Monday, February 1, 2010

My writing week 3 (4)

Hi all,

I have spent a bit of the week discussing and researching ebooks, prompted after reading a number of articles about ebooks in The Age, one of which declared 2010 to be the year of the ebook. I thought I better see what all the fuss is about.

I went over to Amazon and checked out if they shipped Kindles to Australia and their price. Well they do and it costs $256. I had already read that Apples iPad will cost about $560. Not sure whether either price is US dollars or not. My cursor hovered over the purchase button while my finger hovered over my mouse, but I just couldn't bring myself to buy a Kindle. It felt too much like supporting a huge oligopoly as they and Apple will probably monopolise the ebook industry in a few years.

Being what they are, Apple and Amazon will compete aggressively to get the most users of their reader. They have three main ways of doing this: first, create a better reader; second, have more ebooks on their shelves and; third, price.

In an article pointed out to me by writer Alan Baxter, amazon might up the royalties it currently pays for ebooks from 35% to 70% in a bid to get more ebook titles on its site. The sticking point is they want to keep the retail price below $10 for an ebook. But I am sure this won't last as once Amazon and Apple have heaps of content/titles in their ebook stores they will then compete on price and start to put the squeeze on publishers and authors, who probably will have little choice but to take what is offered. Amazon this week removed all of Pan MacMillian's ebooks reportedly because Amazon wanted the ebooks prices dropped from around $15 to $10.

I checked out Amazons top 100 selling ebooks for yesterday, four were free and 34 were $2. The publishers and authors of the $2 books will be getting a whole 70 cents. They better be massive sellers. Admittedly, a few of the $2 books were ancient relics which could be out of copyright so the author wouldn't be getting anything.

Anyway, my concern about ebooks got me thinking: why worry about it now? Why not wait until I have a book published? After all, at the rate I am editing my novel it might be a decade or so before it is finished. This might be after the great ebook flood of free promotional ebooks, free out of copyright ebooks and free illegal downloads of ebooks that destroys the publishing industry and author incomes. With ebooks only making money for anyone, including Amazon and Apple, after consumers realise that they are only going to get a quality edited product when they have to pay for it.

I wonder if other writers who are yet to be published worry about the future of publishing or just get on with the job of writing and only turn their attention to the publishing industry once they have written something they think is publishable. If they are lucky enough to be accepted for publishing, they then turn their attention to self-promotion and creating a market for their book. Or do most writers try to get in early with the self-promotion and make themselves anxious by researching how hard it is to get published and sell more than a few copies.

I did a bit more editing of Stalking Tigers this week than last. My motivation at the moment is a bit shot as I wait for cataract surgery on my second eye, due next Tuesday. The mystery will be gone this time, but I don't think the dread will have decreased much. And then I have a month or more with eye drops and not being able to swim, followed by a month or so of eye aches as my eyes adjust to their new focus. That's assuming everything goes right.

Graham.

1 comment:

Mark said...

If you haven't already seen it, you really ought to check out what Mr Stross has to say about Amazon and the Kindle and publishing - including comments on how Amazon were the first to blink in that little stoush with Macmillan.

With regard to getting a Kindle, or not, if you wanted to have a poke at the platform without buying the hardware there's always Kindle for PC - I loaded that up myself while investigating Kindle for a project I have some technical and promotional involvement with.

A lot of people have hardware from the Other A-monopolists, and there's a Kindle app in the app store for both the phone and the pod.

So, there are a couple of ways to play with the Kindle platform without giving Amazon money for anything other than maybe a few of the non-free books if you really wanted them - with a free sample available for many books, you should be able to get a reasonable feel for what kind of formatting does and does not work without spending anything.