Saturday, April 23, 2011

Ebook, print book, audio book: Which one?

As I was reading The Brain that Changes Itself, I found myself keeping a spreadsheet listing references and topics, something to look at later. I used the spreadsheet because the book was on loan to me from a friend and I couldn't use a highlighter.

So, today, I started doing some research on the list, and that's when I hit the wall of question: Should I opt for the ebook, the audio version or the hardcover or paperback?

To tell the truth, living on a relatively fixed budget makes the decision somewhat easier. Whenever the opportunity arises, I'll choose the least expensive option, selecting good condition used books whenever possible. Of course, when money was (sort of) no obstacle and if the book was going to stick around in my library, my first choice would be the new hardcover; the second would be the new paperback; or for certain types of books, especially those that required following directions, I'd pick the audio.

Today's research brought up a new question, one that helps narrow my decision but also makes me wonder: What's up with the price of ebooks?

If I have to choose between hardcover (new or used) or ebook version, what's the point of buying the ebook if the price is just a dollar or two less than the hardcover?

I know. The electronic book is more portable, and truth be told, in better economic times, I'd buy both print and electronic versions -- if the latter had a better price structure.

So tell me, what makes issuing an already published book electronically is so expensive? The editing has already been finished; the marketing has already been finished; the distribution has already been finished; calculation of the sales figures has already been finished.

So subtract those figures from the original bottom line for producing the print book and offer the ebook version for a reasonable cost.

Maybe the real question is: Looking to the future, are publishers trying to set a precedent for the price of ebooks

If that's the case, then the publishing world is doomed because writers will soon learn that the cost of hiring an editor and an illustrator on a per project, then pricing the work reasonably, is a better way to go.

Sure, the author will give up some of the marketing and distribution offered by the publisher but face the evidence, the mega publishers have already cut chunks of that part of the cost out of their budget. Too many authors have to market themselves already so that's a moot point.

Good thing we still have small, aggressive publishing houses that understand.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The future of the bookstore

I’m really fortunate to be a participant in a local group call the Antiquarian Book Guild. The members either own or have owned independent bookstores, or are long-time book collectors, or are book restorers. Me? I’m just an apprentice. That’s why I consider myself lucky.

The guild meets once a month for dinner at local Las Vegas restaurants to exchange ideas, discuss specific topics, and, of course, enjoy each others company.

At the last get-together, the topic under discussion was The Future of the Bookstore. In light of the recent mega-store closures or pending bankruptcies, the question was timely and pertinent.

Being devoted and passionate about their trade, the booksellers affirmed that the small, independent stores will flourish, not necessarily because the powerful competitions are failing, but because people who love to read print books and collect their favorites, have not gone belly-up.

Personally, I prefer a neighborhood bookstore, particularly the used and antiquarians. I visit them frequently because not only do I get a chance to find old classics, authors new to me, my favorites (genre and author), but I get an education. The sellers talk to me, enlighten me and teach me.

I’m wondering, what do you think about the future of the brick-and-mortar bookstore? Take the poll above and I’ll pass your thoughts on to the group.

(P.S.) This is my first attempt at polling. As I figure out how to post more than one question, I'll try again. I just hope this one works!)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Setting aside a day for reading

I usually have two books open and available for reading at all times. One sits on the nightstand by my bed; the other on the coffee table, next to my laptop. But my reading is sporadic, squashed in between meditation, walking, writing, dusting, and eating.

All this is a far cry from long ago when I would devour a book without thinking about the stereotypical tasks of life that should be attended to ... things like washing the dishes, vacuuming, answering mail or calling friends.

Yesterday, I decided there was something fundamentally wrong with the way I have been treating my recreational reading, and I determined to do something about it. After all, a writer should read as much as possible.

I've set Tuesdays aside for nothing reading.

I've just finished the book on the coffee table: The Brain that Changes Itself The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge, M.D.(loaned to me by a friend) and I'm now picking up Deception: An Alex Delaware Novel by Jonathan Kellerman (purchased because Kellerman is one of my favorite fast-read mystery writers.)

