Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Are Ebooks Getting Over"E"xposed?


Not ten minutes go by when I don't hear about someone's new ebook. I ask you, how are all of these books going to find buyers? They say space is infinite, but I am not so sure.

Won't there come a day, when Amazon and other ebook sellers say, "Well, we really want a track record before we make your ebook available? We see your last ebook sold 14 copies."

Tell me how many ebooks you have bought from people that don't have print books you have enjoyed. Or ones by friends. Probably none. Now I say all this having an ebook out there. And as far as I know, we haven't sold enough copies to buy a print book.

I have bought about four ebooks so far. And it's not the money really. I spend enough time with a screen in front of me. I don't want to read from another one. How about you?

34 comments:

Loren Eaton said...

Ebooks definitely serve a purpose. I mean, if you have a Kindle and only read casually, then I think they work quite well. But if you're reading off a laptop screen or trying to pay close attention to a text, then I think they're close to unworkable. Of course, I'm speaking as someone with chronically dry eyes.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Same here.

Fleur Bradley: said...

I don't have an e-reader, so I don't buy e-books, pretty much. Loren is right: it just hurts the eyes. Especially if you spend your day looking at a computer screen already.

I did happen to look at a Kindle (at Target) over the weekend, and was pretty impressed with how the screen looked just like paper. It's on my wishlist.

Dana King said...

I now read about 50-50 Kindle to paper, and I plan to bring out a book for Kindle later this year. I have no illusions the space has been overcrowded, and it's not going to get any better.

My expectations are realistic: I'm sour on the idea of what one has to go through for a traditional deal, both before and after signing the contract, but I have several books stashed away on disk, and a few good ideas rolling around in my head. I'll publish, and I'll get the word out as well as I can without making it a job. If they sell, great. if they don't, well, at least a few people who have followed and encouraged my writing for quite a while will have had a chance to read my longer form stories.

I'm good with it, either way.

I will admit the crush of unvetted e-books can be stifling. I've almost stopped going to Crimespace anymore, as almost all the blog posts are book promos, many for books that don't even look that good in the promo. And some of the authors feel the need to post the same books every couple of days. Show some class, people.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Facebook is like that too. The authors and their friends constantly hawk the books.
Even if authors sell books for $.99 you can only read so many books. I just don't see how this thing is going to work.

Charles Gramlich said...

I don't have an exact count but I've bought around 40. about 90 percent have been by people I know. I do read on my kindle all the time.

Deb said...

I like books as physical objects as well as for reading what's between the covers and I haven't dipped my toe in the e-books river year. However, I'm very much afraid that physical books today are the equivalent of horses and carriages at the beginning of the 20th century, and that writers are the equivalent of the people who were paid to take care of the horses and carriages: The horseless carriage (e-book) has arrived and, with ever-accelerated speed, is wiping out the need for most horses, most carriages, and most of the people who looked after them.

Deb said...

That should be "yet" not "year," although "e-books river year" has a nice ring to it!

Julia Madeleine said...

I haven't joined the ebook craze myself...yet. I've been thinking of getting an ereader but I'm still trying to decide which one to buy. Which one is the best? Any suggestions?

John said...

I have no interest in owning a eBook reader and eBooks are not something I will ever want to "experience." My partner practically had to hold a gun to head to get me to buy a cell phone. I've only owned one for the past six years. I'm turning into a Luddite. Not only avoiding but running in terror from all this portable technology.

My latest prophecy is that soon eBooks will be the new playground for antisocial computer hackers. I imagine people becoming puzzled when Chapter 13 in their eBook suddenly vanishes. Or the ending of the hip & happening must-read someone is enjoying has its ending replaced by a series of recipes in French or gibberish or nothing but 1s and 0s or... Well, you can imagine the limitless possibilities. Also viruses infecting bestsellers are almost bound to be one of the side effects of reading books online.

I'll stick with my just as easy to carry real book with real pages, hard covers and my cool collection of bookmarks I've picked up from bookstores around the world.

pattinase (abbott) said...

The thing about it is, how will you even know which ones to buy. With everyone publishing their own ebooks, who will catalog, review or even mention them. How many ebooks do you have to sell to be worth it?
The KINDLE works fine but I hear one of the others has color now.

Randy Johnson said...

I ha ve bought quite a few ebooks, usually from recommendations I've found on the internet. In a few cases, they've been from a writer no longer with us whose work I greatly admired and have discovered some of his older stuff released to the market.

