The Business Rusch: Rapid Change (Changing Times Part Twelve)
The Business Rusch: Rapid Change
(Changing Times Part Twelve)
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Back when I wrote my first post on the changing times in publishing in October, I said that changes were happening so quickly that I knew some of what I wrote at the beginning of the series might not be relevant at the end of it. While the events that have happened in the last two weeks haven’t changed my opinion on the benefits and pitfalls of the new world we’re moving into, it does seem like we’re moving even faster than I expected.
I planned to write more about midlist writers this week, but these changes are too important to ignore. I’ll get back to our regularly scheduled midlist discussion next Thursday.
In case you were actually enjoying your holiday instead of watching business trends, let me tell you what happened over the normally quiet holiday break. (Besides half of you getting stuck in airports.)
First, the sale of e-readers was higher than anyone expected. We expected e-reader sales to soar, but we didn’t expect them to explode. And what’s more, no one (including me) made the connection between the sale of e-readers and the increased e-book sales volume on Christmas weekend.
Yes, we all expected the new e-reader purchasers to order books. We didn’t expect these folks to crash the Barnes & Noble website twice that I know of, maybe even more often. Borders website, which doesn’t have the volume of B&N, also crashed over the holiday weekend. Even Amazon.com, which did plan better for the volume than the others did, ran so slow over the holiday weekend that people had to wait more than 30 seconds for the site to load. (I know, I know. We complain about the strangest things these days.)
I knew that the increased sales of e-readers would have an impact on my e-book sales. I did not expect those sales to rise as dramatically as they did. The volume of sales in that last week of December for both me and my husband, Dean Wesley Smith, was nearly triple the volume we had in the first 24 days of the month. And neither of us, much as our fans love us (and we appreciate our fans), are the writers that everyone thinks of to buy first with their new e-readers. I’d love to know what the sales volume was for Steig Larssen or for Nora Roberts.
I do know that the CEO of Thomas Nelson books, Michael Hyatt, tweeted on this on Monday: “Our ebook sales for Christmas week were up 323% over last year–more than I anticipated.” [link]
Man, if you compare to last Christmas week, our sales (mine & Dean) were up more than 200%. But just comparing to earlier in the month is startling and more accurate, considering the amount of product we have up. Amazon.com announced last week that the Kindle is now its biggest selling product ever, outselling Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Considering that Amazon does not release sales figures, we can only guess at the exact number, but what it does mean is this: Millions of Kindles sold in 2010, most of them in the last month of the year.
Those Kindles need to be filled with ebooks. Expect ebook sales to grow even more dramatically in 2011.
Combine this news with the downbeat news of the season coming out of Borders Books. On Friday (yes, New Year’s Eve) The Wall Street Journal reported that Borders has delayed its year-end payments for inventory. What that means, in layman’s terms, is that Borders has decided to stop paying its bills—for books. Which means that publishers will stop sending new books to Borders until those bills are paid.
This is a death spiral. If you have a retail business, you need new product. Previously, this news only got reported in trade industry journals (starting with Publishers Lunch on December 30). But the fact that these news migrated to The Wall Street Journal for all the world means trouble for Borders. As I searched for the link today, I note that WSJ has followed up with another article this week—one that mentions that Borders’ stock price has reached an all-time low of 86 cents.
The news got worse on Sunday as AOL Daily Finance reporter Sarah Weinman reported that a Borders bankruptcy seems likely in 2011. The problem with the impending loss of Borders is this: If it does go down, 10% of the trade book business will vanish overnight.
I can’t find the link that I read over the weekend, which translates this 10% into dollars. I do recall that Borders owed publishers something like 450 million dollars, but that figure is not exact.
Big Publishing can swallow its (large) share of those numbers if Borders goes into a liquidation form of bankruptcy (as opposed to reorganization). It will hurt, but it will be possible. (See how big Big Publishers actually are from my earlier posts.)
