Today’s the last day of my KDP Select promotion of my short story collection, “Technology & Culture” stink. So if you’re remotely interested in reading short stories about topics that few authors have covered yet, like:
- social media
- cloud computing
- global warming
- a political race full of lawyer-reporters, a popular new profession
Then check it out today! If you don’t have a Kindle, just download the Kindle App for your smartphone and read a short story while you’re in line at the grocery store or something.
You have my guarantee that you’ll like at least one of them.
Ebook sales have slowed down. Flattened. Softened. Whatever word you want to call it. Worldwide sales for the first quarter this year? They declined.
Over at Rough Type, Nicholas Carr speculated a little bit about why eBook sales have so abruptly become steady, rather than revolutionary.
Specifically, he brought up the iPad. I’ve thought about the indirect effect of tablet computers on eBooks, too. Especially when I saw that e-readers are dying.
Take a look at this graph and tell me what you see.
To me, it looks like a complement-to-print-books-future, not a eBooks-are-killing-print-totally future.
Amazon is waging a war against “bookstores” and “book culture.” According to a new article from Salon, anyway.
Well, if Amazon is at war, I guess I’m a soldier. Of the last three books I’ve bought, two have been through Amazon, for my smartphone.
Why? Because they’re obscure business books that I was confident I wouldn’t find in a store. And it was easy.
The one thing I can’t stand in this debate about the future of books and publishing and authors is when people seem to think of Amazon or some other Corporation as a malevolent and unstoppable force.
So let’s stop with the overblown rhetoric and examine the truth about this situation:
By now, anyone in the literary world… who reads Internet News… has learned that J.K. Rowling released a novel about four months ago under a man’s name. Robert Galbraith, to be exact.
The book, The Cuckoo’s Calling, sold a whopping 1,500 copies in four months. Meanwhile, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by contrast, sold 8.3 million copies in one day. Fifteen hundred copies means that the book sold at a clip of about 10-15 a day.
Now, of course, it’s sprung to the top of bestseller lists, because J.K. Rowling is a big, established author. But this interesting – and bold – decision of Rowling’s highlights something that’s a little scary: the “discoverability” problem for new authors.
So, recently, the federal court in New York ruled that Apple played a “central role” in fixing eBook prices with publishers. The goal was to keep the cost of an eBook at $12.99, instead of $9.99.
This has ushered in a wave of speculation about the future of both pricing and print books and eBooks. One Wired article by Marcus Wohlsen even speculates that this could be the “end of the book as we know it.”
His argument is that, without competition, Amazon is going to be free to set prices for books, especially when bookstores fade away. The publishing industry is going through the painful throes faced by the music industry years ago and it looks like Amazon is going to clamber on top.
But the thing about technology is that the top is a slippery place, and it’s important to keep in mind that Amazon’s true power lies in the fickle decisions of the consumer.
If you ask a local business about “showrooming,” they’ll either scowl or, more likely, look befuddled. The practice is booming among consumers, though, and any business owner has probably seen it: a customer walks into the store, browses the shelves, and then whips out her smartphone.
A few minutes later, she’s gone. Where’d she go? Well, she already ordered the item she saw in the store at a discount. On the Internet. Not from your store.
About half of consumers are using showrooming while they’re purchasing. The jury’s out on whether it’s really bad for retail or not-so-bad-but-probably-not-good.
However, one type of retail is suffering more than others: bookstores.
The general grumbling from book publishers and bookstores alike is that the whole eBook format is going to destroy them. Smart-mouthed, tech savvy people who like Disruption are quick to agree. They call publishers “dinosaurs” who don’t get it, and other mean things.
Really, publishers are trying to get quality books into the hands of readers.
When there are no filters, self-publishing threatens that notion of “quality” in a big way (as we can see with the acclaimed werewolf love stories).
But a lot of the time, authors are self-publishing because they have no choice. Publishers won’t take risks on unknown writers and certainly not on unconventional fiction. They’re more inclined to support blockbusters and nothing else.
Publishers have just had to adapt. We saw that when Random House and Penguin merged. And now, finally, it looks like they can finally say the word “eBook” without grimacing.
Book sales are hard to figure out.
On the one hand, we’ve seen a slow dip in sales for the past few years. On the other hand, independent bookstores reported a 10% spike in sales for the last holiday season. Then again, one study found that 85% of children readers aged 2-13 are using tablets and other e-readers to read their books.
Personally, I think bookstores are going to stick around for a long time.
But let’s try out a thought experiment, given that everyone is so worried about their health.
If there were no bookstores and only e-readers, what, exactly, would publishers do for authors?
Who’s going to save literary fiction?
Prominent agents have said that big publishers these days are just focused on pushing out blockbuster titles. You know, things that will sell millions.
That leaves self-proclaimed “literary authors” that write “literary fiction” biting their nails.
But never fear, literary authors… Amazon is here.
That’s right – the online retailer has just launched a literary fiction imprint known as “Little A.”