eBook Notes For Thursday November 12, 2009

Confessions of an Apple Manager-Turned-iPhone App Creator

How was Air Sharing received?

We gave it away for two weeks and later set the price at $7, lowered it to $5 and then introduced a more capable one for $10. I was optimistically thinking maybe 100,000 people would download it. But really I thought that was crazy talk.

As it turned out, a million downloaded it in two weeks—168,000 in the first day. That’s without advertising, no banner ads. It was just word-of-mouth and the power of the Internet.

I await figures like those for a digital book!

The Rise of Motion Comics Online

Somewhere between standard cartoon strips and full-blown animated work lies what’s known as the “motion comic.” This emerging style of entertainment is increasingly being put to use online, either to promote big-name offline works, or in some cases, just to make an extra buck.

The article is a bit dismissive of motion comics as an art form. Several have spoken up in the Comments there to point out their own works.

Swastika Night: Nineteen Eighty-Four’s lost twin

Though a huge leap of imagination, Swastika Night posits a terrifyingly coherent and plausible alternative history. And considering when it was published, and how little of what we know of the Nazi regime today was then understood, the novel is eerily prophetic and perceptive about the nature of Nazism: its violence and mindlessness; its irrationality and superstition; its emotional immaturity and cod-mysticism; the mundane, stifling horror; the way it ultimately dehumanises and destroys everyone, even the powerful; most importantly, the inextricable link between misogyny, patriarchy and fascism. A ferocious but subtle and brilliantly controlled “j’accuse” against misogyny, Swastika Night is one of the few fictions to emphasise this key element of the Nazis: man, the world-conquering hero; woman, know thy place.

I must read that book!

Is Your Book Worth It?

So let’s put this in Shark Tank terms. When you’re pitching a publisher, you’re asking them to invest $50,000 to $90,000 in YOU and your product. Are you giving them something that will make them confident it’s a good investment?

She’s not playing fair there, citing Shark Tank — a program I think everyone should watch.

And she doesn’t realize it, but she’s also made a real argument for writers to bypass all of that and do it themselves.

The mathematics of publishing a professional e-zine

In the first twelve months of running Apex Magazine, the published original fiction average length was slightly over 5,000 words. That’s two stories for a total of 10,000 words each month. At $.05 a word, that’s a baseline cost of $6,000 a year. Reprints pay anywhere from $10-$50 a month and in our first year we paid $500 for reprints. Server costs are minimal ($100 last year). Occasionally, I try to pay our editors and art directors ($500 last year). Marketing runs around $500 a year (mostly in banners and the occasional cheap ad in a print ‘zine). For one year, the average cost is $7,500. Over two years, we’re looking at $15,000 (though we dropped our word count max, so our cost of fiction should go down 10%-20%).

I like posts that cite real-world numbers. Too many people don’t understand what things cost and what the value of “free” actually is.

Speaking of value and free … this is exactly what I said would happen:

Value Perception of eBooks is going to zero

No idea at what point Publishers and Authors are going to figure this out. They are destroying the value perception of their work.

In fact, we might already be beyond the point of no return.

What’s hilarious is that he opens with this boast:

You heard it here first.

If that’s so, it’s only because the idiot Kindle owners never pulled out their thumbs and read this blog:

Smart Digital Books Vs. The ePub FAIL Model
The Coming Collapse Of eBook Prices
Would A US$50 eBook Reader Be A Disaster?
The Devaluation Of The eBook
The Axis Of E Book Holocaust
The Issue Of eBook Pricing
Why eInk, ePub, And eBooks Will Fail
Dumb eBooks Must Die, Smart eBooks Must Live

But thank you for temporarily waking up. Now go back to sleepily sucking on that WhisperNet teat while the rest of us try to fix this goddammed disaster.

Original French: Art hypermédiatique sur iPhone et iPod Touch, troisième partie: applications musicales
Google English: Art hypermedia iPhone and iPod Touch, third party: music applications

It’s nice that the iTunes Store offers some applications that are hypermedia musical works of art. But while the iPod can be considered a laptop whose primary function is to serve as a very sophisticated player, there are many ridiculous applications made by unscrupulous developers that make an iPod more on the order of the gadget intended to divert consumers for ten minutes in the hope of making a quick profit. Fortunately, some designers are intent to offer a quality product that transcends the intention of low commercial interests, to venture into the arts.

I seriously edited the Google English of the opening paragraph. Although this article is about musical applications, their interactivity and the imagination they incorporate will be important for anyone contemplating the creation of digital books.

4 Responses to eBook Notes For Thursday November 12, 2009

  1. Moriah Jovan says:

    And she doesn’t realize it, but she’s also made a real argument for writers to bypass all of that and do it themselves.

    I read her article, with her numbers, and smiled to myself.

  2. MikeMc says:

    “How was Air Sharing received?

    We gave it away for two weeks…As it turned out, a million downloaded it in two weeks—168,000 in the first day.”

    They gave away 1,000,000 copies, sold 300,000 of both versions combined so, what does that work out to? I’m thinking roughly $1.21 pretax/after Apple per copy downloaded. (((10+5)/2)*300000 *.7)/1300000 = 1.21 I averaged the paid versions as he doesn’t give a breakdown.

    I’m still thinking the app store pricing trend is going to kill digital books in their infancy. People have gotten accustomed to paying very little or nothing. I’m curious as to how vooks are selling.

    • mikecane says:

      Yes, I covered the reluctance of people to pay much for anything at the App Store. This will be a problem for a while. I hope not forever.

  3. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by mikecane: NEW POST: eBook Notes For Thursday November 12, 2009 http://tinyurl.com/ygjkk7y @jafurtado @jane_l @Booksquare @MoriahJovan…

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