Friday, December 31, 2010

The Death Spiral

This today from PW:

Still reeling from record losses and a continuing drop in sales in the third quarter, the Borders Group announced that it is delaying payments to some publishers.

The whole article is HERE.

This is something that has concerned me for a while. Here's how it could play out.

1. Publishers insist on being paid.
2. Borders begins returning books for credit, to pay what they owe.
3. Fewer books on the shelf means fewer sales.
4. Fewer sales means more bookstores closing.
5. More bookstores closing means fewer sales.
6. Repeat.

If Borders closes a lot of stores, or closes their doors completely, it will mean publishers will make less money.

If they make less money, they won't be able to publish as many books. Fewer books published means fewer books sold, which means even less money.

I've heard a lot of anecdotal evidence from my writing peers about authors being dropped by their houses, or being offered smaller advances. I've heard more anecdotal evidence that it has become harder to sell books to publishers.

So what are authors going to do if they can't sell their books to publishers?

The smart ones will self-publish.

Here's a broader possible forecast:

1. Borders withholds payments.
2. Publishers demand to be paid.
3. Borders returns books.
4. Fewer books means fewer sales, which means smaller profits.
5. Publishers tighten their belts and don't buy as many books.
6. Fewer books published means fewer books sold.
7. Bookstores close, meaning fewer books sold.
8. Fewer books sold means fewer books bought by publishers.
9. Authors, unable to sell to publishers, decide to self-publish.
10. Self-pubbed books means fewer books sold in bookstores, and fewer sales for publishers.
11. Repeat.

Things don't look good for bookstores.

They don't look good for publishers either.

But could the skyrocketing ebook market save publishers?

It depends. If the majority of bookstores close, the print midlist will probably disappear. Bestsellers will still be sold in big boxes and non-bookstore outlets, but if a book isn't a blockbuster, it likely won't be released in print.

The reason publishers are so important to authors is because they have a lock on distribution, and they get those print books onto shelves and into stores. Everything else--editing, cover art, marketing--can be outsourced by the author. But the author can't get their book into Sam's Club or CVS or every Borders store.

If publishers stop printing books and focus on ebooks, authors have to ask themselves what are the benefits of signing with a publisher? Why let a publisher take 52.5% of the cover price of an ebook, while an author takes only 17.5%? Especially when an author can do it themselves and make 70%?

This death spiral may not happen for a while. It might not happen at all.

But authors should be thinking about all of the changes happening in the industry right now. If you sign a book deal which states the first book won't be released until June 2012, will there be any chain bookstores still standing? What if it's a three book deal, with the last book out in 2015?

In the past, publishers could be counted on for stability. But in the last year, we've seen Leisure and Medallion stop their print lines. I have friends who haven't gotten their latest royalty statements or checks.

Here are some things for writers to discuss with their agents to protect themselves:

1. Make sure there is a reversion of rights clause based on the book being in print and selling a certain number of copies per year.

2. Look out for "non compete" clauses, which wouldn't allow a writer to release ebooks on their own during the duration of the print deal.

3. Make sure there are clauses that protect the writer in case of a publisher's bankruptcy.

4. Look out for clauses that state the publisher can release the ebook without releasing the print book.

5. If ebooks become the dominant format (a possibility if the death spiral ensues), then the 17.5% royalty rate publishers currently offer needs to change. A "most favored nations" clause along the lines of "if the publisher ever offers another author more than 17.5%, that rate will automatically be applied to this contract" is a way for authors to avoid getting locked into a lousy royalty rate for life.

6. Get as much money up front as you can.

In my previous post, I said that authors should self-publish because they can make more money.

Looking at the current publishing climate, I'd be really hesitant to sign a deal because I'd be afraid bookstores, or publishers, won't be around much longer.

In the past, it made monetary sense for publishers to allow books to go out of print.

Today, a savvy publisher would want to hold onto those rights as long as possible, to exploit the erights.

That scares me more than a little.

194 comments:

Derek J. Canyon said...

Great advice, Joe. I really appreciate the advice and warnings that you continue to provide. I doubt that I'll ever get offered a print deal, but it's still helpful to read such advice from someone with experience.
Derek's blog: Adventures in ePublishing

Christy Pinheiro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christy Pinheiro said...

Joe, B&N announced that Nookbooks are outselling print.

NookBooks

Steve said...

Sad about Borders; they have/had great stores, especially in the Midwest.

Stacey Cochran said...

I blogged a couple weeks ago about the unraveling of Borders because I do not think they'll be around as a business in another ten years. If you read their financials from the past decade (check out Hoover's database, for example), it's amazing they're still in business now.

Basically, they've been liquidating for five years straight just to keep enough capital flowing to stay afloat.

Stacey
howtopublishabook.org

Ruth Harris said...

Today's WSJ story on Borders "delaying payment" to publishers includes the word "ominous." This event is not evolutionary in the history of publishing; it is convulsive.

Borders is going, going and about to be gone.

Does anyone remember Tower Records? If so, you know the scenario.

The Vampire Years said...

Joe - you say make sure the contract protects in bankruptcy -

An ipso facto clause is invalid under the Bankruptcy Code because a trustee is not bound by any provision or applicable law that is conditioned on the debtor's insolvency.

http://bankruptcy.cooley.com/2007/09/articles/business-bankruptcy-issues/are-termination-on-bankruptcy-contract-clauses-enforceable/

although it is somewhat open as to IP: A Limited Exception In Bankruptcy. A third reason is that an important, albeit limited, exception to the rule applies even after a bankruptcy is filed. The exception stems less from the ipso facto clause itself and more from the rules governing assumption of certain types of executory contracts, including intellectual property licenses (at least in some circuits).

Joe Konrath said...

An ipso facto clause is invalid under the Bankruptcy Code because a trustee is not bound by any provision or applicable law that is conditioned on the debtor's insolvency.

Can you restate that for the cheap seats?

Are you saying it's impossible to put a cluase in that says "in case of the publisher's bankruptcy, rights revert to the author"?

My concern is that, if a publisher goes bankrupt, the rights they hold will be considered assets which can then be sold off to repay creditors.

I know ZERO about this, BTW. Maybe a clause already exists. I bet some astute readers knows...

Daryl Sedore said...

But doesn't fewer books available (print) and book sales mean that more people will turn to the e-book market and bump the already skyrocketing e-books sales numbers?

I love bookstores. I'm saddened by this news.

But, this is the future. It's happening now as we ring in the new year.

Ironic?

Joe Konrath said...

Does anyone remember Tower Records? If so, you know the scenario.

LOL, Ruth. I almost brought up Tower and Musicland and Sam Goody in the blog post.

The reason I didn't is because the record labels did survive, even though the stores didn't. I'm not sure the publishers will survive this.

Joe Konrath said...

I love bookstores. I'm saddened by this news.

Me too.

Al Leverone said...

Hi Joe, I'm a debut author who got caught in the middle of Medallion's exodus from the mass-market paperback universe. My contract,signed one year ago yesterday, was for MMPB release of my book, FINAL VECTOR. Last March, Medallion advised me they were getting out of the mass-market format entirely and wanted to release FINAL VECTOR as an ebook.

I thought long and hard about demanding my rights back but after about three weeks decided to stick with Medallion, in part because I could see the explosion in the ebook market taking place, and in part because my royalty rate in electronic format is much higher than it would have been for MMPB.

I'm not supposed to discuss royalty rates, but my rate for the ebook release of FINAL VECTOR is much higher than 17.5%, although not the 70% I could get releasing the book myself, either.

I released a short story collection last week in ebook form myself and am now thinking long and hard about releasing my next novel myself as well.

The moral of the story? We are seeing a fundamental shift in the publishing industry before our very eyes and it behooves every one of us to study the shifting power structure closely...thanks for leading the way...

Ty Johnston said...

On the flip side, Half Price Books just opened their online Markeplace.

I'm not sure what to make of that, though it doesn't quite feel an act of desperation, though maybe it is. Possibly a vision of what's to come?

Ruth Harris said...

"LOL, Ruth. I almost brought up Tower and Musicland and Sam Goody in the blog post.

The reason I didn't is because the record labels did survive, even though the stores didn't. I'm not sure the publishers will survive this."

@Joe...I'm not either. Maybe a few will survive but even if they do, their structure will be different and so will their lists. Most likely tilting to non-fiction, scholarly, reference, art & coffee table books.

Fiction? Basically, fuhggedaboutit except -- maybe -- for mega sellers in Sam's Club, Walmart, etc. And probably at even lower prices than at present, pressured by e-prices.

I would guess that even the perennials -- diets, sex & celebs -- will go e. Push 'em out faster, get the $$$ faster.

Joe Konrath said...

much higher than 17.5%

I got into an argument with an editor who said authors get 25%, not 17.5%, until I explained to her that 17.5% was off the list ebook price (Amazon takes 30%, the publisher 52.5%)

The standard royalty rate is 25% of net, though I know a few people who get 50% of net from the Big 6. I dunno what smaller publishers offer.

50% of net seems fair, if they also release a print version. f they release e-only, the royalty should be higher.

But why go with a publisher for e-only?

Moses Siregar III said...

How bad off is Barnes and Noble? Maybe they're saving themselves with the Nook and Nook Color?

Ruth Harris said...

@ Moses....They should only live so long. Nook has already been hacked to permit Kindle books. They're bleeped.

John Ling said...

Interestingly, here in New Zealand, our local Borders stores have just announced a quick-fire sale where they will be liquidating over $3 million worth of stock at rock-bottom prices. Ominous indeed.

Aimless Writer said...

i wonder if all the big guys go belly up will the small mom and pop book stores will have another shot?
I've always wanted my own bookstore but how could anyone compete with B&N?
Self-publishing is looking better and better.

The Daring Novelist said...

Our big local independent bookstore is affiliated with Borders. I noticed that one of their two stores is now more than half devoted to things other than new books. They have a big used book section, plus huge gift and media sections.

I think they also have a POD machine.

I am sorry to see them go, but in many ways, I feel as though they went a long time ago. At the same time, I wonder if they have the means to survive because of the changes they've made in the past decade or so.

Alastair Mayer said...

It's always possible to put in a clause reverting rights if the publisher declares bankruptcy -- and Mark Levine (Negotiating a Book Contract) and Richard Curtis (How To Be Your Own Literary Agent) both recommend it.

However, that clause might be unenforceable. Levine (in The Fine Print of Self-Publishing) goes on to say that the automatic stay provision of 11 USC S362(3) controls [it's there for the precise purpose of making sure the estate still has assets from which to pay creditors]. However, he also says "When a publisher files for bankruptcy, most bankruptcy trustees return the rights to authors in exchange for the authors' agreement to drop any claims for all unpaid royalties or other monies due."

The clause is a shaky leg to stand on, but it's better than no leg at all.

Anonymous said...

There's a Cambridge University professor who came out with a book this year on the publishing industry: http://tinyurl.com/2754xtw

He is far more upbeat about the industry than the people here, and yet in an interview he said:

"If Borders closes it will be catastrophic for the publishing houses because Borders owes them so much money and they would have to return all the stock and so forth."

This truly is going to make the Big Six quake. Borders folding is their worst nightmare.

My prediction, as I've said here before, is the Big Six will abandon the midlist--and/or the midlisters will abandon them--and concentrate on 7 figure book deals, where the barriers to entry are so great they won't have any competition but each other. Of course that means half the people in NY publishing will be laid off.

EC

wannabuy said...

Borders was $2.55B in revenue vs. B&N $6.8B. Assuming B&N is 20% of the book market (as per many media claims), this implies Borders has shrunk to a mere 7.6% of the market.

Mosses:
B&N has been losing money, but not as professionally as Borders. They can last 2 more years which is an eternity

Here is the slippery slope: B&N must cut costs. In other words, they must force publisher discounts to match Walmart and Costco. But B&N buys far more 'variety' than the big box stores (few copies of each book, but far more titles).

In other words, print margins will shrink.

I'd worry about a contract at a publisher unless I was selling at 'big box.'

Neil

JaxPop said...

Gettin' too old & obsessed with this stuff. 11PM New Year's Eve & I'm reading blog comments?

Use up your Borders gift cards in a hurry! (The B&N near me ain't exactly stocked up either.)

HNY

wannabuy said...

@anonMy prediction, as I've said here before, is the Big Six will abandon the midlist--and/or the midlisters will abandon them--and concentrate on 7 figure book deals, where the barriers to entry are so great they won't have any competition but each other. Of course that means half the people in NY publishing will be laid off.

No middle tier and you are left with only big-box stores. That doesn't pay the lease on those huge New York buildings...

What is the relative financial strength of the publishers? (I've had a tough time figuring that out...). I doubt any big6 would be taken under by Borders... but they might have to retrench as you suggest... which will push readers to ereaders just for the variety.

I'm still floored how well ereaders sold this holiday season.

