Archive | June, 2011

The Case Against Ebook Prices – a Rant

23 Jun

I am one of the biggest fans of the Kindle you will ever meet.
I never understood the point to e-book readers, despite having bought several digital books since Dean Koontz released The Book of Counted Sorrows back when I was a kid. Why invest $200 in an e-book reader when the book you want is only $7.99? But, by the time I got this wonderful job I have now, I had been pinching pennies for months and needed to buy myself something nice. I don’t know what possessed me to do it, but I decided to invest in a Kindle as a treat to myself. My boss had one, our UI guy had one, and I saw them on Muni and Bart all the time; Borders was closing up shop in the city, and I was running out of space for dead-tree books in my room, and–well, I don’t know. I just wanted something different, so a Kindle came my way.

E-Bookery

It changed my life, the Kindle. Over my college years, I can count the number of books I read on two hands. I read nothing after graduating, save for a great book on how to get a job. But something about the Kindle–maybe it’s portability, or the font adjustment, or the fact I can read it while taking the bus without getting motion sickness–got me reading a lot more. I plow through four novels a month easily, sometimes hitting five if the books are Middle Grade or YA length. I’m not saying this applies to everyone who owns a Kindle, but I can say that, in my case, reading has become easier now that I use one.
But recently, I’ve discovered a major problem with the Kindle market, and that would be e-book pricing.

I don’t know how much work goes in to digital publishing. I know that publishing a printed book is about fifteen percent of the costs that go into giving us a Dead Tree novel, so it seems to me that printing DIGITALLY would be relatively cheaper. That is one of the benefits to owning a Kindle, right? We don’t have to pay for the added cost of print! Royalties, rights, marketing, editing, whatever Amazon shaves off the profits–alright, I’ll pay for that. But does it cost a publisher more to release a digital book than a paperback?

Maybe it does. But if I’m going to pay paperback price or higher for a digital novel, I want to know that care and love was put into it’s release. It shouldn’t be too hard, right?
Apparently, it’s very hard.

Story Time.

The Kindle introduced me to the writing of one of my now favorite writers, so I eagerly purchases his earlier work when I finished his “big” series. To my disappointment, the Kindle price was the same price as the paperbacks, but I bought them anyway.

It wasn’t worth it.

His writing was, as usual, fantastic. It was the PUBLISHER who made it not worth my time. On top of multiple errors in the digital edition, there were jumbled paragraphs–half a line would be missing, only to show up a few sentences later. Reading the book was like deciphering a code. The story was a mess of jibberish.

Naturally, I complained to the publisher. “I don’t want ____’s books to gain a bad reputation because you don’t check for these sorts of errors,” I wrote. “I don’t want a refund, because I want to continue to support this author’s work, but until you fix these gross errors, I’m not going to purchase anymore of your digital work.” Had the prices for the books been less than the paperbacks, I wouldn’t have been so disappointed–but they were selling poorly formatted digital books for the same price as their perfectly formatted printed books.

I thought I was done with unfair prices, and moved past my disappointment. With e-books outselling print books now nearly 3 to 1, (according to B&N) e-books and their platforms have been booming. Almost any new release in the wonderful world of reading sees a digital release nowadays, and it makes sense that so many prefer the digital copy. After all, when a new hardcover is $20, an e-book is  $10.
But when the paperback comes out at $8 and the e-book remains $10, there is a problem.

Outrageous!

The Crummy Costs of E-Bookery.

I can understand that there is a lot of money involved in bringing us a quality piece of literature, digital or not, but I don’t understand why a paperback would be cheaper than an e-book. There is no added cost for printing and e-books never run out of stock. When I see a novel in the Kindle Market that costs more than the paperback equivalent, I feel as if we readers are being taken advantage of. If a book has been out long enough to have a paperback, the price of the e-book should not be higher than a printed copy–and certainly no higher than 9.99. Because, when it comes down to it, we’re not buying a book: We’re buying a license to read that book. We can’t give the book away when we’re done with it. We can’t lend it to friends. (Theoretically we can, but that depends on the publishers… and of the fifty books I have on my Kindle right now, not one is capable of being borrowed by a friend with a similar device.) If we switch to a new e-book reader–like the Nook–we can’t bring our Amazon library with us. While reading e-books has its advantages, e-books do not possess the same privileges as a paperbacksor a hardcovers.  This is a fact that I, an avid e-book fan, can admit. So when the price of an e-book exceeds that of its printed equivalent, the part of my brain that runs on logic gets a bad case of the hiccups. (The same happens when I encounter plot holes in Doctor Who.)
To make matters worse, I’ve found Kindle books on Amazon that are priced $16.99 and over–a preposterous price to pay to read a book. The book looks great, and I’m not dogging on the writers or on the content of the novels. The Publishers, however, must be stopped.

Outrageous prices for e-books takes away from one of the most tantalizing aspects of the e-book reader. Within two months of purchasing my Kindle, the device had already paid for itself–books were cheap and classics were free. It was that aspect of the Kindle that convinced me it was worth a purchase. Now, with digital prices higher than printed prices, I fear that e-book readers may suffer a decline. Or even worse… that people will buy these books at their ridiculous prices, convincing those in charge of the market that it’s OK to overcharge us because that is what we’re willing to pay.
Well, I’m not willing to pay those prices.

