just came from the Writing for the Soul Conference in Denver. It’s
always an awesome conference, although attendance was down a little
this year, probably because of rising costs. Thanks, Washington.
At the conference, several
agents and editors sat around and talked about changes in the industry,
which of course centered on the emergence of the e-book. A lot of
things came out of this discussion, but the overall consensus was not
how to work with the situation as it now exists, but that it is a fluid
situation and will continue to change as technology evolves.
What does that mean? The Kindle
is king right now, driven by price point and the position that Amazon
commands in the e-book market. Will that continue? Those in the
discussion felt it depends on the evolving technology. There was a
feeling that the current e-readers are a first generation, and the
situation is up for grabs as the next generation arrives.
generation is thought to be more like the iPad with expanded
capabilities and features. So why isn’t the iPad leading the pack now?
A majority of e-readers are being given as gifts, and the difference
between the price point of e-readers and the iPad is making that
decision. But prices for electronics tend to come down as production
increases, so that situation may change.
More and more writers are going
straight to Kindle with their books. When I began receiving submissions
from authors who had published on Kindle, I surveyed over 200 editors
to see what their position would be on receiving these kinds of
submissions. It was as I expected: Over 70 percent said they weren’t
interested in a submission on a book that had already been published,
Some said that they might look
at it if the sales
were significant enough, but the Kindle version had to be withdrawn
first because the contracts require the e-book rights. So beware,
authors who choose to go straight to Kindle are jeopardizing print
possibilities. We may expect to see some changes there as well, but who
publishing may be a factor in smaller conference attendance, as well.
Newer writers who don’t see the need to improve their craft or to
network with agents and editors because they are going straight to
e-book aren’t spending the money to attend conferences; rather, they
are using that money to get their e-books out.
I believe those making
this choice will soon realize they are making a strategic mistake. Most
will not make the amount of money they would make with both print and
e-book, and with publisher support behind them. However, some are
money on just the e-book sales, which will capture the
interest of a publisher. In publishing, the success of a few that defy
the odds and make it big always drive the dreams of those who want to
do the same.
nothing is as constant as
change, and this emerging technology is fascinating to watch. For
example, women buy a majority of the books, and that has strongly
influenced acquisitions. But with e-readers, sales are proving to be
gender neutral. What? Yes, an equal number of men and women are buying
e-books. This will change the mix in what will be published.
I just saw a report that
included several other interesting facts: There is no disparity of
sales between regions of the country; urban book buyers buy more books
than rural book buyers; and while retirees say they have more time to
read, the fully employed buy more e-books.
The bottom line with the
discussion between editors and agents was that we are not seeing the
crest of the e-book revolution, and change will be the order of the
day. Are print books on the way out? No, because far too many people
like a print book in their hands. But it is an interesting time to be
involved in the publishing industry.