Happy new year... from a parent staying home with the kids.
Neil

Selena Kitt said...

"I think they also have a POD machine."


Was this in the U.S.?

no-bull-steve said...

Crazy year-end news. The timing of the announcement is curious to me. Friday December 31st? Could PW have tried to bury this as much as possible while still reporting it?

A friend of mine who manages a Borders blogged earlier this year scolding me for listening to my agent's advice that I self publish. 2011 is the year where a lot of people in and around the publishing industry completely change their stance on Indie publishing.

Happy New Year all!

gniz said...

It's funny that even with news like this about Borders and the obvious shift in the landscape with all the Kindle and Nook sales...with all the evidence at hand, many people are still refusing to believe that ebooks are soon going to dominate the publishing world.

I had a long talk/argument with my sister who is in textbook publishing. She really couldn't see it and just kept hammering away at the old cliches about how self-publishing is for hacks who can't write well enough to make the big-time. And she told me how people have been saying for years that print publishing is about to die, and yet it never comes to pass.

I think most of us paying attention would agree that the elephant is staggering and about to drop to the ground any day now...it's no longer a question of if but when.

epubmanifesto.blogspot.com

Moses Siregar III said...

I love bookstores. I'm saddened by this news.

Amen, Daryl.

These changes are bittersweet. A lot of passionate, book-loving people are going to lose their jobs in the coming years. I hope things work out so that book people can adapt and continue to work in the industry they love.

Tara Maya said...

Anon, it's ironic that the book on the publishing industry you mentioned, Merchants of Culture, is not available as an ebook.

Tara Maya
The Unfinished Song: Initiate
Conmergence

Moses Siregar III said...

The scenario Joe wrote about here is why I started thinking very seriously about self-publishing earlier this year. I'd hate to get a mediocre publishing contract and then find that bookstores are cutting shelf space or closing in a few years when the book comes out, which would probably lead to them holding onto your e-rights for many more years.

However, being an author that a publishing house really wants to invest in will probably be even better in the coming years. Because you'll probably get better royalties on erights as time goes along, and because with less midlist books on the shelves the real big boys in any genre will sell a TON of print books.

One of my lofty goals, then, is to establish myself well enough independently that a big house would want to put some serious money and muscle behind my books. That could take many years, but I think that's a good, practical (though ambitious and difficult to achieve) goal in the new publishing landscape.

Tara Maya said...

I hope things work out so that book people can adapt and continue to work in the industry they love.

I think many of them will. I know of two or three agents I like who are also authors. Another agent has become an ebook publisher. Editors can still be editors, but freelance. Artists will still design covers, and so on.

Tara Maya

The Unfinished Song: Initiate
Conmergence

Edie Ramer said...

This is scary. I'm self-published and very glad I am. But I'm thinking about my writer friends who have sold books to NY publishers. This isn't good news for them.

I wondered the same thing as Aimless Writer, whether the independent bookstores will take up some of the slack as the chains fail.

KevinMc said...

Crazy stuff.

Of course, the worst case for publishers is not a Borders bankruptcy. It's if Borders tries to fight bankruptcy tooth and claw all the way, because then they will begin using those $450 million (wholesale value) in publisher's books they have to pay their debts.

What that means, for folks who don't know, is that they tear the cover off the book, destroy the book, and get full credit for the book from the publisher. Which means the Big Six could lose hundreds of millions of dollars as Borders slowly fights going out, in the coming months.

With bankruptcy, they could recover those books against debts, and at least get some of that money back by selling them.

With returns, those books are a complete loss. Which could be catastrophic.

I'd say this is NOT a good time to be submitting to a major publisher...

Steve said...

I'd say this is NOT a good time to be submitting to a major publisher...

I agree. Get you novels as E-Books and hang on for the ride. It might not be smooth, but it's moving fast.

Tara Maya said...

Apparently, Boarders just made a bid to acquire Barnes & Noble. Madness or genius? You decide.

Borders spokeswoman Mary Davis said, “We have previously expressed to Barnes & Noble our interest in such a business combination, and we look forward to continuing those discussions.’

Barnes & Noble put itself up for sale this year during a dispute with investor Ron Burkle, who wished to increase his 19 percent stake. The company implemented a plan limiting single investors to 20 percent. Barnes & Noble launched its reader, the Nook, last year and has invested heavily in its electronic bookstore. Borders sells readers and e-books through a partnership with Kobo.


Tara Maya
The Unfinished Song: Initiate

Tara Maya said...

Opps, here's the link on the Boarders Bid for B&N

Tara Maya
The Unfinished Song: Initiate

gniz said...

Yeah, Borders can't pay their bills, I don't think they have the cash on hand to buy a candybar, let alone B&N.


An E-Publisher's Manifesto

Edward L Cote said...

As if all this isn't dreadful enough, I've heard that there may be a commercial real estate bubble bursting as many retail outlets go out of business.

I'm tired of Going Out of Business signs, and I'll be sad if the local Borders closes its doors. At the very least I hope that the small local outfits can stay afloat. I hope that both readers and authors keep them in mind even as times change.

The thing is, we authors have to look out for ourselves, and that increasingly means self publishing and selling online. The publishing houses will throw us under the bus if they have to. We might have to do the same to them, and frankly I will shed far fewer tears for the big 6 than for the bookstore chains, should the time come for eulogies.

Robin Sullivan said...

So I've seen the POD kioske machine and it so rocks...The model for it is wrong though. They should not be selling it to bookstores, coffee shops, etc. They should "place" them in these places, provide repair service, supplies, etc just like ATM's at convience stores.

I can't wait for a day for these to be common place - it is the next "big" innovation in publishing and it will mean ALOT to indies as they can be sold through stores with no risk to the store for returns.

Chris V. said...

good points Joe and everyone but... print isn't going away totally, at least not yet. What about libraries? What about all those who did NOT buy ereaders--or can't?

What about X millions still out of work and likely continuing to be so as industries disappeared, the market changed, is changing still, and ageism is rampant for over 50 workers? Or the underemployed?

Libraries will continue to be needed, and books will be needed to fill them. Some publishers serve the library market specifically and they're not going belly up, some appear to be doing well.

Anonymous said...

Great post Joe. I wondered how long Borders would stay a float because I did a signing there in December and sold out 50 books, which they brought and 20, that I brought just in case. They said I should receive a check on consignment(not a big deal) in four to six months. I have posted before but I am wondering if bookstores go what will happen to the YA market? Not all kids will have ereaders. Just curious.

Sean McCartney
The Treasure Hunters Club
Secrets of the Magical Medallions

jtplayer said...

The same things were said about the big record companies and the CD and digital downloads. And while physical sales keep declining, and the notion of getting a "record deal" means something far different today than it did in my day, most of the extreme wholesale changes predicted have not yet come to pass.

Sure record stores have disappeared, the big chains at least, but CD's remain a viable product, and I can still buy the latest releases in that format. Right alongside the digital download. And let's not forget that vinyl records were supposed to become extinct with the advent of the compact disc. We can all see how that's turned out.

Just like there are always early adopters to any new technology or business paradigm, likewise you have those who rush to judgement and prematurely proclaim the demise of the old ways. Many authors are so jaded by their anger/frustration/disappointment over not getting a print deal, it seems they can't wait for the death of the very industry they've spent a good part of their lives pursuing.

How about this idea...embrace all of the opportunities with an open mind, the new, and the old. Educate yourself, plot the best business plan based on that education, and don't be so eager to burn bridges. Today's adversary may well be tomorrow's ally. And no one has a crystal ball.

Mark said...

"Joe, B&N announced that Nookbooks are outselling print."

Actually, what they announced is that ebooks are outselling print at their online bookstore. I have no doubt that if you factor in their brick and mortar sales, print is still far ahead of ebook.

Moses Siregar III said...

Sure record stores have disappeared, the big chains at least, but CD's remain a viable product, and I can still buy the latest releases in that format. Right alongside the digital download. And let's not forget that vinyl records were supposed to become extinct with the advent of the compact disc. We can all see how that's turned out.

You know, that does seem pretty comparable. The biggest authors will sell books whether in physical bookstores or online. The indies will sell books mainly online or at events (the equivalent of concerts). And just as tons of people buy mp3s now, tons will buy ebooks now.

Writers probably have it a better, though, because they can publish an ebook to Amazon and BN.com and have a chance of taking off through the algorithms and search features of those websites. Something equivalent must be harder to pull off as a musician.

Mark said...

"I wondered the same thing as Aimless Writer, whether the independent bookstores will take up some of the slack as the chains fail."

I would think there would be opportunity for new bookstores. And I know some bookstores plan to sell ebooks through google books. You might make a go of it if you mix new and used paper books and sell a few ebooks or invest in POD.

The smaller bookstores sure disappeared fast once B&N and Borders started putting up stores. They may not be all that viable even if Borders disappears.

Gary Ponzo said...

Unless a publisher offers to market the heck out of your ebook, what else do they have to offer?

Coolkayaker1 said...

11. Is not repeat. 11. Is : epublishers, after demise of retailers and publishers, reduce commissions to authors from 70 percent to forty percent and then 20 percent.

12. Authors further fragment the e-world by picking one of thousands of e-publishers to print with, often on open source digital software.


13. The novel becomes like the CD, a downloadable commodity, and is stolen, pilfered, sold in parts, and unless sold for 99 cents, buyers yawn. Author cut of the 99 cent novel: 20-40 cents.

wannabuy said...

Tara,

Borders has is a hedge fund willing to fund the takeover of B&N. What that hedge fund does not have is investors willing to fund the merger/takeover. Do you want to invest in books?

JT,
"Embrace all opportunities" means signing over rights to the big companies for years. I know you don't like talking the money, but without an income off of a book/project those authors must go find a 2nd job and not spend their time writing.

Unless an author can publish 6+ books per year, splitting attention is a very risky strategy. It is better to self-publish one trilogy after another.

CDs and music in general generate half the dollars they used to. The record industry was 'rocked' by the downsizing.

This time the issue is that Indie authors are gaining far more market share than indie bands did. As Joe noted in his early comment, this is not the same scenario.

Besides, record companies survived by selling themselves to 'media conglomerates.'

Robin,
I agree that the model for POD must be changed. In my opinion, coffee shops and airports will be the two locations that thrive. But the machines must shrink in floor space and also be faster (more books per hour).

Neil

Selena Kitt said...

"So I've seen the POD kioske machine and it so rocks..."

W00T! One of my predictions comes early! :)

Perry said...

It's sad but I see your scenarios playing out. The part that makes me sad is that publishers and bookstores do have a role in the future, but they don't seem to see a way to change to the new reality. All that experience in finding, improving and selling books would be valuable to any author.
Let's hope that some of the big players get their heads out of their **ses and find a way to thrive.
I'm an indie e-book publisher and have published 2 books so far. I know how much work goes into getting a book ready for sale and I think readers value the work.

KevinMc said...

Not going to happen, Coolkayaker, because publishers are not going to go under.

Oh - some might, don't get me wrong. And if Borders fights hard to stay alive, all of the big ones will feel some pain from it (which will translate to pain for authors selling to them) for a little while. Periods of instability are always rough on the major players of the old paradigm.

We're going to see a shake-up. I very much doubt we're going to see a complete crash.

The Daring Novelist said...

Selena: We're in Michigan. Ours has had it for over a year now, I think. They call it the "Esspresso Book Machine."

Mark said...

"Unless a publisher offers to market the heck out of your ebook, what else do they have to offer?"

Most of the bestselling ebooks seem to come from traditional publishers.

For example, I noticed that when Konrath et al released Draculas, there was a first-time novel selling at $3.99, a dollar higher, in the top ten. I believe Draculas got to about 50.

So a first time novel by an unknown writer was able to get to a much higher ranking. That seems to be the power of a publisher behind you.

Even Konrath has done much better in terms of sales with his Amazon Encore book. He may make less money in the long run because he gets substantially less per sale, but he's also said that it has helped sales of his other books.

There seems to be some real value in being traditionally published, at least for some writers. A lot of books get released and sink right away too, but the same can be said for self-pubbed ebooks.

Daryl Sedore said...

Borders has recently posted a $46.7 million net loss in their second quarter of 2010.

During the same period last year they reported a $45.6 million net loss.

Their C.E.O. Mike Edwards said in a statement: “Recognizing that online and digital will be a significant part of our business moving forward, we are focused on increasing our share of the e-book market…”

It may be too late Mr. Edwards.

Isn’t it ironic that “You’ve Got Mail” (Starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan) showed Fox Books, a big-box book store opening in New York and effectively closing down smaller ma and pa stores. The same technology, the internet, which brought you “e-mail” is what is helping to bring down big box stores.

Although, I'm still saddened. I do love book stores.

jtplayer said...

Re: "This time the issue is that Indie authors are gaining far more market share than indie bands did."
------------

Sorry Neil, you're gonna have to provide some backup for that claim. I'm not buying it on its face.

