Sunday, October 23, 2011

amazon's march to the sea

On the heels of post at that OTHER blog ( regarding the disconnect between technology and publishers, this morning I picked up the business section of my local paper to read that amazon has made a proprietary relationship with DC comics. Although there seems to be a little backtracking on just how exclusive (initially you couldn't even access DC's publications on a Kindle app), the essential bones are that if you're into graphic novels? Buy a Kindle Fire.

Barnes and Noble responded by pulling all of DC's material from their shelves, because they feel that being dissed in the electronic arena is tantamount to an act of war. I get the sense that DC was surprised at the vehemence of their response, but then B&N are fighting for their lives. The debut of the Kindle Fire is smack down competition to their color Nook, and then in a classic one-two punch, amazon delivered the second blow with this sweetheart deal with DC.

I'm not a graphic novel person, but as I mentioned yesterday, you want to capture the demographic below thirty-five, then you'd better provide some visual candy. Of course, graphic novels are so beyond visual candy, but there is a reason why they and manga are so popular. Visuals, my friends. Visuals. Look at the popularity of tumblr. I moseyed on over there and was immediately struck by the lack of words. Although words are my thing, I can't deny that visuals now seem to be a key aspect of social media. Note the lack of graphics here!

So what's a DC fan to do? Buy a Kindle Fire? This brings us to the issue of torrenting, essentially piracy.

(1) There are people who just don't believe in paying for artistic content period. I suspect that few of them produce artistic content, otherwise they might understand why those of us who are victims of torrenting are a little outraged at this viewpoint, even as we are hopeless to combat it.

(2) Then there are those who think that artists charge too much. This is the push behind cheap e-books. There are many legitimate arguments to be made that the actual printing of a book is NOT the gross amount of the final price. Although it's not insignificant, it certainly doesn't support the notion that most people who want cheap e-books harbor: that readers should get an e-book at something less than a cup of coffee because publishers are now not printing them.

(3) There are people who are poor and who bootleg because it's either that or staring at four blank walls.

(4) Now we come to that elusive group that seems to be responding to DC's decision. Those who are perfectly willing to pay for content--and actually WANT to support artists--provided they feel it's reasonable. They don't want to get ripped off. If they feel they are getting ripped off, then then will pirate with glee.

The material is out there. We all know that. I can Google both of my books and find torrenting sites galore that feature my books. But I try to tell myself that most people want to support me as a no-name author. But if you piss people off (witness the reader outrage when Michael Connelly's publisher decided to protect hardcover sales by making the e-book MORE expensive than the hardcover), then you're alienated a group of people who heretofore had been loyal customers--as opposed to scumbag pirates. And most of these people have laptops. And Internet browsers. And they know how to download.

I think we'll see some serious backtracking here from DC. Because they've pissed off an important segment of their market when there is an alternative market. An alternative market that is FREE.

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