E.L. James, author of Fifty Shades of Grey, is a living proof on how the cloud can truly help writers gain direct access to readers. Publishers are not as powerful as they were before. They are also not necessary. All the writers need is the cloud.
Promotions of books also happen in the cloud, through blogs, forums, social media, and emails.
However, benefit to the writer may not necessarily translate to the consumers. Worse, behind all the hype of how the cloud works
Access Not Possession
We have been so used to the concept of purchasing digital properties that our concept of “possession” has already changed. URLs, for one, are non-tangible real estate properties. It is your address, a specific destination that will help people find your digital home. In reality, it is doesn’t exist. The information that you store in your properties can’t be touched. If some genius manages to hack his way through it, your address and all the information located in it could disappear in an instant.
Yet, we do not question the whole concept of digital ownership because we are used to it. We input our credit card information and we are given a copy of the book or comic novel. However, the 2009 Orwell’s 1984 incident should be the constant reminder that what we get when we pay for ebooks aren’t really copies of the book, it’s an access to the book subject to certain conditions.
It is also an access that may be taken away from you anytime, without due process.
It is safe to say that when you purchase an ebook, unless you get a pdf copy, it’s not really a purchase, it’s a rental and like a rental, you have very limited rights over what paid for.
The only right you actually have is to read it on the device you chose to read it. Unlike getting a physical copy of the book, you cannot resell it, copy it or lend it to anyone. To lend it, you will have to lend the device where the your access to be book is installed.
It is Convenient and Cheap
We all know it like a nursery rhyme, ebooks cut the cost by miles. There is no production cost and no cost for raw materials. It allows the consumers to pay for what really matters, the ideas, information or stories in the book. There are ebooks worth less than a dollar nowadays, and good ones too.
There are certain books that you just need to read, of course, like basics of plumbing or how to grow an orchid. Copies of these books are not usually cherished and the value doesn’t increase. You wouldn’t mind having it for only a couple of weeks. You read it, get what you want and forget about it. When you go to a bookstore and find that you need to pay $20 for it, you will most likely pass on it but when you see it online and find it’s $2, you will most likely purchase. In this case, it’s a win-win situation for the reader and the author.
However, books like the first edition of Catcher in the Rye or first run of Harry Potter which are collectibles. Having an access is not enough.
There is also the factor of convenience. You can “carry” 100 books on vacation and fit it all on your iPhone or Kindle or iPad.
Which Side is The Cloud On?
Sure, the cloud gives writers a better chance at getting published and noticed and it gives the consumers more options. Ebooks means cheaper books. However, consumers must fully understand what they are paying for. Just last week, someone in the UK found that all her ebooks were blocked. In fact, her entire account was blocked for no apparent reason. The issue has since been resolved.
The point, however, is that along with the price cut is rights cut.