Monday, April 04, 2011

From the Front Lines of Bookery


Okay, the official announcement that I will pass along to my–ah–social media ...

The best e-version of The Dreadnaught, by Reaves and Yours Truly, is now up at Dan Moran's. You can find it elsewhere, but this version is the best-looking, and it costs the same, plus you can get it in pretty much any format you can read. Plus Dan is a nice guy.

In fact, anything that is available in Dan's store is going to be a nicer-looking version than you can get electronically elsewhere.

Because Dan is a nice guy, he gave me a PDF version of the novel that is suitable for POD–that's print-on-demand, and I have uploaded that file to Lulu.com and made the book available that way. In theory, you should be able to find it here. (But it's not fully processed yet, so it might be another day or two.)

Not that I'm worried, but you might wait a few days before you rush to get the print version; I've ordered a copy and I want to check it and make sure it didn't print funny, itty-bitty type or some other thing I got wrong when I uploaded it. I'll stick a note up here when it shows up next week. 

The reason I'm not worried overmuch about this, and not to poison my own well or anything, but POD is wheezing along a distant third in the race among ebooks, traditional books, and POD, and not only unlikely to catch up, it's falling farther behind every lap.

Here's why: First: Cost. This novel is a big 'un, so if you print it as a trade paperback, it runs just under six hundred pages. In order to make it available this way, I have to charge $19.99, and that gives me a profit margin more than 25% less than I make on the e-version. And this is split two ways, recall, since it is a collaboration. 

So, if you want this book, your legal choice is, a fat trade paperback for twenty bucks plus four bucks shipping, and a delivery of 4-7 days via snailmail. (You can get it overnighted by UPS, but it'll cost as much as the book itself.) Or, you can get the ebook delivered to your reader in maybe two minutes for $7, no shipping cost. I make more money, so you are doing me a favor–not to mention a favor for your own pocketbook by paying two-thirds and some less.

Second: Convenience.

Let's look at the comparison:

Trade paperback: ~ $24 + 4-7 days for delivery. More than three times as much as an ebook.

eBook: ~$7, and you can be reading it in less time than it takes you to finish this post telling you all this. 

Having gone down this road before, I can tell you that all the people who told me, "Oh, a new novel? Well, I don't do electronic books, but if you make it available in print, I'll grab it up!" 

Well, not to put too fine a point on it, most of them lied ...

I recognize that there are readers who prefer paper over plastic, and frankly, I'm one of them. But to offer paper books of which I will the publisher be, it'll cost a premium price. No way around that.

If I get the rights back on the Matador novels and decide to offer POD versions, those will be mass market paperbacks and short enough I can probably get the cost down to maybe ten  bucks, plus shipping; which isn't so bad compared to traditional paperback prices. Still twice as much as the e-versions are apt to be. (If I sold them at cost, made no money at all, they'd still cost more than traditional paperbacks the same length.)

Hard to slice this pie so POD comes out with the biggest piece, no matter how you place the knife.

9 comments:

Dan Moran said...

I'm with you. I think POD is a niche market -- easy enough to address, which is why fsand does the POD version of the PDF files, for people who are just dying to have paper -- but the economics are brutal, and not going to get better.

Nathan Barker said...

Steve

Lulu is probably the worst example you could use for POD comparison (except maybe PublishAmerica). Random House, Del Rey, and other major houses are now using POD technology for parts of their backlists, Amazon offers the service at a much more competitive price point if you are "self-publishing." Lulu is a vanity-press site, not a POD publisher. There is a big difference, most notably in cost and quality.

Nathan Barker said...

Just for an example, you should be able to publish most novel-length works via POD at a price point between $10 and $14.95 and still be netting $2-3 per copy sold.

Steve Perry said...

Nathan --

Just for fun, I went to Amazon.com's Create Space, and when I plugged in the book, was told it would cost *more* to publish it there. In order to even qualify for Amazon.com's list, I'd have to add yet another three bucks to the price.

Not what I'd call a "much more competitive price point."

Their cover-creator wizard is crappier, and while I could do my own PDF and upload it, just as I could for Lulu, I don't see why I'd elect to do more work for less royalty.

I did a full-wrap cover myself for Master of Pamor and it was a decent cover, but I'd have to get new software to create PDFs to do that again, so if the cover wizard is okay, that makes more sense.

Plus CreateSpace won't let me delete the project until it processes it, and if my experience with Amazon.com holds otherwise, that's at least a couple days out, and even even deleting it altogether is iffy.

No advantage to me here I can see.

Steve Perry said...

Understand, I think the only two copies we are gonna sell of this as POD are the ones I buy to check how it printed and the one Reaves buys for his ego rack, so it's kind of moot. I wouldn't have gone this way at all if Reaves hadn't wanted a hard copy.

Anonymous said...

Gee, you're like the big brother I never had. (Or maybe I did have you and that's why they're finding body parts scattered all over the Mojave ...)

Dan Moran said...

There are strange people on the internet.

Scott said...

Just bought the Roy collection at Smashwords. Fun, cheap, in the cloud? Perfect.

Steve Perry said...

Thank you kindly, Scott. All donations to the fund are appreciated.