A Checklist for Indie Authors – E-Book Retailers (Post 2)

To get my e-book into the hands of readers, I had decisions to make. Should I upload my book through a Distributor/Aggregator with bundled services for multiple retailers or load them directly onto the sites of individual retailers? If you have a number of titles from your backlist, this could seem daunting, but bear with me. Some retailers are easy to upload into directly, regardless of the number of titles you have, while others restrict authors who don’t have enough offerings to meet their initial minimum requirements.

As I stated in my first post on this series, if you upload to Amazon and B&N, you’ve covered 60-70% of e-books sold today. That’s a good place to start. I could have formatted my own books to save money, but I went through a service provider to do this as I continued writing my contracted books. My formatters created my e-book files for Sex, Death and Moist Towelettes & Dark Kiss through Amazon (Mobi), B&N (ePub), and Smashwords (.doc), plus my e-book and pdf file for my Print-on-Demand (POD) non-fiction book with a cover design for the front, spine, and back of One Author’s Aha Moments.

To optimize an indie author’s outreach and distribution efforts, I’m listing other options beyond Amazon and B&N in this blog series. Stay tuned for more in the weeks to come when I post about Distributors & Library Sales, Retailers with Volume Restrictions, and I draw some conclusions from all this in my final post on the indie author topic. I plan to launch a page on my Fringe Dweller blog where I will list indie resources and maintain them.

Below are the e-book retailers that allow anyone to upload content, no matter how many offerings you have or your publisher status. (Kobo will be mentioned in the next post, but there are many interesting changes happening that will put them on this list soon.) Please be aware that each of these sites operates under different formats and you should get familiar with their guidelines.

Amazon’s Kindle Digital Publishing (KDP)Amazon’s primary e-book format is Mobipocket (Mobi) files, with or without DRM. Amazon currently dominates the market on e-book retail sales. Authors and publishers have access to an effective online retail outlet. Their royalty percentages are split by price point. Currently, that is 70% if your e-book is priced between $2.99 & $9.99, or 35% for all other price points. There is a small delivery charge based on size of file and royalties are paid monthly.

Barnes & Noble – B&N’s upload service is called PubIt!. PubIt! is similar to the Amazon KDP and gives indie authors the ability to upload a higher quality of ePub file that will not be lost through an automated conversion process where standards might be lower. The system also accepts Word, HTML, RTF, and TXT documents, which will be auto-converted to the ePub format.

Apple’s iBookstore – Apple’s iBookstore is open for authors and publishers to upload their own content. You must have a Mac computer to use the iTunes Producer program to upload the files. The signup process may seem intimidating, but an indie author can earn a higher royalty percentage by going direct and not through a distributor/aggregator. If you are unable to use Apple’s system because of limitations, the iBookstore provides a link of Approved Aggregators you can go through.

Google – Google’s e-book store allows readers to purchase PDF and ePub versions of your book, protected by the Adobe DRM. (Digital Rights Management is a term for any security measures designed to inhibit piracy.) The Google e-book store is part of the Google Books Partner Program. HERE  is a link on their system requirements.

LuluLulu uses ePub, PDF, and Microsoft Reader (LIT) formats, with and without DRM. Lulu is well-known for its Print-on-Demand (POD) services and an indie author can sell e-books through them. Lulu takes a cut of sales and there could be an additional fee to use the DRM option. Lulu is an Apple-approved aggregator for the iBookstore.

ebookMall – A $19.95 submission fee is waived until June 30, 2012. ebookMall uses ePub and PDF file types. Lightning Source could be an alternate source into this retailer.

ScribdScribd uses PDF files only and cannot sell other formats.

Smashwords – Smashwords works off a specific Word document style (HERE) that must be in accordance with the Smashwords Style Guide. That Word doc is auto-converted into 9 different formats at the author’s option. In addition to selling books at its own online store with the lowest fee of any retailer listed here (15%), the Smashwords Premium Catalog offers authors and small publishers a way to distribute their titles across a variety of retailers, including Apple’s iBookstore, the Sony eBook Store, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and others.