But the mid-level publishers and small publishers don’t have the ability to swallow a sudden significant loss like that, unless the company has other revenue sources besides the trade book area (like, say, a textbook publishing arm). (See how mid-level and small publishers handle their income in my earlier posts)
What Borders needs is a sugar daddy, someone to come in and pay its back debt. But with Borders stock price so low that it might be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange, that sugar daddy either has to really, really believe in Borders or really, really, like books or really, really need a fast place to dump a lot of cash (and take a loss [yes, investors sometimes do that on purpose]).
Will all that happen? I don’t know.
But what everything that happened over the normally quiet holiday week means for the publishing industry is this:
The shakeup in Big Publishing in the next six months could be profound. Big Publishing, as I wrote in my previous posts, can’t move quickly. They’re trying. There are signs everywhere that Big Publishing realized the importance of ebooks in the last few months of 2009 and the beginning of 2010.
(Don’t believe me? Look at book covers. They now have the kind of graphics that look good in hardcover and in the postage-stamp size needed for an ebook. Books take two years to produce; the cover part of the process begins about a year before the book is published. This change in covers started appearing with the Fall lists in 2010.)
But just because Big Publishing finally understands the importance of ebooks doesn’t mean they’ll be able to move all of the inventory rapidly into the ebook format. Nor does it mean that they can adjust their profit-and-loss statements to cover the changes in revenue. Big Publishing thought it had three to four years to make this shift. With the (potential) loss of Borders, it might have to do so in six months.
Why is the (potential) loss of Borders so important? Everyone knew the company was in serious trouble and would probably go out of business sometime in 2011 or 2012. Some bloggers (bless them) even predicted that the other big chains would go down because of ebook sales. That’s not going to happen as I’ve stated in previous posts in this series.
Borders’ troubles come from mismanagement, not from ebooks. If you want to see an excellent history of how Borders got into this mess, check out agent Joshua Bilmes’s blog on this very topic. Borders is a study in how not to run a business—particularly a large business—which is another reason that the sugar daddy scenario is increasingly unlikely.
So if everyone knew about Borders, why the surprise in the press? It has to do with the rapid change of Borders’ options, not to mention the highly stupid announcement that Borders has stopped paying its accounts. If you want to murder your retail business, this is the way to do it.
Something will happen with Borders in the next few weeks. If Borders really and truly disappears off the bookseller’s map, then publishing will have to swallow a huge financial loss that no one was planning for yet.
Think about it: Publishing works on a 4% margin. The loss of 10% of the trade book revenue will destroy that profit margin in 2011, unless changes get made quickly. Changes are tough in an industry that has already cut personnel to the bone and has years-long contracts with suppliers, as well as years-long (in some cases, decades-long) leases for their buildings. The book lists are already cut back as far as they can go because of the recession.
With the (potential) loss of Borders, Big Publishing finds itself in an interesting place: Consumers want to buy its product, but the outlets for that product are either disappearing (Borders/independents) or growing so fast that the product doesn’t yet exist (ebooks).
I just exchanged e-mail with one of my publishers, asking when one of my 2010 novels would get its electronic edition. I got an apology back, along with a vague answer, saying they’re trying to put their entire 2009/2010/2011 inventory into ebooks in the next six months. The publisher thinks that’s the fastest they can do this, and it doesn’t take into consideration older titles.
Expect a mad scramble in 2011—both to save (or salvage) Borders and to move all of the back inventory into ebooks.
As I said above, the news isn’t all bad. Barnes & Noble’s Nook sales, particularly with the color Nook, and the ebook arm (as inept as its interface is at the moment) has provided much needed revenue for the corporation. The loss of Borders will, in places that had both chains, increase B&N’s business dramatically. (Unfortunately for those of us in the sticks, the loss of Borders could mean we lose easy access to a nearby new bookstore. The loss of our Borders (an hour away) means that if we want only new books, we’ll have to drive two hours to get to the nearest B&N.)
