Round up #28: Draculas, Negroponte, life-destroying piracy?
Want to fight the Agency Model?
The Agency Model is working.
At least, it isn’t destroying e-book sales. Sales are great…up to over 9% of US publishing. Could the sales be better? Maybe…it’s a bit hard to tell. When the firehose hits you in the gross income, it’s hard to argue that maybe it’s only at 98% efficiency.
You aren’t going to convince the publishers that people won’t buy bestsellers that are over $9.99 when people are buying them.
But sales going to somebody else? That they understand.
Let’s say you are a movie studio and you have an actor who has made five successful movies with you. You wanted that actor for your next blockbuster…but the talent goes with another studio, makes another tentpole picture. It opens at $70 million…you know at least fifty of that is due to the star. That could have been yours.
The tradpubs (traditional publishers) have been like those studios. They lock in authors to multi-book deals. If it’s a “brand name author”, you know a certain amount of sales are guaranteed.
Jack Kilborn (AKA J.A. Konrath) is one of those authors who has had success through tradpubs. So is F. Paul Wilson (The Keep, the Repairman Jack books). Now they, along with Blake Crouch and Jeff Strand, have potentially done what the tradpubs fear most…published a bestseller without them.
Not only that, they’ve priced it at $2.99.
Konrath/Kilborn explains the economics in this
Even splitting it four ways, even paying a cover artist and a formatter, they won’t make that much less per copy than they would with a typical paperback.
At $2.99 (compared to $12.38…that was the average when I last ran the New York Times bestseller hardback fiction equivalents), they could sell a lot of them.
I don’t believe it can get on the New York Times bestseller list (I don’t think they count e-books), but if it sells really well, I think we’ll know it.
Oh, and they are releasing it without Digital Rights Management (DRM). That means you can buy it from Amazon and convert it for other devices.
They were nice enough to send me a review copy (which I’m mentioning for full disclosure), and I’m about halfway through. It’s well-edited and well proof-read (I’ve only found a couple of little errors, which I’ll send them). I’ll write a full review and it’s not for everybody (there is what I would consider cartoonish violence, but others might find it too gross), but I am enjoying it.
So, if you want to let the publishers know what you think about e-book prices (and read a good horror/humor novel at the same time), you may want to give
Thanks to Sheryl K. Wetmore of the Amazon Kindle community for calling my attention to a
with tech expert Nicholas Negroponte. In the interview, he suggests that physical books could be gone in five years.
I don’t see that happening. Mass market paperbacks are losing ground pretty quickly. I could see it being unusual that books are released in that format five years from now.
But I think that, while the market for hardbacks may contract, they’ll stick around. I expect them to go up in price, and increase in physical quality as well. They’ll be luxury items…having them will show you have money.
Trade paperbacks may certainly become the cheaper physical alterative.
It’s an interesting interview. One of the key points is that e-book adoption may be faster in developing countries. A country like the USA has the infrastructure and can afford the expense of paperbooks. If your nearest road is 100 kilometers away, it’s hard to have a Barnes & Noble nearby. :) We may make the move more slowly…that’s what happened with cellphones.
Does piracy destroy lives?
New reader Daz pointed me to an interesting blog post. Deborah McGillivray wrote a guest post on Rowena Cherry’s blog:
It’s a very sad account of the difficulties an author faced. If you read it, be prepared to be moved.
Separate from that, I don’t agree with some of the premises of the article. One is that the suggestion that the reduction in mass market paperback sales is due in some significant part to piracy. Book piracy certainly exists, and I’ve written about it before. I oppose book piracy, and theft generally. But my guess is that the impact on mass market paperback sales is small. The presence of legitimate e-book sales is likely to be having a much larger impact, in my opinion.
Another suggestion in the story is that illegal downloads directly correlate to lost royalties. That implies that people who got the e-book illegally would otherwise have purchased it. That’s difficult to prove, and I think it’s unlikely. When I surveyed my readers, 45% thought it was never okay to pirate (I’m in that group). 30%, though, thought it was okay if the book otherwise wasn’t available as an e-book.
As I’ve mentioned before, the publisher Dorchester has dropped mass market paperbacks in favor of e-books and trade paperbacks. That’s the best anti-piracy move that can be made, in my opinion. Authors and agents who work with Dorchester can be grateful to them. Any publisher who isn’t releasing a legitimate e-book version at the same time as the paperbook version is greatly increasing the likelihood of piracy. Pirated e-books may hurt the sale of e-books later.
The situation described in the post is terrible. In my opinion, piracy is wrong. However, I think we have to be careful about ascribing cause and effect to piracy and lost income.
What do you think? Paperbooks here forever, and e-books will never catch them? Independently publishing not the answer to the Agency Model? Prefer the Agency Model to the Wholesale Model? Think piracy isn’t wrong? Feel free to let me know.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.