Nathan Bransford, Author


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Error 403

I'm dealing with some computer problems here at work, which is complicating an already busy week. Fiendish computers! Must you toy with me so?

Meanwhile, just wanted to recap my (unscientific) poll from yesterday.

The percentage of people who said you'd have to pry paper books out of their cold dead hands:

2007: 49%
2008: 45%
2009: 37%

The percentage of people who welcome their coming e-book overlords:

2007: 7%
2008: 11%
2009: 19%

That, my friends, is what they call a trend.

And in case you're wondering if computer problems are affecting my affinity for e-books: nope. An e-book of CHILD 44 is an engrossing distraction on my iPhone while I wait for things to load.






103 comments:

The Writing Muse said...

Cool!

Bane of Anubis said...

Evidently, the trend is that your older readers are passing on. You're a bad man, Mr. Bransford, and the computer Gods are smiting you today (no, They are not logical, nor will They ever be) -- better keep that iPhone on lockdown.

DG said...

Although your data show a trend toward the acceptance of e-books, writers are probably the wrong group to poll. Consumers will determine the success or demise of the e-book, based on price, access, and convenience. Writers on the other hand, are forever tied to the romance of being published, which for most of us means a hardcover book with a beautiful shiny dust jacket emblazoned with our name.

p.s. have you considered a Mac?

Nathan Bransford said...

dg-

My home computer is a mac and I will soon be retreating to its comforting safety.

Vacuum Queen said...

WOW!

Kathleen Foucart said...

I voted for the "prying from my hands" option, BUT I am getting a Sony eReader for Christmas. I like the efficiency of ebooks/readers, and I want one for reading manuscripts on the go (mine & my crit partners). But I still love my physical books. :)

Donna Hole said...

OMG! I'm not commenter #153 or so this time.

I see the hold-outs for going paperless in my job (I'm a county employee) all the time. I was one of those myself. But I've learned you can't stop progress, you can only slow the inevitable.

Technology really isn't a bad thing - not always.

Except, when your computer is down and you can't do your job without it. I'm with you in frustration, Nathan, as I've been there too many times to count.

Good luck with your error message.

........dhole

vbonnaire said...

I wanted to say thanks for all the great posts you have for writers -- and also I took your poll yesterday.

I love books though. I really do (like Chronicle books) and going to bookstores!

It may be a trend, but, I hope books will still be around in the gorgeously designed forms they come in for a long time...

What if they used sustainable sources for the paper?

Thank you for this blog, Mr. Bransford.

Anonymous said...

You know what they say - "Computers do the work of one hundred people. Unfortunately, they all call in sick the same day!"

Good Luck!

Paula

Madison L. Edgar said...

I think DG's right... How many of you writers out there (who obviously desire to be published) want to see their own book in their hands? Want to feel the thin crisp of paper on your fingertips as you flip through the pages? Want to smell the aroma of freshly printed paper?

*Shaking my head and awakening from trance*

I'm sorry, what we were talking about again?

Anonymous said...

Wow! You do this every year. Well done.

RLS said...

bane is being mean. I'm telling.
Or do I not get the joke?

Pamala Knight said...

Teehee! Shall we call the new land INDOCTRINATED and who'll be the leader? I vote Steve Jobs.

Kristi said...

I love my Mac - although I blog from my PC. As far as the results and the 8% drop in people saying you would have to pry the book from their cold, dead hands - I can only assume there have been some tragic deaths involving blog readers in the last year. My condolences. :)

Marilyn Peake said...

So sorry you're having computer problems. I hate computer problems. :(

All this eBook talk reminded me that I own two Palm Treos which I had completely forgotten about when answering the poll yesterday. I used one for promotion of my eBooks years ago, downloaded assorted eBooks into the other one, and eventually stuck them both away in a file cabinet drawer. I mailed one of them to the Oprah show with my own eBooks plus the eBooks of other participating authors downloaded into it. The Executive Producer from the Oprah show called me on the phone (I nearly fainted), said they'd like to keep all my paper submissions for consideration for a possible future show but felt they should mail the Palm Treo back to me because of the cost of the device. (When it arrived at my home, I turned on the Treo and discovered that the last view occurred a few pages into one of my own books. I nearly fainted, again.) Anyway, I probably ought to sell one of the Treos and start reading all the small press books I downloaded into the other one. Eventually, I’ll probably purchase a Kindle or something like it because of the ease in purchasing and downloading books, the lack of backlighting and the larger screen.