In my next post, I will go into more detail on the various issues with a middleman distributor. Be aware that an indie author can have format issues by going through the conversion process and this can translate into downstream retailers taking issue with e-book quality from that distributor and YOU. Bottom line is, uploading directly to a retailer with relative ease might be your best option. You’ll see why in my next post when we talk about issues beyond formatting, like cumbersome and untimely price changes when going through a third party.

Some of this sounds daunting, but remember, if you’ve got your book onto Amazon and Barnes & Noble, you have your digital baby with the largest e-book retailers. Fine tuning your retailer outreach can be done as you have time. It doesn’t have to be done all at once. Many of these sites will take time away from your writing, so weigh the benefits against the time it takes for you to focus on this, but once you see how things go, you can fine tune where you will focus your retail and promotional efforts.

If you’re an indie author, please share your experiences with the retailers I mentioned and what has worked for you. If you are exploring the idea of self-publishing, do posts like this help you or intimidate you?

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$.99 E-Book Specials & Online Writing Class

By Jordan Dane

HarperCollins has been testing the waters of discounting their e-book pricing and it’s my turn. My “NO ONE” series (3 suspense books, including my debut book NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM) are now available at $.99 for a limited time. Book #1 is a standalone novel, but books # 2 & 3 are a connected story line. They are best read in order.

My debut novel NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM was named Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2008, NO ONE LEFT TO TELL and NO ONE LIVES FOREVER were selected TOP PICKS by Romantic Times Magazine with NO ONE LIVES FOREVER nominated as RT’s 2008 Best Intrigue Novel.


These books have such a special place in my heart. They bring back so many memories of my first sale and the extraordinary people who helped me. Click HERE for a link to my first sale story. I had to sacrifice a body part to sell and a very generous, well-established author jumpstarted my career.
Over the years, I’ve found the publishing industry has been filled with generous people who I’ve had the pleasure of crossing their paths, either online or in person. I feel very blessed to be a part of such a community so I wanted to bring these discounted books to the attention of my TKZ family.

I’m on deadline with a new YA series for Harlequin Teen (THE HUNTED) so I haven’t surfaced much online. I’m also in the midst of promoting my latest YA – ON A DARK WING (Harlequin Teen, Jan 2012). (Everything happens at once, even if you think you’re planning your schedule. And no one gets a break from the TAX MAN. *shiver*)

I have an online writing class coming up Feb 20 – Mar 3, 2012 also. The Young Adult online chapter for the Romance Writers of America (YARWA) is hosting the workshop. The link for that class is HERE.


I’d like to hear from TKZers. Please share:
1.) Your first sale story
2.) Or what it meant to see your first self-pubbed book on sale
3.) Or what keeps you writing.


The HarperCollins sale links to retailers of my $.99 e-books are below (B&N, Amazon, BAMM, Google EBooks, Kobo, iBookStore & other retailers):

NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM
NO ONE LEFT TO TELL
NO ONE LIVES FOREVER

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$.99 E-Book Specials & Online Writing Class

By Jordan Dane

HarperCollins has been testing the waters of discounting their e-book pricing and it’s my turn. My “NO ONE” series (3 suspense books, including my debut book NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM) are now available at $.99 for a limited time. Book #1 is a standalone novel, but books # 2 & 3 are a connected story line. They are best read in order.

My debut novel NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM was named Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2008, NO ONE LEFT TO TELL and NO ONE LIVES FOREVER were selected TOP PICKS by Romantic Times Magazine with NO ONE LIVES FOREVER nominated as RT’s 2008 Best Intrigue Novel.


These books have such a special place in my heart. They bring back so many memories of my first sale and the extraordinary people who helped me. Click HERE for a link to my first sale story. I had to sacrifice a body part to sell and a very generous, well-established author jumpstarted my career.
Over the years, I’ve found the publishing industry has been filled with generous people who I’ve had the pleasure of crossing their paths, either online or in person. I feel very blessed to be a part of such a community so I wanted to bring these discounted books to the attention of my TKZ family.

