So, where do you think the industry is headed in the next 5 years?
How will the rise and rise of electronic formats for books and stories change the market? Will there be a resurgence of the novella and novelette now that the restrictions resulting from the printing process are being reduced?
Are twitterzines a passing fad, or a real market?
What will the role of the gatekeepers be (editors, slush readers, bookstores etc)?
Will the market be overcome with poor stories? How will that affect the way you market your story? How will it affect the way the reader reads stories in general?
What key business model changes are coming for the writer? Or the industry?
[This message has been edited by Brendan (edited October 19, 2010).]
I'm thinking print media, at least on the level where new writers gain entry, is pretty much in the toilet. There's a good chance the so-called Big Three SF magazines will all be gone by then.
The electronic media, on the other hand, is likely to grow---but I don't think the audience, or the financial rewards, will be much bigger than what we find in the current print media. (I'm not really interested in moving from print media to electronic media, at least in the SF field.)
I publish on smashwords and via that route have access to Barnes & Noble, Amazon (any day soon) Apple ibookstore, Kobo, etc.
I make up to 85% per sale (varies by outlet). I don't need a publisher. I set the price. I can change content/cover/price at a moments notice. I am in full control.
I recieved many "interesting as this looks, we have decided..." and "you failed to make the final cut" style rejections over the years. I threw books away. No more. I'm open for business and in the marketplace; let the market decide.
Yes, there are issues. Smart publishers would ebook-publish anything good they got their hands on at minimal cost and print what sells above a certain amount. They would save publishing of the did this.
If publishers are to survive they better move soon. Name writers are shifting on the self-publishing direction. Semi-pro's are raising their game. They don't own the horses anymore; we own ourselves.
I think that the distribution model for e-books will change. With the proliferation of e-books, there are opportunities for specialized outlets.
For example, Amazon is great because of their massive warehouse of print media. If a distribution outlet that specialized in speculative fiction matured, then why wouldn't a person go there rather than row through a bunch of other authors. Going to a different site might not be that big a deal.
I also think that there will need to be some rating systems out there and reviewers. Most outlets (Amazon, B&N) have rating systems on their sites and I think that will need to be expanded to help guide readers from mediocre product to great product.
Traditional publishers provide editing...which many published writers admit makes a huge difference. Professional copy editing is valuable, too, but can be done fairly effectively in forums like this one.
Although the manufacturing and distribution cost for hard copies is far less for e-books, mainstream publishers still spend roughly the same on production and layout of an e-book, even one that they're also publishing in hard copy form.
For those reasons, publishers will continue for some time to have superior goods in general, I think, because they're willing to pay for them. Pro writers with good editing skills will close some of the gap.
I think, as you suggest, that there will be a lot more variety of forms, if the poor reader can find them in the deluge.
If you can figure out all your questions, Brendan, you can name your salary on either side of the fence.
I think people will go for the electronic version because it's new and flashy. Then people will realize that a paper book gives you a completely different experience of the story. I for one am nearly dislexic when reading on the screen. After a few dry seasons I'm confident that paper books will go back into business.
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Print will become the equivalent of cinema: where the big boys play, where the 10 million plus units are sold and movie rights are bought from.
Ebooks will become the outlet of beginning writers and midlisters who have their rights reverted to them.
It's gonna be similar to the movie industry in more than one respect: wanna get published (get a gig from a major studio) ? Write your book (make your own movie), epublish and see if it's successful (or picks up the attention of an editor).
I know some people who have no problem reading stories off their cell phone screen. Neither do i. But the majority i know prefer print, and out of those who prefer it, some would never read an ebook.
edit2: at the end of this "revolution", the editor's slushpile might be replaced by their Amazon shopping carts. [This message has been edited by Lionhunter (edited October 19, 2010).]
[This message has been edited by Lionhunter (edited October 19, 2010).]
Wow, to not have a book on a shelf in a room would really, really suck. I think there are enough people like me who love the feel and smell of aging pages, and who love to collect the printed word, that if they ever tried to go all electronic there would be rebellion.
I would cease, at that point, to ever buy another book other than a used printed copy. End of story.
It gives some pretty, er interesting, results. One particular author in that lot seems in dire need of a girlfriend tbh.
