Disinformation Books Sold to Red Wheel Weiser

New age publisher Red Wheel Weiser, probably best known to Technoccult readers for the Weiser Books line of occult books, has agreed to acquire Disinformation Books from the Disinformation Company for an undisclosed amount. The news was first reported this week by Publishers Weekly and I’ve confirmed it with Disinfo publisher Gary Baddeley.

The deal only includes the book division, and Disinfo will continue to operate its film production, electronic publishing and website independently. “Expect more disinformation books in the future – I’ve already signed a couple since we made the Red Wheel Weiser deal,” Baddeley says.

Baddeley will continue to work for both Red Wheel Weiser and the Disinformation Company.

Creators Are Caught in the Cross-Fire Between Publishers and Comic Shops

Demo by Brian Wood

Brian Wood, of Channel Zero and DMZ fame:

Everyone I know loves comic shops. Everyone I know who makes comics, especially creator-owned comics, is hurting, financially. EVERYONE is bleeding, its a bad time. So to what extent does digital as a publishing format represent an additional revenue stream, one on top of print sales through shops, one that can ease some of the suffering? [...]

Over the last few days Dark Horse was compelled to clarify what their digital plan was, in terms of pricing, correcting the perception that their comics would be sold digitally at 1.99, much less than the print versions. I have access to the CBIA, a retailers forum, and the pushback was intense, and included overt threats of drastically lowered orders and even total boycotts of the line. Did I mention everyone is bleeding? I get the frustration. [...]

Not sure if this plan is scrapped or not, but I am not the boogeyman here, and when I see these boycott threats, still being issued even after Dark Horse clarified their plans… well, its hard not to feel like an innocent bystander, a bit of collateral damage. My new books at risk even before they launch. Christ, I’m just trying to make it all work out for everyone.

Brian Wood: The digital question mark

Academic Publishers Are Out of Control

George Monbiot has a must-read article in The Guardian on academic publishers. Monbiot points out that academic publishers receive their content for essentially free (the papers are funded by universities, often with public money, and editing is often done on a volunteer basis) and then sold back to the public at exorbitant prices. Individual articles cost at least $30, and subscriptions cost university libraries thousands of dollars per journal per year. The publishers operate at margins of up to 40%. Monbiot writes:

What we see here is pure rentier capitalism: monopolising a public resource then charging exorbitant fees to use it. Another term for it is economic parasitism. To obtain the knowledge for which we have already paid, we must surrender our feu to the lairds of learning.

Monbiot’s solution:

In the short term, governments should refer the academic publishers to their competition watchdogs, and insist that all papers arising from publicly funded research are placed in a free public database. In the longer term, they should work with researchers to cut out the middleman altogether, creating – along the lines proposed by Björn Brembs of Berlin’s Freie Universität – a single global archive of academic literature and data. Peer-review would be overseen by an independent body. It could be funded by the library budgets which are currently being diverted into the hands of privateers.

The Guardian: Academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist

(via Brainsturbator)

Update: Matthew Ingram has a post that expands on the reasons why this system remains in place even as other media industries are being disrupted:

Academics who have tried to open up their research or bypass the journal industry say they often run into resistance from a number of sources. Among other things, appearing in a specific journal or publication is a key criteria for advancement at most universities, which means publishing in open-access formats could be a career-limiting move for an academic. Many publish their papers on their own websites, but most also go through the usual journal process as well, which reinforces the existing system. And since universities pay large sums to subscribe to those journals, they often feel compelled to justify those costs by requiring that all research be published through them.

Ingram also cites this post by sociologist and Microsoft researcher danah boyd, who calls for academics to boycott locked down publishers.

Writers: you can make a living selling e-books on the Kindle

J.A. Konrath

Mediabistro’s GalleyCat interviews thriller author J.A. Konrath on how he’s making a living self-publishing through the Kindle:

I’ve sold 40,000 ebooks since last April. At first, I was amused to be paying my mortgage with Kindle earnings. But now it’s turning into serious money.

This all happened by accident. Some Kindle owners emailed me, asking if I could make my early, unpublished books available for them to read. I uploaded them using Amazon’s Digital Text Platform (dtp.amazon.com) and charged $1.99. Readers like low prices. And why wouldn’t they? Two or three bucks is less than a cup of coffee. It’s an impulse purchase, and perfect for intangible, digital content which costs almost nothing to copy and deliver. [...]

My first Jack Daniels novel, Whiskey Sour, has sold 2500 ebooks since 2004, and earned me around $2500. Compare that to the ebooks I’ve self-published. My top five titles are now averaging 800 sales per month, and those numbers are going up. On my top selling ebook, I’ve earned more money in 45 days than Whiskey Sour has earned in 5 years.

Why? Price. My publisher (and all publishers) are pricing ebooks too high. [...]

You can still get the ebooks I’m selling on Kindle for free on my website.

Mediabistro: Writers: Making a Living Off of Kindle?

