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Okay, some clarification is needed, I feel. Here it is, adapted from a comment on my ebook-poll post...

Those of you who only want to read print books are welcome to get mine in paperback, when it's available. :) I plan to do the same! The paperbacks cost about twice as much as the ebooks at my press, but there's still something wonderful about a physical book. I have to admit, the reason I chose to submit to this publisher was because they had the paperback format alongside the ebook.

I should have made it more clear that I *don't* agree with their assessment of ebooks and "not print" being the future. It's good that they're seeking out the people who believe that, and targeting them as customers, and of course it's less cost and hassle for them. Still, I hope ebooks and print can coexist, and I want consumers to give the new form a chance.

I definitely don't want print books to disappear, though. Hell, I'm considering becoming a librarian someday, and another far-off dream for Steve and me is to own a used bookstore, so we absolutely want to continue the existence of ink and paper.

Also, piracy in ebook-land is just as much an issue as it is for mp3s. But I don't expect to get rich from writing, so I'm hoping the trade-off benefit is the same as it is for the music industry: namely, more fans in more places worldwide, even if the royalties don't climb as high as they legally ought to.

At least for authors, there's always money to be had in selling the film rights.

But while I'm defending the print industry, I also have some criticisms of it. Pass this along to those you know in the field, if you think they can change things. My biggest beef is their marketing focus on a handful of hugely famous authors, to the near-total neglect of newer and lesser-known ones. A related annoyance is the tradition of printing the first run in hardback--which is expensive and which practically no one wants, unless I'm talking to the wrong people--and only later releasing the book in the more convenient and affordable paperback. It ought to be the other way around. First print in paper, then, if the book is a big hit, print some special hardback editions for those who want them for their collection.

I should note that I've majored in social sciences, and have no business degree experience to back this up.

Comments

( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
new_iconoclast
Apr. 20th, 2008 06:00 pm (UTC)
I think one of the issues with books is the same as the issue with music: there are so many writers/musicians out there, how are they going to become known well enough to make a living doing what they do? I think the big publishers concentrate on the big names for the same reason other companies put out their products: brand recognition. Same thing happens in music. I can listen to alternative radio and keep asking friends about new music, and I do the same thing for books although it's a little harder. But basically we're so flippin' overwhelmed by choices that a lot of us fall back on the "known."
dirae
Apr. 20th, 2008 08:50 pm (UTC)
Also, along with the brand recognition concept, if a new writer can get an established writer to vouch for them, the more likely they are to get attention from their publisher and the world at large.
mollyringle
Apr. 21st, 2008 02:48 pm (UTC)
I know that is true for a lot of fans, and it does make it easier for the publishers. But I'm one of the people--and I know I'm not alone--who does want to discover new music and new writers, while also pursuing the careers of ones I already like. It wouldn't kill the big publishers to print up a poster once in a while for a new author's book, and ship it along with the books to a few Barnes and Nobles here and there.

I've even dared to hope that the internet is leveling the field a bit in the division of big name talent vs. unknowns. Not to sound communist or anything, but it seems possible that more of the smaller names will get their time in the sun for a bit longer, taking a bit more attention away from the big names, thanks to the web's consumer-oriented reviews and word of mouth.

Or so I dream.
new_iconoclast
Apr. 21st, 2008 08:30 pm (UTC)
I hope you're right/ Like you, I like to discover new music and new writers. It's just hard to know where to go, and sometimes you have to shovel a lot of muck to get to the gems.

Most large American companies have been so busy chasing short-term share price appreciation in the past 25 years that they don't give much thought to the quality of service they provide, except superficially. But that is another long rant. ;)
losile
Apr. 20th, 2008 06:02 pm (UTC)
I lurk like a lurky thingy, but I read all.

I just like to note I like print books. I prefer them, my husband and I have shelves full of them and I will keep spending money on them as long as I live. Nothing compares to the experience of a book in the hands.

However, my husband is in the navy, and when you're out to sea for four - nine months at a time, and you are a nerd like he is who isn't playing video games all the time or getting sloshed in port, you want to read something. You can only bring so much stuff on board with you. A handy little gadget half the size of his laptop that can hold hundreds of books within its pixels is looking very attractive to him right now, and he shall get it for his birthday, heehee.

mollyringle
Apr. 21st, 2008 02:50 pm (UTC)
Excellent! That's precisely the type of situation where an ebook gadget would be perfect, yes. Especially given the sheer weight of some desirable books. Oy.

