To e book or not to e book, that is the question

by Alexandra Sokoloff

Can I just first say that I’m writing this on Friday June 5 and NOBODY in New York is answering e mail or phone calls?   All I get is “Out of Office” replies.  Did something happen that I don’t know about?   The Apocalypse, or a holiday, something?

(Somebody e mailed me: “It’s called The Hamptons.”  Good grief.  And they say California is laid back.)

Can I then just add that every muscle in my body is sore, and that’s just from driving?   I mean, it’s not like I’ve been climbing mountains or river rafting or any of those other – things – that usually give me these industrial size bruises.   How do you get bruised from driving?

Hmm, I have another marathon driving day today.   This could get ugly.

All right, what was I going to talk about?

These days as far as blogging goes I’m a lot more comfortable tallking about craft, but no craft today, because I’ve been Out There for the last two weeks, promoting THE UNSEEN.  As we all know, we authors drop everything to do with writing when the book is released and we have to go Out There and promote.

Call me a masochist (and you’d be about 20 percent right, maybe less, maybe more like 10 percent), but I kind of like the frenetic physicality of promotion.  

I like Mapquesting all the bookstores on the way to whatever signing or con I’m on my way to and doing the hit and runs.   Drivebys.   Whatever.   I like the adrenaline rush of running in and signing stock and being charming… more or less.   I like the ever-changing scenery, I love being alone on the road and not having to think, or being able to sing intricate harmonies to any number of songs for ten hours at a stretch; I especially like being able to justify buying and drinking five or six frozen mochacchinos a day, which is, like, a week’s worth of calories I think; and I really, really like having a great excuse for not writing.

Although I am beginning to suspect that I may be doing myself more harm than good when I try to do bookstore loops at That Time of the Month.    I don’t THINK I killed anyone on the drive from NY to Virginia, but I wouldn’t swear to it in court.   It’s a little worrisome.

Anyway, desperately trying to get to my topic through this fog in my head – I was in NY signing THE UNSEEN at the Book Expo America, where it was very, very, very, VERY obvious that our industry is in a state of transition.  

This would be my – God, this is pathetic, but – either third or fourth BEA – I just can’t keep track of these conventions any more.    It was definitely the smallest  BEA I’ve been to – far, far, fewer people on the floor, and alarmingly few galleys.    Macmillan and Dorchester didn’t have booths at all.   And I was told by sales people from several different houses that hardcopy galleys are done – it’s all going to be e galleys from now on.   Some of the authors in the chutes had only 20 or 30 books or galleys to give away.

Which means we all have fortunes on our shelves, I guess!

Attendance at BEA was apparently down 33 percent.    Well,  66 percent of humongous is still pretty damn big.   And I think the smaller size helped those of us who were out there working it – the Mystery Writers of America booth was positively MOBBED because we had books when even the pub houses who had booths didn’t have the giveaways, and the Horror Writers of America booth got some great traffic as well, even though it was only our second year of participation.  

It was thoroughly great to be there – just as always I felt I got a half a year’s worth of business done in a weekend.

However, I had one overwhelming impression of the show this year.  It was pretty obvious to me that e books are the inevitable future.   And I can be slow that way, let me tell you.   But the future is now.

I talked with a lot of librarians who say e books are becoming more and more popular, and of course libraries can stock MANY more titles that way.   And that is the whole point.

I have no particular insight about it, except that I can tell you that while I was drifting around BEA, it felt like the e book revolution had already happened, and people were just trying to get their bearings, and figuring out how to deal with it.

When I was on strike with the rest of the WGA, the screenwriters’ union, the central focus of the New Media issues was delivery systems.    Well, this is what we’re talking about with the Kindle and the Sony reader.  I’s a delivery system.   The content is ours.     It still has to be great, it still has to be vetted and edited, or good God, someone might take a chance on a download, but if it’s crap, no one’s ever going to download another book of yours again.   But it’s possible that we are going to have more control over our content, and have to assume more responsibility for getting it out there, than we ever imagined when we were just going into this book thing… but at the same time we are going to get more of a percentage of it than ever before.

