Two Snarklings (one good, one evil) have asked about e-books:

Hi Snarkie! (Snarkie?---yikes)

Would you please comment on e-books and ebook publishers. Is this a viable market?

Miss Snark Dear,

How does e-book publication rate these days with an agent or print editor as a publishing credit?

e-books are so not-viable that it annoys the crap out of me that publishers even want the rights, cause they have no useful way to exploit them. However, they learned from the audio book fiasco to hang on to everything they can get their greedy little mitts on so just in case e-books become money machines, the money will be in their coffers not mine.

Basically e-books are gimmicks. Yes people have them, yes, you can buy readers. Yes those people claim they are the wave of the future. No, no one I know actually reads books like this (but I'll bet this post will bring some of them out of the woodwork).

Once the e-book reader devices become more user friendly I think they'll take off. I don't think that's now, but I think it's coming. Maybe ten years, but that's just a wild ass guess.

And as for being published in e-book format, it's less the format I look at for "is this a legitimate publishing credit" than the review process. If an editor chose selected pieces to publish from a pool of submissions I'm more likely to take it seriously than "come on over and let's build a book in the barn Mickey" take all comers kind of approach.

I think e books will be used for text books and medical manuals and things that need regular updates before it will be used for entertainment reading. But, that's my opinion again, I have no independent info on that.


That Girl Who Writes Stuff said...

"Once the e-book reader devices become more user friendly I think they'll take off."

They also need to be waterproof so I don't fry my short-and-curlies if I drop it in the tub.

And as far as I know most people aren't looking to steal my copy of The Master and Margarita.

But they might swipe a fancy little e-reader.

And then what?

I'm bookless and suicidal.

Paper or plastic?

Paper, baby. Paper.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Hi Snarkie!

So, was I the "good" one or the "evil" one? You didn't say.

I get mixed reviews on this. I'm positive my mother thinks I'm the "good one." My oldest sister probably thinks I'm the "evil one."

So by which of those descriptions did you wish to define me?

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Oh! and thanks for the answer!

Charlie (Colorado) said...

I read them, Snarkie. (I like it!)

Of course, if they're of any size, I tend to read them having run them through my laser printer first ....

Problem Child said...

Uh-uh Miss Snark, you may have stirred up a hornets' nest with this one.

I'm waiting for the e-pubbed authors to swarm.

I don't know what it's like in other genres, but the romance community is sharply divided over this issue right now. E-pubbed authors are demanding the same recognition as traditionally (print) pubbed authors within RWA. It gets ugly at times.

Really ugly.

Many e-pubbed authors claim they're being treated like the red-headed step-child either becuase of the format of the book or the content (much of the erotic romance is e-pubbed.)

I don't know how many e-pubbed authors will take you on over this, but you and Yapp may want to keep a fire extinguisher handy for a few days...

But let me ask this...is erotic romance or erotica considered a "bad" publishing credit for a fiction writer? Assuming the e-publisher was legit, of course.

Sela Carsen said...

There's still only one e-pub that has stepped up to the ambivalent mark set by the RWA anyway -- Ellora's Cave -- which appears to be in the black, financially. Other e-pubs seem to come and go with barely a ripple.

Simon Haynes said...

Ebooks have a bad name for two reasons: One, anybody can post their slush online and call it a book. Two, the devices used to read them are not up to the job. And three, publishers are determined to lock up the content tighter'n a frog's rear end. Four, they charge the same amount as they do for the paper version.

On second thoughts, there are plenty of reasons to avoid ebooks (this from a programmer who writes ebook software ;-)

There is no answer to point number one. Yes, you could only buy known authors from big publishers and thus avoid the worst of the worst, but you'd also miss out on a lot of good stuff.

Point number two: Sony's new reader looks interesting. It's the first to market with electronic ink, which means the more light you shine on the page, the more readable it is (the reverse of LCDs and other active screens) More info here

Point three: Publishers won't support any ebook format which allows people to email their latest purchase to the rest of the planet.

