Hugh Howey's Silo Series, starting with Wool. Granted, it is a dystopian story, but it shows a strongly human side to the collapse of civilization. A lot of dystopian stories tend to focus on the inhumanity and shock value of distorted societies. Howey's collection of novellas makes it much more personal to the reader. I believe it is the uniquely intimate approach to such a story that caused Howey's stories to catch on.
You print something the owner of your publication or one of their major advertisers doesn't like, you get fired. Pure and simple. Just look at Fox (e.g. "Faux") News to see that. They outright distort the facts and lie to push their employer's agenda. Murkdock pays them well to look like fools and idiots--but there are greater fools and idiots who fall for that crap.
On the other hand, publications have soared to extraordinary heights in public opinion when reporters break earthshaking, investigative reports, even at the cost of the owner's friends and contacts in high places. Credibility brings in readers and more readers brings more money from advertisers. When publishers see the new bottom line attached to credibility, they usually loosen the reins and let the reporters do real work instead of writing fiction. For this, the problem is often self-correcting. The problem with gaining credibility is it can take years to have an effect, yet one misstep can blow it all away. Often, a major publication doesn't regain public trust until it is sold to a new publisher with an untainted reputation. The opposite can happen, too, when a reputable publication is bought out by a publisher of questionable reputation. Once the publisher starts pushing their questionable agenda into print, the publication's reputation slides rapidly and the target readership drops off. It is very difficult for even a top publication to recover from that situation.
The first place you will find out about the reputation of a given publication? From those on the front line: the reporters themselves. Contrary to public opinion, the majority of journalists take great pride in their work ethic and feel strongly that they are performing a vital public service factually reporting the news. So they take great offense to publications that don't do fact checking—called "Rags" in the industry. Reputable reporters almost all have a list of publications with which they would not want their names associated. Early in my career as a stringer (freelance writer), I commented to a colleague that I had applied to The XXXXX Post for a staff position. Nearly all the journalists around us stopped what they were doing, looked at me, and in one voice said, "Oh, God no! Not there!" Instead of covering the event (a boring political meeting going nowhere), the next forty minutes were spent with them giving me a lot of career guidance and networking. So, you want to know where you should be getting your news? Ask the reporters.
The legacy of the Bush administration is the most corrupt Congress the United States has ever had.
The problem is, Bush's campaign to destroy the education system in America worked, and now most Americans are too stupid to figure out who to vote out of office—or even to realize that they don't need term limits, they just need to vote the jerks out of office. (And not vote new one's in)
Living for just the art? Please!
I'm not sure what medications some of the above posters are on, or perhaps their glasses are a tad too rose-colored to understand reality, but I've got some news for those people: I'm an author and I make a living selling the stories I write. I love telling stories. I love writing. But if I wasn't making an income selling books to people who enjoy reading, I would not be able to afford to write. The only way I was able to truly get a start in writing is in thanks to my very understanding and supporting family when I decided to go all in, stop working regular employment, and start devoting myself 100% to writing. It took over three years with no income to write that first book. Do you think I could continue writing the books that many of you have read if I wasn't earning income from the sales of those books? My colleagues and friends, John Scalzi, Spider Robinson, David Brin, Walter Hunt, and Kristine Rusch--do you think any of them magically get their income from somewhere else?
If you showed up at work one day and your boss announced that they were no longer going to pay you for working at the company, that you would be doing your job for the love of doing your job, would you stay with that company? No, you'd go right to your desk, clear out your personal items and walk right out the door! Otherwise, how would you pay your rent and buy food, software, clothing, transportation, etc.? You can only leach off friends and family for so long before they are going to throw you out and tell you to get a job.
Get a benefactor such as Count von Moneybags to support you for life as an artist? That practice disappeared sometime back in the 18th century. You'd better go relearn your damn history. Back in the 1600's an artist had to produce for their benefactor or they would get cut. Even Leonardo Da Vinci, one of the greatest geniuses in history, was dropped by his benefactors at one point or another. Mozart had to beg for commissions. By the 18th century, benefactors had pretty much disappeared. We live in the 21st century. People with enough wealth today to be a potential benefactor are more interested in increasing their wealth than they are in supporting the arts. A writer, on average, produces one book every two years. Do you really know anyone who is willing to sign over a $50,000 check each year to support someone who walks around, relaxes and daydreams all day? I'd get fired from any job doing that.