Which is kind of thrilling.

Other of the Rati have blogged much more intelligently on Kindles and Sony readers and all that than I am capable of at the moment, especially because, well, I don’t have either of them and don’t have much to say about them.  But I did, instead of rambling on like this, want to link to what I think is a VERY interesting blog by Joe Konrath about his recent e book experiences.

I don’t myself have a “shelf book” – every book I’ve written so far has been published or is scheduled to be.  And i strongly believe that every book you put out should be your best work.   I would think that publishing “shelf books” – unless you are POSITIVE that that book is every bit as good as everything else you’ve published – carries the danger of diiluting the reputation we’re all trying to build for ourselves.   Not a great idea, in my opinion.    How does that saying go?   “The secret of being a great photographer is you throw away the bad pictures.”

Same with writing.

But there is a book I’m thinking of going “e” with.  It would be an interesting experiment.

Only – I guess that means I actually have to buy one of those things and figure out how to use it.   Could be a problem.

Are these thoughts going through your heads, too, ‘Rati?   What do you think?   And are there any dedicated a book readers out there who will weigh in on this for us?

Now, on the road again!

– Alex

(In between driving I’m doing a non-type A, unKonrath kind of blog tour for THE UNSEEN.   This week I have stops at Murder She Writes, where I talk about character archetypes:  “Goddesses in Everywoman“,   and my friend Diane Chamberlain’s blog, where I talk about location: the haunted house that I used in THE UNSEEN and how growing up in California influenced me as a writer.)

38 thoughts on “To e book or not to e book, that is the question

  1. karen from mentor

    Alex,
    I love to hold a book in my hand. I love to curl up in bed with it and read until I’m sleepy or I get to a part where I can stop and shut off the light. There are those rare books where you just leave the light ON and read through the night. Love it when that happens.
    I love to lay on a blanket in dappled sun outside and read. I don’t think an e book would give me quite the same experience in either of those situations. There would also be the issue that I don’t allow any electronics in my bedroom so that it remains a calm, peaceful restorative healing energetic place for me to slumber.
    Traditional Books for me as a reader. As a writer? When I’m published I’ll do what the industry demands, but hope that I will also be able to be in paper print so that someone can take my words off with them into the dappled sun….

    btw: Alexandra Sokoloff, Goddess was my posting for yesterday. How serendipitious is that?
    Hope your muscles uncramp asap.
    Karen 🙂

    Reply
  2. R.J. Mangahas

    I’ve weighed in on this issue a few times (never on my own blog for some reason, because everyone has been doing a better job than I could) and I still am a little torn with this issue. I love having a paper book, especially when I get to meet the author and have them sign it for me.

    Although I certainly see the advantages of the e-book as well. Less storage space and you can carry around a lot more with you.

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  3. Robert Gregory Browne

    I think there’s room for both, but with the advent of compact ebook readers like the Kindle/Kindle for iPhone and Sony’s Reader, the trend is definitely toward ebooks. I truly think there will be a time when only the bestsellers see print and the rest of us go straight to ebook.

    The upside is this: ebooks are an easy impulse buy that you can get either straight from your reader (Kindle or iPhone) or from your computer (Sony, et al.) Plus we have a generation of people who are growing up doing EVERYTHING on the computer and like devices (repeat, iPhone). This is not going away — and these people COULD NOT CARE LESS about having a real, honest to goodness book in their hands.

    I LOVE books. Particularly mass market paperbacks. I grew up reading them. I would hate to see them go. But I also know how this world works. And anything that keeps my work in the hands of readers, including the hands of young, NEW readers, is a major plus.

    As for publishers, I think they should be JUMPING on this. I’m happy to say that my own books are all on the Kindle and will soon be on the Sony Reader. A study somewhere showed that the NY Times could cut its operating costs in half if it abandoned print AND provided each and every one of its subscribers with a free Kindle. Publishers take note.

