Saturday, March 05, 2011

To Kindle or not to Kindle

I just received this email from ‘Xanares’, which is interesting and certainly food for a lot of thought:


Hey there Neal,

Thought you might be interested in this one. It's about (an) independent writer's success publishing novels on Amazon Kindle. It's of course Vampire fiction (I know I know sigh), but it goes to tell that at least some parts of the writing industry are on their way towards the same business-idea that parts of the gaming industry have been playing with for a while now:

"Welcome to disruption. 26-year old Amanda Hocking is the best-selling "indie" writer on the Kindle store, meaning she doesn't have a publishing deal, Novelr says.

And she shouldn't. She gets to keep 70% of her book sales -- and she sells around 100,000 copies per month. By comparison, it's usually thought that it takes a few tens of thousands of copies sold in the first week to be a New York Times bestselling writer."


Admittedly she’s selling some of her books for just $1 to $3 each but, if you average that then consider that percentage above, she gets more than I get on a damned paperback or even hardback. I will have to carefully consider any future contracts I sign, I think.

Xanares concludes his email with: For us old romantic book-sniffers it's odd, but hey… science fiction is here.

32 comments:

Fader209 said...

Still no real substitute to an actual book but I can see the lure of attraction this can have.

Tech is always being changed and updated (as well as suffering from virus attacks etc) so I can't see these people buying ebooks having them forever.

A physical book is a timeless classic and irreplaceable in my eyes.

Roger said...

I disagree with Fader - as written somewhere else here I was a book geek/nerd since I was 4 years old. I started, by "accident" reading on my iPhone and since then I'm hooked to reading on my iPad. I have a built in dictionary, can have bookmarks whereever I want, I can take virtual notes and, I easily can take several books with me. I don't have the "200 pages to go and going to holiday witch book do I have to choose now" hastle anymore. I just have my eBooks with me and can choose by mood.
Another thought... I'm normaly reading about 4 to 6 books at the time. I do this because I'm a "mood reader" - sometimes I'm in the mood to read SiFi, sometimes horror and so on. I just open the book I like most in the current mood, imaging that, having 6 books in my backpack all the time ;-) If you think you read one book at the time, try to read China Mieville as the only book and read it through in a week - you will go crazy ;-)

errmm.. where was I... ahhh... eBooks rock...

robann said...

Since getting my Kindle I have not only stopped buying physical books but I've given almost all (except glossy books with pictures like recipe books) to the local library.

It's actually quite a change of mindset but similar to no longer having CDs (remember when people proudly had racks of CDs in their living rooms?) or DVDs/videos.

I'm probably going to remove all the bookshelves I have around the house whenever I know what to replace them with. Maybe I'll just enjoy the extra space or get some art/sculpture?

I am actually in the process of writing a blog/essay about this mindset change so can bore people at more length. ;-)

Jebel Krong said...

i love - and always will - holding a real book in my hands, there's nothing quite like the feel of the pages in your hands and turning them ever faster as you work your way through an exciting experience... having said that, i'm sure people like my son will grow up not thinking twice about having hundreds of books on one reader as thin as a sheet of paper (by then) - they won't have the same romance with books i do, but they will have their own experience on, technically, better devices.

Fader209 said...

I only read one book at a time but I know what you mean Roger - it's far more convenient.

I also like to rest my eyes from screens when possible but that's more of a personal preference. Not sure how the Kindle is on the eyes as I have not tried one out yet.

Alpharius said...

I'm no Luddite, but I'm also no fan of 'digital books'.

So hopefully you'll be able to work out something in your next contract for that side of the business, but that you'll also keep releasing, for lack of a better term, 'real' books too.

Of course, if you were to opt out of that, and go digital only, I suppose that would force me to join you as well!

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

cut out the middle man. hot news! oust the shipping fees.
kindle library coming soon...to Dubai?

Antony said...

I live the idea of 'real' books, but I bought I kindle last November and haven't looked back.

I no longer buy paperbacks, and only the occasional hardback from selected favourite authors.

chopper said...

yep same here
i bought a kindle in october and have only bought ebooks ever since .
you cant beat them for conveinence and space saving.
(i live in a small flat}

billd said...

