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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The collapse of the publishing industry

The New York Times missed the real story when it wrote about a nonexistent decline in ebook sales. Unsurprisingly, Fortune manages to do rather better in observing that the decline is limited to the traditional publishers, who are losing out to their smaller rivals:
A recent piece in the New York Times about a decline in e-book sales had more than a whiff of anti-digital Schadenfreude about it. The story, which was based on sales figures from the Association of American Publishers, implied that much of the hype around e-books had evaporated — with sales falling by 10% in the first half of this year — while good old printed books were doing better than everyone expected.

This was celebrated by many as evidence that e-books aren’t all they are cracked up to be, and that consumers are swinging back to printed books. But is that an accurate reflection of what’s actually taking place in the book-publishing or book-buying market? Not really, as it turns out.

When I first saw the story, I thought it raised two important questions, neither of which was really answered conclusively in the piece (although the second was hinted at). Namely: 1) Are e-book sales as a whole dropping, or just the sales of the publishers who are members of the AAP? And 2) Isn’t a drop in sales just a natural outcome of the publishers’ move to keep e-book prices high?

Data from the site Author Earnings, which tracks a broad spectrum of information related to digital publishing, suggests that both of those things are true. In other words, a decline in market share on the part of established publishers is being taken as evidence of a drop in e-book sales overall, and at least some of the falloff in market share that publishers have seen is likely the result of high e-book prices.
What's really happening is that overall sales are remaining close to flat, but the mainstream publishers are rapidly losing out to small and independent publishers. I jazzed up Hugh Howey's Author Earnings report to make it more obvious what has been happening over the last 15 months, which just happens to coincide with the birth of Castalia House.


In other words, the share of ebook sales that belong to the major publishers have plunged from 39 percent down 26 percent due to the rise in ebooks published by Independents and Amazon itself. This is due to several factors, ranging from increasingly mediocre authors being signed by the editorial staffs to foolish pricing decisions by the business people.

I suspect the decline in the self-published category was initially due to Amazon skimming off the best of them, followed by the change in Kindle Unlimited rules that deter the publication of very short ebooks. The KU change probably also explains why Indie growth has leveled off since May.

To put it into more personal terms, and to explain why Tor will continue to have John Scalzi running himself ragged on non-stop book tours until his contract is eventually canceled prior to its completion, consider the following comparison between several recently published books. All the numbers were current as of 6:30 AM EST.
END OF ALL THINGS
190 reviews
Publisher: Tor (August 13, 2015)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #342,147 Paid in Kindle Store

Paperback
Publisher: Tor
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #218,704 in Books

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Tor Books; 1st Ed edition (August 11, 2015)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,935 in Books


LOCK IN
497 reviews
Publisher: Tor Books (August 26, 2014)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,214 Paid in Kindle Store

Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Tor Science Fiction (August 4, 2015)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,372 in Books

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Tor Books; 1 edition (August 26, 2014)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,079 in Books


SJWS ALWAYS LIE
301 reviews
Publisher: Castalia House (August 25, 2015)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,359 Paid in Kindle Store

Paperback: 236 pages
Publisher: Castalia House
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,250 in Books


GORILLA MINDSET

181 reviews
Publication Date: June 27, 2015
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,674 Paid in Kindle Store

Paperback: 212 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (June 28, 2015)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,792 in Books
This is interesting because what it tells us is that the only people interested in reading Scalzi's latest are his longtime fans who are completing the series. They're buying the hardcover to round out their collections, but the casual readers aren't even bothering to read it. Lock In, on the other hand has shown more appeal to casual readers, but it's not particularly popular, especially for one of Tor's top authors. Scalzi is far from a failure; he's #54 in Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction by virtue of all his books selling reasonably well. I am merely #329.

But then look at how well other indie authors (and RTRH contributors) such as B.V. Larson (#13 in SF), Christopher Nuttall (#25 in SF), and David van Dyke (#99 in SF) are doing without the support of the largest publisher in science fiction.

This is a serious problem for the major publishers because ebook sales are a literally less-than-zero-sum game at this point in time. Regardless, it's not so much the direct competition that threatens to do the big publishers in as it is the new X-factor in ebook sales, which is Kindle Unlimited. Notice which two types of publishers have been doing well since the KU change: Amazon and Small to Medium Publishers.

For an explanation, consider this book, which competes directly with Scalzi's "military science fiction", Back From the Dead by Rolf Nelson.
BACK FROM THE DEAD
9 reviews

Publisher: Castalia House (September 22, 2015)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,794 Paid in Kindle Store
What is astonishing about the moderate success of the Nelson book is that it has "sold" 4x more books via Kindle Unlimited than it has through conventional book sales. Keep in mind these aren't just "paid" sales, they are books that have been downloaded and read.

