Monday, February 08, 2016

Germany's Fixed Book Price Law and Unprintable Fiction

Some interesting news from last week.

This first one could have a big impact on book sales and the entire industry. The German cabinet’s law on fixed book prices will be extended to include electronic books.

From Reuters:

“The law on the pricing of German language books, under which publishers must determine a price for every title they sell, traces its roots to the late 19th century.

“It is aimed at protecting small bookshops from being priced out of the market and at allowing publishers to make enough money via sales of bestsellers that they can afford to print more niche but culturally valuable publications in smaller runs.

“Germany's highest court last year ruled that certain discounts U.S. online retailer Amazon offered had breached the law.”

While the law covers German language books, the spread of such a law to other countries could have an impact on book sales.

It’s also ironic that Amazon is the one in trouble after the whole fiasco with ITunes and publishers setting their own prices. Don’t you think?


Another article unveiled “unprintable” fiction. Developers are working with technology to create a new breed of interactive book apps.

From The Guardian:

“We’re trying to make books that are delightful, surprising and completely unprintable,” Gerber says. “They’re not games and they’re not apps – they’re all built out of HTML – but each one is impossible to envisage on paper.”

“The first two titles are The Truth About Cats and Dogs, a Janus-faced account of a collaborative poetry project that flips between chapters by authors Sam Riviere and Joe Dunthorne; and Entrances & Exits, a love story from Reif Larsen where a key discovered in an abandoned bookshop unlocks a journey that the reader can follow using Google Street View.”

Books as apps with interactive features aren’t new. But it is really fascinating to see where developers are taking this technology.

What elements could be featured in our books? The sky’s the limit. Instead of just background music, a character could attend a concert or play and the reader could experience it with the character. Google Street View also gives rise to all sorts of possibilities. Wouldn’t it be exciting to write a book that features such a unique experience? What story would you write?

41 comments:

Elsie Amata said...

That would be an amazing journey to take with an author, an artist and a musician - or one extremely talented person. Technology is so amazing! The author can actually include the music that inspired them to write the story. Wow!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I was wondering if Germany might go that route! Looks like Amazon could be losing its edge there, but Tolino is a good place to upload our books...I do it through Draft2Digital. And, sort of on the same subject, I've discovered this interesting Facebook page on international publishing (and I hate spending time on FB, but this may be worth it: https://www.facebook.com/groups/441469159372773/?ref=bookmarks

Love the idea of the unprintable books! Might keep books and reading relevant.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Diane - what an interesting post ... I hadn't heard of the German aspects ... but the technology link into our books could be really creative. Keeping up with all the changes is challenging .. thank goodness for you and Elizabeth, along with the others ... cheers Hilary

Christine Rains said...

I hadn't heard about the German news either. I wonder if anyone else will follow them. But I like the idea of interactive books. There are stories like that for kids already. I bet it will grow in popularity as this generation grows up. Have a fantastic week!

Ann Bennett said...

The German law is interesting. I think it has a point that is relevant. I can understand why people would give books away or discount them. However, it undermines many writers from getting paid for their work. The law protects booksellers but also writers by default.

Interesting post, you always present such great information.

S.A. Larsenッ said...

I'm definitely intrigued by these new book apps. It seems like every time I turn around there's something new (and something new that I have to learn) within the industry. Hmm... on the German issue. That's interesting to, as will be the impact on book sales.

Sarah Foster said...

I'd never heard of those book apps but they sure seem interesting! I don't think I've ever come up with an idea that was "unprintable" yet, but who knows?

H.R. Sinclair, Southpaw said...

I would be interesting to be reading a scene that had rain "slapping the sidewalk" and hear rain, but at the same time I enjoy the silence of reading and my own imagination. Tough call.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Since I write books that take place in space, it would be cool to have the reader view the universe through the window of a space ship or see a sunset on an alien world with five moons or something.

Chrys Fey said...

Interactive books with sound effects would be neat. Could you imagine reading a thriller ( a scene with guns) and actually hear gunshots? That would make readers feel as though they are in the character's shoes.

Have you heard about Amazon's warning system for eBooks with spelling mistakes and formatting errors? I read an article about it yesterday. I sort of split over liking it and hating it.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Thank you, Elizabeth.

Christine, I bet it will. They already know how to use phones and tablets.

Holly, it would be a completely different experience all right.

Chrys, can you imagine the reaction of the people around you if that happened? LOL I'd heard about Amazon flagging for formatting errors from Elizabeth but I didn't know that included spelling errors.

Yolanda Renee said...

I haven't figured out current technology, an interactive book, oh dear! :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I prefer to just read, but with the right book, interactive might be fun.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

I would not mind making a movie short that way (well writing it then have someone do all the technical stuff) and have it interactive. For me I love using my imagination and letting it guide me as I read the book on the page. While I respect the idea it seems kind of like reading a book and watching the movie adaptation at the same time.

cleemckenzie said...

