17 June 2010

The Season . . . and ebooks

Today there’s an excerpt of Not Quite a Lady posted at The Season. It's a great website for reviews--especially of historical romances--as well as for general discussion, comments, and top-pick lists (I adore book lists). Plus, the web design is lovely. I'm really pleased to have NQAL featured and want to thank the folks at The Season for the opportunity.

Since the site receives a lot of traffic, there are a number of comments. It’s great to get real-time feedback from readers, though I noticed that many are dismayed by the cost of ebooks. At $5.20 for an electronic file, which is what my book costs from the publisher website, I can see that it might seem a bit high, since you’re getting a file, rather than something more tangible.

On the other hand, mass-market paperbacks are increasingly running about $7.99 plus tax. More and more romances are also being issued first as trade paperbacks (the larger size books), which cost about $14.99. Recently I even saw a Jim Butcher book for $9.99 that was of a size half-way between a mass-market PB and a trade book.

My point is that $5.20, in light of the increasing cost of tree books, is not too bad a deal, unless you are seriously dissuaded by the ebook medium. Further, there’s the fact that in buying tree books, you and I are supporting an energy-intensive industry that consumes a lot of fuel in production, transport, and distribution.

Even though I haven’t yet made the switch to an ebook reader, I expect I will within the next 12 months. I’m currently traveling in Norway and it would have been a lot easier to load up an ebook reader rather than use precious backpack space for books. Plus there’s always the fear that I’ll run out of books to read while on the plane, since I just can’t stomach paying the equivalent of $20 for an English-language paperback.

Anyway, I do get reader concerns about the cost of ebooks. And as an author, it would be nice to see my work actually in print. But I’m also convinced that ebooks will take an ever increasing share of the market, and I foresee download sites at places such as airports and cafes in the near future. That means my book will have a much longer “shelf life” (file life? server life?) than any paperback.

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