Posts tagged e-books
Think you’re the next Steven King or Agatha Christie? Have the plans for your 20 room mansion and country estate primed and ready to go? Read this first.
As we’ve stated before, if you want to be rich and famous, study ACTING. If you’ve planned all your life to make your fortune writing conventional books, you might need to think again (unless, of course, you’re Colin Powell, Bill Clinton, or Rupert Murdoch).
Here are the hard cold facts, directly quoted from an article in Publisher’s Weekly:
… in 2004, 950,000 titles out of the 1.2 million tracked by Nielsen Bookscan sold fewer than 99 copies.
Another 200,000 sold fewer than 1,000 copies.
Only 25,000 sold more than 5,000 copies.
The average book in America sells about 500 copies.
Those blockbusters are a minute anomaly: only 10 books sold more than a million copies last year, and fewer than 500 sold more than 100,000.
Stunning. Painful. But it’s the truth. Fortunately, however, if you’re a great writer, you can now publish your work, virtually cost-free, by choosing the e-book route.
In the not-so-distant past, you’d have to make a rather hefty capital investment just to get a 3000-copy-run of a print book, then market, sell, and ship it; now, you can go from manuscript to book to reader’s hands all by yourself, if you’re willing to do a bit of legwork on your own.
So cheer up; reality bites, but it’s ALWAYS better to know, than not to know.
Good writing never goes out of style. First published 10/8/2011.
Bloomberg reports that a spokesperson for Harper-Collins sent an emailed statement that “Dynamic pricing and experimentation will continue to be a priority for us as we move forward.”
The Wall Street Journal (a division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation) has reported that another of News Corp’s properties, the publishing house HarperCollins, has been informed of an impending US Justice Department lawsuit alleging antitrust violations regarding e-book pricing. Other parties involved in this include Apple, Penguin Group, Simon & Schuster, Hachette Book Group, and MacMillan. Settlement talks have apparently been underway for some time.
If you’re a Kindle owner, you probably remember a little flap between Macmillan and Amazon when Macmillan refused to comply with Amazon’s $9.99 Kindle book pricing structure. Amazon briefly pulled their offerings until Amazon capitulated [now, we may know why]. Prices rose 50%+ and people like me stopped buying Macmillan e-books with witless abandon : ) [It’s a PRINCIPLE thing].
The WSJ piece is an interesting illustration of the corporate sensibility of Apple’s Steve Jobs vs. Amazon’s consumer-centric model.
Here’s a quick quote from the Wall Street Journal’s reporting; you can read the full article at your convenience:
“We told the publishers, ‘We’ll go to the agency model, where you set the price, and we get our 30%, and yes, the customer pays a little more, but that’s what you want anyway,’” Mr. Jobs was quoted as saying by his biographer, Walter Isaacson.
The publishers were then able to impose the same model across the industry, Mr. Jobs told Mr. Isaacson. “They went to Amazon and said, ‘You’re going to sign an agency contract or we’re not going to give you the books,’ ” Mr. Jobs said.
Update 3/9/12: Here’s an interesting take on the same topic, from Bloomberg Business.
Thinking of getting a Kindle Fire
for yourself or as a gift for your favorite nephew?
The Fire’s being released tomorrow (November 15, 2011), but an early review is in; it’s lean, mean, easy to use, and fast:
Jeff Bezos has done it again; he’s added even MORE value to Amazon.com.
The first color Kindle, the Kindle Fire, ships November 15, 2011.
And as of November 3, 2011, Amazon Prime members can borrow a Kindle book a month, free of charge, through the Kindle Lending Library.
Amazon Prime is a $79 per year Annual Subscription that used to offer “nothing more” than free two-day shipping of any eligible product from Amazon’s huge inventory. THAT was a great deal in itself.
But starting in the Spring of 2011, Amazon started offering selected movies for unlimited video streaming as a perk for Prime Members. And the library of movies and TV shows has been ever-expanding since, including some newer acquisitions from ABC TV, Fox, and PBS.
Click Here to learn more about the Kindle Lending Library.
Amazon has made the leap from bookseller to book publisher (and NOT just ebooks).
If you’re a writer, you’ve got to learn more here.
“May You Live In Interesting Times” (a favorite and prescient piece of Chinese Fortune Cookie wisdom)!
Announced a few minutes ago by Jeff Bezos during a press conference in New York:
Amazon’s releasing the latest Kindle with e-ink and 3G: The Kindle Touch (available November 21, but can be pre-ordered NOW).