Point four: Publishers will charge what the market can stand, and two dollar ebooks cheapen their value in the eye of the buyer. Free is even worse.

Anonymous said...

This is the wave of the future of which Miss Snark speaks but may not be aware, electronic ink:

"The Holy Grail of electronic ink technology is a digital book that can typeset itself and that readers could leaf through just as if it were made of regular paper. Such a book could be programmed to display the text from Ernest Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea," and once you've finished that tale, you could automatically replace it by wirelessly downloading the latest "Harry Potter" book from a computer database. In May 2000, E Ink CEO Jim Iuliano predicted that electronic books could be possible by 2003 or 2004. Xerox has introduced plans to insert a memory device into the spine of the book, which would allow users to alternate between up to 10 books stored on the device."


Mark said...

Ellora's Cave is porn and irrelevant in relation to actual books. ebooks are worthless except when free for download, as with the classics form UVA.

Diana Peterfreund said...

There goes that ugly you were mentioning, huh, Selah? ;-)

rabs said...

Are e-books any books available completely online?

My university offers electronic access to some books in its library. If the library has both an e-copy and a hard-copy, it's useful to see if the book has what you need before trekking down to check it out. But the software is pretty annoying for browsing through the book. And I tend to go a bit cross-eyed if I try to read more than a couple of pages like that [which is odd, since I read plenty of text on websites].

One thing that I've noticed is that they don't always put the *entire* book up in e-book form. I was interested in a book which was a translation of a medieval arabic memoir. The book purportedly had the arabic edition as well as a translation and an introduction but the e-book form was lacking the arabic text. I was very glad that our library had the physical book [it's very naughty to do primary source research in translation].

Maya said...

Simon: In addition to the Sony Reader which made a hit at the recent Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show and which is expected to retail between $300 and $400, there are two other e-book devices due to be launched this spring: iRex's iLiad and a device from a Chinese electronics company called Jinke. The Jinke device is expected to compete with Sony's Reader on features and performance.

Mark: Ellora's Cave prefers to describe their releases as erotic romance rather than porn. The number of their sales have also made the print industry sit up and take notice. Kensington, Dorchester, Avon, Tor/Forge and even staid old Harlequin have erotic romance lines available or planned.

Pepper Espinoza said...

Harlequin and Keningston not only have erotic lines planned (Spice and Aphrodesia respectively), they are also launching ebooks.

Erotica Romance does pretty well with epublishers (Ellora's Cave, Liquid Silver, Loose ID, Changling Press, and Whiskey Creek are all thriving. I'm getting a steady paycheck anyway) precisely because of the attitude exhibited by some in this thread--women don't want to be seen buying "porn" and they're not interested in explaining that "erotica romance" does not equal porn. So they buy it in the privacy of their own home through publishers they trust, by authors they know and love. That attitude might change now that publishers romance readers know (Kensington and Harlequin) are offering alternatives. I don't know.

Interestingly enough, it seems the horror market is also thriving online. I don't have a theory about that.

Four, they charge the same amount as they do for the paper version
Full size e-novels with the publishers I've worked with are much more moderately priced than "print" novels.

laurow said...

In case you need to explain your work to someone:


Introducing the new Bio-Optic Organized Knowledge device, trade named: BOOK

BOOK is a revolutionary breakthrough in technology: no wires, no
electric circuits, no batteries, nothing to be connected or switched
on.. It's so easy to use, even a child can operate it.

Compact and portable, it can be used anywhere -- even sitting in an
armchair by the fire-yet it is powerful enough to hold as much
information as a CD-ROM disc. Here's how it works:

BOOK is constructed of sequentially numbered sheets of paper
(recyclable), each capable of holding thousands of bits of
information. The pages are locked together with a custom-fit device
called a binder which keeps the sheets in their correct sequence.
Opaque Paper Technology (OPT) allows manufacturers to use both sides
of the sheet, doubling the information density and cutting costs.

