Ebooks and epublishing have pretty much been THE discussion in the book publishing industry for the past several years. On the one hand, you have people that work at the major publishers saying that they provide an important service for readers and authors. On the other, you have a crowd of people who’ve never been given the time of day who can now publish their own works and let the reading public decide what they like.
There are people like Cory Doctorow who is pretty staunchly in favor of making some (or all) of your content free to share and relying on the essential decency of a committed fan base to help you keep the lights (and computer) running. And then there are people like Ray Bradbury, who until just this past November absolutely forbade any of his books to be made available in electronic format. As part of his new contract his hand was forced a little and he allowed for Farenheit 451 to hit the digital shelves.
Depending on where you look, the share of market that ebooks have commanded is anywhere from 13% to around 25%. While I’ll leave the discussion of my feelings on the war between the two sides for future posts, I will say that I love print. Obviously. As of this writing I’m still employed by a newspaper. Do notice that I tacked that previous sentence to a particular point in time though. I have no illusions about the longevity of my career in a print world. Also, my faith is shaky that any traditional print publication will be forward thinking and nimble enough to survive into an era of pure digital media. I think there will be a lot of challenges as this conversion takes place but one point of inspiration for the nay sayers may be the story of Michael Prescott.
|photo from http://michaelprescott.net|
Michael Prescott was a successful author of a number of thrillers in the late 90’s through about 2009. Up until that year, every book he had written had been published, in print, by a major publisher. In 2009, he turned in his latest work and it was panned. Suddenly fearful that his career was over, he realized that he held the digital rights to several of his books. He decided that there was no harm in trying and put them up on Barnes & Noble’s Nook store and Amazon’s Kindle store for 99 cents, thinking that the returns would be minimal at best. He was in for a bit of a surprise…
In a recent interview with USA Today he said, “If someone in this year had told me I was going make a lot of money with e-books, I wouldn’t have believed him,” Prescott says. “I thought maybe a couple of hundred dollars.” It ended up being a quite a lot more than that. He figures he made around $300,000 before taxes in 2011.
Now, he’s one of the best-selling authors on the Nook and Kindle market, which is exactly how I found him. After getting a new Nook Tablet as a Christmas gift, I was randomly searching for a low cost, quick read, just to get a feel for the device. His stories kept popping up so I decided, for a buck, I might as well.
The price probably convinced me to try it out more than anything else. And that decision is what has revived Michael Prescott’s career. Do you think this opening of the market is a beneficial thing for aspiring (and established) novelists? Or do you think this story shows an oddity that crops up when new markets open up?