Don’t Underestimate the Dark Side

Digital publishing is the wave of the future, and the Writers Guild of America agrees. That’s why they’re trying to make it work for them. So far, the payoff just isn’t there, according to the Guild, and they want to see more money come their way from the digital medium. However, they know as well as I do: Don’t underestimate the dark side of ePublishing.

I wrote about the “darkside” of ePublishing earlier this summer and how writers might be affected ($$$) by the ever-growing threat of piracy. But when writers aren’t getting paid their fair share from their publishers, that’s an entirely different story, and that’s what the Guild (no stranger to picketing outside corporate headquarters) is trying to bring to light.

Graeme McMillan of Techland gives us the numbers: “WGA West reports $2.63 million for 2010 new media work, which sounds impressive before you realize that this number is for all its members; on average, each member is making only $219.16 from residual payments online. Surprisingly, that is 24 percent up on 2009, which is the one piece of good news for WGA members in this whole thing.1

The digital publishing model is built on a system that is less beneficial to the authors, albeit less restrictive. While the authors have less restrictions concerning length or genre, they also receive no advance. The major issue might not be the royalty system, which is usually 35 to 40 percent on sales (way higher than print), but the audience. Although digital publishing is growing exponentially, print still has a higher readership. This makes it a lot more difficult for both the publishers and authors to make money.

In an ideal world, publishers would want to sit down and negotiate. The loss of writers due to another strike could mean major losses in the digital publishing market.

Math lesson: Less writers = less eBooks.

Will publishers sit down with the Guild and discuss a better compensation agreement? That remains to be seen.

Piracy is hitting ePublishing like a bat to the face and the only people willing to stay down are the Go the F—k To Sleep readers. For the rest of the ePublishing world, experts are trying to find ways to better protect digital media from being copied and sold illegally.

According to Nate Hoffelder of eBook Newser, the top 5 pirated eBooks are: Men’s Fitness – 12 Minute Workout, How to Answer Hard Interview Questions, Excel 2010 Formulas, Playboy June 2011 and 1000 Photoshop Tips and Tricks2.

Passwords could and should be given to readers upon purchase of an eBook. As far as eBook subscription services go, CAPTCHAs (those annoying distorted letters you have to decipher before posting data on various social networking sites) and passwords could be implemented. This would mean a lot more button pushing and checkpoints, but it would protect both the readers and the writers from hacking and piracy. Hacking, although it isn’t a big issue as of yet, will be once book apps really kick off the ground.

This might all seem very 1984 to you (a bit dramatic?), but think about it. I dare say it: it’s for your own good. Evil-doers, Big Brother is watching.




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