Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Episode 11 - The Authors Guild Is Mad at the Amazon

Amazon.com that is.

With the release of the Kindle 2, the Authors Guild of the USA came out against the text to speech capability of the new kindle. Their "reasoning" is that this capability violates copyright. Yeah, that's right, a computer type voice will stop the sales of audio books. Odd that Amazon would do such a thing, what with them owning audible.com. There is an alternate hypothesis, and that is that it will help the sale of audio books, and that getting content available to people, say oh like blind people (like me) might actually be a good thing. Oh those crazy authors...

We officially welcomed Robin Isard to the show as our third TCer. Both Robin and Ken went to library school and are librarians here at Algoma University, they actually quite like books. (Note the understatement). They got all excited about handling medieval manuscripts, which I would too if I had ever done it.

We talked about the death of paper, and books, and how on Star Trek the captains always seem to like actual books. That led us into a series of Shakespeare references in Star Trek which Isabelle and Madeleine thought quite funny and (hopefully) cute.

We also talked about self publishing, such as Tom Merrit's Boiling Point (which is a really good book) and my friend Dave's book on getting in to grad school.

Welcome Robin, and we welcome your comments. Oh and thanks to Craig and Christian for the Scotch.

Enjoy episode 11.

10 comments:

Rachel said...

Geez, guys--I'm a BOOK DESIGNER!! Don't throw away my profession so casually--I still need to eat!!!

Dave Brodbeck said...

I doubt books are going anywhere soon. They may become more of a niche thing, but that is going to take a long time. Newspapers and magazines may die off much sooner.

Rachel said...

People don't know it, but thing like fonts, and the spacing between lines, and the width of columns, and that sort of thing? Make a big difference in whether a book is comfortable to read or not. And if that isn't done, or is left to the reader to adjust, electronic books are going to be unsatisfying experiences.

(That's what I tell my clients, anyway!)

Dave Brodbeck said...

Rachel, I think that someone like you would be very important in designing eBooks. While they are in essence text, they will still need to be designed it seems to me, if they are to replace books in any meaningful way.

The font thing is interesting. There are times when I am reading a book and I think 'this does not seem right somehow' you know, like it just feels weird. I have often looked carefully and realized it was the spacing or font.

Ken Hernden said...

I agree with Dave, Rachel. Someone like you should be involved in designing ebooks. Your comments fit nicely with what Robin said about the architecture of the book -- it works well and there are reasons why we like it!

And Dave, my apologies for being slow so that you had to post the podcast...(hangs head in shame)

Dave Brodbeck said...

No worries Ken, though in fairness, you write much gooder then me.

Krash Coarse said...

Loved the parallel Robin drew between architecture (buildings) and the architechture (or design) of books! Rachel's point about design is very good too. We (as humans, I think) are drawn to things that are aesthetically pleasing. Witness Apple's popularity with the design crowd, as an example of that. Also (Ken's?) point about pages being discrete chunks of info is relevant, because there is satisfaction in continually meeting small goals: Finish this page, finish this chapter, "I'll give it 50 pages to grab my interest", etc.

Great show, and yes, I agree that the Authors Guild are mad, but mad in the RIAA sense (nutty). Do they not WANT a larger audience for their works? No, the thing is, they want it to pay off immediately, just like having to buy all my vinyl albums on cassette (I skipped 8-track) so I could play them in the car, but then being unable ten years later to find a car with a standard cassette deck. It was all CD's by then. So I resent having to re-buy my huge classic Sci-Fi (and Louis L'Amour westerns) collection because I bought a gadget to read them on. I'd like to be able to prove I have these titles, give the producer (and author) a little kickback for the e-book version, and be on my way. New books could possibly come with an "e-coupon" to download the ebook if you want it.

All right, enough... sorry
Have to actually work today. :)

Cheers!

Dave Brodbeck said...

@Krash I think I have seen the idea of the ecoupon for a digital download in a few DVDs and CDs though I cannot remember where I heard about it, probably on BOL.

Krash Coarse said...

I think I heard it there too, and I saw something when I bought Wall-E about a digital version for iPod being included somehow in the deluxe edition.

Rachel said...

You would think that ebooks would need designers, and I would think that ebooks would need designers, but ebook manufacturers do NOT think that ebooks need designers. As I understand it, right now all books have the same format, and they let the readers choose the fonts and font size and so forth.

And then they wonder why they are not quite satisfying to read...