Roman’s Rants: Publishers’ Paradox

Gee, it’s been a while. But I’ve been dealing with the book scene here in Germany quite intensively lately and didn’t find the time to blog. Good news: From all this engagement comes  – a brand-new rant ;) The German publishers’ scene – something to write about which will read like a sequel to my Germany post – just wait and see.

You know the worst kind of morons? Those who have an academic background and are involved with the cultural establishment. Well-read morons with fucking literacy pouring out of their every pore. One can find heaps of them in the German book scene. Publishers, officials, a lot of authors who still haven’t got a clue about what this crazy little thing called Internet means for their business. A good example of this is the recent discussion about the revision of copyright laws, which are urgently needed to account for this crazy little thing called Internet. But that’s not what I’d like to talk about here.

What pisses me off and almost (almost!) renders me speechless is the way in which the German book scene completely misses the trend of electronic publications, or eBooks if you like. If these days you feel like reading a book on an electronic device – because you’re travelling, you’re too eager to wait for the physical book to arrive at your doorstep etc. etc. – you’ll either hit the Amazon website and buy a Kindle book there or refer to the Apple equivalent and get your stuff in their store. In both cases, you’ll have the book in no time, and, because both companies offer a tight hardware-software integration –  see the various Kindles and iOS devices –  you’re off and reading seconds afterwards.

So, why is this bad for the aforementioned publishers? Well, as far as Germany or even Europe is concerned, there really is no decent alternative for potential eBook user. Sure, you can swing over to sites such as libri.de and buy your DRM-protected ePub files there. But, let’s face it, downloading and decrypting them using Adobe technology (another non-European software company, yay) is a pain in the arse. More, the hardware that’s being offered, such as the TrekStor Liro, is mostly a piece of shit. Those things wouldn’t last very long as Kinder Surprise toys. Why would a serious (e)-readership put up with this crap?

Everybody in the book scene is afraid of Amazon in particular. They’ve got a massive market share, perfect logistics and an easy purchasing process. And, they have ambitions to become a publisher themselves. So you would expect everybody to create decent alternatives? Make eBook purchases fun even when not done via Amazon or Apple, right? Hell no: publishers are having their stuff sold via the platform they fear most. Please, people, how stupid is that? This, by the way, applies to publishers all over the world: rather than coming up with cool new business models that are based on the new mechanics of digital publications, everybody sticks to the old ways.

A final thought on eBooks in general: With a recently published book I still find it hard to convince myself to go for the digital edition when for a few bucks more I could get a nice Hardcover edition. I cannot sell it, I cannot share it, I cannot even put my monitor on it, it’s a fucking blob of data that will sit on my device into all eternity. As it is, it’s a caricature of what this medium could actually be and do.

(Image by shutterhacks)

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