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Goodkind 51: Kahl Scratch Fever


Myshkin

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Maybe he's turned into an eco-terrorist and wants to save the trees. Or, on the other hand, he's discovered that the production of e-readers takes a lot of very rare and difficult to produce resources, and wants to up-yours the world.

Or he wants to keep readers from scribbling into his books, or, gods forbid, editing his gods-given epistles.

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Whats his interest in not offering a physical copy of the book? (just musing out loud...) I kind of assumed it was purely profits - the printing and distribution of paper books would cut into the margins at least a bit more than ebook...I guessed that was the motivation as well.

<100% of ££ is more than 100% of nothing. Providing as ebook only for purely economic reasons assumes that all the people who would have bought physical copies will buy ebooks. If this isn't the case, you're losing sales. Sure, it's hard to predict physical sales versus ebook, and he'd risk being stuck with half a garage of boxes and no one to whom to sell them. However, we've already established that the market size would be non-zero, so the remainder of the equation encompasses the percentage of people who would buy a dead tree MMPB if such were available but are buying an ebook (at greater profit to His Tairyness) instead. It's a tricky issue, but I maintain that offering no paperback is disingenuous.

Harder to wipe your bum with an ebook

That's a good reason!!!

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Others have pointed out the utter lack of cohesion in the argument, but this is the part that strikes me the most:

The publishing industry got together and colluded to restrict authors from breaking apart books by format. We cannot offer an ebook ourselves and still have a publisher print a mass copy. They demand to have the rights and royalties from the ebook as a package contract. We had a choice, give the book to a publisher or offer it ourselves, without the mass printing.

Somehow its a conspiracy that a publisher wants the piece of the pie that is the e-book sales to go along with the actual printing of the material? Something is rotten in Denmark here and there's a story above and beyond what he's letting on. I, for one, cannot wait to hear what it actually is.

Because he's either just being greedy or he's done something that his publisher has to have stood firm on (though that spin is the "conspiracy").

Can anyone discreetly check with other authors and sources to see if they've had/have similar issues with their publishers. And don't get me wrong, I bet any author would rather have the exclusive rights to monies made from the e-book sales, but who's going to get a publishing contract that allows that?

Maybe its just really, really bad. Like the final wizards rule book, but even more so. (I read them all an didn't really realise they weren't satire I just wasn't understanding until Faith of the fallen)

What "final rule book"? He hasn't stopped writing them.

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My bet is that Tairy's still holding out for a deal with Tor. Once those worthless leeches see how many trillions of ebooks he's sold they'll come crawling back to accept his terms.

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haaaay youuuu guysssss.

FRIENDLY serving savant of The Yeard here. It's that time again. So we [really me] missed the boat on the LoD website thingy last year. Sorry about that. Spent a couple nights hacking away on it then had this amazing night with the perfect minute in the gloam and realized, what does it all really mean...?

Anywho, back to answer questions you guys may have. Spreading stringy, bloody, insight on that mouth-to-mouth level, and generally keeping the Lems fired and focused on the task at hand... Goodkind's got a new adventure ready for the e-shelves. Strap it in.

THE FIRST CONFESSOR. Catchy, no? As the title implies, it comes first in the series. It's also being self-published. Goodkind built his home in Maine and is an all-around doing it for The Man (himself) kind of guy so it makes sense really. But everyone was surprised to hear he's taken this path. Everyone... Even the title was kept bound and wound, stuffed beneath the floorboards until a few weeks ago. It was never offered to any pub and the plan has been a self-doing approach all along.

Whoever said earlier he's being dishonest about the publishing industry, well that bubble's burst on your lips. It's true. Publishers will not buy a book [to publish], if they cannot also get the ebook royalties. Do the quick arithmemath on that. Publisher buys book, prints and keeps majority royalties. Makes sense, printing is the heavy lifting after all. But on the ebook, they still keep majority royalties. Odd huh? No heavy lifting to be done. It's all virtual content and materials. After all is said and done, the big prints get around 85% of the total revenue of the book. Bonks. With now 50% of readers being ebook buyers, why would an author keep handing over major stories knowing they're only going to get 15% of it, when now it's possible to do it yourself?

Many years ago this collusion took place and it's not a conspiracy by Tor, specifically. It's every publisher. Nothing dark and sinister about it really. It's business, right? If you want books printed, you gotta turn over the stories and let them make their big slice of the pie. They obviously want/need the ebook slice even more now because the printing slice is shrinking. But as an author with an existing audience, why maintain the status quo? Why not publish yourself? That same kind of thing has already happened in music.. NINE INCH NAILS, PRINCE, MADONNA (licensed to LN), etc. It's steadily happening with movies (Kevin Smith RED STATE), and it's already shifting the lesser known authors into the self-publishing space. It's an inevitability that a major would eventually step out from the marching band and go it alone.