Anonymous said...

Your numbers are only accurate if you are polling the exact same people. I for one wasn't here in 2007 or 2008. How many more followers do you have now compared to 2007 and 2008? As someone pointed out: the people responding to your poll have a different take on the book industry than not only the general public but also authors who do not follow your awesome blog.

AjFrey said...

Nathan-hope your computer works soon. There's been a dark cloud on the workfront in this time zone for sure.

I'll admit that I am quite the hypocrite on this one. As a writer, I am all for ebooks. Heck, I love it. How many times have I spotted a book on amazon or a review, and planned to buy it then didn't. I love the idea of the instant sell. Not to mention, not too many ye ole used ebook stores, or shelves of ebooks at Goodwill.

But to read, I still like paper books. That's how I answered the poll-as a reader.

Anonymous said...

But what are the percentages over the three years of the other two categories?

Fiendish Computer said...

Nathan,

Yes, I must.

Regards,

Fiendish Computer

Anonymous said...

My old MAC G-3 was doomed when I upgraded its OS to 9.3 from the perfectly perfect perfection of 8.5.1 (where EVERYTHING functioned like a well made Swiss clock)
and nothing ever worked right again on Photoshop (which I needed to be usable for my very life!).
After hundreds of tech dollars and forever trying to unravel the issues, they were widespread, I finally found that there was no wrap-a-round, and it was a widespread shock amongst graphic artists at the time.
The only solution was:
new computer, new software, new expenses. Ca-Ching! Ca-Ching!
The computer overlords going:
Braaaa hahah Hahhh Haaa!!!!

Tina Lynn said...

You need to watch those computer Gremlins, Nathan. They make it their business to mess with you most whilst you have much to do:D

ryan field said...

Now I'm wondering how I would have voted in 2007.

Redleg said...

I, for one, welcome our e-book overlords, and would like to remind them that as an unpublished author, I can be useful mining sugar in their underground sugar mines.

Anonymous said...

Now's your chance - Block Fiendish Computer!! LOL

Laura Martone said...

Thanks for the tally, Nathan. The e-book trend is interesting indeed. The real question is... are e-books getting easier to negotiate between authors, agents, and publishers? With every new technology (like DVDs for the film industry), it seems that contracts and percentages get even trickier.

Good luck with your computer woes! I feel your pain, believe me.

P.S. Bane, you're one sick puppy (just like Jack Handy)... and I mean that with the utmost sincerity.

Anonymous said...

You seem obsessed with this topic. Perhaps you need a little break or a day off--go enjoy an afternoon browsing at one of the great bookstores in SF.

Tricia said...

I never even finished the first few e-books I purchased; I disliked them so. Although I still prefer the feel, smell, and curl up on the couch ability, of the old fashioned paperback novel - I have grown ever so fond of the e-books so conveniently stored on my iphone. I wonder what conclusions previous generations would draw if they were to see pictures and videos of us highly evolved, 21st century humans spending so much time reading our tiny telephones?

Bron said...

OK, it might not be the most scientific poll, but it's still showing a trend. Even if it's not the same people commenting on here as in the previous polls, it still shows that a growing percentage of a sample of people are, or want to, switch to e-books.

But I think there's a little too much hysteria in some quarters over this. Just because e-books are becoming more popular doesn't mean paper books will disappear entirely. It just means there will be less of them, and consumers will likely only buy them for special titles. If you want to stick entirely with paper books, then you might just have to pay more for them, as e-book readers are having to do today (for the devices at least).

Oh and nice one Redleg :-) Or should I say, Kent Brockman?

Anonymous said...

Error 403.1 execute access forbidden. 403.2 read access forbidden. 403.3 write access forbidden...403.13 client certificate revoked, 403.15 client access licenses exceeded...403.17 client certificate expired or invalid.

How appropos.

An e-book is somewhat like a cake, you can't always have it and eat it too. I was at the library today selecting some reading material and stopped to check out the book sale table. Spent money I shouldn't, but got some titles to own for awhile. And that's something that e-books don't yet support, full ownership of a physical object, no access denied, execute, read. and write at will.

Sam Hranac said...

Computer trouble you say? Hmmm... let me see if my book is working.

