Today’s New York Times reports that Random House will establish an all-digital unit which will distribute e-Books and print-on-demand titles. These books will not be distributed through brick and mortar bookstores, but will be sold exclusively online. Consumer prices will be slightly lower than trade paperbacks for e-Books and slighlty higher for print-on-demand titles. Author royalties will be 15% for e-Books and 7.5% for print-on-demand titles. Random plans to launch the unit in January with 20 titles. At least one agent, Robert Gotleib, feels that the royalty structure Random plans to offer is slightly askew, “There is a tremendous reduction in overhead from printing, distribution and all of that, and authors aren’t enjoying the benefits of the increased profitability.”
Pushing Hypertext in New Directions
Matthew Mirapaul’s New York Times column today focuses on two of the most interesting new hypertext releases of the summer – Judd Morrisey’s “The Jew’s Daughter,” which uses Flash to build a shifiting hypertext narrative via mousever links, and “aspergillum gently,” a a multimedia adaptation of “Pedro PÃƒÂ¡ramo,” an existentialist 1955 novel by the Mexican author Juan Rulfo constructed by New York artist Isabel Chang.
According to Publisher’s Weekly, officials at Stephen King’s Web site said that some 41,000 downloads were made the first day that King made his story available for download. This figure is lower than the nearly 500,000 downloads in March of King’s e-novella, Riding the Bullet.
One theory is that Riding the Bullet benefitted from being backed by a major publisher. Still, $41,000 of revenue in a single day does not necessarily mark this historic attempt at self-publishing as a failure…
EPC: A Web Site Grows New Poems
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on the Electronic Poetry Center at SUNY-Buffalo, led by ELO Literary Advisor Loss Glazier. The Chronicle covers the amazing reach of the site, which logs more than 10 million visits a year, and the nature of the art at EPC, which includes a wide variety of approaches to poetry designed for the electronic media.
Thinking Outside the Book
An LA Times article describes ELO’s first reading event, held this May at the home of Richard Bangs in Redmond, WA. The article includes interviews with e-lit authors and critics including Robert Coover, M.D. Coverley, Katherine Hayles, Shelley Jackson, Dirk Stratton and Rob Wittig. LA Times writer Kim Murphy focuses the piece on the artistic and economic implications of electronic lit. (Abstract available, article can be purchsed for $2.95)
[Link updated April 2005; the article was removed from the Web]
King’s New Publishing Model
Emboldened with the success of his Riding the Bullet e-Book, author Stephen King is experimenting with an honor system publishing model (with a catch) – King will release the first 2/3 of his new work The Plant for free download on his personal site. He will only release the last third of the novel if 75% of the people who download the work pay a nominal $1 fee. (Article in The Industry Standard [IA])
[Link updated April 2005; only the Internet Archive copy of the page was found]
Books by the Chapter or Verse
An article in last week’s New York Times hints at one potential new publishing model – iUniverse and IDG Books are teaming up to allow readers to build their own books out of chapters and components from IDG’s “Dummies” and “Frommer’s Guide” series. Readers pay for each bit of content by piece. The resulting custom book is then bound and shipped, or put into a PDF file for download. If successful, the venture could offer an example for publishers of electronic literature. It’s conceivable that e-lit readers might be willing to pay for an anthology of interactive literature that they themselves construct.
Seybold 2000 to feature E-Book Event
Next month’s Seybold SF 2000 conference will feature a comprehensive e-Book industry event, with a showcase sponsored by Publisher’s Weekly featuring the major e-Book vendors and a keynote by Dick Brass, the leader of Microsoft’s e-Book group.
[Link checked April 2005; the page that was at
http://www2.zdevents.com/db/owa/press_release_detail?v_press_release_id=1438 is no longer on the Web and is not shown by the Internet Archive]
The Alternative Museum
The Alternative Museum has launched Volume II of TAM Monitor, which features experimental radio, interviews, performative art, audio art, conceptual design pieces, and alternative web interfaces.
[Link updated April 2005]
What About E-Reading?
The July/August issue of Book magazine offers a well-balanced survey of the field of electronic publishing, from Project Gutenberg to the latest in e-book and E-ink technology.
The article, by Rob Brookman, offers the insights of both authors and technologists. When asked if he’d be interested in exploring the interactive and hypertextual potential of e-books, Mark Danielewski, the author of the innovative novel House of Leaves, says he’d “rather give House of Leaves to a computer guy and see what he came up with.”