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Friday, June 9th, 2006

Is it Friday already? And I was just getting started.

God, what a week. I didn't get nearly enough done, but that's par for the course.

Now I'll respond to some of the posts.

Re E-books and comics. I totally understand how converting all text into digital information is inevitable and will help immensely regarding research and text books. Go for it, tekkies. But novels? Biographies? Poetry? Not gonna happen. And publishers that continue to invest in the idea are throwing good money after bad. E-comic? Not my thing at all, though I understand that's the only viable option for some cartoonists. Though I sort of look at it like I look at musicians playing in the subway, which is: "If you're any good, why are you playing in the subway?"

Re the "C-bomb," look — I hate that word too and rarely use it. But the thing is I HATE that woman, so it seemed entirely appropriate. Plus it was a pun on her name (a silly one, yes, but that's what puns are for). I also agree with the "we're all grown-ups" line. I think profanity is like Tabasco. If you use just enough of it at just the right time, it makes things much more interesting.

Re Updike and Terrorist, here's my two cents: this book is taking a serious drubbing in most of the reviews I've read and does NOT deserve it. I thought it was utterly engrossing and convincing. Plus the fact that it's all new territory for him. He really pushes himself in ways few writers do anymore. When is somebody going to wise up and give this man the Nobel Prize? Please, please give this book a try. It deserves to be a vital part of the National

Completely changing the subject, I'd like to acknowlege the amazing Vertical Inc, a publisher I've worked with for several years now. If you aren't familiar with their stuff you should really check them out. They specialize in translations of Japanese books, mostly fiction. Volume One of Osamu Tezuka's epic graphic novel of the life of the Buddha is just out now and is a MUST READ. Seriously. No matter who you are.

Lastly, for anyone who's reading this in NYC (fat chance, I know) I'll be signing tomorrow (Saturday June 10) at the MoCCA Festival at the Puck Building on Houston and Lafayette St. in Soho. From noon to one. This is a really great independent comics show that has grown considerably over the years. It's kind of like San Diego Comic-Con without any mainstream element (not that I have anything against that, God knows, but if you've ever been to Comi-Con in SD you know that all that stuff tends to take over). Anyway, please come by and say Hi. I know that no one is going to show up to see me, and that will force me to become sad.

Many thanks to all at Powell's for roping me into this. If I ever get my fucking second novel written, I hope to go on tour and read at your sensational store again. And thanks to all who posted. Especially Art, for whom I drew a big fat floppy penis and didn't even know it was for him. Yes, Art, that is a self-portrait (yay!). I'm a lousy draftsman, but it seems the only things I can draw with any residue of skill are penises and Batman. I don't go to a psychiatrist, but if I did I'll bet we could talk about that for weeks and weeks. But that would cost me a fortune, and in the end all we would ultimately conclude is that I really, really like penises and Batman. And I already know that.

For anyone who cares, I'll be updating my website soon, featuring an archive of all the jackets (very long in the planning). Hopefully within the next month.


Cheep Keed says read read read!!!!

÷ ÷ ÷

Chip Kidd is a designer/writer in New York City. His book cover designs for Alfred A. Knopf, where he has worked nonstop since 1986, have helped create a revolution in the art of American book packaging. Kidd has published two novels, The Cheese Monkeys and The Learners, and is also the author of Batman: Death by Design and the coauthor and designer of True Prep, the sequel to the beloved Official Preppy Handbook. His 2012 TED Talk has been viewed 1.2 million times and is cited as one of the "funniest of the year." He is most recently the author of the bestselling Go: A Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design, and the new book Judge This.

Books mentioned in this post

Chip Kidd is the author of Judge This

4 Responses to "Friday, June 9th, 2006"

    little dee June 14th, 2006 at 1:46 pm

    Hello Mr. Kidd, I wish you could have talked some more about your work life. I'm the manager here in the design dept at Duke University Press, and we'd all be quite interested in that topic. Don't people ever get mad at you, or make you do dumb things, or yell at you when you are late with stuff? Just wondering.

    Michael Z. Williamson June 15th, 2006 at 8:37 am

    "But novels? Biographies? Poetry? Not gonna happen. And publishers that continue to invest in the idea are throwing good money after bad."

    That's odd, because my first novel is now free online, along with several hundred others from Baen Books, and I still got a respectable royalty check last month.

    All four of my Baen titles are available electronically for a small fee through Baen's Webscriptions, and I continue to get better royalties on those than on my three HarperCollins titles, with their "Private! No giving away content! Character names are secret!" attitude.