Experts are divided on the prospects for further increases in
information density; for now, BOOKS with more information simply use
more pages.

Each sheet is scanned optically, registering information directly into
your brain. A flick of the finger takes you to the next sheet. BOOK
may be taken up at any time and used merely by opening it.

Unlike other display devices, BOOK never crashes or requires
rebooting, and can even be dropped on the floor or stepped on without
damage. However, it can become unusable if immersed in water for a
significant period of time. The "browse" feature allows you to move
instantly to any sheet, and move forward or backward as you wish. Many
come with an "index" feature, which pin-points the exact location of
selected information for instant retrieval. An optional "BOOKmark"
accessory allows you to open BOOK to the exact place you left it in a
previous session-even if the BOOK has been closed. BOOKmarks fit
universal design standards; thus, a single BOOKmark can be used in
BOOKs by various manufacturers. Conversely, numerous BOOK markers can
be used in a single BOOK if the user wants to store numerous views at
once. The number is limited only by the number of pages in the BOOK.

You can also make personal notes next to BOOK text entries with an
optional programming tool, the Portable Erasable Nib Cryptic
Intercommunication Language Stylus (PENCILS).

Portable, durable, and affordable, BOOK is being hailed as a precursor
of a new entertainment wave. Also, BOOK's appeal seems so certain that
thousands of contented creators have committed to the platform and
investors are reportedly flocking. Look for a flood of new titles

Crazy Chick said...

I work for a higher-ed textbook publisher. We do sell ebooks, for a lot of the books on my list, but while I think students find those helpful (they're cheaper, you can print them on to a hard copy and mark them up all you want, you can buy it instead of the whole book, etc.) in an educational atmosphere, I myself would be loathe to read a book from off a computer. It's hard enough to read my own stuff on the computer sometimes---no wonder my eyes are so bad. I agree with you, Miss Snark; viable option for academics, but until laser eye surgery gets so good that it can reverse complete and total blindness, I don't know how much good ebooks will do for the voracious readers of the world.

Keziah Hill said...

I've read lots of JD Robb, Suzanne Brockmann, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, erotic romance and other genre works via ebooks. I download them onto my memory stick and read them at work when it's slow. I like paper but I like the conveinence of ebooks. Lets face it, the 15 year olds of today are going to want everything on computer. I think you'll see a viable ereader that doubles or triples as an organiser and internet connection in 5-10 years. Maybe less. And man's porn is another woman's fun.

Keziah Hill said...

That should read one man's porn is another woman's fun Sigh.

Elektra said...

rabs, I have the same problem. theclassicslibrary is a Godsend when you want to find a particular line in a text, but when you're translating, you really need the book in front of you. I don't know why, but you do.

Martin J Ross said...

I do sometimes read e-books, usually from authors at Baen, and the e-books are more like a "midnight fix" then a prefered format. I have found some new favorite authors from the Baen free library, it was a good way to get to know new writers work risk free.

Anonymous said...

gee ... thanks for bursting my newly e-published bubble

Giles English said...

Judging from my humble small press sales figures, ebooks seem to be a popular format in the, ahem... more spicy end of the market (Google my name to see which market I mean). My hardcopy to ebook ratio is about 20%/80%. Suspect this is to do with the way people consume such material.

Sara's Stuff! said...

Ebooks are fun to make.^_^


December Quinn said...

Don't feel bad, anonymous. It depends a lot on which epublisher, and what kinds of books you write.

Let's not forget that Her Snarkalicious Majesty, although certainly The Most Fantastic Agent who Ever Walked This Earth, is not a romance agent-I'm assuming you may have epubbed in romance? As many of us here have?

Not being a romance agent, some of the epubs may not have blipped on the Snark Radar just yet.

I asked this question some time ago, and she repsonded that she would check out the publisher before making a decision on whether it's legit or not. So if your publisher is legit, don't worry so much. If you write genre, agents in your genre will know your publisher.

Congrats on being published.

And Mark...it's nice to see someone who knows everything popping in here. Maybe you can explain to us next what exactly is relevant to actual books, and how magazines fit in there, or children's books, or any books with content of which you do not approve and have apparently never read, but that "everybody knows" is crap. :rolleyes

kitty said...

Nothing like curling up with a good computer? Yeah, right.

Bernita said...

Laurow...Enjoyed that. Much.
Thank you.

Sylvia Hubbard said...

I can see you've been hit a lot about this subject.

I wouldn't necessarily say ebooks are the wave of the future but I've made a pretty nice chuck of change from them so I can't say they are bad for business.

They also are helpful in drumming up readership for my future works, so I can't complain about that either.

But everyone has their opinion and maybe you should try one just to see if you'd enjoy it.

I mean a few years ago the music business was saying downloaded music would never be popular.

Nowadays, you can download books on palm devices, handheld game devices and even overseas, they've made it possible for you to download books on cell phones.

Just in case you were interested in my ebooks, check out my website at SylviaHubbard.com.

I also teach about Internet Marketing and have published a book that includes about advantages about e-publishing.
Short time fan of your blog

Short term fan of your writing:

Sylvia Hubbard

Charity said...

This past Christmas, I bought my husband a new e-book reader because his old one only took one format and he was getting tired of using a program he found on the net (cough, cough) to convert the other books he downloaded.

Granted, he’s a techie. But he probably reads 70/30 e-book to paperback ratio. He travels a lot for his job, so all he needs to take is his e-book reader. He downloads from Baen and the free public domain sites, but not really from the smaller e-pubs. At one point, he didn’t even know they existed. I’m not sure what that says about their marketing, but then, the ones I know of are mostly geared toward women.

Me? I hate reading on the screen (and I see where Miss Snark is coming from when she says she prefers hard copy queries). It’s what I do all day long as a tech writer. If I have an e-published friend, I’ll wait for the company to issue the book in trade paperback.

Note to That Girl Who Writes Stuff: Watch out for me. I will steal your copy of The Master and Margarita.

Anonymous said...

As an individual, I love e-books. I discovered them 3 years ago, and I read them all the time. They have the advantage of being portable and private, so you can take them on a trip and read them anywhere. I read at least one book a day (I'm a fast reader), and I was able to take 40 e-books on my trip to Egypt in a device the size of a deck of cards, rather than take up luggage space for 40 paperbacks.

As a librarian, I don't think e-books are "ready for prime-time." The problem is the publisher's (probably justified) paranoia about losing profits. We have e-books from Net-Library in our collection, but I don't think they get much use. Personally, I find the "check out for 3 hours then it goes away" model annoying. Also, I have noticed that the faculty don't much like e-books. In ILL, we get a lot of requests for print copies of items that we have in e-book format -- not because they don't know we have the e-book version, but because the faculty member simply doesn't want the e-book version.

Mags said...

*runs out of woodwork*

*waves antennae at Killer Yapp*

*runs back into woodwork before KY can get me*

I still mostly read hard copy books, but I download out of copyright classics from gutenberg.org all the time--love it. Also I like trying new authors (as has been pointed out, e-books tend to be cheaper) and you can buy short stories and novellas as e-books, which gives readers a good opportunity to "sample" an author's work without laying out a lot of dosh, and gives authors a chance to showcase work that otherwise wouldn't be published, or only in magazines with limited readership.

I have a Tungsten E2 on order, as I've wanted a PDA for years and finally decided which one I want, and I plan to download novellas and short stories (at least) from Fictionwise.com in case I get stuck somewhere with no book or a boring book. I'm excited about it, but as many have pointed out, it will never replace paper for me. E-books are complementary to hard copy for me. Everyone else's mileage may vary. :-)

Maya said...

Keziah put her finger on the main issue. The kids of today are completely comfortable working from a computer screen. If you don't believe me, check your local university. I have a friend who is the CFO of a major university and they are struggling to convert their system so that students can access library material on line. The kids just don't want to go to the library.

