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Comment: Re:Disengenous (Score 1) 156

by swillden (#47572125) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math

in the long term, the book stores go out of business now its harder to find interesting books.

Nonsense.

Look at Baen's model... the first few chapters of all of their books are available for free, all on-line, all trivially easy for you to browse and sample, at no risk, wherever and whenever it's convenient to you. For that matter, they offer full novels from their top authors for free. So you can read the first book of a 15-novel series at no cost, hooking you for the other 14.

How can book stores, with their limited shelf space and immobility, compete with that?

Of course, that's Baen, not Amazon. Because Baen is a publisher, they have the freedom to do things like offer the first ~50 pages free, while Amazon has to obey the publishers' rules. But in a world where browsing bookshelves is gone, Baen's approach, or something like it, will be necessary to generate sales, so it will be done.

Just because you're accustomed to one way of finding good reading material doesn't mean it's the only one, or even the best one.

Comment: Re:If true. If. (Score 1) 74

such as the massive & ongoing civil rights violations/infringements that most people agree are wrong, regardless of what political stripe they self-identify as.

But I think that's wrong.

You and I may not agree with this, but I think that MOST people are quite happy to trade-away their civil liberties for the illusion of security. Particularly those who are convinced that since they "do nothing wrong", they have nothing to fear from such violations.

It's a very sad commentary on our democratic peers, but unfortunately, factual, and consistent with pretty much everything else that's gone on since 9/11, (and more-or-less, since the McCarthy era - with regard to "communists").

We're not going to unite in this country. Period. It's like Morpheus said, in The Matrix: "Most people are not ready to be unplugged from the system, and will fight to protect it." Cliche, but true.

Comment: Holy crap ... (Score 1) 74

Holy crap, if that isn't the next sign of the dystopian future I don't know what is.

Private corporations getting the consulting services of the king spook of the spy agency which has tapped into the entire fucking world.

That scares the bejezzus out of me.

Because all of the secrecy of the NSA combined with the douche-baggery of corporations is straight out of a cyberpunk novel.

The surveillance state meets Wall Street. Oooh, they could privatize the NSA, that would be really profitable.

Time to stock up on Guy Fawkes masks.

Comment: Re:It's been done before... sort of (Score 1) 50

by gstoddart (#47571883) Attached to: Student Uses Oculus Rift and Kinect To Create Body Swap Illusion

Yeah, but it's not real science unless someone is wearing a shock collar...

Hmmm ... it's only science if some of the subjects can shock some of the other subjects without actually knowing who (including themselves) will get shocked.

Otherwise, I think it's just kinky adults, and the goth kids. ;-)

Comment: LOL ... (Score 1) 50

by gstoddart (#47571867) Attached to: Student Uses Oculus Rift and Kinect To Create Body Swap Illusion

those electrical stimulators mildly shock muscles to force a friend to mirror the user's movements). It's an imperfect system

LOL, what could possibly go wrong?

There's a super(hero|villain) origin story in here waiting to happen.

VR, dodgy electrical shocks, a budding young scientist, a Microsoft product ... quick, someone should sell this to Marvel. =)

Comment: Re:Disengenous (Score 1) 156

by rtb61 (#47571305) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math

Sorry, but I have to side with the planet. Dead trees, energy waste and pollution all point to ebooks being preferable to the printed variety. The authors earn less and many would only be able to indulge their hobby part time, whilst working at another career, is just a normal part of social change. I'll have to admit to not having read a book for quite a long time, much preferring the interactivity of the internet and even computer games. Something like slashdot makes for a better read than a passive book and it contains as much non-fiction as any typical paperback ;D.

Comment: Re:Equally suspect (Score 1) 156

by hey! (#47571271) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math

Yes, publishers and middlemen have all kinds of rationalizations for trying to kill e-books, but calling any of them "legitimate" is shilling so hard you could pence a crown.

All the arguments based on classical economic theory only work if the assumptions of classical economics hold, particularly the assumption that there is a free market.

Amazon is arguing for its freedom to set prices it charges in its ebook store; that would be no concern of the publishers if we lived in a world where ebook users could simply buy books in non-proprietary formats from any Internet storefront they wanted. But we don't live in such a world. We live in a world where most ebook readers are controlled by Amazon and inextricably linked to its store. It wouldn't have been hard for Amazon to build the Kindle that way. Define some public book trading protocols, bootstrap the standard by building those protocols into the Kindle and Amazon's online store, and instantly the world is a better place for everyone except printers and bricks-and-mortar bookstores with no Internet presence. But Amazon didn't do that, because the Kindle is designed to tie the user to Amazon, the way the iPad is designed to tie the user to Apple.

So what we're looking at is a maneuver by Amazon to corner the market on books *in general* by killing off the traditional paper book trade. Preserving the ability to buy most books from someone other than Amazon seems like a legitimate reason to me.