Independents will step up. Already, our local independent is increasing its stock of new books in anticipation of the loss of Borders. Remember, 91% of all readers still prefer paper books. (Of course, heaven knows what that actual statistic will be after this holiday flood of new ebook readers. Even if it rises faster than expected, I don’t imagine ebook readers will hit more than 20% in the next six months. That would mean that 80% of all readers still want paper.)
Independents are feeling the pinch of ebooks and trying to find a way to sell them. But some independents are growing, and I suspect, once the independents figure out how to deal with e-books, they’ll change their business accordingly.
Small and midlevel publishers are the ones who could be hurt the most dramatically by the changes of the past two weeks. What will happen to those publishers will vary from publisher to publisher, and will be based on two very large factors: First, the publisher’s exposure to Borders, and second, how much of that publisher’s inventory is already in electronic format.
Let’s take the exposure to Borders first. What I mean by that is this: How much of that publisher’s accounts receivable are tied up in Borders? Is the percentage small (less than 1%) or large (over 10%)? Does that publisher have other means of making money? Some textbook publishers, for example, have ventured into trade publishing. Textbooks get published through an entirely different system, and make money in a different way than trade books. So the textbook arm could provide a cushion.
But if that publisher is solely a trade publisher, then it needs to reduce its exposure to Borders. That was tough in 2010 because the chain bookstores were often the only game in town and in some towns, as I mentioned, Borders was the only chain. So the publisher had to go to Borders if they wanted large distribution of a title.
The problem here is pretty simple: if Borders goes into bankruptcy, creditors will line up according to liability and type of debt. Inventory debt (publishers in this case) is unsecured. Unsecured debt is paid last, along with other unsecured debts. That’s how bankruptcy courts generally work. (Yes, I’m simplifying. I’m not going to explain the different kinds of bankruptcy or the role of judges and others in the proceedings.)
Borders has already ordered its franchise stores to stop processing returns. Meaning that Borders is trying to hold onto the inventory it has so that there will be something in the store when a customer arrives. That also means that the publisher will lose that book and Borders will owe the publisher money. If the publisher were able to get its product back, that would lower the publisher’s exposure. But Borders itself is preventing that at the moment. Once Borders goes into bankruptcy, the unsold inventory will not be returned, but will be part of the bankruptcy proceeding as an asset of the company (something that can be sold to pay back debts). Complicated, I know. And the worst impact will be on smaller companies.
If those companies have already moved to the electronic frontier, however, the gains they make in e-book profits might offset the severe losses from Borders. Again, it depends entirely upon how these smaller publishers are managed internally.
Writers won’t know that how a small publisher is doing until (unless) payments from that publisher slow considerably. (This is a slowdown from the norm. If the publisher is normally a slow payer, then they have to become a very very slow payer for this to apply. If they pay quickly and suddenly stop making payments for a quarter, that’s a slowdown.) Once a small publisher slows payments to its writers, then it’s pretty clear that the publisher is having financial trouble. If you writers find yourself in this situation (and it’ll show up in three to six months, depending on what happens to Borders), check out the Money sections of my Freelancer’s Guide here on this website to help you collect those debts. Really what you need to do, as a writer, is limit your own exposure. If a publisher is having trouble, then don’t let them exercise rights to your book without payment. It’s that simple and that hard. (And if you’re a professional writer and you didn’t understand that sentence, you need to learn the business side of your career ASAP.)
Since I’ve already started discussing writers, let’s move to what the changes of the last two weeks mean for writers in general. Well, you can obsess and stew about Borders, but in the long run, it will make no difference. (Not just the obsessing and stewing, but the loss of Borders itself.) Readers want something to read. They will find books, one way or another.
The (potential) loss of Borders might show publishers once and for all that limiting your retail options to only a handful of bookstores is a really dumb thing to do. Maybe then publishers will start offering the independents the same kind of discount consideration they offer the chains. (Some publishers are already doing this.) Someone will fill the void. It always happens and it won’t happen any faster just because a group of writers are worrying about it.
