Amazon’s Digital Text Platform (now KDP) and all those services that copy it will necessitate the rise of Cloud and crowd editing.
Large publishers so deeply ensconced in their current business model will lose control of a lucrative share of their publishing business. They will demonize their customers, and in their attempt to squeeze profit out of ebooks, they will further encourage the pirating of their intellectual property.
I can imagine a new infrastructure and business model rising from the ashes of big publishing. And I will describe it in the posts that follow.
First: Self-Publishing will create new forms of editing and new business models to preserve the quality of ebooks.
Second: Ereader companies and ebook sellers will find new opportunities within this model, if they support these writers and self-publishers with tools that allow everyone more opportunity to realize profits.
Third: Besides the need to support new writers, these companies will also need to support the efforts of public domain advocates, and alternative copyright companies. This will show their commitment and their understanding of their role in the new paradigm.
Self-Publishing will create new forms of editing and new business models where they will take place.
Serious writers, intent on writing quality stories, novels, and poetry need feedback. And the feedback they need is more than just a word of encouragement or a positive review. They need line by line critiques and wholesale editing services. Previously this was done for the select few by editors prior to publication. But how can this be accomplished for so many new writers that will self-publish?
There are two distinct methods I can think of that might help to accomplish this goal. First is what I will call “Cloud editing”- a forum or marketplace where freelance editors can advertise their services (for barter or pay) and showcase examples of their past work. This would at least make editing services available for self-publishing authors.
The second method is what I will call “Crowd editing”- a forum where writers could post their works for comment by others prior to selling. An example of how this might work can be found at The Institute for the Future of the Book.
The commenting tool they created which works for wordpress allows line-by-line annotations to be used by readers to comment. This would be a great tool that I think self-publishers would find useful.
Both of these methods would of course improve the quality of ebooks that are sold through self-publishing, but what is the incentive to use them? Well the benefits to the editors is apparent in “Cloud editing” but what about the benefits for writers in “cloud editing”, and the incentives for writers and editors in “Crowd editing”? I think a rewards system (points or money), public notoriety, or a combination of these things would be fine for editors. But writers who are very attached to their work might not see a need to revise. So perhaps a ranking system that weighs revision as part of the preparation for sale process and affects a writer’s place in the self-publishing market could be useful.
Ereader companies and ebook sellers will find new opportunities within this model if they support these writers and self-publishers with tools and business models that allow everyone more opportunity to realize profits.
These companies can probably take a small finders fee for linking freelance editors with self-publishers. The details of this arrangement could be decided in collaboration with self-publishers and editors. This would of course make for a much more palatable process and give supporting companies positive press.
Though the “crowd editing” model will have a cost to the company, it may pay for itself through better products to market, and it will also provide a clear justification for promoting some books and authors over others.
These companies will also need to find ways to support the efforts of public domain advocates, and alternative copyright companies. This will show their commitment and their understanding of their role in the new paradigm.
It is easy to demonize a company or product that locks you into a proprietary format and prevents you from utilizing your device to its full potential. But if Kobo, Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other companies worked with libraries, public domain advocates, and groups like Creative Commons, it would make it much more difficult to demonize them.
The six largest publishers have made their intention clear. They will squeeze as much profit as they can out of consumers. So the best thing for the ebook and ereader companies to do is to get deals with Overdrive, Archive.org, and Creative commons to make public domain books, library lending, and alternative copyright options available to publishers and device users. In doing so they will solidify their opposition to some of the more problematic issues with copyright, and digital books. And in the process they will make their commitment to great writing, and self-publishers evident.