Ebooks for download reports that digital has overtaken paper sales.
This page was last updated by Bernard Preston on 4 December, 2018.
The distant past
Writing books was once-upon-a-time a mammoth task, each copy laboriously hand-written. Errors crept in inevitably. Not many people could read.
Initially printing was done using blocks of wood or clay, and it was the Chinese who get the credit for the first movable letters made of clay around a thousand years ago.
A German, Johann Gutenberg, was the next major innovator, using movable metal letters, about five-hundred-and-fifty years ago. Within half a century, 15 million books (30 000 titles) had been printed.
Bernard Preston's Chiropractic anecdotes
My first two books were only available in paperback. Frog in my Throat and Bats in my Belfry sales were sluggish unless I kept up the marketing, marketing, marketing... postage made them impossibly expensive unless I did direct sales. They are still only available in North America and South Africa. Readers constantly tell me how much they love them, but getting books to new readers... a mission.
"Gems, both funny and healthful, from the life and work of a Chiropractor."
Enter, eBooks for download. So the third Bernard Preston book, Stones in my Clog, reminiscences from the polders of Holland, is only available as an eBook, at a quarter of the price, nay a fifth once you've paid for postage, and Bats in my Belfry wil be available by the end of April 2013 on Kindle. Frog in my Throat needs a complete revision, and I'm afraid is unavailable.
You can still get Frog and Bats, for a price! from Our Store. Perhaps rather wait, and enjoy Frog for a fraction of the price on your Kindle, tablet or smartphone. The way to read books! Same as you shoot film. Digital. eBooks for download.
Bats in my Belfry is now available as an Ebook for download.
Today, with the arrival of the computer and the internet, the Kindle, tablet and smartphone, everything has changed. We are witnessing profound changes in the way books are published and read. Ebooks for download are suddenly the rage, outselling traditional paper books two-to-one.
I'm going to stick my neck out. By 2020, and probably five years before that, new paperback books will be difficult to get. Price will be the driving factor. Still trying to get film for your old Canon? Of course not! Film is unbelievably expensive, and where would you have it developed?
Whereas Jane Austin was reputed to have edited her books 130
times, each carefully and laboriously hand-written, her identity
carefully obscured, today anybody and everybody can do a rush job on the
internet. No wonder Austin's books have stood the test of time! You won't find one grammatical or spelling error. Not one.
Only 2-3 years ago, self-publishing was what you did only if you couldn't find a traditional publisher to promote your books. And you were very pleased to pick up the crumbs that fell from the table. 10-15% of the selling price went to the author if you were very lucky. 8% was more common.
In short, the author would pocket around $1 for a $10 book for his trouble. 90% went to the publisher, storage and transport, selling in a bricks-and-mortar establishment and, of course, a cut for the government, greater than the author him or herself collected.
In short, a most unsatisfactory state of affairs for authors but,
despite that, they inundated publishers, on hands and knees pleading to
get their work into print. I know! Got the T-shirt!
Digital - the preferred reading format?
Everyone pooh-poohed the idea of reading a book in digital format. "I like to feel a real book in my hands. How can I take a digital book to the bath or to bed?"
Enter the digital reader, and it was only a year ago that editors began to speculate that perhaps the reading public might actually choose digital over paper. After all, we moved very swiftly away from the newspaper to reading the news on-line. Ebooks for download?
An astonishing 20 million plus digital readers were sold in 2010. Last year. Meanwhile, bookstores are closing their doors at an alarming rate.
eReader -vs- Tablet -vs- Smartphone
This remains a very personal decision. The big advantage of an eReader is that it's cheap. If it gets wet at the beach or bath, or is stolen, it's not a train smash. Would you take your Apple to the beach? I wouldn't. The disadvantage? Too many gadgets, especially if you already own a smartphone and/or tablet.
On the latter two you will need the Kindle app. Comes for free from Amazon: Kindle apps ...
Traditional publishers and eBooks
Smart publishers were quick to realise that the-times-they-are-a-changing. But the price of their eBooks remained the same, or were slightly higher, AND the author still got the same cut. 15% if s/he was lucky.
