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Why book publishers will probably die soon

As you may have read on this blog, I recently wrote a book (in German, unfortunately), and you can order it now from everywhere, including Amazon or libri.de, and the eBook is already in the making. Since my book is available, it became obvious to me that todays book publishers will probably die soon. Here is why:

As programmer running my own software company, I'm a bit experienced in publishing my own products, and used to do marketing and selling, so it was clear for me from the beginning that I would publish that book myself, instead of waiting to get a contract with one of the big book publishers. (BTW, the german book market is the world's second biggest.) Having read somewhere that each of those publishers get sent about 300 manuscripts each day, it was obvious that I had no chance to get through anyway. But when I had most of the book written, I thought it would not do any harm to try it anyway, and send them a so-called 'exposť', including the first 30 pages of the book, as wished by most publishers.

First thing I noticed is that all publishers explicitly demand you to print out the beginning of your book and send all the pages to them. Emails will not be read or answered at all. I checked this with 8 major publishers, it was the same for all of them. Emails were not allowed. Strange. Ok, I thought. Why not. They might have a reason for that. So I printed all those pages and sent all the publishers a hardcopy of the first chapters of the book, which probably caused the death of a small tree.

After a few weeks, the first answers came in. Usually preprinted, automatic responses, where they didn't even tell me why they didn't like my book. But a bit later, I received real feedback from a few publishers: "Yes, thanks, nice book, really cool. But we don't print something like that for now." or sometimes like "Nice science fiction! But we only do this with already known authors." Stuff like that. But I was glad to get feedback at all, and apparently, my book wasn't too bad. What caught my attention was that all of those letters were hand-written. Not a single line done by a machine or a computer. Some even where corrected using Tipp-Ex.

A few months forward: My book is now available on Amazon.de, Amazon.com, all major online book stores and orderable in all real-world book stores. People are buying, reading and liking the book. As planned, I published it using a self-publishing company (BoD.de in my case), and it worked. After Amazon finally also announced their Self-Publishing service, it is obvious that this is the new big thing. Real, traditional, old book publishers are becoming unnecessary. They didn't evolve and will die. Having seen their book review process involving printing out your book and getting hand written responses, refusing the utilization of emails, it seems that they even didn't make the switch to using computers. Seeing that publishing a book without them seems to work as well nicely lets me come to the conclusion that the internet and the eBook will finally kill those dinosaurs soon.

Ah, yes: And buy my book. :)

Virtual Drums in WebGL

Kris Morf created a small, but unusual WebGL application using CopperCube. It looks like this:

You can rotate the view in 3D, and click on the individual drums in order to play them. Alternatively, you can also press the buttons 1-9 on your keyboard. It's quite fun. :) Nice to see something unusual being created with the editor.
Warning: The application needs about 10 MB to download, start it here.
As all WebGL apps created with CopperCube, it uses HTML 5 audio to play back the sounds, btw.

Merry X-Mas

After several requests, I've extended the holiday discount on some of the software on Ambiera.com by a week. So you can now still get WebsitePainter, CopperCube, irrFuscator or ImageSizeReducer for 20% off, until the 31th of this year. Maybe that's my X-Mas present for you. :)
Happy holidays!

Dear manager of irrlicht3d.org...

It's always fun if you get an email from the marketing guy of a competitor, offering you a free license of their product if you blog about it. Yeah. I could blog about their product. But they wouldn't like that article... :)

Is WebGL the future?

Since I released the first version of my free WebGL 3D library nearly a year ago, I get a lot of mails by companies and hobbyists, asking me what I think. Is WebGL the future? Or is it Flash instead? Or will it become just another dead horse, like VRML? My answer: Of course. WebGL is the future. Here is why.

Why previous attempts failed
No wonder that people keep asking this, WebGL is very new, and previous attempts like VRML or Director 3D have failed horribly. The reasons why those previous technologies failed are simple:

Why WebGL is better
WebGL isn't based on a plugin. It runs directly in the browser, and is a public standard, managed by the Khronos group. It's low level, meaning it is complicated to use for newbies, but you can do basically anything with it. For experienced programmers, it hasn't even to be learned, it's just like OpenGL ES. For these reasons, it is accepted by programmers. And although the release of it's stable 1.0 specificiation was just a few months ago, it already is available in Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari and soon in Opera. It even already runs on several mobile devices, including the iPhone. And even Microsoft's InternetExplorer isn't the show stopper anymore: using the ActiveX plugin IEWebGL, you can run your WebGL code also there. Most average users probably won't even notice they just installed that plugin, I've tried it out with CopperLicht. :)

So it's no surprise that you see programmers forums get filled more and more with WebGL questions and demos. Also the downloads of my CopperLicht library are getting more and more. More and more companies seem to be interested in my WebGL editor CopperCube. And even Adobe seems to plan for the near death of Flash, although they recently released a (surprisingly nice) 3D API for their flash player: They are working on HTML5 tools now, and already killed off Flash for mobile devices.