Interesting question Neal. Recently I've been buying your books on the Kindle as I just don't have shelf space for dead-tree copies. These online stores where you can self publish are a game-changer, that's for sure. With games we have this guy made $250k in 2 months publishing a game called Trism on the iPhone app store back in 2008. Then this developer Notch made so much last year with a little online game called MineCraft Paypal blocked his account because it had something like 600k Euro in it and they thought he was money laundering. I don't see why it shouldn't go the same way with books - there's something like what 5 million live Kindles out there? Then you have iPads. Someone starting out as a writer has exposure to a huge audience if they can hit the right spot with this (uggh, Vampires..). The question is, what value do you as an author get from your publisher? Money up front I guess for a book contract, review / editing, "branding" of the book series, audiobook tie-in - I don't really know much about it. People seem to think they should pay a lot less for an eBook because there is no physical thing that has to be printed / bound / shipped but having read some free eBooks I got from places like Feedbooks I'm not convinced, some of them are just rubbish. Then I have read some of Michael McCollum's Sci Fi and that is all published online - it was good enough for me. The question is, with an Indie book published online like this, are readers getting the same quality? It looks like it's good enough for some people.

Xanares said...

I haven't had a Kindle or any of the Pads yet, but that said I am sure I will soon. I've read quite a few e-books - just on my computer.

Like Fader I like resting my eyes from the screen-light from time to time with a physical book, and I just like having books around; all over the place really. Same goes for my SO (special other).

It's just clear as crystal this is the way things are going, although as I see it, there is no reason the two markets can't run in a symbiosis. On the contrary that would be perfect for market-reach.

The indie game-programmer billd mentions (Notch) crossed the 1 mio. games sold on January 12 (1.2 mio Feb 8). It's a huge achievement and a game-changer.

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

on another foot: NASA again

http://tinyurl.com/dupedspace

Jono said...

Me, I'm a happy combination of both, always have a stack of books next to my bed, but away from home happy to use my droid. Grew up with books, bought books in every corner of the world, would never think of getting rid of them. Then again I am also a compulsive hoarder...

Kirby Uber said...

i don't get why this has to be a binary situation. surely i can't be the only one that buys physical books when he likes, and ebooks also when he likes.

generally, i am a collector, and buy hardcover/firsts of authors i am a fan of, and relegate new writers and daily fluff reading to the kindle, but i also have no problem while out and about seeing a book that strikes my fancy and picking it up.

the opposite also being true; while hunting for that first/hardcover i'll grab an ebook copy to get to read the bloody thing if it's available, and still buy a physical copy when i find it.

Kirby Uber said...

Xanares:

kinda sweet about ereaders like the kindle that use e-ink screens, no back light screen like a tablet computer like the iPad running ereader software playing at being an ereader, spraying the backlit liquid crystal into your face.

the basic nook is e-ink i believe, but the newer "color" version is also a backlit LCD device. it also drastically reduces battery life.

Xanares said...

Kirby: Just have to try it out asap. Sounds really good (Kindle). Also, I don't think this is a binary situation - it shouldn't be anyway.

robann said...

Fader - I have to second what Kirby says in that eink technology makes them MUCH easier to read. I program computers for a living and CANNOT face a harsh backlit screen for my commute home. I would not want to read on an iPad but a Kindle is just like the printed page.

I would say that owning a Kindle is as revolutionary to my life as when I got a mobile phone in 1995 - sad but true. In ten years time we'll be wondering why no one realised what a big deal it was.

I commute into London everyday and since Christmas I'd say that I now see MORE eReaders than paper books. Even I'm surprised.

Neal - are we boring you yet?

ChrisW said...

Heh Neal, perhaps once you polish off Zero Point you could whip up a quick Novelette/short story and release it as an eBook just to test it out how easy it is.

But yeah gotta agree with everyone else. I love real books as much as anyone and I still buy all my fav authors in HB but any new authors or paperbacks I read on my Kindle. Saves me alot of money here in Aus given what books cost downunder.

eInk is the way to go.

Xanares said...

