Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Age of E-Books

Are authors feeling the pinch? (Not this author~ as far as I am concerned e-books are the best thing since sliced bread.)
It has always been tough for literary fiction writers to get their work published by the top publishing houses. But the digital revolution that is disrupting the economic model of the book industry is having an outsize impact on the careers of literary writers.

Priced much lower than hardcovers, many e-books generate less income for publishers. And big retailers are buying fewer titles. As a result, the publishers who nurtured generations of America's top literary-fiction writers are approving fewer book deals and signing fewer new writers. Most of those getting published are receiving smaller advances.

"Advances are down, and there aren't as many debuts as before," says Ira Silverberg, a well-known literary agent. "We're all trying to figure out what the business is as it goes through this digital disruption." (Read more.)


Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Interesting article. I've recently taken the e-book plunge myself, partly because I could no longer contain my curiosity over everything I'd read about e-book publishing. I wanted to see what it was like. Very pleased you've found the experience to be worthwhile. Best wishes for your continued success.

Unknown said...

That's why I like blogging.

R J said...

It would be good to see international figures - if they exist - for e-book selling. All I can say is that while Australians tend to be very fast adapters of new technology (we became addicted to cell phones ["mobile phones" in Aussie-speak] far earlier than Americans did, and addicted to CDs far earlier than Europeans did), I see extremely little evidence that most Australians are interested in e-books.

This could change over the next year, and it'll be a pity if it doesn't, because Australia should be a good fit for the whole e-book phenomenon. Our population is small (only 21mil), mostly affluent, more or less literate (not that you'd guess this from the average Australian high school student), and on a global per capita basis, exceptionally fond of book-buying; but it is scattered over huge geographical distances. Therefore it remains badly served by conventional literary distribution methods.

Thus far, though, e-book devices appear hardly to have impinged on the antipodean consciousness at all. I have seen precisely two people in Australia with e-book-reading mechanisms. And one of them was reading, via her Kindle, Tony Blair's memoirs: which is surely a worse use of one's time than remaining totally unlettered!