I don't think print books are in any danger just yet. There might be some good e-books out there but with things like Smashwords letting anyone publish what they like you'll need to wade through a lot of crap to find them. Personally I wouldn't bother, I'd just go to the print book section instead where much of the crap has been filtered out by an editor, or better still, go to a bookshop.
[This message has been edited by pdblake (edited October 19, 2010).]
Was at a workshop recently where this was discussed. One of the things mentioned was that in the future, there will be a role for someone like a "coolhunter" (with credit to Scott Westerfeld and the book SO YESTERDAY for the term) or other people who curate and almost accredit the stories, the writers, the content.
There's so much content available now one of the biggest issues is a filtering one - how to filter down to what I want NOW? And in cases where I don't know what I want, how to have a sophisticated enough reference engine running in the background to say "If you liked X, you might like Y" - which is one of the more powerful things Amazon has mainstreamed (used to be only us Artificial Intelligence geeks talked about this sort of machine learning, but Amazon and other sites like Netflix that gather user reviews and user preferences have changed the game in this.)
I think today's industry lets writers control more. But at the same time, the signal to noise ratio is really high (lots of signal, but LOTS of noise, too.) Filters, curators, something will have to play a role in helping people find their content. Maybe the role of the science fiction magazine of the future won't be to buy new stories, but rather to COLLECT a number of worthwhile ones. I think about the role my facebook page serves for me - I get so much great content via my facebook page (personal page) - my friends post interesting articles...when more than one posts the same article it often piques my curiosity and I look to see what the article is about. I learn about major news stories because friends post about it. I don't think I've learned about any major Hollywood death in any other means since Michael Jackson died over a year ago.
They curate for me, and in turn I curate for my group of friends (while I consider some of my friends to be major content promoters - passing along interesting links - I apparently serve a similar role for many of *my* friends, because I filter the information from a variety of friends and pass along the things that most caught my fancy/attracted my attention.)
It's an interesting place to be, and I can't wait to see what happens next!
I think most books will eventually move to ebooks. There will still be book in print but they will be the most popular books and have extras like illustrations, gilt edges, ect. You would only own a few paper books and those would be just your favorites and be more of a collector's item.
I think the ebooks will take off despite that many people love the feel paper books. I know I love paper books, the feel, turning pages. I just bought a kindle and I much prefer a paper book in my hand than the kindle, BUT, I still buy ebooks and use the kinlde more. One, because they're cheaper, and two because it's a bit of a space saver. So I go with the more practical choice. I really enjoyed the kindle as I went on vacation and only had to pack my kindle for all my reading. My husband loves the kindle because he used to have to either print out or read online about his programming stuff. Now he just sends it to the kindle. So what will happen is our generation that grew to love the pint books will die and the love will die with us. The younger generation will grow up won't have that love of the printed word, except for a few outliers who will buy all the collector edition print books.
E-readers? Haven't got one. Probably will, but I haven't got one right now.
One difficulty on predicting the future, based on what's around right now, is the sorting-out of what has staying power, compared to what's just a passing fad. Which position are e-books in?
They've been predicting the death of the print newspaper for years-slash-decades. (Arthur C. Clarke once had them gone in the 1990s)---yet, this morning, one was in my driveway. So why should I believe that books-as-I-know-them will disappear?
There's a certain sorting-out of formats and issues of compatability that have to take place. Remember VCRs? First there were about a dozen different kinds...then just two...then one. (Before they disappeared altogether---and will that happen to the e-book?)
I see digital as here to stay - barring some apocalyptic event that sends us back to the dark ages.
The practicality, which satate has addressed, is the prime culprit. You can store a thousand books in the palm of your hand, and for the most part, with less expense. Goodbye bookshelves, goodbye dusting them, and goodbye fire hazards.
I haven't yet purchased an e-reader. This is for two reasons: First, I'm waiting for prices to go down (they will - they'll probably be almost free in the end); and second, I'm a bit of a book-scavenger - I buy most of my books second-hand from libraries and clearance sales for a dollar or less - e-books still can't beat those prices. And after all is said and done, I still prefer to be able to feel the pages as I turn them.
I got a Kindle for my anniversary. One of the things I noticed that annoyed me, as the post Skadder linked points at, is the ridiculous price some of the e-books are listed for. I've seen them as high as $15.00 for a novel, frequently at $9.99.
