Monday, February 1, 2010

While the Monkey Clan Unpacks

For those of you who don't know, the Monkey Clan finally got the various crates, boxes and who knows what all delivered to their new home on Flinders Island. Well, all except "the rock". So Dave and Barbs are busy unpacking and trying to figure out where everything should go in their new home. You can check out their progress here.

In the meantime, it's open thread day. The usual rules apply. No politics. No religion. No barroom brawls -- at least not without adequate provocation ;-p

So, shall we start this off by wondering what dastardly adventures the Monkey Clan has gotten into this time?


C Kelsey said...

I cannot make guesses as to the dastardly-ness of the Flinders Freer's at this point. However -

A possible money making model for e-content for newspapers, magazines, etc...

Why, exactly, does it all have to come in one large magazine or paper download? Why not do a sort of RSS feed / choose your own content delivery system? For example. I want to subscribe to the New York Times. Not the whole thing, mind you. But say to certain sections and certain reporters/editors/opinionators. I "build my own newspaper" by paying a small fee for each section or person I want to follow.

The idea starts off simplistic, but consider that you could then track the statistics on who and what people are reading. This could be used for determining marketing strategies, and even whatever the political winds might be.

Of course, for people to be willing to pay for these services they would need to be delivered easily, to whatever device. Oh, and content would have to be updated quickly multiple times per day. This would put added strain on reporters and editors, etc.

But I kind of like it. The content you want. More of it. Delivered when you want it.

Anonymous said...

The "build your own newspaper" would be a fabulous idea, for readers anyway. Yes, there were be added strain on the reporters, but I see the future of information dissemination as being electronic. The transition will be clunky and probably painful, but it will eventually have to happen.

Linda Davis

C Kelsey said...

I kind of think of it as the iTunes model for print media. Why, exactly, would I buy an entire magazine for X price, when all I really want is to read the stories on X topic for X lower price.

Anonymous said...

I have an interest in learning to write steampunk. I understand there are all sorts of sub-genres within the genre, western steampunk, for instance. I've picked up Ann and Jeff VanderMeer's Steampunk anthology that was released a couple of years ago.

Does anyone have any general advice about this genre? How technical should I get? How much of the universe needs to be technology related? What kind of ambience should be happening? I know that core steampunk is of Victorian or Victorian-like era, but what about the others?

What are some good and popular examples in the media? I've heard The Golden Compass is steampunk (book and resulting movie). Also, The Wild, Wild West of 60s TV and movie fame.

I've done some basic research into the genre, but I thought I'd pick your minds if anyone here has experience with it. Thanks!

Linda Davis

Anonymous said...


City of Ember is a good movie example, and "9" if you can find the right one.

In many ways, Steam Punk seems post-apocalypse, but with a completely different outcome from the usual Mad Max types. Of perhaps that impressions is just because of the limited amount I've seen.

::sigh:: I haven't even finished my Urban Fantasy and the next wave has swooshed half way past me. I can only hope the various fads last and overlap.

I understand the Freers have already begun to terrorize the water-breathers. Next they'll go around climbing perfectly innocent rocks. After that, I've heard rumors that Dave is thinking about doing *something* with sheep. I can only hope that his dogs and cats arrive in time to straighten him out.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Chris I like you idea of a 'build your own newspaper'.

Linda, there's been discussion on the romance list about steam punk and on the spec fic list. It seems to be one of those areas that overlap both. If you google the term, you should come across blogs about it and be able to select a variety of books to get a feel for the genre.

Anonymous said...

Oh, something I'm wondering about.

You have a change, the method of which I won't belabor. Magic has returned to the world.

Now, is it more interesting to watch all of society deal with the changes, or to watch the government try to cover it all up and keep the magicians, vampires, werewolves, satyrs and sirens and minotaurs and such hidden? How do you vote? Cover up or society coping?

Francis Turner said...

BTW we just posted the Epilogue for "Save The Dragons"

Please consider voting for it here -

Dave Freer said...

My deepest apologies folks - I simply lost track of days frantically trying to find things (I still don't have a whisk. Can you imagine what this does to my love life? You have a weird, weird lurid imagination, because I can't ;-)) Anyway, we near our close (as Lady Godiva said at the end of her ride.)

