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…and with that neat turn of phrase, Brian Tart, publisher of Dutton of Penguin Group USA, has expressed why subsidiary media rights are no longer subsidiary. They are the whole box and dice.
From Rachel Deahl @ Publishers Weekly:
Dutton has laid out big money for what it’s dubbing a “digi-novel” by the creator of the C.S.I.television franchise. The Penguin imprint paid millions for a multimedia three-book series from Anthony Zuiker that, at its centerpiece, features a mystery novel which will send readers to a Web site with companion footage relating to the plot…Zuiker’s story…will, as Dutton noted, “move from books to film to the web with ease.” Read the whole article…
It’s an exciting project from its description. More importantly, this is an early example of more and more digital “publications” that publishers will be doing in future, which begs the question – how do you sell the rights to it? This is not a traditional deal where a publisher licences print rights and also subsidiary media rights, including film and digital. Most publishers have fairly standard contracts, but this project is entirely bespoke. It requires an entirely different way of conceiving of the project and the intellectual property involved.
I think this is largely positive. Publishers need to loosen up their contracts and start thinking about different ways of licensing content. I’ll admit the morass of copyright legislation makes it difficult to slice and dice copyright however we want, but there is still scope for more flexible approaches to publishing contracts. For example, with a project like Dutton’s (or for that matter Scholastic’s 39 Clues or HarperCollins’ The Amanda Project) there may be a mix of licences needed, including Creative Commons licences to cover the web 2.0 components and user generated content.
All this may be obvious, but I recently had a conversation with an Australian publishing professional who works in contracts and insisted that digital = e-books. What about alternative reality games, web 2.0 and mobile content, I asked? “That’s what game rights and film rights etc are for,” she replied. My point is that these things don’t sit in neat little boxes anymore. They haven’t for some time and we’re only just catching up.
Aside from sorting out who licences what, another question I have is, how do authors get paid? 10% of a book’s cover price is a neat equation. It provides a simple economic basis for calculating advances and also judging the success of a title. Not so with mixed media projects like this one. I think we’re going to see more revenue models proliferating now, including profit sharing between authors and publishers.
Lastly, and slightly off-topic, with more projects like this popping up I wonder what the difference is now between publishers and other media companies? Not a whole lot, it seems.
Pool is a social media project developed by ABC Radio National. It’s a place to share your creative work with the Pool community and ABC producers – upload music, photos, videos, documentaries, interviews, animations and more. It’s a collaborative space where audiences become makers.
The shared content is provided using Creative Commons licences and there are already a lot of ripples and splashes happening in this here digital billabong.
The lovely Sarah L’Estrange, producer of The Book Show on Radio National, vox-popped me for her new Pool page Letter Vox. On the page right now you can hear me babbling on about that strange breed, science fiction writers. Go on, have a listen. If nothing else it proves that I talk too fast. I welcome mashups, especially ones that make me sound less like Woody Allen on ritalin. Let me know if you do any remixes and I’ll link to them from here and my Pool page, which has no content yet.
In light of my last post, this seems like proof positive that in moist loamy conditions, creators and publishers can live a happy coexistence like different species of mushrooms. (Note to self: don’t put too many metaphors in one blog post)
An article over at SNL Interactive explores the delicate business of dealing with Amazon. Sarah Barry interviews Michael Cairns of PersonaNonData and Mike Shatzkin of The Idea Logical Company about the ways publishers have responded to the growing market power of Amazon, and the online retailer’s willingness to use it.
Despite the strained relationship between Amazon and the publishing community, neither Cairns nor Shatzkin believe publishers will decide to stop dealing with Amazon altogether.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a love-hate relationship; it’s more of need and fear relationship,” Shatzkin said. “They need Amazon because it’s probably every publisher’s first or second largest client. But they fear Amazon because it’s every publisher’s first or second biggest client.”
Link [Thanks Jose, via Read 2.0!]
Yes, I’ve been away from the blog a long while. Work travel, flu, two seasons of Veronica Mars, Ekka, fiction deadline. In that order. Mea culpa.
To make up for my non-posting, here is a selection of links for your reading pleasure. I’m off to MWF later this week so I endeavour to give you better blog than I have lately. Or, you know, any blog.
Short Fiction in the Age of the EBook – The Digitalist
Gary Gibson muses on a possible digital renaissance for short stories. As a short fiction writer and reader this gives me warm fuzzies.
10 Reasons Not to Write Off Reading From a Screen – The Digitalist
Also at The Digitalist, Michael Bhaskar writes in defence of screen reading. Yes! It is absolutely about multiplicity of channels. After all, video really didn’t kill the radio star.
Because I read his RSS feed instead of visiting the site, I had no idea PersonaNonData had such a marvellous list of recommendations for books and reports about the publishing industry, all handily arranged in an Amazon store. I think my credit card is cringing.
An Open Letter to Random House
Publishers take note: this is why DRM makes customers unhappy.
The Kindle Kronikles – Print is Dead
Despite the hype, and various guesstimates about sales figures, I am not a Kindle believer. I think this is cul-de-sac technology and any consumer uptake or design/tech improvements achieved by eReaders are destined to be folded back into mobile phones. Nevertheless, this multi-part post series by Jeff Gomez, author of Print is Dead, is a good read and an interesting primer.
Audible Launches IndieFirst – Brave New World
Martyn Daniels is my favourite commentator on publishing futures. This post has some interesting analysis on the launch of an independent publisher initiative by Audible (the Amazon-owned audiobook retailer)