Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ebook Domination

Had a long talk with Joe (see sidebar) about the future in e-publishing. He's really excited about it; I'm very skeptical. Call me a traditionalist. The thought of ebooks being the dominant form of publication--especially when so many of them are self-published*--worries me.

Here's a bit of the Gmail convo:

if you look at the biases of the new media, it is all slanted toward the author
for anyone who wants to write books, this stuff is extremely good news
it puts things in our favor
for those who want to make a living ripping off authors, it's extremely bad
or for those whose business is built on the work of writers
it's like the mp3 revolution
it killed the record labels and helped out the struggling artists


me: There are thousands and thousands of people who want to be published, only a fraction of them are Really good. The pubilshers/agents weed out the bad ones, and the good ones get published
but with ebooks, now all those thousands and thousands can publish their books
and it floods the market
and 29 out of every 30 ebooks sucks

Not to mention that the author now takes on advertising costs, but Joe makes a good point that, unless you've written the next best-seller, the publisher won't do much to promote your book, anyway. Needless to say, I'm convinced I need to learn more about the publishing industry, and am more fervent than ever to publish before ebooks take over the world.

What are your thoughts?

*Come on, when was the last time you read a good, self-published book from a new author?


  1. Stephen King was self published, wasn't he?
    I know for a fact Larry Correia was self published and now he's a NYT bestseller, and he's a dang fine author.

    There's the stigma NOW because you have to pay a substantial amount upfront; not so much with ebooks.

    I actually had a long rant planned about eBooks for my blog and I got bored and didn't write it. But the gist was that 1. Books won't go anywhere. 2. eBooks will only get bigger 3. Eventually there will be a stabilizing between eBooks and physical copy sales.

    Will paper books sell less? Certainly. But it also opens more opportunities. Saying it won't happen or fighting against it are like the people who fought against using the internet to sell music (and now movies)...they get thrown under the bus as the times roll on by.

    I agree with Joe; eBooks are a Godsend to wannabe authors. It lets you bypass the industry of editors that - while certainly good intentioned - might overlook something because it isn't marketable. Think of everything Dan Wells wrote before Serial Killer. Is there a market for weird Jane Austin Frankenstein thrillers? Of course there is, it just isn't big enough to merit physical copies. The only way that book will ever see the light of day is in eBook format.

    So...yeah. If you don't want the industry to advance, hate on eBooks. But be warned the change is going to happen whether everybody (including big publishers) are on board or not. ;)

  2. Though I WILL say that it opens the door to a billion twilight clones to swarm amazon's "independent" kindle section. But considering twilight clones are already swarming YA sections of bookstores around the globe, I suppose that isn't a sin of eBooks alone. :P

    (I could also point out how the internet and digital distribution has pretty much changed the entire face of the video game industry, especially for independent game developers (read: it has made their stuff finally marketable), but I think the point was well made enough in the previous post)

  3. test post--actual post to follow if this works.

  4. Yay! Every time I try to post my comment on your blog something glitches. Anyway, I'm with you on preferring the traditional publishing route. For one, I just don't like reading stuff off a computer. And yeah, they open the door to lots of self-published works of questionable quality. I agree with what others have said here, that the publishing and e-book industries will reach an eventual, if not exactly equal balance. There will always be supporters of both camps. I myself aim to publish the traditional way.

    Honestly, though, my biggest issue with ebooks? I just get overwhelmed by the selection. Too much to choose from is a turnoff for me, oddly enough. My time is so severely limited I usually just end up reading stuff that's recommended to me by friends and book reviewers.

  5. I'm still on the fence. I haven't had any desire, so far, to buy an e-reader, and probably won't seriously consider it until my kids are older and I have more time to read again. But I take a certain pride and glee in the fact that my living room is a library with five bookcases--and they're starting to burst at the seams. It won't keep growing if everything I buy is digital. Libraries are also such a critical part of life to us, and what will happen to them as ebooks take over?

    It has occurred to me that I will probably be epub'd at some point in my career, but I do hope to do traditional publishing too--preferably first. Somehow it feels more legit--probably because of the gatekeeper position of editors and agents that you mentioned above.