I think this is  going to work out well. Of course, I'll still read sporadically, but now I won't feel guilty about reading just one more paragraph before getting back to the mundane.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Spring arrives in Las Vegas

Spring doesn't last long in Las Vegas.

A week, two weeks of cool nights, warm days, and hollyhocks in bloom. Perfect weather for just about any outdoor adventures.

Trim the branches on the mulberry tree, pull the weeds from the wildflower plot, water the hibiscus and the spearmint plantsthen lounge on the wicker chair with a good book.

Evenings are great for writing in the cool darkness on the porch, listening to some good old rock and roll.

It's the desert so spring won't stick around. Soon it's gone and the sun takes up permanent residence heats the day and, soaks into the concrete so the nights rarely cool down.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Duplicate book titles

I don’t know how other authors do it, but when I start writing a novel, I usually get about three chapters into it before I come up with a tentative title. (Right now, I have six works in progress, all with working titles.) As the work progresses, I keep that title in mind.

The title for The Mine came instantly and never changed. To me, it was perfect! Now, when I finished formatting the text for kindle, I uploaded it to Amazon. Only then did I discover another book with the same title! I know there are plenty of books with identical titles: it’s not a crime, but it can confuse the reader.

When I started writing Desert of Deceit, I started out with just a one word title: Deceit. That didn’t quite satisfy me, and as I was working on the rewrite, I revised the title, twice, settling on Desert of Deceit.

Wouldn’t you know? There’s another book with an identical title.

One positive note: Neither of my titles is in the same genre as the other two with like titles.

The manuscript I’m reworking now has a tentative title. I’m not even going to mess with it until I get to the end. Then, before considering changes, I’ll do some research.

They say “The third time’s a charm.” I hope on the third book, I’ll not run into dupes!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Why do you blog (revisited)

)After I typed the headline for this post, I thought about reworking it. Maybe I should have asked: Why do I blog? I'm still waiting for that light bulb to appear over my head that indicates an eureka moment.

Back in February, 2008, one of the net's most successful bloggers, Darren Rowse, conducted a poll that asked the question: Why do you blog?  If you don't care to check out the results, I'll give you the highlights. Overwhelmingly, the top two reasons were for money and for fun.

Granted, Rowse focuses on blogging for money in his posts so the results could have been skewed by the fact that his readership is made up of people interested in making money with blogs. But I was surprised that such a readership would include fun as one of the major reasons for blogging.

I'm absolutely sure I blog just because I write and sometimes what I write doesn't belong in an article or a novel, or even in a notebook. Blogging is my journal about writing because I don't keep a written journal.

Blogging doesn't make money for me but it's definitely more fun than work.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Life without internet

A couple of days after my last post my access to the internet hit a roadblock. There I was, cruising along at a moderate speed (my DSL connection is just a few miles per hour above dial-up) when all of a sudden, my browser informed me "The page cannot be displayed."

Having been in a similar situation before, I performed the usual tricks. Disconnected the router, the modem, shut down the laptop, checked to make sure the phone was working, waited, restarted everything.


The next step: Call my provider.

Usually I can expect immediate help, but this time, response took a detour. My tech guy was stalled at another call and couldn't make it to our appointment the first day, I was going out of town the second, so two days crawled by before Pistol and I greeted him at the front door. It took two hours to determine that the phone company had made some changes that disabled my connection.
Pistol, waiting by the door.

I can live comfortably without television, can go a day without food (well, maybe not my morning coffee), wouldn't miss the phone if it went out for a while but life without the internet?

I use the net to research everything, to stay in touch with friends and relatives by email and social networks, to find phone numbers, directions and products. to make reservations, to pay bills, and, of course, to post to my blog.

Luckily, I still have music to listen to, books to read, a word processor to work on writing, friends to visit and the great outdoors to explore. Life does go on without the internet, but I sure did miss it!

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Mine - Sample text available at Smashwords

Just downloaded the Smashwords guidelines and formatted The Mine so it can be purchased for all the different readers.

You can read the sample chapters here: