Claude Bouchard Books

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Ramble On

Are Ebooks and Indies Killing Big Name Authors?

Posted by bigceebee on January 7, 2012 at 10:20 AM

I have forever been an avid reader and I've had a TBR backlog for years. Back when books were printed paper things, the backlog tended to be at around forty books at the high end and ten or so at the low end. When I'd reach that low, I'd head to the bookstore and buy a bagful of books because I don't like to run out of stuff.

I just checked my TBR print pile and found I have forty-five novels waiting for my attention. Books by Larssen, Clancy, Cornwell, Koontz and others lay on the shelf, most which have been there for a couple of years or more. You see, we don't buy many print books anymore as both my wife and I prefer using our Ereaders. This preference has led us away from the physical bookshelf and to the electronic one instead which in turn is having a direct impact on authors such as the ones I mentioned above.

The impact I refer to is as follows: Chances are small that any such big name authors' books will end up on our Ereaders because they are overpriced. When I was buying paperbacks at anywhere from $8.99 to $11.99, I was acquiring physical, manufactured products at what I felt were reasonable prices considering resources used to make and distribute them. Today, the same or similar books in Eformat are retailing from $9.99 to $14.99. Do the trees they use to make electronic files cost more than the ones used for paper? Is the Ebook printing process more intricate and costly than offset printing? Do the truck drivers who deliver Ebooks command a higher wage than those who deliver print books? Or is it simply the exorbitant cost of required bits and bytes?

The end result, in this household's case, has been that indies are getting our undivided attention to the detriment of big name authors and I'm sure we're not alone. As time goes by, we continue to discover excellent writers with fascinating stories rivalling those from the traditional side. There is an abundance of talent amongst independent authors offering quality literary works at reasonable prices for the reading public which begs the question, are Ebooks and indies killing big name authors?

I'm an indie thriller writer. Give me a try at a reasonable price:

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Reply N.V. Binder
05:17 PM on January 07, 2012 
I do think that a lot of mainstream ebooks are overpriced. But ebooks are not costless just because they're not physical. Speaking as a librarian (with some archival training) the cost of data storage, maintenance & transmission is huge and growing every year.

Just as the relatively high cost of paper books supported the whole manufacturing, sales and delivery structure of the old model, so the price must be made up somewhere for the establishment and maintenance of the equipment that delivers stories through the air. There are are also costly security risks that come with maintaining a giant website like Amazon's. Not to mention, authors have to eat. Can advertising support the whole thing? Not if we want to continue to have high-quality ebooks.

I am an indie author too, and my first story is free because I want people to read it. However, this is a loss-leader for me, and if I want to make an income from my writing, I will have to make that cost up somehow. I want to put out a good book, so I'm hiring a cover designer and editor. These are in-demand skills. I can eat the cost for a little while to support my writing, just like entrepreneur with start-up costs. However, eventually my writing will at least have to pay this team, or I won't be able to afford them anymore. That means I'll have to price my books a little higher.

I think it will be OK. Traditional publishers are in a bind because they're carrying a lot of weight at the top, as well as supporting a manufacturing infrastructure that probably isn't going to make it to the next decade. That's why they keep raising prices and screwing with DRM.

Leaner indies may be able to boost a smaller support staff of freelance designers, illustrators and editors, while still producing a good product at a price that works for everyone. But we have to be careful that we don't overshoot, and end up devaluing content to the point where writers can't make a living.
Reply Mari Stroud
11:21 PM on January 07, 2012 
I wonder about this myself. Indie books have an overwhelmingly better chance of winding up on my ereader simply because traditionally published books are so friggin' expensive. If I do still read a paper book, I get it out of the library so that I can give it back rather than have it cluttering up my house further.
Reply Jesi Lea Ryan
11:44 PM on January 07, 2012 
I have to agree with you. I have been reading a lot of indie and mid-list authors because I can get their books on my Nook at affordable prices. The big publishing houses better get a new business model together pretty quickly if they want to continue to complete. It will be interesting to see what happens with the government investigations into their price fixing of ebooks.
Reply Louise Sorensen
10:32 AM on January 08, 2012 
I don't know if this is true, but the traditional publishing houses don't seem to be adapting. Yet.
It is an interesting developement.
I read so much on the internet, I haven't needed to buy an ereader, but soon.
I'll check out your books.
Just keep them in front of twitter every now and then as a reminder.
Reply Valerie@Life4mebyme
02:14 PM on January 08, 2012 
I completely agree. My mom and I at one time (last year) would purchase anywhere between 5-10 books a month to feed our reading habits. Now with our new kindle we haven't purchased a non-ebook since. It is too easy to go with the ebook and so much cheaper.
Reply Charles Whipple
12:39 AM on January 09, 2012 
At least you're SELLING what you write instead of giving it away. Someone crowed the other day that they had given away 4500 copies of a free novel. Huh? I thought 4.99 was a good price for an eBook. Then it went to 2.99. Now the benchmark seems to be 99 cents, with people tending to give away hoards of books. I've made a living as a writer since 1976. I have several novels published, which add little to my income. I am paid more for one magazine article that for five novel advances, and none of my eBooks have contributed significantly to my income. Why are so many authors willing to give their work away? Does that say they value their work at zero? Is that an indication of their own evaluation of their creativity? I'd like to see this made rush toward zero stop. I can hope, but knowing the American consumer, I may hope in vain.
Reply Deanna Sletten
10:54 AM on January 09, 2012 
Ever since getting my Kindle, I have been amazed at the high price of the "known" author's eBooks. For $9,99 - $15.99 I can buy a physical copy! This, along with the fact that I am an Indie author, has made me a fan of the Indie writer! There are a lot of great authors out there - people really need to give new writers a try.
Reply Leslie
10:59 AM on January 09, 2012 
Not a big ebook fan. Sometimes I can only snatch minutes at a time to feed my literary craving. I have no desire to have to turn on my book and cuddle up to a machine. And if you spend electricity free time, ie camping, daytripping, sketching, or just out and about, I never need to "charge" my books. Says a bit about how much you rely on technology to entertain you if original talent is 'high priced' and you look for substitutions to fit your machine, instead of your tastes. I'm worth the few extra dollars or the time spent seeking used and books that are more affordable or I can trade back for others. In this age, original talent and imagination is one of the only absolutely irreplaceable things in this world. Good luck with the cheapies. I remain an old-fashioned girl. And loyal to my favorites. So much of this world is you get what you get, as if we have no standards to meet anymore. Not going happen in my library.

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