Wednesday, July 13, 2011

ebook Update

Dan Moran and I have kicked some notions back and forth, in re the Matadors as ebooks, and will be smoothing out the details in what I suspect will be short order. 

I had hoped to get a new Matador novel done and ready to go by the time the old ones went onto the market, but the reversion process went much quicker than I had been led to believe, and no point in waiting; best to make hay while the sun shines.

The details aren't done, but at the least, what this will entail will include the following:

All of these novels will be available as ebooks via Dan's FS& store, save for The Musashi Flex. This is because that one is still on the market at in that format. The titles are:

The Man Who Never Missed; Matadora; The Machiavelli Interface; The 97-Step; The Albino Knife; Black Steel; Brother Death. 

The Omega Cage (with Michael Reaves), is already available there.

There will be a period of exclusivity with Dan; I dunno how long, but for a while, this will be the venue at which you can legally get 'em. I believe he said that as the publisher, he can get these into other markets. (Dan's books are in all the popular formats, easily read on Kindles, iPads 'n' Pods, phones, computers, Nooks, Kobos, etc. Buying direct makes him and me more money.)

There will be new covers, to the end of continuity, likely by an artist we both like who has done other cover work. Not the illo at the top of this post. We're talking to her now.

POD. This is a thorny problem. I've addressed this before, but let me explain why once again:

For those folks for whom treeware is a must-have, we are considering offering a formatted-print-on-demand file. What you do with this is take this on a flashmem stick to your university POD store, hand it to them, and go have lunch. They will print a book for you, about twelve bucks for a 300-pager, and have it ready when you get back. It will be designed to print just like a paper novel, margins, page numbers, etc, and will include the cover.

Alternatively, you can send it to several online book makers who will do the same thing cheaper than we can do it for you. Three hundred page book, with a cover, about eight bucks, plus shipping, so that's probably about the same cost.

And yeah, since you have to pay for the file, add that to the cost of the paper book. So in those scenarios, the book runs you $18–the cost of the POD file, the print cost, and shipping, if necessary. 

Even if we can get the price down so it is close to what a pb would cost, there will still be shipping costs. If we didn't add any profit this way, if we let it go for cost, you still wind up paying twice what the e-version cost.

That would make us nice guys, but it isn't, um, economically feasible for us, to give them away. Not when our profit on the ebooks is 100% if we sell it direct, and a 70% royalty via Do the math: Six bucks @ 100% = $6. At 70% = $4.20. If we take zero royalty on a POD, it'll still cost you $12 or $13 minimum, will ship in 3-5 working days, and however long it takes to get to your house. You pay twice as much and we don't get any of it.

If print is what readers want, we can facilitate that, but is gonna run you treeware fans two-and-a-half to three times as much per book.

And I have to say this right out: Because you say you want it in paper doesn't mean you will actually buy it in paper. I've had fans tell me, "Oh, yeah, well, if you put that out in paper, I'll snap it up!" And I know for a fact they didn't because I can track every sale that Lulu makes. 

You see why retail POD isn't a good idea for a writer?

Back on the e-side, probably there will be some kind of omnibus, wherein you can buy a collection of some or all the books for a discount–we haven't talked about that, but it would make sense, and I expect that will be an option. 

More as we firm things up. Stay tuned.


triksterut said...

That's great news. I had to track all these down on twice (the second time after the person I let borrow them lost them) :) Some of them are rather pricey commodities at this point.

Justin said...

Steve, I'd really like to see you add some type of intro to each story -- talking about what you were thinking when you wrote the book, your feelings on the finished product, etc. I mean, chances are good that a chunk of people who will buy these have already read 'em before. It'd be a nice little "special feature" and it would only set you back the time it takes to write it out.

I know I liked reading your new Facebook buddy Orson Scott Card's intro to Ender's Game (after I finished reading the novel, of course).

Steve Perry said...

Jeez,Justin, that was twenty-five years ago -- I'm lucky to remember what I was thinking this morning ...

Lance Hoddinott said...

Thanks for the update. Looking forward to having them in E-formats.

Anonymous said...

The reason I'd rather have POD or dead-tree media isn't based around luddite OCD. Based around my thinking, e-format media are easier to lose. Different scenarios: I lose track of the file, the machine it's on dies taking a Library of Alexandrea with it, etc. It's more paranoia about losing a good story than having the book in-hand.

If there was a way to track the books that I bought, so they could be re-acquired without additional cost, that would be helpful. But then if your distributor went out of business, changes their business model (etc..), we're back to possession of a physical book being easier.

Your fiscal examples were great. Some would consider it to be insurance.

Would you consider a model where you offered a "bundle"? Hook-up with a POD supplier and they give a discount rate. I order a POD book through your site and you send it directly to your preferred POD publisher then the book arrives at my house. You get the ebook price, the printer gets a POD order and I get a ground-up, inked shrub to keep and hold and enjoy.


Steve Perry said...

Anon --

My preference is for treeware, I've pointed that out every time this comes up. A nice leather-bound book beats an ebook hands down when it comes to the reading experience for me.

But for a lot of reasons, physical books, for all their durability and non-battery corporality, are going to continue to decline in popularity.

Nothing wrong with an LP phonograph record, lot of folks think they are warmer-sounding than tapes, CDs, or MP3, a superior sound, just like tube amps for your guitar over solid-state. But those have become scarce and expensive because technology has moved on.

MP3 and e-music files have seriously wounded the music industry, and there are a lot of musicians on the road because they can't make a living any more selling recordings of their music. The game is changing in all directions.

Author readings don't draw much in they way of paying audiences.

POD is certainly useful. I am apt to print myself copies of my own books, but unless computers and the internet just go away entirely, somewhere there will exist files. If they do go away completely, probably nobody is going to have the time nor energy to read my space opera anyhow.

There are folks willing to pay premium prices for what they consider quality material. Apparently my stuff doesn't spark them, based on my experience.

(If enough people wanted it, I'd do it, but consider this: Reaves and I are New York Times Bestselling authors. We wrote a big fantasy novel that has sold okay as an ebook; as a POD, other than the copies he and I each got for our ego racks? Zip.

Thong the Barbarian, our novelette, has already sold more e-copies than it did in print form, and as a print book, is rare enough to be a collector's item.)

And the best prices I can find for POD, given my sales numbers, won't result in a discount that brings the cost down to less than twice what an ebook runs. I've looked.

What this means is that I'll do a fair amount of work for each title to service a tiny audience and what time I have left might be better spent doing other stuff.

If people really want paper versions, they can take the file or send it to be printed. It will require some effort on their parts but if they are willing to do it, the option will be there.

Justin said...

Steve: You were thinking about walking the dogs. They were a bit over-exuberant. Plus, it was a beautiful day.
And since you're a man, you thought about sex at least 5 times.

Steve Perry said...

Nah, at my age, you think about sex more. You just can't *do* it more ...