Recent article with some more reg. Kindle/Amazon/E-books etc:

http://articles.cnn.com/2011-03-04/tech/amazon.free.kindle_1_barnes-noble-nook-e-reader-e-book-market?_s=PM:TECH

Neal Asher said...

Thing is, I don't have to write anything new to try this out. I've got that old Tanjen novella 'The Parasite' I could try and that old Club 199 one 'Mindgames: Fool's Mate'. They're both about 45,000 words. I'm also fairly certain that with the first I won't have to buy an ISBN. I just need to go over them again before publication, maybe sort out some artwork (if necessary) and then get off my arse and do it.

Neal Asher said...

Okay, so how much of that 70% is bullshit?
http://www.ehow.com/how_4489551_sell-book-kindle-format.html

Mark T Croucher said...

Not interested in a kindle. When they stop pulping then I may get one.
As for the essence of this thread, this opens up more a quantity over quality issue. There will be so much tosh available you will spend days filtering it out. X- factor for books me thinks.

Neal Asher said...

Amazon, as far as I can gather take 65% of the retail price. I wonder if that article got the percentages the wrong way round. Never believe what you read on the Internet.

Geoff Lynas said...

Here you go Neal ... terms from Amazon.

You choose whether the royalties are to be 35% or 70%. The 70% option is available when selling to various territories (which includes USA and UK).

Well that's what I got from an incredibly superficial read of this web page.

http://forums.kindledirectpublishing.com/kdpforums/entry.jspa?externalID=393

Neal Asher said...

Cheers Geoff, I note that 15% VAT and a delivery charge have to come off, though of course the English describing that is suitably muddy.

Here's an interesting article about that royalty rate:
http://tinyurl.com/6ed4u89

The Kat said...

As you're an established author. There is probably lots of profit to be had by cutting out the middle man. More money for you, and cheaper books for your fans everyone wins :-).

That said their are an awful lot of middlemen, perhaps one shouldn't p them off.

I really don't like the current business model the publishers are using around e-Books. It seems to me stupid that some eBooks are priced at 2 or 3 times the paperback versions??? Published Authors are going to start to lose out to self-published authors, if they don't bring those prices down.

Neal Asher said...

Kat, most of my books seem to be about £5 on Amazon Kindle.

True, I don't want to piss people off, but I see this as another string to my bow. And, in reality, the job of a publisher is to make money, so they always work to keep the percentage a writer gets as low as possible. There's no altruism involved, so no-one should be getting pissed off just because I want to up my percentage.

It's also the case that I'm signed up for a 5-book contract the first of which appears this year. In 5 years time, at the rate things are changing now, we might be in a whole different publishing world. Best for me to start preparing for that.

gweminence said...

I'll take this opportunity to 'helpfully' remind you that you've mentioned an unpublished fantasy book or two, hmmm?

Wink, wink!

Fader209 said...

This E-ink technology does make it sound very tempting indeed. Thanks everyone for pointing this out!

Looking at the actual book prices there doesn't seem to be a massive saving so I will probably still stick with paperbacks etc for now.

Roger said...

@all - iPad is not much worse then kindle concerning screen quality. What really is worse is sun glare where you constantly have to adjust the brightness. But reading in bed is no pain for the eyes. And, not to forget, on iPad I can choose the kindle and the iBook store so I have a bigger choice (if needed).

@Mark T Croucher - I absolutly agree with you about the mass of books coming out. It can be a chance for less known authors to gain money but the danger that the market will be flooded with pulp is there. Editing and someone in the middle who will have the competence to tell if the books meets quality standards isn't that bad, is it?

Neal Asher said...

I must admit, reading here about screen quality and sun-glare, just how much these ebooks are young techy's thing. Beside the fact that if you are a young SF reader you're more likely to be up to date with the technology, you're also likely to have much better eyes. Or is it the case that for old bastards like me the ability to alter the text size on ebooks counters that?

Roger said...

well, I think it does :-) Best try one. Kindles and iPads aren't that complicated - they are made for mainstream user, not only us techies (what gave me away?). BTW, feeling like and old bastard most of the time too :)