More food made out of facts... The first 5 books in the SOT series, Terry owns the ebook rights to. When the big pub collusion happened (late 1999), every book after has been a package deal. For every single author. Some heavy hitters have tried to hold out and keep ebook rights for themselves -- like the guy I probably can't mention but he's really into submarines and October -- and the publishers said, "Fine! Keep your million bestseller. You'll never get it printed." That went on for *years* with a particular title and then he finally caved.

So the only option has been for a major artist to write a book, step out and publish it themselves, forget having it printed, and let the chips fall. No advance. No guaranteed sales. Win or lose.

Tor's publishing the next book by the way. The sequel to THE OMEN MACHINE *snuggle*. That will be out later this year or next sometime.

Questions? Proposals for relations?

I've read THE FIRST CONFESSOR by the way. I'll be perfectly honest with you guys; you're going to want to read it.

**Edited something completely unrelated to The Yeard.

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As the King (or God, or maybe Archbishop, yeah that's it) of all Lemmings, and since I don't own an ereader, I believe I am entitled to a free copy of the limited edition of this new masterpiece. Please inform Senor Goodkind of this. I will of course read it thoroughly, and then post a thoughtful and totally unbiased review here on this very website. Thank you for getting on this in such a timely fashion.

Also, when are we gunna get that book about the guy with the devil chained up in his basement? It's been so long since we were teased with the opening line that I'm about ready to write the thing myself.

ETA: anyone know how to put the squiggly line above the n?

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Yup, figured it was all about the money. Still not sure if it's adding up right in terms of lost paper-book sales (I'm going to take Eloisa's word for it that it's not that hard to print some books. I find it hard to credit the notion - apparently gospel truth in Goodkind-land - that "The Publishers" have exclusive and tightly controlled ownership of the means of printing things.) My guess is still that the margins on an ebook are somewhat higher than on a paper book (and higher still if he intends to make it a crap ebook, I suppose, since it's been repeatedly pointed out that most of the work invested in an ebook is labour intensive formatting and proofreading) and it's 100% demand-side. Lost sales to people who just don't read ebooks don't factor, since it's not like anyone buys Goodkinds books just for the heck of it sometimes or whatever, but rather it's all devout acolytes orgasmically hankering after the words of their magnificent leader. Of course they'll all buy the ebook, even if they need to buy an ereader first. (also, nicely dodging those pesky libraries (communists), second hand stores (hippies) and people who lend books to their friends sometimes. (death choosers.))

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An $8.99 first week purchase is the best news out of this whole thing. I will probably pick the title up just for the significance of buying a new release of a named author that reasonably.

Agree. It's a good price for a new release and 'appropriate' for an ebook. If all goes well, this will be the straw that breaks the backs and we will see many more major titles being released this way.

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As the King (or God, or maybe Archbishop, yeah that's it) of all Lemmings, and since I don't own an ereader, I believe I am entitled to a free copy of the limited edition of this new masterpiece. Please inform Senor Goodkind of this. I will of course read it thoroughly, and then post a thoughtful and totally unbiased review here on this very website. Thank you for getting on this in such a timely fashion.

Also, when are we gunna get that book about the guy with the devil chained up in his basement? It's been so long since we were teased with the opening line that I'm about ready to write the thing myself.

Ok Myshkin, you're on. I can't pull together one of the full Collector's Edition kits, but I can certainly get you a reader copy. Looking forward to your unbiased review. E-mail pm?

HINGES OF HELL (no longer the working title) has been on hiatus for some time now. When I read what's already been written of it, I was surprised at how fast the plot moved and how suddenly a major character meets a grim end. Not sure I can let slip anything more than that. It's a contemporary thriller off to a great start, but unfinished and shelved for the long while.

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Yup, figured it was all about the money. Still not sure if it's adding up right in terms of lost paper-book sales (I'm going to take Eloisa's word for it that it's not that hard to print some books.

It's not the printing books that's the problem. It's the distribution, pre-sales to book buyers, logistics, potential returns, paid shelf space/lack of shelf space, etc. For example, all of those tables in book stores are paid placements. Unless it's a wildly expected title, books don't get there unless the pubs smoothed and cozied up to the big boxes. Just consider the problem from that stand point; you self-print what, 50,000 of your own book. Now get it distributed (without an existing publisher) and work out the logistics for 50k/lbs of freight to move around. You'd still have to pretend the book stores would buy it from you (it would crash their relationships with the major publishers) and you'd have to work out why it would make sense to print 50,000 books yourself to begin with.

Honestly, it's a silly suggestion to say "printing books is easy". Yeah. Like making bullets. Fighting the war is the hard part hm?

