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Monday, July 28 2014 @ 03:30 PM CDT

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Adventures in Self-Publishing: Google Pulls the Plug on its Indie Bookstore Reseller Program

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Have you discovered The Alexandria Project?

In a blow to diversity and independence in book publishing and distribution, Google announced yesterday that it will discontinue its partnering portal with independent bookstores next January (reproduced in full at the end of this blog entry). Despite the fact that the program was only six months old and had already signed up 16 reseller partners around the world, representing thousands of bookstores, Google concluded that the reseller program “had not gained the traction that we hoped it would.” 

The impetus for the unusually rapid decision may presumably be found in Google’s announcement on Tuesday that it will combine all of its currently separate, media-specific storefronts (e.g., books, apps, etc.) into the single iTunes-like outlet it calls Google Play.
 
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The Global Knock-on Effects of China’s Home-Grown Standards Preferences

China

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Forbidden City Imperial Guardian Lions, Courtesy of Allen Timothy Chang/Wikimedia Commons - GNU Free Documentation License 1.2 +For years now, China has annually invested hundreds of millions of dollars in developing and implementing a sophisticated IT standards strategy. That strategy is intended to advance a variety of national interests, most obviously to enable Chinese manufacturers to retain a larger share of domestic market sales, and gain a larger and higher margin share of global sales.  But there are other motivations at work as well, one of which ensuring that Chinese authorities can keep a close watch on the Chinese people. 

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The Lafayette Deception, Chap. 13: What Goes Around (can come back and bite you)

Lafayette Deception (a Cyber Thriller)

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Westfälisches Museum für Naturkunde (Münster), feathered headdress of the Sioux - Courtesy Wikimedia Commons/GNU Free Documentation LicenseFirst the engine of the minibus died, and then the lights. In the sudden darkness, Frank’s light-bedazzled eyes could see nothing, leaving him temporarily immobilized. He heard the door to the VW open and close quietly. And then, a quiet voice from a shadowy figure by his side.
“Hello, Frank. How have you been?”
“Fine. And you?”
He heard a familiar, musical laugh. “I suppose I have some explaining to do, yes?”
“Yes, Josette, I suppose you do.”

 

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Adventures in Self-Publishing, Chap. 13: The Future of Writing and Publishing

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Have you discovered The Alexandria Project?

Wiki Wine Bottle, courtesy Nevit Dilmen/Wikimedia CommonsAbout two weeks ago I interrupted my current cybersecurity thriller series to post an essay I titled Intermission: The High Cost of Free. It could as easily have been posted as part of this series, but I wanted to make a point to the readers of that series. If you’re planning on self-publishing a book and haven’t read that piece yet, I believe that it would be worth your while to do so.

That post generated some interesting responses, some appearing as public comments and others arriving by email.  Two struck me as being particularly relevant to this series, because they suggest the goal posts between which the future of writing and publishing is likely to lie.

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The Lafayette Deception, Chap. 12: In-tro-du-cing the Next President of the United States!

Lafayette Deception (a Cyber Thriller)

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Cigar label, c. 1868 - Courtesy Thoma Ruefner/WikipediaFrank closed the back door of his camper behind him and peered carefully around its corner. There had been no room for a vehicle his size in the motel’s main lot when he arrived, so he’d found it necessary to park in an overflow lot beyond the pool area. Only a few cars and pickup trucks shared the lot with him now, one of which must hold the person who was helping himself to Frank’s wireless connection.

But no one could be seen in any of the vehicles nearby. Some were at odd angles, though, and the faint glow of a laptop might not be visible, especially if someone was being careful to avoid detection. He’d have to walk around the lot and try to get a better angle to tell for sure. Suddenly he felt insecure; how many of those pickup trucks had gun racks in their cabs, he wondered? Maybe it wasn’t so important after all to know who the hacker was. 

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Interoperability, Standards and Market Power

Open Source/Open Standards

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Flag of Europe, Courtesy WikipediaYesterday the European Commission issued a brief press release (reproduced below) announcing that it has opened a formal investigation:
 
...to assess whether The MathWorks Inc., a U.S.-based software company, has distorted competition in the market for the design of commercial control systems by preventing competitors from achieving interoperability with its products.
 
