The other day, Inside the Outside author Martin Lastrapes asked me about Kindle Select (or Kindle Direct Publishing Select, or KDP Select, depending on the day and who’s typing, it seems). I’m now several weeks committed to being a Kindle-exclusive author, and I thought I’d share some of my experiences.
I’ve been sitting on some news for a while, but now that some books are up and things are moving forward, I feel more comfortable making a formal announcement: I’ve officially founded Exciting Press, a new independent digital publisher, and as director have signed bestselling author Nick Earls to a major digital distribution deal.
For a lot of years, I was pursuing what’s now called a “traditional book deal.” I wanted an advance and book tours. It was always my dream.
And I mention that because this feels like my dream come true even though it sort of isn’t. I can’t tell you how proud I am of this venture, and how deeply honored and humbled I am to be working with Nick, who is both a truly accomplished author and a truly cool guy. His agent, Pippa Masson of Curtis Brown Australia, has also been terrific to work with.
So what does it mean to found a press?
A new website for one. There will be more to come on the site.
For now, being a small start-up, I’m working to focus on Nick’s work–which at this point includes more than a dozen books. Our plan is to release them over the spring and summer of 2012, but we’ve also managed to publish a few in time for the holiday.
We’re going to work to make it all easily accessible; for now, the best way to find the work is to search for “Nick Earls” in the Kindle store. But a couple of stories might get you started:
My first was: shiny!
My second was: wow. I was so right.
I’m really pleased I nailed the pricing ($79 and $199, specifically). I had the feeling we’d see sub-$100 by year’s end, and I’d hoped it’d be sub-$80, because this paves the way for the continuing digital revolution. I think we’re going to look back and notice that the thing that finally made e-reading totally mainstream was the $70 Kindle. At that price, it’s nearly impossible to pass on it (and consider that by next summer, we’re probably looking at a sub-$50 Kindle).
Between a $79 Kindle and Apple’s iPad, this could well be the conquering moment for digital publishing. The death blow.
Can the big six maintain business-as-usual anymore? Heck, what is business as usual?
After several years in a will-they/wont-they purgatory, the digital revolution in publishing has finally become more a matter of when than if, where “when” seems to be 2010. Apple’s launch of the iPad–which featured five of the big six corporate publishers as partners and only ignored the sixth because someone within the company had outed the device the day before official launch–got the ball rolling and demonstrated that ebooks were not just a novel trend but rather new media for novels and all sorts of other forms of storytelling. In late August, Amazon’s third-generation Kindle, with its improved screen and form factor and its lower price, effectively killed the counterargument. The only thing left to really argue about is price.
But really, that’s fodder enough.
Since Apple got all those publishers on board and got its iBookstore rolling (or did it? Has anyone heard anything about the iBookstore? All I hear about are the devices–Kindles, nooks, iPads. Not so much about the stores), there’s been a debate about what’s a “good” price for ebooks. One common idea discussed when the iPad launched was the so-called “agency model,” which basically meant that publishers got to set their own price. Tech Eye mentions that this is in opposition to allowing, say, the vendor to decide the price. In other words, it’s the difference between, say, Harper setting the price of its books and Amazon doing so.
Publishers, of course, want high prices. This was why $10 ebooks were so common during the beginning of last year. Right after the iPad? Seems like publishers–corporate and otherwise–got a little high off the power of the partnership and suddenly decided that the right price for ebooks was between ten and fifteen bucks. The New York Times discussed the phenomenon.
To really get into the discussion, though, we have to consider factors regarding price. There are myriad.
Yesterday, I talked about how I thought a bookstore like Barnes & Noble might survive. How the retail model seems busted to some extent.
I fear my solutions to the problem seemed vague. I thought I’d fix that.
I think we need to remember that books are not stories, and vice versa. That reading is as much about the experience as the object being sold, and as such, retail publishing must change to meet new needs of the market.
The market needs a few things, based on what is changing. The biggest change is the proliferation of digital in an almost completely analog environment, but that provides both challenges and opportunities.
As I see it, what the market really needs is simple:
Big publishing industry news this week: Oprah endorsed Amazon’s Kindle reading device, having “fallen in love with it.”
Which is not unusual; I’ve heard very little criticism concerning the Kindle. People may not rave over it like they raved about the iPod when it first came out, but the Kindle seems, for many intents and purposes, rad. Awesome. Exciting.
Which makes one wonder: if it’s so awesome and exciting, shouldn’t Entrekin be available for it?
Why yes, yes it should be:
Ain’t it purdy? You can click that link to find its shiny new Amazon page.
The timing couldn’t be better, nor, I think, any less coincidental. I’ve been working on the Kindle version since back in August. Not that it took that long, but I mentioned I was going to be changing things up toward the end of October.
I still go back and forth on Lulu. The reason I put Entrekin on the Kindle was that the digital downloads have been so extraordinarily successful, with more than a thousand across the various stories. I like that Lulu allows me to offer the DRM-free .pdfs, not to mention that it also allows for the tangible book for anyone who wants a souvenir. I had a bad experience in Lulu’s community, but then again I’ve realized that if I simply decide to use Lulu solely as the printing press I’d always meant it to be, it does still serve my purposes pretty well, its forums, policies, and customer service notwithstanding (more on those three later, and elsewhere).
So no, I’m not done yet. I’m still curious about a lot of aspects of publishing and the ways it’s changing, so it looks like Entrekin will still be around for a bit. As always, you can get it here.
Thanks to everyone who’s made it such a success so far, and remember to keep telling your friends about it.
Especially if, you know, your friends own Kindles.
(because, really, here, so far, I’m at a loss; where and how does one market to Kindle owners?)
Steve Jobs made plenty of headlines when he said reading is dead and Apple wasn’t going to pursue an e-book reader. Which is fine, because Apple already has an e-book reader. It’s called the iPhone, and the iPod Touch. Here’s the Teleread.org article with the scoop (from July 13, 2007).
That was only one of the photos. Here are the others:
Jobs can make any claims he wants, but stories find their ways.
And this post wouldn’t be complete without the LOLphone joke:
If you like it, buy a copy for a friend.