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Sunday, June 1, 2014

The sense of touch, and an announcement

A while back I wrote that I believed the future of traditional publishing was in trouble. The future of the printed word has much to do with distribution channels (where and how do we get our books?) and with business models that, in my not so humble opinion, can or should no longer support waste. More and more of us are enjoying the ability to read on our tablets, be it a Kindle, iPad or other e-reader, and they are changing our experience in more ways than you might expect.

A classic example:  At our bed and breakfast inn, I meet a lot of guests who are fellow readers. We'll be comparing notes about something we've enjoyed and they'll say, "Oh, if you like Author A, you should try Author B!" And instead of making myself a note in my smart phone where I won't happen upon it again for months, I punch up the app on the spot and send the ebook, or a sample of it, directly to my Kindle. I have done this at bars, yoga studios, sandwich shops, cocktail parties, and book club meetings. It's another example of how social encounters can be enhanced by our highly-interactive technology.

Electronic books are the perfect medium for the reader who wants to test the water before s/he commits. Not only are many e-books priced well below the cost of the paper copy, you have the option of sampling the first couple of dozen pages for free.

But...many of us love the feel of the paper in our hands, the heft of the story in its physical form. An e-reader will never offer the same tactile sense of enjoyment. And let's face it...some books you just want to hold, maybe over and over again. There are some books on my Kindle that I have also in print form, just because I want to enjoy them again (and again and again) in both forms.

For those books and those readers, POD (Print on Demand) is the perfect solution. Order the book, they print you one, and it's in your hands within a day or two.

Think about it. Really, unless there is a book release guaranteed to be a bestseller (e.g., the last four installments of the Harry Potter series), why would a publisher need to have a half million copies available all at once? Every bookstore in the country knows whose latest book might trigger a run on inventory and how many their store might sell in a two-week period, and should be able to stock accordingly. We don't need warehouses stacked floor to ceiling with books waiting to be summoned (or not) to some outlet. We sure as hell don't need tables of remaindered books or worse yet, piles of books in dumpsters, their covers torn off to send back to their publishers as proof they were discarded unsold. As both a reader and especially as a writer, the mental picture of that dumpster full of paper gives me almost physical pain. The graveyard of unloved books is a writer's personal idea of hell.

So I'm going on record to say I believe the future should be in e-books and in Print On Demand titles. Stop the waste, already.

And with that said...drum roll...I am pleased to announce that Blood Exposure, Net Stalker, and Choice (all currently on Kindle) will soon also be available in print form. Your own copy, printed on demand. And if I can't sign it for you personally, I can send you a signed bookmark to add to the flyleaf.

Watch this space for more information, and look for their release about mid-June!

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