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Comment: Re:Disengenous (Score 5, Insightful) 282

by _Sharp'r_ (#47571235) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math

As an author, I can tell you that Amazon and their eBook pricing means more money (overall) for Authors. Maybe not for the "best seller"s who don't actually sell many books, but their publishing house prints lots of them and sends them out to stores, so while they end up on the bargain rack or destroyed, they still make the NY Times list based on the lay-down. Yeah, the authors people don't actually want to read will ultimately make less money, but the real authors that people like and want to buy from will make a lot more.

There is currently a battle going on in the industry between the special favorites of the big 6 publishing houses and the midlisters and independents. There are very few authors who can get a reasonable deal out of one of the publishing houses. Everyone else is getting contracts which require them to sign away their works forever, sign away any future works in the same genre, sign away all electronic rights, etc... for a $5K advance on a one or two book contract.

The midlisters and indies are running to ebooks and small publishing houses as fast as they can. It's not a mystery why. Amazon will pay 70% on an ebook. A publisher will typically pay maybe 15% (on poorly documented bookscan sales numbers, even on eBooks, which should be exact!) Where they used to purcahse only limited publication rights, which expired after they took the book out of print, now they want contracts where the author will never get their book back, even if the publishing house isn't actually doing anything with it.

If you are a well-known celebrity, or you sell millions of copies, then a big 6 publisher may work with you on somewhat fair terms. Otherwise, they won't edit you (it's gotten much worse over the last few years), they won't market you and they'll barely make sure your latest book stays on store shelves for a month.

The big 6 publishers are not only an issue in terms of IP rights and author payments, but they are also a very bad gatekeeper. Ever wonder why so many old SF authors stopped publishing and much of what is out there now is crap? It's because they're being picked by a publishing house with a NY "editor" who probably doesn't even like SF. They literally drove popular authors (who wrote what people actually wanted to read) out of the business. If an author sold too much (i.e. more than the editor projected), did they reprint and push the book? No, they'd keep the same print run and just stop publishing it when it hit the number projected as the max, usually tiny. Baen was the only real exception of any size in the industry. Jim Baen also did eBooks right from the start (gave old ones away in order to promote newer books in the same series/by the same author). That's all just starting to turn around because of Amazon, on-demand publishing and eBooks. Old famous authors are even starting to put out the books their publishing house stopped selling, or that they couldn't get published in the first place because it wasn't the editor's latest fad.

Also, the big 6 publishing houses have a massively left-leaning bias. They've spent decades now killing the sales numbers of entire genres because the authors were required to toe the line of the latest politically correct movement. You can date books in some genres by the issues and characters the editors required. Many books that adults like have been pushed into YA categories, just because if it it's not "edgy" enough, the NY editors don't want to buy it. Forget about what will sell, they buy what they'll want to tell their NY publishing friends about at the next cocktail party.

Scalzi is the poster-child cheerleader for the big 6 publishing houses. He's on the "inside" of the publishing establishment and does everything he can to defend them. He could care less about SF authors, just about his publishing buddies.

You want the real scoop on Amazon and Authors? Go look at Mad Genius Club, or According to Hoyt.

Comment: Re:It's a shame (Score 1) 288

by _Sharp'r_ (#47540375) Attached to: Greenpeace: Amazon Fire Burns More Coal and Gas Than It Should

If it weren't for them, we'd have the environment of China because businesses do not care. Pollution is the tradgedy of the commons - folks pollute and the rest of society pays for the costs.

The "businesses" in China, in contrast to the environmentally cleaner portions of the world, are essentially part of the government. Chernobyl wasn't exactly a private enterprise either.

The solution to the tragedy of the commons is private ownership and liability in order to change the incentives, not more government government regulations. You complain about the Atlanta area, but last time I checked, Georgia Power was a regulated government-granted monopoly.

I agree that it makes sense for people to do things that save them money (and resources in the process), but I object to the idea that solutions to environmental problems is what more government control produces. The worst environmental offenders are government agencies and tightly government controlled industries around the world.

Who do you think takes better care of a forest? Tree farmers who own the land and want to get the most long term value out of it, or government bureaucrats who are marking time until their pension kicks in?

Most of the current fashion in environmentalism is a way for some people to tell themselves they're morally superior to the less "environmentally conscious" while they do ridiculous things like sorting and recycling glass, with the other side of the movement profiting handsomely by selling them what they want to hear and using it all as an excuse for the government officials to reward their friends.

Comment: Re:Peak Water (Score 1) 376

by _Sharp'r_ (#47536955) Attached to: Western US States Using Up Ground Water At an Alarming Rate

The natural price of a commodity is the clearing price, AKA the price where the available supply matches the available demand when those in the market for that commodity aren't prevented from agreeing on a mutually satisfactory price.

The government agencies setting the price artificially (which is why the reference to naturally) have tended to set it too low. That results in a shortage of water as more water is purchased for immediate use (vs among other things, storing for sale later, in forms such as an aquifer) than would be if the price were higher.

We've been using prices to ration scarce goods for thousands of years. They work very well at it. They lead to the situation where the most economically efficient use is made of the resource.

If you think the only cost of ground water in the west is digging a well and pumping it out, you likely don't live in the west. Essentially all the water in most western States is used by whomever owns the water rights. Most of the water rights are currently owned by government agencies, water boards, etc... which have been accumulating them for a long time (If you don't use your water rights continuously, the government will take them and add them to their own rights. If there is a water rights title dispute, the government purchases them for pennies on the dollar because then they can legally resolve the dispute in their own favor and claim the water rights, where a private citizen couldn't, etc...). They then turn around and sell the water at artificially low prices to the politically powerful. In CA, that's the farmers.

I happen to own (along with 500 acres with a well on it) a significant portion of 860 acre-feet of water rights in a rocky mountain state and I grew up in CA, so I'm fairly familiar with the way water works out west.

Comment: Re:Peak Water (Score 1) 376

by _Sharp'r_ (#47530187) Attached to: Western US States Using Up Ground Water At an Alarming Rate

The world isn't overpopulated.

There is one very simple option to prevent overuse....let the price rise naturally until water usage decreases enough that you aren't draining aquifers. Currently the local governments (CA,especially) artificially decrease the price of water for farms in the desert, so of course you get this entirely predicable (and predicted by economists in the past) result.

Comment: Re:I've seen IRS computers (Score 2) 682

by _Sharp'r_ (#47273791) Attached to: IRS Recycled Lerner Hard Drive

A long time ago, when managing some government service contracts, I had someone from the BLM walk in and essentially say, "It's the end of the fiscal year and we need to spend some money left in our budget, what's the most expensive PCs and multiple monitor setups you can find to sell us to replace all our current machines with?"

I doubt Lois Lerner, a Director managing a group with 900 employees, was making due with old obsolete hardware like the guys in the trenches do. She managed a $90M+ budget, so I'm sure they could find some cash to keep her PC up to date.

Comment: Re:Corporate directed not volunteer direct ... (Score 1) 403

Yeah. When the original volunteers make statements Hollywood finds offensive, they have to go, right?

"the W3C willfully underspecifying DRM in HTML5 is quite a different matter from browsers having to support several legacy plugins. Here is a narrow bridge on which to stand and fight — and perhaps fall, but (like Gandalf) live again and prevail in the longer run. If we lose this battle, there will be others where the world needs Mozilla.

"By now it should be clear why we view DRM as bad for users, open source, and alternative browser vendors:

        Users: DRM is technically a contradiction, which leads directly to legal restraints against fair use and other user interests (e.g., accessibility).
        Open source: Projects such as mozilla.org cannot implement a robust and Hollywood-compliant CDM black box inside the EME API container using open source software.
        Alternative browser vendors: CDMs are analogous to ActiveX components from the bad old days: different for each OS and possibly even available only to the OS’s default browser.

"I continue to collaborate with others, including some in Hollywood, on watermarking, not DRM."
- Brendan Eich, 22 October 2013

Comment: Re:The Democrats killed Net Neutrality !! (Score 1) 182

by _Sharp'r_ (#47025789) Attached to: FCC Votes To Consider Next Round of 'Net Neutrality' Rules

... allows the ISPs to misbehave while the FCC cannot enforce the rules.

Since when is people managing their own networks now considered misbehaving? The FCC can't enforce rules that don't actually exist (yet).

But don't worry, the Democrats will ensure we go down the path of the government setting the rules on the internet and for ISPs. Can't let people have the freedom to manage their own networks in accordance with their desires and their contracts with their customers, after all... that would be too much freedom.

Think back to this in a few years when we're lagging behind the rest of the world more because the FCC is now in charge of allowing "innovation" on the internet.

Comment: Re:It's about power, not being a customer (Score 1) 417

by _Sharp'r_ (#46956635) Attached to: London Black Cabs Threaten Chaos To Stop Uber

It's generally the powerful who get to write the regulations you're so fond of.

That's why we have in powerful taxi companies who "own" a government granted medallion pissed off that there might be some new competition for customer's transport dollars by independent drivers and their previously lobbied regulations aren't stopping it.

No customer needs to be "protected" from Uber, a service they are free to choose to use or not use based on their own evaluation of if it fits their needs better or not. All Uber does is allow independent drivers to have the same type of dispatch infrastructure that the big taxi companies have, but more efficiently.

Comment: Re:Doubt it will shut down cloud storage... (Score 3, Insightful) 342

by _Sharp'r_ (#46828899) Attached to: Aereo To SCOTUS: Shut Us Down and You Shut Down Cloud Storage

When you're complaining about how the government helps their large donors get what they want, the words you're looking for are "Public Choice Economics", not "Free market!"

A free market implies that the government minimally interferes in the market, just enough to set a level playing field, not that the government determines market outcomes at the behest of it's backers by killing competitors.

He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.

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