KU works very well for longer, inexpensive indie books; with his book's KNPC, Rolf makes more money from a KU read than he does from an Amazon sale at $4.99. (NB: This isn't confidential information, it's all right there on Amazon for those who comprehend the system.) But more importantly, most of those KU readers are not Castalia fans, they are mostly new to Rolf's work.

(By way of testing this hypothesis, I've added a page to Back From the Dead letting readers know about other Castalia books available on KU. If I'm correct, this should have the result of increasing the average Kpages read for the other books listed.)

KU is Amazon's real challenge to the mainstream publishers. It was bad enough for them competing on a level playing field with ebooks that cost one-half to one-fourth the price of their own ebooks. But how can they possibly compete with all-you-can read for $10, especially when Amazon is going out of its way to promote those books? For the price of one-third of a new Tor ebook, you can read literally dozens of KU books such as Riding the Red Horse, A Throne of Bones, On War, and Back From the Dead, many of which are objectively better than the Tor books, at least as far as the Amazon ratings and reviews are concerned. And the problem for the major publishers is only going to get worse as the KU readers discover new favorite authors, and new publishers, and begin to read their way through their non-mainstream catalogs.

Ebooks were disruptive, but KU is going to cause several of the major publishers to go out of business. The Big Five will be the Big Three inside three years.

That being said, there is observably a distinct type of KU reader. They clearly prefer lighter, faster-reading fiction fare; while SJWAL has sold 5x more copies so far this month than Back From the Dead, the latter has 3.7x more KU pages read.

Labels:

85 Comments:

Blogger Thomas Davidsmeier November 10, 2015 8:22 AM  

Hmm, this is really interesting. I'm in the editing stage on my fat fantasy novel, but I started a lighter, humor story that is a mashup of the D&D cartoon from the '80s and the Breakfast Club with a dash of SJWs. It should end up at novella length as well. I wonder which one I should focus on and get out the door first... Can self-published authors get into KU? I didn't realize KU was changing things so much from the publisher end of things.

Blogger Markku November 10, 2015 8:25 AM  

Yes. "All authors and publishers, regardless of where they live, are eligible to enroll their books in KDP Select." & "If you have a book enrolled in KDP Select, it will automatically be enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. "

Blogger VD November 10, 2015 8:26 AM  

The novel. The changes in KU has seriously hurt the novella market. Yes, if you go Kindle Select, you're in KU.

Blogger Durandel Almiras November 10, 2015 8:26 AM  

I'd love to see an article by the NYTimes about newspaper publishing and see how they'd try to spin it.

I do have "Picard syndrome" as Gary a North called it...I do prefer a regular book, but for the price and the weight convenience of a kindle or iPad, it just makes more sense to go that route.

Anonymous #0393 November 10, 2015 8:27 AM  

For those interested, Joe Konrath has some interesting info at his blog on the shenanigans by which the Big 5 have hamstrung themselves. Some good fiskings of the Authors Guild, some big name authors, and the mainstream media coverage, too.

Blogger Durandel Almiras November 10, 2015 8:28 AM  

What rules in KU changed that hurt the novella? How will Castallia respond to the change in the novella market created by the KU program?

Blogger Shimshon November 10, 2015 8:31 AM  

If Scalzi were a real woman instead of a man in drag, he would've bet on the strong horse.

Blogger VD November 10, 2015 8:41 AM  

What rules in KU changed that hurt the novella? How will Castallia respond to the change in the novella market created by the KU program?

They changed compensation from copies downloaded to pages read. We will not bother publishing many novellas solo now, for the most part, and we have put a number of our longer works on KU. Novellas can sell as solos, but they won't be on KU.

Blogger Gaiseric November 10, 2015 9:06 AM  

And then novellas can be collected and sold on KU in anthologies as a second revenue stream for them.

Blogger Aeoli Pera November 10, 2015 9:10 AM  

Someone please to explain why a less-than-zero sum game?

Anonymous Roundtine November 10, 2015 9:21 AM  

It seems to me the big publishers think they are charging us for the convenience of ebooks. I recently bought a couple of hardcover books because the price was only a dollar or two more than the Kindle price. Does it cost less than $2 to print and ship a hardcover?

Anonymous Rolf November 10, 2015 9:30 AM  

@10 - A shrinking market, or at least the perception of one. The Buggy-Whip market would be the classic example: the marginal BW maker having falling share, then go bust get bought out by the bigger/better BW makers. The best/last BW maker touts sales and growth of market share and says everything is fine, at least publicly it's what they say.

@11 - indeed. more for an e-book than paper? Ridiculous.

Blogger Markku November 10, 2015 9:31 AM  

I looked into this a while ago, and if you do large print runs with offset printing, a hardcover's unit cost is about 1.5 USD.

