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Book It, Baby

by • January 15, 2016 • No Comments

Do you remember e-books? Those were the days, weren’t they? Those crazy few years when the fad of reading on a Kindle swept the nation. Now, of course, which fit of weight hysteria is behind us. E-book sales are falling, down additional than 10% in 2015 — YA down 44%! — while utilized bookstores are coming back. Yes, which’s right; print is regaining its regal primacy; e-books are dead. Right?

You appear suspicious. How strange. It is approximately as if you ponder which for the reason those numbers come of the Association of American Publishers, they can indicate a thing somewhat various of the death of the e-book; they can be a signifier of the rise of smaller in size publishers not tracked by the AAP, and/or, the growth of online reading via eg Wattpad or Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited. Author Earningsargues which what we are quite seeing is which AAP publishers “have seen their collective share of the US ebook market collapse.” Mathew Ingram in Fortune adds, rhetorically, “Isn’t a drop in sales just a effortless result of the publishers’ move to store e-book prices high?”

Somehow I don’t ponder Amazon is running particularly scared. They introduced three million new Prime participants this Christmas season, who can use Amazon’s Kindle Owners Lending Library to check out free books. Those don’t count as e-book sales. Neither does Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s subscription service. I’m just one data point, but I’ve published eight books (cf the image up top) and I can tell you which, for me at very least, the ratio of “books read through Kindle Unlimited” to “Kindle copies sold” is of 8:1.

In addition, via John Scalzi’s analysis of the situation:

.@scalzi A publisher’s take: ebook sales inflated as folks bought up backlist releases. Now down to additional realistic levels overall.

— Beth Meacham (@bethmeacham) September 23, 2015

I understand which publishers manyly want e-books to fail, largely for the reason Amazon controls in fact additional of the e-book market than the dead-tree market. An understandable concern. I love Amazon, but is its monopsony excellent for authors? Probably not. (And in the long run, what is not excellent for authors is not excellent for readers, unless prices go crazy-high.)

…But and so, traditional publishers’ walled gardens weren’t excellent for many authors either. Even if you managed to fight your way into which walled garden, if you didn’t have a swift hit with your initially few books, you were frequently soon frozen out. The legendary “death of the midlist” predated e-books; a few say it in fact predated Amazon.

I propose which today’s status quo is in fact somewhat excellent for authors and readers. We suddenly have a massive spectrum of publishing options, to fit each possibility.

Publishers perform a valuable service — ponder of them as the VCs of the book world — but, in the same way which you don’t require a bazillion dollars of a big-name VC to commence a startup any additional, you no longer require a Big Five publisher to get your book out the world. The indies, the micro-publishers, the self-publishers, the crowdfunders — there’s room for eachone.

So why does not this status quo feel excellent? Because it provokes intense anxiety in eachone: publishers, authors, and readers.

Well, publishers, obviously, have to deal with the Amazon devil, whether they like it or not; and they have to worry of the cannibalization of their industry by micropublishers, online publishers, etc. Their share of the pie is shrinking (although it’s not going away.)

For authors, there utilized to be a well-understandn and well-understood path to good results. A winding mountain path full of cliffs and high winds and deadly monsters, but a path nonetheless. Now publishing is additional like a trackless jungle. You have to a fewhow find your way through it with no map, no compass, a quite crappy knife, and a vague sense which the moss can grow on the north side of the trees, while hoping which you don’t walk under any leopards.

As for readers — they no longer understand where to go to read the upcoming book which transforms how they see the world. Buy a book on Amazon? Physical or e-? Or go to Smashwords, for the reason you’ve heard they’re advantageous for authors? Trek out to a physical bookstore? Check out a thing of Kindle Unlimited and/or the Kindle Lending Library, for free, preceding you commit your money? Surf through Wattpad or Feedbooks? It is the anxiety of choice.

Books are quite in the business of attention, and consideration, and they have additional and additional competition. YouTube; Twitter links; TV bingewatching (a few with depth and complexity which rivals which of excellent novels); Netflix movies; in short, what amounts to the swift accessibility of the entire library of human creativity, for free or bargain-priced. Plus, of course, other books, an ever-growing number of other books, for the reason the number of informative new books published each year surely must exceed the number which become culturally irrelevant.

Whatever else takes place, I promise you this, we can store reading, for the reason reading a book remains one of the many emotionally and intellectually powerful experiences on the market to us as human beings.

Ever realised how fucking surreal reading a book in fact is? You stare at marked slices of tree for hours on end, hallucinating vividly

— Katie Oldham (@KatieOldham) December 9, 2014

But if you ask me, what we quite require is not additional authors, or advantageous publishers. What we many require is a vastly advantageous process to select the books we can love, without having to invest so much time and mental effort into a book preceding coming to the conclusion which (for this particular reader) it’s no additional than mediocre. Build the mousetrap of advantageous book discovery, and I for one can steamroller a trail to your door.


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