by J.D. Rhoades
As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve recently followed the example of some other “traditionally” published writers: I’ve put one of my novels (one that never found another home) up as an e-book-only offering for Kindle and other e-readers. Both Joe Konrath and Lee Goldberg have reported some good results from their excursions, and Konrath seems to have become convinced he’s going to make more money this year at e-pubbing than at the traditional kind.
So far, I haven’t quite gotten to the point that Joe has, where he’s selling 180 e-books a day. But things are percolating right along for STORM SURGE (available for Kindle HERE and other formats HERE).
I have, during the course of this experiment, had occasion to drop in and lurk on message boards and blogs and the like where the Kindlers and Nookies and their brethren of the little silver screen congregate. I’ve seen some issues raised there about which I’d like to get some feedback from our loyal readers.
One subject that seems to get a lot of talk is “Why the hell hasn’t Big-Ass Publishing released the new Byron B. Blockbuster novel for Kindle?” Followed by the inevitable, “It must be corporate greed!” Sometimes, the author even gets the blame, although I don’t see as much of that lately.
It does seem true that the standard practice for publishers is to release the hardcover first and the e-book later. This, IIRC, was one of the sticking points in the whole Macmillan/ Amazon kerfluffle a while back.
The strategy appears to be based on some assumptions, one of which is that e-book buyers also buy print books and people who have e-book readers won’t buy the hardcover if there’s a cheaper alternative.
Which leads us to our first set of questions, which are oriented towards finding out “is that necessarily so?”
1. How many of you read:
a) exclusively print?
b) exclusively e-books?
c) both, but mostly print?
d) both, but mostly e-books?
2. If your answer is “c” or “d” and the e-book and hardcover came out at the same time for the same price, which would you buy?
3. If the e-book came out later, and you knew it would be cheaper, would you wait? Does the answer depend on the book?
4. Are there circumstances under which you’d buy both? Have you done that?
Price is a big issue. I recognize the arguments that producing an e-book still entails the same editorial, design, etc. costs as a hardcover. Still, there are a lot of readers out there whose breaking point seems to be $9.99. A thread on the Amazon message boards titled “Boycott Books Over $9.99” recently had to be restarted when it rolled over 10, 000 posts. In my own experience, BREAKING COVER for Kindle was once $14.99 (it’s $12.99 now), and I got e-mails from people who were extremely pissed, and not in the happy British sense of that word.
Konrath’s Hypothesis holds that people buy cheap e-books: if they’re cheaper, they’ll sell more and make more money for the author. (STORM SURGE, by the way, sells for $1.99)
So our second set of questions has to do with price.
5. If you have an e-reader, was it the promise of cheap books that lured you to it?
6. What’s your “breaking point” price for an e-book?
7. Do you resent an e-book priced nearly as high as a print book?
One thing that I’ve noticed about e-publishing is how easy it would be to market non-standard length works, such as the hard-to-sell novellas (17,500 to 40,000 words) and novelettes (7500 to 17,499 words). It’s just not practical for a traditional publisher to print and sell those , unless they’re part of a collection, and how often does THAT come along? So:
8. Would you buy a shorter work for an e-reader? Have you?
9. What would you consider a fair price for a novella or novelette, as defined above?
So let me hear it, cats n’ kittens. Lay some of that sweet knowledge on me.