Thanks, fellow lurky thing! (I often do lurk, but lately I seem to be actually posting.)
mikailborg
Apr. 20th, 2008 07:47 pm (UTC)
Good point about hardbacks. Practically every hardback in my collection was purchased after my original paperback copy vanished / was accidentally permanently lent / fell apart from being read too many times.

Usually, the hardback was on sale, as well.
mollyringle
Apr. 21st, 2008 02:51 pm (UTC)
Exactly--not only do the hardbacks last longer for those who want them, but they just end up getting discounted anyway in secondhand stores. Hmm, so maybe they support used bookstores. Maybe I should retract my complaint...
rainbowstevie
Apr. 20th, 2008 08:12 pm (UTC)
I could not agree more on the hardcover vs. paperback issue for the first run. That order doesn't make any sense to me at all. Of course, books are so expensive that I generally don't buy new books unless I've read them at the library first and love them enough to own, but I might be less discriminating if there were more paperback options.
mollyringle
Apr. 21st, 2008 02:53 pm (UTC)
*nods*

The library is actually one place where hardback makes sense, too, as the one copy will get read and carted around so many times. But on the whole, I support cheaper printing methods--ideally an upswing in Print On Demand tech, which only prints as many books as are ordered.
dirae
Apr. 20th, 2008 08:48 pm (UTC)
I hope you aren't insulted about anything, Molly. Or think that, I, for one, was being condescending or anything like that...

I like the topic but would hate to think I made you feel like you needed to reiterate yourself.

Nonetheless, I just wanted to add:
The Hardcover issue is one that is all about economics, marketing (especially for seeding the market) and award selections. It is like gas prices: if someone is willing to pay 25 bucks for the latest Ann Coulter drabble, then let them. And, there are those willing to pay. It is slightly antiquated and elitist, but look at how long Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil or The da Vinci Code were in hardcover. Let's talk about making money hand over fist. I rarely buy hardcovers unless on sale, but I love the nicer edition paperbacks (and pay more for them). I do see their purpose however according to the publishing business model. It is somewhat similar as e-publishing to a small publishing house--what way can we get the biggest profit.

*finger to the cheek, smiling*
mollyringle
Apr. 20th, 2008 10:09 pm (UTC)
Oh, no, I wasn't insulted and definitely not by you. At least you were one of the people who figured you *could* read an ebook if the process were a bit easier. :) I was more exasperated, in a somewhat amused way, by everyone who checked the "never see myself reading one" option, and defended it, because it struck me as all too similar to people who, ten years ago, said, "I'm never ever going to have a cell phone." And now, of course, everyone does.

I think I just also neglected to make it clear that I didn't wish to see the downfall of print publication.

I also love those new pretty paperbacks. Such beautiful cover art these days! I naturally had to aim for a print publisher, at least in part, to get in on that action. And if I get fat royalty checks, so much the better, but alas, I probably need to be an annoying famous politician or pundit in order to get that kind of cash. May the Powers That Be spare me from such a fate. ;)
mollyringle
Apr. 20th, 2008 10:10 pm (UTC)
P.S. And I copied my response to you as the main content of this post because it seemed to sum up my general outlook pretty well, and thus I felt I should inflict it on everyone to reassure them or something.
matildafilch
Apr. 20th, 2008 08:58 pm (UTC)
I'm a UK book-person, and in my experience, new authors aren't published in hardback, unless they have a strong marketing campaign behind them. Usually they go straight to paperback, sometimes larger-format, slightly more expensive paperback, then to ordinary £7-8 paperback. Maybe it's different in the States.

But yes, apart from that, I hear you. I'm also irked by the decline of the publishing culture of nurturing new authors - taking them on with a not-so-great first novel, giving them a good editor, knowing there's potential in there, and cultivating it. Ah well. Maybe the e-book world will be low-profile enough to re-start that culture.
mollyringle
Apr. 21st, 2008 02:55 pm (UTC)
I've heard that UK publishers are still rather better about marketing their authors than US publishers have become, but I don't know if that's true.

I do so wish there was more time for the editors of the world to take us on and mentor us! I blame the floods of people with terrible manuscripts, inundating the agents of the world until they're too hassled and irritated to take on any except the most stunning, shining works. *sigh*

Then again, I have been one of those terrible writers from time to time, so I'm at least sometimes part of the problem. :)
travels_in_time
Apr. 20th, 2008 10:23 pm (UTC)
It ought to be the other way around. First print in paper, then, if the book is a big hit, print some special hardback editions for those who want them for their collection.