However, a book is a difficult commodity. It needs to be stored in controlled temperature and humidity, and it is heavy and large, relative to its profit margin. It requires a very advanced logistics network, because no retailer is going to want to have a large stock of books, yet they don't want the stock to run out either.

Anonymous That Would Be Telling November 10, 2015 9:34 AM  

One other thing I've noticed is that by requiring exclusivity, the attractions of Kindle Unlimited for the author also mean Amazon is capturing all the publisher value for outright sales of these ebooks. I wonder what Castallia House has noticed about the revenue of outright sales of any given title, ebook and paper if available, compare to the Kindle Unlimited sales.

Blogger Markku November 10, 2015 9:37 AM  

I fully understand the e-book price cartel. That logistics network - the ability to put physical copies on the shelves of physical stores - is the one thing that they do better than anyone else. If they allow the industry to move to the e-book and online stores, wet-behind-the-ears newcomers are just going to swagger in as if they own the industry and sell the same product for one third the price.

Anonymous That Would Be Telling November 10, 2015 9:42 AM  

If they allow the industry to move to the e-book and online stores, wet-behind-the-ears newcomers are just going to swagger in as if they own the industry and sell the same product for one third the price.

And easily make more money if they want to, since they have so much less overhead, including not having to be based in NYC, which used to be a necessity.

Blogger Markku November 10, 2015 9:46 AM  

And easily make more money if they want to, since they have so much less overhead, including not having to be based in NYC, which used to be a necessity.

But even more importantly, because they have this massive system with massive number of employees serving this traditional model, the end product of which is a hardcopy in your local supermarket. To shift focus is to do massive layoffs, and USA doesn't make this bureaucratically trivial as far as I know.

Asshole newcomers, however, do not have this baggage. They can build their system from scratch to suit the current situation.

Blogger tweell November 10, 2015 9:48 AM  

I picked up the ILoH's latest, Son of the Black Sword, at a book signing recently. I was happy with my ebook, but wasn't going to miss getting a signed hardbound from Larry Correia. A nephew went with me and wanted to read the book. He didn't want to borrow the hardbound, he wanted my electronic version, so he could read it from his phone. My brother hasn't purchased a paper and ink book in years, he does the same thing. Even my uncle, a retired librarian, had a Nook the last years of his life.

It's a paradigm shift, it's huge, and it's just getting started.

Blogger Doom November 10, 2015 9:51 AM  

They must be SJW's because they always lie. Not just NYT's, but all press. I've watched as they have tried to suggest that television is doing fine, that Hollywood is all good, or even worse that while they might admit that these institutions are going down, that somehow this is good for them. It isn't just in media. I don't think any of these people can print the truth. I'm honestly not sure they are capable of seeing the truth. If some of them can, they have either sold out or need their safe spaces so desperately even within their profession that they can't handle the truth, even if they happen to see it.

It amazes me that they consider themselves brave, intelligent, well educated, and emotionally stable when everything they print, film, or say proves otherwise. And they really, often, do believe they have it down. I have to wonder is it drugs, other forms of debauchery, psychological weaknesses, too much money? It's a corruption of some sort. At least with the ones who know they are full of it, but have simply sold out, there is some distant understanding. But for the true believers there is simple incredulity. So many of them. Then again, maybe they are selected before they even get to their posts, perhaps all others are exempted from even obtaining the education.

Blogger Red Jack November 10, 2015 9:55 AM  

When the report you mentioned was first published, I wondered about it. I buy A LOT of books. Recently, I have shifted from buying ebooks from the big 5 to buying used copies (often for pennies). When an ebook is $14, and a used dead tree version of the same title is $1, I get the dead tree version. If there is no used book at the right price, I wait till the ebook goes down. I do buy more ebooks than DT books by far, but I will risk a few bucks on a new book that I don't know about. I will not drop $14 on one. That means I buy more from indie and small publishing houses.

Case in point, I preordered the new Jim Butcher book. Wasn't bad, but I felt a bit cheated at paying a premium for a "meh" book. I won't do that again for Butcher unless it is a Dresden book. So in that case, the higher ebook price has pushed me away totally.

Talking with fellow bibliophiles, I don't think my experience is uncommon

Blogger Thomas Davidsmeier November 10, 2015 9:57 AM  

@12 Rolf

By the way, is the next chunk of "The Stars Came Back" going to come out sometime soon? I thought it was slated to come out relatively quickly after the first chunk. I really liked the prose version (I couldn't get into the screenplay version for whatever reason). So, I'm looking forward to it.

Blogger Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus November 10, 2015 10:19 AM  

This is HORRIBLE!

If the Big Five collapse, who will act as gatekeepers to keep all the politically incorrect hate speech from hitting the market?

Blogger Gaiseric November 10, 2015 10:20 AM  

@20: Library at first release; pick up in mass market paperback at a third of the price a year later. That's my Dresden file reading plan.

