Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Time to Accept the Inevitable

In his article at Huffington Post by Dan Agin makes the point that the scribes who wrote out books by hand also thought the gig would never end, just like current publishers who keep repeating the mantra that paper books will never die. The biggest thing slowing down the demise of paper books is the prohibitively priced Kindle, but according to Agin, that's a done deal too as Amazon has free software you can download to read ebooks on your PC or laptop. And besides any technology company worth a grain of salt is busy as I speak developing their own form of the Kindle so the prices for the readers are bound to crash soon making them available to most folks.

But Agin warns-It's tragic because when an industry dies because of corporate blindness, people do get hurt. When the automobile put the horse and carriage trade out of business, blacksmiths and carriage makers became irrelevant overnight. But before that happened people were up to their eyeballs in media baloney that the automobile was only a fad.

As writers we need to look at the situation clearly using our business brains. How do we get the best possible position in this new game? Already there are many pluses. To start with- 50% (and sometimes more) royalties on ebooks. Having to pay publicists, for sure, and agents, perhaps, from your slice of the pie may fall away too. As writers we will have much more control over sales. If we have a blog or website, which most of us do, we can set up a bookstore in minutes. There will be no more worrying if your book is shelved cover out or spine out or if it has made it into the storefront window. Blog book tours will be the norm rather than the exception.

It is time to let go and accept the future. For writers, at least from my perspective, things are looking pretty bright.


bonita said...

Hmm I'm just not as convinced as you are. I see my job as to write. I'm not super fast. It takes all the time I can muster. The new regime will require I spend considerable time marketing, composing a blog, maintaining an up-to-date web presence, collecting friends on facebook, and twittering my every move. When, oh when, will I write?
Feeling ancient and outdated it is likely my forehead will hit the keyboard and and my screen will read 'terminal error' before I need to answer that question.

Not From Lapland said...

it is interesting that when ever i read something about the dying written book people always talk about the Kindle and amazon. there are lots of other ebook readers out on the market, and lots of other place to buy books other than amazon for a lot better price too.

If amazon wont play ball, just cut them out of the loop and go somewhere else instead.

Sue Guiney said...

Bravo, my friend! I agree with you. The problem is when, like me, you feel caught in the middle. The old regime has not yet died and so I find myself giving it one last go (ie finding an agent and a "big house" publisher). Because I agree with you, I don't feel desperate in case it doesn't work for me -- which it might not. I know I already have an audience which I can reach on my own. But I am giving the other one more go. The question is -- how long do I wait?

Vanessa Gebbie said...

You are right, of course, that we must take advantage if we can, of any changes in the way words are consumed... we make the things, might as well be on track.

But, and it is a big but... of those I have asked personally, so far... the ones who most enjoy reading off screen (kindle or other e-reader, as opposed to the PC screen or laptop) are non-fiction reders.


April Brown said...

I agree with the way you see things, I am just not a salesperson. I believe in doing what I can and letting me show through.

Problem is, so many people don't believe a product can be any good without a salesperson beating them over the head with the dead fish.

daoine said...

One slightly worrying trend I'm seeing is that people are wanting more and more for free. A tangible book that you pay for before you walk out the bookstore is one thing, but an electronic file to download? Not so much.

Lauri said...

Bonita and April- Maybe not. Maybe whole new businesses will crop up who do that work for you so you can just write. Maybe that will be the work of the agent.
Heather- You're right. Things will only work if everything opens up. I do think the internet actually leans towards antimonopolies.

Sue- For me though I have the web presence we need to jump on the technology boat here in Southern Africa. South Africa is perhaps better and I've thought of trying to open an account there.

Vanessa- I think everything is still new and has kinks that need to be worked out.

Daoine- That is definitely the problem. Newspapers are currently grappling with that issue. I don't know. Perhaps at the start no ebooks should have been given for free, but it's aleady too late for that. Alternatively, maybe you give the first chapter for free and then the reader gets to decide if they want the rest. Puts a lot of stress on us writers to have a whopping first chapter, though. :(

DavidM said...

TORONTO (Reuters) - As music lovers approach a new decade in this still-young century, a recording technology once considered old and obsolete -- vinyl -- has been making a strong comeback.

Yes, vinyl records are making a strong comeback, and people still listen to the radio, and go to see plays at the theatre despite the fact that medium has been dying and reviving and dying since the invention of film and TV. E-publishing won’t replace paper publishing like the car replaced the horse and buggy. These two publishing modes will co-exist.
Another thing I’d like to mention is that I keep hearing that books are dying but I travel to from work (in Sydney) by train and there are always heaps of people (from boomers to Ys) reading books –in fact, a lot of them will have a book and a whole host of technology around them, mobile (cell), i-pod, notebook etc.

Helen Ginger said...

I don't think books are dying, but the way we read is definitely changing. I haven't bought an e-reader. I keep thinking someone will come out with the definitive reader that will download any and all books and be cheap and easy to read in any light and... yeah, I know, I'll give up eventually and just buy one.

Straight From Hel

Anonymous said...

I think that the whole ebook thing is a good thing although I prefer an actual book myself. One of the problems for me with the publishing industry is that books are just so expensive. I went to buy a paperback the other day and it was $34.95. I just can't afford that so I may look at investing in an ebook reader instead.