Monday, 10 August 2009

Blast, the book is dead.

Blast, the book is dead.

A rant by Clem Chambers.

As soon as I get to be an author, the internet rises up and begins the process of killing books.

The internet killed the CD, it is well along the path of killing newspapers. Movies are going 3D to forestall a piratical death and now books are about to tip into the abyss too. The e-book reader will be fatal to books and publishers.

Right now the book lives, but over the near horizon is a world of peer to peer book sharing enabled by a host of digital e-book readers. This will quickly kill book sales as surely as mp3 players slew the music industry.

Of course people contend that the music biz is doing just fine, but if you go to Midem, Europe’s key music biz conference, you can practically smell the decay. The conference is painfully dead.
The rock business simply does not rock anymore.

Sapped of life, the music biz stumbles on like a George Romero zombie. Broke, it is unable to innovate or invest. Drained of capital, it has been drained of invention. The decline has become a tail spin that is as yet unbroken either creatively or financially.

Books will go this way soon.

Sat on a flight from LA to London, 5% of the business class cabin was reading on a Kindle. The book reader is now a valid platform for books. Other readers will follow and the killer app e-book reader will have NO DRM (digital rights management.) People will be able to get their books off P2P systems for free, by stealing them. People won’t pay, just like most people no longer pay for much of their music.

Publisher apocalypse follows.

“Why do I have to pay £6 pounds for a book? Publisher margins are huge, everyone knows a book costs 50p to print.” the challenged reader will say.

“I like to download books and read some of them and if I like the author,” they will say with delusional narrative repair, “I will go out and buy them.”

The young reader will say, “I got it off the internet. Everything is free on the internet, why is this any different?”

The justifications will be legion but the fundamentals will remain simple.

If you don’t have to pay for content, you don’t pay for content.

Those who will whine about how untrue this fact is, will normally have lots of wonderful but unpaid-for music on their computer and lots of paid mobile telephone bills. Calling their significant others professing love and transmitting the fact they are coming home gets paid for, but the wonderful music they listen to on the way is stolen via a P2P network.

The book follows next.

I personally saw the effect of ‘copying’ in the computer game industry.
You could sell 2000 of an average cassette game; it could be cheaply and easily ‘tape to taped.’
As soon as the cartridge formats appeared, average game sales increased by 10 fold in volume, because it was hard to copy a cartridge. To top it, the cartridge game was five times more expensive. With this lucrative protected business model, the billion dollar computer game industry of $10m games development budgets ,was born.

PC games sell a fraction of what console games sell, for the same reason. It’s pretty easy to knock off a PC game. However, protect a PC game, ie World of Warcraft, and suddenly you have a $1 billion dollar a year game. (The game is protected as you have to have a subscription to a multiplayer server, a remote internet service, to play.)

Amazon kills bookstores, then e-book readers kill the book biz.

This is a murder that won’t be any mystery.

So what should an author do?

The only thing I can think of doing is to write material that can only be read in an environment hazardous to electronics.

Users hate to risk damage to their piracy devices. You see iPods at the beach but not many saltwater-prone Notebooks. Hopefully for some years, users will be scared to scratch their book readers with sand or get them slathered with sun-block or splashed with brine. As such from now on I better write summer holiday blockbusters.

I think perhaps a tale about a murdered child vampire wizard who was addicted to shopping, might be the answer.

“The Bloody Magic Pottery Shop” by Clem Chambers, anyone?

Check out my latest book The Armageddon Trade:

"Full of insight, it never lets up for a moment. Fresh as today’s headlines, it reminds the world just how close it could be to financial meltdown." Geoffrey Wansell, Daily Mail

1 comment:

  1. ...a tale about a murdered child vampire wizard who was addicted to shopping... written by Katie Half-Price? Sounds like a winner.