As a pet peeve aside, not too long ago, a bunch of folks were taking exception to the phrase 'I know, right?" as a sign of the impending apocalypse of literacy and cleverness in Western civilization or something. I want to nominate "dead tree version" for the canary in the coal mine of that particular coming apocalypse. Is there some reason that saying "paper copy" or "physical copy" or "hardback" or "paperback" or something like that can't be used? "Dead tree version" might have been clever when whoever first coined it, but now years later, it just sounds ridiculous.

Blogger Markku November 10, 2015 10:30 AM  

The official word would he "hard copy", but the problem is that it's too easy to confuse with hardback.

Blogger Markku November 10, 2015 10:31 AM  

Wikipedia:

Dead-tree edition refers to a printed paper version of a written work, as opposed to digital alternatives such as a web page. It is a dysphemism for hard copy.

Blogger Gaiseric November 10, 2015 10:35 AM  

Oh, I know what it means. I just think it sounds ridiculous.

Blogger Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus November 10, 2015 10:44 AM  

@ 25 Marrku - dysphemism

Well, well, well, looks like somebody invested in that online Harvard vocabulary course.

Blogger Markku November 10, 2015 10:48 AM  

Oh, I know what it means. I just think it sounds ridiculous.

No, I meant the quote as proof that "hard copy" is the correct word.

Anonymous grey enlightenment November 10, 2015 10:51 AM  

This is HORRIBLE!

If the Big Five collapse, who will act as gatekeepers to keep all the politically incorrect hate speech from hitting the market?
-------------------

No one is stopping anyone from bypassing the big 5, it's just that getting sales will be very hard unless you already have a large audience

The gatekeepers are your competition ...it's the hundreds or thousands of other ppl in your niche self-publishing

Blogger James Dixon November 10, 2015 10:55 AM  

From the chart, Indie publishing already exceeds the Big 5. The combined sales of Amazon and small publishers also exceeds them. Sometime next year small publishers should take over second place if current trends continue. Amazon publishing should surpass them the following year.

They need to drop the prices on their ebooks to stay competitive, but they'd rather lose the market than give up their premiums\ or undercut their actual market of hardback and paperback books.

Blogger VD November 10, 2015 10:57 AM  

By the way, is the next chunk of "The Stars Came Back" going to come out sometime soon? I thought it was slated to come out relatively quickly after the first chunk.

Probably January. Possibly sooner.

Blogger James Dixon November 10, 2015 10:57 AM  

> Oh, I know what it means. I just think it sounds ridiculous.

Why? Dead tree = paper. Everyone knows that and it's therefore a convenient shorthand for all printed materials.

Blogger VD November 10, 2015 10:59 AM  

They need to drop the prices on their ebooks to stay competitive, but they'd rather lose the market than give up their premiums\ or undercut their actual market of hardback and paperback books.

They're dumber than they look. I talked to two high-level editors and told them they should work with companies like ours and handle all the print stuff. They said, no, they want the ebooks too.

I just laughed. They simply refuse to focus on the only thing they bring to the table. Whatever publisher does that first will be the last one eaten.

Blogger Markku November 10, 2015 11:06 AM  

Why?

Because, as the Wikipedia article points out, it is a dysphemism. Originally intended to say "tut tut, you should have bought e-book instead, for Gaia", and now mostly intended to say "I killed trees and I loved it! How's them apples, you tree-hugging hippies?"

OpenID malcolmthecynic November 10, 2015 11:12 AM  

And if you want to start an indie publishing company, now is the freaking time.

OpenID malcolmthecynic November 10, 2015 11:15 AM  

E-books are a godsend. I've read more new books in the past year in a half than the previous five years combined.

Five hundred, six hundred, more page novels for five dollars, delivered directly to me, literally immediately. There's just no way for print publishing to compete with that.

Add Kindle Unlimited to the equation and this is truly a glorious time for lovers of books.

OpenID Jack Amok November 10, 2015 11:27 AM  

The idiotic price of ebooks is definitely costing them. I think I've been averaging at least one ebook a week that I don't buy because the kindle edition is more expensive than the paperback edition, and more importantly, significantly more expensive than a used copy. I'm certain I'm not the only one who finds it easy to click the Buy Now button if I'm interested in a book and it's $4.99 for the kindle ("Delivered wirelessly to your device!"), but at $11.99 figure I can wait.

On a pure dollars-per-hour basis, it's a relatively trivial difference, but it matters.

OpenID Jack Amok November 10, 2015 11:37 AM  

They simply refuse to focus on the only thing they bring to the table. Whatever publisher does that first will be the last one eaten.

Vox, what's your assessment of their understanding? Do they realize logistics is their one thing, or do they still think they're marketing geniuses with great literary taste?

