I have mixed feelings about the closure of so many bookstores around Australia right now. While I’m sad that so many people have lost their jobs, I’m also excited that I’m about to be part of a new world when it comes to books and reading.
While print books are never going to disappear completely, (too many people still like the smell of paper and the act of turning a page), it is inevitable that reading books would evolve with technology just like the music and film industries have.
In fact in Amazon’s last report they said that they are now selling far more digital books than print books. I think it was something like 130:100 and that figure was growing month to month as more users purchased eBook readers like the Kindle, Nook, and of course the iPad (technically not an ebook reader but still used by many to read books on).
And I’m one of the many people who have embraced digital books. Since I got my Kindle late last year I can’t put it down. I originally thought that I wouldn’t use it much but since owning one I’ve purchased far more books on it in six months than I have with print books over the last three years.
One of the reasons is that digital books are so much cheaper than print books and also that you can download a book to your reader within seconds.
But what does this mean for authors?
Well it now means that your books can be available to a worldwide audience and that someone can download your book and pay you (or your publisher if you still use one) on a monthly basis. The ease of buying a book (especially at a lower price) means, in theory, that your volume will go up and therefore your royalties.
What about print editions though?
Sure you can still have print editions if you like, although the majority of these will be now sold by online retailers rather than walk-in bookstores. So again, the ease of buying a book will be improved.
Won’t the lower priced books mean lower royalties for authors?
Depends. While the overall royalty might be lower (especially if you are going through a traditional publisher), the volume will more than make up for it. More people buying your book is going to mean more money in your pocket.
And now that the distribution process has nearly all but been eliminated it may even mean that you’ll be able to get a book up yourself without having to use a traditional publisher. More and more authors are choosing to go Indie and publish themselves. That means they actually make MORE royalty per book even though the book price is lower than previous books.
It’s actually quite an exciting time for authors and personally I can’t wait to see how the industry plays out over the next few years.