making books: internet man bites world progress publishing words
by Harry Connolly
I’ve had my first pint of coffee, caught up on (most of) my email, and skimmed my LJ friends list (thank you f-list). I decided not to dabble in today’s internet outrage, mainly because I don’t see why this is a big deal. Publishers have always released hardbacks first, then other editions later. If readers want to pay less, they have to wait.
I certainly do. While I am no longer clinging desperately from a slender sapling over the Cliffs of Bankruptcy, I still can’t afford to buy hardbacks. Earlier this week, I rushed to the new books section of B&N to pick up a copy of A Young Man Without Magic by Lawrence Watt-Evans (and to count the copies of Child of Fire they still had on the shelf–I know. I suck.) I’ve been waiting for this book for a while now, and when I saw it was a hardback, I had to put it back. That sucks for the author, but what can I do about it? Even trade paperbacks are a strain right now.
But for readers with the cash and the urgent desire to read now!, they can have the book in an expensive format.
As for e-books, it’s another format–and less profitable, too, especially since Amazon.com has been slashing prices so hard. Why is it such a shock that publishers are delaying their release? Various commenters in the linked post above claim that, if the e-book release is not the same day as the hardback, they will forget about it completely, which seems pretty doubtful to me. You also see the usual “I guess they want to encourage piracy!” statements, which isn’t worth addressing.
Also in the comments there, I believe I’ve seen the first instance in the historical record of a dedicated e-book reader stating that they would be willing to pay hardback prices for their e-books. Mark the date!
Jane at Dear Author thinks e-book buyers are “being punished” because of the ongoing price wars, which is not only wrong, but way too personal. Not being able to have the thing you want when you want it is not punishment.
It’s possible all this will change. It’s possible that someday movies will be released into movie theaters, on DVD, and on Netflix streaming on the same day. I guess. I’m just not particularly upset at having to wait for an edition I can afford, and I suspect that, in time, e-book audiences won’t be, either.
Added later: Or is it all about reining in Amazon.com?
Now, back to Man Bites World. I mentioned in a general way that yesterday was a productive day, but damn am I grateful for YouTube and its videos of “demonstration fires.” How did writers survive before the internet?
I still have fixes that need doing, but conceptually I think I have a handle on them. Now it’s just a matter of going through and addressing everything in square brackets (not to mention smooth out that prose. Christ.)