And for the KU program, what do you think is the minimum viable size for an ebook? I see classics like Heart of Darkness and Three Men In a Boat on KU that clock in around 100 pages/25k words, but those have some built-in appeal (and long out of copyright). Is it 50k words?

Blogger Stephen St. Onge November 10, 2015 11:40 AM  

        Given the size of my house, and the number of books already piled everywhere, my first choice is eBooks for everything that isn't graphics intensive.

        eBooks will be the default choice for most readers soon.

Blogger kurt9 November 10, 2015 11:42 AM  

As a voracious reader, I can tell you that the majority of what I read these days, since I bought my Kindle, is Indie or self-published. Some of it is surprisingly good. Any main-stream published stuff I usually check out of the library (as e-book of course) thus spending no money on it.

If I'm representative of the market in general, and I see no reason to doubt this, the traditional publishing houses will not be around for very long. They essentially get no money from me at all.

Blogger Markku November 10, 2015 11:45 AM  

Personally I think what they are doing DOES make sense, in a kicking down the can way. What they'd like is for the ebook to not exist at all. That would make them the only ones who can do publishing, because what's left after the ebook is gone is so difficult to pull off, and requires so many employees. They'd remain the kings of the hill.

But they can't have that. Others would be doing ebooks and thereby dominate that market. And completely eat away their future, because at SOME point, ebook will be the overwhelming majority of sales. So, what can they do?

Sabotage the product. Make it expensive enough, and bad enough (you would be shocked at how bad the internal formatting of ebooks from big publishers can be. Automatthew would have a stroke and a heart attack at the same time.) that people will still prefer the hard copy, but they keep a foot in the door of the ebook market. So that when the inevitable happens, they have the ability to move to ebooks. But they'd wish for that to be as late as possible.

Blogger VD November 10, 2015 11:51 AM  

Vox, what's your assessment of their understanding? Do they realize logistics is their one thing, or do they still think they're marketing geniuses with great literary taste?

The latter. What has happened is that the editors are now effectively the publishers, but like Patrick Nielsen Hayden, they have absolutely no education or experience in business. So they keep saying stupid things like "quality matters" and so forth, when any objective measure would demonstrate that they do not have a consistent quality advantage.

About their only consistent quality advantage besides the physical channel is their covers. And that advantage is increasingly decreasing as indies spend more on their covers.

Blogger Josh November 10, 2015 11:57 AM  

So they keep saying stupid things like "quality matters" and so forth

What is their explanation for fifty shades of grey?

Blogger Gaiseric November 10, 2015 12:03 PM  

If I'm representative of the market in general, and I see no reason to doubt this, the traditional publishing houses will not be around for very long. They essentially get no money from me at all.

Don't discount the incestuous relationship that the SJWs in publishing have with the SJWs in libraries, though. You may not spend money on them directly, but indirectly, through your public library budget, they get some.

Blogger Danby November 10, 2015 12:07 PM  

@41 Markku
Sabotage the product. Make it expensive enough, and bad enough (you would be shocked at how bad the internal formatting of ebooks from big publishers can be. Automatthew would have a stroke and a heart attack at the same time.) that people will still prefer the hard copy, but they keep a foot in the door of the ebook market. So that when the inevitable happens, they have the ability to move to ebooks. But they'd wish for that to be as late as possible.
Which is incredibly stupid, as it disadvantages their digital product in the market. They still seemingly view ebooks as a supplementary product to paper. That somehow, success as a paper book is a proven recipe for success as an ebook. Instead they have more or less divorced their market from the general ebook market, as shown by the sales figures above. When the paper book market finally collapses, they will have literally no leverage in the market besides their back catalogues and their relationships with established writers, neither of which shows any signs of saving them.
I think Vox is right, that the paper book market will become a "what was most popular on Amazon last month?" market extension for ebooks rather than a market in its own right. Sooner or later the big publishers will figure out how to do that, or someone else will.

OpenID Jack Amok November 10, 2015 12:23 PM  

About their only consistent quality advantage besides the physical channel is their covers. And that advantage is increasingly decreasing as indies spend more on their covers.

And as the Internet make graphic designers more accessible to indies. Sites like 99designs make it pretty damn easy to get what amounts to a ton of bids for a design. Funny, you'd think the cover wouldn't matter for a ebook, but people still do judge a book by its cover.

Blogger clk November 10, 2015 12:25 PM  

The access to store shelf would also seem to be diminishing model as well ... I love hard copies if for no other reason I can place them on the shelf to show how smart I am :) ... but I rarely buy those books off the store shelf... the green liberal side of me combines with the value conscious conservative side to buy nothing but used books lately .. although I have to say my excessive compulsive side does worry that the previous owners were bathroom readers...