Also take a look at today's Wall Street Journal for an article on the Sony Reader. Here's the link:


I worship Miss Snark, but don't agree with her on this one.

Anonymous said...

Ellora's Cave is porn??

SWEET! I am SO there!

Other than that it's been my experience that some branches of e-publishing are rather like a garage sale: anyone can open a site, and they sell the crap no one else wants.

Margaret said...

Dear Miss Snark,

A year ago I published my first business book through iUniverse. It sold less than 1,000 copies but I did get some positive reviews from legitimate reviewers.

This month I finished writing my second business book, which could stand alone but would be more suitably published as a second in a series (I have two more planned to round out the series).

This week I started searching for an agent to represent the second book and to my surprise and delight I received requests from six(!) agencies to read the manuscript based on my query letter alone.

My question for you is this. If I do land an agent, should I propose the idea of selling this as a series (I dissolved my relationship with iUniverse and retained all the rights to my first book) or will being published through iUniverse hurt my chances of reselling the first book with the rest?

Dave Kuzminski said...

While I always liked libraries both for the references they contained and the fair representation of fiction many also possessed, I was never enthusiastic about their card catalogs for looking up the right information. Too often, it depended upon someone else's idea of what keys were relative and many were simply too obscure to anyone not knowledgeable about some subjects. In other words, your ignorance and your available time worked against you even if you knew how to look something up.

Comparing that to the current Internet with its search engines, I can more often find what I'm seeking regardless of the key search terms I'm using and whether those match what others more knowledgeable believe is more appropriate.

As to reading books in print or on screen? Well, print is nice and convenient for taking to the beach or pool, but the screen provides font sizing and other features that simply can't be ignored. In other words, both have significant advantages over the other that make each desirable. I believe that both have a future.

Bernita said...

That future, she whispered, depends on an every increasing and stable source of electric power.

Anonymous said...

e-publishing are rather like a garage sale: anyone can open a site, and they sell the crap no one else wants ... yeah but I will be making money off my book

new published ebook gal ~ slightly bruised but no less determined

Sal said...

bernita sed, That future, she whispered, depends on an every increasing and stable source of electric power.

... or getting some sort of hookup between the e-book battery and that stationary bicycle or whatever.

As part of our earthquake supplies (San Francisco residents, eh?), we have flashlights that have some sort of gizmo inside so you shake them for five minutes to get twenty minutes of light and radios that have a handcrank, five minutes of cranking for something like a half-hour of life.

Say ... might be a way to get us off our duffs if we have to shake or crank the e-book battery for a wee bit every time we want to veg out for a bit of reading time.

Grady said...

I bought the e-book of David Foster Wallace's Rolling Stone article "Up, Simba!" about the McCain campaign. It was the longer, original version of the article, before RS cut it heavily to make it fit. e-publishing was a pretty neat way to go for this, because it wasn't publishable in any other format except as an article in a book.

Now it's out as an article in Consider the Lobster. I enjoyed (re-)reading it in book form more than on my 4"x2" PDA, or even on the 17" monitor. (Yes, I read the thing three times - don't ask.) I think the experience of reading a book is dramatically different when you change the medium, unlike listening to music, where CD players and computers and iPods produce pretty much the same listening experience.

It's a neat technology though, especially for novellas and other unusual works that don't quite fit into a major publisher's business model. I can't imagine anybody trying to establish a career with it though - it'd do about as much good as putting it into a PDF file and emailing it around to people.

Kate R said...

I wasn't big on ebooks until I had to travel a lot and got tired of hauling a huge pile of books along with me. I load a bunch up on my laptop and look like I'm working while I read my . . .smut.

Now I'm just as likely to read an ebook as a regular book--particularly in bed because the laptop provides its own light and I don't have to mess with the itty bitty booklight to appease the whiney husband.

Anonymous said...