This is the best idea I've ever heard in the history of EVER. The only hardbacks I own are the Dick Francis ones, which are usually remaindered at $5.99 at Barnes & Noble, and it's really irritating waiting for the next Terry Pratchett (or whatever) to come out in paperback.
mollyringle
Apr. 21st, 2008 02:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Good news is, I get the impression more and more smaller presses are turning to paperback-only. Pretty, lovely paperbacks, but still, more affordable.
kali_kali
Apr. 21st, 2008 01:41 am (UTC)
Personally, I don't understand why publishers focus so much on marketing hugely famous authors - these authors already have the brand recognition. People know them, and don't need the advertising to convince them to buy the book, they'll be doing that already. I know bookstores/bookstore websites here promoted Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to high heavens, but I think it was a complete waste of money - people who were going to buy the book would already be doing so, people who weren't interested weren't going to, because at this point, if you live in the English-speaking world, you'd need to be living under a rock to not know who Harry Potter is, so advertising really doesn't have much of a benefit.

Then again, I find most advertising pointless, since it typically comes from huge companies that already have brand recognition. People already know about the product, why do they need to be told about it more? Wouldn't that airspace be better served to advertise things that are less well-known? Of course, I'm not a marketing/advertising professional, so who knows, how they're doing things today must do something if companies keep doing it, but I find it pretty pointless. I definitely think that advertising should be something used to promote lesser-known authors, products, movies, you name it, because they need to get their names out there, not the big ones that are already known.

I guess that's my long-winded way of saying I agree with you ;)
mollyringle
Apr. 21st, 2008 02:56 pm (UTC)
I have wondered all those things too! To reiterate what I said in a comment above, would it kill the publishers to print up some posters for new and unknown authors, and ship them with the books to some Barnes & Nobles here and there?

Advertising does confound me...especially the HP type. Who didn't know about that release, honestly? :)
(Deleted comment)
mollyringle
Apr. 22nd, 2008 10:05 pm (UTC)
Yeah, instances like that are especially baffling to me. Even advertisements for Coke, Pepsi, Doritos, and other omnipresent products seem pointless. People who want those things already go out and seek them, and have known about them for generations. Why waste the dollars? I assume it must work somehow...but why? How? *boggle again*
(Deleted comment)
mollyringle
Apr. 22nd, 2008 10:07 pm (UTC)
Guess so...but how am I supposed to schmooze editors over lunch when they're in NYC and I'm in Seattle? :)

I plan to do local promotion as much as I can, and web-based too, without spending much if I can avoid it. But it's hard to know if it'll do much good. Fingers crossed.
kalquessa
Apr. 21st, 2008 06:18 pm (UTC)
Heh, well I certainly hope real books never go out of style, since they're about to become my primary source of income. *laughs* But yeah, not really worried about that happening, at least not any time soon. I do share you beefs with the publishing industry, though. It seems highly unfair that marketing should have more to do with whether a book sells than whether or not it's actually any good (not that I have any illusions about life being fair, but I can whine and complain if I want, right?). And the hardback-first thing is annoying. As Mr. Bill will be happy to tell you at length, almost no one actually wants a hardback, at least not of a new book that they haven't read yet. The people who buy hardbacks are mostly folks buying a sturdier copy to replace a well-loved paperback that they're destroyed with constant re-reading.
mollyringle
Apr. 22nd, 2008 10:09 pm (UTC)
I look forward to the days when you and Mr. Bill do become purveyors of the written word! I also plan to inundate you with free bookmarks and signed bookplates and what have you to advertise my novel to your customers. ;) Truthfully, I envy and admire that development in your lives. If it goes well I might have to copy you someday.

And yes, amen on the hardbacks. Thank you.
naill_renfro
Apr. 25th, 2008 03:03 am (UTC)
I'm a big fan of print-on-demand... One of the things I don't like about traditional publishing is that things go out of print. A peculiar results of the intersection of the internet and copyright law is that it's very easy to get (electronic or POD) copies of obscure books that are out of copyright, but next to impossible to find other obscure books that are out of print but still in copyright. Hopefully soon the publishers that own those copyrights will start making their entire out-of-print catalogs available as POD, or at least as e-books.
mollyringle
Apr. 28th, 2008 03:10 am (UTC)
Exactly! They should really look into the POD and/or ebook option. A model of the future I've heard proposed, which I like, is that you'd enter a bookstore, browse sample copies of books, then go to a computer kiosk and select the ones you want to buy. The computer would then send your order to an on-site POD machine and you'd pick up your freshly printed books in a few minutes, pay for them, and take them home. Voila--no excessive copies; no bookstore worries about how many to order.

Heck, libraries could have these too, to make a little extra cash.
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )