I have not been a strong proponent of e-books, mostly because they don’t appeal to me. But since I received a nice review from a Kindle reader a couple days ago I’ve been rethinking the issue.
My pal and fellow mystery writer Joe Konrath is a Kindle bestseller. He says that e-books are the future and as always, he’s hard to argue with. His new horror novel, Afraid, is available for both the Amazon Kindle and the Sony Reader for $1.99. That’s way cheaper than most, but it may be worth it. The book is the #1 Kindle download in the horror fiction category and #11 overall, without advertising or a book tour.
It’s nice to move numbers like that, but will authors make any money? Royalties are in no way uniform, but here’s an example. Literary agent Richard Curtis says that Simon & Schuster contracts offer a royalty of 25% of net receipts for e-books. Notice, that’s not 25% of the sale price. But even if the web site retailer takes a 50% cut of a $10 book, it’s more cash in the writer’s pocket than the usual 7% or 8% he’d get on a $15 trade paperback. Of course, Joe Konrath’s not getting rich on a $1.99 download, but he IS getting new readers who may well look for his other books.
BTW, the Kindle gets all the press these days, but my novel Blood and Bone has long been available on Fictionwise, an e-book retailer that Barnes & Noble recently bought. Sony and Google are teaming up to give Sony Reader users access to the books in Google’s book digitization process. B & N is giving away an e-book reader application for the BlackBerry. And Amazon will make Kindle books available on the iPhone and iPod.
I don’t think e-books will replace hard copies any more than iPods have eliminated CDs. And I must admit that I will always want to feel the pages under my fingers. But I do think that e-books will be a dominant force in the marketplace at some point, and we writers should be happy for any technological change that makes it easier and less expensive for readers to find and own our work.
So it was nice to see that Readermouse in Louisiana not only gave The Troubleshooter five stars, but made a point of saying in the review that there were no format problems with the Kindle version.