Travis McGee coming to Kindle in January 2013

Travis McGee coming to Kindle in January 2013

In the early days of the Kindle, I used to talk a lot about the books that were, as I called it, “in the well”.

Those are books that were first published in the USA after 1922 and before about 2005.

If a book was first published in the USA prior to 1923, it is in the public domain in that country. That means that they belong to the public: anyone can publish them without having to pay royalties to the rightsholder…because the public is the rightsholder.

If somebody gets a copy of a book first published in the USA prior to 1923, they can digitize and sell it. Amazon no longer allows you to just do that with books that are freely available on the internet…you have to add some kind of new content.

Still, many well-known books from that time period are available for the Kindle…often for free.

For books published from 1923 to about 2004, the e-book rights were not commonly negotiated (since the market for e-books was much smaller prior to the Kindle, but also prior to Sony’s EBR…E-Book Reader).  A publisher has to pay to license rights, and if there doesn’t appear to be a market, that doesn’t make much sense.

By 2005, I think it was becoming apparent (even though the Sony PRS-500 was a year away) that it was worth licensing those rights.

It was sort of an inverted bell curve as to which books were being made available…and that deep part (from 1923 to 2004) was what I called the well.

It’s not always easy to get books out of the well. It requires a new negotiation with the rightsholder (which could be the author or the author’s estate), and the latter aren’t always in good shape to enter into negotiations..especially if the estate is disputed.

In the beginning, one of Amazon’s stated goals for the Kindle was to have “every book ever published”.

Let’s say that was a bit…ambitious. 🙂

People immediately began to look for what’s called the “long tail”. Not the front list, recently published books, but the “backlist”…books that have been out for a while.

Publishers want that, too. There are initial development costs, and relatively high introductory marketing costs. Once those are recouped, then the book can start making the publisher some profit.

There were a lot of series on the list of books people wanted…particularly mystery series. They often didn’t understand why, say, Perry Mason wasn’t in the Kindle store. I think a lot of people assume that any book first published before they were born is in the public domain. 😉

So, I was happy to see it today when Ellis Golub posted in this

Amazon Kindle community thread

that  the Travis McGee books have been announced by Random House for January 2013 (I may not get them all listed before publishing this post, but I do think they are doing the original twenty-one):

Travis McGee is an important series. A self-deprecating “salvage consultant” who lives on a houseboat in Florida, you can see echoes of John D. McDonald’s character in Jim Rockford, Simon & Simon…even Miami Vice.

As you can tell from the above list, each of the books had a color in the title.

If you haven’t read them before, I think you may enjoy them. Certainly, even though they won’t be published until January Eighth, these could be good presents.

Here’s the search at Amazon (I cut out the Audible audiobooks for you):

Travis McGee Kindle store books

I’ve also noticed that Lee Child is doing at least some introductions for the books.

One last note: some of you will be surprised by some of the prices…it looked to me like they ranged from $7.99 to $11.99.

You may even be able to buy the paperback for less than the Kindle book…but that’s because Random House is still using the Agency Model, meaning that Amazon can discount the paperbook but not the e-book.

I checked one of the $11.99 Kindle store editions…the paper list price (set by the publisher) is $16.00…it’s just that Amazon is discounting it to $10.88 (in the USA…prices may be different in other countries).

Random House is not part of the Department of Justice’s action against the Agency Model publishers, so it isn’t one of the settling publishers (there is nothing to settle). That action is not exactly against the Agency Model: it’s against collusion, and Random House didn’t join when everybody else did.

Could Random House drop the Agency Model voluntarily, meaning Amazon would discount these? Maybe…but they may wait until the non-settling publishers have fought it out in court, and that wouldn’t happen before January 2013, I think.

If the price seems too high to you, you can list them at

They’ll send you an e-mail when the book drops an amount you specify. There is no charge for that…if you buy it through their link, they presumably get an advertising fee from Amazon.

What do you think? Are you already a Travis McGee fan? Do you wish I hadn’t mentioned Miami Vice in the same breath? 😉 What other “long tail” series would you like to see? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.


7 Responses to “Travis McGee coming to Kindle in January 2013”

  1. Bailey Says:

    Personally, I wish that the ‘Little House’ series would be released onto the kindle. And the early books of Brian Jacques’ ‘Redwall’ series (although they are /starting/ to inch backwards, it could take awhile) And Patricia C Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles…

    But aside from those series and a couple stand-alone novels, the authors/publishers have been really good about releasing the books I want to read onto kindle. Especially in the last month or so I’ve been getting a lot of alerts about kindle conversions…

    Random question alert: do you prefer buying one ebook with all the books in a series, or buying them all individually?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Bailey!

      Under the current laws, the first novel, Little House on the Prairie, will be in the public domain in the USA on January 1, 2031…not that long. 🙂 Negotiations could happen before that, though.

      As to your question…

      I have bought “bundles”, but my preference is to have the books in individual files. One of the main reasons has to do with highlights…you can’t tell from which book the highlight came when it is in a bundle. Also, a bundle can be a large file to keep on a Kindle.

      On the other hand, getting a bunch of books at a reduced price is good, too. 🙂

      I believe the Harry Potter books let you get them at a reduced price and have individual files…that’s the best of both worlds.

  2. Lady Galaxy Says:

    This is great news! I’ve been waiting for Travis McGee to be available on Kindle since forever! I stumbled into the series with the paperback release of “The Dreadful Lemon Sky.” I went to the library and got caught up, then eagerly awaited each new volume. The day I read of John D. MacDonald’s death was a sad one, because I knew that with his death, the Busted Flush had sailed off into the sunset taking Travis and Meyer along with it. I still have my hardback copy of his final book, “The Lonely Silver Rain.” Even though John MacDonald was still alive when that book was released, there was a sense of closure to it, as if he knew it would be Travis’s last grab for another piece of retirement. I’ve been wanting to reread the whole series from start to finish, but my eyes are no longer up to paperback size print, and the library’s hardbacks are in really icky condition.

    I think this series would appeal to those who love Agent Gibbs on NCIS. Travis is the lone wolf that Gibbs would have become if Gibbs had stayed “retired” instead of coming back to NCIS. I hope Random House is smart enough to offer the first book in the series for “free” in order to capture the audience who may not have discovered this series, and then offer the remaining books for a more reasonable price for books that have been around for a long time. But this is one of those cases where I’d be willing to pay more than the gold standard $9.99. Oops, maybe I shouldn’t have let Random House know what a sucker I am. (And I’m wondering what Meyer, the economist, would have to say about the whole agency model.)

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      Those are good insights!

      I don’t know if you know about Philip José Farmer’s Wold Newton family:

      but Travis McGee is part of that…and there might be new books, of course.

      There’s also talk of a Travis McGee movie, perhaps in 2015…and Leonard Dicaprio has been mentioned.

      As to any economist’s opinion on the Agency Model, I think it would hinge on the evaluation being micro or macro…

  3. Lady Galaxy Says:

    Oh, so, say it isn’t so! There is no way I’d watch a Travis McGee movie with Leonardo Dicaprio. That would be like casting a tea cup poodle to play the part of a pit bull! There were a couple of made for TV movies about Travis, but they never cast Sam Elliot in the part, and he was so totally wrong! In the movie in my head Brian Denehy was the perfect Travis but unfortunately, he’s now too old for the part.

  4. Vera Regina Says:

    It seems that in the end the Travis Mcgee series has not come out!
    It is already 29th January 2013 and, although some months ago I could see such books announced at Amazon, they are no more there…Does anybody have any idea about what happened?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Vera!

      They are available for me…are you perhaps outside the USA? Not all countries get the same books at the same time.

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