An article here about the issues authors have with publishers over what the book cover should be like.

Having sat on both sides of this debate – as an author and as someone who has worked with author’s on brining their books to publication, I feel the author should have their say and the publisher should listen – but the final say should go with the publisher as they have the experience of doing more book covers than the authors have (and te cover is one of the top items of advertising for any book, and needs to work on a physical object and as an Amazon thumbnail) – and crucially are not as close to the book as the author’s inevitably will be.

The same is also true of the editing process, but that may need to be another blog post!

Quite some time ago I suggested in a post that in the future  books will be sold in hardback a bit like rarities (a bit like how vinyl is produced and sold now in the era of iTunes) based on the theory that you can buy cheap text as a digital file (altho this has still not quite happened – yet) and if you really, really like the book you can buy it as a luxury item to have on show in your house (altho this will most likely be a wider trend than those few who still buy vinyl – and it is entirely possible this will herald a return to a bygone era when only rich people had books as they were expensive – altho in the future the less affluent will still have access to them, just via digital mediums rather than bulky paperbacks).

Out Christmas shopping in Exeter (UK) recently I saw this in Waterstones (the large store, not the small one – for those of you who know the city):

 

IMAG0387

The text on the display, which you can partially see reads: “Classic books beautifully bound” – hardback books – objects of beauty and curiosity.

Expect to see more of this for all books as the digital revolution continues.

Digital publishing should be leading a revolution in publishing bringing great books to the masses – but this is stalling due to price.

Allen Lane, the founder of Penguin, introduced paperback novels in 1935 with the intention that books should cost no more than a packet of cigarettes.

I don’t buy cigarettes, but my friend Google tells me in the UK they cost a bit less than £6.50 for a pack of 20.

Second on the Amazon best selling book as I write is by Bradley Wiggins, the paperback costs £7.19 from Amazon (RRP £7.99)  while the Kindle edition costs £6.29 (and the reason I have selected 2nd on the best seller list is because first doesnt appear to have a Kindle edition thanks Jamie Oliver)

So the paperback costs more than the cigarettes, while the digital edition costs marginally less than they do.

Let’s think about this for a minute – the difference between a paperback and the Kindle edition is 90p.

That 90p must account for the cost of printing, the cost of paper, the cost of shipping, the cost of storage and possibly other costs I am not factoring in. And bearing in mind publishers sell to retailers at least 50% discount for paper books, then we should be looking at 45p as being the cost of each of those things.

While the Kindle edition is some data uploaded to Amazon who then download it after the customer purchases. Quite often the data is a couple of megabits which if it costs anything at all to store and transmit, cannot be more than a few pence.

So why does a couple of MBs of data cost not much less than a paperback (with all the costs of printing, transporting and storing) ????

I don’t know what is going on in the offices of big publishing houses across the planet, so I hesitate to say this is all about profiteering – they may have a legitimate reason – which I would really like to hear (feel free to comment to explain yourself if you work at a big publishing house).

However, what I do know is I have four books available on Amazon* – three are almost out of print as paperbacks (and the publisher doesn’t plan to print anymore as they will be available forever on Kindle) – but all are available in Kindle.

The paperback prices are in the range you would expect as compared to books from other publishing houses. But, the Kindle editions all retail at £1.92 (which is based on the US price of $2.99 which I understand is the minimum price you can put on a Kindle book). 

I mention the prices of my books primarily to make the point I am practicing what I am preaching (and if Amazon removes their minimum price I think they would go down again – publishing to a literate world should be about volume of sales not price per unit – the industry values best sellers (not highest priced sellers) after all.

Market forces will win out and the big publishing houses will flourish or not in the digital era. But keeping prices more or less the same for paper objects compared to couple of MBs downloads is probably not sustainable – look at what Apple has done to CDs with iTunes at 79p a track. Look at what Netflix and others are doing to movie and box set DVD sales.

The digital revolution is here and if the old publishers cannot change the price then new ones who will change the cost and the business model to compete will rise up and take their place – it is how the market works.

 

*My books available on Kindle:

The Joy of Ex

Fragments

UHF Shadow

The Great Wide Open

Apple is launching an app for designing textbooks. These will be content rich experiences.

Apparently the cost will be capped at $14.99 and you will be able to buy individual chapters for a lower price.

This will save schools and colleges (and students!) an absolute fortune. The costs historically in publishing has always been in the paper, printing, distribution and storing. All of this is quickly vanishing as the traditional book (printed paper) starts to disappear being replaced by eBooks in their many forms.

Books with sound?

September 29, 2011

One of the latest innovations in e publishing is books with sound effects.

Hmmm… I may be wrong, but I have to say, I am not convinced. Why would you want your eBook to play music throughout, like the incidental music in films.

Surely, you just need to buy an audio book and have it read to you with the incidental music there, rather than alongside your actual text? I often listen to random music when I read, but it is usually something I block out when I get engrossed (usually only noticing the sound when the playlist ends and some random mp3 comes on).

So, I remain unconvinced by the innovation of reading with its own pre-defined soundtrack, as do others. But let’s see what the eBook buying public think.

I am not always mad keen on industry prizes, but happened to look at a list of previous winners of the Man Booker prize.

And noted I had only read two of them:

Paddy Clarke HaHaHa by Roddy Doyle (the worst book of his I have read, in my opinion)

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (great book – much better than the film, even though it had Kristin Scott-Thomas in, who rocks in everything I have seen her in).

Two of 44 is not many, and I wonder if I should have read more of them…

I also wonder what will happen to book prizes as publishing changes with the advent of digital business models?

The Harry Potter books are to be sold as eBooks for the first time.

As far as I can tell from reading the various articles, JK is set to earn herself another fortune as she never sold the digital rights to her books to her publishers.

Which means when Pottermore sells a book, instead of the author receiving 10% of the sale as is often the case in traditional bookselling, as she appears to own Pottermore, she will make every penny.

Good for her by the way.

What this shows is an established author can sell direct to the public via digital means (and remember Radiohead did a similar thing with In Rainbows) but what does it mean for authors without the name recognition of JK and her boy wizard?

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