Camen Design

An Open Blog of Thoughts

“Insert Coin Here”. There are times like now when I wish there were an easy way to insert coins into websites. Right now, it stinks. The process of paying on the web is utterly convoluted and hostile. Why do I say this? Because I've been turning over in my mind ideas on how to earn a buck from my work in a way that is a. within my ethics, b. simple to manage and maintain and c. right for my audience (which I class as myself). This blog post is going to be an open thought process that wouldn’t itself normally be the content of a blog post; it isn’t an announcement of any sort.

Because there is no simple structure in my mind to “pay for a webpage” what do web authors do when they want to make money out of the web? They write a book of course! They revert to the old dead-wood technology because there’s a way to pay for it that’s easier than paying for the new technology. This is what has always steered me away from writing a book; I write HTML and CSS and I do it well and I have made a craft of it, why then do I have to revert to a format that is opaque, obtuse and inflexible compared to the web? You see, a PDF is not as good as a web page. It lacks a good viewer, it lacks mashability, it lacks all flexibility for the end user to decide how they want to read it.

Empty your mind, be formless… shapeless, like water.
If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup.
You put water into a bottle; it becomes the bottle.
You put it into a teapot; it becomes the teapot.
Water can flow, or it can crash. Be water, my friend

Bruce Lee

The web is like water. You put the web into a phone, it becomes the phone. You put it into a tablet, it becomes the tablet. Therefore, if you put the web into a book, it becomes the book? No, not at least in my experience. In what I have used with ebooks thus far, they are as obtuse as PDFs. E-readers and ebook software is hopelessly archaic but worst of all: half-arsed. Reading ebooks right now feels like I'm browsing the web with Netscape 2.0 or IE3. It’s clunky and lacks finesse.

Writing markup for ebook readers feels like committing sin. In a world of HTML5, ebooks feel like cHTML. I was once looking at the blogs-for-Kindle service on Amazon and seeing how my site content would render. Everything’s semantic, there’s no classes and no DIVs, surely this should be perfect? I thought to myself. I had to e-mail Amazon about a visual problem. Their response was The blockquote element is not supported. Absolutely flabbergasting.

Under no circumstances am I changing my markup (which would win awards if there were awards for that sort of thing) to cater to them. I stuck to my markup and Microsoft supported me when IE9 was released; I didn’t have to change a line of my code. I expect the same of all web devices—support the standards and compatility is no longer an issue. I don’t believe in catering to platform-specific demands in my code unless Microsoft are happy to pay me for my time to implement their stuff. Remember that when you use their APIs, you are working for these companies for free.

So this leaves me with a conflict of self. If I want to write, then I want to write for the web, for latest standards and browsers and for multiple devices using the same code. However, in order to make money I would have to screen off content from the web and travel back in time to 1998 where all devices are incompatible with each other, no code is portable and I am forced to work through publishers who have their own ideas about things they don’t understand.

If I am to write a book, then the only method I can accept that meets my ethics is to publish to the web, in HTML, free and open, and charge for download of different formats (PDF / EPUB / MOBI and what-not). My answer to format disparity would be to make a version of ReMarkable that ouputs epub, then I wouldn’t have to sully my web HTML for e-readers.

What stops me from doing this is twofold:

Payment provision
The thing I fear the most. I hate the complexity, I dread the engineering, the companies involved are dire. I do not know, nor understand how to sell something digitally such that someone can click to pay and receive a download. It makes my head hurt and I wish I had a friend who grokked e-commerce.
What to write
Since my audience is myself, I don’t rightly know what’s worth reading. What I write on this blog is what I feel like writing, but that doesn’t make a book with a coherent skein.

What about advertising on Camen Design?

Given that my audience is myself, and I block ads, I would be a hypocrite and advertising to people who aren’t my readers. I cannot in my right mind give myself over to advertising on my website. It is essentially asking people to pay you to lie to your audience who follow you on the basis on trust.

Other ideas I have dismissed immediately on the basis of management and maintenance. I could sell software, but asides being against app stores it would consume all my time, and I already have a full time job that takes me away from my computer. If I am to ask for any money from readers of Camen Design then it has to be something that doesn’t require my constant attention to sell or support (another fear of payment systems). I would never sell something that I was not able to commit to support (i.e. software) because I would not want the quality of my content to be tarnished by a lack of people’s ability to use it.

For a very long time I had thought about providing canvas and product prints of my photographs, but I can see that as being so sporadic as to not be worth the effort. Also, I would have serious questions about quality that would involve more effort and investment than I'm prepared to meet.

Asides that, I'm all out of ideas.