Friday, December 12, 2008

The Burgeoning eBook Market

Today's post is from guest author Jean Henry Mead who began her writing career as a journalist, became a magazine editor and an award-winning photo-journalist before branching into full-length books. Her novels include a Wyoming historical novel titled Escape, and her new Logan & Cafferty mystery, A Village Shattered.




I first heard about the e-book market in 1999 when small electronic publishers sprang up like weeds in a flower garden. Many of their products were substandard and unedited, which gave the market a bad name. Now, the standards have not only improved dramatically, their quality is nearly, if not equal to that of the larger publishing houses.

Since the year 2000, Japanese ebook sales have reached ten billion yen. Reported sales in the U.S. from fifteen e-publishers total some $14 million for the first three quarters of this year, which doesn’t include library and discounted sales that may double the number.

I served as a judge for the recently held 2009 Eppie Awards competition, the "Oscars" of ebook publishing, and was amazed at the quality of writing. Some of the books I judged were from the British Isles and I will definitely look for additional work by those authors as well as our own domestic writers.

I signed with a small publisher for my last two books, and both have come out in print as well as ebook editions. I now have more control over the final product and there’s never a long wait between acceptance and publication. Now that promoting your book online has become so much easier than road touring, in less than a week of publication, my mystery novel, A Village Shattered, reached the number one spot in sales at the Fictionwise-ePress site. It’s a good feeling to know that your book can reach bestseller status in a worldwide market from a small publisher.

I’ve heard disparaging remarks on a couple of forums about “writers of that ilk,” meaning published in ebook form. I seriously doubt the writers who made the remarks have read ebooks lately. In my opinion, they’re first rate from most publishers. I’ve been writing professionally for forty years and have learned something about quality.


I’m also a bibliophile. I love books and have thousands of them in bookcases in every room in my house. In fact, we’ve run out of space. It’s gotten to the point where we’ll either have to build on another room to serve as a library, or make the transition to ebooks. I bought my husband and myself ebook readers for Christmas. My husband loves to read in bed and the reader is backlighted so he can read in the dark while I sleep. Most of the readers can store from 60 to 120 books in their small cases so they’re perfect for airline flights or long trips by car.


This year new marketing models have been developed to standardize ebook readers, and because they’ve achieved global distribution, and electronics manufactures are producing more e-readers for general consumption, the market is increasing dramatically. Amazon.com has its Kindle model, endorsed recently by Whoopi Goldberg on “The View.” She takes the Kindle with her wherever she travels, and loves the fact that over a hundred books are available in her palm-sized reader. There are a number of other e-readers just as capable of satisfying their owners, and hopefully will all soon be standardized so that every multi format book can be read on each one.

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Ms. Mead will be here all day to answer any questions you have about her books, the e-book business, or any other questions you may have (like how many books you read when you judge contests like the EPPIE). Please use the comments link below to ask your questions and check back later today to read Ms. Mead's responses.


Tommorrow, Ms. Mead takes her virtual book tour to Holly Jahangiri's blog. The full tour schedule is at MyBlogTour. At the end of the tour, three lucky winners will be selected to receive one copy each of A Village Shattered.

29 comments:

Charlotte Phillips, Co-Author of The Eva Baum Detective Series said...

Jean,

Thanks for visiting my blog today. I loved the article.

Char

Jean Henry Mead said...

Thank you, Char. It's a pleasure to visit your site today. Thanks also for hosting my tour.

Jean Henry Mead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Betty Gordon said...

Ms. Mead, your synopsis (and cover) of "The Village Shattered" is intriguing and one that assures me I would enjoy your work.

In addition, your article on e-book publishing is on point. I, too, judged some of the manuscripts submitted for the EPPIES this year and join you in complimenting the many authors who submitted.

Back to e-book publishing, I remember a few years ago at one of the Bouchercon's a fellow was talking about e-book publishing and that it was a trend of the future. The few of us listening to him kinda smiled at each other and mumbled, "Oh, sure." Well, now--here we are and it's wonderful for authors and readers as well.

