Sunday, January 31, 2010

Strange Things In Publishing

We all know these are strange times for publishing. I find it hard to get a handle on where the industry is going and if that destination is a good thing. I tend to be hopeful, confident fundamentally that people will always need stories, and therefore always need writers to produce them. The rest is just details, right?

But... I keep bumping up against strange, kinda unexpected twists.

There are the Kindle $9.99 protesters that go around leaving bad reviews on Amazon, really only saying that no Kindle book should cost more than that amount. Not sure how they came up with that, what amount of market research and analysis of production budgets and profit and lost calculations they've considered. I'm not saying what they should cost, I'm just wondering... I also think they might find that the price is only higher for a period of time - like the first year that the book is in hardback format. My Kindle version of Acacia: The War with the Mein is $6.39, and I figure The Other Lands (Acacia, Book 2) will drop in price too - once the print version heads into mass market paperback. I wonder if these folks that haven't read my books but have written negative "reviews" will come back then and remove them?

Or there's stuff like Amazon pulling Macmillan titles off because they couldn't come to terms on pricing/royalties for ebooks...

Here's a New York Times blog piece about it.

Here's a letter from Macmillan about it at Publishers Lunch.

What's up with this?

And then there are the folks that wrote protest "reviews" because my books weren't available for... ah... free. For free? (These reviews seem to have been removed, but still.) Just a question about that... How do people that advocate for free books explain how the author gets paid? Or does the author not need to get paid? That's absurd from my point of view, but that's because I know how many days, weeks, years of work writing a book is, how much it effects the circumstances of my family's life on a daily basis. Am I crazy for thinking that writing novels of 200k+ word length (that people want to read) is actually work? I don't make extravagant money writing. I make enough to sustain my family. If everything is free how can I do that? And if I can't do that, folks, I can't spend my life writing books. I just don't really understand this free book thing. If you do, please explain it to me.

And then there's the whole changing landscape thing. Independent bookstores gutted. The chain stores in trouble despite that. Newspapers not reviewing books much anymore. Lots of articles with titles like "The Death of Fiction". (That one is at Mother Jones. Kind of interesting, not just the article but the comment thread afterward.)

I'm not really advocating anything here. Just being dazed and confused...

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Daniel said...

I for one am hopeful that the details work themselves out in a manner conducive to ensuring a long history of future novels from you. Despite only recently discovering your excellent Acacia trilogy, I feel you have incredible potential as an author and would hate for you to be burdened by the squabbling of readers who feel entitled to receive books at unsustainable prices. For decades, novels has been released first as expensive hardcovers and then later as cheaper trade and mass market paperbacks and it was generally a system that let people buy the books they could afford to in an equitable manner for all involved parties. The notion that an ebook should be priced no higher than $9.99 is absurd - only a fraction of the cost of a book is the printing and posting reviews trashing a book's rating for this only hurts the authors. If readers want to continue to enjoying reading intelligent fiction, they at least need to be honest to the authors in the reviews and buy books when they can afford to do so.

6:51 AM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Daniel,

Thank you. I think it will work out. It has to, really, but we're just in a transitional period right now. Just have to ride it out, I think...

8:56 AM  
Blogger Incubus Jax said...

People are insane. We want and want and want, but we want it handed to us for free. I'm not saying gouge the prices or anything, I'm simply speaking to the people who do exactly what you're saying above. Let's give a 1 star review of a book we haven't read because we're "protesting" ebook prices... Give me a big fat break.

2:49 PM  
Blogger Mandorallen said...

That is officially bullshit in my book.

As an aspiring writer, that is ridiculous and moronic. How can someone be so self centered as to think that they should be able to get books for free? Why . . . the same people that never pay for their music. I'm not sure if I'm missing something but from where I'm standing these people haven't looked beyond themselves.

7:51 PM  

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