Rowling’s Digital Wizardry

PotterMania.

Rowling will be releasing her Harry Potter series digitally in a few months, and while I am thoroughly excited to give Harry another go with my Kindle, I worry about the cost. If Rowling charges $9.99 or more for her digital books, the market is doomed to a logic deficit. Yes, I’m leaving the fate of the e-book market on Rowling’s shoulders. Why? Because her fans are insane and they will buy her series digitally, despite owning the hardcover editions, the paperbacks, the UK versions and the US versions. If it’s okay for Harry Potter to cost 13.99 as an e-book, it’s okay for other publishers to tack such prices on their books, as well.

 

To Summarize


The business of E-bookery is booming, which has had wonderful effects on the publishing industry and on us readers on go. Books have become more accessible and the Kindle has changed my life as a reader.

Dark forces are afoot, manipulating the prices of e-books based on demand, rather than giving us good quality and fairly priced digital novels.

E-books have a tendency to be plagued with errors, especially when scanned in via a printed page. If the book is cheap, well, you can live with the errors. If the book is priced the same as the paperback, or MORE, and still has these errors, something is WRONG.

In fact, if an e-book is priced more than the paperback, something is DEFINITELY WRONG.

Elizabeth Gilbert on Nurturing Creativity

7 Jun

This was a wonderful watch. I thought I’d share it with you all!

Backing Up That Novel-in-Progress: How Do You Do It?

7 Jun

Hey all,

I wanted to bring up the subject of backing up your WIP. We’ve all lost important data due to computer failures, thefts, and accidental deletions. So how do you ensure your work is safe?

Thumb Drives

Some of us back up our work on nifty thumb drives. These are relatively cheap: a 2 gigabyte thumb drive, which is more than enough to store your manuscript and notes, ran at less than $15 last I purchased one, and that was ages ago. They’re convenient to carry, as they can fit on your key ring, and are fairly reliable with proper care. The downside to thumb drives is it’s easy to mishandle them and you could potentially lose your data. They’re also easy to lose… I’ve lost more than my fair share by leaving them plugged in to public computers or simply dropping them while traveling.

Email

Google is amazing. You can do so much with it… saving your stuff in Google Docs, emailing yourself important files (within a reasonable size limit,) even view Powerpoint Slides if you wanted. Personally, I have not used google docs for anything but work related purposes, so I won’t talk about the wonders of that Google aspect. But I have used email to backup my work. It’s a fine way to keep several versions of your work available, and you can always view the work (using Docs) if you’d like to read what you’ve done on-the-go. However, you end up with several copies of the same darn thing you worked on, with only a few extra pages here and there; its also a bit of a hassle to email it to yourself. And what if you forget to do so?

The Cloud

My favorite method is storing my work in the cloud. I’ve mentioned that I use DROPBOX, a free-to-use file sharing program that stores up to 2 gigabytes between any computers you see fit to use, as well as on the website. The website stores backup versions, as well… so if you deleted something you shouldn’t have, you have a little time to retrieve it. Need more than 2 gigabytes? $10 a month gives you up to 50 gigabytes of storage space. The con to using Dropbox is also one of the pluses: sharing across multiple computers can leave your work vulnerable to snooping eyes. Make sure you only install it on machines you know you alone will be using.

 

Do you have a preferred method of backing up? I’d love to hear about it!

Personal Update: 80 Pages Strong

7 Jun

Hello, everyone!

I apologize for not posting anything for almost 2 weeks. Please forgive me! I had a friend visiting from LA, and barely had time to write my novel… let alone my blog. After this little break, however, I have tons of stuff to talk about… including the blogs I meant to post last week!

My personal update: It is with great pride that I say I have completed my May goal. My monthly goal, as you all might know, is 10k words. May saw 13k+ words! Go me!

Unfortunately, I wrote myself into a dead-end of sorts, and I’ve had to go back to do some rewriting. Act I will see some rewriting and additional scenes, and act II will be getting a complete rewrite. Such is the downfall of a discovery writer like myself, I suppose.

The good news is, this past week I’ve been itching to write again. I have the ending/epilogue running through my brain constantly, and while that is still 2 1/2 books away, it’s nice to know my destination.

I have no monthly wordcount goal this month, because I’ve been rewriting things in act I and I’ll be starting act II from scratch, but I do have a project goal: to have my edits done and the first chapter written for act II. I think I can do it! Woo!

I guess at this time I would also like to make public my summertime goal. “But Courtney,” you say, “that is so many goals! You’re goal crazy!” Well, that’s the way I run things, babe. My goal for this summer is to have act II roughly finished. Crazy? Maybe. Especially with my work hours growing long these coming weeks! But impossible? I don’t think so!

My other goal is to have at least 50 subscribers at the end of the summer. If I can manage that, I’ll post up the first chapter of draft 1.5 for Project Infinite! So spread the word!