Yep! the cover opens and I can search or browse for content. No down time.

8-)
Sorry. Couldn't resist.

Marilyn Peake said...

There was an interesting discussion on an MSNBC news show this morning related to the topic of rapidly changing media technology. GE is apparently selling majority stake in NBC Universal to Comcast, although the actual deal sounds fairly complicated. As an aside, I did not know until I read that first article that "MSNBC.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal." The news people talked about how cable shows on MSNBC are paid for by subscibers, while NBC constantly needs to attract advertisers to pay for their shows, and about how difficult it is to increase profits every quarter while paying for advertising. One news person remarked specifically about cable TV news shows that who knows where all the new technology will lead with people able to watch TV shows on all their handheld devices. Reminded me of the poll here yesterday regarding eBooks. :)

Nathan Bransford said...

Anon@1:00-

the rise of ebooks is one of if not the biggest change to the publishing industry in decades. So.......... I'm gonna blog about it.

Thermocline said...

Neil Gaiman was on NPR this Monday talking about audiobooks. He commented that sales of downloadable audiobooks have been stronger than those of audiobooks on CDs.

I wonder if we'll see trends for audiobooks similar to those for e-readers as more people become comfortable with digitized formats of books.

Anonymous said...

Nathan, do you ever worry that the ease of publishing e-books could lead publishing houses to use inhouse slushpile readers and editors on fixed salaries instead of literary agents who receive percentages? The future will undoubtedly bring all kinds of change.

Anonymous said...

I came upon a muse uttering his song: "e - e," he said. "e-e?" I asked.
"e -e," he replied (in a sing-song voice). I found him irresistible.
I was not sure what he meant, but none-the-less, he seemed sure and he played a nice flute and I followed him down to the river...

Lydia Sharp said...

Can't deny trends. Thanks for sharing.

Scott said...

I wonder what the numbers will show a year from now.

Cheryl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christine H said...

I didn't respond to the poll because all of the choices implied a choice on my part.

I think that in my lifetime paper books will become either obsolete, or expensive luxury items. I don't think I'll have a choice.

Susan Quinn said...

I've heard it said recently that MG books are read by both boys and girls, but YA books are read primarily by girls (ostensibly, because less boys read once they hit puberty).

I was wondering what your thoughts on that were, and do you think the coming e-book overlords, who will undoubtably manifest themselves on the portable device du jour for teens, will have any impact on the number of boys reading YA?

Icy Roses said...

I certainly think e-readers will be more popular as time goes on, but they won't take over.

You're polling mostly writers, who read voraciously. For the general public (and especially people like my mom who read maybe a grand total of two books a year--being generous here), it's not practical to buy one of those things. Unless, I suppose the price goes down, way, way down.

Maybe it's just wishful thinking. I'm one of the "pry them away from my cold, dead fingers" people.

Joseph L. Selby said...

And by "dealing with some computer problems," you mean trying to access a page you don't have permission to access. Naughty boy.

Ryan said...

Was doing some research for my proposal and read e-books sales jumped 108% from 2008 to 2009. I think I-Phones and similar devices have more to do with that statistic than e-readers. Would be interesting to see the break down of e-books bought for e-readers, I-Phones, or computers.

Anonymous said...

So I can assume the rejection you sent me the other day was a computer error, right?

Marilyn Peake said...

Just noticed another trend. Only 330 people took the poll in 2007, compared to 1,143 people in 2008 and 1,451 this year.

Terry said...

As much as I'm not thrilled with this trend, I hope it bodes well for writers, as in more book sales. Any thoughts on that, Nathan?

Also, I live in Florida, and I hear a lot of retirees talking about getting e-readers for the large print option. It's amazing how the retirees seem to embrace all the new technology. Often, more so than many much younger people.

L. T. Host said...

I have to say, my boyfriend called me old last night because I was telling him about your posts championing e-readers. He wants one, whereas I-- as I've said-- will always have paper books, whether I get an e-reader or not.

That elicited his comment about how I must be older than I look because I'm so hesitant to embrace new technology. He then patted me on the top of the head, and I told him to be careful-- since I'm apparently getting old he might just rub the hair right off of my head.

It's weird, because I both love and embrace technology, but love and embrace--and crave-- history and antiques. I think that's why I want to keep paper books for myself but can appreciate the benefits of e-readers.