I’m on deadline with a new YA series for Harlequin Teen (THE HUNTED) so I haven’t surfaced much online. I’m also in the midst of promoting my latest YA – ON A DARK WING (Harlequin Teen, Jan 2012). (Everything happens at once, even if you think you’re planning your schedule. And no one gets a break from the TAX MAN. *shiver*)

I have an online writing class coming up Feb 20 – Mar 3, 2012 also. The Young Adult online chapter for the Romance Writers of America (YARWA) is hosting the workshop. The link for that class is HERE.


I’d like to hear from TKZers. Please share:
1.) Your first sale story
2.) Or what it meant to see your first self-pubbed book on sale
3.) Or what keeps you writing.


The HarperCollins sale links to retailers of my $.99 e-books are below (B&N, Amazon, BAMM, Google EBooks, Kobo, iBookStore & other retailers):

NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM
NO ONE LEFT TO TELL
NO ONE LIVES FOREVER

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Perseverance

By Jordan Dane

For my last post in 2011 with TKZ, I found a Wall Street Journal article on self-publishing that offered something a little different. We’ve all heard the big blockbuster sales of a precious few who have seen sales of more than a million books, but who can really relate to that? We can all hope lightning will strike and we’ll be the one benefiting from that good fortune, but I picked out the elements of this article that addressed the digital trend, growing successes that have not gotten much highlight, and what one author—Darcie Chan—did to grow her self-pub sales.



Many have heard about Amanda Hocking and John Locke’s stories of hitting it big. These stories represent a miniscule fraction of independent authors, but success is still being found. According to Amazon, 30 authors have sold in excess of 100,000 copies of their books through Amazon’s self-pub Kindle program and a dozen more have seen sales of 200,000+ — a program started in 2007 that allows authors to upload their own books, set prices, and publish in multiple languages. Barnes & Noble have their own version for their Nook readers.


Self-published books have fueled the surge in digital sales from $287 million in 2009 to $878 million in 2010, according to the Association of American Publishers. Analysts speculate that e-book sales will pass $2 billion in 2013. We’ve all seen how the publishing industry (authors, agents, publishers, stores, etc) are scrambling to figure out how to capitalize on this exploding trend.


So here is one author’s story about how she stuck to her dream of writing a book she believed in and took the plunge.


It took Darcie Chan two and a half years to write her book during the hours she wasn’t working her day job of drafting environmental legislation. After getting feedback from friends and family, she sent queries to more than 100 agents, but since it was a cross genre story (with elements of romance, suspense and mystery), it didn’t fit neatly on retail book shelves and got rejected as a “tough sell.” She eventually landed an agent who submitted her book to over a dozen publishers, they all rejected it for the same reason, so the book of her dreams landed in a drawer and Darcie got on with her life. FIVE YEARS LATER, she read about the rise in e-book sales and self-publishing and decided to do something about her dream. Here is what she did:


She made her own cover for THE MILL RIVER RECLUSE (about an agoraphobic philanthropist) from a photo her sister had taken of an old mansion and added Photoshop graphic elements to make it look gloomy.


She uploaded her book into the Amazon Kindle self-publishing program and sold a trickle of copies. A few weeks later, she loaded it onto Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Apple’s iBookstore, Sony, and Kobo.


Her first royalty check was $39. That’s when she noticed that popular e-books were priced at $0.99 and immediately dropped her price from $2.99 to $0.99. (That cut her royalty percentage under Amazon rules from 70% on books priced at $2.99+ to 35% for novels priced below that threshold.) But sales picked up immediately for her and she found new readers who liked her book.


During the first month at her lower price, she sold 100 copies. She was thrilled with this, but by the end of June, her book got mentioned on a site called Ereader News Today, that posts tips for Kindle readers. Over the next two day period, she sold another 600 copies, giving her hope that she could drive her own sales.


