Hey folks, it's Monday! So let's look at the questions at Should Be Reading...
Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…
• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are(or, aren’t) enjoying it.
• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up?
• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it.
This week, I wanted to muse about an article I saw in the WSJ this week.
Have you ever heard of a book called "Wool" a post-apocalyptic thriller by the author Hugh Howley?
Well, I had not, which is pretty odd since this self-published e-book has sold more than 500,000 copies, earning more than $1 million dollars and has readers posting more than 5,000 Amazon reviews. This was all before Howley sold the foreign rights...and the movie rights, to Ridley Scott, he of Alien fame...and now, the hardcover and paperback rights to Simon and Schuster.
But not the digital rights. No, Mr. Howley kept those for himself and it seems he is quite wise to do so. It seems to benefit the author and quite possibly benefit the reader.
So, what is it about?
"Wool became a viral hit last winter, a few months after Mr. Howey began publishing the five-part series on Amazon.
The novel takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where a few thousand remaining humans live in a giant, 144-story underground silo. Couples who want to have a child have to enter a lottery; tickets are distributed only when someone dies. Citizens who break the law are sent outside to choke to death on the toxic air. Those who are sent to their deaths are forced to clean the grime off the digital sensors that transmit grainy images of the ruined landscape to a screen inside the silo. The images are meant to remind residents that the world beyond the silo is deadly, but some begin to suspect their leaders are lying to them about what's outside and how the world came to ruin."
I must say it sounds interesting and I am impressed by the sales and by the hugely popular reviews. Yes, I had to go online and buy a copy. I have not read it yet but I am looking forward to it and it seems I am not alone.
Or so a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Wool: Sci-Fi's Underground Hit discusses. The article is about more than just the book's success. The article is about something even bigger, something that this book is an example of, a whole new publishing model for authors, self publishing. True, author could always self-publish a book, but now, in the days of e-books and, to take just one example, the role of an online publisher like Amazon, it is a whole new world. Not only can they publish a book, they can publish a bestsellers, a huge, underground bestseller.
"It's a sign of how far the balance of power has shifted toward authors in the new digital publishing landscape. Self-published titles made up 25% of the top-selling books on Amazon last year. Four independent authors have sold more than a million Kindle copies of their books, and 23 have sold more than 250,000, according to Amazon. Publishing houses that once ignored independent authors are now furiously courting them. In the past year, more than 60 independent authors have landed contracts with traditional publishers. Several won seven-figure advances."
I found those statistics startling...
25% of the top selling books are self published?
Four have sold more than a million Kindle copies?
23 more than 250,000...
Really? How did I miss this?
Yes, I have had my issues with e-books in the past and while I still love to read "dead-tree" books what is the future going to bring?
And what part are the traditional publishers going to play?
Will it be a declining role...you have to think it will be... and is that a good or bad thing for writers and readers.
Another figure they mention in the article is that the author's deal with Amazon is that the writer gets a 70% commission on what he or she sells as opposed to traditional publishers who offer a 10-15% royalty on digital sales.
Let me see...70% or 10% ..that is a big difference. True, no doubt publishers offer some pluses, say a marketing and publicity campaign but ..
And as a reader, I have to consider that Howley is offering the digital edition for $5.99 while the hardback or paperback is being sold by Simon and Schuster for $26 or $15 respectively. I know publisher do not use that sort of pricing model, often charging almost as much for the e-book as for the paperback, something I do not understand. But if the author can offer it for a significantly lower price online..well that will hurt traditional publisher in many cases, will it not..and yet benefit readers!
So, what do you think of the whole issue of self-publishing vs. the role of traditional publisher? Or as Mr. Howley says "Publishing is changing so quickly that we are all equal experts....We're all trying to figure this out."