Saturday, November 7, 2009

E Books

I have been reading the dismal news about e-books. Dismal for non best selling authors like myself because the e-books threaten not only me but publishers too. I think the only people who will reap the benefit of e-publishing will be the top authors and any decent publicist who can persuade the buying public to download his/her client's material. Anyone have any thoughts on the subject?



Lexie said...

I admit I am more likely to purchase a hardcopy of a book rather than a digital copy, but because I've been reviewing and looking around and in general trying to broaden my horizons (and my blog reviews) I've found quite a few authors who I wouldn't have known about otherwise. Quite a few publishers as well.

I think for some people e-books can be a hassle and are more expensive at the beginning because you have to put out that $200+ in order to get an eReader and more often then not the eReader won't handle all platforms so if the author you like has a book out, but only through say Kindle, and you have a Sony you have to wait longer. Printed books this isn't an issue (until you get into US vs UK vs AU vs Everyone else) and you can get them cheaply at used bookstores if you're not sure of an author.

For many of the larger names it doesn't seem cost effective to buy the e-book version vs. the hardcopy you save what? on paperbacks on average about $1 (I think) or so?


I think we need to embrace this.

Margaret Muir said...

I must admit I am ignorant with regard to Kindle and Sony and non-compatability, but I don't doubt before very long there will be a multi-format reader.
And the way technology is changing, it will no doubt happen in the blinking of an eye.
Margaret Muir

Chap O'Keefe said...

Mick, My thoughts are that the present system doesn't work too well for us either. A book that was priced £7.50 in 1993 now, produced to the same specifications, retails at £12.99. Advances to authors have not increased one pound.

We are always told the book price increases are due to "increased costs". But somewhere down the line an "increased cost" has to be someone else's improved income.

A publisher will tell an author it wouldn't pay him to proceed if he wants or needs more money. Of course, he can't give this answer to any of his other suppliers, the distributors, the truck drivers, the postal authorities, the retailers/library servicing companies, or even the office cleaner who must be paid the minimum wage.

Not long ago an e-books item in The Economist newspaper concluded:

"Publishing has only two indispensable participants: authors and readers. As with music, any technology that brings these two groups closer makes the whole industry more efficient -- but hurts those who benefit from the distance between them."

If, or once, the e-book experts get their act together, we will see a huge shakeup.

Mick Parker said...

Perhaps one day publishers will be able to 'buy' a section of a Kindle or Sony e-book. This way a publisher like Hale could put its entire annual output on one with plenty of space left over. This would have the effect of giving Hale authors a wider and fuller market. At the moment I wonder just how many potential readers out there have actually heard of me? But if my name was included among the list of Hale authors on an e-book, I'm sure the opporunity to downlaod some of my work would be taken up by more readers than I have at present.


Lexie said...

Mick--I admit my only knowledge of Robert Hale books are the Classic Regencies that are printed (since a number of the books are out of print volumes I want). Marketing is something that needs to be worked on for print publishers that are going into e-book'ing as well. Obviously those publishers that began in e-book'ing have the leg up on what tactics work, how to reach the audience, etc etc, but there are a number of ways for authors of e-books, or books that are gonna be published in e-book format, to reach out.

Its funny, but it seems the roles are reversed. E-book publishers printing for the hardcopy market had troubles with how to handle the situation (how many copies to send, returns, exchanges etc etc) and hardcopy publishers are having delays on how to market their e-books.

Margaret--I have no doubt that a cross-platform reader can and will be produced (if they can make a gaming system that plays PSP games on the Nintendo DS they can do a simple file conversion for e-readers), and actually there are a number of pirated illegal programs that can convert files for you to whatever desired format you want, but I have doubts on when such a reader will come out (as a reasonable price at least).

Right now it works in the publishers' favor to have multiple readers for multiple non-transferable formats of ebooks. Much like gamers who buy a Nintendo Wii, PS3 and X-Box 360 so they can play all the games they want, a theory could be made that readers will buy multiple readers for the books they want.

I honestly prefer the formats for e-books that can be read on my laptop/desktop as opposed to a reader/palm pilot/blackberry.

Nik said...

As long as we don't end up with the Betamax/VHS scenario... (Shows my age, that, I think!)


And don't forget Hale said that the Hale books will be available on the Kindle.

Mick Parker said...

When is that 'will be' going to happen?

margaret blake said...

As a writer for an e book publisher I have to say I sell lots of books. My books also come out in paperback but most of my sales are for the e book. These are very popular in the States. There are retailers who deal only in e books like Fictionwise.
E books were once scoffed at but now even top publishers have seen the benefits. I fear little publishers will be pushed out.

margaret blake said...

Curiously, I have just been informed that I am a finalist in this year's Eppie Finals - electronic book publishing connection EPIC, for my e book and paperback historical novel "The Substitute Bride."

Mick Parker said...

Well done, Margaret

Perhaps we should all look a little deeper into e-publishing?