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New Address

As promised, the blog has moved and it has a new URL. You can now find the blog at http://nocturnal-lives.com.

Stop by, look around and let me know what you think. There’s a new post up now, along with a new snippet.

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Last week, I wrote about how publishers and agents were crying “FOUL” over news that Amazon would be publishing some 120 over the last few months and yet few were talking about how Perseus was going to “help” authors self-publish.  My basic points regarding these two pieces of news were that publishers wouldn’t have to worry about authors leaving them IF the publishers and agents were really doing the job they said they were.  I honestly thought that would be the end of the post and I’d move on to something different this week — of course, it is never that easy.  So, to continue from where I left off, sort of. . . .

Publishers were busy puffing out their chests and declaring that e-books were reaching a saturation point in the market when July’s sales figures were released.  After all, hard cover sales had increased 33%.  At the time those figures were made public, a number of people — yours truly included — wondered if that was an anomaly caused by the sell-off of stock held by Borders.  Well, confirmation, at least partial confirmation, of our suspicions came this week when the Association of American Publishers announced the sales figures through August.

From Publisher’s WeeklyFor the first eight months of 2011, e-book sales increased 144.4%, to $649.2 million, from 18 reporting publishers to the AAP monthly statistics program. Sales were off by double digits in all trade print segments in the January-August period, although sales in the religion category were up 9% in the year to date at the 22 reporting houses.

GalleyCat has the complete breakdown:

With regard to the August figures, for the month, hard cover sales declined 11% and adult paperback sales declined close to 6%.  According to the AAP (again from Galleycat), “Strong, continuing revenue gains from digital formats in the Trade market – both e-books and downloaded audiobooks – helped offset declines in revenue from physical formats, resulting in only nominal, near-identical decreases vs the previous year’s and YTD’s figures

So, for the first eight months of the year, e-book sales are up 144.4%.  It is this increase that kept the figures from looking truly abysmal.  The only other areas to post gains are religious books and downloaded audio books.  If you’ve been tracking the figures for the last year plus, this follows the trend.  Even I, who run far and fast in the opposite direction when someone tells me I need to do math, can see that the figures for July when hard covers posted a double digit increase were not the start of a new trend.  Instead, it was an artificial increase in sales caused by the discounting of merchandise during the Borders bankruptcy sale off.

And yet, even with the figures staring them in the face, legacy publishers refuse to admit that e-books are not only a viable part of the marketplace, but all that is keeping some of them afloat right now.  Just think how many more units they might be able to sell if they simply lowered the prices of their new releases below hard cover prices.  Oh, I know.  They tell you they have to price e-books at near hard cover prices in order to make a profit.  Bull!  Remove DRM, admit that once they have the final text, all they really have to pay for above cost of setting the book for print is the conversion price and then the cost of having someone do a check of the conversion files to make sure nothing got screwed up.  Lower the price to even $9.99 — a price point most e-book buyers will pay for a new “best seller” — and they will sell more copies and that, eventually, will lead to more profit.  Not to mention more good will for the publisher which will also lead to more sales.  More sales equal more money.  Makes sense to me.  But then, I’ve never been a bean counter, much less one in a rarified office in NYC.

Going back to the cries of anguish last week caused by Amazon, there was a deafening silence this week when Kobo announced it would now start publishing books.  For those of you not familiar with Kobo, it’s an online presence, not unlike that for Amazon or B&N when it comes to e-books.  When Borders still existed, Kobo was associated with it for e-books.  This isn’t a self-publishing venture for authors.  No, according to the article, Kobo will do editing, design, marketing and the selling of the books.  Sound familiar?  So, why no hue and outcry by the publishers?  Simply put, they aren’t scared of Kobo because its name isn’t Amazon.  It doesn’t matter that Kobo is offering the same service as Amazon.  All that matters is that Kobo isn’t the 800 pound gorilla.  The publishers have forgotten about the tortoise moving slowly and surely toward the goal.

So, does all this mean the end of publishing as we know it?  Eventually.  Even if legacy publishers were to suddenly understand the importance of e-books and reasonable pricing, the snowball has already started rolling down the mountainside.  Publishers — and agents and authors — are going to have to adapt to the changing expectations and demands of the reading public.  Just as publishers had to change as technology and society changed in the early to mid 1900’s, they are going to have to do so again.  If not, the publishers will perish.  But, in their places will be new publishers, those flexible enough to adapt to the changes.  In other words, there will always been books and short stories.  It’s just the format and pricing that may change.

Cross-posted to the Naked Truth and Mad Genius Club.

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This from a friend, Amanda Green:

Whether Amazon’s new Fire tablet will be the iPad killer some have predicted remains to be seen.  But Jeff Bezos has struck another nail into the coffins of those publishers who continue to believe e-books are a craze that will one day just fade away.  Bezos is betting those naysayers are wrong, just as he has bet that all those who say reading for pleasure is a dying art are wrong.

This morning, Bezos fired multiple shots across the bow of not only Apple, but Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Sony, among others.  His first shot was the announcement of the new Kindle Touch.  With the “most advanced” E-ink display and an extra-long battery life, the Kindle Touch will sell for $99.  That’s right, Bezos has broken what many have long felt to be the magic price point for e-readers, the price most people will be willing to spend.

