Kristine Kathryn Rusch

The Business Rusch: Readers, Publishing, & The Future (Changing Times Part 21)

Written By: Kristine Kathryn Rusch - Mar• 09•11

The Business Rusch: Readers, Publishing & The Future

(Changing Times Part Twenty-One)

Kristine Kathryn Rusch

It’s an hour before I normally post this blog, and I’m just getting started.  I’d like to say that’s because this is the saga of my entire week (and it is), but the real problem is that I decided to make a few notes on the book I’m finishing before I got to this post.

Three hours later, I finally turned to this blog.

The book is giving me fits, because I can’t seem to nail down the structure.  I write books out of order, as those of you who followed me through The Freelancer’s Survival Guide know.  I wish I could change this process, but my mind sees books as a mosaic instead of as something linear.  When I finish, I have to construct the book, rather like a quilter with scraps of fabric.  If I put the scraps together one way, I have one kind of book.  If I put them together in another, I have a completely different book.

Because of the recalcitrant novel, I’ve been thinking about structure all week.  Off and on, those thoughts have veered from that project to this one.  When I first came up with the “Changing Times” subsection of the Business Rusch, I had a pretty straightforward structure in mind, which I even mentioned in the early posts.  I would go from an overview of publishing to the impact these changes have on every branch of publishing, from Big Publishing to Small Publishers to Writers to Readers. Once I hit the reader post, I would have another book—one I wrote in a linear fashion.

Well…this time, it’s not my brain conspiring against me.  It’s the constant evolution of the industry. As I noted in a post I wrote just after the holidays titled “Rapid Change,” things are moving so quickly that I can’t keep up week to week.  I’m afraid if I put all of these posts together into a book—even an e-book—it’ll be dated in the month I take to organize, copyedit, and publish.  Plus I’m not sure I can complete this in a month, given my fiction writing schedule.  I’m faced with a dilemma.

Also, I haven’t finished all of the topics that I have added to my list.  Some of you have asked for a post on promotion; others want to know how to figure out whether or not self-publishing is for them.  Before I go further, let me point out that my husband Dean Wesley Smith has started a new series on his blog titled “Think Like A Publisher.” If the first post is any indication, it’ll be a spectacular series and Dean will do some of this business stuff much better than I ever could.  So hike on over there and read it.

When I initially started the Business Rusch, I decided it would be for the general freelancer, much like The Freelancer’s Survival Guide.  I managed that for a few months.  Then I decided I could no longer ignore the elephant in the room—all that change in publishing, which will have an impact on all of us, whether we write or work in publishing or just wander into bookstores now and then.

I’d like to go back to the general business blog, but I fear I’ve lost a lot of those readers.  I’ve gained about five times as many readers, however, because I’m talking about the industry in a way that no one else is—not even Dean.

So, while I was thinking about structure all week, I came up with a new structure for this blog. Here’s what I’m going to do for the foreseeable future.

First, I’m going to finish this subsection on publishing tonight with a bit about readers.  Then, starting next week, I’m just going to blog about the changes in publishing for a while.  I’m not sure how long that will last.  Maybe a few weeks, maybe a few months, or maybe a year.  I feel like that part is out of my control.

However, I’m going to lose the “Changing Times” header.  I’m just going to write a post and see where it goes.  I may write new versions of the posts I wrote last fall, just because my thinking is changing and what I said in October may no longer apply to how I feel at the moment.  And what I believe here in March may not be what I believe in August, as more and more data comes across my desk.

Sound confusing? Yeah, I get that.  But I do have a bit of a plan.  I will talk about promotion.  I will also talk about attitudes—mostly about how hard it is to shift from the old paradigm to the new one.  I don’t believe an all-or-nothing approach is the way to go.

A lot of you have sent me links or pointed out articles on Twitter or found some statistics for me.  I appreciate that, and hope you will continue.  We’re going to march this new road into the Brave New World of Publishing together.

But to complete this miniseries, let me stop talking as a writer, business owner, former editor, and occasional publisher, and look at all the changes from a reader’s point of view.

To quote the illustrious Chandler Bing of Friends: Oh. My. God!

