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Psst. C'mere. I've got something to tell you. Some people may not want to hear it, but I'm going to tell it to you any way, and I'm going to whisper it so I don't cause chaos and unruly behavior in the streets.

(Lowering voice to a conspiratorial whisper...)

Print books are dying. In fact, some are dinosaurs, roasting in the LaBrea Tar Pits of bookstores everywhere.

(Dishes crash, buildings tumble. Somewhere, someone screams bloody murder.)

And here I was trying to keep this a secret!

Actually, it isn't much of a secret. With the rise of Amazon Kindle over the past 33 months, ink and paper books have been put on notice: your time is running out. With the rise of ePublishing, authors are finding readers, and vice versa, without the need for the vicious gatekeepers who say they can't find an audience for a particular book.

Quick aside -- Case in point: I was talking with my friend David McAfee, who told me that one publisher wouldn't be able to find an audience for his book, 33 A.D., due to the time period his book is set in. Apparently, they were wrong: 33 A.D. has sold about 1,000 copies or so on Kindle, and that number continues to grow. My books continue to sell on Kindle. Loving it.

This whole post comes about as Dorchester Publishing has announced it is leaving the realm of mass market paperback publishing and is going eBook and POD only. While they are reading the tea leaves and seeing that eBooks are the now of reading and not just the future, it only shows that printed books are currently in their death throes, and nothing -- I repeat, NOTHING -- can stop the inevitable from happening.

J.A. Konrath, through his spies in the publishing world, reported that paperbacks are currently experiencing 20 percent sell-through; i.e. out of every 10 books printed, two are selling.

That's not good news for those authors who have print contracts. And while Joe continues his post with not-too-hard-to-believe hypotheticals, it isn't hard to read between the lines here, either.

eBooks and ePublishing is the way to go.

I currently ePublish. My books are print on demand and are available as eBooks, all on servers. Every time a customer orders a POD book, it's printed, bound, and shipped to the customer. Every time a customer orders one of my eBooks, whether through Amazon Kindle or through Smashwords, the book is sent through their Internet line or through their wireless network.

The point: unlike traditionally published novels, waiting in a bookstore and trying to reach out at customers to give their authors somewhere close to that 20 percent sell-through, my books receive 100 percent sell-through.

Let me pause here and let that sink in a bit.


Yes, you read that correctly. One hundred percent.

ePublishing is the way to go. It takes hard work to succeed, but I am more than willing to do the work in order to prove to the masses that eBooks and ePublishing is here to stay. People just need to clean their ears out and wipe the sleep from their eyes.

Facts are facts. The truth is out there.

It's time to believe.

John's Amazon Author Central page
John's Amazon UK Kindle Store page


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 6th, 2010 02:18 pm (UTC)
Konrath says that sellthrough "is as bad as" 20%. That's very different from suggesting that paperbacks as a whole are doing that badly, or even that most paperbacks are anywhere near that bad.

It's only a single data point, but my sellthrough has been about 80% for my books.

I'm glad McAfee sold 1000 books on Kindle. That's great, and quite impressive. On the other hand, my latest book sold more than that in print just in its first week. And I'm at best a midlist author, meaning a lot of folks are doing much better than I am with print sales.

Publishing is definitely changing, and I suspect it will be a bit chaotic as we move toward a new equilibrium point between print and e-books. But I'm not buying the death throes argument.

Edited at 2010-08-06 06:18 pm (UTC)
Aug. 6th, 2010 03:04 pm (UTC)
As I mentioned on Twitter/FB, my experience has been much the same as Jim's. Joe messaged me after my tweet to say that he got the figure from the head of a major mmpb publisher, so perhaps it's true for that publisher. I'm highly doubtful, however, that it's even in the ballpark for the industry overall.
Aug. 6th, 2010 03:13 pm (UTC)
I was wondering that as I was writing the post: is it one publisher, or is it broad across the board?

Here's what I want to know: the numbers from all publishing houses. That would help.

All I know is I'm making 100 percent sell through, on my own. And at 70 percent.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )



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