The great thing about these changes is this: Writers can now take control of their own careers. If you have backlist inventory that you control the rights to, get it in e-book format quickly. Readers want content right now. If you don’t know how or can’t do it on your own, find services to help you (and probably not the one provided by those ever-friendly but ethically challenged agents. [Folks, it’s a conflict of interest for an agent to be a publisher. Think about it. Even if the agent is the nicest guy in the world, that doesn’t make the business model he’s developing a good one for writers. I’ll deal more with this in the writer sections of this long series]).
There are many services that can help and offer work on a flat fee basis. For example, if you can put your book into electronic format, but don’t feel comfortable designing covers, then you can hire someone to design the cover for a flat fee—not a percentage of the book’s sales. Anyone who is asking for a percentage is charging too much money. There are many places springing up on the web for these services. Dean has done a post about the potential scams, while other people have organized websites such as authorsandfreelancers.com that work like the old markets websites, telling you who is available to help, but not vetting those people so buyer beware. Other organizations function like Bookview Café, which works as a co-op.
Get your backlist up now.
If you don’t have a backlist available to you and you’re a bestseller, just ride through the changes. You’re with a Big Publisher anyway, and this will all shake out to your benefit.
If you don’t have a backlist available to you because you haven’t been published yet, well, we’ll have a discussion in a few weeks. The topic is too great to cover in a single paragraph.
Finally, let’s discuss the impact these changes will have on the most important group of all—the foundation of our industry, the all important folks without whom none of us would have careers (or an industry at all): the readers.
Oh, readers. We are in book heaven, and it’s only going to get better.
Yes, I’m annoyed that the only new bookstore within easy driving distance of my house is mismanaging itself out of business. And I would be furious if that was the only way I could get books. But I can order paper books from Amazon or B&N or from the publishers themselves. (Or the writers themselves, these days.) I can download a book that I want when I want it (even if it’s 2 a.m. and I’m in my jammies).
I have so much to read that I don’t even know where to start. And once my favorite authors get all of their backlist published electronically, I’ll really be buried. In a good way.
What the deluge of ebook purchases in the past two weeks has shown me is this: the biggest problem readers have had is a lack of availability of the books the readers want to read. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I spent years trolling used bookstores to find favorite backlist titles by my favorite authors. I still do that, but I also check to see if the book is available electronically. If it isn’t, I go to Bookfinder.com and see if I can order it from somewhere.
It’s fun—and it’ll only get more fun as the years go on. I’ll be explaining that too later in this series.
But for now, here’s the upshot of this week’s piece: Change is happening quicker than any of us expected. The next six months should be really dynamic, so pay attention to industry news. Hang on, because it’ll be a real ride but ultimately, readers (and many, many writers) will benefit the most from these changes.
Next week, I will delve deeper into the impact these changes will have on the midlist writer. Once I finish with the midlisters (in a week or two or three), then I’ll move to unpublished writers. And then to readers.
So stay tuned—and stay informed.
My business blog is an example of the changes in publishing. I have an opportunity provided by technology to go directly to the readers I want to reach, an opportunity that did not exist back when I started as a nonfiction writer thirty years ago. And another aspect of this change? I ask my readers to participate, either through donations to keep me in tea and chocolate while I’m writing this or through discussion (with me and others on the blog or via links in social media). Thanks for visiting every week.
“The Business Rusch: Rapid Change” copyright 2011 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.
Jeff Carver directed me to this series recently, and I took your advice and started at the beginning. Eye-opening is the least of it! I really appreciate the breadth of experience and the clarity that you bring to a subject that usually seems about as clear and logical as . . . a life insurance policy.
Looking forward to reading the rest.
Thanks, Mary. You made me laugh with the life insurance policy description. Nice. And please thank Jeff for sending you this way. 🙂 I hope you find all the posts helpful.
Speaking of older titles, Kris when will the Fey series be available in ebook format????? I have just discovered you and you are my new fav author! I have started with the Recovery Man series and now I would like the Fey series in ebook format. Do you have an estimated date?