And yes, music sales are down by half over the last decade (1999-2009), and yet they still generate over 6 billion a year in revenue. Hardly a "dead" industry.

And that is my point. Many here are gleefully predicting the demise of paper books and traditional publishing. Just like many did in the music industry when Napster came on the scene, followed by itunes and others.

Yet the big corporations adapted, and alongside them many of the indies thrived. The only thing that changed was the nature of opportunity. Now there was a place at the table for all, when previously it was much more restricted.

But one factor remains. Those who are looking for a shortcut, or who produce inferior product, or who blindly put all their eggs in one basket, will likely find an equal amount of disappointment in the brave new world of ebooks and epublishing.

And as I said earlier, burning bridges is never a wise idea. All it takes is a few small changes to the dynamic, for instance a lesser royalty rate or more restrictions as to what can be "published", for the paradigm to be shifted out of the independent author's favor and back to some big corporation's.

And never forget, as much as many here hate the Big 6, with ebooks and epublishing you are still dealing with large corporate entities. When it comes to business, why you guys think that a company like Amazon is any different than some New York city publisher is beyond me. They're both out for themselves and their shareholders, regardless of how warm & fuzzy they make you feel.

evilphilip said...

"I think most of us paying attention would agree that the elephant is staggering and about to drop to the ground any day now...it's no longer a question of if but when."

Like the record industry, the "Big 6" publishers do not stand on their own. They are often (always?) part of a larger media conglomerate.

That means that they can weather a lot more hardship than you think they can. They can certainly weather the loss of both the Borders & Barnes & Noble physical stores.

An increase in the sales of books at big box stores and an increase in the sales of ebooks benefits them as much as it does the indie author.

I'm not going to speculate as to what that means to mid-list authors, I only point it out as food for thought.

The "Doom and Gloom" idea that any of the Big 6 publishers are going to go out of business is probably fantasy made up by indies who want their revolution to have an "Off with their heads" moment.

I'm one of those indies, I would love to see the gates come down and the king and his court hauled out into the streets and lined up under the guillotine one at a time, but I doubt it will happen.

wannabuy said...

@JT,
Sorry Neil, you're gonna have to provide some backup for that claim. I'm not buying it on its face.
Easy. Look at the top 20 books on Kindle for Sci-Fi. Usually about 13 are Indie.

Look at the top 100 Romance, #1 is Amanda Hocking! Look how many are indie!:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/digital-text/158566011/ref=s9_dnav_bw_ir12_z?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-3&pf_rd_r=0WG5ZGKVSR2N3T9D4576&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1284476782&pf_rd_i=133141011


We *never* had that sort of market share with Indie bands. The record companies didn't have this level of competition. Indie bands never had this level of direct access to large venues.

Seriously, as already noted, the entire mid-segment is going to go Indie/small publisher. The time for the largest 14 publishers to adapt was 2009. Instead, they *failed* to slow e-reader adoption in 2010.

JT, the publishers want to be compared to music. I just do not see as much 'gatekeeping' as the record companies kept. If you can prove there are blocks are big as there are in music.

Bookstores will survive. But there is a reason that those of us who love books are excited about POD. And there is ZERO keeping independent bookstores from loading a Google book from an Indie into their POD machine. In fact, Indie bookstores (per the few posts I've read) are excited by the idea.

Please look at the Kindle best sellers in Sci-Fi and Romance. That is proof of market share. Exact numbers? Not required. They weren't available for music downloads until after the fact, but Napster made the trend obvious. At least this time it is paid venues that became established first. Let's not drive via the rear view mirror, the change for publishers is far greater than for music companies.

Again, ereader sales were 40% BETTER than I expected in 2010. That combined with Borders...

Neil

wannabuy said...

@JT,
Sorry Neil, you're gonna have to provide some backup for that claim. I'm not buying it on its face.
Easy. Look at the top 20 books on Kindle for Sci-Fi. Usually about 13 are Indie in Sci-Fi.

Look how many are indie!:

Look at the top 100 Romance, #1 is Amanda Hocking!

We *never* had that sort of market share with Indie bands. The difference is dramatic. :) The publishers want to be compared to music. I do not buy it that there is any similarity below the surface. Publishers will have it much tougher

Neil

jtplayer said...

Aside from all this back and forth over a perceived sea change in publishing, one other factor remains.

Many millions of readers simply do not want an electronic reading device. Period. Let me repeat that for the hard of hearing...they DO NOT WANT ONE.

Just like millions of music lovers do not want MP3's and they continue to purchase CD's, regardless of the music industry's woes. And many still do not want any form of digital product, so they continue to purchase vinyl. And the industry and the artists continue to produce it. They accommodate the customer.

Any author who turns his back on paper books and goes exclusively digital is shortsighted, IMO. There have been many independent works highlighted here that intrigued me, yet I can only get them digitally, a format I do not like and do not purchase. And I am not unique in that respect. This scenario represents a lost sale.

But alas, therein lies the problem, doesn't it? Because without a publishing company of some kind, the obstructions, and more importantly, the expense, of self-pubbing paper books is still huge.

So you fall back on DTP and the other forms of epublishing. Because it's free. Therefore there's no risk. Unless, of course, you've "invested" in your product enough to have it professionally edited and presented. But many, if not most, independent writers aren't gonna do that. Because they're amateurs. IMO.

Sure, big changes are coming. But for every change you dig, I suspect there's gonna be another that pisses you off to no end.

Daryl Sedore said...

@evilphilip
"Like the record industry, the "Big 6" publishers do not stand on their own. They are often (always?) part of a larger media conglomerate."

For clarification,

The Big Six are:

1.Hachette book Group (Little, Brown and Company, Grand Central)

2.HarperCollins (A combination of two publishing companies, William Collins, Sons and Co. Ltd. and Harper & Row, They cover over fifty imprints.)

3.MacMillan Publishers Ltd. (Finding their home in New York’s Flatiron building (B&N Headquarters are in this building too), they own St. Martin’s Press, Tor, Farrar, and Straus & Giroux)

4.Penguin Group (The second largest trade publisher in the world. Penguin is largely known for its classic paperbacks)

5.Random House (Largest English-language trade publisher in the world. Publishing groups include Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, and Crown Publishing Group. Random House is a full subsidiary of the German conglomerate Bertelmann)

6.Simon & Schuster (Owned by CBS Corporation. Imprints include; Pocket, Free Press and Scribner.)

Karly Kirkpatrick said...

Glad I jumped on the ebook train. I was hesitant at first, but now so happy with my decision. I will miss real bookstores, but just like with music stores, I agree they may become a thing of the past.

Karly
www.karlykirkpatrick.com

jtplayer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wannabuy said...

@JT,
Many millions of readers simply do not want an electronic reading device.
True. Why indie authors are excited about POD. No publisher required. JT, please read up on Google books, Amazon encore, and the Espresso POD machine. There is no "either/or" situation here and no publisher required. :)

All that will 'off limits' in the future is the big box stores. What happens if they put POD? Seriously, without midlist, there is no point of walking into a bookstore. Everything else will be at Walmart or only ebook/POD.

Every quarter we see dramatic gains for the indies... Recall Ereader sales 40% better in 2010 than I estimated! Combine that with the Borders fail..

With how much Borders owes the publishers, can all 14 of the large publishers survive their failure? I'm serious. I'm sure the top 3 will survive, but not about any of the others.

Neil

jtplayer said...

The parallel being drawn Neil is the advent of digital medium and what that means to the artist, vis-a-vis business opportunities and access.

Starting with digital recording technology and the advent of affordable home studio options, the playing field was busted wide open for musicians. It soon became possible to record professional level CD's on a budget previously unheard of.

I know, because I've been doing it for many years. And I personally know many independent artists here in So. Cal. doing it.

The opportunities were further widened when the Internet grew by leaps and bounds and Myspace came on the scene, and soon you had a viable means to sell that "homemade" music. I have friends who are on itunes as we speak, with completely self-produced and marketed music, right alongside the big boys. And you know what, they're moving product. They ain't gettin' rich, but then again, outside of Joe and a few others, not many indie authors are making bank either.

And through all of that, the naysayers kept telling us the traditional music industry was dead as we knew it. The independents were taking over. It was the dawn of a new day.

Well it didn't exactly go down that way, did it?

That's where I see the similarities.

jtplayer said...

Re: "Why indie authors are excited about POD"
------------

I don't exactly see anyone waving the POD banner around here.

Laura said...

I don't know about Borders, but every time I go to Barnes & Noble, there are fewer books and a bigger section for the Nook display. All the small bookstores in my area are struggling. Meanwhile, publishers seem to think the solution is to publish less, or to avoid e-books or price them too high. Maybe not a complete death spiral, but definitely a downward spiral.

wannabuy said...

JT,
The parallel is a broken analogy.

Record companies kept control of:
1. Radio play. Co-op helps in bookstores, little impact at Amazon.
2. Advertising. 99% of authors are not advertised with books today, no similarity to CDs.
3. Venues. No similar bottleneck with ebooks. :)

The record industry kept far more 'gatekeeper functions' than the publishers will be able to. So I do not see the simularity.

@JT I don't exactly see anyone waving the POD banner around here.
In this thread Robin, Mark, and Selena were discussing it! Most of the authors blog about offering pbooks too.

'
Diffusion of technology follows a predictable path unless something else replaces it.

K1: Innovators (defined as first 2.5%)
K2: Innovators & Early adopters
K3: Still early adopters (<15% market share or 2.5%+13.5%, see link)

Notice the next stage of adoption is far faster! We should break into that stage in 1H2011. :)

So my prediction of 50% ebooks (by dollars) by January 2013 remains safe. :)

But how will publishers do in a market with 50% of the dollars being easy game for Indies? We never quite had the same with music. This is a different game.

Neil

jtplayer said...

We can agree to disagree Neil.

The point is about the advent of the digital medium, and what that means to artists. And I believe in the current debate there are far more similarities to the music industry than many care to see.

As far as POD goes, the discussion here has centered on POD kiosks, or machines, not traditional POD as many authors know it. I have yet to see one of these things, although I have heard and read about them.

wannabuy said...

JT,
I'm quite happy to 'agree to disagree'. You point out there are similarities some do not wish to see. I point out the similarity is broken due to the retained gatekeeper functions of the record companies.

I've seen the authors here talk about Amazon's POD as well as the kiosks. The kiosks are exciting, but rare.

Either way, technology diffuses and we'll see far greater ereader sales in 2011. :) For the Indie authors who gather here, that is good news.

Robin,
I missread your statement. Are you suggesting the Kiosks should be place a la 'Redbox' DVD machines? I'm shocked how quick DVD viewers switched to kiosks. So there is a proven model.

Neil

Mark said...

"Look how many are indie!:

"Look at the top 100 Romance, #1 is Amanda Hocking!"

She's not just #1. She's #3 and #7 also. Three books in the top ten. I guess that's to be expected when you sell 99,000 ebooks in a single month like she just did.

Jude Hardin said...

Look out for "non compete" clauses, which wouldn't allow a writer to release ebooks on their own during the duration of the print deal.

Ebook versions of that book, right? You could still release other titles as ebooks.

KevinMc said...

Not necessarily, Jude. A non-compete clause can actually prevent someone from releasing their own product or working for a competing company for the duration of the contract. I've heard some bad things about lawsuits over these. Even if unenforceable, the suits themselves can run years and ruin a career.

John Ling said...

Not necessarily, Jude. A non-compete clause can actually prevent someone from releasing their own product or working for a competing company for the duration of the contract.

Absolutely. In my line of work, we see clauses like these all the time. They may look vague and nonthreatening on paper, but they bring hell and damnation in the real world. They tie you to the contractee's whims and fancies, and restrict your options to, well, pretty much nothing.

You are better off avoiding a contract that even contains a hint of such terms. Or, at the very least, attempt to negotiate with your contractee to have the terms minimized or eliminated completely.

Barbara Morgenroth said...

I'm on a mailing list for a flavor of mysteries--don't want to be too specific, I don't want to hurt their feelings more than the biz already has. Over the last 6 weeks 2 prominent authors were dropped by major publishers. Their response, to me, was exceedingly curious. They both opted to do more of the same (more on their websites, more go to book signings, more get good reviews, more of whatever you did in the 20th century) and ignored my suggestion they check into the whole ebook self-pub route. I felt sorry for them.

Here's a neat piece about how rock bands are responding (so positively!) to the changes in the music biz.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703727804576017592259031536.html%20

And BN accounting is pretty slow, it takes a couple days for them to rectify everything. I'm approaching 900 copies for the month. The book driving that astonishing figure is a backlist middle reader book about 2 girls and their horses.

Rob Cornell said...

Does this mean aspiring writers should quit querying agents as well? If we're going to do all the work ourselves now, is there a reason to have an agent? Or is it self-publish successfully first, then find an agent for foreign rights, audio, film, etc.?

wannabuy said...

