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Beth Cox Report: February 2017

One adjective I've seen used more and more often to describe the postmodern economy, including and especially the publishing trade, is "democratized".

In the context of an industry, "democratized" doesn't mean that the industry has elected leaders. It means that the industry is more open to the general public than ever before. Financial barriers to entry have been eroded by modern technology, and industry gatekeepers are increasingly irrelevant (unless mandated by law).

Uber and Lyft have democratized the urban transportation industry, allowing just about anyone with a car to become a cabbie. Airbnb has democratized the hotel industry, allowing anyone with a mattress to provide travelers with a place to stay.

What does a democratized writing and publishing industry look like? It's a field where the costs of publishing digitally are so low that anyone can make their ebook available worldwide with the click of a button. Audiobooks no longer have to be "printed" on expensive CDs and can be distributed in MP3 format to anyone with a portable MP3 device. Anyone with enough computer savvy to use software like GameMaker (which is a MUCH lower hurdle to clear than learning how to program from scratch!) can create an indie video game in their spare time and digitally distribute it to the general public.

Book publicity and promotion are more democratized than ever before. While professional publicists are here to stay, and potentially invaluable, some indie authors take the DIY approach to getting the word out about their books.

With the advent of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, also known as the DMCA, copyright protection is also democratized, at least in the USA. If someone uses the Internet to infringe copyright, then indie authors, small publishers, or video content creators do not need to hire an expensive lawyer to get offending material taken down. Anyone can submit a legitimate DMCA claim to quickly and easily assert ownership of their own material.

I have even seen "DMCA" informally used as a verb to describe this process, as in, "I DMCA'd his YouTube video because he used material from my stream in it without my consent."

(As an aside, I would like to share an excellent infographic about copyright infringement

This infographic specifically focuses on digital images, such as the images than are used to create ebook covers, but it's up-to-date and easy to understand.)

Just this month, I added a link to Hummingbird Digital Media to the "Ebooks" section of the MBR website

They're a service that allows users to sell their ebooks and digital audiobooks with no up-front fees - just a share of the revenue whenever digital copies or sold. They proudly describe themselves with the statement, "We're democratizing e-book and audiobook retailing."

I have not used Hummingbird Digital Media personally (my job is to review books, not write them), but their very existence strips away one of the more imposing financial barriers to entry in the writing and publishing trade.

Now for February's Link of the Month, which is also democratizing something that used to be done only by the movie industry, or by the biggest publishing houses for their most lucrative properties. It's Brilliant Book Trailers

an online business designed to create brief, professional-quality video trailers to advertise one's book. I should mention as a disclaimer that Don Sloan of Brilliant Book Trailers is a volunteer reviewer for the MBR; his reviews appear regularly in the "Reviewer's Bookwatch".

Finally, February's Book of the Month is actually a sneak preview from our forthcoming March issue of the Library Bookwatch:

How To Make It in the New Music Business
Ari Herstand, author
Read by Ari Herstand with Derek Silvers
Highbridge Audio Books
270 Skip Jack Road, Prince Frederick, MD 20678
9781681683348 $39.99

The music business of today is radically transformed from what it used to be a generation ago. The rise of digital music, streaming, and online videos has made the music trade more democratized, more "Do-It-Yourself" than ever before. How To Make It in the New Music Business is the unabridged audiobook rendition of singer/songwriter Ari Herstand's guide to navigating the new path to a lifelong music career. From how to route a tour and negotiate contracts, to getting paid for Spotify and Pandora plays, to licensing music for commercials and television, and much more, How To Make It in the New Music Business lives up to its title. An absolute "must-have" for anyone aspiring to create music for a living, How To Make It in the New Music Business is highly recommended. 12 CDs, 14.5 hours.

That's all for the February 2017 Beth Cox Report. I don't like short months - they give me fewer days to do a full month's work!

Bethany Cox
Managing Editor
The Midwest Book Review

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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