Dorey, the first book of the Fey is in the final proofing stage and will be in e-book format by February 1. It’ll take longer to get into print, but you should see it by the end of March. The new cover by Dirk Berger is stunningly gorgeous. He’s nearly done with the second cover, which I can’t wait to see. We’re getting it all back into print, one book at a time! Heart Readers just went live as an e-book this week. Maybe that can tide you over. 🙂 Thanks for asking!
Great Blog Kristine…you’ve given the writers who’ve backed he e-book industry ammunition over those disbelievers that this is the new way of the future. I’m sorry about Borders. I did like their stores but having had my Kindle for over a year, I haven’t stepped foot in a bookstore for that long. Too easy to order whatever I want from the easychair at night after a long day of writing.
You’re welcome, Mimi. I like my Kindle too–especially the convenience of it. But there’s still a place for bookstores. Browsing is easier, for one. So I do think both will remain. It sure is a fun time to be in publishing, however.
[…] expectations. This (and the precarious fiscal position of Borders Bookstores) has a lot of writers, including yours truly, excited because all those new e-readers are going to need e-books (and […]
[…] Wow […]
[…] Kathryn Rusch wrote a brilliant post on tһе changes in tһе […]
I think this period of shake-up will help push small press into the bigger light. A lot of people (authors and agents included) think that the only options for ebooks are self-published or big publishers. It’s not true and, slowly, those of us who are small e-press published are getting recognition.
I love print books. My shelving unit next to my desk is evident of that. But I also love my eReader and am proud to be epublished. For those of us in the SF&F world, who grew up on Pulp Fiction rags, the epublished world is allowing the novella to come back with a vengance.
Good suggestion, Jim. Both is great also (and I’ll deal with that in future posts).
Krista, good point. I’m small e-published through a number of companies, including WMG. It’s yet another way to go. I think not only will the novella/short novel come back, but the short story is getting a whole new life as well.
Hi Anna, why not try both? Write the best book you can, and submit it to publishers. While you’re waiting to hear back, start on the next one. If your first one doesn’t find a home anywhere, self-publish it on Kindle or Smashwords or wherever, and keep the next book circulating to markets while you’re working on the next one. And so on.
Kris, great article. Thank you.
Thanks for the shout-out. One thing, though, Borders wasn’t foolish enough to announce they were delaying vendors, but once word got out from publishing company sources, either first to Publishers Marketplace or maybe WSJ first then onward, they had no choice but to come out and say something. This is the kind of thing that you can’t keep secret.
Thanks for the clarification, Joshua–and for the great blog post.
I wanted to say thank you for a fascinating series of articles, and to add a bit to your suggestion to authors who are putting their backlist into electronic form. I am not an author, but I am an avid reader who goes through several books each week. These suggestions are based on my perspective as a reader. First, make several different forms available. Ereaders come from many different companies and each is restriceted to certain formats. If I want to buy your book, but you only have one format available and it doesn’t fit my ereader I don’t want the hassle. I’ll go find someone else’s book to read. Second, stay away from DRMing. Files using data rights management are a such pain, especially when there are plenty of other books out there without it that, again, I’ll go buy someone else’s book. DRM is really easy to break, but that is time consuming and I’m not a pirate, so I will simply refuse to buy your book. Third, make paying you easy and again offer options if you are selling from your own site, or picking another site to sell for you. I don’t use credit cards online and I know outhers who feel the same way, meaning the websites that only offer payment by credit cards have just lost sales.
Good point, Rachel, about being available in multiple formats. We try to get ours into as many formats as possible. I don’t like using credit cards online either, so what I’ve done is set up a dedicated internet only checking account with minimal information at a completely different bank than I normally use. I only use that account for internet transactions. It lets me be a citizen of the new world with only minimal vulnerability to hackers. My main accounts, in another bank, have different pins, different contact info, everything. Just a suggestion. It’s harder and harder to do internet transactions without a credit/debit card and/or a paypal account. So that’s just one way to do so. But you are right: do your best as a writer in the e-pub world to accommodate all types of readers.
