While some of your concerns have foundation: bookstores & publishers as we know them are in an evolve or die situation, many concerns you site have no foundation. Electronic publishing is the greatest boon to new writers since pulp magazines. Nothing could be easier than publishing your own work electronically. Any length is acceptable. You may charge any price you want, even give the work away for free if you choose, and many do.
Kindle is only one type of device that can read these files and Amazon certainly does not corner the market on the files, themselves. Virtually all the great writers in history whose works are public domain are available electronically, and new writers' work is available at a considerable savings over paper copies. Besides Kindle, you may also access these types of files on iPods (with screens), iPhones, Zune and many types of cellphones with video screens. Kindle is perhaps the most comfortable of these devices, coming in two sized. The smallest Kindle screen is about 5" X 3". A user may adjust the font size to their desire, use text-to-speech feature if they want to close their eyes for a while. Text-to-speech can read in a woman's voice or a man's as they user wants. It's not perfect, but it is a nice option. A large amount of work by writers we discuss are available electronically at various prices. I read David Goodis' BLACK PUDDING yesterday for
0.99. I picked up the complete short stories of Hammett for $3.99. All of Chandler's books are available for $9.99 each. Prather's books are available for $6.99 each. Go to Amazon's Kindle store and check what's available for yourself. While a Kindle is an investment, one saves a lot over buying paper copies. It is much easier and lighter to carry than even a paperback book, and you can carry an entire library, really, a library, with you in this little device. Mine was a birthday gift from my sister last May and I must admit I was a little leery about it when it arrived, a surprise. Still, I haven't read a conventional book since I received it. There are still some kinks to work out. Photos and covers appear only in black & white. Maps, when enlarged, lose all their detail on Kindle. Still, for reading pleasure this is the best change to come along since the paperback book.
For writers, check out HOW TO PUBLISH ANYTHING ON AMAZON'S KINDLE, by Randy Benjamin. If you can read this email and reply to it, you can publish your book, article or story.
This does seem off topic, but thought I'd offer my half-baked thoughts on the subject before Mr T. shuts this discussion down.
E-readers (Kindles, Nooks, Sony, iPhones, what have you) seem to be the future. When this future arrives, who knows? Personally I think it will take eReaders coming down in cost ($50 or less) for that to happen--maybe they'll be like cell phones where the e-book stores sells the readers cheap to lock you into buying e-books from them. As a reader, I don't want to move from paper to spending more time staring at a screen, as a writer, I'm very concerned with the effect this will have on bookstores, especially the independents. For newer writers, it's the independents who support us--they're the ones discovering us, recommending us and handselling us. It happened with Michael Connelly, as well as many other authors, and they're the ones now selling Small Crimes and Pariah. My fear is as more and more indies get knocked out of business and books are bought for e-readers, it will make it nearly impossible for newer writers to be discovered and read except by
a very small niche of readers. I suspect over time as 100s of thousands of out of print and self-published books are dumped onto the kindle store and other e-book stores that these stores will more and more resemble Walmart, where only a handful of the biggest bestsellers are given prominent display space and all other books buried deep in the web-site. I also suspect as the volume of books grow on these stores, the chances of any book being bought at high enough volumes to attract a real publisher is going to be close to 0.
So to summarize, I think this trend will be disastrous for most writers (although probably a boon for the biggest names), unless all you're aspiring to is to sell a few hundred copies of your book.
But this is clearly the future. I'm just hoping it takes a while to get here.
--- In rara-avis-l@ yahoogroups. com, "Frederick Zackel" <fzackel@... > wrote:
> Can we start a discussion about Kindle, something deeper than "it's the
> Beast 666" or "I think the future will be Kindle-licious. "
> Bouchercon was fun. Went to panels, got free books and bought other books.
> Got some of them autographed, even.
> But what stood out was Kindle. This guy from Amazon had a panel about the
> Kindle. The room was standing room only ... with writers and not readers or
> zealous fanatics. The session also went over its hour time limit, got kicked
> out, and then moved out into the hallway, where it stayed informally for
> almost another thirty minutes.
> I liked what I heard. Kindle seems like the most feasible (most plausible)
> place for most older books and manuscripts down the line.
> A friend of mine has a kindle and uses it on airplanes and for reading in
> bed at night. He swears by it. Buys ten books at a time.
> About an hour or so after Amazon's panel ended, I bumped into the Amazon guy
> in the hotel lobby. He said -- and this is what got me the strongest - that
> Kindle would link manuscripts with whatever is listed at Amazon.
> Before I met this Amazon guy, I meet some disgruntled, disgusted,
> frustrated, pissed-off writers at Bouchercon. As soon as their rights revert
> back to them, these guys were switching their manuscripts to Kindle.
> All these manuscripts can get cobbled together as a sort of virtual backlist
> through Kindle. Maybe one of them ms. can help sell the others.
> Kindle was the talk in the hotel bar after hours. Which surprised us.
> I met one writer at Bouchercon whose agent is trying to get all thirty (yes,
> 30!) of his books onto Kindle. Most are out of print, he said, and his
> publisher won't offer them. He wasn't worried about the book collectors.
> Collectors will always buy and trade his old hardcover stuff. But his new
> readers -- until now (maybe) -- will never get a shot at reading them.
> One writer said, "Nobody autographs a Kindle." But she had four out-of-print
> books she was worried about. Whatever's out of print is no longer out of
> print. And because it's electronic, it has no effect on the collectors who
> want a hard copy no matter what. And people who read it electronically can
> also get linked to everything else in your series ... and, if they wish,
> order hard copies to keep forever.
> We also met a writer whose agent shopped a manuscript but couldn't find it a
> home. The agent told the writer, give it to Kindle, the writer sold 7000
> copies, and Simon & Schuster bought it for a future hardcover. I spoke with
> the guy; he was in shock.
> Mister 7000, we started calling him; we saw him everywhere. Oh, I know that
> story is the old "once upon a time it happened ..." and it only happened
> once. It's not about that.
> I liked what the guy from Amazon told me about Kindle. You upload the
> manuscripts, then there's more fiddling around, whatever, and you get to set
> the price for the piece. Prices are kept low so you get those who devour
> So what do you folks think? Or have experienced?
> Oh. And for avians who feel this question is off-topic .
> Is the future of Kindle noir? Or hard-boiled?
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