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The Death of Printed Books

March 7, 2011

I’ve been in deep decision; buy a Kindle or not?  There are things against it; you can’t use the library’s e-media, and e-books, the good ones, are still ridiculously expensive.  I finally figured out why and it only cost $37.

Our local Borders is going out of business.  Sales of 25-50% off.  We browse for awhile, select three and AFTER THE DISCOUNT it was still 37 smackers!

I love paper books.  I like the smell, I like turning pages, I like that sand on the beach doesn’t wreck them.  I just can’t afford them anymore.  I love libraries as a result.  The cost of printing makes for expensive books.

Then it hit me (I can be dense sometimes):  Kindle e-books are expensive because publishers don’t want to kill the print market.  Too late.  Amazon has done it without help.

The role of publishers has become blurred in the last decade.  They don’t offer editing, and often don’t offer marketing. So what good are they?  A generous royalty is 20% but not for newbies–5% and it has to be great upon submission, and, oh, you’ll need to publicize it yourself.

So what good are they?  They can get a book into book stores.  Uh, what bookstores?

Self-publishers make 100% after-cost royalty and only have to do what they’d otherwise have to do with a publishing house.  And getting it on Amazon is a breeze and B&N is getting easier.

The publishing houses offer only one important thing: Quality control.  The vast majority of self-published books stink.  Most PH books are at least decent; they offer a critical eye.

Still, with print media breathing its last gasp, a self-published writer need only offer the first few chapters free for e-buyers.  Need for a publisher?  Zero.

RIP print media.  And with your passing, e-books will drop drastically in price.  And perhaps, publishers will restructure.  Keep the editorial staff, deep-six the printers, and specialize in web marketing.  E-books remain cheap, writers take a small cut in royalty (not too much) and Q.A. remains high.

Kindle, here I come.  Eventually.

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