@Mark 99,000 ebooks in a single month

Faints. Well done Amanda! She is the rock stare of Indie publishers. Time for her to develop habits for expensive men and cars. ;)


Those 'non-compete' clauses are nasty and a 'good enough' reason to avoid the big14 publishers (if they insist on putting those in the contract). Very career ending and thus silly for an author to sign.

Neil

The Daring Novelist said...

RE - indie music and indie books:

The biggest difference between those models is that there is a HUGE barrier to entry to get into iTunes. There is virtually no barrier to get in to Amazon.

Also iTunes controls the pricing, and does not do much to assist with marketing. Amazon has for many years been developing the ubiquity of it's products through the affiliate program. If a blogger mentions a book, they don't even have to be an affiliate, but they are likely to link to the Amazon page for the book. (Actually, they can and do do this even if they are not an affiliate.) Readers click and sample and go on reading.

Apple on the other hand, makes it really difficult for these off-hand links - and that hampers word-of-mouth.

I don't think this is what is hurting Borders - they mismanaged the heck out of their distribution system among other things - but the downfall of Borders is something that will accelerate the growth of ebooks.

Camille

Jude Hardin said...

You are better off avoiding a contract that even contains a hint of such terms.

It's my understanding that nearly all publishing contracts contain non-compete clauses. It hasn't stopped Joe and a ton of others from publishing other titles, either as indies or through competing houses.

Where it would become an issue, I think, is if you tried to publish a similar book simultaneously with the one under contract; or, if your contracted book is on, say, Amazon Kindle, and you tried to publish an edition for the Nook on your own. Or, as Joe alluded to here, you could retain your ebook rights and still not be able to publish an ebook version of the book under contract because it would compete with the print version.

Any agents or lawyers out there care to weigh in?

jtplayer said...

Re: "I guess that's to be expected when you sell 99,000 ebooks in a single month like she just did."
-----------------

What the heck are you talking about?

I know Amanda's selling well, but that figure is news to me. On 12/8 Joe posted that she sold over 10k in a week, and on 12/10 he said she was selling 1,200 a day.

Where do you get 99,000? Something isn't computing here.

evilphilip said...

"Many millions of readers simply do not want an electronic reading device. Period. Let me repeat that for the hard of hearing...they DO NOT WANT ONE."

I think the point most people around here would be -- those people soon will not have a choice.

Your choice will be to go digital or give up reading as a hobby. It is fairly clear that aside from the "Top 20" authors that most books are going to be digital or POD only in the very near future.

Yes, some people still buy CD's and Yes, some people still buy vinyl, but the sales of vinyl are so small as to be unimportant to the industry and the sales of physical CD's are dropping every year.

Print books are going to be the same way. The current system, where a publisher prints a massive number of books at a significant cost and then takes returns of either the stripped product or the entire book is a broken system and digital has resolved that problem for the publisher.

Add in the idea that the physical book store is starting to be almost as rare as the horned Arizona Jackalope and you can see that it doesn't matter what you WANT, if you WANT to read books you had better start thinking about digital.

Peter L. Winkler said...

The apocalyptic extrapolation that booktores and print publishers are all about to fall into an abyss because the Borders chain is foundering is a very extreme prediction that ignores many other facts.

1. Borders will probably go out of business because they were always superfluous. There were too many chain bookstores and Borders had nothing to distinguish themselves from the others.

2. Borders has been in bad shape for years, before ebooks were a viable commodity.

3. Some Marginal bookstores (and other businesses, too) always fail in an economic contraction.

4. Ebooks don't yet represent even 10% of the total number of books sold. Plenty of bookstores will still be needed to serve the market for printed books.

5. It is always a mistake to make a an economc prediction during either an economic bust or bubble, as both are anomalous conditions that don't last.

6. Crown Books, a major chain, went bust in the 90s. The rest of the industry didn't follow.

wannabuy said...

These chats are always interesting. I'm curious to see with 2010 numbers:
http://www.fonerbooks.com/booksale.htm

JT: Amanda blogged with screenshot proof:
http://amandahocking.blogspot.com/2010/12/pics-or-it-didnt-happen.html

Ebook sales are accelerating fast! Quite a number of post Christmas saleshave been noted in the comments of various author blogs.

Camile,
Itunes vs. Kindle books is a very good point. Another 'Gatekeeper' function lost to ereaders. :)

The Ibookstore is not Indie friendly, so no doubt in my mind about itunes:
http://slashdot.org/story/10/12/20/1814240/iBook-Store-Features-Leave-Indie-Publishers-Behind

Neil

Demon Hunter said...

Yep, Barnes and Nobles closed down some of it's biggest stores in New York this past year.

Now Boarders is in trouble.

People better get on the self publishing band wagon while the getting is good! Meaning before the flood of authors comes in!

evilphilip said...

"Where do you get 99,000? Something isn't computing here."

She posted that figure to her blog on Thursday.

Anonymous said...

There's no such thing as a "non-compete" clause. the author can't sell the book in digital or print form because the author sold those rights to the publisher.

jtplayer said...

Re: "Your choice will be to go digital or give up reading as a hobby."
---------------

Now that is the funniest goddamn thing I have ever read on this blog...period.

Out of all the hyperbole and nonsense rhetoric, that one takes the cake.

You keep dreaming about that day philip. Just don't hold your breath, or else they'll call you blue boy ;-)

As for Amanda's numbers, I remember mention of her posting those screen shots, I just had never read them. Impressive for sure, and sincere congrats to her for all her success.

Is it sustainable? Time will tell.

Is it achievable for the average independent author? Probably not. I find it more akin to catching lightening in a bottle. IMO.

Joel Heffner said...

Your basic assumption is out of touch with reality. If you think that publishers and bookstores still count, consider records. Record labels and record stores are practically gone. Publishers and bookstores will soon follow. Two kinds of writers will survive. The first are those who are famous or lucky enough to hit it big. The second, and I think larger group, will be those who find a niche and create their own following. Seth Godin has the right idea. Create a following and sell them what they want and expect from you.

Jude Hardin said...

There's no such thing as a "non-compete" clause.

Sure there is. Agent Kristin talks about it here: http://pubrants.blogspot.com/2009/11/when-no-compete-clause-comes-into-play.html

jtplayer said...

Barriers or not, I know a number of indie artists who have their music on itunes.

And beyond that, Apple is not the only game in town for the sale of digital music, not by a long shot.

Just because Amazon allows unobstructed access doesn't make other options less viable. A lot of assumptions seem to be made with regards to Amazon and their current business model. While the terms may be extremely favorable today, you can be sure as they build market share those terms will slowly begin to change.

The comparison to the music business is a valid one. People have been predicting the demise of the big record companies for a very long time. It hasn't happened yet, and in my opinion, it will never happen.

Books will follow the same trajectory. IMO.

jtplayer said...

Record labels are not practically gone.

Chain record stores are no longer around, but a fair number of indie shops survive. At least here in So. Cal. they do.

And beyond that, I can still buy a physical copy of the music I want any time I want, either online or in a brick & mortar.

Mark said...

"I know Amanda's selling well, but that figure is news to me. On 12/8 Joe posted that she sold over 10k in a week, and on 12/10 he said she was selling 1,200 a day.

"Where do you get 99,000? Something isn't computing here."

She was prodded into posting her numbers for December, and she sold 99,000 ebooks. Since she was previously accused of lying about how well her books were selling, she posted screenshots on her blog:

http://amandahocking.blogspot.com/2010/12/pics-or-it-didnt-happen.html

Yeah, she's something of a rockstar. Other indie authors had good Decembers too. H.P. Mallory sold 22,000 books. A bunch of others were in the 2500-5000 range.

wannabuy said...

@JT Is it sustainable? Time will tell.
Why the 'tone'? While Amanda might fade (as all authors do), someone else will replace her.

What matters is that she now has three of the top ten romance slots in a genre that has gone ebook (I wish I knew the fraction).

1. That is revenue denied the publishers.
2. She is now a long term competitor. No 'disappearing backlist (one of the top complaints in Romance and Sci-fi).

There will be others.

Publishers tried to kill off ebooks in 2010 and failed. Now the agency model is here to haunt them.

I guess I'm one of the few ebook fans who think pbooks will be around a long time. Yawn. Time will tell.

Heck, I just posted on my blog how using Rogers 'technology diffusion' chart (linked above in a prior post) why my 50% prediction for ebooks might be a year too early.

Unless another technology comes along, ebooks are set for fast growth for at least four more years. :)

I do not worry about each author (unless one is my friend), but rather that all be given a 'more fair' chance than the 'tyranny of shelf space' allowed for. That resulted in the 'arbitrariness' of selection JA discussed in a prior thread.

For example, I just discovered an out of print sci-fi series I would love to read. Silly publisher hasn't put it on Kindle yet. Why? Oh well, I found the series by reading reviews of indie work I was 'recommended' by Amazon and it was criticized as not as excellent as the prior novels. Oh well, buying decision made easy. (If I won't be sold the out of print...)

Neil

Joe Konrath said...

I can still buy a physical copy of the music I want any time I want, either online or in a brick & mortar.

You can buy print versions of my ebooks, and Amanda's, and many others.

But you probably won't be able to buy them in a brick and mortar bookstore, because they may not be around.

There are still many advantages to signing with a record label.

If bookstores disappear, there will be no advantage at all to signing with a publisher. But there will be many disadvantages.

Right now, ebooks by tradtional publishers still do dominate the bestseller lists, and Shaken (published by AmazonEncore) debuted higher than any debut I've done on my own so far.

But now Shaken has dropped into a slot comparable to my self-pubbed titles. Whatever advantage it had is now gone.

Unlike the record labels, who still have nothing to fear from indies, publishers do have something to fear. Last I checked, indies were 30% of the bestseller lists on Amazon.

That number will increase. If more authors go indie, that will be fewer ebooks sold by the Big 6.

jtplayer said...

Please Neil, do not read a "tone" into my post, because there is none there.

The question is a legitimate one relative to the big picture of ebooks and changing paradigms.

It is unequivocally NOT a reflection of any specific judgment or opinion on Amanda or her work. I know little about her beyond the things I've read here.

I too remember some posters "questioning" the veracity of Joe's initial claims regarding Amanda's sales. I was not one of them. I only questioned the 99k number because it was substantially different than the info. posted by Joe.

I enjoy the respectful debate we sometimes get into. But you are starting to veer into some weird finger pointing thing that I don't dig.

Have a nice evening friend.

jtplayer said...

Re: "There are still many advantages to signing with a record label."
------------------

Depends on who you talk to. I know indie musicians who, like you, are doing quite well on their own. In fact, they would only sign with a major label for a huge advance, or possibly for touring support.

But record labels aren't giving out huge advances anymore. And just like with book publishers, they aren't cultivating talent like they used to. If you don't hit big out of the box, you're gone.

Yet despite that, the big record companies still survive. As will publishers, in some form or another. There's too much money to be made for them not to.

KevinMc said...

@JT "A lot of assumptions seem to be made with regards to Amazon and their current business model. While the terms may be extremely favorable today, you can be sure as they build market share those terms will slowly begin to change."

Actually, I think that's a poor assumption. Right now, Amazon holds about 75% of the ebook market. B&N is their closest competitor, somewhere in the mid-teens for market share, and everyone else has a single digit or less.

Amazon is probably never going to have more market share than they do right now. Apple is growing their store, slowly. Google is trying (failing, IMHO, but trying) to enter the game. Kobo is building some steam. Smashwords got a HUGE boost over the recent erotica bannings by the "Big Two" - lot of ex-Amazon or ex-B&N erotica customers now buying from Smashwords (and that was one of Amazons hottest ebook categories). And we'll see other competitors enter the stage over the next two years, I am sure.

So their market share is about as good as it's going to get, I think. Now, they might change things down the road anyway (who knows?) which is part of why I am thinking in terms less of "self-publishing" and more in terms of "founding a small press which happens to sell mostly my own writing, for now". It seems like a model which will be easier to adapt into the future. Whatever the future might be.

KevinMc said...

However, folks reading into Borders closing as "the end of print" are going way, WAY too far. Print still rules. It will be years yet before ebooks reach 50% even of the book market, and longer still before print becomes a small niche instead of a vibrant part of the whole.

What we'll see is a gradual shift away from mass press for more and more books, and a shift toward POD - with an eye toward the long tail for print books, not just ebooks - from both large publishers and small/self publishers. How exactly that pans out, I don't think anyone knows yet. But print is going to remain a powerful, vital part of the industry for many years yet.

STH said...

Aimless writer said: "i wonder if all the big guys go belly up will the small mom and pop book stores will have another shot?"

I may be an idealist, but I like this idea. The 90's was the decade of locally owned and opped record stores crushed by chains, but the last few years they have been coming back while the chains have vanished.