Of course, WebGL isn't at all perfect. Best example: Compared to native execution, its performance still sucks. It is limited by the dynamic nature of JavaScript. The current browsers do a great job of optimizing this already, but because of how JavaScript is designed, it won't get much faster anymore. Adding static typed elements to the language like they did in a small attempt with typed arrays is a small step into the right direction.
Also, from the view of a web programmer with just a bit PHP and JavaScript knowledge, WebGL appears to be very complicated. That's why you will read a lot of "WebGL sucks" comments on forums. Well, WebGL is targeted at real programmers, so if you just need to click stuff for a website together, you can either use a WebGL editor, or use one of the many available JavaScript 3D libraries, which are simplifying and abstracting WebGL a lot.

So all in all: WebGL appears to stay. It's a great technology and will be used. Just as with all new technology, it just needs a bit of time to get people used to it.

Ambiera Holiday Discount - 20% off

It has already become tradition, so as in the end of every year, I'm offering a discount on some of my software products. This year you will get a -20% discount on the products WebsitePainter, CopperCube, irrFuscator and ImageSizeReducer.

Just use the discount code ENDOF2011 on the order page. The offer expires on the 24th of December. Happy xmas :)

Irrlicht Book giveaway over

I know, the giveaway for the Irrlicht 1.7 Realtime 3D Engine Beginner's Guide is over now, and I hope packtpublishing will send the winners their books. I've contacted them about it but haven't heard back from them for a week now. So just let me know if you haven't received your book.

If Quake was done today

What if Quake was done today? I really can fell the pain of the author of this video:

There is also a What if Doom was done today, but I like the quake one much better.

First impressions after the release of my book

A few days are now gone since my book 'Die Wiederentdeckung der Erde' has been published (get it here from Amazon or from libri.de), and I already received some feedback. Surprisingly, all feedback is very positive, and all people who read the book (and who contacted me) appeared to have liked it. This is quite a contrast to the feedback I'm used to, the first comments you read about your newly released software or game are usually quite negative. It's easier to tell people about what you don't like, after all.

Not to mention that I am also quite glad that there are people who bought the book at all. So if some of them are readers of this blog: Thank you very much!

By the way, although my book is written in german, you can even order it in book shops and online shops of the USA, Great Britain and Canada as well, since a few days. Try for example from amazon.com. If you are in Germany or Austria, getting it from amazon.de is faster, although they still claim they don't have it in stock. Must be kind of a bug. Amazon was also the last online shop to display the cover of the book at all, I wonder why they are still the market leader :)

Occupy Frankfurt

This is a picture I took yesterday in Frankfurt, in front of the European Central Bank:

It's Occupy Frankfurt, a sad little tent camp around the euro symbol (the yellow blue thing on the right). Compared to the massive towers of the banks around in the city, this occupy movement looks like a funny little joke. If you see this in real, your immediate thought is that they won't achieve anything at all. Not if they somehow manage to piss some of those politicans and bankers off. I don't have the feeling that sitting there in the rain, camping, doing nothing but discussing will cause some change...

The DVD box that wasn't one

A few weeks ago I learned of the existence of The Walking Dead, a television series with the following story line: Zombies.
Woha. Additionally, it seems to be based on a comic book, so it sounded quite interesting to me. So a few days ago, I went into a local DVD shop and to my surprise, The Walking Dead was already available! Even here in Austria. Quite unusual. So I bought it, and wanted to watch it yesterday.
It didn't work. Unfortunately at closer inspection, the box containing the series wasn't a DVD box. It was a blue ray disc set. To my shame I hadn't noticed this at all when buying. After looking at the box again, it wasn't surprising: There is no f*cking Blueray logo on the box. Only on the side, there is a tiny, nearly hidden logo at the bottom. Not sure if they did this intentionally, but it really sucks.
I don't own a blue ray player. And I'm not planning to buy one. Especially not after I somehow feel a bit tricked into buying a blue-ray disk. Grml.