Thursday, July 29, 2010

Janelle Brown on HuffPost: Dearth of Paying Creative Jobs

In a great article that starts out with anecdotal evidence of creative talent fleeing Los Angeles (my city), Brown nails something that has been bothering many, many people lately. She talks about the writing opportunities on the Internet: "In a flooded marketplace of ideas, the price for creativity has been driven down by a glut of free supply."

Brown points out that over 30,000 writers/journalist have lost their jobs in the past two years, and fight over the pathetically small pay that sites like Demand Media offer. (I could add a few others, but Demand is who Brown singled out.) She gives some great examples, then moves on to other creative types: musicians, filmmakers, etc. She does get around to plugging her own book, This is Where We Live, only to mention that she's found bootlegged copies of it downloaded 9,500 times!

Enough of stealing her thunder: read the article. She ends with a scenario that reminds me of Atlas Shrugged.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ebook Updating Capability

Here is something I didn't know: when an ebook is updated or revised or corrected, the seller can, technically, update, revise, or correct each copy of that ebook that sits on Kindles or Ipads everywhere. Read about it in the May 2010 issue of Wired but I can't find a link to the piece. Ironic, huh?

Now, just because a seller can reach out tentacles across the airwaves to manipulate text, doesn't mean that they do. As Wired points out, a year ago Amazon deleted a bunch of copies of 1984 from the reading devices of customers because the copies were bootlegged. (huh? I don't know how that happened but that's what Wired says.) Customers were very angry; Amazon apologized and will not update or change an ebook without a customer's permission.

It brings up possiblities, doesn't it? How many new textbooks are sold because the authors add a new chapter and up the rev. number so that students can't buy a used copy? If the texts can be automatically updated, students don't have to buy new books. But why would authors take the time to update such books if they're not compensated for their efforts?

What about translated works? When a new translation of The Conquest of Gaul becomes available, should everybody who has an older copy have the option of updating? And what about a map book? Now there's something you'd want to have updated, huh? But if there's no profit in such updates, who will bother?

I'm probably spinning my wheels. As I said, just because ebooks can be updated doesn't mean they will be.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Susan Isaacs Gets the Last Word (Deservedly So!)

A Wall Street Journal article about book signings in New York City makes clear what branding and positioning hath wrought. The big book stores like Borders and Barnes and Noble offer venues seating up to 1100 people. Each outlet has its own cachet--do you want liberals, the savvy and trendy, or warmish families with their kids in tow?

In a way, this sounds so much like an amped-up version of cheerleader tryouts in high school. I'm sure it's inevitable--bookselling is a business--but reading the story almost makes me glad I'm an unknown drudge. Almost.

(OK, truthfully, I wish I had that problem. I wish my publicist was going nuts arranging a slot for me.)

The piece finishes with a bit of spectacular wisdom from Susan Isaacs: "Say you sell 75 books. It's all to the good, but I don't know how much it matters in the scheme of things....You should be using that energy to write books."

Friday, July 02, 2010

Paying for Writing Space?

As in--the writer pays to write there.

I wouldn't have thought this a workable business model, even in non-recessionary times. But in Santa Monica, there are two such places. One has been around a few years; the other just opened.

The new one first: Writers Junction. You join and use the facilities whenever you like. There's a coffee-bar/kitchenette, a cozy lounge with cushy sofas and chairs, a small lending library, a couple of meeting and/or presentation rooms, printers & a copy machine, and--the main raison d'etre of the place--quiet, well-lit writing alcoves where you can plug in your laptop and just scrive in quiet privatude.

Is that worth $125 a month (with a year's commitment)? Writers Junction is a modern, uncluttered place (check out pictures here), and I suppose for folks who can't get peace and quiet any other way, it's very worth it.

The other place (for writers, anyway. This L.A. Times article mentions other facilities for creative types, including artists, designers, etc.) is The Office, which charges $150 part-time, and $250 full-time. Those are first month introductory rates, btw. Like Writers Junction, a full-time membership at The Office gets you access at ALL hours.

Here's a picture from their website at left--it's certainly more attractive to me, but I'm a sucker for big windows and sunlight. The Office has been around for six years, and even has an "It was written here" page of honor--heavy on screenplays.

Again, worth it? Well, if all those screenplays and novels on their "It was written here" page would not have existed but for The Office, then yeah. If you live in Santa Monica. Wonder if the concept has been tried elsewhere?