Marilyn Peake said...

Nathan,

You might enjoy these videos of people taking out their rage on malfunctioing computers. I wouldn’t recommend using them as role models. :)

GhostFolk.com said...

Nathan, I wonder how many writers are using a typewriter. Man, I hated dithcing my IBM-Selctrci III -- it was so marvelous.

Jason said...

I have War and Peace on my iPhone. I haven't read it yet, but it sure makes me feel smart.

christina said...

That is interesting!!!! I guess it is one way to save the trees!!

GhostFolk.com said...

As much as I'm not thrilled with this trend, I hope it bodes well for writers, as in more book sales.

Terry:

This bodes well to me: eBooks are not provided to retellers on consignment.

NO RETURNS!
NO SHIPPING COSTS!
NO WAREHOUSING!
NO BINDERS WITH QUESTIONABLE GLUE IN CHINA!

Returns for midlist books was hitting 40 to 50% last year and this year... and going up. These books end up being remaindered (and selling for less than they would as eBooks -- and without a royalty to the author).

Better-selling books were going into second printings in hardcover to keep up with lay down and initial demand... meanwhile, six months later, almost half of the first hc printings were being returned to the publisher (often on credit against future and past other-title orders figured in the mix) and were either warehoused (at some expense), remaindered or pulped.

Borders UK went kaput over the weekend. I imagine some publishers got stuck with unpaid for stock in the middle.

Anonymous said...

Just curious, how many ebooks have you sold this year?

How many paper books have you sold this year?

Paula B. said...

Ah, Nathan, it's only a trend if you polled the same people each year.

Kate said...

Because of all the information about ebooks/readers on your blog, I'm definitely more open to the idea. There are definite perks. The ideal scenario would be to have an ereader AND shelves full of books...both/and.

Laura Martone said...

Marilyn, that's hilarious! Reminds me of my hubby's idea to sell "fake" computers - that people can bash the heck out of when their "real" computers are giving them fits. I could use one of those right now. ;-)

Laura Martone said...

And apparently, so could Nathan.

Nathan Bransford said...

Btw, I know (and mentioned) the poll isn't scientific. But I don't think it's a coincidence either.

holly said...

man, computer problems suck.

Chuck H. said...

Just remember that when everything is computerized and digitized nothing can go wr
o
o
o
n
g
.

Terry said...

GhostFolk - Thanks for the info! I've been enjoying your comments, in general, by the way.

Emily White said...

I'm sorry, but I could just never switch over completely. I may get an e-reader someday (if the price goes down) for traveling and other things, but I loves me my full bookcase. A bookcase with all those pretty little things is just about the most beautiful thing you can put in your house. I love it too much to ever give up on it.

However, I do find your unscientific poll interesting. It seems that people weren't as sure as they thought they were a few years ago. Hmm...

GhostFolk.com said...

Sorry: retellers.

Freudian slip? Twice Told Sales?

Trust me, Terry, I always notice your comments, as well. Images first among the dull like myself. :-)

Sharon Mayhew said...

Are you sure the trend isn't showing something else? The economy???

Elaine 'still writing' Smith said...

Computers/laptops/handheld readers glitch and error - they've even been known to do poorly with the addition of steam.
Downloaded books play hide and seek when they've been recalled... without the downloadees permission. :(

It would take a skilful thief - with questionable taste in literature (wandering off with the pile of books I'm currently reading) - to make me that miserable.

Barbara's blog said...

Is Sony e book better than Amazon's Kindle? I want to buy one but don't know which is the best.

Kat Sheridan said...

I'm old. I'm retired. I've been reading e-books since they were first available (and still read them on my original Dell PDA and have no intention of buying a single-pupose device for anything--even my can opener does more than just open cans). I also have well over a thousand books on my shelves, so yeah, I love those, too. But my default these days is e-books. Being old, and being retired, means I can go lots of places whenever I want, and my PDA is always in my pocket, ready with games and music and books anytime I want.

Then again, I'm a girl geek from way back. I actually used to progam computers via punched cards (some of you whippersnappers may need to look that up, and marvel).

And my way-older-than-me other half carries his audio books around on his PDA.

Courtney Price said...

THAT is interesting.

Matera the Mad said...

What did you do to those poor little computers? :(

Steve said...

