1. Good piece. I think big publishing has made more than a few missteps in connecting with technology & the modern world – this Macmillan/Amazon thing being the latest example. Where we will eventually end up is an interesting question to ponder. But I do like the idea of being able to self-publish in some literary iTunes, without worrying you’re shafting your career by not signing with a major. I can’t imagine the financial returns would be any worse than being a midlist author in today’s market, but having real control over your product (because that’s what it is at the end of the day) is somewhat intoxicating.

    How about: small press for hard copies – companies that really care about your work – and self publisher online? It’s happening already, I’m sure.

  2. I’ve been thinking about the same things regarding e-books as an alternative distribution to print books. I’m hoping (since I’m light years away from actually finishing the 2nd draft of a book) that by the time the matter becomes pressing for me, e-books will be seen as a marketing device, not as a profit generator. (Or, alternatively, that the e-books will be distributed cheaply and have a much wider audience, considering that people will likely buy more books if they’re cheap.)

    Anyhow, I doubt that a sane publisher would hand over the rights to an electronic edition of the book to author so that author can beat them with under-pricing a book. After all, this didn’t happen even when e-books were practically nonexistent, no way it would happen now when they are gaining more and more weight. There’s a lot of money publisher invests into a book directly (editor, copy editor, designer and whatnot), plus a lot of overhead expenses (rent, electricity etc) that publishers have to cover from their income. They would need to charge the author for getting e-rights back which sounds sorta…weird. So I don’t think you can get one without the other, at least not on regular basis.

  3. Eoin: Your proposal of small press for hard copies with online digital distribution sounds about right. I get why corporate print publishers are good for getting into bookstores/retail distribution etc., but the whole digital thing confuses me in big ways. Which is why I want an agent. To help me sort it out.

    Ieva: I responded to your comment with another predicated on a faulty premise. I think your identifying e-books as a marketing device is sound. I at least think there should be longer excerpts available online. But the other post was wondering after those e-rights, and why their included with hardcover rights in the first place. But then again, publishers purchase overall rights, I realized, after further review, and paperback pubs have to buy those rights from the original publisher, who cuts the author in for a portion of the deal.

    I’m not sure that’s the best business model, though. I’m not sure I know an alternative, but something about strikes me it could work better in a lot of different ways.

  4. “at least think there should be longer excerpts available online.”
    100% agree to that.
    My experience–I don’t have an e-reader (they’re awfully hard to come by in Latvia so I’m waiting for them to come cheap and versatile bc I can’t afford to buy and resell five devices to choose one I’d love) so basically, if I love an author so much that I actually read the whole (pirated) book on screen I’m guaranteed to buy a paper copy either of that or another book by the same author, even if I have to hunt for the best shipping rates and wait for a month for the book to deliver. I’ve rarely (almost never) done it on the Amazon preview basis.

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