Yes, the independents can kick the traditional in the ebook market, but I am willing to the bet with just in time printing and limited runs they can serve the hard copy market at a cost less than the big guys... For the larger than normal amount of preppers, survivalists here -- the hard copy version is a absolute must --- in fact, some books (survival skills, food prep. ditch medicine ... ) should also be offered in water proof versions... IMHO...there might even be a potential market there - water proof versions of classic survivals texts.

Blogger FALPhil November 10, 2015 12:26 PM  

Meanwhile, at the Hachette offices, the topic of conversation is where to have lunch today....

Anonymous po #412 November 10, 2015 12:37 PM  

And if you want to start an indie publishing company, now is the freaking time.

I would expect that the best time was actually a year or so ago. Now that company would be in a position to take advantage.

Well played, Castalia House.

Blogger Ben Cohen November 10, 2015 12:43 PM  

Repeat after me: the rent is too damn high, I mean sjws always lie.

Blogger kurt9 November 10, 2015 1:26 PM  

Don't discount the incestuous relationship that the SJWs in publishing have with the SJWs in libraries, though. You may not spend money on them directly, but indirectly, through your public library budget, they get some.

I know that they do. But it is not a lot of money. As more people self-publish, the ratio of self-published stuff to traditional publishing house stuff I read will continue to increase.

Blogger Were-Puppy November 10, 2015 1:39 PM  

@22 Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus
This is HORRIBLE!

If the Big Five collapse, who will act as gatekeepers to keep all the politically incorrect hate speech from hitting the market?
---

QQ And what will befall the Hugos? Will they have to replace the award in the shape of an HPL bust with a cheap Chia Pet of Color?

Blogger Were-Puppy November 10, 2015 1:42 PM  

@23 Gaiseric
@20: Library at first release; pick up in mass market paperback at a third of the price a year later. That's my Dresden file reading plan.

As a pet peeve aside, not too long ago, a bunch of folks were taking exception to the phrase 'I know, right?" as a sign of the impending apocalypse of literacy and cleverness in Western civilization or something. I want to nominate "dead tree version" for the canary in the coal mine of that particular coming apocalypse. Is there some reason that saying "paper copy" or "physical copy" or "hardback" or "paperback" or something like that can't be used? "Dead tree version" might have been clever when whoever first coined it, but now years later, it just sounds ridiculous.
---

I'm going to have to follow that Dresden reading plan, because i really can't afford to spend $10 on each ebook.

Regarding "I know, right?", I once brought that up in one of the topics here. The reason it bugged me was because I would be asked a question, to which I assume the person asking didn't know the answer. Then, when I answer, they say "I know, right?". Which then makes me wonder, If you know, then why are you bugging me about it?

Anonymous BGS November 10, 2015 1:47 PM  

What is astonishing about the moderate success of the Nelson book is that it has "sold" 4x more books via Kindle Unlimited than it has through conventional book sales.

Is this book counted separately from the same story in movie transcript format? If so that would depress the conventional sales.

So they keep saying stupid things like "quality matters" and so forth...What is their explanation for fifty shades of grey?

You will never go broke selling what gold digging hoes want.

Blogger Markku November 10, 2015 1:49 PM  

If they are using it properly, they are giving assent to an argument that you use to come to the conclusion. If they say it about the conclusion, which they didn't actually know, they r doin it rong.

Blogger Were-Puppy November 10, 2015 1:55 PM  

E=MC2

I know, right?

Blogger VD November 10, 2015 1:58 PM  

Is this book counted separately from the same story in movie transcript format?

Yes.

Anonymous elmer t. jones November 10, 2015 2:24 PM  

Spent 4 months writing my managerial classic. Took a few days to format it into epub and uploaded for sale on Amazon. Was a little more work to get it accepted by an aggregator for distribution through Apple, B&N and some others. After 2 weeks on the market have sold 20 copies. Looks like I will have to go back to Encorpera after all.

Am writing a blog post describing my writing and publishing process which may be of interest to total noobs. Otherwise lots of people are sharing their publishing experience and you can find them with a web search.

Blogger Duke of URL VFM#391 November 10, 2015 2:28 PM  

It would be interesting to see another line on that graph, showing the constant increase in price of eBooks (hard for me to understand, since the COST of producing & distributing them is actually steadily going down).
AFAIK, the actual authors aren't getting the "benefit" of the average price zooming from $2.99 to $8.99 to $13.99...
The number of eBooks I buy per month (used to be at least two dozen - yes, I read quickly) has certainly dropped, purely because of the prices being jacked up.

