[-empyre-] OSW: open source writing in the network

adam adam at flossmanuals.net
Fri Jan 13 21:03:23 EST 2012

I think you are making some huge assumptions about the economics of book 
production. First - the vast majority of authors under the current 
dominant model of publishing *dont* make any money. Authors do it for 
the chance to make money, and they do it for the profile. So there is no 
monster financial industry that is pouring money into culture workers, 
they are pouring money into book production and distribution.

Secondly, it is reported that ebook sales are going through the roof. 
Amazon has reported that ebooks are the most popular book format 
Ebooks have lower costs for production, infact you can more or less say 
that producing an EPUB (a very popular and open 'almost standard' for 
ebooks) costs nothing. Find the right software and its done in minutes. 
This puts *very* profitable publishing in the path of open publishing.

Lastly models for becoming profitable are changing. The biggest shift I 
see is to put the money at the front of the production cycle instead of 
at the end. There are platforms like Unbound (http://www.unbound.co.uk/) 
that are giving this a go, and many successful examples in Kickstarter:


The above example is a fiction being funded at $14,000 before it was 
produced. In a blog post on Creative Commons the author states:

"I think the most important thing about a book is not actually the book. 
Instead, it’s the people who have assembled around it. It’s everyone 
who’s ever read it, and everyone who’s ever re- or misappropriated it. 
It’s everyone who’s ever pressed it into someone else’s hands [...] it’s 
that group of people that makes a book viable, both commercially and 
culturally. And without them — all alone, with only its author behind it 
— a book is D.O.A."

Thats a pretty good argument from the inside of fringe cultural 
production that it *doesnt need* the publishing industry. He also goes 
on to explain secondary economies he is trying to generate from the book.

Also you may wish to look here at more funded projects:

The above is a list of very well funded books (85,000 USD being the top 
earner) that demonstrate a model we can all participate in as cultural 

Kickstarter approaches have their issues, but I think there are many 
people, orgs, and companies that want books produced and have the $ and 
motivation to pay for them to be produced.


On 01/12/2012 06:40 PM, Dmytri Kleiner wrote:
> Definitely Simon. But as mentioned, this is only a tiny fringe. A small
> percentage of the total number of cultural workers, who are are
> currently working for the capitalist cultural industry.
> Thus, within Capitalism, our social capacity for the production of open
> works will always be tiny in comparison to our social capacity for
> "closed" works. Is this what we mean by "There is no disconnect?"...
> that out of the entire body of our cultural productive forces, a small
> minority is able to exist as open producers on the fringes of
> capitalism? If this is the limit of our ambition, than "Free Cultural"
> is nothing more than a sort of lumpen proletariat in the cultural field.
> And end even within this meagre ambition of maintaing an "open"
> subcultural fringe, there is still a "disconnect" with capitalism since
> not only will capital not fund open works, but the logic of capital
> conflicts with open practice in the space of what they perceive as their
> rightful consumer market, as we have seen in the persecution of artists
> such as John Oswald, Negitvland, DJ Dangermouse, and many others, not to
> mention the war on file sharing, etc.
> Is Free Culture content to be a beleaguered, insular, fringe? Or is Free
> Culture meant to be a critique of our curent cultural industries? Does
> it aim only for it's own meagre existence? Or does it aim for the
> transformation of cultural production? If the answer is the later, than
> this ambition can not be reconciled with capitalism.
> Or is Free Culture simply proposing the elimination of the popular
> cultural industries and a massive descaling of cultural production and
> employment? Even this is jousting a windmills. Capitalism will not
> accept the argument that they should just chill out and abandoned
> copyright because the culture they make sucks anyway, and that we can
> make better works with the free time of dilettantes, studends and hobyists.
> If this our position? Scrap big culture? Personally, like I suspect many
> on list, I generally prefer more experimental and independent cultural
> works and wouldn't really mis Hollywood and friends. But make no
> mistake, understand that in taking such a position we are operating
> without the solidarity of the vast majority of cultural consumers and
> against the interests of the vast majority of people employed in the
> cultural industries. Which means such a position has no social power, no
> political power and no relevancy what so ever.
> Best,
> On 12.01.2012 18:12, Simon Biggs wrote:
>> This question of who pays for the writers to write isn't very
>> different as to who pays for artists. Many net artists receive no
>> payment for their work but they put their work in the public realm for
>> nothing anyway. Some artists in other media also work this way. Many
>> such artists do not look to their work to generate income directly but
>> indirectly - eg: having work in the public realm raises their profile
>> and they get museum shows and fees for that. Then they get tenured
>> academic positions in art schools because of their shows, etc... This
>> economic model has something in common with the software developer
>> model you mentioned Dmytri.
>> best
>> Simon
>> On 12 Jan 2012, at 16:56, Dmytri Kleiner wrote:
>>> On 12.01.2012 17:26, adam wrote:
>>>> Well I think the open source ethic is well aligned with capitalism.
>>>> There is no disconnect there.
>>> Yet, software has different economics than cultural works. Open
>>> Source developers are paid by organisations that employ such software
>>> in production, and thus the availability of open source packages
>>> reduces their production costs, allowing them to retain more earnings.
>>> The same situation occurs only infrequently when it comes to books,
>>> there may be situations where it does, i.e. reference books or
>>> documentation. I can see these being supported by organisations that
>>> are consumers of such works, but not much else.
>>> So, if capital will not pay creators of open works. Who will? No
>>> doubt, some fringe can be maintained by cultural grants and simular
>>> social funds, and a wider fringe can maintain itself by working for
>>> free and earning subsistence elsewhere (or simply being rich to begin
>>> with), yet this says nothing of the great majority of books, read by
>>> millions, produced today by the capitalist industry, which offers no
>>> way to make these open books.
>>> Best,
>>> --
>>> Dmytri Kleiner
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> empyre forum
>>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
>> Simon Biggs
>> simon at littlepig.org.uk http://www.littlepig.org.uk/ @SimonBiggsUK
>> skype: simonbiggsuk
>> s.biggs at ed.ac.uk Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh
>> http://www.eca.ac.uk/circle/ http://www.elmcip.net/
>> http://www.movingtargets.co.uk/
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre


Adam Hyde
Founder, FLOSS Manuals
Project Manager, Booki
Book Sprint Facilitator
mobile :+ 49 177 4935122
identi.ca : @eset
booki.flossmanuals.net : @adam


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