    Now, if they could just get the price of these readers down to a reasonable amount, I’d buy one myself.

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  4. PK the Bookeemonster

    I’m a reader not a writer. If I have any spare time, I read, so I don’t take the book industry lightly. I don’t understand the uproar over ebooks. Alexandra termed it excellently: it’s just a different delivery system of a story. Isn’t THAT what its all about? Being able to read (or write) a story? Books are lovely, no question. No one seems to be rounding up the villagers to complain about the audio format of them. The point is access to stories.
    Horses didn’t go away after the transition to motorized vehicles. The delivery system became better.

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  5. PK the Bookeemonster

    Sorry, I had another thought. The evolution to ebooks has another side. Do ebooks then necessarily have to come through the publisher? Yes, there’d be a lot of "self-published" dross out there but I would be thrilled to pay Janet Dawson or Mary Wilson Walker directly to continue their books.

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  6. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Alex –
    Your post was illuminating, as always. I feel like I’ve entered the world of publishing as it’s changing and that I’m fortunate to see my first novel in print, to see it as an actual galley before galleys become obsolete. And I do so love holding a hardcover book, examining the cover art, feeling the type of paper used inside. But I’ve also participated in a couple Writers Guild strikes and I understand the concept of the ever-changing delivery system, and we, as authors, must find a way to participate in this. If the distribution system becomes less expensive for the publisher then maybe there will be more left-over to pay the author.
    By the way – your post made me laugh out loud, and for that you get two golden stars.

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  7. Allison Brennan

    Alex, e-books are of course here to stay, but right now it’s still a teeny-tiny piece of the pie. Less than .01% of my total sales. that’s less than 1/10th percent (in case I put my decimal point in the wrong place.) I have heard the hardcover books have higher percentages for ebooks, but no one has told me who is a traditional print author that their ebook sales exceed 1% of their total sales. In fact, my ebook sales are stagnant–I sell more books now than three years ago, but the percentage of ebook sales hasn’t increased.

    Like you said, it’s just another way to read a book and I have no problem with that. Why would I? The more people reading my books the better. I just want tough controls on piracy. Less than 48 hours my first audio book came out, it was available for illegal download.

    As far as a shelf book, I have no desire to publish the four books I wrote before I sold THE PREY. They’re inferior. They are not what I’m capable of writing now. And I don’t think I’d make the money on them that I make on my contracted books–or even a fraction of it–to make the time editing, rewriting, and paying a professional copyeditor and editor to help make it shine. There is one I love and would love to rewrite because I think the story is pretty good–but I’ll wait until I sell it to the traditional market. It’s out of genre anyway, more science fiction.

    And I don’t want to be a bookseller. I don’t want to have to go out and promote my books more than I do now. I don’t sell my own books now–ever. If there’s not a bookseller available at a speaking event, I simply don’t go or don’t offer books for sale (though I’ll give some away.)

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  8. Allison Brennan

    Dusty, I already thought of that idea and have been in discussions. About six months ago I was helping my daughter with an assignment related to GREAT EXPECTATIONS by Dickens and remembered that he’d written several serialized novels. The technology is *almost* there (and almost in technology can be a day or a month, but definitely sooner than a year. And it’s there for the most part, it’s just a logistically thing. The blog subscriptions is part of that.)

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  9. Louise Ure

    Hey Alex, a sideline comment here:

    If you don’t already have it on your smart phone, download the free app called Indie Bound. It maps every single independent bookstore around your current GPS location and then provides driving directions!

    Reply
  10. JT Ellison

    Wonderful to see you in New York, sweetie!

    I agree with Allison, and with Rob. We are all up in arms about ebooks, but why? Every reader should be able to read according to their desired delivery method. The younger generations are all electronic, and if we want to keep them reading, we need to satisfy that. This isn’t the 8track to cassette to CD to mp3 issue – books will never become obsolete. But there might be new ways to read them. And that’s what we need to make available to our readers, so they can choose.