Blogger Duke of URL VFM#391 November 10, 2015 2:34 PM  

@20. Red Jack
When the report you mentioned was first published, I wondered about it. I buy A LOT of books. Recently, I have shifted from buying ebooks from the big 5 to buying used copies (often for pennies). When an ebook is $14, and a used dead tree version of the same title is $1, I get the dead tree version. If there is no used book at the right price, I wait till the ebook goes down. I do buy more ebooks than DT books by far, but I will risk a few bucks on a new book that I don't know about. I will not drop $14 on one. That means I buy more from indie and small publishing houses.
===
Absolutely, Jack. I am 100% with you.

Blogger Duke of URL VFM#391 November 10, 2015 2:44 PM  

@52. Were-Puppy
@22 Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus
This is HORRIBLE!
If the Big Five collapse, who will act as gatekeepers to keep all the politically incorrect hate speech from hitting the market?
---
QQ And what will befall the Hugos? Will they have to replace the award in the shape of an HPL bust with a cheap Chia Pet of Color?
===
OOO! I think I WANT one of those, Were-Puppy!

Blogger SirHamster November 10, 2015 3:04 PM  

Asshole newcomers, however, do not have this baggage. They can build their system from scratch to suit the current situation.

Creative destruction. The old is unable to keep up with environmental changes, and failing to reinvent themselves, must die to make room for their betters.

Blogger Aeoli Pera November 10, 2015 3:32 PM  

@12,

Thanks Rolf.

Economics isn't my game, but it seemed like "less than zero sum game" would mean something other than "shrinking pie". Ah well, explaining difficult concepts to uneducated rubes like myself can be tough.

Anonymous Anonymous November 10, 2015 3:45 PM  

Question, is there a hardware and/or software solution to 'electronically read' KU books (I don't mean the audible or WhisperSync version of books, but the full selection of regular books available through KU) aloud in an electronic voice? I would like the ability to sometimes curl up in bed and read, and sometimes listen while grinding on a workout, without being limited only to the audio books. I am thinking of something like Siri reading emails or Dragon Naturally Speaking reading word docs, except compatible with KU files. Does any have something like that which works acceptably well?
Thank you,
Daedalus Mugged

Blogger Markku November 10, 2015 4:01 PM  

Anonymous, yes, see this link's "Listen to content with Text-to-Speech" part.

Anonymous Samuel Stevens November 10, 2015 4:15 PM  

I worry about potential manipulation and censorship of e-books, given the politically correct era we live in. If I own a hard copy, it's in my house on my shelf. You don't actually 'own' any of your Kindle books (check out their terms of service).

Indie publishing is great and e-books are convenient. I just worry about their durability. Yes, physical books can decay I know, but the infrastructure necessary for electronic files is even more fragile.

Blogger Red Jack November 10, 2015 4:33 PM  

@66 Yes I worry about that also. However, I do keep a down load of most of my ebooks on a separate hard drive. At first, it was to be able to reload a new device without downloading all the books when I didn't have decent wifi. Now it is more of a peace of mind thing.

There are ways to strip out the DRM in many of the books. The ones I most care about do not have it.

Still, the biggest concern is the tracking. Amazon has a record of books I have ordered, and there are some I would rather not leave that trail. My gunsmithing books for instance, or my old history books that don't quite match the narrative today (never know when a Missouri professor will report you to the police). I know that Amazon uses and sells that metadata, and and the Fedgov probably has a copy.

Of course, my kid's books are on there also. So they may think I am a well armed Brony.

Blogger Duke of URL VFM#391 November 10, 2015 4:38 PM  

@66. Samuel Stevens
I worry about potential manipulation and censorship of e-books, given the politically correct era we live in. If I own a hard copy, it's in my house on my shelf. You don't actually 'own' any of your Kindle books (check out their terms of service).
===
Didn't Kindle get in a world of trouble for somehow deleting a book from "owners'" files?
It's not just the censorship that will make trouble - there is no doubt that there will be a massive EMP sooner or later - electronic files are delicate and easily damaged or destroyed - treeware volumes will survive almost anything.

Anonymous That Would Be Telling November 10, 2015 4:50 PM  

Someone, perhaps not knowing that while the copyrights for Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm have lapsed in for example Canada, published them without the right to in the US. Amazon obliged the rightsholders by removing them from everyone's Kindle, including one student who lost the notes he'd been taking with them.

As for preservation, it's easier for me to keep the copies of my ebooks safe than my "dead tree" books, but most people won't go to that much trouble, and paper books are immune to after the fact changing as well as consignment to the memory hole coined by Orwell in 1984. And we know from the Confederate Flag incident, plus, oh, Bezos buying The Washington Post, that the danger is not infinitesimal.

But the barriers to entry are somewhat low, taking such steps will result in serious blowback, and I suppose we should start planning for the day.