She spent $1,000 on marketing, buying banner ads on websites and blogs devoted to Kindle readers and also bought a spot on Goodreads.com with its more than 6.6 million members.


She also learned that self-published authors could pay to have their book reviewed by some sites. She paid $35 for a review on IndieReader.com (who no longer offers paid reviews) and she paid $575 for an expedited review from Kirkus Reviews, a notable book review journal and website. (The Kirkus review service, launched in 2005, gives self-published authors the option to review privately if the review is negative. Darcie opted to have her book reviewed on Kirkus’s website and Kirkus called the novel “a comforting book about the random acts of kindness that hold communities together.” Darcie used quotes from the review and other reviews on Amazon and B&N for publicity purposes, to encourage more reviewers to try her book.


By July, she had sold more than 14,000 copies and got her noticed and featured on two of the biggest sites for e-book readers, which generated more sales. In August, she had sold more than 77,000 copies and had hit the New York Times and USA Today e-book bestsellers lists—and later she landed on the Wall Street Journal’s list too. In September, it sold more than 159,000 copies and 413,000 copies have sold to date.


Darcie and her agent have since offered her book to traditional publishers, but none have matched her royalty rates of 35-40% that she gets from Amazon and B&N. (Average print royalties range 10-15% with digital royalties usually set at 25%.) Simon and Schuster offered to distribute the book—as is—but Darcie wants the book professionally edited and marketed. So as of now, she is staying the course, content with how well her book is selling. She made an estimated $130,000 before taxes PLUS she’s getting a steady royalty check every month.


And from her success, she’s seeing interest from other parties. Foreign rights and audio book publishers have made offers and six movie companies have inquired about film rights.


Bottom line is that Darcie didn’t give up, even when everyone told her “NO.” No matter how you’re published, I think we can all learn from this woman’s perseverance.


This is my last post for 2011 since TKZ will be on our 2-week hiatus starting Dec 19th—the day my virtual tour starts with YA Bound. Happy holidays to our TKZ family and have a great 2012.

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Mistakes and errors in e-books

By Joe Moore

Have you noticed that there seems to be an inordinate number of mistakes and typos in e-books? How often do you see their for there, or whether for weather? How about coming across multiple words jammed together or too many spaces between words? In her Huffington Post article and subsequent CBC Radio interview, ITW Vice President Karen Dionne discusses this ever-increasing problem and comes up with some possible answers.

First, you might assume that the problem would be most apparent in self-published books, right? After all, many self-published authors have never been traditionally published and rarely can afford the services of a professional editor to scrub their manuscripts. But according to Karen, that’s not always the case. In fact, many errors appear in mainstream fiction and the culprit just might be technology. Here’s why.

An author turns in her finished manuscript, usually in MS Word, to her editor who hands it off to a copy and/or line editor. It’s polished and sent back to the writer for another once-over. Then it goes back to the editor who sends it to the typesetter. The Word doc is imported into a specialized page layout publishing program such as Adobe InDesign or QuarkXPress. The layout program is downstream from the Word doc and there’s no reversal back upstream to the manuscript.

The typesetter works with the book designer to choose font and other styling, and usually a PDF is created that is sent back to the writer for one last shot at any changes and corrections. Finally, the writer turns in final changes and the book is sent off electronically to the printer. At that point, there’s no turning back.

So far, so good. But what if the publisher decides to create and release an e-book version of the manuscript. The person who creates and formats the e-book cannot use the files created in the page layout program. They must use as a source the MS Word doc. But there’s a really good chance that all the changes and corrections made to the InDesign or Quark file were never made to the original Word file. So those errors and mistakes could make their way into the e-book.

Writers aren’t usually asked to proof the e-book. In fact, most writers don’t even bother to read the e-book releases. They assume it’s a mirror of the print version and have moved on to the next project right after the printed book is published.

Now, as Karen points out in her article, this is not always the source of errors. And some publishers treat the e-book with as much care and feeding as the print version. But because of time restraints and budgets, sometimes it’s not possible to go through the revision process again for the e-book. Still, it does make sense that this scenario is a possible cause for the number of errors seen in ebooks.

