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Friday, April 10, 2009

The IBOOK--the Authors Guild Attack on Kindle II

You can't stop it. I'm a member of the Authors Guild and they do good work. But they are fighting an uphill battle that will be lost. Audio rights violated by the talking Kindle. Hmmm. This will be a pig in the poke when the Kindle really gets warmed up. When the price on the Kindle drops below one hundred dollars there will be a huge sucking sound and that will be all those authors books getting downloaded without revenue to the author or publisher. Think IPOD. Think CD's. Think of the music stores of yesteryear. Think of the eight track the cassette or the LP. Publishing had a very long honeymoon because people still wanted a physical book. Not anymore. Tell that to the newspapers that are dying beneath us.The blind don't care. They just want an easy way to read their books. The Guild has found itself on the strange moral ground of thwarting those who really need talking books. Like any author I want to keep all my rights, but I am too much of a realist to think these rights have a snowball chance in hell of surviving the digital onslaught. Books are being digitized as we speak and they will be read on screens. Bookstores will morph into something else, but economics will ultimately put the book into the dusty attic with the turntable and the CD player. Same with those brick phones and clunky computers that took up half your desk. You just can't stop the natural obsolescence of progress.Ease of use. Download your books and newspapers and slip it into your backpack. Done. Game over. I carry around books in my backpack. I'm a book freak who must always have some Fitzgerald, Whitman, Yates, London, name it I throw it in there and carry my sack of bricks to coffee houses. Obviously that is all eliminated with the portable electronic book. Or the cost. I just dropped thirty bucks for two novels. If I downloaded the novels it would have cost me half of that. This is why the Authors Guild is really beaten before they begin. Humans adapt to whatever is easiest, efficient, and practical. We are seeing what happens to us when we don't adapt and take technology way beyond it's useful means (see implosion of Detroit Automobile Manufacturers).So instead of worrying about the Kindle II whose impingement on Audio Rights will not be near as draconian as the impingement on core royalties--the Guild should really be thinking about how to capture the money flowing out the door when everyone really begins downloading books. The bookstores will resemble abandon shopping malls and those great big printing presses will grind to a screeching halt. The Guild might want to get Steven Jobs on board and see if he has any ideas about ways to recapture those downloads flying through the air. The IBOOK might not be that far off.

Books by William Hazelgrove