Thursday, 24 February 2011

The Story So Far...

So here we are dear reader, we are at the dawn of a new era of publishing. This is the point where the indie authors can shake off the yoke of the old publishing houses and can walk head held high. It truly is a great time to be an author. I think the words of Seth Rogan in Knocked up sum it up best…

“You gotta’ be high off your ass on crack”.

Oh that’s right, Amazon and Barnes & Noble are both showing statistics that’s they are selling more Kindle / eBooks than printed books. But let’s not get our panties all moist too soon. We should not forget that these stats are based on internet sales only, with Amazon this is obvious but Barnes & Noble this is only their .com. The obvious question that they are not so quick to answer is, are they making more money or has a section of their sales just shifted to digital. One report I have read recently pointed out that the printed books on Amazon are very often available cheaper than their digital version.

Random House have recently told the bookseller magazine that their eBook sales are up 800%... that’s 800% fantastic news… (Does this mean they have just sold 800 of them?) In the UK sales of books are down 7% - that’s figures across the board. So eBooks are up but overall sales are down. Now I’m not an economist but I would take that as a reason why eBook sales look so good. The most recent figures for Waterstones (UK) that I could find based on Christmas 2009 digital sales where approx 75,000 units (mostly the bint with the dragon tattoo no doubt). That looks like a lot of eBooks. At a rough estimate of approximately £600,000 worth, that’s a big slice of cash. I know that for a single medium sized chain bookstore in the UK it would take about 3 weeks to turnover that sort of money during the Christmas season. Waterstones have 300 ish stores and a .com so £600k is still a small percentage.

I don’t think the printed word is dead yet.
Yes the world is changing but it makes perfect sense for a .com to push digital; they don’t need the storage space and people who order online already can now get their instant gratification. Works for music, but how many people do you know still buy CD’s or Vinyl for that matter?

My final thought for all those excited authors who decide to self publish an eBook is this: be careful what you wish for. I will leave you with a quote from ‘The Incredibles’ in an attempt to make my point. Feel free to add your own writer based wordage (eBook/super, editors, publishers/powers, stories/heroics you get the idea).

Syndrome – “Oh, I'm real. Real enough to defeat you! And I did it without your precious gifts, your oh-so-special powers. I'll give them heroics. I'll give them the most spectacular heroics the world has ever seen! And when I'm old and I've had my fun, I'll sell my inventions so that everyone can have powers. Everyone can be super! And when everyone's super... [chuckles evilly] …no one will be”.

Until next time…


  1. It's an interesting time, Lee: exciting and frightening, though I don't think it needs to be so. I think digital books are just giving authors more options, which can only be a good thing in the end. Paper books will always sell, always. More than CDs and Vinyl records, there is something about the humble paperback that can't be replaced. The best most successful authors will still sell paper books, but e-books have already shown themselves to be a viable alternative IF APPROACHED THE RIGHT WAY. You can't upload old middle school english papers and expect success. They put the writer back in the driver's seat, but they still need to know how to start her up and direct her into the traffic.

    Austin James has a good piece today about e-books v traditional publishing that brings up some good points not many other people have brought up (that I have seen). At the end of the day, anything that puts some power back in the hands of the poor trampled starving artist is a good thing, but it's far from the guaranteed success that people are proclaiming!

  2. The printed medium isn't dead at all. Publishers would be very foolish to ever abandon it. The main problem with eBooks from a business perspective is very simply put theft. The moment I turn a book into a file that file can be copied and distributed. Simply put ebooks will do for publishing what Napster and Bittorent have done the music and film industries i.e. bring it to its knees. The publishing industry isn't perfect but at least the authors are getting paid.