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  11. JT Ellison

    But as far as selling my own books – I have zero desire to make that happen. I really do push people to have a bookseller or buy the books beforehand instead of selling them in person. I’ll make exceptions for a few library events, but very few.

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  12. Robert Gregory Browne

    My fear (and prediction) is that traditional publishers will make the same mistake that the music industry has made and will suffer greatly for it. And if they’re suffering, that means mid-list authors will be dropped left and right as time goes on.

    The gradual decline of traditional distribution should be a warning signal to ALL traditional media outlets, but I have a feeling that too many of those in power are stuck in the mindset of the 20th Century.

    Allison, I know that ebooks are a small percentage of sales, but if the publishers really began to promote ebooks in a substantial way instead of treating it as a sideline, don’t you think those sales figures would go up?

    The way things are going, I have a feeling that ebook sales will continually increase over the next several years — without or without the traditional publishers.

    One house that seems to be very much on the ebook bandwagon is Harlequin. They release most of their category titles on ebook at the same time (or maybe even before?) the books hit the stores and I believe they’re doing well with it. If nothing else it’s a step in the right direction.

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  13. Robert Gregory Browne

    Another note: The big fear with publishers is copy protection. They don’t want books pirated. As Allison noted, her audio books were pirated within hours of their release. That’s not surprising. I could point you to websites and bit torrent feeds that have pirated copies OF EVERYTHING, including books, software and music.

    But as the music industry has discovered, copy protection is more of a burden than anything else. People who pirate will find a way around that copy protection in minutes and will continue operations as usual. The rest of us will suffer from incompatibility problems and utter frustration. It took the record companies a long time to finally see the DRM-free light, but they’re finally selling unprotected MP3s and the downloading business is BOOMING.

    As for authors, I’d argue that in many ways, pirated books help them. Yes, they may be losing sales, but they’re also gaining readers. And eventually many of those readers may actually BUY their books.

    For proof of this, just look at Cory Doctorow, who regularly gives away ebook versions of his books FOR FREE, and his sales have boosted considerably because of it. Tor/Forge even experimented with giving away free ebooks and some of the authors have reported a jump in sales — as far as they can tell — directly related to that experiment.

    Something to think about.

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  14. JD Rhoades

    Perusing Konraths’ e-books, one word jumped out at me: novella. It’s notoriously hard to sell anything at that length. But as an e-book, with the right pricing….hmmm…

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  15. Allison Brennan

    JT: I don’t sell even at library events because in California, I’d need a resale license and have to deal with sales taxes. I do NOT even want to go there.

    Rob, while I agree that some who illegally download may be future buyers, most won’t. I haven’t seen stats that prove it (I have seen a lot of rhetoric.) If they can get it for free why pay for it? I do think that there should be tough piracy controls, but unfortunately, it’s impossible. Like you said, they’ll get around it. I think we start young and teach people that stealing is wrong, that they wouldn’t walk into a bookstore and take a book off the shelf without paying, illegal downloads are the same thing. But it’ll take some authors who stop writing because of it to highlight the problems. But there are always new authors in the wings.

    I’m waiting for my kindle numbers on my next royalty statement, and the one after that, to see how that outlet impacts sales. I think there’ll be a shift–not new readers, but readers who change reading format. But that’s just a guess, and very hard to track, without focus groups and scientific polls — which the publishing industry just doesn’t like to do because it’s hugely expensive. (I think that every major publisher should commission a poll on reading habits in America once every 2-3 years. I know Harlequin does polls, but I’ve seen the questions and some are weird and some are leading and it’s also focused on romance not a broader focus. BUT RWA does a great poll every year or two years on romance readers including how many books they read a week/month, the sub-genre, and also includes sales data on genres sold.)