Or to simply repeat what I’ve been saying all along: Wow! Wow, wow, wow, wow.

We have just entered reader heaven.

Back when I discovered iTunes, I had a problem.  Long before music was digitized and available on the web, I had a serious financial issue with music.  Whenever I stopped anywhere that sold CDs (or tapes or albums—this is an old problem for me), I bought something. Even when I was broke.  Especially when I was broke.

So the idea that I could order any music I heard at any time of the day or night, download it to a device I could carry with me, and listen whenever I wanted was both wonderful and terrifying.  Wonderful because I adore music and like much of what I hear.  Terrifying because I recognized that I could go broke within a month.

My solution? I never attach a credit card to iTunes or any other music download service.  I buy gift cards for myself.  When the card runs out, I get another card—at a physical store.  When the money runs out on that gift card, I have to wait until I get another before ordering more music.

It’s a way of budgeting my purchases, and it works.

But books create an even bigger problem for me.  When I was broke and living on less than $8,000 per year, my budget buster wasn’t music because music stores were easy to avoid (especially during those years when I didn’t have a car).  My budget buster was books.  I finally had to go to a cash-based system, so that I didn’t buy every book I saw.  It worked just like the gift cards do now; if I saw a book I liked, but was out of cash, then I couldn’t buy it.  It wasn’t discipline that worked for me; it was the fact that I stopped carrying my debit and credit cards.

I thought the Kindle would be a problem just like music downloads are.  but I’m finding that the Kindle has a nifty feature that I hadn’t anticipated: Sampling.  I can read about a book, download a sample for later, and read it when I’m ready.

I thought for a while that I was buying fewer books.  But that’s not true.  I’m buying better books—meaning I’m wasting fewer dollars.  I’m actually buying books that I have a greater percentage chance of enjoying, because I’ve already read about 50 pages before I plunk down my hard-earned cash.

The best part of the electronic frontier for me is this: I remember books better.  When I read a review about a book that sounds interesting, or if a friend recommends something, or if a former student whose work I’ve loved mentions that she has a book out, I immediately download the sample before I forget about the book.  I don’t buy all of those books as e-books.  Some—particularly the nonfiction—I buy in print versions.  But my reminders live in my e-reader as samples rather than lists that stubbornly remain on my desk even when I happen to be in a bookstore.

I’m not alone in this.  Studies are showing that people with e-readers buy more books.  And price isn’t as much of a consideration as you would think.  A British study that came out this week showed that publishers are winning the book pricing battle. Consumers will pay for content.  The key isn’t price; it’s availability.

On March 9, Barnes & Noble chairman Len Riggio spoke to the annual meeting of the Association of American Publishers. He said that publishing is “on the cusp of transformational growth.”

His audience was composed of traditional publishers, and he lectured them.  He said, “Too many of us see bookselling as a zero-sum game—that there’s a limit to how many books people will buy and people will read.”

But he doesn’t believe in the zero-sum game.  Instead, he says that digital has already shown that “market size is readily expandable and expanding markets lift all boats.”

His key point—for us as readers—is this: “[Readers] have a bookstore, an entire publishing company, in their pockets.  The power of this cannot be  minimized.  If you think there’s a limit to how many books people can read, you’re back in a zero-sum game.”

To back this up, he used statistics to show that the digital book market is “growing more rapidly than almost any sector of any industry has grown in thirty years.” (Emphasis mine.)

That’s amazing, and it will continue because—remember—ebooks right now comprise only about 9% of the market.  Not everyone who wants an e-reader owns one.  The prices will continue to drop, and more and more readers (even the reluctant ones) will eventually own some type of e-reader.

Let me add some anecdotal evidence here.  I live in a small town that lost its main new bookstore a few years ago.  To get new books, I had to make a special trip to a city more than an hour away, something I couldn’t do every week.  Going online at Amazon wasn’t a substitute for walking down the aisles of a bookstore to find new releases on a weekly basis; I would often miss weeks of releases and never ever know those books existed.

The fact that I can sample on my Kindle replaces the bookstore visit.  An even better feature is this: I can order books from small publishers and self-published writers as easily as I can order books from larger publishers.  Suddenly the entire world is at my fingertips.