Oh Puh-leese. Ebooks are just like any other books. Some are good, some are bad. I've read a few paperbacks that would make excellent fire-starter material and I've read ebooks that have kept me up all night 'turning the damn page'.

For me, its the words, baybee. If it's a good book, put it out there in BOTH formats. And someone mentioned how our kids look to eletronics first. Yep, and that trend will only continue. Nextel has a new phone that runs on windows... Hello... reading my books on my PHONE peoples. Hows that for convenient.

EC doesn't NOT publish porn. And if anyone thinks they do, well... hmmm... you have led a very sheltered life and I would highly suggest a subscription to Penthouse Forum for your next birthday. THAT is porn.

Another misconception: EC is the only epublisher 'making it'. They are the most successful, but they aren't the only one operating in the black, they aren't the only one offering great reads.

Miss snark seems to have confused epublishing with vanity press, as well. The only epublishers I've ever submitted to have a review process. You don't just 'get in' for the submitting. The selection process can be just as tough as any NY house. The wait can be just as long.

A lot of agents don't like epublishing because of the money. For the moment, epub doesn't pay advances, and if they do, not in the dollar figure that would make Snarkie-poo sit up and take notice. So what? When (from my keyboard to God's ears) I get an agent, the last thing I want him/her to do is sub me to epublishers. I am working in the eworld just fine and have no intention of sharing my dollars with an agent in that regard. But I'm pubbed in print AND epress intentionally becuase I want the best of both worlds.

End of rant.

Mank said...

Remember the words of Bill Sampson to Eve Harrington:

"The theatuh, the theatuh - what book of rules says the theater exists only within some ugly buildings crowded into one square mile of New York City? Or London, Paris, or Vienna? Listen, junior. And learn. Want to know what the theater is? A flea circus. Also opera. Also rodeos, carnivals, ballets, Indian tribal dances, Punch and Judy, a one-man band - all theater. Wherever there's magic and make-believe and an audience - there's theater. Donald Duck, Ibsen, and the Lone Ranger. Sarah Bernhardt and Poodles Hanneford, Lunt and Fontanne, Betty Grable, Rex the Wild Horse, Eleanora Duse - they're all theater. You don't understand them, you don't like them all - why should you? The theater's for everybody - you included, but not exclusively - so don't approve or disapprove. It may not be your theater, but it's theater for somebody, somewhere...It's just that there's so much bourgeois in this ivory green room they call the theater. Sometimes it gets up around my chin."

What book of rules says that a book has to be born of a felled oak....

bibliobuffet said...

E-books have their place, I guess. I know someone who travels five days a week year round for his business, and it works perfectly for him. (Can you imagine carrying that many books around?) But ...

when I lie in bed at night, and look up at my built-in bookcases filled with old books, new books, hardcover books, trade paperback books, dust jackets, leather, thin books, thick books, read books and books waiting to be read I sigh with happiness. Virtual ink will never replace that contented feeling.

bonniers said...

Yes, the age of the reader has a lot to do with it. My 21-year-old son won't read anything that's not in electronic format. He says a paper book is too heavy and awkward and hard to read.

I have read a fair amount of reading material in electronic format, most of it the kind I wouldn't want my mother to know I was reading (though it wouldn't surprise me if she's reading it too). Most of it I wouldn't want in hard copy, under the "burn the evidence" theory of survival.

I'm not an epubbed author, so I have no axe to grind. But I wouldn't mind being epublished if I was writing in that genre. At least I'd know my readers were enthusiastic.

Flek von Danizar said...

To paraphrase a (dreadfully simplified)Marshall Mcluhan:

The medium is the message.

While this may be a very subtle case, in the change from plant by-product to giddy electrons, the experience of reading changes... for the worst (if you're asking me).
I abhore reading from a screen. I miss a lot. My head aches after a while and my eyes stop focusing properly. Aannnddd, I love books. Sure, the words themselves are the most important factor,but they're not all that matters.
This is coming from one of those so-called techy whippersnappers. I'm 17, thus, have spent my life with computers. Nonetheless, I speak for my age group when I say that not everyone under twenty is a technophile.
(signed, a newly addicted snarkling)

Anonymous said...