My best to you in all your future endeavors.

Betty Gordon
Isisgor@aol.com

Jean Henry Mead said...

Thank you, Betty, for taking the time to stop by and leave a much appreciated message. It's great to part of the "wave of the future," isn't it?

Marvin D. Wilson said...

Interesting article. I too have been fascinated with the growth of ebooks popularity. It's beyond me WHY, I don't think I'll ever be able to give up the feel, smell and comfort of a good book in my hands. But ya can't ignore the market. Both my books are in print, ebook and Kindle. And all further releases will be the same.

Jean, heard anything about maybe amazon lowering the cost of the Kindle book reader? I know when it first came out it got good reviews but the price - $400 - was roundly criticized as a deterrent to many consumers.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Yes, Marv, I've heard rumblings that the Kindle will soon be lowered in price. A good move in the present economy, if they want to sell many of them.

Latayne said...

Where can we find more information on Eppies? I've had a lot of books published by "regular" publishers and would like to know more. Thanks for an interesting interview!

Latayne C Scott
www.latayne.com

Latayne said...

Sorry, forgot to ask about another matter -- what is considered a "best seller" in ebook format? Number of copies? Competitiveness against print books? Thanks!

Latayne C Scott
www.latayne.com

Helen Ginger said...

Jean, how are most ebooks published? Do they come out in conjunction with a print book and the print publisher does the ebook? Does the author get software to create and distribute their own ebooks? I'd like to understand more about ebooks.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Latayne,

You have to be published by a publisher that produces both print and ebooks, unless you want to buy equipment to publish your own. Then you're faced with a distribution problem. Google "ebook publishers" and a list of them will come up, but it's nearly as difficult to find one accepting new writers now as it is to find a print publisher. I would ask your current print pubisher if they're considering also producing ebooks.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Helen,

As I said in an earlier comment, most ebooks are produced by publishers who also publish print editions. You can buy the inexpensive equipment at electronic stores to produce your own but it's time consuming and you have to distribute them yourself. That can be done from your own blog or web site in conjunction with PayPal but be careful that your print book contract doesn't include multi format (ebook) editions. In other words, make sure that you have the electronic rights to your work in your own name. If it's an original piece of work and previously unpublished, you're safe in producing your own ebook.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Latayne,

I didn't really answer your question, did I? The Eppie Awards are submitted by the ebook publishers, and as far as bestsellers are concerned, it's usually the top ten best selling ebooks from a particular publisher. I don't have any sales figures but will email my editor and get back to you on that.

Charlotte Phillips, Co-Author of The Eva Baum Detective Series said...

Marvin,

Thanks for stopping by. There is a link in the side bar that will take you to a list of e-book readers and prices (kindle and sony, I think) at Amazon.

Char

Charlotte Phillips, Co-Author of The Eva Baum Detective Series said...

Latayne,

More information on EPPIEs is available at http://www.epicauthors.com/eppies.html

Charlotte

Charlotte Phillips, Co-Author of The Eva Baum Detective Series said...

Latayne,

If you have books in print and own the rights, it might be worth your while to check out fictionwise.com. I've heard (no first hand info) that if you have some number of books (3?, 4?, 5?) they'll work with you to get them in e-format.

Char

Latayne said...

Wow! Great information! I have my bucket full, so to speak. Thank you so much, and I'll check out fictionwise.com. Kudos on a very useful column!

Latayne C Scott
www.latayne.com

Writer Lady said...

This is truly relevant. It makes sense to read books electronically, but no one yet has built the e-book reader that suits us all - and our books.

I look forward to watching this market.

I wish Santa would buy me a Kindle for Christmas.

Lillie Ammann said...

E-books are a real blessing to those of us who can't read print because of vision problems. I have a Kindle and an eBookWise reader and seldom read print books though I did read one recently that had larger than normal print.

