Publishing and piracy: more Mamatas

How timely! An SF Signal Mind Meld post on “the future of publishing”… featuring a rather dystopic but all-too-plausible worst-case-scenario from Cheryl Morgan, and another serving of brutal truth from Nick Mamatas:

Piracy will always be with us, and in the end it’ll just be figured into the cost of doing business; ebook prices will come down to a more reasonable level and piracy will be a problem along the lines of shoplifting. Writers will be more likely to license World English rights rather than territorial rights for their books to make them more widely available to readers who pirate out of fannish desperation.

I also anticipate at least one of the major publishers crumbling back into its component imprints, which will actually be a good thing–indeed, it’ll be the thing that will allow ebooks to come down to the $3-5 price range. There’s a lot of whining about how print costs are only 10% of the cover price of a book, so ebooks prices can only sink so low, but the plain fact is that publisher overhead, specifically in the forms of Manhattan real estate and payouts to distributors with giant warehouses, are both utterly superfluous and easily eliminated. The major houses are pigs and some of them are going to die.


It won’t be bad, unless you’re one of the few people making money right now with mindless hackwork. If you are the 2010s will be your decade to suffer as the rest of us have suffered these past thirty years.

Ouch. Compare and contrast to Gordon Van Gelder’s “I dunno” shrug, which – while honest – smacks more than a little of an ostrich impersonation; F&SF, I’d remind you, still doesn’t accept electronic submissions.

One thought on “Publishing and piracy: more Mamatas”

  1. Chairman Bruce has posted part of an interview with someone named Geert Lovink that is somewhat relevant here:

    I’m a consumer, not a creator, so I love the idea of free. But, we must all recognize, even if he doesn’t, that the Cory Doctorows of the world are very much the exception rather than the rule. Creative Commons is a wonderful concept, as is GNU. Unfortunately, these things plus a few bucks will buy you lunch. We need to develop some kind of model that will reward creators without overpricing to consumers.

    Kevin Kelly’s “Thousand True Fans” may be one idea but, it is way too dependent on “the kindness of others”.

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