where the writers are
The effects of e-books
bibliomaniac
Amazon.com Amazon.com
Powell's Books Powell's Books

The New York Times, in writing about the upcoming release of Dan Brown's new book, said this:

No topic is more hotly debated in book circles at the moment than the timing, pricing and ultimate impact of e-books on the financial health of publishers and retailers. Publishers are grappling with e-book release dates partly because they are trying to understand how digital editions affect demand for hardcover books. A hardcover typically sells for anywhere from $25 to $35, while the most common price for an e-book has quickly become $9.99.

Amazon.com, which sells electronic editions for its Kindle device, has effectively made $9.99 the de facto price for most best sellers, a price that publishers believe will reduce their profit margins over time. Barnes & Noble, through its Fictionwise arm, also sells best sellers in e-book form, for $9.95.

We writers have little to say about these things, of course.  I only found out that my backlist (a good portion of it out of print) had become available electronically, and for me it was a relief; an author hates to have a book go out of print.  It does make me wonder about what's coming, though.  Again.  If a book is available for the Kindle, say, does it ever go out of print? 

My original trilogy, The Singers of Nevya, is coming out this fall with the fine small press Fairwood.  If those books had been available in electronic form, meaning essentially they were still in print, it's possible I could not have reverted my rights and done this omnibus edition.  This may mean the rest of my bibliography is doomed to stay in the hands of the original publishers.  (I shouldn't say "doomed", I suppose.  "Slated"?)

That said, it's lovely to get emails from fans who are discovering my old books they couldn't find before, and which now they read on their favorite electronic device.  We're still sailing on this voyage of discovery.

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E-verything

As you say, L, this crapshoot world is even more so now. My favorite quote: "Nobody knows anything" -- William Goldman

Congratulations for regaining control of the "Nevya" world. Maybe this new reality will lead to more conditional contracts for writers -- like, holding on to e-rights when signing with a major publisher...or lining up bigger shares of e-royalties. Or, setting limits to pubs' ownership of your book -- surely agents must be thinking about these issues.

After years of "considering everything" and being "open" to new tech and stuff -- easy to do when you're not published -- I'm re-convinced that selling into the traditional publishing scene is still the preferred way of vetting your work for the marketplace. The "you-want-it-pay-for-it" revolution is looming. Maybe the NYTimes will start the backlash soon. I'd pay them for their extraordinary daily product.

The e-orgy has taught us this: the good stuff is worth it, and it lasts. And the writer is the only one who'll preserve and relaunch it. The e-market actually could (should) empower writers to take charge of their work.

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Hear, hear.

What you said.