The world isn’t just at my fingertips, but at the fingertips of anyone who owns an e-reader.

A lot of readers are like Dominique Raccah of Sourcebooks.  She says that when she discovers a writer, she binges on their work.  In the past that meant haunting used bookstores or special ordering hard-to-find books.  Now, she just goes through the writer’s inventory on her e-reader.

Riggio is both right and wrong: a reader doesn’t have a bookstore in their pocket.  They have a thousand bookstores, all with different content.  He believes that soon Barnes & Noble will have a catalog with 20 million books or more.

Twenty million books or more.  Wow. Wow, wow, wow, wow.  If I hear about a writer, I can find her work that day.  Then I can chose the format I want to read that work in—paper, e-book, online.  It’s a great world, and the beneficiaries of it aren’t the midlist writers or the start-up publishers.

The beneficiaries are the readers.

We suddenly have the opportunity to read as many books as we possibly can—books that we know we will enjoy because we’ve already sampled them.  Books that we might not have found at all in the old system, because the book was out of print or had a limited press run or came out of a small company who never distributed to the big bookstore chains.

Is Riggio right? Am I, as the owner of an e-reader, reading more? Yes.  And I am not alone.

I conducted an informal survey of readers at our weekly writers’ lunch.  Realize that everyone there is a published writer, and many (but not all) are early adopters.  Of the fifteen people who showed up on Sunday, every one of them had an e-reader in the house.  Every single person with an e-reader said that without a doubt they were reading more because of the e-reader and the easy availability of books.  And every single person there had been an avid reader before they got their e-reader.  So their reading went up.

Unscientific, I know.  But it was startling just the same.

I believe that Riggio is right.  We are facing transformational growth in the publishing industry.  Whatever will happen to traditional publishers and the current bestselling writers is a matter for debate.  But what I do know is this: more people will buy more books because those people do not have to go out of their way to acquire those books. These readers won’t have to drive to another city to get the latest novel by their favorite writer or remember to order it in paper form on Amazon.  They won’t have to decry the fact that book distribution to places like grocery stores is down and that libraries are closing.

Readers can now get the books they want—or they will be able to, as more and more writers get backlists up, and new writers find niche markets.  The readers’ big problem will be my iTunes problem: how to keep books from becoming a one-click budget buster.

And let me say that, as a writer, an occasional publisher, and a recovering editor, I like that problem a lot.

As a reader, however, I’m in heaven.  I truly am.  Now all I have to do is give up sleeping, so that I have enough time to finish my writing and to read every single book that strikes my fancy.

Have I said recently how much I love this new world?  I love it as a writer, but as a reader, I love it most of all.

Next week, I’m moving to individual posts on publishing.  I’ll take on things like how to rise above the noise of those 20 million books, how to promote (if promotion is necessary at all), how to think about this new world, and of course, I’ll keep up on the changes and trends.  Thanks to all of you who have given me suggestions and ideas this past week, and thanks as well to those of you who’ve kept me writing this blog through your donations.  You make the moments I squeeze out of structuring the latest (*#!!**) book to write this blog worthwhile.


“The Business Rusch: Readers, Publishing & The Future (Changing Times Part 21)” copyright 2011 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

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30 Comments

  1. Annie Bellet says:

    I’m with you on that. I used to be one of the readers who cried “ebooks? You will have to pry my paperbacks from my cold, dead fingers”

    Then I bought a Kindle (for business reasons! Really!).

    *guilty look*

    I love it. I almost cried the other day when it wouldn’t turn on (the cold affected it I guess, it’s better now). I read so much on it and I think I read faster on it. Right after I got it, my husband looked over and said, “Does the screen always flash so often? Isn’t that annoying? Is it supposed to do that?”
    I looked up at him and was like, “uh, honey, that’s me turning the pages.”

    I now find myself annoyed when books *aren’t* available instantly (or at all). :)

    • Kris says:

      Great comments, everyone. Like so many of you, I get annoyed when books aren’t on Kindle. And so do other readers. I just got e-mail this morning from someone who can’t get my Diving book in the UK due to contract reasons. (My US publisher doesn’t have UK rights.) Yes, I can put it up, but at the moment, I have many other backlist titles to put on Kindle, etc, first.

