Tag Archives: eBooks

Authors responsible for high cost of books

“In his forthcoming book […] the American author Robert Levine has an excellent chapter on publishing in which he interrogates the forces driving the pricing of books, in both their paper and digital forms. And some of the explanations he gives are (to me at least) surprising. For example, it turns out that “publishers only spend $3.50 to print and distribute a hardback”. (Let’s say it’s £3 in Britain.) So when, this autumn, you go into your local bookshop and spend £30 […] you really are just putting a large amount of profit into the hands of […] publisher, with some knocked off for the retailer. Right?

Well, yes and no. If you think of books primarily as physical objects, then off course they’ll seem a rip-off, because printing and distributing them is cheap. But as Levine points out, what you’re really paying for when you buy a book is something different. You are buying the “text itself”. And why is that so expensive? Because the publisher will, in many cases, have paid the author a considerable sum for the right to sell it.”.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2011/aug/04/price-publishing-ebooks



That “considerable sum”, dear reader, amounts to somewhere between 4-8%.

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A Digital Book is never finished

“Once digitized, a page of words loses its fixity. It can change every time it’s refreshed on a screen. A book page turns into something like a Web page, able to be revised endlessly after its initial uploading. There’s no technological constraint on perpetual editing, and the cost of altering digital text is basically zero. As electronic books push paper ones aside, movable type seems fated to be replaced by movable text. 

But as is often the case with digitization, the boon carries a bane. The ability to alter the contents of a book will be easy to abuse. School boards may come to exert even greater influence over what students read. They’ll be able to edit textbooks that don’t fit with local biases. Authoritarian governments will be able to tweak books to suit their political interests. And the edits can ripple backward. Because e-readers connect to the Internet, the works they contain can be revised remotely, just as software programs are updated today.”

More: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203893404577098343417771160.html

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How do you discover ebooks?


Survey from: http://www.teleread.com/paul-biba/how-ebook-buyers-discover-ebooks/

Watching and listening to books

From embedded video, to sound effects, the future of the book has less and less to do with reading:

“[…] publishers are now producing the first “enhanced e-books”, where soundtracks are provided along with the text. The first one, The Adventures of the Speckled Band, a Sherlock Holmes story, came out last week, complete with driving rain, thunderclaps and blood-curdling screams.

Perhaps the most powerful advantage a book has over any other medium is in sparking and expanding the imagination. When you read, you fill in the gaps – your own internal soundtrack, how things look, how the emotions feel. Soundtracks are that much more prescriptive and precise, with little room left for your brain to improvise. Your own inner version of a scream may be that much more blood-curdling than the one laid down in the sound studio.”

From: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/culture/harrymount/100055724/god-save-us-from-books-with-soundtracks/

Makes me glad that my ereader has volume control that goes all the way down to 0.

Platform vs Reputation


Readers might not be aware of the crude reality faced by writers: To succeed in the publishing world, or even to score a chance at publishing a book, a writer had to build a “platform” (in short: build a following and become an expert in his / her field). Now it’s all about “Reputation” (which, in the older days, would, basically, eliminate the chance of becoming published by the likes of Louis-Ferdinand Celine or William Burroughs: some publishers include a clause in contracts, whereby a publishing agreement may be cancelled if a writer is found to behave “disreputably”). Apparently “reputation” is important even if a writer forgoes the old publishing model, and skips publishers by releasing his / her books directly to readers:

“As the growing eBook market for fiction overtakes the print sector, traditionally-published and self-published authors face a new marketing issue: reputation.

Not just a specific book’s reputation, which historically was set by book reviewers, readers and librarians, but also the author’s individual reputation. From authors who go on the attack to dispute negative reviews to a single, wildly-popular book reviewer’s thrashing of a self-published novel that triggered readers to give it one-star reviews on Amazon while openly admitting they had not read the novel, all it takes is one bad comment to go viral and in an instant, years of work goes down the Internet rabbit hole.

For publishers (self and corporate) bemoaning a lack of time, effort, or interest in reputation management, you can choose to disengage. Just keep in mind that readers, and bloggers, won’t. Once you put that book out there, you have exercised your freedom of expression. Be prepared for others to do the same.”