It's possible that in the digital age, there will be room in your local town for something special, like a locally owned record store, or bookstore. Perhaps it is the model of the big corporate chain which ultimately proves unsustainable in the shadow of the even bigger corporate chains (Walmart, etc...). But the little guy might fly under the radar with reasonable overhead, good products, a friendly atmosphere and loyal customers.

Gosh... I think I'm going to cry.

But really, maybe that sounds too sweet and naive, but doesn't it sound possible too?

Vicki Keire said...

Hello Mr. Konrath (and Co.)-
I've been following your blog since you first began dipping your toes in Indie waters well over a year ago. I remember when you and Zoe Winters used to get into it about whether new writers should self-publish or not. I have to say, with news like this, I wonder why on earth anyone would want to go near the NY6 starting out.
I have a hard time believing it's not patently obvious that publishing as we know it is clearly a dying industry that would happily watch us choke to death. I hope that soon we can turn our attention to building a more supportive world for those of us who have chosen the Indie route. People keep bringing up Amanda Hocking. Besides being a raging success with sales through the roof, she's also a real sweetheart. Have you checked her blog lately?
http://amandahocking.blogspot.com/
Success is great and all, but it brings its own challenges, and we are blazing our own trails here. Some of us have drunk the Kool-Aid already thanks in large part to voices like yours. Besides sales, are there other benefits to being Indie? Like, for example, what else do you enjoy about being an Indie writer (or self-published?) You have become quite the standard bearer for the Indie movement, Mr. Konrath. I am looking forward to seeing how you choose to use your massive influence in 2011. Happy New Year, and all the best, V.K.

jtplayer said...

Re: "Actually, I think that's a poor assumption. Right now, Amazon holds about 75% of the ebook market."
-----------

I wasn't aware of that figure. I suppose I could put a finer point on it by saying as Amazon builds and solidifies their market share.

They have a lot of competition right now, and clearly they'll do what they feel is necessary to stay #1.

But with everyone touting the 70% royalty, the skeptic in my says in time that number, along with other favorable terms, will change. I obviously have no hard evidence that this will be the case, but 50 years of watching how big business does business tells me it's bound to happen.

Ellen Fisher said...

"Besides sales, are there other benefits to being Indie? Like, for example, what else do you enjoy about being an Indie writer (or self-published?)"

I'm not Joe, but I'd say one of the best things is getting your book up PROMPTLY, without having to go through the endless merry-go-round of submission. There is nothing more frustrating than waiting for agents and publishers to get back to you, and then (if you manage to sell it) waiting the eighteen months to two years for your book to actually hit the market. I find the relatively quick turnaround of indie publishing to be much more enjoyable.

Joe Konrath said...

The coolest thing about self-pubbing is the level of control you have.

When you traditionally publish, you're pretty much helpless.

While I don't hold out hope for chain bookstores, I do see indie bookstores making a comeback, especially if they sell used. There are billions of books out there, and they aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

Jude Hardin said...

Aside to Joe: Mark Terry sent you an email about the anthology he's putting together. It's somewhere in that crowded inbox of yours, lol.

Moses Siregar III said...

Btw, Amanda must've sold more than 100,000 ebooks in December because that 99K figure was posted on December 30th.

But now Shaken has dropped into a slot comparable to my self-pubbed titles. Whatever advantage it had is now gone.

Huh. Sorry to hear that, man. Given this experience, would you go with AmazonEncore again? Maybe because you're already established you don't really need to publish through them?

-Moses
www.ScienceFictionFantasy.net

wannabuy said...

Death spiral is right...

Sadly for midlist authors. Since BigBox only sells best sellers, this means that new (non 'literature') novels will lose 20% of their shelf space.

Due to high fixed costs, this means that publishers will have to disproportionately cut staff dedicated to the midlist authors. :(

Less pbook midlist selection will drive customers to ebooks.

JT: One reason I try to post numbers is to avoid 'tone.' We disagree so I post links. Please, when you have a strong opinion, post links. Both sides need to produce numbers. Its great to have differing opinions.

To others:
After my evening walk, I realize that dealth spiral for chain bookstores might be inevitable.

The #2 advantage for publishers was being the 'gatekeepers' for the chain bookstores. (#1 is to the 'big box' retailers) If a new novel isn't tagged to be a best-seller... I fail to see how it will succeed in print.

I suspect at least 3 of the 14 large publishers will need to restructure post Borders default. Someone is a bagholder to all that debt...

And it looks like Nook gained market share. I suspect Kindle is down to 60% market share, but I cannot prove it.

Neil

Moses Siregar III said...

And it looks like Nook gained market share. I suspect Kindle is down to 60% market share, but I cannot prove it.

Many indies have been posting excellent sales numbers for the Nook recently. I think Nook is a very legitimate #2 now and anyone ignoring it is making a mistake.

One thing I love about Nook is that unlike Amazon I can actually list a book there for free (through Smashwords). For example. So I'm hoping that will create a decent-sized Nook audience when I release the novel.

'Free' is a totally different animal than $0.99.

wannabuy said...

The music industry is the wrong industry to compare the publishers to.

The better analogy is newsprint. WSJ and NYtimes survived. Everything else is, at best, a shell of its former self. All these little blogs took the market...

Publishers like to mock the 'slush pile,' but the reality is there will be another Amanda in there. Heck, there will be someone with 10X the market of Amanda.

Neil

evilphilip said...

"But with everyone touting the 70% royalty, the skeptic in my says in time that number, along with other favorable terms, will change."

You are very bright to think so. I suspect that at some point as Amazon's % will drop. The key here is that as long as it stays about the rate offered by the Big 6, there remains little (or no) incentive for authors to sign with a major publisher unless you are one of those handfull of authors who are getting offered deals that will place your book onto a Top 20 sales list.

Joe has shown that with sales of even 1,000 copies a month (a number that is certainly attainable for most people) you will make more money self-publishing than you can by going with a big publisher.

jtplayer said...

Re: "Please, when you have a strong opinion, post links"
-------------

C'mon Neil, give me a break man. Opinions are just that, they are not a statement of fact. And as such, they do not require a "link" to backup or substantiate them. IMO.

And once again you've completely missed my point about the similarities between the music industry and publishing.

Let me simplify it for you.

With the advent of the digital medium, many people predicted the demise of the big record companies. It never happened. They found a way to adapt, and some even found a way to thrive.

With the advent of ebooks and ereaders, many are predicting the end of the Big 6. I say it isn't gonna happen. At least not in the way many are predicting. They will find a way to adapt, and likewise some will thrive.

And that my friend, is an opinion.

The Daring Novelist said...

JT said: "Barriers or not, I know a number of indie artists who have their music on itunes.

"And beyond that, Apple is not the only game in town for the sale of digital music, not by a long shot."

You kinda missed the point. Apple is the big retailer that leveraged it's power to change the industry. Access to them makes a huge difference in your ability to sell. It is possible to get in, but it's not easy, so very few do it.

And the barrier for music is high not just because of Apple - there is also the cost of production. To be a musician, you need a decent instrument, you need access to other musicians and you need to record.

Writing is very different. You can produce a professional product with a pencil and paper. You can turn it into an uploadable product on a borrowed computer (which libraries gladly provide).

And the biggest and most important retailer is every bit as open as all the other retailers to such a product. You have full access to the entire market, not just a portion of it.

Plus you have the leverage of all of the promotional tools that Amazon provides, which you simply can't get elsewhere.

Look, I don't claim I know what is going down the tubes or not. The publishing and bookselling industry may thrive because of all this, for all I know. I can only look at what I DO know, and that's that my students who run indie bands do not have it nearly as good as indie writers do.

The music industry may have some lessons for it, but it is NOT anywhere near equivalent to the same situation.

Camille

jtplayer said...

Re: "The key here is that as long as it stays about the rate offered by the Big 6, there remains little (or no) incentive for authors to sign with a major publisher..."
--------------

And that's the whole game right there. IMO.

If Amazon was offering a substantially lower royalty rate, then I really don't think Joe would be beating that drum so hard.

It all comes down to making money. And Joe is making the most money on Amazon. Right now. Just for today. Who the hell knows what tomorrow will bring?

I do know that when Joe does all his figuring and extrapolating and projecting of his numbers, and says what he'll make over the next "x" number of years via Amazon, a little voice in my head always says "man, this guy sure is assuming a lot".

At half the current royalty rate the picture starts to get fuzzy. At less than that you better start selling a helluva lot of ebooks to make a living at it.

Joe Konrath said...

Given this experience, would you go with AmazonEncore again?

Absolutely, depending on the project. Shaken still hasn't come out in print yet. I expect to make money from this title forever.

Would it be as much as if I released it myself? Impossible to say. But a rising tide lifts all boats. The sales I got from Shaken were great. The sales I got from my other titles because of Shaken were pretty great too. :)

Robin Sullivan said...

@wannabuy said: Robin,
I missread your statement. Are you suggesting the Kiosks should be place a la 'Redbox' DVD machines? I'm shocked how quick DVD viewers switched to kiosks. So there is a proven model.


Exactly. Right now Lightning Source is selling the Espresso machine and not getting many takers. I think they would be FAR better off to just take a % of the sales from them and allow them to be placed in stores, cafe's etc. The price and maintence is too is too much for most book stores but if they had this other model I think they would take off like hotcakes.

Joe Konrath said...

a little voice in my head always says "man, this guy sure is assuming a lot".

I dunno. Last December I made $1650, and later predicted I'd be able to get up to $12k a month.

This December, I made over $24k. That's twice what I expected.

My new projection is, after I fully integrate into PubIt, and add four more ebooks to my backlist, I should be able to eek out $30k a month by next winter.

We'll see if I'm right. Part of me thinks I'm aiming too low.

jtplayer said...

Well Daring, all I can say is you must not know many indie music artists. Or maybe you do, and the ones you know conform to the scenario you laid out.

The ones I know do not. I know some cats who produce incredible music, on their own, in their home studios. And they sell that music on itunes, Amazon, their website, their gigs, etc. And they aren't sinking a ton of money into it.

But besides that, you don't think there's an investment required to take that manuscript that was cheap to produce and turn it into a professional finished product?

There's a reason publishers spend the kind of money and go through the process they do to turn out a finished product. Some may argue that's the reason they're in this whole mess in the first place.

But the notion that all you gotta do write it, format it, and throw it up on Amazon is the very reason there's so much crap out there now.

Moses Siregar III said...

We'll see if I'm right. Part of me thinks I'm aiming too low.

Given everything about your situation, I would guess that you are--especially because you aren't doing a whole lot with BN.com yet.

jtplayer said...

Time will certainly tell Joe. And I wish you luck in the pursuit of that goal.

I just don't have the confidence you do in these large corporations continuing a practice that puts more money in your pocket than theirs.

Jude Hardin said...

But the notion that all you gotta do write it, format it, and throw it up on Amazon is the very reason there's so much crap out there now.

You are correct.

I just don't have the confidence you do in these large corporations continuing a practice that puts more money in your pocket than theirs.

The 70% royalty rate is a carrot on a stick. If Amazon can get a million self-published authors to sell a hundred copies each to their friends and relatives for $2.99, then Amazon grosses $100,000,000. It's the same model vanity publishers have been using for decades. A few bestsellers (like Joe and Amanda) will make out like bandits. Most indie authors will...sell a hundred copies to their friends and relatives.

Moses Siregar III said...

Most indie authors will...sell a hundred copies to their friends and relatives.

Many of them will. But you may be underestimating how many of them will (and already do) sell in the thousands. It's funny because on kindleboards a lot of people sell in very small numbers but a lot of people there sell hundreds or thousands of copies each month.

You'll come around eventually, Jude :-)

Jude Hardin said...

You'll come around eventually, Jude

Already have. I plan to be one of the ones who make out like bandits. :)

Moses Siregar III said...

Already have. I plan to be one of the ones who make out like bandits. :)

Ha! I look forward to seeing that: Jude Hardin, the Don of indie publishing :-)

evilphilip said...

"A few bestsellers (like Joe and Amanda) will make out like bandits. Most indie authors will...sell a hundred copies to their friends and relatives."

I can't speak for you, but I don't have 1,000 friends... let alone 1,000 friends a month.

Moses Siregar III said...

It just hit me. Jude is going indie.

/debate.

Jude Hardin said...

I can't speak for you, but I don't have 1,000 friends... let alone 1,000 friends a month.

You're saying most indie authors can sell 1000 copies a month for a sustained period of time?

Get a clue, bro. Most traditional midlist authors would cream over those numbers.

wannabuy said...

JT, I apologize as I phrased poorly. Links when you state IMO are of course not required. Just post links for when you would request them of others please.

I see and understand your analogy. However, perhaps airlines post deregulation is a better analogy. In many ways, the big publishers are like American, Delta, United, US Air, PanAm, and Eastern. Some will survive... some won't. This is a step change that has lowered the barriers to entry far more than anything else.

