". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Publishers Unlocking DRM - Charles Stross Explains

Last week I wondered why publishers didn't Do Something, since it seemed to me that at least the Big 6 Trades have all the wherewithall to Do Something, to combat amazon's monopoly on e-pubs + More, Always MORE, because that's how monopoly capitalism always rolls.

Charles Stross didn't just wonder. He did something, and it seems that mayhap at least one publisher is Doing Something (though Charles says this wasn't his doing).

Read here all about what Charles Stross thinks Macmillan's dropping DRM may mean in the near and later future, particularly for the consumers of genre fiction, who are the largest consumers of epubs.

This is a long blog entry, but all of it is worth reading, as generally is the case with Mr. Stross's Charlie's Diary, because he employs his reason, upon a platform constructed from actual information as so far as possible, and his terrific analytic capacity. Here's a pull - sample of his reasoning:

As noted earlier, consumers change e-reader devices frequently. Within 5 years we will be seeing a radically different electronic landscape. Unlocking the readers' book collections will force Amazon and B&N and their future competitors to support migration (if they want to compete for each others' customers). So hopefully it will promote the transition from the near-monopoly we had before the agency model, via the oligopoly we have today, to a truly competitive retail market that also supports midlist sales.


(Why this will support the midlist: currently Amazon have swamped the midlist among ebooks in a sea of self-published rubbish. It's impossible to find anything worth reading in the Kindle store that isn't a very obvious bestseller. This offers an opportunity for specialist bookstores to offer a curatorial role. I believe the voracious genre consumers are picky enough about what they read that they dislike Amazon's slushpile approach, and will preferentially shop in better organized outlets.)

1 comment:

Foxessa said...

O. Just saw CS's photo illustrates the article in the UK Guardian that speaks about Tor's dropping DRM from its publications.

On the same 'page' that extols amazon as the best friend to writers product evah! Why yes, writers produce product, they don't create stories out of their imagination. And the lower the price on the product the better for everybody. Glad we're straight on that.

But no! says the article's author:

So Amazon, Google and Apple are gatekeepers. They have realised that the key to profitability is not investing in risky startups, but owning the marketplace where those startups stand and (mostly) fall. So for the rest of us, outside the walls, what's the point of taking sides in a battle between "legacy" gatekeepers and new ones? Hail the new boss, same as the old boss.

Amazon is a corporation, not a philanthropic trust dedicated to the production of works of art and literature. Some – such as Barry Eisler – see the company as too dedicated to its customers to take advantage of a monopoly to gouge them on prices. I don't agree. Either Amazon sees a direct profit in the future, or it is already turning an acceptable profit by using books as a loss leader to draw consumers to the site to buy garden furniture. We – those who buy from the company – are not Amazon's friends, any more than we are NestlĂ©'s or BP's. We should expect no favours.

If Amazon was truly consumer-centric, it would do away with DRM and adopt the ePub format, allowing users to consume their media on any device and through any software they choose, securing them from obsolescence and errors in DRM servers, accidental deletions and the rest. And that it most emphatically does not do.

The most thunderous argument in Amazon's favour is that the market has spoken, and demands cheaper product. This one I find utterly bizarre. ....