Posted by Leigh Russell
I feel uneasily excited about the sales of my books on kindle. Last year my e-sales, small as they are, outdid the print sales of my books. Sales are gratifying in themselves, since they mean people are actually reading the books. The % authors receive on e-sales is far higher than on physical books as the publisher has no further costs once the 'book' is available online. So in money terms, royalties on the physical and e-books are not very different. And in terms of revenue, it's far better to sell say 100,000 books @ £1 than 1,000 book at £5. Scale that up, and the big names must be raking in millions on e-books at promotional prices.
Agreed e-books open up new possibilities. Small independent publishers like mine don't have the clout or funds to get books into supermarkets, or on the telly (I know, my books were never going to reach those dizzy heights, but a girl's gotta dream...). E-books level the playing field to some extent. Death Bed is on the 12 Days of Christmas list along with PD James and Peter James. Where else could that happen? (OK, on the shelves at Harrogate Festival, but seriously, where else?)
I take your point that many traditional publishers are set in their ways, viewing e-books as a way of promoting sales of physical books, rather than an end in themselves. Without physical books, authors can upload books themselves. Many do. Where does that leave publishers, unless they embrace the change? And what is their role if they do?
In my case, the complete opposite seems to be the case as my publisher is (fortunately!) more e-savvy than I am. That isn't typical. I'm the dodo here, not my publisher. Uploading and negotiating with amazon doesn't interest me. It sounds like a lot of hassle. Amazon wouldn't offer me a better deal than my publisher gives, and my publishers are great people to work with.
The physical book has had its day and like I said, I'm feeling uneasily excited. But I'm not ready to get an e-reader yet... one day... some day... maybe...