So the next time you’re reading your favorite author, and you come across a double word or an is for his or some other strange formatting mistake, don’t jump at the conclusion that it’s the author’s fault. It just might be the technology working against us.

Have you noticed more mistakes and errors in e-books than print? How about your own books? Have you ever gone back and checked the e-book to make sure known corrections were made?

——————————

BAM! Just Like That, an original short story by Lynn Sholes & Joe Moore. Download for $0.99 and get the first 13 chapters of THE PHOENIX APOSTLES as a bonus preview.

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“Discoverability”


Continuing Jim’s great discussion yesterday, I heard a term last week that I think sums up one of the challenges in this new e-book publishing revolution – “discoverability“. It’s one of the things a traditionally published author would look for in a publisher – their ability to get your book noticed. “Discoverability” is about being able to rise above the noise out there in e-book land and, for me at least, I think it represents a real and ongoing challenge.

While I agree that we authors should view this brave new world as a marathon not a sprint, I also think its hard enough already to juggle writing with all the publicity currently demanded. This marathon could, for so many writers, become a marketing slog to the detriment of honing their craft. For me, therein lies the dilemma. While I would love to be putting out independent e-books as well as traditionally published titles, I worry about how I am going to fit in all the marketing and publicity I need to make both a successful endeavour. Likewise I see the vast wave of self-published e-books and worry how will my books be noticed amid all the flotsam and jetsam.

So just how can a writer increase their “discoverability“?

First off the quality of the writing needs to be there – that’s a given…but then what?
  • Social networking sites, websites, blogs, twitter feeds etc. are all necessary components but there is still a lot of ‘noise’ (and a lot of writers hawking their wares!) out there in all of these;
  • Advertisements (in all print, media and digital forms) – although I think many authors have had mixed results when it comes to traditional forms of ‘advertising’;
  • Word of mouth – the most powerful of all and the driver of almost all successful novels. I suspect however that ‘discoverability‘ is an important precursor to getting this;
  • Reviews and review sites (by industry, readers as well as peers) – definitely an important component of any marketing plan – but nonetheless there remains the age old problem of books that receive great reviews but still fail to garner much in terms of sales or recognition;
  • Personal networking opportunities – still, I suspect, as important as ever, but with book tours falling by the wayside, writers have to increasingly use social networking media to achieve this.
What else should be added to the list?

Do you think that despite the revolution, traditional publishers may be able to regain an upper hand by offering more opportunities to achieve this elusive “discoverability” (and the jury is out on this one as many publishers paid little attention to getting their authors noticed anyway!).

So what does “discoverability” mean to you? How are you going to try and achieve it?


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Yet Another Sign of the Times

By Joe Moore

Things just keep on changing.

Back in August, my blog post Goin’ Through Them Changes was about how after 26 years I canceled my subscription to the local newspaper (South Florida Sun-Sentinel) in favor of a digital subscription. I now sip my Dunkin Donuts coffee each morning while reading the paper on my computer screen. Among the many advantages to digital over paper, there’s no recycling to the curb each week, no need to chop down trees, and no ink on my fingers. Since my August post I’ve discovered that many newspapers around the country including The New York Times are now offering digital-only subscriptions. The only thing missing is the thumping sound of the morning edition hitting my hard drive at 5:30 AM like it used to sound when the guy tossed the paper on my driveway.

In September, one of my posts was called The Great MMPB Vanishing Act about an article in The New York Times on the decrease in sales of mass market paperbacks and the growth of ebooks. Some say ebooks are the new MMPB.

Later on in September, I posted a blog called More Signs of the Times about a piece in The Economist on the slump of hardcover sales and the continued rise of ebooks. Are you seeing an industry trend here?