Hence why I think newsprint to digital is a better correlation than music to digital. Music kept enough 'Gatekeeper value' to have a different end result. It is not that publishers will vanish, but a matter of how much revenue they retain.

As Moses notes, there is already a base of Indie authors who sell hundreds to thousands of books per month. Amanda at 100,000/month is the out-lier. But 100,000/month won't be an out-lier in 365 days. :)

Does anyone have links to the financial health of the publishers?

Nook, Sony, and Kobo all sold far better than expectations this holiday season. So Amazon is less of a boggieman for me. Maybe it is because my father and brother have already moved on from the Kindle to 'platform neutral' ereaders. For there is a *large* number of readers who fear monopoly too.

Neil

Joe Konrath said...

There's still an hour left in the day, and I've made $1300.

If this keeps up, that's $40,300 this month, and $483,000 a year.

I'm writing this laughing, because there's NO way I'll make $483,000 this year. This has to be the holiday bump, which will wear down over time.

And yet...

If there are 12 million Kindles, plus another 70 million Kindle apps, selling 700 ebooks a day isn't that big a deal.

So maybe, incredibly, impossibly, it IS within the realm of possibility to average $30k a month.

I'll have at least seven new ebook releases this year. Even if current sales die down (which may not happen, considering how little of the market I've reached), then this year could be ridiculously profitable.

Daryl Sedore said...

"I'm writing this laughing, because there's NO way I'll make $483,000 this year. This has to be the holiday bump, which will wear down over time.

And yet...

If there are 12 million Kindles, plus another 70 million Kindle apps, selling 700 ebooks a day isn't that big a deal."

Astounded. Flabbergasted. Reeling.

The sky doesn't seem to have a limit anymore.

Respect, my man. Respect.

Well done...

jtplayer said...

Well I'd say in your case Joe the sky does seem to be the limit. I look forward to following your progress and seeing exactly where it leads.

But I gotta say, this statement:

"I'll have at least seven new ebook releases this year"

...seems a little over the top.

Is this a money grab, or are you truly following your muse?

Because the skeptic in me says no way can you turn out 7 high quality novels in a year. Not that there's anything wrong with going for the dough. It just seems to me you're veering into pulp fiction territory (btw...I love the old pulps ;-)

Anyway, to each his own is what I always say. You may as well strike while the iron is hot.

The Daring Novelist said...

JT said: "But besides that, you don't think there's an investment required to take that manuscript that was cheap to produce and turn it into a professional finished product?"

That's knowledge, skill and talent--sweat equity. A professional still doesn't need more than a pencil, paper and a borrowed computer to do that work, no matter how valuable it is.

You keep missing my point. Yeah, I know a lot of people who have home studios. They've sunk a ton of money into it. A decent musical instrument is not cheap.

I'm not telling you it can't be done. I'm telling you that it requires a lot of investment, far beyond the knowledge, skill and talent required for the job. It costs a lot of money even if you just do it as a hobby.

And yes, it does keep the riff raff out... but that's the point. That is why the music industry does not and cannot be considered an equivalent to the current ebook revolution. It was a controlled revolution with a high barrier to entry. Music has a high barrier to entry even for the hobbyists. Writing does not.

Apples and oranges. Both fruit, both about the same number of calories, but not the same species.

Camille

evilphilip said...

"You're saying most indie authors can sell 1000 copies a month for a sustained period of time?

Get a clue, bro. Most traditional midlist authors would cream over those numbers."


Why, Yes. That is exactly what I was saying. I do appreciate that you got the inference, even if you don't agree with the content.

Feel free to drop me an E-mail if you would like to have a brief discussion on why I'm right.

jtplayer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jtplayer said...

Well Camille, I had a longer reply posted, but for some reason the system keeps eating it.

Anyway, based on my personal experience with self-produced music, I honestly believe you are wrong.

But enough with the back and forth. I don't have a dog in this race, and really don't care enough to continue debating the point.

I will say this though. While the notion that anyone can do this and do it cheap (write and self-pub ebooks) sounds romantic, it is far from reality. And it is the primary reason why there is so much garbage out there. IMO.

Joe Konrath said...

Is this a money grab, or are you truly following your muse?

Traditional publishing strangled my muse. I was only allowed one book a year, and the book ad to meet their approval. Hell, I had to turn in outlines prior to getting the thumbs up.

Self-publishing is wonderfully unrestrained, and, as such, liberating.

The last few books I've written only took about 4-5 weeks each. That's my speed.

7 books is a breeze. It's how many I did in 2009. If I pushed myself, I could do 10.

BookBarista.com said...

The future of books will be online and much less with brick & mortar outlets (remember Blockbuster?). I always wanted to own a bookstore and write books as well. That's why I now write as Dodge Winston and have also opened an online venue for writers and readers at http://www.bookbarista.com - It's FREE to post to and advertise on:)

Let's take control of our writing, distribution, and advertising!

Jude Hardin said...

Philip, the key word in my statement was most. For every author (indie or traditional) who sells 1000 copies a month over a sustained period of time, there are probably ten thousand who don't. I hope you are right. That would be great. But I just don't see it happening.

Robin Sullivan said...

@Jude Hardin said...
You're saying most indie authors can sell 1000 copies a month for a sustained period of time?


Yes...check the Amazon best seller lists in any given category - MANY indie authors there and they are all doing > 1000 a month.

In fantasy (my husband's category)35% of the top 50 books are indies spread over several indie authors. Last month 28 people reported > 1000 on kindle boards so far I see 30 reporting and KB'ers are just a fraction of the indies.

Robin Sullivan said...

@Jude Hardin said...
Philip, the key word in my statement was most. For every author (indie or traditional) who sells 1000 copies a month over a sustained period of time, there are probably ten thousand who don't.


As you pointed out this happens in both indie and traditional that some make it some do not. Most trad publishers don't earn out their advance. But the reality is...what was once NOT possible (selling a thousand copies as an indie) IS possible now and more and more people are doing it all the time. People like Joe, Amanda, Michael Sullivan, HP Mallory, Vicki Lieskie are not outliers.

Robin Sullivan said...

BTW The $1300 is not an anomoly to Joe, Michael Sullivan's is at $1400as well even though his per book prices are much diffeernt ($4.95/$6.95) Amanda is doing the same (or better) depending on her $2.99 to $0.99 breakdown)

Jude Hardin said...

But the reality is...what was once NOT possible (selling a thousand copies as an indie) IS possible now and more and more people are doing it all the time.

True. All I'm saying is that for every one who does there a ten thousand who don't.

Anonymous said...

"True. All I'm saying is that for every one who does there a ten thousand who don't."

This has always been the case. In the past these indies didn't have a distribution channel, so the failures were less visible.

Gary Ponzo said...

After reading Joe's latest comment on his future earnings, the temptation for the rest of us is to hurry up and get a few more books done this year and we'll double and triple our sales--right? Wrong. This is fools gold. Quality still prevails over quantity. Better to have one or two quality books out there than four mediocre ones.
Joe is an excellent writer with a name in the industry and all day to write. If you fit that criteria--go for it. The rest of us need to rewrite that last chapter a couple of more times. Maybe have a few people read the complete manuscript.
Just because you can post anything on Amazon doesn't mean you should.

wannabuy said...

I'll have at least seven new ebook releases this year.
Joe, will any more be Amazon Encore?

I found some market share data and by doing extrapolations, I see Indie authors are 20% to 33% of ebooks! (Links in a rambling post in my blog.)

I see no reason we will not have hundreds of authors selling 1,000+ per month. Readers are hungry for the variety (which includes access to backlists that were denied them).

The broken part of the big6 is they didn't pay midlist authors enough to make a full time career of writing. Indie authorship, for the better authors, allows that. Why focus on the negative?

Indie authors are obviously gaining market share. Just think of the possibilities! Amazon is buying enough chips to ship 4.5 million K3s in 1Q2011 too. :) Other readers seem to be gaining market share... Exciting!

Neil

jtplayer said...

Re: "Just because you can post anything on Amazon doesn't mean you should."
-------------

Amen to that.

But I suppose the upside is that now, with this new ebook frontier and unobstructed access, we can all be published authors right alongside Joe and Grisham and Patterson and Brown and all the others.

Used to be you had to have some kind of special skills, or dare I say talent, to reach the lofty position of "published". Alongside a healthy dose of luck of course.

Not anymore.

Now some clever kid can badly rewrite Twilight, upload it to Amazon, price it at .99 and arrange enough purchases to get it into the upper reaches of the top 100, make sure there's a handful 4-5 star reviews, and bada-bing, he's off to the races baby!

I honestly don't believe good or bad plays into it anymore. The whole game is make it look good on the home page, price it cheaper than a cup of coffee, and go back and write some more of 'em.

In my mind, ebooks, and Amazon in particular, have dumbed down the art of writing to its absolute lowest common denominator.

wannabuy said...

JT,

In my opinion the Kindle has elevated writing out of the Ivory tower.

Since you don't like what is coming out on Kindle, what have you liked that is new in the last two years? This is a board by authors, so let's take a break to discuss what new work you enjoy.

There is a reason 65% of the top 20 in Sci-fi is Indie now. Romance this morning was 19 of 20 being Indie! Its fine if you do not like those genres... but I've already read a ton of classic literature. I'll probably read 2 classics this year as I have ever since I read out CS Forrester.

Don't worry, pbooks will survive. But with Borders 'Death Spiral' the market is going to change fast.

Neil

Joe Konrath said...

Now some clever kid can badly rewrite Twilight, upload it to Amazon, price it at .99 and arrange enough purchases to get it into the upper reaches of the top 100, make sure there's a handful 4-5 star reviews, and bada-bing, he's off to the races baby!

LOL. Like it's that easy.

You've got a better shot at playing for the NFL than you do hitting the top 100 on Kindle.

jtplayer said...

Re: "LOL. Like it's that easy."
------------

I dunno Joe...some of these kids nowadays are pretty clever ;-)

Seriously though, I was being mostly facetious. Although I truly believe not every single writer is worthy of entry. And letting the public decide is a poor excuse for flooding the market with crappy writing.

jtplayer said...

Re: "Since you don't like what is coming out on Kindle, what have you liked that is new in the last two years?"
--------------

Damn Neil, one of these days you're gonna stop telling me what I think.

I have never once said I "don't like what's coming out on Kindle". I've said I believe there's far too much bad writing being passed off as legitimate. Or some variation of that.

But what the hell man, I'll play along. Lately I've read these:

Voodoo River - Robert Crais
Three Roads To The Alamo - William C. Davis
The Lost City Of Z - David Grann
Iron Lake - William Kent Krueger
The Devils Wind - Richard Raynor
Hell At The Breech - Tom Franklin
The Wicked World - Richard Lange
The Angel's Game - Carlos Ruiz Zafon (I absolutely loved The Shadow Of The Wind)

I'm currently reading:

The River Of Doubt - Candice Millard
32 Cadillacs - Joe Gores

And just last night I picked up:

The Black Minutes - Martin Solares

I guess that's it for now.

jtplayer said...

Re: "Don't worry, pbooks will survive. But with Borders 'Death Spiral' the market is going to change fast."
---------------

Trust me man, I have no fear that paper books will not survive. It's others here who gleefully predict that outcome.

And I think you are placing too much emphasis on Borders woes. What's happening to them is just business. Nothing more or less.

wannabuy said...

JT,
I thank you for the list. I was thinking down another path...

@JTIn my mind, ebooks, and Amazon in particular, have dumbed down the art of writing to its absolute lowest common denominator.
Come on JT! That was just mean, so please don't tell me I'm telling you what you're thinking when you write something that rude and someone should call you on it.

Neil

Anonymous said...

And letting the public decide is a poor excuse for flooding the market with crappy writing.

Oh, I don't know about that. At least the new system is far more democratic, and in America we like and honor our democratic ideals.

Under the old system, about 98% of the work was filtered out--the largely talentless who self-published made up about 1% and the anointed (by agents and editors) made up the other 1%. So the middle 98% were left with what? Nothing for all their efforts. Now everyone gets a readership, nearly everyone gets a pat on the back now and then. Meanwhile, the cream still rises to the top.

EC

Jude Hardin said...

You've got a better shot at playing for the NFL than you do hitting the top 100 on Kindle.

That's my point in a nutshell.

It's not focusing on the negative. It's just presenting reality.

jtplayer said...

I think it's time you backed off a bit Neil.

There is nothing "rude" or "mean" about what I posted. IMO.

Which, btw, you forgot to add to your comments: "in your opinion".

And it is not your place to "call me out" on anything. Got it? Cool.

I find it odd how many here tolerate downright shitty comments directed at traditional publishing and those who work in it, yet they develop thin skins the moment someone takes an opposing viewpoint and turns the spotlight on back on the indies.

There is nothing right or wrong about any of this. It's all about personal preference and opinion. Some of you take this far too personally.

jtplayer said...