My first novel was published by an e-book publisher in 1999, and my current novel is available in both Kindle and other e-book formats. As others have mentioned, I judged the EPPIES as I have for a number of years and was impressed with the quality. E-books in general are better written and better edited than the early days. And it's a lot cheaper and takes up a lot less space to buy e-books than print books.

Generally e-book publishers (and some small publishers who primarily publish print) publish both print and e-book formats. However authors who owns electronic rights to their books can publish for the Kindle directly with Amazon. So anyone who has a print-only contract can bring out their own Kindle edition.

Jean Henry Mead said...

I was AWOL for a while because my broadband service was down for over four hours this afternoon. As for Kindle, I was under the impression that writers have to pay Amazon to produce ebooks for the Kindle reader. If I'm wrong on that, I hope someone will let me know.

Lillie, I agree that ebook readers are a God send for people with vision problems, and those who have so many print books that there's no room for more.

Sharon - inspiring stories said...

Great evaluation of e-book trends. We have published our first book as an e-book and are in process of getting it into print. I'm still getting lots of feedback from potential customers who say they are waiting for the print version. But I know e-books have also come into their own. Do you have any figures on how many of your books sell in e-book form as opposed to print?

Charlotte Phillips, Co-Author of The Eva Baum Detective Series said...

Writer Lady,

May your Christmas wish be granted! I have several friends with e-book readers and they swear by them. One lucky lady has 2. She says the Sony version looks more like a real book when you are reading, but it is not back lit, so can't be read in the dark. The kindle (and she has an older, clunk version - not sleek like the newer ones) is for reading in the dark. Everyone I know who owns one of these gadgets loves the ability to carry around many books with little weight.

I just haven't gotten to the point where I can imagine reading a book with out feeling the weight, turning the pages, smelling the print. I love everything about the real thing.

Charlotte Phillips, Co-Author of The Eva Baum Detective Series said...

Anyone who owns the rights to a book can work with Amazon to get that book published in kindle format. The latest terms and agreements can be found at http://forums.digitaltextplatform.com/dtpforums/entry.jspa?externalID=2&categoryID=12. Read carefully the part about the rights you sign over to Amazon. There used to be a fee (~$100), but I didn't see mention of a fee on a quick glance through the agreement this morning.

Charlotte Phillips, Co-Author of The Eva Baum Detective Series said...

Lillie,

Thanks for reminding us that e-readers have additional benefits for those with vision issues. Do your different readers have different pros and cons?

Gwyn Ramsey said...

A very interesting write up on e-publishing. I agree, this type of publishing has come a long way. How nice to be part of a changing trend.

Charlotte Phillips, Co-Author of The Eva Baum Detective Series said...

Gwyn,

Thanks so much for stopping by. Hope to see you again soon.

Charlotte

Charlotte

Joyce Shelton said...

Jean, I had never heard of the e book machines you were talking ab out before. I love books and we travel alot and I do so love to read at night. I am going to look into getting on e of these e book things myself. You have opened my eyes and mind to a new kind of book! lol My husband is gonna think I am crazy but I am going to look this up and show it to him! God Bless and Merry Christmas!

Charlotte Phillips, Co-Author of The Eva Baum Detective Series said...

Joyce,

I hope Santa fills your stocking! If you click the link (in the green panel to the right, near the top) that says "E-book Readers" it will take you to an Amazon.com page full of readers that Amazon sells. This is just a place to begin your research. Some of the readers mentioned in Jean's article and other comments are not represented on this Amazon page.

Good luck to you,
Char

Jean Henry Mead said...

Joyce,

I was referring to the ebook "stomper" that you use to place labels on CDs or DVDs. It's a round plastic base which holds the CD so that you can place a label on it. A friend bought one recently at Office Depot.

As for ebook readers, I have an eBookwise reader that I bought from the Fictionwise site. It depends where you want to buy your ebooks, which reader you buy. My ebooks are sold at Fictionwise, the largest and most respected ebook distributor, so that's why I bought the eBookwise. Hopefully, all readers and ebooks will soon be standardized.