Well, this weekend I read about another ebook development that I think is equally exciting. Yet another sign of the times. Libraries in South and Central Florida now kindle4offer anyone with a library card free ebooks downloaded to their Kindle, Sony, Nook, laptop, desktop, iPhones, iPads and . . . well the list of devices goes on and on. Library patrons can check out up to 10 titles at a time and have 21 days to read each. Free Kindle downloads are issued directly from your Amazon account and include current bestsellers and new releases. My library has over 16,000 ebook titles and close to 9,000 audio books with the list growing all the time. Videos are available, too.

Here’s more good news for just about everyone. You can borrow Kindle books from over 11,000 libraries in the U.S. Chances are your local library already has this feature or will soon. So check it out and check out a free book. You can download the book in seconds and have plenty of time to read it.

What do you think of this latest development? Are you already reading ebooks free from your library on your Kindle, Nook or iPad? If not, do you intend to look into it? Will it affect or change your reading habits? Where do you think this is all leading? Happy reading!

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An Open Letter to Traditional Publishing

James Scott Bell
Twitter.com/jamesscottbell

Dear Traditional Publishing,
You’ve been taking it on the chin pretty good over the last year, so I wanted to write you a little letter and buck up your spirits. You’re an old and good friend. I want you to know that.
We’ve had great times together and they’re not over. We’ve done almost 30 books, you and I, and we have more in the pipeline. You send me royalties and never once has one of your checks bounced. I appreciate that!
But your head must be spinning like Victor Ortiz’s after Floyd Mayweather coldcocked him. With the e-reader revolution hitting harder than virtually anyone predicted, you’ve really hardly had time to get up off the canvas. I don’t want you to be counted out (and I certainly am not one of those in the cheap seats shouting for your demise!)
There is, however, something you need to understand. A lot of my writer friends are suffering right now because you’re dropping them. Yes, this is business, and the cold hard truth is you just haven’t got the dough coming in you used to. This limits the amount you can spend on new and midlist writers.
But there are lots of writers who signed contracts back in the day, before 2005 or so, whose books you’ve let go out of print. These writers would like to bring out these old books as e-books to try and make themselves some much needed scratch, but you are in most cases steadfastly refusing to give back any “electronic” rights. You’re going to hang onto those forever and just let the books sit there in digital land hoping they bring in a few beans.
Can I make a suggestion? Don’t play hard guy on this just because you’re bigger. Don’t pummel the struggling authors. Let them have their books. You’re not going to make a ton of lettuce on these. Being generous at this point would go a long way toward re-establishing some good will.
As for me, I am glad that it’s not either/or with us. I have you and I have self-published books that complement what we’re doing together. In point of fact, I’m doing what you always tell your authors to do: increase their platform, increase their readers. I’m making hundreds of new readers each month with my e-books, and that will only increase. Any author making new readers who feed into traditional offerings is creating a win-win situation. You can use a little more of that, I daresay!
Well, I know there’s a lot on your mind and you’ve probably got meetings to attend (watch out for those three martini lunches, though. Things aren’t that bad), so let me just give you some props and thanks. You let me have my dream. You have treated me fairly, and even though we’ve had a few disappointments, I am grateful that I get to be a working writer because you once took a chance on me.
Which is why I am hoping for your recovery. Of course we both recognize that things will never be the same. Too much has changed and will continue to change. But we still need people who love books —  yes even books printed on paper! — collectively working toward the production of quality literature. You’ve been doing that for a long time and I’m pulling for you to keep on doing it in some form or fashion in the future.
Hope this helps a little. Keep in touch. Maybe next time I’m in New York you can buy me a drink.
Yours truly,
a.k.a. K. Bennett

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More Signs of the Times

By Joe Moore

In a recent article in The Economist, it was reported that in the first five months of this year, sales of consumer e-books in the U.S. surpassed those of adult hardback books. Only a year before, it was 3 to 1 in favor of hardbacks. Amazon now sells more e-books than paper copies. It’s predicted that as more bookstores close, that will just continue to increase.

Another sign of the times: furniture manufacturers like IKEA are introducing book cases that aren’t designed to hold real books.