      Contract issues are often the problem in getting those squishy 1980s-1990s books, MCA. Some writers signed bad contracts and can’t get the book rights back. I know that even with my relatively good contracts, I’m having to jump through incredible hoops to get some of my rights reverted. And I was a good business person–I always asked for rights back when my books when OP, even before electronic publishing. It’s a real pain.

      And then so many writers refuse to put their books up electronically or are intimidated by it–or worse, are going to a terrible business model that will hurt them in the long run. That’s some of what I was talking about in my midlist writer posts. Those of us who understand business know we’re in hog heaven when it comes to our backlist, but so many of our colleagues remain willfully ignorant and stubbornly anti-business about this. Which only means that readers won’t go to their books.

      I must say, getting the backlist up is quite a chore, even with help. WMG is working on mine, and it’s taking longer than expected. I had hoped to have the entire Retrieval Artist backlist up by now, and we’re only through the first book. And that doesn’t count the Fey, which are long and a real headache. So it’s work–especially since i have current deadlines to keep up on as well. I’m putting in 16 hour days as it is. I can’t imagine what other writers are doing.

  2. Another excellent post, Kris!

    I’ve enjoyed this series and learned so much. I always look forward to Thursdays, because I know I’ll glean some tidbit of important useful information from your wisdom and expertise.

    Keep up the good work!!!

    It’s a great time to be a writer and a reader!!!

  3. I’ve noticed myself that one of my free or 99-cent e-books will sell one day… and then the next day, my entire backlist moves in one clump. I imagine those people are doing what I’m doing: “OH WOW THAT WAS AWESOME MOAR MOAR PLZ” and buying everything they can afford that’s online.

    We share that pleasure, then. I write a lot so they can do that. I read a lot so I can enjoy it. We are both gleeful consumers in this new universe.

    My only regret is so many of the books I used to enjoy by authors who used to produce in the 80s and 90s are… simply not available. In ANY format. Not as used paperbacks anymore, even with scouring, not as e-books, not even as re-releases. I’ve dug up my SFWA directory before to look up people so I can write them and ask them if I could pay them for a text file or a PDF of their manuscript please-please! So I don’t have to lose their book when my battered paper copy goes up in smoke, and they always tell me: “I can’t do that.” For contractual reasons sometimes, or because they don’t know how… gosh, it drives me batty. :P

    Old books, from before copyright legislation, are available in e-book format. New books are. But there’s this gooey middle part that’s not, and that makes me sad. And frustrated. And more apt to read something by someone else! :P

  4. Jeff Ambrose says:

    OK. I know this post is about readers in the new world — and I 100% agree with everything you say — but my comment is about your writing process.

    I’m incredibly curious about how you write a novel out of order. I know that Elmore Leonard writes this way too. I’m considering trying to do something like it when I start my next novel just to see if I can, if it’s a better process for me, and how much I can learn from it.

    I guess my biggest two questions are these: first, how much planning do you do before starting, and second, do ever find that what you thought was one novel was really two?

    There are more questions I have, but I won’t you with them (right now). I pretty sure its something that can’t be taught.

    But I guess to ask in a different why: What advice would you give someone who is going to experiment with this process?

    Thanks so much … and I’m looking forward to the new direction of your posts. Should be great fun!

    • Kris says:

      Jeff, writing books out of order–I do not recommend it. It’s a pain, it causes me to write an extra 20-30K when I’m putting the book in order, and sometimes I have to throw out another 40K. I’m writing two books sometimes just to get one.

      If you don’t already do this organically, then don’t. I really think this is a brain issue. I have never written in order, not even books I claim to have written in order. I always skip around, poking at the story before I get to it. But I learned when I got my Kindle that I read this way too. I do it without thinking. I read, I skip to the next chapter about the same character, I go back, I skip ahead 20 pages, I go back to the beginning. It’s apparently the way I think, and why I can’t read all books on Kindle. If I’m going to concentrate on the book, I have to go to print. If I know I’ll scan it, then I can read it electronically. Weird, I know.

