Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What the Kindle IS good for!

Surprise, surprise! (said in a manner like Gomer Pyle) I'm going to close off my cogitations on electronic readers by saying something really positive about them.

I've thought long and hard on this, and being basically a positive person in outlook, I decided there's a good for every bad out there. Yin and yang is a universal concept.

First, here's a big one for us authors: Electronic readers mean that your books never have to go out of print again. It will be hell to figure out what the financial/contractual implications of this would be -- and maybe there's a Hollywood writers' strike looming on the horizon of their poorer print cousins -- but by and large I think this is a positive thing. Take me for an example. My sales aren't even in the tens of thousands, so if my books go out of print, that may well be it for them. Unless my publisher sees a few hundred orders for them, she's not going to throw the switch and run off another thousand. Result? A few people who really want the books have to get them from their library (not hard to do in Canada, but elsewhere?) or they buy them from some place like AbeBooks and I get doodly-squat out of the transaction.

If my books are turned into e-books at the end of their print run, people with readers will be able to get them, my publisher and I make some money and everyone is happy. Yea Kindle!

The other place where readers can excel is in book promotion. Some enterprising publisher (Hello! Hello! Is one of them out there listening?) is going to put a couple of chapters of each of their new books into electronic format where interested folks can download the whole set, sample a bit of everything and then decide which book(s) they'd like to purchase. You could even give them a special code to give them an added discount. I suppose they could then order the e-book or a print version.

Bully for Kindle!

Can anyone else come up with more reasons why electronic readers might be GOOD things?


SITE MANAGER (darwin) said...

I agree with your perspective on the Kindle and would add that electronic texts will evolve with such portability.

As an author, my readership is severely limited in situations where my book is only available in print. However with an ability to self-publish in a format that is portable I'm no longer limited to those readers that would consider reading on a computer acceptable.

I would also expect that with this new medium we will also see new tools be made available to the author. And while this may go through a period of ugly discovery (e.g. remember the days of too many fonts being used with the advent of the word processor?), in time the desires of the reader and the employment of tools by the author will come into synch.

Darwin Stephenson
ANALOG [darwin]
"15 Questions Put to 100 Anonymous Strangers"

Rick Blechta said...

Thanks for stopping by, Darwin.

You bring up two very good points. New technology always brings upheavals as it shoulders old things aside, is used badly and too often in places it doesn't belong, but eventually (if it's any good)it finds its place in the surrounding hierarchy and life goes on.

So it is with electronic readers. I'm actually getting a bit excited about some clear opportunites here.

I will take exception, though, to your comment about the bad old days and too many fonts being used. I'm also a graphic designer and see far too much amateur design attempts and most suffer from this.

That being said, I have over 2000 fonts on my computer. And no, I don't use most of 'em!

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