Comment: Re:Like paying for a Lobbyist (Score 1) 74

A million a month as an extortion payment to keep secret the secrets uncovered whilst commander of the starship anal probe, inserting back entrances all over the places, ain't bad at all, especially when applied to many corporations. As a bonus protection provided for all those political secrets kept off the books. Of course that protection really only works for allied powers, for the opposition of course, the target is just chock-a-block full of secrets and getting a hold of that particular pinata and beating it until it spills would be very desirable for quite a few countries and crime organisations.

Comment: Re:Disengenous (Score 3, Insightful) 156

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:Maybe the author needs to get out more (Score 2) 156

by hey! (#47571143) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math

No dude, your books are not so incredible that people will buy them no matter what the price.

Nobody's book is so incredible that people would buy them no matter what the price. If my only way to get Shakespeare was to pay a ten thousand dollar license fee I'd find a way to do without.

Authors/publishers/developers/etc need to get over this idea of their digital goods being "worth" a certain amount. No, you need to figure out what you need to do to maximize your profits since there is zero per unit cost. Usually, that is going to mean selling cheap, but selling lots.

You really shouldn't assume that anyone who disagrees with you does so because they're stupid. Publishers know their marginal and fixed costs and certainly have a pretty good idea of the price elasticity of their books. The situation is more complicated than you know.

You can't compare Hachette to Valve, because Valve owns the whole Steam ecosystem, and delivers its services to users' commodity PC hardware with no intermediaries (other than Internet service). In the case of Hachette v. Amazon, we're looking at a situation where Amazon owns the point of sale, and has more control over the users' devices than the user himself has. And yes, you can read ebooks on a PC but few people will want to do that. And yes you can download ebooks in non-proprietary formats like epub from sources other than Amazon, convert the format to .mobi, and use file transfer to move the converted file onto the kindle; but that's a significant barrier for most people.

So what we're looking at is a move by Amazon to take control of the book market in a way it cannot as long as paperback and hardback sales remain strong. Amazon *looks* like a friend of the consumer because they're calling for lower prices. If they get what they want, then ebooks may well make a significant market share headway against paper books.

You might think that's fine, but it's not *generic* formats and *commodity* hardware we're talking about. It's formats and hardware controlled by an inextricably linked to *one* company. And that may mean lower prices today, but what will it mean ten years down the pike when Amazon corners the market on books?

Comment: Re:Why is the Local Group moving closer? (Score 1) 110

by budgenator (#47571103) Attached to: The Milky Way Is Much Less Massive Than Previous Thought

I'd assume that all galaxy groups are Gravitationally bound, and when looking at the group you're in, the galaxies would appear to be closing, while the other groups would appear to be opening; this is an effect of Hubble's law, everything is moving away from any observer at 67.80±0.77 (km/s)/ Mpc, thus the farther away, the faster it is going away no matter where you are . Even at that, I've seen several Hubble images showing galaxies colliding just like we're about to do with Andromeda.

Comment: Re:Stop the idiocracy (Score 1) 363

by hey! (#47570891) Attached to: Jesse Jackson: Tech Diversity Is Next Civil Rights Step

It's urban black culture that disparages intellect.

I'd be interested in your source for this particular tidbit, particularly how it shows blacks are any worse than whites in this regard.

I went to high school with a lot of tough white guys from South Boston and Charlestown in Boston, back when Whitey Bulger was still a big deal in Southie. Let me tell you most of them didn't see intellect as their path into the middle class. A few did, but not many. I've also worked with PhD scientists who were black and came from urban black neighborhoods. You get a mix of attitudes everywhere, whether it's in a black ghetto or white ghetto or a middle-class white neighborhood, but usually being academically advanced doesn't make you popular unless you live in town with a big Jewish population.

Speaking of Whitey, his people used to spread the myth that he kept drugs off the street in Southie. In fact he was kicking the Italian mob out of Southie so he could have the drug trade all to himself. Whitey wasn't a hero, he was a parasite. So why did people believe the lie? Wishful thinking. The people who got education and became professionals moved out of the neighborhood, so the one example of guys who rose in life that you saw every day were the mob. And you had to hope they were good lads at heart, because they had the neighborhood by the balls.

There's often a "we're all in this together" thing going on in poor, downtrodden neighborhoods. Part of that is a resentment of anyone who acts like their above the rest, and that includes people who flaunt their education or sophistication. But that's because intellectual accomplishments don't seem to be within the reach of everybody. You don't get that attitude in cultures which believe in self-improvement.

So let's *not* talk race. Let's talk education and economic opportunity. If people have a way up, see that way, and believe they can do it, they will rise.

Comment: Re:Um, what does the publisher do? (Score 1) 156

by 0123456 (#47570771) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math

That was the agreement - 30% to Amazon, and right now, 35%-35% split for authors/publishers.

Ha-ha. You actually think that publishers split their royalties 50:50 with authors?

For Stephen King, perhaps. For Joe Newbie, it's typically 75% to the publisher, and 25% to the guy who actually wrote the damn book, who then has to pay 15% of that 25% to his agent.

Most writers would earn a lot more with a part-time job flipping burgers than from writing a book.

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

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