      So this is not worth the experiment. If some book demands to be written out of order, you’ll know it, and you’ll have no choice. Otherwise, just go for your normal system.

  5. Rebecca says:

    I agree, this is pure heaven for readers! In the past 6 months, I’ve seen more and more people reading, not just on ereaders but on phones, iPod Touchs, iPhones, netbooks, iPads, the list goes on. It’s a reading buffet and I know for sure that I’m definitely reading more, both on my ereader and my iPod Touch.

    Not only is it convenient but it expands the options for writers to write short stories, novellas, novels, etc. and that means even more story goodness for readers!

  6. Sharon Rowse says:

    Kris, first let me say I’m thrilled at the direction you’re going to take this series. You seem to cover exactly what I need to know each week – don’t know how you do it. But thank you.
    As a reader, I have to say that I’m loving ebooks, and I’m buying and reading more and different books than ever before. There’s something about being able to read five or six different books at the same time, without losing my bookmark, and without having to search all over the house for the exact book I want to read at any given time. And being able to buy the sequel to something the minute I finish the first book – reader heaven.
    As a writer, of course, the idea of making all my books available to those readers who want to read them… amazing!

  7. My own reading problem: since I started writing history, I’ve had to spend what few pennies I had on books for research. That’s limited how much fiction, especially SF/F, I could afford to buy. And living in flyover country, it wasn’t easy getting genre books on interlibrary loan. I can’t wait till I can afford an iPad and download samples…

    I wonder how price will affect this, at least when it comes to self-published authors (which is where it seems I’m going). If the price of our ebooks is under $5, will we sell more books to readers? Will it be easier for us to find readers with our books priced that low?

    • Kris says:

      I got a kick out of your post, Robert. Because you’re calling under $5 low, and most beginning self-pubbed writers only want to sell for 99 cents. I have opinions on price–an entire blog post worth of them–and will get to that in the next few weeks. (And then I’ll duck, because so many people confuse one person’s success with evidence that a certain pricing structure works for everyone.) Anyway, hang on for that.

      Sampling does help with history stuff, but I’m still buying my research books in paper. Mostly used and mostly online. I do that primarily because my system, developed over 30 years, involves sticky notes, underlining, and a host of other bad habits. My research books are horribly beat up, but you can tell I used them. I can’t seem to change that method over to Kindle, so I stopped trying. I found myself regretting buying some nonfiction research on the Kindle, so I’ll only use it for sampling that stuff from now on.

  8. I limit myself to one book a week on my Kindle and it doesn’t matter the price – I sample everything new in my fave genres ignoring blurbs and covers (and publisher). And yes, I too am in heaven!

  9. I anxiously await your new posting format. I am dizzy trying to keep up with what is the “best way to go” in publishing.

    As far as ereaders go I plan to buy an MacAir and download free apps for Kindle and Nook. That seems like the most economical way to get all the books.

  10. Kris: If I have to buy research books, they have to be print, because as far as I know little if any Kansas history or railroad history is out in ebook format. (Not sure why, except the latter tends to have as many pictures as text.) I have put “Kansas 1874″ into ebook form, and have actually sold a few copies.

    I don’t mark up my research books, but I’ll bet I’m more the exception than the rule.

  11. I can’t wait to read your post on ebook pricing. I think I have a general idea of what you’ll say, and a sense of what the indie author reaction is likely to be. Should make for a fun thread. :)

    Keep up the excellent work!

    David

  12. John Walters says:

    Kris,

    It’s a wonderful post as usual. However, not to contradict but as a point of interest, it’s not yet reader heaven everywhere. Coincidentally, before I read this I had just finished a post on my blog about how difficult it is to be an avid reader (of English-language books) here in Thessaloniki. You can read it here: http://johnwalterswriter.com/2011/03/10/treasure-hunt-searching-for-books-in-thessaloniki/ Briefly, there are very few English-language books available in bookstores and the few libraries that specialise in English materials are very small. So I have to order most of my books in print from Amazon. E-books actually are a big problem. I did some research in December because my wife had mentioned giving me a Kindle for Christmas, and found out that there are around a third less books available for download here than in the States. In addition, because of added on taxes the prices for e-books are far higher than in the States. As an example, consider the short stories I have for sale on Amazon.com. In the States they sell for $.99. Here in Greece because of added on expenses they sell for $3.44 each – three and a half times as much! I was shocked when I found that out. But it makes e-books out of my price range and paper books – even new ones – much cheaper, for now. This may change, but because of the economic situation the Greek government is finding ways to throw more taxes on anything they can – not ease up on them. So this new heaven for readers is not worldwide – at least not yet. But I have to add that all is not gloom and doom, because as a writer I can still benefit, and that is my aim in the forseeable future: to make as much of my writing available to readers as I can.