Thanks for such an informative post.
Wow, I need to use my borders gift card asap!!! Thanks for the article, it is very informative and has me second guessing whether we should go straight to self-publishing or continue on our quest for the big six.
We have just begun working on our query and have felt that for our first novel we should try to get the “professionals” to publish it. Now I am not so sure.
What is your recommendation for a new writer?
Big Publishing isn’t going anywhere. I wouldn’t worry about it. Self publishing is growing and will still be there if the editors in your genre aren’t interested in your book. (And don’t bother sending to agents. Send to editors. Agents can’t buy anything.) It is a personal decision, but if you think you have a chance of hitting the Times list, then keep going after Big Publishing. Right now (and I emphasize right now–it may change), you really can’t do that with self-publishing. I’ll have a much longer piece on this in about a month.
One possible outcome if Borders sinks is that B&N will take over some of the Borders stores in places where B&N saw potential but was locked out because Borders got there first. I say “possible” because B&N is likely to move slowly in creating more bricks-&-mortar stores until it has a better idea on what ebook sales will do to the paper product. Still, I think B&N has been looking hungrily at certain cities, plus becoming even more dominant than it is now. This could make it easier on independent bookstores ’cause there’ll be just on giant to slay, but harder if they don’t figure out the ebook thing, too. I have to give credit to B&N, they are trying to work the situation out combining bricks & ebooks.
B&N also just made it harder today for the publishers to negotiate with Borders. B&N said that they expected any deal made with Borders to be available to all bookstores evenly. Publishers will think twice before making a deal with Borders now (if they weren’t thinking twice already).
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Geeze, Kris, >I< expected it. You weren't listening close enough. My only surprise is, I was sort of expecting Amazon to crash (possibly with help from hackers, which apparently never came), and it was B&N instead (which I’d have seen coming if I was really thinking about it).
But seriously, I’ve been saying for a while that this wasn’t a linear progression; that we were rapidly headed for a tipping point, where things were suddenly going to happen FAST, and I was pretty sure it would show itself around the critical holiday sales season.
So here, apparently, we are. It’s going to be interesting now to see if this is just a spike leading into slower, but continuing, change, if it’s the crest of the wave, or just the beginning of bigger changes to come.
The news for everyone EXCEPT Borders seems pretty good. B&N had a great Christmas (plus validation that in-store changes are working)that should help them adapt to ongoing changes in the industry (and economy). The news for print books wasn’t bad, and the news for ebooks is just off-the-chart, which is great new for authors (those that change with the times, anyway).
The jury is still out for indie-bookstores. Weak ones continue to close, and that’s sad but inevitable. But Borders store closures (and possibly a complete Borders collapse) could open new niches and possibly strengthen business for some surviving stores. It’s unfortunate that indies don’t have a good ebook platform. I don’t see Google Books as any kind of savior (though I could be surprised on this). If Borders does go down, Kobo might make a better partner.
Really excellent post, Kris. And I’m looking forward to seeing what you have to say about new writers. I like the traditional publishing model, and as a young writer, I’d really like to do things with the guidance of an editor and professional team. But with all the talk about bookseller and publisher bankrupcies, I’m getting really nervous about selling erights to the wrong person or for the wrong price
I’m glad you are worrying about those things, Livia. Because that means you’ll make good choices for you. I like both models, and I think that both will be important in the years ahead. We’re carving new paths, and that’s always scary (but cool).
The biggest revelation of the era to me is how starving readers were for content. They clearly weren’t being served by bookstores, Big Six, and the existing distribution and production systems.
It’s the best time in history for both readers AND writers. All those people who have been standing between them all these years, taking money from each…well, not so great an era. But they won’t be the first to have been told “Get a real job.”
LOL, Scott. Good point. I think readers have been starving for content. I realized I was–and I read a lot. I was getting bored with the same old same old. Not bored any more, I can tell you.
