Thursday, August 12, 2010

Is the Paperback Losing its Grip to Ebooks? Does it Matter?

Dorchester Publishing has canned the mass market paperback and gone digital. You could feel the tremors across the publishing world as publishers, editor, agents and authors jockeyed for their one-line retorts or endorsements. Oh the horror . . . or it's a sign of things to come . . .

I shake my head every afternoon when I glance over the current events of the publishing world. It's change . . . it's growth . . . it's adaptation to both. And grown men and women are turning gray and wringing their hands at the sudden upheaval.

Dorchester did what was good for Dorchester. They are looking at the bottom line . . . in their pocketbook. They aren't contemplating what this means for other publishers, for Amazon, for Apple, for anyone else. With the majority of their works in the romance genre, they've recognized that the romance reader has embraced the e-reader. Why not go the ebook route?

But I read comments in chats and forums from published authors reminiscing about their typewriters, their days before the Internet made everyone a writer, and now they cry about ebooks.

It does not matter what the medium is. Seriously, people. Sell the dang book in whatever format sells.

Once upon a time, people adjusted to paperbacks, to noir then mystery, to graphic novels. One format doesn't make you more or less an author.


Ellie Garratt said...

I had a strange reaction to this post. At first I was deeply saddened. For me, nothing will beat the feel of a book in your hands. But if change is coming, and it is, we need to embrace it or lose out.

Alana said...

I love the physical book too. Sometimes I just get tired of being plugged in, and a book helps me to escape that. I don't mind the electronic age; I just hope it won't eventually snuff out the printed word.

Malcolm R. Campbell said...

Unfortunately, it does appear to matter, for one thing that's apparent as books go digital is that they're value has gone down in people's eyes.

An e-book is simply a file, not a hefty object you can hold in your hand or display on a shelf. So, nobody wants to pay for it. Look at the prices for Kindle books and the multiple formats at OmniLit and Smashwords. $5.99? $4.69? It's hard to make a living with retail prices that low, and what with the easy of copying and pasting words around the Internet, I think it's hard for readers to see that an e-book is much different than the stuff they stole off a website the week before.

So yes, I think it matters. It may be a part of an inevitable change we've been expecting ever since Star Trek showed characters with their fancy e-readers. It may be a good change. But for now, I think readers are looking for cheap, and when they get it, they don't think much of it.


Hope Clark said...

Yes, ebooks cost less. It takes less investment to make them, sell them. However, the net to the author is more than a paperback. Yes, you can make a living selling ebooks.

And while we may like to read physical books, the point is as authors we have to embrace all formats. What we like to read and what others like to read are often diverse. As authors we have to keep an open mind.

Anne Eston said...

I definitely think it matters. We may not be able to stop the change that's coming altogether, but I think it's important for those that still like to read print books to keep the demand (however much it is shrinking) alive. I think this is a case of people behaving a bit like Lemmings, and just following the next coolest thing. They aren't really stopping to think about how reading something electronically is a different experience, and in my opinion, not as rich. I'm with Ellie--nothing beats holding a print book in your hand. I say keep hope alive.

I also agree with Hope that as writers, we have to stay open to the mediums that are out there--ultimately, my goal is still to have people read what I write.

But as a reader, I'll keep buying print books until the last one is gone.