I wanted everyone's take on Macmillan/Amazon/Apple saga
Being a nasty suspicious minded monkey I am not joining the loud chorus of 'yay, Apple made Kindle eat electronic ink' or even the 'how can Amazon be sooooo mean to Macmillan authors' chorus. I don't think Apple's reader is particularly good news for authors or readers (the opposite in fact), and I believe the Macmillan MD version of events possibly leaves out a lot of salient details, and is once again an attempt to use readers and writers as cannon-fodder as there is no real evidence that publishers or retail do this for either the producers or the purchasers.

Anonymous said...


I'm more interested in the small picture of how the arrival of magic into the world affects the people. One person or family's life, not the government. I like the individual characters and their reactions and changes in their lives as opposed to society as a whole.

And thanks for the suggestions on steampunk. I'm really trying to get a handle on this. I saw the Sky Captain movie a few years ago, and I know from this that it's not the type of steampunk I'm interested in writing. I have to go with the western or prairie steampunk for right now, but I need to know what the core of it is before I go prancing off and singing a merry steampunk


Anonymous said...


Yaaayyy for hearing from you. Glad to hear all is well or at least getting there. Making such a large change in life is exciting stuff :). Hope you find your whisk.


C Kelsey said...


I'm not sure what to make of the whole Amazon kerfluffle yet.


Oddly enough, I really enjoyed Sky Captain. Nobody else seems to have like it though. Does that say something about me? ;)

Amanda Green said...

Chris, I like your idea about programmable newspapers and magazines but if book publishers are entrenched in the old ways, newspaper publishers are right there with them. So far, almost all -- if not all -- attempts by them to charge for internet content have failed miserably. For it to work, they are going to have to become more of a first responder and first reporter of news. The internet has spoiled us and we want our content now...not an hour from now. Then you have to educate the reading/purchasing public and I'm not sure that will be any easier than it is to educate the publisher.

Still, I'd welcome that change, especially with a reasonable fee structure.

Amanda Green said...

Matapam, re: the change and return of magic. I think it really depends on what kind of a book you're writing. I can see an UF that deals more with simply trying to survive and not be found out if you're one of the "changed" being told from the how does everyone cope aspect. But then the whole government has found out and is either trying to keep the public from panicking by hiding the truth or the government is blackmailing those with the "special abilities" to do their dirty work can be fun to write as well. Frankly, a combination of both, to me, is the best.

Amanda Green said...

Dave, the blow-up between Amazon and Macmillan is, imo, just the first shot in the digital revolution in publishing. Macmillan says they feel the $9.99 price is an artificially low price for e-books, especially if released at the same time as the hardcover version. Amazon wanted to continue selling those books at $9.99 (which was a loss header for Amazon). Neither is completely in the right. First off, why should the consumer pay more for a digital edition of a book -- one they can't resell or trade or loan -- than they pay for the softcover version of the book or, for that matter, the hardcover version a month after it comes out?

Could Amazon have handled this better? Of course. They have harmed some authors by pulling not only the digital versions of their books from the site but the dead tree versions as well.

I think the underlying question that needs to be asked is if this is really Macmillan's attempt to raise ebook prices or if it is their first volley in an attempt to raise the price of their "best sellers" from the $9.99 tag Amazon and so many other have placed on them. Either way, the consumer loses and, if the consumer quits buying, the author loses.

This is something some authors seem to be missing in their rush to condemn Amazon for de-listing them. If you price your readers out of the market, it doesn't matter that you make more money per book because you won't be selling enough books to make up for the difference.

All I can say is that the other sellers of e-books had better be prepared for the same demands from the major publishers if Amazon does completely cave on this. With each day that passes, I am more and more convinced that Jim Baen was brilliant in his approach to e-books. Until publishers, authors and retailers understand that you have to be competitive and you have to remove DRM, they will not get the brand loyalty nor the sales they could.

Kate said...

Re: Amazon vs MacMillan - what Amanda said, in spades.

Amazon is looking to control the ebook market because they're pretty sure it will eventually be huge and they want to be the ones everyone goes to. Once they have consumer lock-in, they can pretty much do as they please.