    JT: re young people and e-readers. I’d like to see empirical evidence on this. I know young people spend more time on-line, and they text all the time, but I asked both my teens if they wanted a Kindle, and both–my "light" reader and my "heavy" reader (who reads 2 books a week that aren’t for school) — said absolutely not. My heavy reader read a free book from one of her favorite authors and it took her weeks to finish it. I asked if it was the story, and she said no, the story was great, but she hated sitting at the computer and reading it. I think BECAUSE kids spend so much time on the computer that there will be a bit of a backlash against e-reading–but that’s just a guess on my part using very unscientific data of my own kids 🙂

    Rob, I have no problem with authors who give away books. It’s their book, their story, to share any way they want. But it should be their choice.

    In this time, people expect more and more for free and don’t see a problem with theft. They don’t even think of it as theft. I was helping my daughter research for a persuasive essay she was writing under the subject, "Society is too lenient on cheaters." Some of the stats from polls of teens today is staggering. They don’t think cheating is wrong. They don’t think stealing tests answers is wrong. There was a case in a wealthy east coast town where kids broke into the school and stole test answers and sold them and their parents were mad because the school called the police (they broke into the school in the middle of the night!). One parent said, "This is going to be on his record and hurt him getting into college." HELLO PEOPLE!! When parents start justifying their "good" kids cheating because punishment will "hurt" them, is it any wonder we have corporate theft, perjury, cheating, lying, in society?

    Okay, this is a huge sore spot with me. Sorry for the rant. I don’t even cheat in solitare, I don’t let my kids win games just because they’re kids (and that’s a hard lesson for them–until my 8 year old son beat me fair and square at Stratego–the pride on his face was priceless.) And I don’t let my 6 year old daughter cheat in memory games by flipped more than two cards. I can’t tell you how many parents think I’m too competitive. It’s not about winning, it’s about teaching a life lesson.

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  16. Robert Gregory Browne

    Allison, you’re probably right that the pirates won’t ever buy books, but they certainly may tell people how much they loved the book. People who aren’t interested in pirating.

    And this business is all about word of mouth.

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  17. Tom

    "One house that seems to be very much on the ebook bandwagon is Harlequin."

    Romance publishers and porn publishers lead the way when it comes to new tech. There’s a track record, now. It may be they’re more certain about what their customers want.

    Our granddaughters (12 and 14) share a Kindle. Our pseudo-daughter (aged 40) has one. They love them, and use them steadily.

    Shelf novels and desk drawer novels, by and large, should stay where they are. I tried to read some of Konrath’s give-aways. As a result, it would be tough to get me to buy one of his current books.

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  18. Allison Brennan

    Rob, I saw that about RH and I actually asked my publisher about doing something like giving away one of my earlier books. They did a free book giveaway with KILLING FEAR which seemed to be successful, but it was a physical book. They did another recently and it just ended–buy a book, get a specific book free. I’m waiting to hear on the results of that promo. I asked about e-books giveaways and the said it’s a crap-shoot–they had a great success and then no success on another one. Sort of like publishing in general.

    A

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  19. Catherine Shipton

    I’ve only got a small sample size of young readers to draw this from…In my experience with my young adult children, 20 and 25 and their friends, they prefer holding a book. The girls live together in a nearby city and only yesterday I noticed the youngest one (who says she doesn’t read much) has a sizeable stack of books on her dresser. She’s been buying quite a few classic penguin releases as they are compact and a little cheaper. My other daughter has a 6 foot by 4 foot bookshelf overflowing with books (which is why my youngest thinks she doesn’t read much).

    I think because of the amount of technology they do use, reading a book provides a switch off mechanism from the plethora of electronic devices they use. The only time they’ve thought that e-books could be worth their while is in uber long flights where carrying a lot of books through multiple airports becomes just one more thing to lug about.

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  20. Catherine Shipton

    This is what I get for trying to write without coffee…multiple uses of use in a sentence. What I was trying to do was agree with Allison’s experience and expand it to include young adult readers. Will sustain life with coffee. Now.

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  21. Alexandra Sokoloff

    I love it! Thank God you guys jumped into this discussion. I just crawled in from the car. 12 bookstores and – I don’t know how many miles. Great day.

