I woke up to a Twitterverse full of book industry talk.
a) “All sorts of middle-class folks agree with the billionaire owners of sports teams that the millionaire players make too much money.” Good point, Sherman Alexie. Some interesting questions raised here about the effect of the current eReader gold rush on culture, especially for poor kids, in: Sherman Alexie Clarifies “Elitist” Charges
b) Avid book readers (more than 10 books/year) make up 30% of the US population, or 70 million people, with the biggest proportion of those readers being 45-55 year old women. This presentation from the Digital Book World Conference on 25-January goes on to discuss book buying behaviour & why a ‘diversified retail ecosystem’ is important (because buyers want it). Plus, the influence of eReaders & customer preferences on eReader and eBook price points. And did you know that eBook purchases, in order of most % purchased, fall into these categories:
- General Fiction
Eh? I always thought F/SF was first on the list, not fourth. But nope, general fiction reads outrank all other types. More in the Verso Digital 2011 Survey of Book-Buying Behaviour. Very interesting reading.
c) The Guardian annoyed me yesterday with an article on ‘lady writers’ and their new taste for horror (the dears), but today I find Ewan Morrison discussing The Self-ePublishing Bubble as a temporary phenomenon akin to the dot com bubble that caught a lot of people out (remember that? A handful of people got rich, a much bigger group of people went broke, & the world kept turning). Says Morrison, “I, for one, could never have guessed that writing about the end of books would generate more income for me than actually publishing the damn things.”
And here’s an interesting comment from Morrison, “Take for example digital guru, free culture activist (former European director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation) and author Cory Doctorow - an SF celebrity and aggressive exponent of self-epublishing who gives his books away for free under a creative commons license (with optional payment). It turns out that Doctorow isn’t just any old novelist: the subjects he and his characters talk about are file sharing, the digital revolution, digital rights management and the oppressive old gatekeepers of the mainstream. His kudos comes from the fact that we are in a transitional period in which “free digital culture” is still an issue. Ironically, if and when self-epublishing becomes the norm, his subject matter will no longer seem so radical and no doubt his reader base will diminish.”
Ouch. Better invest in some diversified shares, Cory.
d) But if you get into the bubble quickly enough, maybe you, too, can do what Amanda Hocking did in this self-explanatory entitled (Guardian) article: Amanda Hocking, the Writer Who Made Millions by Self-Publishing Online.
e) Jonathan Franzen won my vote in one of his articles when he argued for ‘the protection of public spaces’ from the intrusion of those banal conversations that happen whenever someone answers a mobil/cell phone on the bus & begins with ‘I’m on the bus’. Here he argues that serious readers will always prefer paper books to eBooks, in Jonathan Franzen warns eBooks are Corroding Values from our friends at, yes, the Guardian. Hmm, I’m not convinced. Most paper books don’t come with a Search option (or Index), for starters…