There’s more.  This Kindle Touch is the wifi version.  For $149, you get a Kindle Touch with free 3G service that will work in 100 countries.  There will be no 3G contract required, no monthly fees, no nothing except for price of the books you download.

But that wasn’t the end of the surprises from Bezos.  If a $99 Kindle Touch isn’t enough to tempt those who have been holding off buying an e-book reader, Bezos announced that the Kindle will now have a $79 model.  This version will have buttons, faster page turns and will weigh in at under six ounces.

The mad genius of Amazon wasn’t done yet.  After discussing some of the latest acquisitions to the Prime video program, he rolled out the device everyone has been talking about and waiting for – the Kindle Fire. The Fire has a 7 inch IPS display, a dual core processor and weighs in at 14.6 ounces.  With the Fire, you have access to 100,000 movies and TV shows, 17 million songs, as well as access to the Android Appstore and Kindle Books.  Whispersync will work on the Fire much as it does on the current generations of the Kindle. Not only will you be able to sync your books and magazines between devices, but also your music and videos.

The price for the Kindle Fire — $199.  That sound you hear is the sound of thousands of virtual feet pounding their way to the virtual line to place their pre-orders for the Fire.  Whether the Fire will come out in a 10-inch version and prove to be a true challenger for the iPad remains to be seen.  In the meantime, however, Bezos has just delivered new devices that will not only have dedicated Kindle customers ordering them but that will, because of their lower prices, have those who have never tried an e-book reader buying one. And why not, when the new Kindle costs less than a night out on the town now?

______

Thanks to Charlie Martin for posting this at PJ Lifestyle!

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Ten Years Later. . .

. . .is my post over at Mad Genius Club today.  A few thoughts about how 9/11 changed my life and my writing.

May we never forget those who died, their friends and families and may none of us ever have to suffer through such a tragedy again.

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Writer Behaving Badly

If you’ve been living under a rock for the last day or two, you missed this example of how to never, EVER react to a review.  It has also ignited an internet storm — not to mention how it set Twitter afire yesterday.

The review itself, while negative, certainly isn’t the most brutal I’ve ever seen.  At least you can tell Big Al actually read the book.  And, to be honest, the review hits a lot of my sore points when I’m reading.  I hate to be involved with the story only to be thrown out by grammar, structure or formatting issues.  So, yes, these are valid points to be critiqued in a review.

But it’s the comments that are absolutely boggling — especially those by the author.  If there is now a poster child for what not to say in response to a crit, it’s this author.  From blaming the reviewer for not downloading a new copy when she told him to — and, sorry, that’s not the reviewer’s job.  If there is a better copy of the e-book, it’s up to the author to send it — to refusing to see grammar errors and professing that she is a good writer and we’d all know if it we followed her link and listened to her READ her work, to blaming it on the fact that she is British and the reviewer isn’t, to just telling everyone to f**k off, this author has gone off the deep end.

Now, I’ll admit, I have posted one response to a review on Amazon asking for clarification from the reviewer.  But that’s it.  Never would I even consider behaving as this author did.  This is like the author a couple of years ago who went on a profanity laced tirade against one of his editors on his LJ page.  Yes, he pulled it down within a couple of hours, but it is still out there to be found.  It was so over-the-top that it was mirrored on other people’s blogs, discussed and dissected.  It’s going to be the same with this.

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Scrivener

Like most writers, I’ve tried more than my fair share of programs supposedly designed to help make writing easier.  For the most part, they’ve either been much too glitchy or too difficult or just not what I’ve been looking for.  So I’ve always defaulted back to either Word, much as I dislike most things Microsoft, or Open Office.  Then I saw this.

I’ve read blogs extolling the greatness that is Scrivener.  I’ve talked to authors who swear by it.  The only problem has been that it’s a Mac program and, much as I like Macs, I haven’t been able to justify the price differential for writing.  So, after seeing that there was a beta version of Scrivener for the PC, and for linux users as well, I thought I’d check it out.

First off, you have to understand, I’m not usually one to risk a beta program.  But, well, I was intrigued and, after a couple of days using the program, I’m pretty much sold on it.  For one thing, you can pick and choose what parts of it you want to use.  You don’t have to fill in all those obnoxious boxes and files and charts some of the programs require before you can start the actual process of writing.  I like that.

For another, and this one is going to sound strange, I like the cork board function.  Before I switched desks — this one has the built on bookcase which is nice for holding my reference books — I had a cork board and a dry erase board over the desk.  This was where I’d put my notes, etc.  Scrivener has a function that is very similar to what I did.  So there is that feeling of familiarity I’ve missed.

Whether I stick with it after the program goes out of beta remains to be seen.  But, for the moment, I’m cautiously optimistic.

And, just for the record, I haven’t received any form of compensation for this.

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No writing today

Instead, trying to wrap my head around the news that my son’s dorm room flooded after he left for Spring break. According to housing, his computer and printer are toast as is anything on the floor. What is really worrisome is this may also mean his senior boots — that he just got and has yet to be able to officially wear. Calls tomorrow will be made to Corps housing and Hollicks and then trip to CompUSA to replace the printer. Such fun today — not

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