I find it hard to credit the notion - apparently gospel truth in Goodkind-land - that "The Publishers" have exclusive and tightly controlled ownership of the means of printing things.)

Here's the short history of it and you'll find it even more interesting to dig deeper and fact check what I say here. First, about 20 years ago all of the big printers were bought up and monopolized, then a majority were shut down. Next, the publishers began slotting book printing runs. Major titles have to be pre-scheduled many months in advance to accommodate the narrow production lines -- usually an entire year in advance. It's one of the reasons books change release dates so frequently and also the biggest point of contention between publishers and late authors. In addition, pubs have to prepay for all of that front store shelf/bin/desk space.

Next, around the time when the world suddenly realized we were networked together and the 'digital revolution' or whatever you want to call it was hitting hard and fast (1999'ish), publishers got together and realized all of their contracts with authors had no considerations for digital formats. They quickly drafted contracts for new books to demand rights and royalties for all platforms, specifically print and digital/e-ink/e-print. Then they colluded to make sure a rogue author couldn't fight the contract and break apart their book formats, sub-licensing or self-publishing where most lucrative, and using the pubs as heavy lifters where it wasn't feasible and they wouldn't have the relationships with the vendors.

That's not to knock the pubs for doing it. It shows incredible forward thinking and strategizing. The problem of course is that they force a hand on a product that isn't relevant to their working. An ebook does not require a publisher nor should it pay a publisher majority royalties. That's inarguable. Just because the publisher once made X on a product, doesn't mean they should make up for that shortfall and shifting customer by exploiting Y. Good business, yes. But impractical for the long run.

Publishers and authors have been deadlock ever since 1999 and major authors have not broken ranks yet because it means (1) giving up a massive advance, (2) putting at risk your relationship with pubs and their friendly vendors, and (3) depending on ebook fans to convert with you. Scary much...

My guess is still that the margins on an ebook are somewhat higher than on a paper book (and higher still if he intends to make it a crap ebook, I suppose, since it's been repeatedly pointed out that most of the work invested in an ebook is labour intensive formatting and proofreading) and it's 100% demand-side. Lost sales to people who just don't read ebooks don't factor, since it's not like anyone buys Goodkinds books just for the heck of it sometimes or whatever, but rather it's all devout acolytes orgasmically hankering after the words of their magnificent leader. Of course they'll all buy the ebook, even if they need to buy an ereader first. (also, nicely dodging those pesky libraries (communists), second hand stores (hippies) and people who lend books to their friends sometimes. (death choosers.))

Again ignoring the most significant revenue generator for any major author; the advance. Yes the royalties are potentially more lucrative for a major seller, but that is not guaranteed. Would you rather take a major advance paid up front for 9-12 months of your work, or would you rather work for 9-12 months and hope people like it enough to buy it (and hope/bet it will be worth more than your advance)?

Remember, the advance is calculated based on what a pub believes they will net off of a writer's printed and digital releases. A self-publishing ebook author only gets 50% of the market, risks everything, gets no advance.

Give the man credit. Goodkind is way out on a limb. If that's not standing on your content and practicing what you preach, I don't know what would be.

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Whoever said earlier he's being dishonest about the publishing industry, well that bubble's burst on your lips. It's true. Publishers will not buy a book [to publish], if they cannot also get the ebook royalties. Do the quick arithmemath on that. Publisher buys book, prints and keeps majority royalties. Makes sense, printing is the heavy lifting after all. But on the ebook, they still keep majority royalties. Odd huh? No heavy lifting to be done. It's all virtual content and materials. After all is said and done, the big prints get around 85% of the total revenue of the book. Bonks. With now 50% of readers being ebook buyers, why would an author keep handing over major stories knowing they're only going to get 15% of it, when now it's possible to do it yourself?

Many years ago this collusion took place and it's not a conspiracy by Tor, specifically. It's every publisher. Nothing dark and sinister about it really. It's business, right? If you want books printed, you gotta turn over the stories and let them make their big slice of the pie. They obviously want/need the ebook slice even more now because the printing slice is shrinking. But as an author with an existing audience, why maintain the status quo? Why not publish yourself? ...

...

So the only option has been for a major artist to write a book, step out and publish it themselves, forget having it printed, and let the chips fall. No advance. No guaranteed sales. Win or lose.

I don't recognise the print system you cite. Most publishing companies don't own printing presses: few have the odd spare million £/$/insert appropriate currency symbol. They pay printing companies to print books for them, whether it's in massive sheds in the back country for multiple-thousand copy MMPB runs or in tiny workshops in cities for a few hundred copies of an annual report. Said printers provide their service for a set fee without taking any title to the work. Yes, publishers need to book press time in advance (though there are cancellations, fallow periods etc: I have a press in south-west England demanding work right now), and the same would apply to self-pub. Wouldn't a self-publisher be able to work out when a book is going to be ready, and get organised?