MacMillan, on the other hand, is trying to control its authors and readers. The last thing they want is their name authors going independent to Amazon and getting 70% of ebook revenue instead of the teensy amount they get via the publisher. They also want to control who sells what - which again, is not the smartest choice.

IMO Amazon has the marginally better argument, and it's a shame they blinked.

Anonymous said...

Now, just to kind of turn this around and look at it from a different point of view, I'm not quite ready to make Amazon the de-facto "heroes" of the piece. The more I look into this, the more ambivalent I become toward this whole affair.

Case in point: What if they'd pulled something like this with Baen Books for a weekend? Now, bear with me on this. If you do a search for Kindle editions of Baen books on Amazon's website, you'll come up empty. The reason is that, with the exception of a handful of books listed on Fictionwise, Baen sells its e-books exclusively through WebScriptions. Of course, you can get Baen books to read on your Kindle, but you don't get them through Amazon.

Well, what if Amazon decided that they were missing out on some serious revenue because they weren't able to sell the hottest Baen releases through their Kindle store and wanted to lock in some exclusive Kindle deal with Baen (naturally with terms very much in Amazon's favor -- but not so much in Baen's favor)? And what if Toni told Amazon "thanks, but no thanks," insisted on sticking to the Baen/Webscriptions model that's worked so wonderfully for the past decade, and Amazon pulled a stunt like this to try to bring her back to the bargaining table? Suddenly no one would be able to buy Darkship Thieves or Sorceress of Karres -- which would definitely hurt Sarah, Dave, and Eric.

Mind you, something like this would probably be the biggest mistake could ever make, incurring the wrath of Toni and a dozen or so extremely hostile Baen authors (especially Sarah, Dave, and Eric), not to mention legions of very vocal Barflies (who have what I can best describe as a "crawl over broken glass" level of loyalty toward their favorite authors -- like yours truly).

However, the fact is, they did it once; they can do it again. And who's to say a nightmare scenario like this couldn't come up? So yeah, for me the jury's still out on this whole thing, and, being the cynical sod I am, I can see things getting worse before they get better.

Anonymous said...

And that should read: "I'm not quite ready to make Amazon the de-facto "heroes" of the piece EITHER."

Stupid fingers...

Amanda Green said...

Robert, I'm not saying Amazon is the hero here. Neither side has handled the situation well and, of course, have their own best interest at heart. However, it is interesting that this happens less than a week after the introduction of the iPad and Steve Jobs saying, on video, that the iStore (or whatever they're calling it) will offer e-books at the same price as Amazon. And this at the same time he and Macmillan announce the deal Macmillan wants Amazon to accept.

I guess I'm willing to give Amazon a bit more of a break on this because, if they give in, every major publisher may then require the same deal as Macmillan from every e-book seller. As long as there is DRM attached to these sellers (Amazon, B&N, Sony, Fictionwise) there will be no competitive pricing because I can't buy from B&N and read on my Kindle without breaking DRM -- something we aren't supposed to do.

All that said, it is the short term view of all this so many folks seem to be taking that worries me. They simply don't see that the potential ramifications of what Macmillan is wanting. I'm trying to look at this from both an author's pov and a reader's. From where I'm sitting, I'm getting screwed on both accounts.

Dave Freer said...

Amanda, Kate, agreed. There are no heroes in scenario, just a choice of two evils. And the lesser of those weevils... evils has to be whatever actually allows digital to be affordable, and allows writers to make a living. The status quo doesn't. Conserving it is simply slow suicide. Changing it may be fast suicide, but that's better than slow. The arrangement between Apple and the large publishing houses (who have been trying to restrain and restrict e-publishing, and make sure any extra profits do not accidentally flow to the authors) is entirely too cosy big-boyz-let's-keep-the status-quo for comfort. No I don't trust Amazon to be any better -- but I see the death of slush, the slow strangulation of midlist, and the slow but steady decline in publishing as a money-earner in the world of entertainment... has happened on the watch of the very crew who now now say it "needs to insure that intellectual property can be widely available digitally at a price that is both fair to the consumer and allows those who create it and publish it to be fairly compensated." Oh. So what happened to the savings from slush cuts? Or savings from electronic typesetting, or with e-books, in distribution, remainders, paper costs? Did any share of those savings go to the creators or consumers?
So we should believe that this time, suddenly, they're not just looking after number one?