Posted in Knitting
October 21, 2005

Book publishing in the 21st century

I’m on a number of mailing lists for knitting designers and authors, and I read every news article I can get my hands on when it comes to fair use, copyright and all the other interesting publishing-related tidbits out there.

The lawsuit filed by 5 major publishers against GooglePrint is really stupid.

I wish I could express that concept in more elegant terms, but that’s about as clear as it gets. It’s stupid. And I think that my fellow knitting authors probably have a lot to say about it, more so than the general reading and writing public.

With Knitty, MagKnits and all the other free sources of knitting patterns and information in there, why bother to publish knitting books? After all, you could just find a pattern on Google, right? Wrong. I like to think that my books, including Knitgrrl and three others in the pipeline, add a little something extra. The painstakingly-photographed step by step instructions, the cool illustrations, the stuff other knitting books don’t have…

GooglePrint is not going to take that away from me. Amazon’s “Inside The Book” feature doesn’t, either. In fact, if even just one online browser can peek inside a few pages of my books and see how cool they are, that might be the deciding factor between buying my book or buying somethng else. It’s like paging through books at Borders. Unless you’re prepared to shrinkwrap every single book, it’s hypocritical.

To put it in knitting terms: there’s no point in publishing a garter stitch scarf pattern, right? If you can knit, you can do garter stitch, and so it’s stupid for me to publish a “pattern” for it in a book. (I say this only half-jokingly, having just written something about plain garter stitch scarves in one of my new books). But what if I added some new content to that basic pattern — something no one else has demonstrated with such a basic staple of every knitter’s “vocabulary.” I think there would be a market for that. GooglePrint would allow the reader a few glimpses into the book, to determine if there’s that something extra to be had…the something extra that makes it worth the reader’s time to buy it, or find it at the library. And in the process, more readers have a chance to find the author’s other books, too. What’s not to love?

GooglePrint aren’t even giving away as much as knitting designers do when they include a free pattern on their website — they’re showing the equivalent of a few pattern lines to the reader, not the entire text. And even though it’s controversial, giving away patterns seems to lead to more paying customers for many of the designers who do it. As long as authors are given the chance to opt out of offering any of their book(s) on GooglePrint, then I see no reason for those of us who think it’s a good idea to be prevented from offering up our material.

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1 comment

  • Cathy

    Totally agree. I buy so much more on the Internet because I get the chance to look first…or listen first. It may not be good business for big businesses, but small businesses, whether independent musicians or knitting authors are far better off letting potential customers first have a good taste of what they will be purchasing.

    Reply to Cathy

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