    But thanks so much for this expansive conversation. I need an hour to collect what brain cells I have left, but this of Rob’s jumped out at me:

    >>>>>My fear (and prediction) is that traditional publishers will make the same mistake that the music industry has made and will suffer greatly for it. And if they’re suffering, that means mid-list authors will be dropped left and right as time goes on.<<<<<

    This is my big fear, too… that’s why the idea of trying some of this myself is enticing.

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  22. Mike MacLean

    Does anyone else see this as a possible downfall to the entire publishing industry? Okay, I’m being dramatic here, but think about it. The newspaper industry has all but slit its own throat by offering free content online. No one wants to pay for newspapers anymore.

    As more and more of us buy Kindles and are able to download thousands of books for free, what will happen to our perceived “value” of books?

    That being said, if I failed to land a contract and (as Alex mentioned) had confidence in my work, I would certainly think about going the e-book route. As many of you know, authors like Dave Wellington and Seth Harwood built up fan bases with free books online before landing contracts. Maybe this is how new authors will have to gain the attention of publishers.

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  23. Catherine Shipton

    I’m taking a risk here, as I’ve still not had a coffee, waiting on the eldest daughter to finish a book so we can go share some Australian Sunday morning sunshine…and coffee.

    The subject of e-books came up at lunch for friend and I through the week. We discussed the different delivery systems we knew of , possibilities of expanded markets into people that do like reading through electronic means, the lack of cohesive promotion for e-reading that we could see in the market today, the impact of the current economic climate, and trees versus bytes…

    I commented to her that someone here had mentioned the time investment that we have in reading. That with each book we read we’ve invested (at whatever pace we read) at least a few hours of our life. The person that raised this here I think used this knowledge as a spur to continue to create good reading experiences through story.

    This lead us to look at how much it costs us to go to live theatre, the movies, purchase dvd’s or watch free to air tv and although it was probably preaching to our own lover of books choir, we were left with the conclusion that reading gives good value in terms of opportunity cost and monetary investment. We’re just not sure why this view isn’t more widely shared.

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  24. Tom

    "The newspaper industry has all but slit its own throat by offering free content online. No one wants to pay for newspapers anymore."

    Mike, I must disagree about the reason for the demise of newspapers. Newspaper owners and execs did it to themselves, through pure and ignorant greed. They killed off the reporting that people would pay to read, whining that it cost too much, all the while rewarding themselves on grander and grander scales. Their greed corrupted them, too, while it was making them stupid.

    Rob hit it, too, from a different direction. If publishers stay insulated from readers, the way record company execs refuse to mingle much with music lovers and purchasers, it’ll be no great wonder if the business goes belly-up.

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  25. Bryon Quertermous

    Actually Tom and Mike are both wrong it. It wasn’t giving away access that killed the newspaper industry and as much as we might hate to admit it, most people could care less about the insightful and important reporting done in newspapers. Everything important and prestigious about newspapers was subsidized by the massive income received from classified ads and coupon ads. When those went online, that’s when the newspaper industry as we know it began to die.

    And I’ve never believed that piracy hurts sales enough to make all the shit needed to stop it worthwhile. Most people who get a pirated book or steal pirated movies wouldn’t have bought that book or music anyway. So yeah, they’re enjoying it without paying for it which sucks, but it;s NOT a lost sale. I think free books may be the best advertising dollars that can be spent currently.

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  26. Tom

    Bryon, not saying there’s nothing to your argument, but you’d have to have seen what I saw . . . once the big city editors and publishers became pals with people the reporters should have been investigating, it all went to hell in the Happyface Journalism Basket.

    Agreed, in smaller communities the switch to web advertising was the greater toxin.

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  27. Allison Brennan

    re: newspapers. You all may be partly right. In my limited experience, I think that it had more to do with the value of information NOW, i.e. today’s news today, rather than todays news tomorrow. But there is rarely one thing that contributes to the demise of the industry.

    re: craig’s list. I’ve never bought from craig’s list and I never will until they stop selling underage prostitutes. How the owner’s justify it makes me ill.

