Friday, February 10, 2012

The War Between Digital and Print

Today, I met with my colleagues for a safety meeting at work. The men, both over the age of fifty, stated their struggle with computers and technology. They emphasized their reluctance to change with the times, in part over their fear of the unknown. In other words, they worried that they’d “screw something up.”
It reminded me of the time I asked my father for a computer. It was the early 1990’s and I needed one to write papers. He laughed off my request, believing I had no need for such an item, and instead, bought me a word processor. By the time I completed my undergraduate degree, not only did he buy me a computer for law school, but instigated computers for his office. Even then, he purchased for me the same computer he used at work. Again, fear of the unknown.
It’s partly due to fear and misunderstanding that we now wage a battle between digital and print publishing. I love the feel of a book in my hand. I swore I’d never give in to this new technology. After reading one book on my husband’s e-reader, I was addicted. 
I’ve never been one for delayed gratification. Instead of going to the library or bookstore, I simply download a book to my e-reader or i-Phone with only one click of a button. Easy. Simple. Quick. That’s my life and the life of millions of readers across the world. 

There will always be naysayers, telling stories about the “good old days,” when women stayed home to raise their kids and individuals had time to go to the library to find a book. Let’s face it, that time is over. We’re in the twenty-first century. The digital age. Will we transition to digital books and eliminate printed versions overnight? Of course not. Look at the record album. People swore nothing could replace them. Since the record, we’ve had eight-tracks, tapes, CD’s and now, mp3 players. Technology evolves. 

For the last month, I’ve studied Kindle’s Top 100 paid romance books list. The majority of those books are priced below five dollars. On January 28, 2012, nine of the ten top selling books were priced less than two dollars. Unknown and self-published authors are selling more Kindle books than famed authors Eloisa James, Sabrina Jeffries, and Kresley Cole, who all had new releases last month.  
In contrast, Barnes and Noble’s Top 10 paid romance books included lower priced books by named authors Fern Michaels, Tessa Dare, Sharon Sala, and Nora Roberts. On January 28, only one book on the list was self-published. 
Despite the success and impressive sales of digital and self-published authors, agents are still reluctant to take them on as clients. Furthermore, the authors no longer need or want an agent or traditional publisher. While we hear about those self-published authors who sell more than a million copies of their book, rarely do we hear about those who reach modest success. But let’s face it. Most authors don’t become household names. Still, if you can earn a living from your books, who cares? 
It seems even those individuals with no experience in publishing are able to mull their way through the complicated field. Those companies offering “self-publishing” services such as Smash Words have made certain of it. 
Ashley Barron posted a blog about author Colleen Scott’s experience with Amazon KDP Select Program. She experienced a huge increase of downloads of her book when she offered it for free. However, she pointed out that people download the free books and never read them. It’s only going to help if they read it, love it, and recommend it to their friends. The hope is it will lead to future book sales of not only that book, but past and future books. 
Authors and readers now have a choice. Choice is good. Our country is based on the principles of a free market society. Since e-books are more affordable than printed copies and easier to obtain, the chance of it growing over time will increase. The market will make the decision for the industry.

When her younger brother marries on her twenty-ninth birthday, food addict Sara Friedman drunkenly vows to three hundred wedding guests to find and marry her soul mate within the year.

After her humiliating toast becomes a YouTube sensation, she permits a national morning show to chronicle her search. With the help of best friend, Missy, she plunges head first into the shallow end of the dating pool.

Her journey leads her to question the true meaning of soul mates, as she decides between fulfilling her vow to marry before her thirtieth birthday and following her heart’s desire. But before she can make the biggest decision of her life, Sara must begin to take her first steps toward recovery from her addiction to food.

Kindle link:


Ann Montclair said...

Insightful post, Shelly. I concur choices make us wiser. Viva la digital age!

W. Lynn Chantale said...

Hi Shelly, Congratulations on your release. I know you are very excited. Thank you for allowing me to be apart of the celebration. Chef has prepared a feast in your honor, plenty of healthy choices so no worries and Tyrell is manning the open bar.

I can't wait to pick up my copy and finish reading A Year to Remember.

Mandi Casey said...

I agree, digital is growing exponentially :)