The cost of printing each MMPB is around £1 in the UK, depending on length. I've just ordered printing for a stack of textbooks with lovely glossy covers printed on both sides (most MMPBs' covers are printed inside only and are not often gloss, though they may have other finishings such as spot UV coating), a tad bigger in page height and width than the usual MMPB (so a higher paper cost than an MMPB of the same extent), average 300pp each, for an average of 99p per copy. These were low print runs - average 2700 copies - cost per copy drops as number of copies rises, as economics would suggest when dealing with a manufacturing technology that has fixed costs and variable costs.

£1 is around one eighth of the cost of the average MMPB on sale in the UK today. Another 35p per copy goes on warehousing and distribution. (Yes, warehousing and distribution would require time and resources. Who said running a business was easy?) The other £6.65 or so goes on exactly the same things that would be needed for an ebook: typesetting, cover and related artwork design, editing, administration, publicity/marketing/similar activities (selling ebooks does not involve paying bookshops to put them on a table, but does require other types of publicity), and profit.

Amazon Kindle conversion is, I believe, free for self-pubbers. (We don't use it: we use specialist conversion software that charges us an arm and a leg but is less easily hacked.) That therefore equals £1.35 per copy saved, out of all the rest of the factors involved. Sure, no advance - but he wouldn't get an advance on this self-pubbed ebook-only title either. Advance is not relevant to the argument about ebook versus ebook+MMPB, just to the trad versus indie, and we've already established that this is indie anyway.

I'm not arguing with TG self-publishing because he wants to. Be the whole world's guest. It may well be good for the indie book industry as a whole, as you intimate with reference to music and films: if so I'm all for it. What I definitely object to is the idea that self-publishing must necessarily exclude providing MMPBs. MMPBs' printing costs don't break publishers' backs, whether big publishing companies' or self-publishers'.

If he decides not to provide MMPBs, it's not because the big bad publishers have stopped him, it's because he doesn't want to put in the effort. (I exclude the possibility that he sold paperback printing rights to this title, because you have specifically stated that this is not the case.) If anyone can do this, TG can do it. He has the desire for independence, he has the security to be able to buy copies before he's sold them due to his reputation if nothing else, and he is one of a relatively small number of authors who have the clout to negotiate with booksellers on the basis of proven sales. If you're all about indie, wouldn't you like that bookseller list-buying factor you mention to be watered down? If you think the booksellers are in league with publishers specifically to stop indie, that's one conspiracy theory more than I'm inclined to accept. Booksellers use the central purchasing system and work with publishers because it's good for their finances. Selling TG books is good for booksellers' finances. Successful negotiating with chains' buying managers would require a big reputation, sure. Does TG think he doesn't have one?

I could get the damned thing distributed for him, if he was willing to do the promotion-related shouting (I've lost my voice and have no flair for publicity: print, warehousing and distribution logistics yes, negotiating with wholesalers yes, arranging discounts and returns yes, schmoozing book-buyers no). The western hemisphere is full of logistics options and people who know how the setup can be made to work. This is a learning opportunity, if he wants to do everything himself.

Like I said, if he doesn't want to go to the effort, A-OK. (It would be a lot of effort, I'm not trying to say it isn't.) Just let's insert a little honesty here. If he can build his own house, organise buying the materials etc. and getting in any specialist workmen he needed for specific tasks, he can self-print a book.

Ebooks are easier. MMPBs are more than possible (hell, he could sell them off a personal website if he didn't want to go through brick and mortar bookshops). I just want to see the guy being more honest with his fans.

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I don't recognise the print system you cite. Most publishing companies don't own printing presses: few have the odd spare million £/$/insert appropriate currency symbol. They pay printing companies to print books for them, whether it's in massive sheds in the back country for multiple-thousand copy MMPB runs or in tiny workshops in cities for a few hundred copies of an annual report. Said printers provide their service for a set fee without taking any title to the work. Yes, publishers need to book press time in advance (though there are cancellations, fallow periods etc: I have a press in south-west England demanding work right now), and the same would apply to self-pub... *SNIP*

Most of what you just described is the logistics of printing. None of it addresses the fundamental problems I already spelled out. Bookstores will not carry a self-published novel. Doing so would rock the boat with the publishers that provide their main supply of content. Further, they are not interested in dealing with solo authors when a single publisher walks in the door with many authors and much bigger, long term deals. Why would they?

Finally, what's the point? Do you think TG or any other major wants to load bookstores with hardcovers and become a one-man publisher? How is that even remotely beneficial or cost effective? Bring on a workforce and tackle all of the publishing logistics to run at full costs, without distributing across multiple authors and products, and have to fight into every store.

Come on man.. sense.

You're not being honest with yourself if you really think TG's not being honest with his fans.

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