First, there's Closed Circle, a new site started up by three authors. They'd become fed up with publishers' misuses and abuses of copyright and their 'creative' financial schemes that increased profits at the expense of writers. As a result, the women got together, hatched a plan and set out on their own. Now they've begun selling their books directly to their fans. The primary format is e-book, DRM-free, but they've plans also to sell hard-copy versions for readers who simply must have that treasure on their bookshelf.
Second, the three authors could well be leading the way to a new future between writers and their readers.
Catch Lynn Abbey's blog, for example; she is one of the authors with Closed Circle. (The others are Jane Fancher and CJ Cherryh.) Here's a snippet of a reply to a reader in the comments section of a post Lynn wrote yesterday:
I’ve become a big fan of 'disintermediation' - getting rid of the mess in the middle, which, from my author’s perspective includes both Amazon, because of its DRM and exclusivity clauses, and conglomerate-based publishers.
Here's Jane on the same topic.
Macmillan is following a marketing paradigm designed around supply and demand. S&D is a perfectly valid capitalist philosophy that really came into its own with the mass production of product that came into its own in the 20th century, taking serious hold with the Model T and assembly line production. It is not a given of the human condition....
CJ, Lynn and I want to work with the people who want to read our books. We want to make them available to those who never even knew they existed… because of NY's 'Rorschach' marketing practices (more on that tomorrow). Since we made the decision to make this leap of faith, we’ve been working literally around the clock to find a way to bring you a quality product at a reasonable price that will pay our bills while we write more books.
What I most admire is these women's tenacity and refusal to be brought down by barriers. Been following their efforts for about a year; others of their fans much longer. In the meantime, they've taught themselves everything they need to know, from the ground up: how to build their shopping site, how to transform their books into the various e-formats, and so on. As an avid reader, I am excited by what these women are doing and will do my damnedest to support their efforts and similar efforts by others.
NB: See also the Baen Free Library. It's not the same concept as Closed Circle or Book View Cafe - see Abbey's comment in above link - but it's a step in the (somewhat) right direction.
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