The publishing industry is running behind newspapers and music in moving into the digital world. But while the music and newspaper industries are in decline, many publishers feel the transition to ones and zeros will have better results. One big reason is that digitization will breathe new life into old titles and out-of-print books. Some genres, such as serialized romance novels, has a very short shelf life. This will no longer be a big factor since e-books never go out of print. Fans can access these books any time after publication thus extending the income potential for the publisher and author.

Despite this glowing advantage, the article also points out a couple of darker concerns. Number one on the list is piracy. Unlike a digitized movie or music album, e-book files are very small. BitTorrent-powered peer-to-peer websites make sharing and downloading books easy. Accessing the latest bestseller for your e-reader takes only seconds. And it’s widespread and growing like weeds. I get a couple of Google Alerts a week notifying me of new websites where my e-books can be downloaded for free.

Pricing is another threat and directly contributes to piracy. The higher the price, the better the chance that someone will go looking for a free download.

Then there’s the demise of the brick and mortar bookstore. As more stores close, the ability of a publisher to market and promote their books disappears. In the case of Hollywood, fully produced movie trailers run on TV and the Internet, and with music, radio stations are the main path to promotion. But as the number of bookstores decreases, so does the ability of publishers to promote their latest books, virtually the only cost efficient marketing outlet they’ve had up until now.

So with the steady growth of e-books, which one of these issues has directly affected the writers out there? Is your backlist being given a rebirth in digital format? Are your books being pirated? Are the bookstores in your town hanging on or vanishing? Has your publisher found other avenues to promote your work?

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Have Books Been Distilled Down to a Commodity? Will Any Book Do?

One of my greatest joys was my weekly trip to a bookstore. I didn’t have to be looking for anything in particular. I just liked being in a book store and always found treasures to take home. I became addicted to the bargain priced hard cover table. I especially loved finding first time authors in hard cover for under $5.00, less than the price of a MMPB. I have a debut author collection in pristine condition, but haven’t added to that collection in a while. I still buy physical books in any format, but much fewer than I ever did.
How I buy now has changed since I have my e-reader. Technology gets me excited these days. In seconds, I can buy a book and start reading. The convenience is a marvel and I can shop and buy any time of the day or night. No store hours. No holiday closures. No “Sorry, we’re out of that book. Can I order it for you?”
After Joe Moore’s intriguing post yesterday on “The Great MMPB Vanishing Act,” it got me thinking about the quality of a book if the outer packaging goes away and all that’s left are the words. What defines quality then? Do books become a price driven commodity? Will any book do? How much will price play into the decision to buy for the average digital reader?
The Big 6 publishers have all seen revenues rise significantly as a result of ebook sales. B&N shows 140% increase in digital sales; Penguin and S&S indicate digital to be 14% & 15% (respectively), Hachette is reporting ebooks as 20% of US Sales; and Bertelsmann/Random House are reporting their digital sales in the first 6 months of 2011 has exceeded all their digital sales in 2010. Volumes might be down, but profits are up slightly. So it would appear that publishers responded to the market and moved their emphasis to digital at a decent time. No forward thinking, but they reacted to a trend and have seen benefit from that change.
But all this comes at a time when lawsuits are heating up on accusations of price fixing. Apple and major publishing houses face class-action lawsuits over allegedly conspiring against Amazon’s discounted $9.99 price point. More parties have jumped in the fray. The complaint focuses on the agency model where the publisher, not the retailer, sets the price for ebooks.
What no one seems to be talking about is how these increased digital sales are breaking down by price point. Indie book publishers certainly seem more nimble to adapt to a market trend or test a discounted price in order to increase overall sales, but what about perceived quality—Indie vs. Big 6? As readers, I think we know a quality book. It’s a subjective determination, but when you make a decision on a digital book, do you look at the publisher name? How much does price enter into your decision to buy?
Will any book do? Distilled down to words, are we turning books into commodities to be traded purely on price? If this is true, what ramifications could follow?
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