More: http://technorati.com/business/advertising/article/authors-and-publishers-ignore-online-reputation/

Oops! I better go back to Facebook, and be nice and charming to all my friends…

Enhancing ebooks

“Enhanced books are truly amazing. It seems like everyday a new kind of enhancement is announced or shown off. Videos and images can be embedded or made to pop up, text can be hyperlinked, music can be played, table of contents and indexes can be reinvented and repurposed. But while it’s fascinating to see what can be done, we need to ask ourselves should it be done. Developers can build just about anything, because they’re such a talented bunch, but that doesn’t mean the reader wants it in their e-book.”

More: http://www.booknetcanada.ca/index.php?option=com_wordpress&p=2514&Itemid=319

I suggest that the only enhancement in ebooks should be spelchecking…

E-book buyers expect discounts, buy more

“UK e-book buyers are expecting digital titles to be discounted heavier than their counterparts across the Atlantic, a new survey has found.

The survey, undertaken in April by consultants Simon-Kucher and Partners among 250 book buyers from the US, UK and Germany, concluded an e-book without additional features should cost around 65% to 70% of the print price, though admitted there was “no simple formula” in hitting the pricing sweet spot. The survey also found current e-book users spend more on books than book buyers in general. According to the survey, 48% of book buyers in the US used e-books as well as audio and print, 45% in the UK, but just 15% in Germany.”

More: http://www.thebookseller.com/news/e-book-buyers-expect-discounts-do-buy-more.html

What do Pimps and Literary Agents have in common?

According to this Nobel Prize recipient: “Agents have strong nerves and stamina. To them the term  ‘sensitive soul of an artist’ means the same as DAB beer, and any attempt at serious conversation with them about art and artists would be a waste of time. They well know that even an artist without a conscience has a thousand times more of it than the hardest working agent. Their weapon lies in understanding that an artist cannot do anything but create, whether paint pictures, perform, sing songs, or carve in stone, or granite. An artist resembles a woman who cannot do anything else but love and falls with every kind of male donkey that falls in her ​​sight. Artists and women are particularly well suited to be exploited, and each agent is ninety-nine per cent a pimp.”
Heinrich Böll

Like pimps, literary agents are on the way out. The Internet has changed everything:

“the use of the Internet for prostitution as well as other changes in the sex industry have resulted in the disintermediation of prostitution, allowing prostitutes to deal with clients directly. This has rendered pimps largely superfluous, at least in the United States.” Source: WikiPedia

The use of the Internet has allowed writers to bypass the pimps literary agents and reach readers directly, via e-books…

Death of a Publisher

Had a chat with my cousin who only just found out that my publisher went bankrupt and closed its doors last year. The cousin is concerned about the future of my unpublished novels. She need not be. Death of a publisher is not nearly as lethal as that of a bookseller (though these days even the lack of a bookseller does not mean the end of a book and reading).

We are living in different times from those when my first novel was published. Writers and readers have access to channels and technologies that did not exist only few years ago. An e-book reading device, and an espresso book machine take the place of a traditional publisher. Death of a publisher does not spell the end of a book and reading. The two core pillars are still there: authors and readers. As long as there are writers who write books, and readers who want to read them, books will be with us. Publishers, on the other hand, will be buried, just as George Bernard Shaw wished:

I object to publishers: the one service they have done me is to teach me to do without them. They combine commercial rascality with artistic touchiness and pettishness, without being either good business men or fine judges of literature. All that is necessary in the production of a book is an author and a bookseller, without the intermediate parasite.” George Bernard Shaw

From 500 rejections to bestsellers

“I’m just a guy trying to make a living. It took me 12 years and over 500 rejections before I was published, and once I landed my first print deal I was determined to learn all I could about the business in order to succeed.

I learned–as most authors have learned–that the publishing industry is fatally flawed. A small number of top-brand authors get the overwhelming majority of the marketing dollars, making it nearly impossible for a midlister to succeed. The practice of returns and remainders is archaic and ridiculous. Books are successful based on the amount of coop they get, and there is little a writer can do to improve their station.

I beleive my goal is one that many writers share: to earn money doing something we love. Prior to my first novel, WHISKEY SOUR, selling to Hyperion in 2002, I’d written nine other novels that failed to find a publisher. In 2009, some fans emailed me, asking if I could make my early, unpublisher work available on Kindle. I went to http://dtp.amazon.com and uploaded my ebooks, which is free.

Now, 14 months later, I’ve sold 55,000 ebooks, and I’ll make over $100,000 this year on books NY publishing rejected.” JA Konrath

Geez, and I thought I held a record with the number of rejections to publication ratio.