Bear in mind that blog readers are a self-selected computer-literate sample. This will bias your stats. Remember the great polling snafu during the Truman/Dewey election?

-Steve

Nathan Bransford said...

Steve-

I'm not printing any newspapers with this result, but e-book sales are up over 100% since last year. I think we're safe assuming a trend is afoot.

Steve said...

Kat,

I'm going to address you because you're one of the few people here who is approximately of my own generation. I too used to program with punched cards, on the first CDC 3600 sold outside the Federal Givernment.

But I would never curl up in bed with a stack of punch cards. Nor a Decwriter, Nor a dumb CRT terminal. Nor a PC. Nor a laptop.

Not even my cell phone. (I have thankfully completely bypassed the PDA, Crackberry and e-book reader hardware trends).

I'll be blunt. We are actually talking cuddle-factor here. Nothing cuddles at night like bound paper. Novel, reference manual, whatever.

Of course, maybe that's why I'm still single. :)

-Steve

bowerbird said...

hmm...

looks like 8% of your blog-readers
died this year, which is double the
4% who had died the year before...

i hope they had friends and family
who were willing and able to pry
the book from their cold dead hand.

-bowerbird

Steve said...

Nathan,

You're right, of course. I was just messin' with you. :)

-Steve

Steve said...

Nathan,

You know, on second or third thought, it would be a lot of fun to get results from a similar poll distributed at the checkouts of Barnes & Noble. Not that it would be practically feasible. Call it a thought experiment. :)

-Steve

Steve said...

You know, I was half kidding in my comment to Kat about "cuddle-factor" (but onlu half). But more seriously, the one thing I doubt any existing e-book reader gets right is page flipping. This operation, with bound paper, is a simple and physically intuitive way to quickly locate a passage whose position in the book is approximately known. The rate, direction, and "chunkiness" of the flipping action is completely controlled by pressure and small quick intuitive movements of the left and right thumbs.

It might be possible to get this right, but I don't think it will come from within the community of those now designing them. You would have to reach out to the folks who design specialized game controllers and say "do me a controller for this". And THOSE folks could probably get it right, because that's what they do.

Interesting thought, no?

-Steve

P.S. You could almost imagine what it would look like. It would have a "clamshell" design which would open and show screens for left and right pages. But the backing behind each the screen would be thick, and the "edge" would be controller surface designed to page turn or to flip, in the manner of a paperbound book.

The necessarily increased bulk of the design could be put to good use. By allowing more space for the electronics, internal design constraints could be less stringent and costs could probably be brought down.

Just a thought,
-Steve

Shelby said...

trend? not so fast. What were the number of comments from year to year.. dig deeper. What other stats are involved.

Nick said...

I wonder, though, how this trend will change as e-readers become more readily available. One thing I've noticed amongst fellow students around two years ago is when veritably every student seemed to have an iPod, a lot of studies made the conscious decision to leave their iPod somewhere about their home and go back to using an old CD player or other mp3 device. (And I still give massive props to the fellow who brought an old portable gramophone to school the one day, because that is just epic beyond words and frankly I would totally take one everywhere with me if I had one.) And then of course there are chaps like me, who will still be riding our horses and reading newspapers while the rest of you are using your fancy transporters and have books being beamed directly into your skulls. To quote the First Doctor, "I tolerate this century, but I don't enjoy it."

Nick said...

*students, not studies.

Always make the most random typos on the computer. and only ever the computer. By hand, more or less fine, and same goes for typewriter. But computer? Gibberish.

Terry said...

GhostFolk - You could never be dull. That's why I read you. What's wrong with visual?

Steve - I don't remember the Truman/Dewy election, but I've read about it. And I like your cuddle-factor. It's as much an emotional issue as a practical one. I think the insiders are missing that point. Of course, another few decades and it may be moot. They project, don't they.

Mira said...

Nathan, you have my complete and total sympathy for your computer problems.

I have soooo been there. Heck, I am there now. My computer locks whenever I use it for more than 30 minutes. I have to re-start it, and it takes 10 minutes to start up. Drives me crazy!!!!

Let me pause for a moment. It's hard to type when you can't see through the blast of steam coming out of your ears....

Okay, calm again. So, I share your aggravation. And I imagine this is the worst week for you, since you're just back from a vacation, which is always unbelievably hectic - a time when you really NEED your stupid computer.