Btw...what does this mean:

"I was thinking down another path..."

Just curious.

jtplayer said...

Re: "You've got a better shot at playing for the NFL than you do hitting the top 100 on Kindle."
---------------

And speaking of that, how many copies sold does it take to reach the top 100?

Since Amazon does not release hard numbers, how does anyone know?

Maybe you can give us a ballpark Joe, based on your sales and the times you've cracked the list.

wannabuy said...

@EC So the middle 98% were left with what? Nothing for all their efforts. Now everyone gets a readership, nearly everyone gets a pat on the back now and then. Meanwhile, the cream still rises to the top.

Well said. The cream rises to the top. One might not like the variety of cream. But it is still cream.

Just as the big6 cannot make a 'pig fly' and turn it into a best seller.

But you are right. The new system is more democratic. Some people do not like that.

Neil

The Daring Novelist said...

Jude: first of all, you're pulling that one in ten-thousand number out of your hat. Second, 1000 a month is a lot of sales. Indies who sell 100 or 200 a month are doing much better than most authors do in the traditional system (which for most is zilch).

Here's the thing - there are a whole lot of different sorts of people with different goals. There's Cousin Sally who is a geneology fan who wrote up a family history and published with no intention of interesting anyone outside her clan and hobby. Same with Uncle Joe and his cowboy poetry, and Grandma and her recipe book. It's a neat way to create something and pass it on.

Then there are the equivalent of the fan writers - happily writing Mary Sue dreck and their own kind are happily reading it. They don't care to get better or sell huge amounts - they just want a little cash and the adoration of their dozen or so fans.

And there are a few delusional beasts who never wrote anything before and never will again. They don't read this blog or any other blog on writing. May not read at all. They don't know any writers nor seek them out. This group thought that if they dash out a novel, they'll set the world on fire and get rich.... and they'll give up the instant they realize that it isn't like falling off a log.

These people really don't count in the discussion at hand. They aren't really trying. If you drop those people out of the equation, then you get a much smaller group - with a much greater likelihood of hitting reasonable sales.

I did a poll at Kindleboards (a very limited one designed for another purpose) and found that 35 percent of the writers who responded were making $1000 a month. The active participants there, of course, are a select group, and those who weren't doing well were probably less likely to answer the poll.

But it's still a pretty amazing number. And though you could say people lie, it does go along with the proportion of people who report their numbers - and so far all of them have checked out.

wannabuy said...

Borders woes are just business. A business change that will shift ~1% of the market towards ebooks fairly quickly. :) Removing 1/5th of the distribution for mid-list pbooks is going to rock the market and change the business case fairly dramatically for the non-best sellers.

Neil

Jude Hardin said...

Jude: first of all, you're pulling that one in ten-thousand number out of your hat.

True. It's probably more like one in twenty thousand.

I basically agree with everything you said, Camille. A select few (indie and traditional) will sell a bunch of books, while most will not. Same way it's always been.

Moses Siregar III said...

You've got a better shot at playing for the NFL than you do hitting the top 100 on Kindle.

I think that's an exaggeration. A good book with a good marketing strategy has a decent chance of hitting the top 100 on Kindle, especially if the writer is willing to price it cheaply. A decent number of indies have pulled it off this year.

I mean, I hit #367 overall with a novella that had been out for less than a month, one that isn't in one of the hottest genres, and it's basically a long teaser for a novel that hadn't been released yet. In the Epic Fantasy category, I hit #3 overall. And I hope to do much better with the novel.

wannabuy said...

@JTAnd it is not your place to "call me out" on anything.
It isn't your place to tell me I can't call a spade a spade. Seriously, If I wrote on a publishers blog:

'In my mind, pbooks, and the big6 in particular, have made writing so much formula drivel and watered it down via their committee process. Most of their work is uninteresting, uninspired, and only written for dollars.'

The last few big6 books started weren't worth finishing. Sad continuations of series that should have been killed off. Books written for the almighty buck and committee jobs. Spelling errors and poorly edited storylines have become too common from the big6. Eric Flint and David Weber went from must buy to avoid in one book. I will not pre-buy big6 ebooks anymore. Their quality is falling.


Would it be wrong? It is the harsh truth. The 4 of the last 6 novels I started from the big6 were crap that met deadline and few other expectations. If I put that over on a big6 publishers blog it would be rude. Context and audience...

With 19 of the last 20 Indie author books read I *will* read the authors next book and I've 'read out' the authors offerings in the genres I read. :) Then again, I take time to read the Amazon reviews. I'm so done pre-buying.

As to what I was thinking...
You had written a bunch negative on the new works and even (I'm paraphrasing) said you hadn't found anything in the Kindle writing you enjoyed. When someone is only negative... it gets old fast.

JT, You've proven you are not stuck reading already established works. That was my #1 'thought.' You've proven you read books you enjoy. Excellent. I enjoy the different mindset you bring to these comments.

Oh, I 100% meant that the big6 are putting out crap from name authors. Just read some of the reviews! They put out excellent works too.

Neil

Joe Konrath said...

I think that's an exaggeration. A good book with a good marketing strategy has a decent chance of hitting the top 100 on Kindle, especially if the writer is willing to price it cheaply.

Not even close, Moses. There are 1700 players in the NFL. In the Kindle Top 100, I doubt more than 50 indies have hit that list.

Moses Siregar III said...

Not even close, Moses. There are 1700 players in the NFL. In the Kindle Top 100, I doubt more than 50 indies have hit that list.

Answers.com says there are 27,468 high schools in the US. Let's say 25,000 of those have football teams with roster sizes of 50 per team. That's something like 1,250,000 kids playing high school football every year.

And NFL teams have less turnover than high school teams (some guys hold onto their roster spot for 10+ years). So there's over a million kids playing high school football and something like 1/10 of a percent will play in the NFL (roughly one thousand out of one million).

Now take Christopher Smith, an indie who got his thriller, Fifth Avenue, into the top ten overall in the Kindle store within a month IIRC. He wrote a good thriller with a good cover, priced it at $0.99, and pulled off a massive marketing strategy. And he hit the top ten.

That is so much easier to do than making the NFL. It requires good writing, good strategy, and good marketing. All of that can be done at your computer.

To get into the NFL, you most likely have to have been born with an incredible athletic talent and then you have to work your tail off for years while hoping you don't get injured.

It is so much easier to write a good book, price it at 99 cents, get a decent cover, and do a little marketing.

Take another example, Victorine Lieske. She has one book out, a romantic suspense mystery. She priced it at 99 cents and it took off without a whole lot of marketing and it reached #102 in the overall kindle store.

For authors who are really, really trying to reach that top 100, there's a very good chance you can pull it off if you try hard enough.

Christy Pinheiro said...

For authors who are really, really trying to reach that top 100, there's a very good chance you can pull it off if you try hard enough.

I don't think it's all that important to reach the top 100. With fiction, the idea is to build fans and readership. A lot of the indies that are making 1K+ per month have been publishing for a few years and now are seeing the fruit of their labor. Slow and steady wins the race.

As for non-fiction, if there's a market for it, you can make money right away. And you don't have to sell 1,000 copies a month of a book that costs $40 in order to make a good living.

Moses Siregar III said...

I wonder how many indie books are in the top 100 in the Kindle store each week. It seems like there are usually at least a few, so I'd guess over 200 made that list at some point in 2010.

Slow and steady wins the race.

Christy, for my sake I hope you're right (good points, btw). :-)

I'm going out to my kid's 4th birthday party. I'll catch up with you guys later.

Joe Konrath said...

For authors who are really, really trying to reach that top 100, there's a very good chance you can pull it off if you try hard enough.

As I said, there are 1700 NFL players, and you named 2 indie writers who cracked the top 10, and there aren't more than 50 who cracked the Top 100. But since Kindle went live, there have been 1000s of authors in the Top 100. And right now there are arguably hundreds of thousands of indies.

If you really think all you need is a good book, a good cover, and some marketing, you're fooling yourself. It's a lot harder than that. Case and point: why isn't eveyr book I release in the Top 100? Why isn't Amanda Hocking?

We're already established bestsellers, with big fanbases. We have good books with good covers, and we market well. And yet, only 3 of my ebooks hit the Top 100 (I'm not sure about Amanda, 3 or 4?)

It's hard, Moses. Doable, but hard.

As far as odds go, I say a person has a better shot at the NFL.

wannabuy said...

@ChristyAs for non-fiction, if there's a market for it, you can make money right away.

Do you have links on non-fiction ebook success or just good blog entries? I love 'gritty' history that isn't 'revisionist'; which means I'm always looking for new sources. :) Economics too.

Thanks in advance for any links.

Which reminds me of why Boarders used to work. Once upon a time, their HUGE (for the day) store inventory of 150,000 books (peak that I caught for the local Borders, per their print adds) used to be great. Compared to millions of available ebooks that number isn't worth discussing.

Neil

Moses Siregar III said...

If you really think all you need is a good book, a good cover, and some marketing, you're fooling yourself.

I just have a sec, for clarity's sake I said:

"A good book with a good marketing strategy has a decent chance of hitting the top 100 on Kindle, especially if the writer is willing to price it cheaply."

It's not easy, but it's very doable with a very good marketing strategy and a cheap price. Being in a hot genre helps a lot, too.

J H Sked said...

I think there is a Chinese curse that translates to "May you live in interesting times". I think we're definitely there.
Heartbreaking though is to see the book stores I've loved for years go under - it's like watching someone flick a pile of dominoes here in the U.K. - it also means a potential career break for newbies like myself.
Self-publishing on markets like Kindle and Smashwords opens up an audience I might never have encountered if I didn't get placement in larger stores, and trying to get an agent (never mind a publisher) for fantasy in the UK can be soul destroying.

Will I make large sales? No idea; if anyone discovers the X-factor that sells a book let me know - but I'm giving it a shot.

I don't want to hit my death-bed mumbling through my false teeth about what I should have done when e-readers took off..

Tara Maya said...

A few bestsellers (like Joe and Amanda) will make out like bandits. Most indie authors will...sell a hundred copies to their friends and relatives.

Nothing is going to change that, because not all writers who put up a book are looking to make a career of it anyway.

If I can find the manuscripts, I plan to put my grandfather's mysteries up for sale. He was an immigrant, and his English wasn't that great, but he wrote one or two cozy detective stories about a violist who solved crimes on the side. I'm going to publish it, not because I think it will make money, but because I want to honor his memory. I'll buy a POD copy for myself and for my mom and if no-one else does, that's really okay.

I do want my own books to sell a little better, of course. :")

Tara Maya
The Unfinished Song: Initiate
Conmergence


Tara Maya

wannabuy said...

@TaraIf I can find the manuscripts, I plan to put my grandfather's mysteries up for sale.

That is beyond cool. Will you edit the language them or put them up 'as is?'

Neil

Robin Sullivan said...

I think how easy/hard it is to hit the top 100 is somewhere between J.A and Moses.

These are authors I know of that have hit the Top 100:
Amanda Hocking
J. A. Konrath
Nancy Johnson
Chris Graham
Christopher Smith
H.P. Mallory
D.B. Henson
Scott Nicholson
Victorine Lieske
Karen McQuestion
Cort Malone
Michael Gallagher
Richard Phillips
Traci Madison

That's 14 from "recent" data. My guess is that number will grow significantly over the next few months.

Christy Pinheiro said...

Do you have links on non-fiction ebook success or just good blog entries? I love 'gritty' history that isn't 'revisionist'; which means I'm always looking for new sources.

Sure. I know a lot of writers that make good money publishing non-fiction, including myself. But it's a niche product with a limited audience. It makes it easier to advertise, but your audience is limited.

There's a lot of money to be made this year in "survivalist" and "off-the-grid" living books this year-- mostly because of the 2012 hysteria. If you could do the research and publish something in that genre, you'd make a mint.

Sometimes with non-fiction it's a matter of striking while the iron is hot.

Most of my sales are POD, but I'm going to experiment more with ebooks this year.

wannabuy said...

"“Ebooks sales will approach 20% of trade book revenues on a monthly basis by the end of 2011 in the US” – and account for at least a third of those books that actually get read."

http://www.7x7.com/arts/world-ebooks-exploded-2010

I'm more optimistic than this quote from the founder of Smashwords. 20% of monthly book revenue will be easy to exceed by the end of 2011 for ebooks.

Neil

Veronica said...

For authors who are really, really trying to reach that top 100, there's a very good chance you can pull it off if you try hard enough.

Absolutely.

If this rush of Indie writers has shown us anything it's that it doesn't take talent or skill to be a successful indie published author. All you need is to type 60,000 semi-coherent words in one of the popular genres like paranormal romance and price it for pennies, thereby making it an impulse buy, and you're good.

That's it.

I read 70+ indie books last year and 65 of them (including several of the top sellers) were utter garbage written on a middle school level.

