Re: RARA-AVIS: kindle query

From: davezeltserman (
Date: 05 Nov 2009

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    Al, my comments (and I suspect Ed Gorman's and John Grisham's) weren't blaming e-books for the current state of book sales, but instead extrapolating out where all of this could very well lead. Personally I believe the large publisher's shortsightedness and lack of respect from readers are why book sales have been so dismal. In their belief that only women buy novels, they've mostly ignored male readers, and a lot of guys I know that are my age, if they read they read nonfiction. I think also their focus on safe and formulaic has hurt. The smaller publishers have picked up the slack by publishing more interesting books--but those aren't the books in the chains, super stores, supermarkets, etc.

    Granted, E-book sales right now are an almost insignificant part of the market. No question about that. But for the first time technology and infrastructure has made future sales a real threat to existing brick and mortar stores. Connecting the dots, what percentage of book buyers need to switch to e-readers before the now struggling bookstores close shop? 10%? Less? More? Just being a little forward thinking it's not impossible to see this happening. So if bookstores are driven out of business by a relatively small percentage of book buyers moving to e-book readers, what happens next? Would mass paperbacks exist if there weren't outlets for publishers to distribute them to? Doubtful. Obviously, also a lot of publishers who depend on these outlets for sales will close shop. IT's not too hard to imagine a vicious cycle occurring where more and more readers are driven to e-book readers even if they don't want them, which will also lead to the ending of the superstores selling books and book printing as we know it, except maybe small runs for collectors.

    So without anyone else selling books, what will the e-book stores look like? Easy to guess. Take a look at Walmart today. The biggest names will be prominently displayed, everyone else buried deep in their bowels. So given an e-book only world, what would publishers have to offer the mega-bestsellers? Nothing. And about Amazon offering Stephen King 35% as they do other authors, ha! I guarantee you these big names will be able to negotiate very favorable deals, and I see no reason why they cut any publisher in on this--and again I'm talking e-book only world which I've gotten to by connecting the dots. Will this happen over the next 1-3 years? Doubtful, but I also thought the same about CDs quickly replacing albums.

    I'm not saying writers who are now being so shortsighted to help sell e-readers by making their books available as ebook for the tiny revenues it brings and hence ruining their future livelihoods, as well as most other writers, deserve to be hung naked by their thumbs and flogged. Flogging by itself will be sufficient.


    --- In, "Allan Guthrie" <allan@...> wrote:
    > Bookstores have been struggling for a long time though, Dave. I'd blame
    > silly discounting and a saturated market and too many publishers all chasing
    > the same titles and a global financial crisis before I'd look to e-books.
    > Latest reliable figures I saw had e-books accounting for 4% of current book
    > sales. And if e-books didn't exist, who's to say that those 4% of purchasers
    > would buy hard copies of these titles anyway (and indeed would print
    > versions of these titles even be available)? The way I see it, it's not
    > necessarily a case of one or the other. E-books create an additional revenue
    > stream for authors, they keep books in print, and the sort of people who buy
    > new hardcovers will still buy new hardcovers. And those who buy mass market
    > paperbacks will still do so too, because the electronic versions are more
    > expensive.
    > Also, publishers do a lot more than just distribute than print. If that's
    > all they do, there'd be nothing to stop Stephen and Stephanie
    > self-publishing in print format right now. Doubt they'd have any problems
    > whatsoever getting distribution and a printer. And one other thing: Amazon
    > take 65% of the retail price of the book if you're independently publishing
    > for the Kindle. That's nowhere near as much as a publisher, but it's a
    > pretty big chunk nonetheless.
    > Al
    > ----- Original Message -----
    > From: "davezeltserman" <Dave.Zeltserman@...>
    > > There is a tipping point where if enough book buyers switch to e-book
    > > readers, book stores, where many are struggling now, will go out of
    > > business, as will many publishers, and those of us who don't want e-book
    > > readers will have no choice. I have no idea what that tipping point is.
    > > 10%? 20%? The ironic thing about this is in an e-book only world, the
    > > mega-bestsellers like Stephen King and Stephanie Myer, will most certainly
    > > bypass publishers and put their books on the e-books themselves, since
    > > what would publishers have to offer if distribution and printing are no
    > > longer issues?. So this push by publishers is a push to put themselves out
    > > of business.
    > >
    > > --Dave

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