Anyone can be an artist, as a hobby. But if you want to devote yourself to that art as a living, how are you going to put food on the table? Paint a picture of food and it magically appears. No. You have to create something that is good enough that people are willing to exchange money in exchange to own a copy of that work for their own enjoyment. I like to write programs, some of which I have shared with others for use or education. But does that make me a professional programmer? No, I'm just a hobbyist. I make my income by writing entertaining stories that people want to buy because they enjoy reading them. When you hear someone say "they live only for their art," behind that person is either a very hard working spouse or partner or they've somehow managed to land a sizable grant that supplies them with enough money to pay for housing, food, art supplies, electricity, heat, water, and other necessary things.
Those people I've known over the years who said they lived for their art, not money, are no longer artists. None of them made it much farther than their late 20's before they gave up on their art and became professional laborers. As a professional artist who makes his living selling his art, I am not foolish enough to forget that there is a very serious business side to what I do. And if I do not manage that properly, I can really screw myself over.
Back on the main topic: DRM? I hate it! It has nothing to do with protecting my copyrighted material. I have never seen DRM to anything to save me from having a copy of my work stolen from me. A copyright is meant to protect me from having my work stolen by another organization and sold without authorization or paying me. DRM has only one purpose today and that is to lock someone into a platform such as the Kindle, iOS device, or Nook.
To understand what a copyright is supposed to work, think of it this way. You buy a book, you own that book. But you don't own the text contained within the book, you merely own the container. So, buying a book doesn't give you the right to call a movie studio and sell the movie rights to the story contained within the book. My take is you have the right to do with that container whatever you want. Read it and keep it on a shelf to read again at a future date or sell it to someone else when it has become worn out. The container can be a bunch of cellulose sheets stacked and glued together, or it could be a computer file that allows you to read that story on whatever device you want.
The idea behind DRM comes into play in this scenario. Subject-A buys an ebook, reads it and enjoys it. With paper books, perhaps your moving to a new home and you want to lighten your load, so you put a box of your reads on a table with a sign saying, "Used Books, $1 each." With an ebook, things get a little tricky. If you sell the ebook to someone else and then delete the copy you have on your computer. No problem! But if you sell it to someone else and keep your copy of it, you just violated my copyright by publishing my story without my permission or financial renumeration to me as the person who created the text contained within the ebook file. A legitimate publisher pays me for the right—usually exclusive—to print and sell the text that I created. When a company does that without my permission, they are effectively stealing income from me. DRM is supposed to keep that from happening, Subject-A selling an ebook to Subject-B, and -C, -D, -E, etc. That is the ideal of what DRM is supposed to be used for. If Subject-A wanted to sell the ebook to Subject-B, then the DRM should be transferred to Subject-B so Subject-A can no longer access the original file. Only, it isn't being used in that way.
DRM is being used to force and lock consumers into a single, unique platform—not protect the content creators or owners as claimed. Amazon does this by using both DRM and a proprietary file format that cannot be used on another reading device without a license. Barnes & Noble uses the EPUB format which technically should be usable on any platform that supports it. Only, DRM keeps this from happening. Apple recommends not using DRM to publishers of music and books, but offers the choice to the publisher to apply it if they wish. Barnes & Noble followed Apple's lead and gave the same option. Amazon grudgingly did the same afterward.
I do not like DRM and I will not apply it to my books. My attitude is you—the reader and my customer—paid for this file in order to read the story I wrote. What device you want to read it on is totally your choice. DRM gets in the way of your freedom of reading the story you paid for in whatever manner you like. Computer, e-reader, cell phone, tablet, TV, whatever. Did the device you use to read get broken or wear out? Perhaps you grew tired of Platform-X and wanted to use Platform-Y. You should be able to simply drag and drop the EPUB file of my book onto your new device and get right to reading it.
