samantha-shakespeare asked: Helloo, how are you? I'm writing a project about the development of literature from manuscripts to printing press to books to e-readers, and I was wondering, as an author, what you thought of physical books verses e-readers and digital books? Do you think it's changed publication issues for authors? Do you believe the quality of released works has changed or not? Your opinions would be really helpful. Thanks.
At this point, with print on demand, physical books aren’t more expensive for authors or publishers to produce than ebooks (excepting the price for more costly cover art for print versions). However, paperback books are more expensive for consumers to buy. Also, ebooks offer consumers convenience that paperbacks can’t match. I read ebooks in my kids bedroom at night when I put them to sleep. My friends read ebooks when they commute on the bus or train. If the ebook you’re reading disappoints it is easy to download another from the cloud in minutes. It’s important to note that you don’t even really need to purchase a dedicated device for ebooks; Amazon and Barnes & Noble have free readers for cell phones and tablets.
Has this changed publication issues for authors? Yes, with the start-up costs for publishing being as low as $0, many more authors are skipping the traditional route and jumping in head first—whether they are ready or not.
Which brings me to the quality issue of your question. I think that ebooks have increased the variety and quality of books at both ends of the spectrum. On the one hand, there are a lot of books with authors who break the most basic of writing conventions—switching multiple POV within one paragraph is not uncommon! On the other hand, you get niche authors who could never make it in the traditional publishing world. When it came to publish I Bring the Fire I didn’t even try to go traditional. It isn’t the traditional paranormal romance, it has some heavy sci-fi elements, and along with magic it also has dinosaurs (they’ll be important in the final installment of the series, promise!)
Because ebooks cost so little, consumers are willing to take a shot on unknowns like me. So far my reviews have been good, and I’m building a loyal fanbase (the hardest part of self-publishing is getting name recognition). I think within a few years time I might actually be able to make writing my main source of income.
Don’t publish an anthology of books 1-3 before your fourth book comes out. I’d done it thinking I’d advertise it, thinking under normal circumstances no one would want to purchase a book from an unknown author for $7.50.
I was wrong—not by a lot, but 2 or 3 sales a day on Amazon add up to a lot. It was kind of great that people had so much faith in me, but it drove down sales of books 2-3 and bumped them to the second page of my genre. I “unpublished” it yesterday, and Monsters and Chaos are climbing the ratings again.
As someone who just published print versions of the first part of my series to Createspace and Amazon, this is interesting to me. However, expanding my distribution network to get to places like Books-a-Million would require I raise my prices. Right now my book is $8.99 on Createspace and $8.54 on Amazon (and eligible for Amazon Prime). For some reason, Createspace, my printer, doesn’t let you set different prices for different venues.