E-ink fans will be thrilled; for avid readers, nothing compares to its combination of clarity and ease of reading. Click above to learn more about the Touch from Amazon itself.
Here’s a cheerful way to start your day, fellow writers: grab a double latte before you read this decidedly bleak view of the impending death of the book and the ultimate demise of the entire writing profession by a speaker at the 2011 Edinburgh International Book Festival, novelist Ewan Morrison.
Be forewarned: it intentionally reads like a moaning eulogy.
Click here to read Are Books Dead and Can Authors Survive if you wish & then come back for a counterpoint or two.
Remembering that a good speaker always aims his speech at his target audience (this is a book festival, after all), his prognostications for the publishing industry at large are spot on; can you imagine the atmosphere at this year’s “festival”? A Scottish (not Irish) Wake, indeed.
While Morrison makes valuable and cogent points in this condensed copy of his speech, I think his view of both the present and the future for writers as a whole is actually quite a bit bleaker than the reality (the reality being that very few writers of the last 20 years have benefited from either cushy contracts, steady employment, or big book deals). It’s a jungle out there and has been for quite some time.
Granted, many writers WILL suffer from this shakeup, but much more of the suffering will be done on the printing, distribution, publishing, and marketing end (which, to many professional writers, actually lifts a heavy weight from their profit structure, as Mr. Morrison has pointed out).
I think the people who have paid the biggest price in the publishing industry for the last five years or so have been the printing presses. It’s been an absolute bloodbath for that industry as demographics shifted, papers failed, and book demand decreased precipitously. And, unfortunately for them, they really can’t simply re-calibrate their business to serve the digital publishing needs of their customers. They just have to go out of business, willingly or otherwise, as the demand for their services continues to wane. This is a tragedy repeated from the past (wagon wheel makers, harness makers, etc. never believed the notion of a car would go anywhere, either). We still need our presses, but fewer and fewer will be servicing the market, no doubt, simply because the market has shrunk. Permanently.
This shift in the publishing industry parallels the restructuring our society is undergoing now: autoworkers, pensioners, public employees, bankers, tellers, realtors, EVERYONE is living through a seismic shift in the workings of the world. And everyone is still trying to calculate the value of every profession. Some will make it, some will not.
I do disagree with the notion that paper books are dying or dead. Paper books will continue to exist, simply because some types of books don’t easily lend themselves to contemporary ebook formats (research publications, cookbooks, any type of “thumb through” book) and some readers just HATE ebooks, although, in my opinion, they’re a quickly dying breed. But there will doubtless be a move to “publishing on demand” rather than conventional book printing and marketing, which, as Morrison argues, will ultimately reduce writer’s incomes.
In the longer term, there will be more demand for skillful writing in this new atmosphere and I think the negative view of the perceived economic impact is a little too provincial, neglecting the tsunami of globalization. But the days of the writing hack are numbered. No more economic free rides for the “I can write faster than anybody who can write better” crowd. Competition is increasing dramatically and writers MUST educate themselves on how to protect the value of their various print rights as the sands shift.
IF a writer is willing to put in the time to learn the ins and outs of digital technology, it’s now possible to be your own writer, editor, typesetter, publisher, and marketing department, whether your books are digital or conventional paper. And we are profoundly blessed, as writers, to have a direct line to the consumer market through the miracle that is Amazon; no agent, publicist, publisher, or printing press needed, thank you very much.
The digital revolution has also opened exposure for writers in ways never before possible, granting a voice and a publication forum to writers who, in the past, would have continued toiling in actual obscurity. The modern writer may continue to toil, but today, he’ll at least have a CHANCE at an audience before he dies. And the better a writer is at navigating this new digital world, the greater his economic opportunity. It’s simply Darwinism in action.
Just remember that the price extracted for any freedom is a heavy one; the support structure has been pulled out from under the contemporary writer, just as it has from innumerable occupations. Today, to make it in the writing profession, you’ve got to be strong and multifaceted. You must be both a creative artist AND a skillful businessperson. But you also have virtually unlimited OPPORTUNITIES in this Brave New World. Gird yourself and go for it; the future has arrived.
The inability to borrow Kindle books from the local library has kept several of my friends from purchasing Kindles, opting to buy a Barnes & Noble Nook instead (much to my dismay and their ultimate disappointment).
Now, with Borders in bankruptcy and the future of conventional booksellers in question, Amazon (the world’s largest online retailer) has stepped up to the plate, listened to customer demand, and is in the process of creating a library lending program.