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Ebooks: Will book publishers fail if they don’t adapt? July 8, 2009

Posted by Diana McCabe in News.
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If I could afford a Kindle right now — I’d buy one and purchase my books via downloads. I read A LOT. I have boxes and boxes and boxes of books in my tiny beach condo. And while I love the feel of a good old library book or new hardback book, I find Kindlemyself reading more stories online.

But not everyone agrees. In some Twitter feeds, I’ve seen authors and editors discussing the merits of traditional books vs ebooks. And my guest blogger today — my little sis Sandy in Philly — sent me this: (see my response after)

savannahI was just on The Bitten by Books Web site because it had an  interview with author Lucy Finn, a.k.a. Savannah Russe, who wrote the Darkwing Chronicles, an urban-fantasy series. Yes, she talks about her book and characters, but the interesting question for me was what she thought about ebooks.

Man, she hates them (Click here and scroll down the interview to read her response) and strongly believes it means less profit for book sellers and publishers and therefore will not make it in the future.  I was really stunned by her response.  She also softens her response by saying that readers will miss the bookstore experience.  Also, she disclosed an interesting statistic.  Her books have 15 readers per book and out of those 15 readers, one actually paid for the book.  Hmm ….. wondered how they tracked that stat.  Now, I am really curious about why she thinks less profit for the e-readers.  She must also be worried that people will “share” more with e-readers than paperback?

Well — that’s one perspective but Angela James, executive editor for Samhain Publishing, has a great Web site with some samhain1good articles on epublishing. I mean — look at how many publishers are starting to offer up books for download. Not only does Samhain publish electronically, but powerhouse Harlequin does, too. They are all over the Web — you can customize your own newsletters, participate on blogs, download books, and in some cases they’ll accept book pitches online in live chats.

I think the book industry is kind of like the newspaper industry — they don’t want to get rid of their printed pages. Many authors are all over the Web with book trailers/blogs/cool Web sites/more and more of their sneak peaks are online. But check out some of Angela James’ articles. One of my faves:


Here’s an excerpt:

angelaMyth: No one reads ebooks.
Reality: My royalty checks beg to differ with you! I think it’s better to say that not everyone does or wants to read ebooks. That’s absolutely true. But that companies thought there was a viable market in dedicated ebook readers shows that people are reading ebooks. As do the piracy sites dedicated to exchanging ebooks.

Myth: You won’t (can’t) make any money in epublishing.
Reality: I think this is probably the question first and foremost in most author’s minds when they consider epublishing. The plain, no-holds-barred, unvarnished truth is that some people will make money and some people won’t. When I did my research on this, I found that the answers varied wildly from authors who’d made just a few dollars on their books to authors who’d made a few hundred thousand dollars in one year on their books.

Here are some of her other articles:

Epublishing Business Model

Choosing a Digital Publisher

YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary)

Digital Publishing Contracts

Digital publishing and print

Reasonable Expectations

Formats and Devices

Who knows. I wonder what folks will say about this at the national RWA conference? Let me know!!!

Coming up: I need to get some more author interviews out. And to read!!! If you’d like to help guest blog or have a paranormal romance topic/question/suggestion, lemme know!


1. Kym - October 17, 2009

As a reader, some of the things that influence whether I buy an ebook or paperback are price, how attached I am to the ‘series’ or author, whether I saw the book first as an ebook or paperback. Whether I have other books in the series/author as paperbacks or ebooks.
For instance: I have Anita Black series as paperbacks because I first started buying them as paperbacks, same with JRWard. But Lora Leigh, I only bought as ebooks so don’t have any hardcopy of hers. I won’t pay more than 7-8 dollars for an ebook, no matter who wrote it. There is no textural quality to an ebook and frankly I think anything more than that is profiteering when there is little or no outlay for paper printing or transport/delivery and so forth. Most ebooks I buy from American sites so I have to deal with the exchange rate on top of the posted price. I have seen ebooks with prices up to $16 and why would anyone pay that except for the convenience of having on a kindle or something. Since the majority of kindle apps don’t work overseas, it seems excessive.
If I particularly like a book I bought as an ebook, I have occasionally bought it in hardcopy later as a paperback but I haven’t yet bought anything as an ebook that I have as a paperback. I have quite a few books that are no longer in print and haven’t been for some time. I would possibly have to buy them as ebooks if they are released as the paperback version I have a old and falling to pieces. I worry that my ebook library will be lost if the computer breaks so have copied them all to an external hardrive as well. This is not something I have ever had to worry about as paperbacks even though a fire/flood would also ruin them. I suppose I worry more about the safety of my ebooks than I do about my books as they seem more….ephemeral.

Diana McCabe - October 17, 2009

I’m still debating on whether to buy a Kindle etc. My hubby probably will. I have sooooo many books that it isn’t funny. Some I will keep. I’m like you. I want certain ones in paper etc. And other stories I would be fine just having electronically. However, I, too, would be afraid I would lose my e-books library. But — they aren’t all that expensive and it’s not like I can’t go back and replace them or back them up like you’ve done. (well — there are some expensive ones but I wouldn’t buy them!!!!) Still — I understand what you’re saying!!!!!

I’ll probably go back and forth for a while. I read a lot of things online, but then I buy books etc. I won’t know until I take the plunge and get the Kindle tho!


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