As a member of the Goodreads site, I've been asked if interested in books by other members and accepted them. Otherwise I don't go trolling for new writers. That may trio up new writers that might otherwise have good books. No track record.

Bryon Quertermous said...

It's a crazy world and I think you're raising valid questions, unfortunatley I don't think there are any answers yet.

One thing you mentioned that I think is the biggest problem with ebooks is the CONSTANT hawking and pimping. There's a sense of desperation (and I'm saying this as someone who has a couple ebook offerings) in most of the posts regarding ebooks that I find depressing. I think it offers a lot of great opportunities but there's a lot of shit that needs to settle first.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Perhaps eventually there will a platform or service or a clearing house that takes care of that, Bryon.

Mike Wilkerson said...

I think Mr. Quertermous's post is dead to nuts on.

George said...

I'll let you know what I think about a month from now when Patrick's iPad becomes my iPad. Patrick is upgrading to iPad2 this Friday and I'm getting his "old" iPad. I love the feature that allows you to pick any font and font size you want. All my future ebooks will be Large Print.

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

I have a nook and love it, and I'm not understanding the complaints about eye strain, there is none, with the nook at least. The price difference is huge for me. You can usually read a decent sample before you decide to buy it.

I have not bought many ebooks where the author did not have a print version available, but it was cheaper and a lot easier to to get the ebook compared to the print version.

I just brought and read the best novel I have read in a long time called "Baby Huey: A Cautionary Tale of Addiction" by James Henderson for .99 cents. Dude could not get it published, went the indie route, didn't sell many print versions, but because of ebooks, price, and word of mouth, it is now # 7 and climbing on the kindle charts.

If it were not for ebooks and the price, no one would have ever known about it.

Joe Barone said...

I do about 2/3 of my reading on a Nook or iPad. I like the convenience and the ability to enlarge the type. Also, now I can check out electronic books from our local library.

In regard to ebooks themselves--I once heard it said, "Freedom of the press belongs to those who own the presses." Obviously electronic publishing (and reasonably priced self-publishing) expands that. Take your compilation of stories which take place in Wal-Marts and the like. I'm in the middle of that now. I probably wouldn't have had access to it if it were not for electronic publishing.

Besides, there are some kinds of books for which there is a need, but a limited need. Family histories are an example. Local and family cookbooks. Reasonable self-publishing including that of the electronic sort makes those possible at a reasonable cost.

I say--To each her/his own. If you read (and especially if you buy the books, which I do), do whatever floats your boat (even if it means using a lot of cliches!).

Ed Gorman said...

I've bought twenty-eight novels and novellas in e book form. I still prefer the book and in some instances it's still cheaper to order a used copy from Amazon than pay for the e edition.

Dorte H said...

With regard to readability, Kindle reading does NOT tax your eyes as the screen is not lit from behind. I like holding a paper book in my hand, but when the price is right, I buy e-books, and of course part of my motivation is that I *don´t* stumble on cheap, English crime novels in the bookshops (what bookshops?) around me.

I also see e-books as a great opportunity for me to sell my stuff because the potential readers of my English stories live all over the world, not just around the corner, and how many of them are ready to pay those extra dollars for the shipping? I am not sure I am quite there to be honest. So like Dana, I am ready to try it.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Not so much about eye strain per se but about staring at a screen.

ABSOLUTELY*KATE said...

Always best to come in for a seat in the backroom at Pattnase Place. So pro, so con, so dead on -- Smiled at Patti's apt, "Well, we really want a track record before we make your ebook available? We see your last ebook sold 14 copies." . . . and Deb's horse/carriage and "e-books river year" flow.

Sean Patrick's 'exposure' and Dorte's 'shipping' points make their points as do Mr Gorman's Amazon-used acquistion strategy shared by me, though I have Nooked and discovered Kindling apps directly to Mac'top ... cuddled up listening to 8-tracks and LP's.

Though John has got me thoroughly terrified at turning the next page of what may not be a horror-read to start with ... Patti's and so many others of your noting the crass vs class in soapbox hawking on crowded streetcorners not named 'Desire' is a glut to sometimes walk around. Then again, television invented remotes for channel switches.

More markets for more writers still lets the cream rise. Mixed metaphor aside - I'll read all you guys. ~ Absolutely*Kate

PS - I'll round out an e-collection of stories under my "HOLY MOXIE" umbrella of going separate book-ways ... for who knows what audiences lurk in which hearts of men and women?

michael said...

Will Amazon ever say no to an e-book because of limited sales?

