Spinetingler Magazine has a long interview with me today on e-publishing. My thoughts on the subject have changed a bit since I did the interview but probably aren’t new to any of you who’ve read my blog, but even so, here’s a taste:
But have publishers been slow to adapt? Absolutely. Are they pricing ebooks too high? In some cases yes, but I don’t necessarily believe that the arbitrary $9.99 figure set by Amazon makes financial sense for publishers or authors…not while there are still hardcovers and paperbacks being published. The $2.99 price point makes a lot of sense for self-published authors like Joe and me…but does it make sense for Michael Connelly’s latest book from Little Brown? I don’t think so.
There’s no question that publishers should definitely be giving their authors a much bigger ebook royalties…and they will. It’s inevitable. But right now, publishers are in a state of total confusion and terror. They don’t know what to do…Borders is on the verge of collapse, Barnes & Noble is closing stores, ebook sales are exploding… it’s akin to what radio was facing when television came along. So they are trying to cut costs, pruning the midlist, firing editors, hunkering down and waiting out the storm. How they will emerge afterwards is anybody’s guess at this point.
It’s naive to think, though, that James Patterson or Janet Evanovich or authors in their stratosphere are going to be walking away from traditional publishing any time soon…they benefit enormously from the infrastructure and reach those companies provide. You can’t compare what A-list writers get from traditional publishing to what mid-list writers are experiencing. They are different universes. And it’s naive to think that big publishers, or printed books, are going to disappear. I’m sure the ebook world will, like the print world, continue to be dominated by the big publishers and the big authors (the big players in radio became the dominant players in TV, too). But there is more opportunity now for individual authors to take charge of their own careers. That said, it would not surprise me if Amazon, and eretailers like them, eventually institute some kind of filtering system to deal with the deluge of self-published work that they are being hit with. The slush pile has gone digital…and it’s going to be overwhelming, for Amazon and for readers, to wade through it all.