    • Kris says:

      Worldwide, the electronic reading is uneven still, John. I learned that in Germany last year. Apple seems to be doing the most, with Kindle farther behind. Pricing hasn’t settled anywhere. But that’ll change. (Probably as I’m typing this.) Pricing is going to be an issue everywhere as are rights and country borders. It’ll be a fascinating few years as this shakes out.

  13. J.A. Marlow says:

    The moment I had a Kindle in my hands I, too, realized this could be a serious problem to the budget. So once a month I pick up an Amazon gift card for myself from Safeway when I do my regular grocery shopping. When the money runs out, then I can’t buy any more books.

    With sampling the budget limit doesn’t hurt so much. Sample, find out if it’s a type of story I want to read, and only then make the decision. A decision I can take my time making. Sampling on my own time. What a concept.

    Even better, if I like a book but can’t buy it at that moment, I can keep the sample around to remind myself to go purchase it once I have the new gift card. Samples are wonderful.

    I also like having access to the authors putting their own work out. It means that most of what I pay goes directly to them. I really like that. It makes me feel good as a reader, because I’m directly supporting the author and not a bureaucracy who takes a majority of the profit. A supported author means they are more likely to produce more reading material. Win-win.

    J.A. Marlow

    • Kris says:

      It is a win-win, JA. Supporting writers means more stories to read. And this is a new way to support writers. It sounds like you use the same method for books that I use for music. It does control the spending, doesn’t it?

      Linda, I read on my iPhone, especially when I’m traveling. I don’t mind the screen at all. I love that the phone syncs with my Kindle (I almost put “syns” with my Kindle–technobadness!). It’s another way to read, and I think that’s also important.

      Good points, all, Ferran, and nice to have the European perspective on this. It’s growing everywhere, but still different everywhere.

      Jocelyn, good point about kids. I think it’ll be fascinating to see what their generation does with all of this tech, since to them it will be normal.

  14. Linda Jordan-Eichner says:

    I’m enjoying this series so much and have learned how little I know about the publishing business. Am ready to follow wherever you decide to go!
    I got a DroidX phone last fall and I love, love, love reading on it. I wanted to test out the different readers as best I could and have several of them downloaded on the phone. I can just slip it in my pocket or a bag and read it while standing in line, waiting in the car or while I’m at my daughter’s school. It’s just awesome. I limit myself by only having two unread books on the phone. We won’t talk about the stacks of books I buy at the store or the massive library pile.

  15. Jeff Ambrose says:

    Thanks for the response, Kris. Yeah, I suppose writing a novel — or any story — out of order isn’t really something you can just “try.”

    Last May, fed up with my writing, I spent a day reading all of Dean’s posts and at the end decided to follow his advice: write, finish, spell-check, submit. It changed everything.

    Among other things, I found that I’m much more of a discovery or organic writer than I ever thought … and that I also very much enjoy cycling through a draft. (Ironically, I wrote ALL of my college and grad school papers cycling through them, but never once thought of doing that with fiction.)

    But I’ve found I’m having a harder time writing full-length novels. I have yet to try discovery writing a novel — it’s too frightening a prospect — but outlining a novel just sucks the fun out of it. I feel like it’s just an advanced form of data entry. So I’m just looking for a different approach, but maybe I just need to sit down and write a novel the way I write my short fiction: with a general structure in my head, cycling through it, and making notes along the way.