And that despite no-transport, no-storage, no-bricks-and-mortar and no high-street-rentals. More, no-returns, smaller staff overheads, working-from-home, less chopping-down-of-forests...
The nett result? Fed-up authors. But, authors now have an option, something better than crumbs from the table. Far better. The whole cake!
Who needs a publisher?
Nobody? Certainly nobody NEEDS a publisher of an Ebook. Authors can get their books to the reading public, faster and cheaper than a publisher of paper books can.
Who NEEDS an agent? Notice the agents desperately seeking writers on Twitter? Suddenly, the boot's on the other foot.
Good editors? Those I suspect are flourishing in the new environment. Every writer, read EVERY writer needs someone who can from a distance tell writers the whole truth about their writing.
For five hundred years writers NEEDED publishers. NEEDED agents. Without them they couldn't reach their readers. But suddenly, the boot's on the other foot. Suddenly publishers have realised that it's they who need the authors, and the realisation is dawning on writers that they no longer need publishers, certainly publishers who keep the lion's share.
Perhaps we no longer need publishers, but every writer needs an editor. A person experienced in the publishing world who can clean up your work, tell you:
Good editors will remain. They're like hen's teeth!
And so, my third book, Stones in my Clog is not even available in paper. Read it on your Kindle, tablet or smartphone, at a fraction of the price of Frogs and Bats, or read something else!
Advantages of digital
Apart from the huge cost advantages of publishing a digital book, a writer can get his book to his reading public at least a year earlier than a legacy publisher can do. That's a whole year of sales...
In a bricks-and-mortar high street bookshop, authors have only a couple of months to sell their books, unless their name is J.R. Rowlings... with over 10,000 new books per month being published in the UK alone, an unknown writer's books were soon shovelled out of the way, and returned to be pulped.
But on the virtual bookshelf, books go on selling for years. For ever. They are a legacy to be left in your will! Writer Joe Konrath tells how his book "The List" was rejected twelve years ago by numerous publishers. It sat on the back-burner for ten long years. Then two years ago, he self-published: IN TWO YEARS HE HAS SOLD AN INCREDIBLE 25,OOO COPIES, AND CURRENTLY IS SELLING 1500 COPIES A DAY! A DAY!!! And, what's more, he keeps not 10% of the royalties, but 70%!
Says he: "I'm on track to make half a mil in the next ten months. I know how lucrative self-publishing has become."
The long and the short of it: Publishers need writers more than writers need publishers. Change is at the gate, and it's happening frightningly fast. It's time to sell your shares in big paper companies like SAPPI. Perhaps. They'll probably find another use for paper and timber.
Are the glossy magazines next?
Ebooks Are Not True Substitutes For Real Books
Shaun Fawcett writes eloquently why he still wouldn't curl up in bed with a Kindle. PDF is for him still the eBook of choice, what-you-see-is-what-you-get which is not true on an eReader.
So, if your want to read Stones in my Clog in bed, it's the laptop or smartphone, or Kindle on
your knees! In the bath... rather save the planet and take a shower!
Both are available for a song as ebooks for download. Stones and A Family Affair are still available at Our Store for a short time on pdf, but going, going... gone.
Whilst Bernard Preston will certainly never be a Shakespeare or a Jane Austin, a Dan Brown, are today's traditional authors in paperback ten times better value for money than a 99c book like my fourth book, A Family Affair? And which will you be taking to the beach this summer? Mostly likely an ebook by a writer like Bernard Preston, of course! Not Pride and Prejudice or The Merchant of Venice!
99c! Worth a punt. A spicey story examining modern day lifestyles. Try it!
Recently I've found myself humming "People stop and stare, they don't bother me," when it occurred to me that I've never read the classic Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw.
Shall I go to the local bookstore and have them order a copy? Shall I purchase a paper back from Amazon for $3.50, or hardcover for $3.88 (plus postage, of course). I see several Kindle editions for the same price. And, low and behold, a free copy; I've just downloaded it onto my Kindle. Ebooks for download are the future.
USEFUL LINKS @ eBOOKS FOR DOWNLOA