Why? It shouldn't cost as much as a hard copy, but it does. It just seems to me instead of passing, or even sharing, the savings with the consumer, it seems the publishers are pocketing the money for themselves. Now not all e-books are that expensive, I've seen them for $3.00 to $5.00, which I think is more reasonable.
I think ebooks are not a fad and are definitely here to stay. I really love the eInk technology - it's a lot easier on the eyes than computer screens - and the company is already working on color eInk displays.
The reason I bought my Sony eBook is because I love books and it started getting harder and harder finding the books I wanted to read at the bookstore. Where I live the landscape is dominated by the big-box bookstores and they only seem to carry whatever is popular at the time, so older titles are hard to find. The ebook is simply convenient: I don't have to wait for the bookstore to order my book, and I don't have to wait for the mail carrier to deliver it.
The other plus of ebooks is why pay for books that are in the public domain? manybooks.net is one of my favorite sites.
Wow. I just sounded like a commercial for ebooks, didn't I?!
I mentioned in my earlier post why e-books are not as cheap to produce as you might think.
Another issue is that publishers don't want to kill brick-and-mortar stores (and publishers' profits) by selling their $25 hard copy books for $5 online. McMillan went to war with Amazon over its $9.99 price, which Amazon admitted was priced below cost to promote its high-profit Kindle readers. McMillan demanded higher prices, Amazon removed Buy buttons from all McMillan books, the SFWA removed Amazon buttons from their web site....
Dean Wesley Smith is doing a series on epublishing and here is a link to his latest post. he gives some of the history of how the large publishers have reacted to e-books. He may include links to some of his earlier posts on that subject.
And Michael Stackpole also has been dealing with that issue
here Kristine Rusch also discusses epublishing, this post is from another prospective.
The CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers also discusses the growing trend toward self publishing, and how agents react to it.
All of this is very interesting and exciting for it gives us writers more choices but at the same time it I think it can be unnerving also.
I am thinking of getting a Nook or Kindle. The ipad is very cool but costs way too much and has more stuff than I need with the possible exception of a word processor. It would be neat to have something like that to write with while I'm somewhere a laptop would be not usable. Like when I have to stand.
I know of two new pro writers who are doing both traditional publishing and epublishhing. One has a series on hard copy but also has an anthology of stories written in that universe which you can only get via the internet.
It is clear that wading through the 'rap is not something that the buyer is going to want to do. It's time consuming and irritating. Whoever figures out a way to effectively do this job for the reader is going to make a fortune. A ebook can sell a million copies FAR more easily than a dead-tree book.
Smashwords has been mentioned above. Yes, the vast majority of the work there is stuff of 'dubious' quality but there are gems among the dross [it is basically, after all' a slush pile] such as January Moon.
It should also be remembered tha publishers aren't looking for good work, they are lookign for work they think will sell. And even then they are often wrong - H'Potter was rejected several times by people whose job it is to pick out commercially viable work. best of my knowledge no one got sacked. Also, naming no names, but one well known SF writer with a long career behind him recently shot himself dead partly because he could not get his work published anymore.
Well, enough of that, I'll adjust my kilt, my bias is showing.
Roll on the future of epublishing, it can't come fast enough for me.
I find Dean's post really encouraging, but then I love e-books. I still buy the odd hardcover from time to time, but it's become increasingly rare for me. It's so nice to be able to carry around hundreds of books at once and tuck the whole thing into my purse.
This past year I've read more of the small press/indie sort of books than big names and the variety available is astounding. Sure, you get some bad stuff (as mentioned here and in another post), but most places offer free sample chapters and you can get a decent idea of the quality from a fairly small sample.
I don't mind sorting through the chaff myself. I actually sort of like it because it gives me perspective on my own work. I can see how other readers wouldn't have the patience for it though.
quote: This past year I've read more of the small press/indie sort of books than big names and the variety available is astounding. Sure, you get some bad stuff (as mentioned here and in another post), but most places offer free sample chapters and you can get a decent idea of the quality from a fairly small sample.
Hmm, I need to start checking those out, there probably are good books in there.
The second writer, never sure if I should name names even though its there out in the open on their web sites, I referenced may have published the next book in her series just through ebooks. Even though it's been out for a while I can't find it, which probably doesn't mean much except that she mentions going that route with one book.