Blogger Joshua Sinistar November 10, 2015 4:52 PM  

Publishing is a dying industry. try to find anyone under thirty that actually reads books in any form. I don't think you can find any that even read comic books anymore. If you can find a sizeable number of youths in a bookstore, you must be living in the far east.
Public education has completely turned the young off of reading. The kind of garbage they push in schools now should be burned. These vibrant authors of color are monosyllabic illiterate buffoons with anti-white hateful screeds disguised as literature. The female authors are romance novel writer wannabes that pretend to write serious fiction.
Education is just a racket now. A real government would shut it down and prosecute the school boards under the RICO laws. The payoffs and ripoffs that happen with schools and their budgets are probably so bad they could be an episode of Miami Vice with Crockett and Tubbs pretending to be textbook dealers bribing overpaid superintendents with hookers and blow at a hotel in order to get a suitcase full of cash for overpriced elementary reader material.
People should keep their kids at home and teach them there. Those teachers are probably dumber than people your kids would meet on skid row if they were hookers.

Blogger Josh November 10, 2015 5:22 PM  

try to find anyone under thirty that actually reads books in any form

Care to make a wager on that?

Anonymous Rhys O'Reilly November 10, 2015 5:40 PM  

@ VD The changes in KU has seriously hurt the novella market

Is there still a market for novellas at all?



They changed compensation from copies downloaded to pages read


How much is the pay per page?


Blogger Dave November 10, 2015 5:43 PM  

Q: will Rolf's new novel, RTRH2, TWBW10 & JCW's next be made available on KU at the same time you initially start selling them?

I'm tempted by Amazon's free KU trial but only if new releases are immediately available. I'm going to buy them regardless (epubs) but I can see myself reading them on KU however I must have them as soon as they're available.

In other words it won't be the situation like some cable companies are only allowing viewers to "purchase" the latest movie releases for say $17.99 then after a few months they "rent" the same movie for $6.99

Blogger VD November 10, 2015 6:03 PM  

How much is the pay per page?

It varies, but around one half-cent per page. Technically, it's well below SFWA's "professional" rate of 6 cents per word.

will Rolf's new novel, RTRH2, TWBW10 & JCW's next be made available on KU at the same time you initially start selling them?

Probably, as long as we make more that way. Otherwise, we might delay them two months or so.

Blogger VD November 10, 2015 6:04 PM  

In other words it won't be the situation like some cable companies are only allowing viewers to "purchase" the latest movie releases for say $17.99 then after a few months they "rent" the same movie for $6.99

If we don't put them on KU right away, they'll be available from Castalia until we do.

Blogger Anthony November 10, 2015 7:13 PM  

How much is the pay per page?

It varies, but around one half-cent per page. Technically, it's well below SFWA's "professional" rate of 6 cents per word.


So that means it would take about 3,000 readers to count as a professional sale, if that's the only way it's available.

Blogger Ngita November 10, 2015 7:21 PM  

Over and over I see new books being pushed in all the normal places, they look good then I see its a big 5 book at a horrendous price for a author I have never read before, and the answer is No.

If its any good then I will eventually read it on paper from the library or 2nd hand. I am not part of KU but I buy a lot of books and I am still reading books I brought in 2014, I don't need to spend $15 on something that "might" be good.

Blogger Byron Grimes November 10, 2015 7:54 PM  

Vox, Markku,
Is there any chance that Castalia might do anthologies, perhaps on a semiannual/annual basis? This would allow you to continue to find excellent shorter works as you did with Hyperspace Demons. I personally would love an anthology of stories set in that universe.

Just looking for ways that will enable you to support shorter formats as well.

Blogger hightecrebel November 10, 2015 8:18 PM  

@70

I'm under thirty. I'm currently reading Musashi's The Book of Five Rings as I make my way through the classic works of strategy.

VFM #0071

Blogger VD November 10, 2015 8:21 PM  

Is there any chance that Castalia might do anthologies, perhaps on a semiannual/annual basis?

We already do two anthology series, THERE WILL BE WAR and RIDING THE RED HORSE.

Anonymous Floyd Looney November 10, 2015 10:44 PM  

I really hope this trend continues.

Blogger Kirk Parker November 11, 2015 3:36 AM  

Duke of Earl @59,

Don't fall into the "labor theory of value" favored by Marxists, ok?

Blogger jon spencer November 11, 2015 9:44 PM  

If I see a book or hear of a new author, I look at their Amazon page to see if their books are KU. If the majority of their books are (and if they have a series all of the series must be KU) then I will add that author to my follow list and eventually get around to read their writing. There are many authors on KU that want me to read what they have written and get a bit of my money. Also, it seems like there are many major publishers that don't.

Blogger Groot November 12, 2015 12:11 AM  

"Dead tree version"

Monsters! Bastards! You're all bastards... (and you all know each other)

Blogger James Dixon November 13, 2015 7:34 PM  

>There are ways to strip out the DRM in many of the books. The ones I most care about do not have it.

Download Kindle for PC, Google Apprentice Alf, and start reading.

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