(One of the many) Ebook Dilemmas.
How do I support and reward the excellent curation of the local bookstore if I want the ebook version of something I find? – Kellan
I am not a unsophisticated consumer of science fiction. And finding new material to feed the book addiction is something I spend a not inconsiderable number of cycles on. Yet, there I was standing in Borderlands last week, and books to buy were jumping off the shelves. 2-3 of “my authors” had new books out that I hadn’t heard about. (tho 2 of them are on low rotation right now, as they’ve disappointed me of late) A book multiple friends had mentioned but I’d failed to track was featured. And I found several other new promising options, none of which I had heard of, and several of which aren’t normally available in print in this country.
Low Paper Diet
And I was stuck. You see, I’m on a pretty strict dead tree diet right now. I simply don’t have to the space to store books. And while I’m at it I’d rather not incur the carbon debt of chopping down trees, mass printing on paper, warehousing and transporting a product which is statistically likely to be pulped before ever being purchased. Clearly I’m getting a huge amount of value out of Borderlands, but I didn’t really have a way to include them in the exchange. I wasn’t even sure I was really comfortable wandering next door to their newly opened cafe and settling in with my Kindle as I was inclined to do.
Micro-slicing the pie vs trickle down?
Charlie Stross wrote a really great post recently, The monetization paradox analyzing the value chain of content production right now, summed up as,
“Google could in principle afford to pay every novelist currently active in the English language out of the petty cash.” – Charles Stross
Amazon is doing something similar. Capturing greater value then they’re providing. (and I love Amazon) I visit Amazon.com, I visit the Amazon.com Kindle Store. And I walk away empty handed. Amazon captures the value when I buy a book for my Kindle, but aren’t providing sufficient tools for me to do this. Without Borderlands, Amazon would have gotten no $$ from me last week, as it is, they did all right.
So how do I cut my local bookstore/curator in? I asked on Twitter and the consensus emerged around “buy the book, steal the ebook”, or “tip the bookstore.” (thanks to waferbaby, dajobe, BOBTHEBUTCHER, benprincess, timoni, carlcoryell, bhyde, and rabble for feedback!)
One of the ways I know I’m getting old is most of the time stealing media isn’t worth it. This also is a product of consuming outside of the most mainstream troughs, and genuinely liking/respecting most of the players in my media supply chain. I’ve got sitting on my drive detailed specs for building a relatively high throughput personal book scanner, and in the moments when I’m honest with myself I’ll probably never build it.
Which brings me around to, how do I tip bookstores? And if there exists a viable model of funding that allows me to express my generalized appreciation of the existence of these important curators while getting some specific value back, a Kickstarter inspired model if you will? Would anyone besides me use it I wonder? How does this interact with Charlie’s ideas of a subscription model for writers? Given a semi-hyphothetical open e-reader with a radio could we partially fund bookstores with a real world version of Amazon affiliate links?
Unfortunately I still don’t have the answers, but I wanted to write down the problem, am I’m going to keep looking into it. Meanwhile if you know of anyone experimenting with this, I’d love to hear about it.
(so concludes the latest in this week’s series of blog posts written by the simple expedient of scaling up a tweet by a 30x inflation factor)
(update: a few really interesting comments, thanks guy!)