Projection: digital textbooks will be 18% of the market in 5 years

five year digital textbook projection

I take projections with a heaping lump of salt, but this is interesting:

Considering current digital textbook sales increases, and basing our assumptions of the favorable evolution of factors contributing to increased digital textbook availability and access, we project the digital textbook market to surpass 18% of combined new textbook sales for the Higher Education, and Career Education markets in the U.S. by 2014. Overall digital textbook sales will increase 100% year-over-year in 2010, and continue to grow at rates of 150% and 120% respectively in 2011 and 2012. As publishers struggle with the eventuality of transforming their product models to digital-first, and as they adjust their sales efforts to address the growth in the digital market, we expect a certain amount of churn and an adjustment to sales growth in 2013 and 2014. In those years, digital textbook sales will increase 90% and 80% respectively.

Digital Textbook Sales in U.S. Higher Education — A Five-Year Projection

(Thanks Wes)

Richard Metzger on the Gspot

Richard Metzger

Disinfo co-founder and current Dangerous Minds host Richard Metzger is interviewed by Joseph Matheny on the latest Gspot.

The GSpot: Richard Metzger

Online novel publishing a $15 million a year industry in China

Shanda Literature, which controls over 90% of China’s online-reading market, rakes in an estimated revenue of 100 million yuan ($15 million) per year. Running three popular online-novel websites, Shanda boasts a total readership of 25 million and is growing at 10 million per year, according the company. “The Chinese people need a platform to express their creativity,” said Hou Xiaoqiang, founding CEO of Shanda Literature. “I think our online-literature sites can partly cater to that need.”

Full Story: Time

(via Tomorrow Museum

Print your own books from Wikipedia

wikipedia books

Wikipedia is offering a new service allowing users to select articles from Wikipedia and have them printed as a book:

Step 1 – Creating the book from a collection of articles

The book collection menu, entitled “Create a book”, can be seen on the left hand side of the browser screen towards the bottom. It contains two links by default: “Add wiki page” and “Books help”. (See Fig 1).

By clicking on the “Add wiki page” link, the page currently being viewed is added to the collection. To add more pages you must navigate to the next desired page and click the “Add wiki page” link again. You can also add all pages in a category with one click. The number of pages in the book is shown in the menu on the left and is updated automatically.

If required, specific revisions (versions) of pages from their histories, can be specified in your book. See the experts page for details.

Step 2 – The book title

Once all the desired pages have been added, click the “Show book” button to review your book. Furthermore it is possible to add a book title and change the ordering of the wiki pages of the book (see details of how to do this in the Advanced functionality section).

Step 3 – Download or order a printed copy of your book

The finished book can be downloaded or ordered as a bound book. You can download the book, in PDF and OpenDocument format (viewable using OpenOffice.org software), by clicking the “Download” button (see Fig 3). To order the book as a bound book click the “Order book from PediaPress” button. Further information about printed books can be found in the FAQ.

More Info: Wikipedia

Wikipedia Books FAQ

(via Robot Wisdom)

This is one of the business models I suggested for newspapers.

Literary Novels and Fan Culture: Some Thoughts Following The Future of Entertainment 3

“Over the weekend I attended The Future of Entertainment 3, a conference organized by MIT’s Comparative Media Studies department. The two day event featured back to back roundtables focusing on issues related to social media, audience participation, and “spreadable media,” a term CMS director Henry Jenkins coined as a more appropriate way to describe content than “viral.” (Viral connotes an inexplicable element the “infected” have no control over. It suggests you can “design the perfect virus and give it to the right first carriers.”)

From a post on Jenkins’ blog last year:

Our core argument is that we are moving from an era when stickiness was the highest virtue because the goal of pull media was to attract consumers to your site and hold them there as long as possible, not unlike, say, a roach hotel. Instead, we argue that in the era of convergence culture, what media producers need to develop spreadable media. Spreadable content is designed to be circulated by grassroots intermediaries who pass it along to their friends or circulate it through larger communities (whether a fandom or a brand tribe). It is through this process of spreading that the content gains greater resonance in the culture, taking on new meanings, finding new audiences, attracting new markets, and generating new values. In a world of spreadable media, we are going to see more and more media producers openly embrace fan practices, encouraging us to take media in our own hands, and do our part to insure the long term viability of media we like.

Indeed, our new mantra is that if it doesn’t spread, it’s dead.”

(via The Tomorrow Museum)

C[r]ash Flow (Or What Went Wrong in October in Book Publishing)

“It’s the only thing I’m thinking about recently, so I’m going to go ahead and kill the elephant. Let’s talk a little bit about what happened in October.

You’ve heard about the massive layoffs at Doubleday; you’ve heard about Harper’s terrible state of profit, BNN’s worst quarter and projected year ever, and the closing of Impetus, an indie press (which, as I’ll explain below, I don’t think was Impetus’s fault even vaguely). Yes, there’s a crisis. However. Anyone who wants to talk about “the death of publishing” can leave the room. I’m at the beginning of my career and I plan on being an editor for a long time; a lot of you are yet-to-be-published authors and I’m sure you’re equally intent on not seeing book publishing fold (not that it’s going to; that’s ridiculous). So instead I want to talk about what’s actually causing the problem–it might help us come up with solutions for protecting what’s important to us.”

(via Editorial Ass. Thanks SP!)

(Related:“Major Distributor Raises Concerns Over Borders” via GalleyCat)

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