- Important: All passwords were reset on 06/15/11. Old passwords will no longer work. Click here to retrieve your password.
- Subscribe to Our Free Dewsletter
We are non-commercial, all volunteer and supported by our readers. Please help sustain the Dew by making a donation.
The revolution will be digitized
eBooks are the future – whether you like it or not
On Oct. 1, my new mystery/suspense novel, Remain In Light, was released as an eBook. My publisher, Vanilla Heart, is trying a “digital first” strategy with new titles and will follow up with a print edition in January.
Although I’ve fully embraced the eBook revolution, it’s still weird not to have a physical book to hold in my hand. The marketing campaign for Remain In Light has been done completely through social media (Facebook, Twitter, e-newsletter blast and blogs). This is the new reality facing authors today, whether we like it or not.
Statistics show that 1 in 6 Americans now owns some type of eReader, according to a recent article in Publishers Weekly. With the recent announcement of the new line of inexpensive Amazon Kindles, expect that number to grow rapidly.
eBook sales rose 167 percent in June 2011, according to the Association of American Publishers and eBooks are now outselling print and hardbacks at Amazon, according to the company. Many independent bookstores in Atlanta, including Outwrite Books in Midtown, are now offering eBooks to customers via their websites.
And you might have heard that a number of authors (most famously Amanda Hocking) are now millionaires just by uploading their own eBooks to Amazon, which removes agents and publishers completely from the equation.
I decided to talk to a few of my fellow authors and get their thoughts on having their work available as eBooks and whether they’ve embraced the future.
Jessica Handler, author of the memoir Invisible Sisters (it’s deservedly on the 2010 list of Books All Georgians Should Read), doesn’t own an eReader, but has seen her book on other people’s devices. “I’m excited to see Invisible Sisters in anyone’s hands, in any form,” she said.
Handler said if indie bookstores have to sell eBooks to survive then so be it. “I’m still so attached to the bookstore experience; browsing, chatting, handing over actual money to a real person and leaving with a real tangible thing in my hands,” she said. “However, as an author who loves indie bookstores and wants to encourage reading, any revenue stream that serves the indie store and the author, and any way to make reading accessible to the public, is a benefit to the industry.”
Bestselling author Tayari Jones has her eReader in her bag while she’s on a 50-city tour for her latest novel, Silver Sparrow. “I can’t carry around books around, but nothing brings me more comfort in a hotel room like a good book, so an eReader is perfect while I’m on the road.”
Jones has also downloaded Silver Sparrow onto her eReader and often reads from it. “Sometimes during a radio interview, I will be asked to read and I always have the book handy on my eReader.”
Man Martin’s latest novel, Paradise Dogs is out now and he’s grateful for the eBook. His first novel, Days of the Endless Corvette, isn’t available in digital format and he said that cuts off readers who have gone all eBook. “As far as I’m concerned I’m happy to see my work available in as many formats as possible: print, electronic, audio, semaphore, cuneiform, bring it on,” he said.
Online magazine TechCrunch predicted that bookstores would be virtually nonexistent by 2018, but I disagree with that “dystopian” outlook. Tapes and CDs were expected to be the death of records, but vinyl is still around and actually having a bit of resurgence. I think printed books are going the way of vinyl, still viable and still available but more for the collector and connoisseur. I own hundreds and hundreds of books and no one can make me give them up. That said, I’ve pre-ordered the new Kindle Fire and itching to have it in my hands.
Martin agreed that printed books are becoming marginalized, but they won’t disappear. “People will keep reading books; there are troglodytes like me who just love the weight of a book in their hands, the sight of a fat stack of books on the bedside table, the smell and sound of books.”
Many publishers are duking it out with Amazon and other retailers over price points for eBooks. The average price for an eBook is $9.99 and publishers are trying to hold the line or raise it to net more profit.
Grant Jerkins, author of the forthcoming thriller At the End of the Road, said readers are more willing to take a chance on a book when it’s $10 or less. Many authors (including those aforementioned millionaires) are selling books for a mere 99 cents each. “Keeping the eBooks inexpensive is great for impulse purchases,” Jerkins said. “Why not take a chance?”
Jerkins was given a Kindle as a Christmas gift last year and he’s a convert. “I love books and I love gadgets, so I really wanted one. I have to say that I genuinely enjoy reading on it. And it’s indispensable for impulse buys, for those times when you hear about a great book and you can literally have it placed in your hands in mere seconds.”
That sentiment is key to why eBooks have risen so quickly in popularity. Consumers like instant gratification and being able to download an entire novel or memoir in a minute from the comfort of your living room is a pretty compelling argument.
I held out on actually reading eBooks for as long as possible, but once I bought an iPhone and the Kindle app was available for free, I couldn’t resist any longer. I’ve now read two eBooks on my phone and, yes, I downloaded Remain In Light the day it was released. Adapt or die.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
For today, a different perspective, learning from history. Reading Winston Churchill's massive six-book history of World War II gives new insights into that war, at least for me. For instance, it appears that my main interest was the fight against the Germans, by the English, Russian, French and Allied forces. Perhaps others had more interest in the war in the Pacific Theatre. Even I, as one alive during World War II, remember the massive fighting emanating out of the Philippines, in the Coral Sea area, Okinawa and Iwo Jima, other areas, and finally, the dropping of the Atomic Bomb on two Japanese Read on →
Why do we care what happens in Ferguson, Missouri? Because on some level we recognize that if any one group or community can be officially deprived of their human and civil rights without restraint, then it can happen to any other group or neighborhood. Sea Island, Georgia is proof. Sea Island, Georgia has been turned into an exclusive neighborhood. Random visitors are turned away at a guarded gate and even residents driving off the island must pause and wait for the barricade to rise and let their vehicle pass unscratched. Presumably, pedestrians can leave unchallenged. Though, people on foot are universally Read on →
In his poem The Cabbages of Chekhov, Robert Bly had me again when he wrote that, “William Blake knew that fierce old man, irritable, chained, and majestic, who bends over to measure with his calipers the ruins of the world.” Despite such a fierce image in his poem, Bly has that way about him where he can rescue you in the end from all the bad news that comes tracked in on the dog’s paws. With Bly on my mind, I wasn’t all that surprised that something magical was about to happen this past weekend. On the wings of Bly, a sweet little guy with a funny Read on →
I read recently that the woman was so hateful that you could light a cigarette from her glare. There was just some deep hurt or plain orneriness about her that made her a Fukushima Daiichi that refused to cool off. When looking at the tabloid in the supermarket rack, I noticed that her mop of big hair needed some untangling and definitely a good scrub. She sat there showing a tattoo on her fleshy forearm bearing witness to whatever meaning was hidden beneath her skin’s impression of a tractor trailer. And she sure looked pissed. She apparently was nursing a grudge a Read on →