I think Amazon opening of the floodgates and allowing all the riff-raff to pretend they're authors for a while is fine. It's not hurting anyone, so why not? But let's not pretend that these are great books. They're not. Some (less than 1%) might be pretty good, but the majority are just amateurish attempts at writing by a huge population of untalented dreamers.

The fact these misguided folks are selling thousands of books for pennies just goes to show that absolutely ANYONE who can put together a halfway decent package can do it.

I think these folks should enjoy their money, and I'd encourage everyone who has the slightest inclination to be a writer to join in. It's free money. Take advantage of it. Just don't get a big head because it's far from something to be proud of.

Joe Konrath said...

The fact these misguided folks are selling thousands of books for pennies just goes to show that absolutely ANYONE who can put together a halfway decent package can do it.

Ah, the joy of trolling anonymously.

Please, praytell, since you read 70 indie books, point me to your Amazon reviews so I can see what you've bought and so I may read your careful analysis of why 65 of them are garbage.

Hmmm? No? You won't do that?

Why am I not surprised?

It's quite easy to make blanket statements about how easy it is to sell a lot of books, or how indie books suck.

I have ample evidence about how bad some indie books are, because I judged several self-pubbed book contests for Writer's Digest. I can explain why a book sucks, and back it up with points, and have done so often in the history of this blog.

I also have ample evidence of how hard it is to sell a lot of copies.

Your post smacks of sock-puppetry. You don't want to provide examples, or even your name. You just want to incite a reaction.

bowerbird said...

joe said:
> This death spiral
> may not happen for a while.
> It might not happen at all.

oh, it's gonna happen. for sure.

but borders has been in trouble
for a long time, so the fact that
it's gonna go down is no surprise.

but that, all by itself, will not
make that much of a difference.

it just means barnes&noble gets
a reprieve period of a few years.

people who wanna buy p-books
will go to barnes&noble instead
of going to borders. no big deal.

actually, one _healthy_ chain is
better than two unhealthy ones.

barnes&noble won't stay healthy
long, however, at least not as
a bricks&mortar physical entity,
and as it gradually closes stores,
_that_ will be the _true_ death.

once there are few bookstores,
there's no reason for publishers,
particularly big unwieldy ones...

print-on-demand will then rule.

nonetheless, your suggestions
that authors get very cautious
about becoming entangled with
the soon-to-go-extinct business
of corporate publishing houses
are extremely sound advice...

happy new year! :+)

-bowerbird

evilphilip said...

"The 4 of the last 6 novels I started from the big6 were crap that met deadline and few other expectations. If I put that over on a big6 publishers blog it would be rude."

I would disagree.

Of the last 6 books I read, one of them was Self-Published, four were from Big 6 publishers and one was from a Small Press. The best book of the six was the one that was from the small press. The next best books were all from the Big 6 and the worst (though it wasn't a bad book) was the self published book.

How you pick your books makes a huge difference. I almost never buy anything that isn't excellent or better because I'm always keeping an eye out for the books I see people talking about or books that specifically fit what categories I like to read.

jtplayer said...

Re: "You don't want to provide examples, or even your name"
-------------

Wait a sec...isn't her name Veronica?

And why are you slamming her so hard Joe? There's a lot of truth in what she says.

Like I mentioned earlier, it seems perfectly ok to bash the shit out of the Big 6 and denigrate those who work for them. Many of you pull no punches at all, and you take no prisoners.

So why the blowback when someone chooses to point out some of the less glamorous aspects of this new ebook revolution?

Fair is fair man, and there's a lot to criticize on both sides of the equation. If you take off your rose colored glasses for a moment you'd see that. Or should I say, your money colored glasses.

jtplayer said...

Re: "How you pick your books makes a huge difference. I almost never buy anything that isn't excellent or better because I'm always keeping an eye out for the books I see people talking about or books that specifically fit what categories I like to read."
--------------

Check that.

I have no problem finding very good material to read from the mainstream publishers. The books on the list I provided earlier are all published from traditional publishers, and they are all excellent, IMO.

When I see people post here that they purchase crappy books from the Big 6 all the time, or that the quality of those books has been slipping, I can only shake my head, as that has not been my experience in the least.

But to each his own, and who am I to argue with someone's stated experience?

But I'll wager you right now that I can take any 10 traditionally published books in the genres I enjoy (literary fiction, mysteries, thrillers, historical fiction), and put them up against any 10 true independent, self-published ebooks, and the indies will not measure up.

Now I will add this one caveat, the indies must be true independent authors, not guys like Joe that have an established track record with the Big 6 and subsequently made the decision to go indie.

Flame away if you must, but I truly believe that for me, this is the reality.

Joe Konrath said...

And why are you slamming her so hard Joe? There's a lot of truth in what she says.

No, there's not. There's only vitriol without anything to back it up.

Show me why the book sucks, then show me your bestselling book that you just threw together. Then she'll have a point.

bowerbird said...

i see that here in the new year
people still believe what they
want to believe, and "discover"
evidence which supports that...

oh well... i guess that i never
really expected that to change.

even if i'd _like_ it to do so...

***

evilphilip said:
> That means that
> they can weather
> a lot more hardship
> than you think they can.

that depends on how much
you think they can weather.

i think they can weather a lot.

but there are likewise _many_
things that they can't weather.


> They can certainly weather
> the loss of both the Borders
> & Barnes & Noble
> physical stores.

wrong. that's one of the things
which they _cannot_ weather...

they'll tell you that themselves.


> An increase in the sales of
> books at big box stores
> and an increase in
> the sales of ebooks
> benefits them as much as
> it does the indie author.

oh please. big-box stores are
the _dumping_grounds_ for the
excess capacity generated by
huge press-runs on the books
at the very top of the charts,
where publishers will print
a few extra million p-books
"just in case" demand warrants.

and e-books? are you serious?

like all their corporate brothers,
the major publishing houses are
geared especially to handling the
main problems of scarce goods.

they lower production costs with
their huge economies of scale,
and they lower distribution costs
via existing solid infrastructure.

they simply have no experience
dealing with products that have
production and distribution costs
which are zero, such as e-books.

they've no leverage to exploit.

***

having said all that, i do _not_
think publishing companies will
"go bankrupt" or anything like it,
precisely because they _are_
entities which are tucked into
their "safe" corporate parents.

they are also owners of very
valuable intellectual property,
and will continue in the capacity
of administering that property.

but as far as printing new books,
they'll be _done_ with all that.

why would you make something
you can't sell? it makes no sense.

***

as for the music business?

it doesn't really compare...

bands never made money off
recorded product... really...
(record companies robbed 'em.)

they made money off touring,
as well as lucrative cross-deals,
with tv, commercials, films, and
sheet music (believe it or not!).

the touring infrastructure is still
controlled by the corporations,
and of course so are all of the
cross-licensing possibilities, so
it still helps a band to be linked
to a corporation, to grease that.

authors have fewer possibilities
generated along those lines...

but there are some, of course...

if you want your book to be seen
for a possible film deal, or t.v.,
or you'll need t.v. to promote it,
(or need it to promote yourself),
then you still might be better off
chasing a corporate publisher...

but if all you do is write a book,
you're better off self-publishing.

-bowerbird

Robert Burton Robinson said...

These are authors I know of that have hit the Top 100:

Hitting the Top 100 would be fantastic. I was happy just to hit the Top 500. ;)

bowerbird said...

jtplayer said:
> Let me repeat that
> for the hard of hearing...
> they DO NOT WANT ONE

there's no need for yelling.

i understand.

you like your paper-books,
and so do lots and lots and
lots and lots of other people.

that's cool.

i hope you like p-books a lot.

because within 5 years, you'll be
paying a pretty penny for them.

and yes, you will have a choice,
don't believe those who say you
won't. (thanks largely to pod!)

the choice will be whether you
will pay $60 for the paperback,
or $6 for the e-book. (that'll be
for books from big6 publishers.)

you will also have other books to
choose from, from indie authors.
they'll cost about $1 as e-books,
or roughly $5 for a printed copy.

the choice is yours...

-bowerbird

bowerbird said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Show me why the book sucks, then show me your bestselling book that you just threw together. Then she'll have a point.

This coming from the guy who admits to throwing together his poorly written, mediocre bestsellers.

bowerbird said...

folks, here's _my_ "opinion"...

as long as any retailer out there
offers authors the 70% "royalty",
amazon will _match_or_beat_ it.

and if someone gives more, and
does well, amazon will match it.

amazon is ruthless in matching
the _very_best_ terms available.

why?

because amazon is in it for the
_long_run_. and it knows that
authors can/will disintermediate
amazon right out of the picture
if amazon gets too greedy about
taking too big a cut of the price.

so l predict amazon changes to
a smaller cut, not a bigger one.

now, amazon takes $1 out of $3.

downstream, once it gets its
costs down further, look for it
to take $.40 out of a $2 book.

unlike "opinions", a _prediction_
can be wrong. so let us see who
gives us the correct prediction...

-bowerbird

wannabuy said...

@EvilPhilipHow you pick your books makes a huge difference. I almost never buy anything that isn't excellent or better because I'm always keeping an eye out for the books I see people talking about or books that specifically fit what categories I like to read.

I 100% agree. My mistake was pre-buying from what were previously *excellent* authors from the big6. With Indie I've been far pickier and my latest Indie picks were 95% on the money.

There is a reason One can find many blog posts on the reviews being the new "Gatekeeper."

Neil

Tara Maya said...

Tara: If I can find the manuscripts, I plan to put my grandfather's mysteries up for sale.

Neil: That is beyond cool. Will you edit the language them or put them up 'as is?'

I think it depends on how "bad" it is. I haven't looked at the manuscripts since I was a child. It will be interesting to re-read them now.

Tara Maya

The Unfinished Song: Initiate
Conmergence

wannabuy said...

1st Comment: I haven't seen anyone with a top 100 Kindle book claiming it was easy... Please provide links if one has.

2nd Comment: It seems to have been lost that I commented that the big6 have some excellent books.

But certainly not all of their books. Last year was my worst year ever with the big 6 and I used to do far less research before buying.
Now I know better. I'm done pre-buying.

There is a reason my favorite genre is now dominated by Indies. Ok, not to the degree of Romance...

My definition of Indie is pretty much anyone generating income not going through the 14 publishers that report to AAP. Some are 'fresh meat,' some were 'terminated midlist' who are even better un-sanitized. :) Some are authors who 'dared' to switch genre (which was too tough under the 14 AAP as JA has noted).

But that is the beauty of books. If we all wanted the same thing we'd be watching TV.

Neil

Joe Konrath said...

This coming from the guy who admits to throwing together his poorly written, mediocre bestsellers.

How does it feel to be a coward? To snipe and troll? What warped satisfaction do you get out of it, really?

Was this a case of not enough attention as a child, so you crave any attention, even negative attention?

Is your self-image so poorly developed you feel the need to spread your bad feelings across the internet?

Get a life. And don't post here again--I'll delete you, and then have to ban anonymous posters, which is unfair to all the people who have something positive to contribute.

frank1569 said...

Another angle:

X amount of Americans buy/read books.

X has been a stable number for years.

If X doesn't want books to go away, X will buy books, not e-books.

Right now, it appears X doesn't want to buy books, but doesn't want books to go away, either.

X needs to choose, or stop whining about the loss of something they're not buying anymore anyway...

Ruth Harris said...

Joe & everyone: I didn't know where to put this but want to post the latest on Borders...

Here’s the latest (Jan 5, early AM) NYTimes story on Borders: http://tinyurl.com/24ysbkt

Note that BN will insist on getting the same concessions Borders gets…puts more pressure on publishers… here’s the quote:

"Concessions by publishers to Borders could irritate the company’s larger rival, Barnes & Noble.

“We think the playing field should be even,” Mary Ellen Keating, a Barnes & Noble spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement. “We expect publishers to offer the same terms to all other booksellers, including Barnes & Noble and independent booksellers.“

Anonymous said...

Alastair Mayer wrote this: It's always possible to put in a clause reverting rights if the publisher declares bankruptcy -- and Mark Levine (Negotiating a Book Contract) and Richard Curtis (How To Be Your Own Literary Agent) both recommend it.

The opinion of 10,000 men is of no value if none of them know anything about the subject. -- Marcus Aurelius

Mark Levine is a lawyer but not a bankruptcy lawyer. Richard Curtis is a literary agent. Neither of them is competent to speak about bankruptcy law.

I used to be a bankruptcy lawyer. I never bothered to read reversion-in-the-event-of-bankruptcy clauses. They were not worth the ink it took to print them.

Alastair Mayer also wrote this (quoting Mark Levine): "When a publisher files for bankruptcy, most bankruptcy trustees return the rights to authors in exchange for the authors' agreement to drop any claims for all unpaid royalties or other monies due."

I no longer give legal advice, but I would live by those words. And I would wait to self-publish any book the publisher had rights to until I had a copy of the court order in hand.

antares