No, why would they? The e-bookstore has unlimited space. With a print book there is only so much space for display and inventory.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Your mind must be similar to Charlie Sheen's and it would blow me out of the water, Kate. It is fast and it is sleek.
And I have yet any proof we sold more than fourteen copies. Alas.
I count on you should I ever get up the gumption. And vice versa.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Michael-with my limit comprehension of the infinite nature of space, I am still skeptical. It must require some effort for Amazon to put up Joe Blow's book about tracking down turtles in Turkistan.

michael said...

Maybe one of the writers on Kindle can answer this, but I was under the impression that the writer does all the work including downloading and Amazon just offers space. I also wonder if Amazon has a fee or takes a cut. Then a cut from one sale is worth the space the internet has.

ABSOLUTELY*KATE said...

YIKES PATTI! Let the sheen to my mind lean more to Martin's - who I admit sending a write-in vote for Pres Jedidiah Bartlett once, just because, well - hell, the name's so dang cool. You got my gumption in your corner to stir e-rivers when your paper books are NYT best-sellers, it's a given.

Michael - Investigating this KDP - Kindle Direct Publishing, the author does ALL the format / chap-breaks / front'stuff / back'stuff and cover pizazz. Helluva lot of coding coding to do to that ... but it must grow easier - if you consider the #s out there. It's just striding that fine-line of wearing your book on your sleeve (perhaps t-shirts?) so much that folks don't want ya around much more.

Talent always sells though.
Just takes findin' the sizzle of all that's at stake. ~ Absolutely*Kate

pattinase (abbott) said...

Oh, Martin was the best for sure. Even if he spawned the rest of them.
Michael-they do take a cut but I am not sure of the numbers.

Barrie said...

It was very interesting to read all the comments. I've thought about buying an e-reader for the summer because I'll be away from home and would like to take several books with me.

Charlieopera said...

I’ve kindled in a few freebees for research purposes, bought a few from friends and purchased a couple just for the hell of it, some from previously print published authors.

What I’ve found uploaded way too often probably makes me a snob, but so be it. I despise the ways some ebooks are uploaded without obvious editing and/or formatting. People are going the cheap route and kidding themselves. There’s no point, no matter how good the writing, in uploading manuscripts that are formatted like shit. There’s equally no point in uploaded manuscripts that are LOADED with typos. Previously print published authors who do either should be ashamed of themselves.

Frankly, I can’t believe what some are willing to do to themselves and the industry (because they do fellow writers no favors by uploading what amounts to unsellable works).

But, the world is upside down anyway ... and I sure can’t change it. I encourage those with publishable works to keep hacking away for the legitimacy of the print vetting process. Try and remember how many GREAT authors were subject to what amounted to (in retrospect) absurd rejections (George V. Higgins The Friends of Eddie Coyle immediately comes to mind). The business is in a downward spiral, but more so for previously published authors who haven’t made it big than new writers. Agents/publishers are far more willing to take a chance with unpublished authors than with those with bad (or “abysmal” sales records--like mine--one guy refused to even read my last novel; most others liked it enough but ... the author’s name is poison on the bookshelves of B&N, etc.). Think of all the pen names being used by previously published authors (that has more to do with taking another shot than being prolific). It is what it is and although we’ll all find print novels we think should’ve been better vetted (books not to our tastes), there is something to be said for passing that grade. Perhaps in the future (the near future) it won’t make a difference, but I think (I “think”) it still does.

Whatever those uploading do, however, hopefully they’ll bother with making sure what they’re going to present is presentable.

pattinase (abbott) said...

This sums it up rather handily, Charlie.

ABSOLUTELY*KATE said...

Hear that? I'm applauding Charlie (but Patti, natch, beat me to it) ~ Absolutely*Kate

Eric Christopherson said...

I just sold my 15,000th ebook today. I'm on pace to sell 3,500 in March alone and earnings have reached the low four figures per month. I'm not traditionally published, despite multiple lit agents in recent years. I rarely do any kind of marketing, though when I started out I did promote regularly (don't ask what I did because I suck at it, I swear), and readers have been generous in reviewing my work.

So it is possible to get a quality book noticed and for it to sell itself, essentially, if priced low.

I wouldn't worry about the "noise" too much from all those authors hawking books. Think of the internet itself as a metaphor. It has gazillions of sites, and yet we all somehow find the good sites to visit, though they be quite limited in number.

Eric Christopherson said...

Michael-they do take a cut but I am not sure of the numbers.

Sell your book between $2.99 and $9.99 and you keep 70%. Sell for less or more and it's 35%.