    • Kris says:

      The key to writing novels, Jeff, is to stick with them. They’re hard in the middle because you want to finish and move to another project. But if you stick with it, you will get it done. You also have to use the method most natural to the book. I write some books in order, because that’s how the story wants to be told. So I just go with the way that my subconscious delivers the story. Not always happily, mind you, but I do. :-)

  16. Ferran says:

    First, I’m the guy from Spain. The one who posted about prices between English and Spanish translations of Japanese and Chinese books.

    This means, buying a book from amazon –or any other e-shop– usually has a nice charge for overseas S&H. I’ve grown used to ebooks in good measure because of this. Even so, oftentimes buying from amazon is cheaper than buying here –and I fight some translation practices in the local publishing industry–.

    I’m a steady –not great, not minuscule– buyer of Baen’s Webscriptions. Some 140 titles on my account. Many of those books I’ve bought after having read them _entirely_ for free. Baen’s preview is usually around 30% of the book. Any e-publisher will have to compete agaicnst these expectations. Add to it Baen charges some 6 bucks a book (18 for monthly packs). I’m ready to pay some more –specially so with nonfiction–, but not too much; those 6 bucks are not a limit but a marking stone.

    I’m just starting into smashwords. I’m not completely sold into their interface, but I haven’t had much time to grow used to it, and they allow downloading, so far DRM-free. I’m pretty fond of their prices (from 99¢ a tale to…).

    I don’t have a reader, nor do I plan to.

    First, because it’s a very limited piece of technology. Readers don’t do anything my netbook can’t do. And they’re not cheap enough to justify just another expense.

    Second, I want to OWN my books. Current DRM practice doesn’t much allow for that. I registered, years ago, to another e-book site. Ended up getting a pirated version of a book I had already purchased because that was the only way I could read it. Haven’t bought DRM since. Linux unfriendliness –no Windows at home– doesn’t help a bit, although it’s not as bad as it used to be. Kinda links with “availability”.

    Last, price is also an issue: Kindle books are way too expensive –some ebooks are charged higher than their paper equivalents; even if it’s an offer, that’s dumb–.

    Just anecdotal. Take care. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Jocelyn C. says:

    Another factor in the e-reader growth comes from the rising generation. My 10-year old daughter, who is already an avid reader, told me that she would LOVE to have a Kindle. Why? Not because she has any shortage of paper books to read. It’s because a few of her friends have them.

    Kids today are digital addicts. They have cell-phones and laptops by middle school, and e-readers will soon be on the list of must-haves. I don’t know much about the textbook market, but if they aren’t publishing e-versions of their textbooks already, they’d better be soon.

    I remember carrying a backpack full of 30 pounds of textbooks around my university campus. My daughter will probably just carry an e-reader.

  18. JR Tomlin says:

    Kris, I saw your post on Facebook. Glad you guys and the town came through with no problems except lack of sleep!

  19. Jeff Ambrose says:

    Thanks for the advice, Kris.

    I sent my internet router with my wife and kids when they went on vacation with her parents and I ended up writing five stories in five days, about 25,000 words in all. It occurred to me that the fundamental difference between novels and short stories is that a novel is a marathon and a short story is a sprint. So I wonder if it would behoove me to slow down my novel writing to about 1000 words a day instead of trying to push myself to write 2000 to 2500 words. That extra 1000 words a day will shave off time, but I won’t *feel* that I’m getting there any faster.

    But if I kept the 2000-2500 word mark, then 1000 words could be for my novel and the other 1000 to 1500 could be for short fiction. The best of both worlds!

    Again: I really appreciate everything you do here. It’s a real blessing.

  20. DensityDuck says:

    I can say that, even with the Agency Publishing thing we’re all supposed to be so angry about, I’m spending less money on books than before; because, as Kris pointed out, it’s easy to say “this book interests me! *click* and now I have a copy.” As opposed to making a special physical-world trip to a place I don’t normally visit just to buy the book.

    Heck, the gas alone costs ten bucks. The notion of casually picking up something to read was basically nonexistent for me; a trip to the bookstore was a Big Deal, a meticulously-planned even that involved a whole day of activity, because why go all the way to the mall for just one thing?

    • Kris says:

      Me too. And I’m buying more books! (Which is rather terrifying, I must say, considering how many I bought before.)