The links first. For those of you who might be impacted by the Google settlement, if you still have questions about it, there are several phone conferences taking place this week to help explain it and answer any questions you might have. These are open to all authors and agents. You don't have to be a member of Authors Guild to take part. For more information, check out this link.
The second link is one that is much more telling, from my point of view, when it comes to the future of publishing. The New York Times published an article titled "With Kindle, the Best Sellers Don't Need to Sell". The basic import of the story is that authors and publishers have seen an increase in sales after posting a book for free for the Kindle. One example given is Lauren Dane's romance novel Giving Chase. Kindle users downloaded more than 26,000 copies of the book.
This is what's really impressive: But paid purchases of some of Ms. Dane’s other novels jumped exponentially. Her earlier novel “Chased,” which sold 97 copies in September, sold 2,666 digital units in October, and another of her previous books, “Taking Chase,” which sold 119 copies in September, sold 3,279 in the month in which a free download was available.
That's a huge increase in sales and it comes because the publisher was willing to give away, for one month only, downloads of Giving Chase. This form of marketing is one factor that will help pull publishing out of the doldrums it's in now. More importantly, it will help pull new authors and mid-list authors out of the shadows and bring them to the public's attention.
Unfortunately, there are still publishers who are digging their heels in and refusing to recognize that e-books represent a growing portion of the market and that the sales of them will not destroy the sales of hard copy versions of the same book. Executives at some houses said that given such actions, offering free content amounts to industry hypocrisy.
“At a time when we are resisting the $9.99 price of e-books,” said David Young, chief executive of Hachette Book Group, the publisher of James Patterson and Stephenie Meyer, “it is illogical to give books away for free.”
Similarly, a spokesman for Penguin Group USA said: “Penguin has not and does not give away books for free. We feel that the value of the book is too important to do that.”
These publishers, and all those like them, don't seem to grasp the fact that giving away an e-book for a limited amount of time is nothing more than promotion. It's a way to get the author's name out there and recognized by the reading public. It is also a heck of a lot less expensive, for everyone involved, than sending an author on a publicity tour, sending out ARCs, etc., and it wouldn't surprise me at all if it doesn't hit a lot more potential readers. Readers who will buy books in one form or another.
Even if only a small percentage of those who download a free book end up buying another one, “that’s all found money,” said Steve Oates, vice president for marketing at Bethany House Publishers, a unit of Baker Publishing Group . . . .
I wish more publishers took Mr. Oates's view. I do not believe e-books will kill the printed book -- at least not for a very long while. But there is a market for e-books, a market that will continue to grow as more and more e-book readers are developed. Are there still issues to be dealt with regarding e-books? Hell, yeah. DRM for one. A common format for another. But these are also issues that can be dealt with, if the publishing industry will just learn from what the music industry went through and if it starts listening to the purchasing public.
There is something we, as authors, need to keep in mind. The e-book reading public really doesn't understand why some books make it into electronic form and others don't, much less why the e-book version may not be published at the same time as the first release of the dead tree version of the book. They blame the retailers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. They blame the authors -- sometimes rightfully so. But they don't, in many cases, understand that it is the publisher making the decision on when an e-book comes out. There is growing discontent on the boards frequented by those who purchase e-books about the delay in the electronic versions. If you're an author whose e-book has been delayed for months after the first release of the DTB and you're getting angry emails about it, that's why. If you're a reader angry because that e-book you've been waiting for has been delayed, let the publisher know as well as the author. E-books are here to stay, barring some form of catastrophe that kills computers, e-book readers, etc.
As readers, what would entice you to buy an e-book by an author you'd never heard of before? Would being able to download a book by them for free help? How about as an author? Would you be willing to put up a book for free for a limited time in order to boost your sales? What approach should publishers be taking with regard to e-books now, in face of the facts presented in the NYT's article?
(Image found at www.geeky-gadgets.com/