same thing.
For the moment, all we can do is play whack-a-mole with the pirates. Every so often, a reader emails me, pointing out sites pirating my books, and for that I’m grateful. Fortunately, most sites are good about taking down illegal copies if you alert them. I contacted 4shared.com, and within a day, they took down the English language files I specified. (I didn’t contest the foreign language files, because I can’t read precisely what they’re offering.) I’m sure that within a week, there’ll be new ones on the site. And there are so many sites to monitor, I’d need a full-time assistant just to keep up.
Like my friend the musician, I’m grateful that I was able to build my career when I did. When books are easily stolen and given away free, writers won’t be able to make a living. And when no one values the storyteller, it will be a sad day indeed.
I came late to being an e-reader convert, but yes — I did eventually come around to appreciating the devices. I own a Kindle, and now a Cool-ER, although they will never co-opt the affection I’ll always feel for the good old-fashioned book. But when I do sit down with an e-reader, there are several features I demand. These are just my own preferences, and others may disagree. But if any manufacturers out there are paying attention, and you’re wondering what we readers want, here’s my list.
First, here are the features that are ABSOLUTELY necessary. If the e-reader doesn’t have these, it’s a deal-killer for me:
PORTABILITY. I want my e-reader to be lightweight and easy to slip into my purse. Which is why I prefer a 6-inch screen, about the size of a paperback novel. Any larger, and you defeat the whole purpose of an e-reader — and that’s to take it on vacation, or on a plane. One of the hottest new models I saw at CES is a combination e-reader and electronic writing tablet. It weighs several pounds. Sorry, but I am not going to buy that monstrosity. If I want to take notes on something I’m reading, I’ll just bring an old-fashioned steno-pad. Here is where an e-reader like Interead’s super-portable Cool-ER has a huge advantage. The mantra for manufacturers should be lighter, lighter, lighter!
SIMPLICITY OF USE. I am not a techie genius. Don’t make me puzzle over a thousand different menus. Make the e-reader as easy to use as a plain old book — that is, so easy that any child can use it. Think of me as a middle-aged child. Who just wants to read the darn book without a struggle.
EASILY ADJUSTABLE FONT SIZE. I am of an age where I haven’t yet accepted the fact I need reading glasses. Help me maintain my delusion. Give my an e-reader that, with a mere click of a button, can instantly enlarge the font. And give me a larger font option than the current e-readers do. The print needs to be even bigger! (And for my mom, who has macular degeneration, HUGE font would be great!)
SUPER-LONGLASTING BATTERY LIFE. Luckily, the current e-readers seem to satisfy this particular demand. The Kindle lasted on one charge throughout my entire Turkey vacation. The Cool-ER has an 8,000-page-turn battery life. I don’t want to be in the middle of Africa and suddenly have my battery run out, with no possibility of a re-charge. What this means is that color-screen e-readers are not going to be on my shopping list anytime soon. Their battery lives are way too short. I’d much rather have a plain old B&W screen that lasts me throughout a two-week camping trip.
NON-PROPRIETARY FILE ACCESSIBILITY. Here’s where I have a beef with my Kindle. Sometimes I want to read material that’s not Amazon-mediated. I want to read another author’s galley. Or I want to read a scientific article I’ve got on my home computer. Or my own manuscript in progress. I want to be able to upload that file directly onto my e-reader without having to go through Amazon (and pay for that privilege.) My Cool-ER allows me to do that, as long as I convert my doc file to pdf. I understand that the Sony e-reader also allows this, which is a huge plus.
Now — here are features that are nice, but which I don’t consider necessary for me to consider a purchase:
WI-FI ACCESSIBILITY. I know this is the hot thing, being able to download newspapers and books wirelessly. But right now, with my Kindle, I get no Whispernet accessibility where I live, and it doesn’t bother me all that much. And when I’m traveling, if I want to read, say, the New York Times, I’ll just buy a paper copy. If I’m in an area where I can’t buy the NYT, it’s usually also an area where I can’t get Whispernet either. Besides, Wi-Fi usage really drains that battery fast.
AUDIO. Yes, I know, it’s nice to be able to hear an audiobook on your e-reader. But isn’t that what an iPod is for? (And much smaller, too.)
TOUCHSCREEN. Well, this would be cool. And I would love it. It may be one of those features that I soon consider necessary.
HUGE FILE STORAGE SPACE. The Cool-ER can take up to five gigabytes of data. That’s way more than I’ll ever be able to read. I mean, how many thousands of books do you need to carry on vacation? The current e-readers all have plenty of storage space, so adding additional thousands of books on my device isn’t really a big selling point for me.
WRITING PAD/EMAIL CAPABILITY/BLAH BLAH BLAH. By now, you’re talking about so much weight that you might as well bring your laptop computer. This is no longer e-reader territory.
In short, what I want in an e-reader is the equivalent of a good, old-fashioned BOOK. Something for recreational reading. In the end, there is no device as simple, as uncomplicated, as a book. Give me that old-fashioned experience. Don’t load it up with doo-dads which I don’t need.
for more on my trip to CES, check out my blog post over at murderati.
I just got home from Las Vegas, where I attended the eye-popping Consumer Electronics Show.
It’s a humongous event, attended by a crowd of 100,000, where you can check out all the hot new techie gadgets about to come on the market. I was invited there by the Interead Company, based in the UK, which makes the Cooler E-book reader, a wonderfully lightweight device that’s the third-best-selling e-reader in the world, after the Kindle and the Sony Reader.
While not in the Interead booth, I also did a lot of wandering around in the exhibit hall, trying not to let my jaw drop open. Because the stuff I saw there was so futuristic, so dazzling, that I felt as if I had ended up in a Jetson’s cartoon. The hot new things were 3-D TVs and video games, and long lines of men snaked around exhibits, waiting to view the 3-D movie demos. And yes, it was mostly men wandering around the convention hall floors.
Which may explain the phenomenon I’m about to show you: the Booth Bunny.
Coming from the sedate world of publishing, I had never seen a Booth Bunny before. But they were everywhere at CES, seductively fondling cameras, posing decoratively beside big-screen TVs and gleaming cars. When you have an exhibit hall packed with tens of thousands of men, how do you catch their attention? If your gizmos aren’t flashy enough to attract the crowds, you hire a Booth Bunny to pull them in.
(notice the man not-so-discreetly glancing her way!)
So this is what businessmen do at trade shows. I never guessed!
And this is cool too: Angie Harmon and “Rizzoli” were mentioned in the USA Today weekend supplement!