Friday, September 7, 2012

Why E-Books?

Why e-Books?

I just got an e-mail from a reader who says, "both books are so good that I wonder why they didn't come out as paper books first."

Looks like Ken has some 'splainin' to do.

Okay, first point: when I finished Atlanta Bones, which I wrote on spec (i.e., with no publishing contract), I sent it in to my agent, who regretfully turned it down. "There's just not a market for this kind of suspense-adventure right now," he told me, and he does know the field.

But why isn't there a market?

The economy has a great deal to do with it. You might have noticed bookstores disappearing. Some wholesale, like the Borders and Waldenbooks chains. In hard times, people just don't buy as many books - especially when they have to fork out eight or ten bucks for a paperback.

Then, too, reading habits change. People are getting accustomed to reading on Kindles, Nooks, and iPads. E-books are beginning to outsell paper books.

I read recently some dismal news: the average nonfiction book by a new writer, published in paper, today sells fewer than 2,000 copies. E-book sales, on the other hand, are increasing.

But it's an unknown world for the big publishers . . . yes, still. Look at how many of them price an e-book at fifteen or twenty dollars or more. And then they will tell you that e-books don't sell.

To quote the gorilla who walked into the bar, "At these prices, I'm not surprised."

So I decided to take a chance. I'd self-publish the books, keep the prices reasonable, and see how they did. So far they're doing . . . okay. Enough to encourage me to continue writing them, at any rate.

After all, overhead costs are minimal for self-publishing. Each of the Jim Dallas novels, including the copyright registration, the ISBN numbers, and the cover art, cost less than seventy dollars to produce. Both have "earned out" and a little better.

And now, I hope, the readership will gradually grow as more novels appear. I don't have any sales stock in a warehouse. There's no overhead. So, faced with the prospect of no publication at all because there's no market for that kind of book or e-publication, I opted for the latter.

What writer wouldn't?

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