Bonniers said:

"He says a paper book is too heavy and awkward and hard to read."

How heavy are the reader devices? I assumed they were more cumbersome than a paperback.

This is a fascinating discussion with tons of thoughtful comments. Thanks to all who've contribued their experiences and insights.

Tribeless said...

For what it's worth I disagree. I've been reading solely on a Casio PocketPC now for probably four years (one novel on average every two or three weeks, plus a large quantity of short stories and journals). For me it is the most convenient way to read.

Once the new Sony E-ink reader comes out my wife will be reading all her content in e-format also.

Palm's reading format is the model that should be followed for a successful market - Microsoft were the biggest killers, initially, of ebooks, with their absolutely dreadful Reader software and DRM policies. Because Amazon took on their idiot model, that did almost see the market still born. With Palm, though, I think the market is almost over that, and I believe it will be the future (certainly for myself anyway).

bonniers said...

Dear anonymous --

My son doesn't use a reader device. He reads on the screen. He has two flat-panel monitors hooked up so they double his screen real estate and he can make the font size large if he wants to. He doesn't seem to have any issues with the flexibility that a paper book provides -- it's just not how he arranges his life.

It's an entirely different way of viewing the world. I find myself quite bemused sometimes as I sink into a bubbly bath with the paperback of the moment. I suspect that it's just a matter of what one is used to, and as the percentage of people who always read on screen goes up, the rest of us will become outdated anomalies.

Kate R said...

I don't paper readers need to wring their hands with worry and ebook readers shouldn't get their knickers in a knot either. It's just not an either/or world for a reader. Heck, we're talking the best of all P.W.'s. More choices = GOOD. More ways to read = fantastic.

I'm not about to haul my laptop on the bus just to read and I don't want to take a suitcase of books when I get on an airplane.

It's not just opportunities for places to read, it can mean branching out and checking out lots of new authors. I love the fact that I can get a edgy, sometimes brilliant, book online for not as much money as I'd have to shell out for some trade paperback. When the book ends up being trash, I'm not as pissed off.

Then when that author ends up in print, I can pay more for her books with confidence. (of course now that I write that I recall that I went the opposite path. Mass-market print books first and ebooks second.)

Pepper Espinoza said...

For the moment, epub doesn't pay advances, and if they do, not in the dollar figure that would make Snarkie-poo sit up and take notice.

I sold two novels to two different epublishers this month. Both will receive advances. Neither publisher will attract agents at this point, but they both offer advances.

I do wonder if people are even aware of what epublishing means, sometimes. It's not the same as slapping up a website or posting on a blog. All my books have gone through a vetting process, and I have the rejections to prove it. All of my books have been edited extensively. All my of covers are professionally designed and rather quite lovely. I even bought the canvas of the cover of my first novel because it was so beautiful. I get paid on a regular basis. I can find my books at a variety of online sites. My latest sale will be in bookstores as well.

Yep, sounds like vanity publishing to me!

Maya said...

Sal: I was listening to NPR recently and they talked about a village that lost all its power during the sunami. A company showed up with small portable generators attached to stationary bicycles. For thirty minutes pedaling, they get electricity for a couple of hours. Who'd-a thunk?

To the Anonymous who asked about the size of e-readers: You can read books on a PDA, which is pretty small. However, the new Sony Reader, which is easier on the eye than a PDA, is less than 9 ounces and about the size of a paperback. I'm waiting to see the other e-readers due out in spring before buying one.

Kate R: I'm with you. It's about choice and having a variety of mediums. Take a look at what Mark Cuban is doing with movies later this week. It's called day-and-date releasing. Steven Soderbergh's latest film, "Bubble" will be released on film and on HD TV on the same day and on DVD four days later. Wal-Mart and theatre owners are foaming at the mouth. But it's about choice.