I'm sure Germany's ruling will affect the U.S. I'll bet publisher will like it. Not sure about the apps in books, but we already have audio books, so I imagine there will be much more. Music while reading? Pop up links at certain spots to show you a related story or image or whatever. Since I'm a reader who prefers to enter a book and not be disturbed, I won't be adopting apps anytime soon.

J E Oneil said...

Interesting about the book pricing. I wonder if it's a good thing or not. The interactive book thing sounds really cool. You could do so many things with that. A whole new way to tell a story...

rhondaalbom said...

Interactive books are a great opportunity for people to really get in to a book. It reminds me of the "choose a way" style of books.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

I'm debating this with myself. What about competition to keep prices low?

Karen Lange said...

This is interesting - on both counts. Interactive books could really be fun, especially as a teaching tool. Thanks for sharing the info.

Medeia Sharif said...

Unprintable fiction sounds really cool. I look forward to it. I'm always seeing Amazon in the news about one thing or another.

nashvillecats2 said...

A most interesting and thought provoking post Diane, I have just sent my manuscripts to the publishers....not in Germany though.
Yvonne.

emaginette said...

I've been waiting for unprintable books and will definitely pick up a copy. How they are organized is my biggest question so far.

I'm glad there is somebody out there protecting the bookstores. Let's hope that continues and spreads to other countries. :-)

Anna from elements of emaginette

Robin said...

Interactive books. On the one hand, I like it. On the other, it worries me that actual books may stop being read. I just watched something on Dr. Oz about how the internet is making it difficult for people to read actual books. They don't move fast enough. Sounds like this might be a bridge that burns.

Dean K Miller said...

I would enjoy making an interactive book more than I would "reading" one. But the creative aspects of such a project is exciting.

Denise Covey said...

We're definitely living in interesting times book wise. I think interactive books are amazing, the ones I've seen are for children but I've heard about fiction for adults too. But authors claim it takes readers out of their book and off to explore wider worlds.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Is it sad that I still prefer the old fashion method of reading a book? The bells and whistles don't do anything for me. They're a distraction for my ADD brain. Plus it would take my imagination away from me as a reader. :(

Crystal Collier said...

Yeah... You just blew my mind. It would be fun to incorporate my pinterest boards, but tracking down all the rights and paying for them? Erm, no.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I must be getting really old and stuck in my ways because I cringed at the thought of too much activity, too many choices, too many distractions...when I just want to read the darned story. And as for writing, I don't want to deal with bells and whistles. I just want to write the story.

M Pax said...

Sounds expensive to produce, which would mean higher prices for the finished product. Personally, when I read, I rather just read. Maybe I'm getting old. lol For non-fiction, I think it would be amazing. Great for research.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I suppose I'd have to get with the program, but honestly, I love reading in peace and quiet. Listening to nature, rather than a recorded one. But I also know I have to keep up with technology.

Ella said...

I have mixed emotions. I like connecting my memories and imagery to the character. If done well-it will work, if too much it will ruin the experience~ Wow, so much to think about! Thanks, Diane~

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

Amazon is the biggest and richest, so they'll be attacked any chance the littler companies/peeps get.

Cherie Reich said...

A law like Germany has may help booksellers, but it's not the best for readers and authors. As a reader, I enjoy finding reasonably priced books (discounted or otherwise). Since publishers can price their own books without Amazon discounting them now, I've stopped buying quite a few of them that were priced higher than I want to spend (over $10). I'll wait to read them from the library or just never read them.

I think the idea of interactive books is very cool, although I think some types of books would work better than others.

Sarah E. Albom said...

That is so cool and interesting!

Jemi Fraser said...

That's a fascinating idea. i'd love a musical soundtrack with my stories - maybe a scent aspect too for the outdoors, the baking scenes... lots of fun ideas!

Stephen Tremp said...

Diane, interactive book apps is a hot topic and on I need to explore when I have a little more time. This post is worthy of a Tweet and a Bookmark.

Misha Gericke said...

I love the idea of an interactive story like that. Lots of possibilities there. :-)

Kathryn McKendry said...

Wow, we are definitely in an exciting time with all the new innovations. So cool to be able to experience a book with audio/visual graphics.

Maurice Mitchell said...

What a wonderfully immersive experience that would be, but one bad song could ruin everything.

Tyrean Martinson said...

I love the idea of app features - it takes my mind on a creative journey of what ifs?

Nicola said...

Having lived in Germany since 2002, I have only known books to be sold at 'proper' prices. It is part of the culture over here and the German people (the ones I know anyway) are avid readers. The book shops are always buzzing at the weekend. I think the prices protect the authors as well as the sellers. This is just from my perspective - I may be talking complete rubbish :)

As I only read English language books, I do tend to bulk buy hard copies when I visit the UK at drop down prices and of course I am forever downloading onto my Kindle.

A really interesting post! Thank you.