Anyway, I hope your computer either begins to behave properly and/or you can work from home with your lovely Mac.

Um, so back to the thread......oh yes. E-books! Yea, E-books! They are so coming, and thank goodness.

It continues to puzzle me that writers don't understand how much the e-book system will favor them.....e-books are our new best friends!

Anonymous said...

I feel like every other post on this blog is about how everyone should love and will eventually love ebooks lol. Why can't we just accept that people have their own opinons and move on?

Personally I like ebooks but it's boring having to say that over and over.

Diana said...

The results of your poll are interesting. I think it shows that people are becoming more used to the idea of ebooks and ereaders.

However, the data is skewed because your sample population is technologically savvy enough to find and follow your blog. :)

Dara said...

Going on off on a tangent here, but am I the only one who still uses a cell phone as a phone? You know, the kind where you make calls and maybe send and receive an occasional text message? :P

I seriously must be the only 25-year-old who doesn't use my phone to go online, read books, email, play games, generally waste time, etc. :P Ok maybe not the ONLY 25 year old--hubby still has an old-fashioned phone too.

I think I would heartily embrace all the nifty things an iPhone or Blackberry does if it didn't cost so much...

CommonSenseWriter said...

I think one of the interesting things about the e-book debate is that people seem to think it's all or nothing. I have a Kindle and use Kindle on iPhone. I also bought three paper books in November. I look at e-books and e-readers as another way to read. Plus anything that might help do away with the returns issue is welcome.

Nathan Bransford said...

I agree with those who don't think e-books are going to completely replace paper books. I don't even think all bookstores are going away. I'm asking for a few paper books for Christmas.

But for the anons who think I'm blogging about e-books too much: people! There were scrolls and then there was Gutenberg and the printing press and then 500 years went by and books didn't change that much. Now they're changing. If you don't see that this is a really big deal and that it deserves lots of blog attention I don't know what to tell you.

Doralynn Kennedy said...

I hate change. Hate trends too. Well, I'll just set up a printing press in my office. That way I know I'll always have print books... until I get caught and sent to prison for violating copyright.

Marilyn Peake said...

Laura Martone,

I would soooo love to have one of those "fake" computers to smash. I bet you and your husband could make a lot of money selling those things. :)

Marilyn Peake said...

Speaking of our modern electronically connected world, I saw an interesting story on the news about an hour ago. Has anyone else here heard about the DARPA Network Challenge to locate 10 red weather balloons, with the winner receiving $40,000? Quote posted on BoingBoing: "To mark the 40th anniversary of the Internet, DARPA has announced the DARPA Network Challenge, a competition that will explore the role the Internet and social networking plays in the timely communication, wide area team-building and urgent mobilization required to solve broad scope, time-critical problems. The challenge is to be the first to submit the locations of ten moored, 8 foot, red weather balloons located at ten fixed locations in the continental United States. Balloons will be in readily accessible locations and visible from nearby roadways." Here’s a direct link to the DARPA Network Challenge website: here.

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Looks like it's too late to register for that. I'll go buy a lotto ticket instead.

Jenny said...

Child 44 is an awesome book!

Nuria Coe said...

Hi Nathan,
It's 11:13 pm and I cannot stop reading your blog. I have learned more in the last week from you (and all your fellow commentators) than in my four years in college, honest.

I am writing a fantasy YA novel and have a question regarding formatting and font color: I know that for the most part black text is the only way to go, but let's say that font color is part of the story (as was the case in Michael Ende's "The Neverending Story") Should that be reflected in the MS? Should the font be in different colors in the MS itself or should I just make a note about it in black? How about chapters where the text should be white on black pages? Or printed sideways?

Thanks in advance!

Nathan said...

Sure, give me an e-reader, but give me the digital copy to the books I purchase along with the paper copy I buy at the local bookstore. Barnes and Noble and Borders have got to be getting in on this and this could help keep the ball in their court.

Besides, I'm not willing to trust my library to a formless nether, and I don't like the idea that places like Amazon maintain the power to snatch them away from my device from one day to the next(even if there were copyright concerns regarding a title's initial purveyance. That happened, unless I was misinformed.)

GhostFolk.com said...

Terry: Just meant to say that your "signature image" captures my eye. :-)

Anonymous said...