  6. Okay, I have a Kindle, so I guess that makes me qualified for this.


    1. Saving trees. Saving eye-strain. (haha)
    2. Literary agents have almost all converted over to digital everything. With things like Kindles, they can now read your submissions everywhere--and many have expressed their love for lack of eye strain, more time in which to do their work, and more ability to read good books. Read: us?
    3. Editors have also jumped on the Kindle/Nook reading personal documents bandwagon. This all came through e-publishing, and it means resources (such as time and paper) are better spent.
    4. Out of print books are no able to be "in print" again, bringing both publishers and authors money. And there's the side benefit of not having to scour used book stores for them anymore. (Used book stores don't bring anyone money but the used book stores, too.)
    5. Now it's harder to lend people books, meaning more copies have to be bought because less are lent to people. = More money for you.
    6. With e-readers, there's an ability to read all bonus books and materials authors have put online--without eyestrain! Anywhere! This has already upped my reading of free, quality books. See #7.
    7. Now you can read more of the classics, easier, without paying ridiculous money for free books to dead authors - such as through Project Gutenberg. Very few people take the time to read those online--but now they're GREAT. You read more classics, you become better read, you become a better writer. Everyone's happy!
    8. No more heavy books to lug around. See: hardbacks. See: people like me with carpal tunnel where it hurts after a while of holding a book up to read, even in paper back. :/
    9. A resurgence of choose-your-own-adventure text-based games and books. See "Choice of" Games series that is remarkably well-written.
    10. E-books are still priced at a mass-market pricing. Most books can't be "lent" to your friends" which means if they want to read it, they still have to pay = more money for publisher/author, etc.
    11. Self-published books are cheaper, it's easier to tell which books are self-published and which are more "quality". Readers can still pick what sort of trash they wish to read. :p Pulp fiction and penny novels are not new concepts.
    12. Books' pages will yellow in time and things get bent and out of shape.
    13. E-readers have added benefits of audio content, opening things up for "book soundtracks" and so on.
    14. Easy to store and take with you. Shelf space not needed. Easy to travel with and move appartments with.

    1. Hard and true, mostly-reliable methods of getting books out and all that weight of history behind it.
    2. You're pretty certain these books are polished and good by the time they reach the shelves.
    3. Aesthetics of feel of the page, smell of the glue.
    4. Books can last for centuries if well taken care of. Have proven to stand the test of time and fads.
    5. Easy to lend to your friends. No need to charge them up, either.
    6. Bigger canvas, illustrations easier to see.
    7. Mass market books are easy to take with you.
    8. Potential for gorgeous artwork covers that become a masterpiece in and of themselves.
    9. You're certain you won't have formatting issues in the future as digital formats change. See: .WPD files that are now useless, the evolution of floppy discs and the lack of floppy drives in computers, the destruction oF GeoCities, fast ends to digital eras.
    10. You can get discount prices of tried and true favorites as used bookstores.
    11. Book parties for new releases! Popculture, yay!
    12. If you're lucky enough to have shelf space you can make a room bright and colorful! And also make yourself look wise and learned, scholarly and well-read. :p Or just like a SF&F geek. Either way.
    13. Still no eye-strain!
    14. Traditional librarians will love you. Their jobs are still alive! Sort of. Computer labs have taken over... and they're already getting grouchy.

    HOWEVER these two DON'T have to be mutually exclusive. Every device has an individual use and a market. Computers were not replaced by the iTouch, etc.

    -Laura, btw.
    Yeah, still in Kansas. And maybe I love my Kindle so much because there aren't any good bookstores around and I'm kind of stuck at home :p

  8. I might add that I would never use an ereader for kids books--up until they're reading chapter books on their own. Pop up books? Lift the flap books? Touch and feel books? Sturdy, drool-proof board books? Can't be done--and any interaction that IS put into e-reader kids stories would be too much like a computer game or video for my tastes. I chose to follow the AAP guidelines and gave my son no screen time until age 2 (well, we didn't prevent him from seeing ANYTHING, but apart from home videos of himself and occasional small snippits of sports games, he saw nothing.) I think real, physical books are imperative at a young age, and that's one thing ebooks will never be able to replace.