    Byron, I happen to agree with you that at this point in time, piracy doesn’t equal lost sales to a huge degree. Most of those people wouldn’t have bought the books ever. BUT people, in general (not to make blanket statements, but it is a widespread belief) do not think that illegal downloads are illegal. Some are uneducated about copyright. Some justify it because the publishing industry is making tons of money (or Dan Brown or James Patterson or Stephen King or JK Rowling) that them downloading "just one book" isn’t going to hurt anyone. Some justify it because they think the cost of books is too hight. Some justify it because they had to read the book for school and don’t want to buy it. There are a million excuses to commit the crime.

    I DO believe that giving away free books increases sales. I’ve given away well over 1,000 books that I bought (at a discount) to potential and current readers. I provide teasers (1-3 chapters) on my website. I love giving away books. But that’s my choice. My right as an author, and the owner of the book in question, to give it to someone. The people posting my book on the Internet for everyone to read takes that choice away from me. I really hate the arguments that, "We can’t stop them, so live with it." We can’t stop them because society as a whole places no value on the rights of creators, property owners, or businesses. Thomas Paine said it best, "My rights end where yours begin." My rights are to my creative work. They have the right to purchase the book or borrow it from the library–or not read it at all. They don’t have the right to steal my creative work and distribute it without compensation or permission.

    But, ultimately, the changes needed are going to have to come from educating readers first, but also working on the young people today to teach them basic human and society values. Do not take what does not belong to you, and that includes creative works.

    My kids know damn well they are not allowed to rip their iTunes playlist and give it out to all their friends at school. And they know that if they do it, they won’t be having an iPod to listen to their music on. You’d think more parents would teach their kids . . . but after reading that article about the parents justifying the cheating their kids were doing, I realized too many people spend too much time trying justifying bad or illegal behavior, making excuses, and not owning up to their mistakes.

    I just depressed myself.

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  28. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Stephen, though we officially got here a little before you, about halft of the ‘Rati broke in at the same time, and I think we all feel the same way – confused but also happy to have slipped under the wire and had our books traditionally published and promoted before the whole system changed.

    Excellent agent Miriam Kiriss boiled the path to becoming a writing career down into three simple steps:

    1. Write a great book.
    2. Get a great agent.
    3. Get famous.

    (and keep repeating #1).

    So the first two steps haven’t changed. But the method of # 3 might be changing A LOT. And there isn’t a proscribed path to fame. Look at Susan Boyle….

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  29. Alexandra Sokoloff

    I am being absolutely fascinated with the debate over what killed the newspapers. I do think it’s a different situation than the record business – there, the companies really didn’t understand the writing on the wall.

    But newspapers… that’s one of the few things I DO read on line. I stopped reading any papers at all when my screenwriter website people started linking to different articles on a a regular (even hourly) basis. Suddenly I had someplace to go where great articles and TV clips from all over the world were being vetted by smart, passionate people I trusted, and great discussion would follow. That beats all hell out of a newspaper and TV journalism. But I am terrified about what happens when those SOURCES of news go under. There will be nothing of value to link to.

    Reply
  30. Alexandra Sokoloff

    JT and Allison – just wanted to clarify that I DID NOT mean that we would be doing more selling of our own books in person! I won’t do that, either, and libraries almost always have a "Friends of the Library" society person who will sell books that a a local bookstore provides.

    What I meant is the kind of selling that we all do on line, at our websites, and blogs, and grogs, and interviews – that kind of thing. WE are going to be more and more our own advertisers.

    Unfortunately!

    Reply
  31. Bryon Quertermous

    It’s good to be back. They need to ‘t tell you when you have kids that sleep deprivation and brain exhaustion don’t happen immediately, it’s a slow, evil progression that makes you think you’re doing fine while everything around you falls apart.

    I’m sure Mike can sympathize about this same time.

    Reply

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