Another great one, Kris. That news from B&N today (they had a record breaking December) really had a “neener neener” quality to it, didn’t it?
My own sales income from my publishing imprint are 20x what they were just three months ago, which is partly due to the growth in the market but also because I made the decision to move aggressively in this direction after the workshop Dean and I taught. (I was doing it, but much slower.) For writers with huge backlists like you, this is an absolutely golden time. But even for a writer like me, who’s prolific but doesn’t have as much of a published backlist yet, this is also an incredible time. It’s also incredibly freeing. I didn’t realize how those “we like this but can’t get it through marketing” rejections were starting to take their toll on my psyche. Now I have a dual track approach, am free to write whatever the hell I want, and finally see the path to getting to where I want to go (combining NY publishing with my own imprint).
Oh, the income. Yes, Scott, the income is a whole other factor I’ll be dealing with in the next few weeks. Instead of getting 8% of $10, writers can get 70%. Or more. Suddenly the income does not become the dividing line between bestsellers and midlisters any more. And you’re right about how freeing it is, and how fun it is for writers. It really is a fascinating time to be a writer.
Looking forward to the next posts! I’m not surprised that publishers are hanging on to ebook rights, and I’ll be interested to see your thoughts on what unpubbed and midlist authors can expect re: their ebook rights with trad publishers–and, obviously, with epublishing. Can’t wait to read them!
I suspect that once smartphones become more widespread (and the apps/software catches up to make ebook reading easier on them) we’ll see an even bigger demand for content, because not everyone has or even wants a dedicated ebook reader, but almost everyone has a cell phone, and lots of people upgrade to a smart phone eventually.
Another great post, Kristine. The changing times are both exciting and scary. As a reader I’m completely overwhelmed by the rapid expansion of choices. From my experience I wonder how much of the increased eBook sales can be attributed to the “Ooooo…that looks cool – Click” syndrome I’m experiencing 🙂
Cheers — Larry Marshall
ps – tell Dean I really love his how-I-writ-it -> here-it-is approach. I read his latest last night and really liked it. I missed the typos (grin).
This post is clear and informative, and, to me at least, invaluable. I can find the various articles online about the trends and read them, but what I appreciate is your interpretation of the events. I don’t have the background in business or publishing to be able to see the big picture clearly on my own. I really depend on you and Dean these days, and I have to confess that I check your sites several times a day not only for new posts but for new comments as well. Your sites have become communities of concerned artists trying to find our way through all these new changes together.
As for holiday feasting or relaxing, I have to confess that I used every spare moment I had away from my day job (when not doing family things) to work on my writing and publishing. What could be more fun anyway?
Thanks again. Keep it up. We need you.
You’re welcome, John. We try. We’re as excited about these changes as everyone else. 🙂 Sam, Smartphones are the reading device of choice in Japan. I think we’re already seeing a change in reading habits because of the phones. Short stories become viable again. Waiting in line at the bank? Looks like it’ll take 15 minutes? Download a story and read it by the time you get to the counter. I can’t tell you how many e-mails I get from folks who do just that. I think you’re right, though. All of the new devices, from ebook readers to smartphones to whatever comes next will increase availability of content–and will make more readers. Regular readers. And that’s a great thing.
I really appreciate your perspective on these posts, and especially this one. You’re an avid reader, as well as a writer, and you do a great job of seeing these changes from the reader’s point of view. As a reader, I can’t think of a time when I’ve been happier than since I started reading ebooks. I think the changes that are happening now are great for readers and were on the verge of an explosion in book-buying. That’s good news for writers.
I’m with you, Michael. I’m very happy about all of this as a reader and am struggling to keep my hummingbird impulses under control. (Maybe I’ll dip into that one–no! This one!) It’s quite a grand time. And Larry, I do the same thing. But I’ve learned to control that with sampling. Some nights I download 15 samples. Then I scan them. The one I keep reading is the one I purchase next.