Author Topic: E-Books are a Backward Technology - It's Time to Change That  (Read 1246 times)  

Online Shane Lochlann Black

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E-Books are a Backward Technology - It's Time to Change That
« on: October 24, 2020, 07:47:02 pm »
A couple of years ago I started a thread about authors setting up their own bookstores. I recognized the value in controlling the presentation of my books some time ago, and I also recognized I was too dependent on a single retailer.

The roadblock was the last mile. How does an indie author get their book to a reader's device after purchase? For that matter how does an indie author sell the book in the first place? I've solved both of those problems. I have a completely independent bookstore now that can do anything any other e-reader platform can do twice as fast and at one-tenth the price. We're about to expand into all kinds of electronic-booky type things that will never happen if we leave it up to the incumbents.

The bottom line is e-book publishing hasn't grown at all. E-reader technology is a stagnant backwater that is getting more proprietary, more expensive, more crowded with mislabeled junk and less appealing every day. At one end it's a hobby for bored rich people. At the other end, it's an exercise in mathematically-precise futility. The software itself has all the cutting-edge features of a web browser from 1998. Nothing newsworthy has happened in digital publishing in ten years. I know this because I've been here the whole time. 

There is no way to differentiate yourself on someone else's store, especially when that store is governed by a robot with instructions to seek out and destroy anything that isn't identical to what sold last quarter. New talent is not being cultivated. New ideas are not tolerated. There's no excitement. There's no passion. There's nothing interesting happening in the e-book world at all. We've all been locked into little tiny cages with instructions to write to market or else. The entire business has been reduced to a slot machine. We puts our cash in and pull the handle and hope sales come out. Even if they do, we can't ever connect with those readers. All the humanity has been drained out of my career and frankly I'm sick of it.

We were once concerned the book business was being turned over to algorithms. That isn't the problem at all. WE are being turned into algorithms, and that's not what I signed up for. 

I've invested considerable time the last three years building my own bookstore, my own cloud reading application and my own ePUB delivery infrastructure. The last mile problem has been solved. The retail and e-commerce problem has been solved. I can price my books however I damn please, and I keep 95%+ of the sale. I can also include whatever content I choose, including links that go wherever the hell I like, thank you very much. My store is home base now. I control it. I'm no longer an unpaid corporate employee with a list of rules to follow. Other retailers are just other retailers, and they get less important every time I get a new reader. You know why? Because now when I get a new reader I can call them by name and say thank you. 

Here are the details on my cloud reader application. If you are interested in this experiment, I'll be happy to answer what questions I can.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6J0uQMdG5Pk" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6J0uQMdG5Pk</a> 
« Last Edit: October 24, 2020, 07:51:00 pm by Shane Lochlann Black »

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    Offline Kathy Dee

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    Re: E-Books are a Backward Technology - It's Time to Change That
    « Reply #1 on: October 25, 2020, 03:10:10 am »
    As I see it, the problem with selling directly is that you don't impact the Amazon algo and thereby benefit from improved visibility in their store. Your sales are only those you can generate as a function of advertising, times your conversion rate. Hence, it's not the right direction for me.
    « Last Edit: October 25, 2020, 03:12:06 am by Kathy Dee »

    Offline Wonder`

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    Re: E-Books are a Backward Technology - It's Time to Change That
    « Reply #2 on: October 25, 2020, 08:06:37 am »
    That looks promising, Shane! Kudos on all your hard work.
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    Online Shane Lochlann Black

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    Re: E-Books are a Backward Technology - It's Time to Change That
    « Reply #3 on: October 25, 2020, 08:59:17 am »
    Quote
    That looks promising, Shane! Kudos on all your hard work.
       

    Thanks very much   :)

    Online NikOK

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    Re: E-Books are a Backward Technology - It's Time to Change That
    « Reply #4 on: October 26, 2020, 08:15:58 am »
    Looks pretty great honestly.  I will definitely keep it in mind for the future, and I appreciate all the work that must have gone into this.  It's not every day that we get options in this game, so that's kind of exciting.  Thanks Shane!

    Offline Fogeydc

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    Re: E-Books are a Backward Technology - It's Time to Change That
    « Reply #5 on: October 26, 2020, 08:57:52 am »
    Why are you saying that *e-books* are a backward tech?
    Aren't you just distributing them in a different way?

    So aren't you really saying that it's the delivery/reading-experience that's backward? (outdated, restricted, fenced-in, something else?)

    What are the alternatives to print on physical media (from Stone Tablets to Fancy Paper) or electronic?

    I get my e-books from a variety of sources, read on both Kindle & iOS devices, rarely read anything in a 'cloud reader'.

    I love Love LOVE having a wide variety of material to read on different devices to suit different circumstances and my ever-more-aging eyes.
    (& BTW I'm just a reader, not a writer, though I find this forum interesting. If I'm out of line I'm sure someone will tell me to Get Lost.)


    Offline jb1111

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    Re: E-Books are a Backward Technology - It's Time to Change That
    « Reply #6 on: October 26, 2020, 05:42:03 pm »
    While eBooks may be a stagnant technology, it doesn't necessarily follow that they are past the pull date.

    Print books still sell and serve a viable function, and that technology goes back at least a couple hundred years or more.

    Fascinating take on it, though, Mr. Black. I admire your forward thinking on this.

    Offline Doglover

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    Re: E-Books are a Backward Technology - It's Time to Change That
    « Reply #7 on: October 27, 2020, 01:55:27 am »
    Well done, Shane, for figuring it out. I don't think I need all that extra work, personally, but can I ask you one question? Does the book have to be read via the Cloud? I mean, does it physically download onto your device?


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    Online Shane Lochlann Black

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    Re: E-Books are a Backward Technology - It's Time to Change That
    « Reply #8 on: October 27, 2020, 09:03:36 am »
    Quote
    Does the book have to be read via the Cloud? I mean, does it physically download onto your device?
       

    You get both. If a customer makes a purchase from my store, they get a link to download the ePUB and if they have a Bitbook account (and the book is available in Bitbook), it is automatically activated so they can read it without downloading or installing the book in a reading app. 

    Some readers are confused by ePUBs because they don't have ePUB reading apps and don't know what to do with the downloaded book, so I set up a way to bypass all the extra steps. 

    We're going to do the same thing with audio. Readers will have the option of downloading the audio file (mp3, etc.) or the option to play the audiobook directly from inside Bitbook. 

    Offline David VanDyke

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    Re: E-Books are a Backward Technology - It's Time to Change That
    « Reply #9 on: October 27, 2020, 02:25:09 pm »
    Now you can get others to piggyback on your platform, charge them a percentage, set your own algorithms to benefit them and you (and eventually more you) and make a gazillion! (ironic sarc/snark, if you weren't sure). You can become Shane L. Blamazon!

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