I just read through the comments (insomnia?) and realized how marvelouslty correct everyone is, including Nick on his horse, leaning in to hear the gramaphone through the open window. Remember when windows used to open?

Truly a transitional period (of some duration) in publishing and preferences are bound (pun intended) to stay in place for quite some time.

Being a day late, I guess few will notice this post. What I find most intriguing, including Gordon's inclination to get back into publishing, is the MAJOR change in the publishing business model that eBooks represent.

Publishers provide books (or for now eBooks) to the trade. That's what their business is. Not always so.

Most books in the Empire (the Napoleon one) period, when things really got going in mass-market lit, were generally published by the author (in rather small bits) and available for sale at the shops that printed them.

Some lucky authors had their own printing press (Benjamin Franklin).

John Murray, a printer, doing up Byron (who, by the way, required some editing -- he didn't use periods and let the sentences fall where they may) started making money.

The printer encouraged authors to publish simply for the fee received for printing. The author made money after the cost of printing was covered. Byron changed that in a big way, but stil most classic novels were printed to cost and it is suprising how many first-editions from the period were issued in four, five, and six affordable portions (volumes).

Soon books were sold by subscription to cover the cost of printing.

Okay, this is long and boring. Sorry. But, publishers now once again may sell directly to the readers.

This is big news. The major publishers aren't jumping in. Their business model is still to provide books to the trade (to the chains, the bookstores, and to Kindle or Nook).

In a way, they would be cutting off an arm... to compete directly with their established base of customers (again, their customers are bookstores, not readers). Maybe a leg.

But, lordy, they have to be considering it. Don't they?

I mean why discount 49% to a retailer (on commission, no less) when you can sell the product you control for half the cost of retail directly to the reader as an eBook and, again, suffering no returns if product, no warehousing and shipping costs, much smaller production costs, etc., and get the SAME AMOUNT of money?

I think Harlequin's eBook line (NOT the self-pub line) just flew by under the radar. I think this development is Big News.

Will Random House, Penguin, HarperCollins, etc., sell eBooks directly to readers in five or ten or fifteen years? Why not?

All it takes is a webpage.

Claude Forthomme said...

I'm a day late too and I imagine VERY few people will read my post...but I agree with Nathan about the ebook trend and the fact that we shouldn't bury our head under the pillow.
And I agree with Anomynous that publishers will surely wake up to the ebook market out there and start selling directly to customers rather than go through "the trade". It won't happen right away but it is sure to happen.
--What surprises me however is something no one seems to have remarked on: the really cool thing is not ebooks but EREADERS! I just got one yesterday: what a fabulous gadget! As far as I'm concerned, the real difference it makes is not in allowing me to access ebooks but NEWSPAPERS. This morning at breakfast I read the Herald Tribune and I wasn't dressed, I hadn't gone out to buy my copy. No, I was in bed reading today's paper: what luxury!
I've always considered newspapers a nuisance: just a lot of dirty paper with bad-smelling ink that needs to be regularly disposed of if you want to maintain a minimum of decorum in your home...Quite the reverse from paper books that are (for the most part) lovely objects to decorate your walls...
I'm convinced paper books are here to stay as pretty objects, even if ebooks eventually outsell them. But newspapers? Ah, the day when none will be around, except on my Kindle (or Nook or whatever)...

Anonymous said...

Nathan, What were the statistics from your survey over the three year spam for the
-maybe folks?
-the I don't know folks?

Anonymous said...

span not spam!

Rick Daley said...

Are there certain genres that are showing stronger trends in increased ebook sales?

Any data to show differences between fiction and non-fiction?

Doralynn Kennedy said...

I don't know about trends, but the last I heard was that erotica is the leading seller in the e-book category.

Christine H said...

Dara ~ No, you are not!

Zoe said...

There is no denying that there is a trend indeed. I knew that eBooks were building strength but to see it so plainly is quite sobering for a book buff like myself.

I know you have probalby seen the article I have linked below or at least have already pondered most of its contents, but it really got me thinking about the future of publishing and eBooks. I thought you might be interested.

http://thedigitalist.net/?p=714

Have a lovely weekend!

Kat Sheridan said...

@Steve--No, nothing cuddles at night like marrying your tech support engineer. But a small, hand-held PDA can light the night and warm you up as well. Especially since most early e-books were erotica. Just sayin'.

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