The press release states that the investigation was triggered by a complaint, but does not disclose which company alleged that it had been denied a license for reverse-engineering purposes.
 
This latest investigation arises in the context of a broad array of litigation, investigations and policy announcements in the EU focusing on the importance of standards in achieving interoperability, principally involving mobile device manufacturers and technology owners, such as Motorola Mobility and Samsung. It also highlights the different strategies that dominant companies may adopt in relation to market demands for interoperability, and also the divergent positions that U.S. and EU regulators sometimes take in response.
 

 

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The Lafayette Deception, Chap. 11: I Guess I've Just Got to be Frank with You

Lafayette Deception (a Cyber Thriller)

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Okay, so maybe you haven't bought my book.  But that's not Frank's fault, so I couldn't just leave him stranded in the midwest, could I?

Courtesy WikipediaFrank shook his head in disbelief as he turned his radio off. Who could have predicted that talking heads on the evening news would ever look to Fidel Castro to provide a cogent assessment of an American primary season? Frank might be having a hard time starting a non-fiction book about cybersecurity, but thank goodness he hadn’t set out to write a satire about this bizarre election season. How would you parody a parody? All you could do would be to quote the actual candidates. Anyway, that wasn’t his problem.

What he was wrestling with at the moment was what to do when he got to Iowa. Heading to where the political action was had seemed like a great idea when he first turned east. It wasn’t until he crossed into Colorado that it occurred to him that a caucus state would offer next to no opportunities for a hacker to corrupt the voting results.

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Adventures in Self-Publishing, Chap. 12: What I Learned Along the Way

Adventures in Self-Publishing

Have you discovered The Alexandria Project?

This series highlights aspects of my experience self-publishing The Alexandria Project.   If you'd like to read the book this series is based on, you can read the first three chapters for free here (just click on the cover of the book). And you can read a new chapter of its sequel every Monday here. 

Greek coin with image of Janus, Courtesy Wikimedia CommonsWe’ve now gone through all the steps of self-publishing a book, so this week is summing up time: I’ll try and pull together the most important things I learned along the way, and especially those that I wished I’d known before I started. I hope to revise, expand and then self-publish this series at some point, just for the experience of doing a book entirely on my own, without a POD publisher. If so, you can expect to see more chapters pop up here from time to time as I work my way through that process.
 
So where to begin? Might as well go straight to the bottom line - or lines, in this case.

 

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Everything You Always Wanted to Know About FRAND (But didn’t know who to ask)

Open Source/Open Standards

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The acronym “FRAND” is very much in the news today, and with good reason. The battle to control, or at least share in the bounty, of the mobile marketplace has motivated technology leviathans like Google, Samsung, Microsoft and Apple to bring every tool and weapon to the fore in order to avoid being left in the dust. So intense is the competition that not only standards, but the finer details relating to the pledging of patents to facilitate the implementation of standards, have become the subject of headlines in the technology press.
 
The purpose of this blog post is not to report on the skirmishing that is still ongoing, but to peel off and explain the multiple layers of nuance and tactical opportunity that underlie the seemingly simple concept of “FRAND.” How many layers? Let’s just say that you may lose count before we cover everything you need to know to make sense out of what is really going on behind the scenes.
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The Lafayette Deception - Intermission: The High Price of "Free"

Lafayette Deception (a Cyber Thriller)

Have you discovered The Alexandria Project?

Welcome to the sequel to The Alexandria Project, a cybersecurity thriller.  If you'd like to read the book this series is based on, you can read the first three chapters for free here (just click on the cover of the book). You can read a new chapter of The Lafayette Deception here every Monday.

Think_About_Balance, courtesy of  ikaxer/Wikimedia Commons, GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later versionAs you may have noticed, last Monday passed without my posting a new chapter of The Lafayette Deception. I’d like to explain why, and also invite you to reflect on the role that the consumer of creative work will play in the future of writing.

The fundamental question comes down to this: will writers be able to make a living in the future from their craft, and if not, what will the quality and variety of writing be like?