Another problem with DRM is lack of Quality Assurance. I can't tell you how often I've purchased an ebook only to discover that the publisher put no effort into ensuring that the type-setting of the book would render properly on an ebook reader. All it took was ripping open the EPUB file, making TWO changes to the CSS in most cases, and the ebook rendered perfectly thereafter. But to do this, one must first be able to remove the DRM so the file can be opened. But if you can't remove the DRM, you're pretty much screwed and reading a favorite story becomes a chore because the text just doesn't flow right. One of the worst offenders of this practice is Ballantine Books--reading Dragonriders of Pern practically made my eyes bleed. The only publisher from whom the ebooks I've purchased have all been perfectly typeset and render like real books are those from Baen Books. Baen gets it and puts the effort into making sure the ebook renders properly.
How many people do you have to "keep honest" with just enough DRM? Not that many actually. The vast majority of people out there are more than willing to pay a reasonable price for music or an ebook. The number is easily around 90%--95%. Even people who got a file through illegal means and found they enjoyed the media will go to a legal outlet and legally purchase the media. The whole "try before you buy" model. This rate runs about 40%--45%, so it is usually best to simply charge up front for goods rather than offer it for free and hope they pay for it later.
Last, and certainly one of the most important points, is the price put on any given media should be fair. In books, the average retail value for a hardcover fiction book is about $17 and the paperback of the same title is around $8. Hardcopy books have costs built into them: manufacturing and materials, warehousing and distribution, and cost of returns (books that don't sell, retailers can return for full credit from the publisher). Ebooks have NONE of those overhead costs! So why the hell are publishers charging up to $13 for an ebook? The setup costs for a book are pretty much the same whether it is published as a hardcover, softcover, or ebook. But ebooks have no further overhead costs once they are "put on the shelf" for sale. After that, they are pure profit. They never have to go out of print, because just a single file can be downloaded from the server for years. A hardcopy book has to have more copies printed at a cost in order to keep copies on the shelf, and eventually sales of any book drop off enough over time that it is no longer profitable to print the book. That's why books go out of print. In my opinion, ebooks should not be priced more than 70% the cost of the paperback version.
The reason people pirate games, books and music is because the pricing is often not reasonable. To get one song, you have to spend $20 on an entire CD filled with crap for just that one song? A company expects you to fork over $70 for a game that turns out to be completely unusable unless you are connected to a central server, which means you can't play the game during the times when you usually play a game; when you can't connect? This is why people pirate things. They feel they are not getting the value for the price being asked. Another reason for pirating? The item might not be available at a given person's locality. If a given piece of music is being pirated like crazy in another country? Maybe the publisher should offer it for sale in that country! (Yes, there are often legal and political obstacles to this)
DRM is unnecessary. The price has to be cheap enough that people feel it is fair and expensive enough that they won't view it as disposable to give it away for free. Also, allow people to sample a portion of the goods for free so they can decide if it is a worthy purchase or not. This will really kill off pirating for profit, because people can better perceive if they will get a good value for their money. Apple increased the length of a preview for a given piece of music by 300%, recognizing that 30 seconds wasn't enough to judge some pieces of music. You should at least be able to read the first three chapters of a given ebook for free. If you as an author don't have the reader's interest by the third chapter, your book is a failure. One musician put her music online and told people to pay what they thought it was worth. While Apple set a flat rate of 99 per song, her average came to roughly $1.45 per song. This was a good indication of what people were willing to pay for a good song. Don't gouge the customer! Make the price fair and they will happily pay it.
I stand corrected!
Just what you need in a game: building permits.
LOL! I feel your pain.
Personally, I rather liked their idea as it allows you to better create and optimize various kinds of neighborhoods. I believe it stems from their intent to make the game as customizable as possible. There are a lot of people who wanted to use SimCity to create models of their own towns or cities, but were unable. One of the goals of Civitas is to allow the user to do just that: create models of a given city and see how they could run (or ruin) it. By using the permits, the user can better force a given neighborhood to more closely resemble a neighborhood in their actual municipality.
Because the vast majority of people are honest and will pay for their copy.
And the vast majority of people are intelligent enough to understand that if you want more of a good product, you pay for it so the creators can continue making that product and making better products.