August 2010

The limiting nature of limited editions

by Suw on August 17, 2010

We live in a world of abundance, a fact which scares silly anyone whose business relies on scarcity. Predictably, we now frequently see attempts to recreate scarcity, many of which are absurd (cf. most newspaper efforts) and some of which are smart.

The use of limited editions to create a desirable object available for only a short period is, in my opinion, a smart move. When it comes to content, we are swamped by choice. Something needs to make objects like books, CDs and movies special enough for us to take a punt and buy them. It ceases to be simply about the story or the music or the film, but also about its form. So I’m totally up for limited editions. It is, in effect, what I’m doing with Argleton.

But limiting editions does not mean you have to limit access to the source material. Indeed, limiting access to the content, rather than just the object, is counterproductive as it prevents new fans from experiencing your work and reduces the number of people who eagerly await your next release.

UPDATE: What was going to be my case in point, Ted Chiang’s The Lifecycle of Software, has now instead become proof that if your shop design sucks, people will think things are sold out when they aren’t. The limited edition is sold out, the trade edition isn’t. *headdesk* So, er, slightly truncated blog post due to inability to comprehend Subterranean Press’s UX. Sorry about that.

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Interesting North & Eyjafjallajökull

by Suw on August 17, 2010

I’m going up to Sheffield in November to speak at Interesting North, a day-long conference where people talk about their passions (rather than their work). I, for one, will be going way off piste:

Suw is a writer, collaboration strategist and lapsed geologist.

Earlier this year she followed, in considerable detail, the exploits of Eyjafjallajökull, The Little Volcano Who Could (Close Airports Around Europe On A Whim). Part of a community of vulcanologists and lay enthusiasts, she watched for earthquake swarms, monitored live webcams, and attempted to interpret interesting yellow blobs on the volcano’s infrared cam.

For your delight and delectation, Suw will be attempting to pronounce Eyjafjallajökull live on stage, as well as pointing out some of the more interesting aspects of the eruption.

Sound like fun? Then get your tickets before they sell out!


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Sean Cregan (aka John Rickards, Mr Nameless Horror) and I had a chat on Friday afternoon on Skype about his book, The Levels, which came out yesterday in paperback.

Sean describes The Levels as “Cyberpunk without the cyber”, and it’s somewhere roughly in the thriller genre. It’s not the sort of book I think I would have picked up by myself but Sean sent me a copy, so I read it and I loved it. (Particularly a bit at the end which I shan’t go into detail about because I don’t want to ruin it for you!)

In our chat, we talked about the world of The Levels, underground tunnel networks, over-researched books, Dan Simmon’s The Terror, the film Split Second, how important it is to give a shit about characters, the sequel to The Levels which is called The Razor Gate, the final scene in The Levels (a masterstroke, I must say), Sean/John’s earlier books written for Penguin, how The Levels is more the sort of thing that Sean wants to read himself, Sean’s last ‘real’ job, Creative Commons, comparisons to the [free] music industry, VAST,  Nine Inch Nails, Kickstarter, micropatronage, distribution, economies and diseconomies of scale, status of The Razor Gate, side projects, where the name Sean Cregan came from (great story!), serial bigamists and ‘marriers’ and Larry King.

Please excuse the slightly squiffy audio quality, the rattle of typing and what sounds like seagulls (but which could, I suppose, simply be very loud kittens) in the background. I’ve tried to cut out the worst of the Skype-induced silences, but there are still times Sean sounds like a Dalek broadcasting over AM. Sorry!


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Art Space Tokyo and Kickstarter

by Suw on August 1, 2010

Great piece by Craig Mod about using Kickstarter as seed capital to not only ?fund a book, ?Art Space Tokyo, but also start a publishing think tank, PRE/POST. The essay is most comprehensive – with graphs! – and anyone interested in using Kickstarter to raise money should read it. I hope to be able to write something equally as detailed when my project is over!

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