    It's also working for at least one major textbook publisher.

    Maybe it's "not gonna happen" for people who try to treat ebooks as paper books--I can't imagine why anyone would pay $25 for a download, after paying for decryption software, knowing that at those prices it's likely the whole mess will self destruct in a few weeks. Especially when the publisher's additional investment in ebooks amounts to a few hours programming time at best, and the author's going to see pennies.

    However, a $5 download that's a 50/50 split with author and publisher and isn't encrypted (in fact, Baen makes them available in several formats, including Word .docs) is a much easier sell.

    And I gave up reading paper comics because, frankly, they suck. How many sleepwalking Dagwood sandwich scenes do we need? I find such diversions as schlockmercenary.com and evil-comic.com to be much more relevant and funny (Schlock's been online for 6 years, and Howard Tayler gave up a lucrative job at Novell to pursue it full time). And the artists certainly are making money, as well as selling bound books. The same slam was offered about independent comics a couple of decades ago--if they were good, they'd sign on to be part of Marvel's mindless drivel.

    Still, I suppose for social conservatives bent on worshipping the 1950s as the glory years, both paper comics and staid, line arted hardcovers are the only real forms of litrachoor.

    Just like those wonderful, balconied theaters are the only real entertainment. TV never caught on, either.

    Meanwhile, I'm selling in hardcover, paper, electronic formats and I'm not opposed to audio if some operation wants to exploit me with a check.

    Dave Robinson June 15th, 2006 at 11:18 am

    I'm on the other side of the check-writing line. I've bought some of Mike Williamson's books in both paper and electronic format. In fact, I've spent two or three hundred dollars on electronic format fiction this year alone.

    I will admit though, I buy from Baen, and from Fictionwise (which has fairly similar prices). I almost never buy anything from Harper Collins though, and certainly not their over-priced electrons.

    Christopher David Fey June 15th, 2006 at 12:49 pm

    And don't just think it's a right wing nutjob that's doing it. (Although Mike is a pagan libertarian so don't pigeonhole him). Eric Flint, a card carrying agitator and former union activist turned author does it, and makes a far living off it.

    Let alone someone like Jerry and Mike and penny-arcade.com The two of them can't do daily print because of their liberal swearing. Both of them are making a very nice living. The last few years they've used their fan community to raise over 600,000 USD for children's hospitals.

    Or Pete Abrams, creator of Sluggy Freelance. Or Fred at Megatokyo. Many webcomic creators are using it as a spring board, but not to newspaper strips or a comic book. Many are bringing back the serial story format that has been dead for quite a while, while others do political and timely pieces. Webcomic merchandise and online advertising are actually able to pay the bills for many of these artists.

    The good ones end up getting book deals or something further. Control Alt Delete is now becoming an animated series. Real Life and Penny Arcade, among others do comics on commission. While it varies what they do, Real Life for example just makes comics for a swords online wholesaler, while Penny Arcade creates commissioned works mostly as promotional material for major gaming companies, such as Blizzard or Ubisoft.

    The mediums don't have to be restricted to one venue. And even if it does new distribution methods can work quite well. Many of these new authors in the webcomic field are not full time professional artists, or didn't intend to be. Many did it as a creative outlet, a comic they had the idea of that they used as a form of relaxation. Darren Bleuel, founded keenspot as a way to host webcomics and keep a number of comics going sharing hosting costs and profits from ads. Darren was at the time a Ph D candidate in Nuclear Engineering, and is now working as a post-doc at a national lab.

    There's a large amount of webcomics that made it big. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_webcomics_in_print is just a partial listing. Most of these people can now get other deals, but they like the distribution method.

    And back to ebooks. I've spent about $500 dollars on ebooks, mostly Baen ebooks, as I enjoy their Authors. Most books were 5 dollars, and I've saved such a large amount of money buying them in E format it's not funny. Let alone being able to buy ARCs now legally from the company direct at a price that's still 15 dollars cheaper than Powell's. (Although Powell's has a horrible selection of milscifi). The best example is At All Costs, the last book in the NYTs Best Selling Honor Harrington novels by David Weber. It was available in E-ARC format with unrestricted DRM for 15 dollars about 4 or 5 months before the first hardback at around 30 dollars came out.

    It might not be your thing, but if the DRM is handled well, Ebooks and ecomics can and do prosper.

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