Anonymous said...

Pepper said: I sold two novels to two different epublishers this month. Both will receive advances. Neither publisher will attract agents at this point, but they both offer advances.

Yep, some e-houses do offer advances. I've sold about five books to a house that does. Most don't, though, but that's just finers with me at this point. I foresee a future where they ALL do. I'm a glass half-full kinda gal. My argument was that an established lit agent isn't/shouldn't be interested in selling their client's work somewhere that the payoff isn't going to pay that exhorbinent rent Miss Snark mentioned a bit ago.

The advance I received from my print house, of course, was about 800 times as large as my e-advance, for the record, but an advance is just that... an advance. We all know that.

One thing I forgot to mention in my post before: regarding the cost of an ebook vs. a print book.

K--- here's the thing. The VALUE of the book doesn't change just because the format does. The WORDS in Gone With the Wind are just as enlightening, profound and entertaining on a phone, in a print book, or on the computer screen. Doesn't matter. The author went through the same blood, sweat, tears, editing, editing, editing and editing regardless of whether those words are digital or typeset.

So why shouldn't they cost relatively the same? Because the ehouses 'don't pay to have the book printed'? Not good enough. The ehouse still has to pay an artist, host a website, maintain it, pay their editors, pay royaties, pay for advertising and *lest we forget* make a profit.

My words are VALUABLE. If you want to read them, you have to pay to do so. I'm not meaning to sound *cough-snarky-cough* but it's true. I'm not trying to sound conceited, but this is how we make our livings. Especially early on, authors can earn as little as 1.00 per hour to write a book (that was my average hourly 'wage' for my first book when calculating the advance and first year sales). Just some food for thought.

Debra Kemp said...

May I suggest EPIC's website for those who would like to learn more about the e-pubbing world? We sponsor the annual EPPIE awards, host the annual EPICon. The website is a showcase for our memebers. Come sample the variety and quality available before dismissing it.


Debra Kemp said...

Oops! I meant >members<. I really do know how to spell.

Jules Jones said...

[grin] I'm still catching up after some time mostly offline, so I actually stumbled into "look what this evil and ignorant agent has said" on a romance loop before I saw the thread here. At which point I chucked in some hard numbers, because I hang around with sf authors who love the idea of ebooks but also get to see the royalty statements. Several thousand paperbacks vs around 80 ebook copies in one royalty period in a genre that's not technology-hostile says it all. I know people who've shifted far more electronic copies, but those were the free downloads offered in the (usually correct) belief that they would boost sales of the print version -- people are much more inclined to download just on spec if they don't have to pay for it.

I'm epubbed myself, with a publisher (Loose Id) that is selective and believes in editing and proof-reading. I know they believe in editing, because I've just sent the edits on the current book back to my editor. :-) That's been noticed by some of the readers, because there have been comments about buying selectively from the house because of the quality of the editing and proof-reading.

And still my sales figures are small press numbers. I'm not quite comparing like with like, because I'm familiar with the science fiction world and my cross-genre books happen to be published by a romance house. But the sales figures for my books are well below the requirements for a qualifying market for SFWA membership.

People who are already into ebooks tend to have a distorted view of how many other people are. They hang around in the relevant online forums, they talk to other ebook readers. They forget that they're seeing a self-selected sample, and that they are not (yet) typical of the book-buying public. It'll change as the readers get cheaper and more comfortable to use, but even then the thought of losing hundreds of dollars' worth of ebooks on a damaged or stolen reader would put me off buying the sort of ebooks that are locked to a single machine.

Miss Snark said...

evil and ignorant?
wow, I like myself better already.


what part of "I think they'll take off" wasn't clear?
What part of "wave of the future" wasn't clear?

I'm thinking electrons have fried brains.

Maya said...

For those of you who believe Ellora's Cave is only porn, take a look at their publisher's advice on the top ten things the EC editors look for in submissions.

I'm reviewing the list on my blog.