The “Real” Book is Dead, Long Live the “Real” Book

A new day and I’m not as grunty as I was yesterday…it’s the artistic temperament dontcha know. I’m still musing over a chat I had yesterday with a group of participants at one of my workshops. It was break time and good for dropping the oh so casual hints about THE book. There was apparent interest – apart from one guy whose eyes had glazed over the moment I started the workshop and who slipped quietly into a state of catalepsy as the session continued. I had to proddle him awake at the end of the afternoon and he had the nerve to tell me he thinks better with his eyes closed. But I digress.

The question most asked was “can we get a copy?” I explained it was an eBook available from Amazon, hastily adding that if they didn’t have a Kindle they could download a reader for free onto their PCs/Laptops. Their disappointment was flattering although I harboured an unworthy suspicion that it might have had something to do with their assessment marks but I like to think not. What this particular group wanted was a hold-in-the-hand, curl-up-by-the-fire “real” book and they wanted it signed. (Note to self – query possible sycophancy?)

Driving home I thought about why I had chosen to be Kindled. Apart from the fact that all the publishers out there seemed to suffer from a distressing form of myopia when it came to my book, the royalties from Amazon do at least offer an author the possibility of bread and dripping rather than one or t’other.

Last night I had a little Google (no scatological or salacious comments please). I found that there are certain genres – fantasy, sci-fi, romance, crime and thrillers that all do well as eBooks but non-fiction and more literary fiction do less well. It seems that many people consider eBooks to be disposable whereas they seem to regard non-fiction to be for keeps.

So which way to go? Do I want to go down the road of hard-copy publishing? Time to put the brain in gear. You know, I definitely think better with my eyes closed.

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11 thoughts on “The “Real” Book is Dead, Long Live the “Real” Book

  1. Great post asking an important question.

    There was a Freshly Pressed about an all virtual library opening in Colorado(?). I published a post and mentioned this. It got an amazing response and was reblogged. I had not been reblogged before (or since) so you’ve hit on something that is somewhat of a `hot` topic.

  2. You did get in first – I rely on you to get my day off to a good start:) it is a fascinating debate isn’t it.?I still prefer the real to the e but recognise the virtues of both. As an author, and particularly one who likes to write non-fiction to keep the bailiffs out, this is important to know about. I will think more than twice about whether to Kindle my next ebook which is almost on the page already.

    • thanks for the info Misha – didn’t know you could sign them. I don’t have a problem with getting a hard copy version – it just requires in my opinion a different type of marketing and of course, cost. I’m still cogitating and the jury’s out.

      • Well, I did my CreateSpace proof by myself, so I didn’t have any out of pocket costs (just a lot of fiddling to get it to look right.) They have no minimum order, and the price per unit to authors is quite low. I advise doing it, if just to have a copy on your own bookshelf.

  3. I’ve been wondering about signing ebooks. This is good to know and I’ll have to start setting things up. Thanks, Misha. Also, I never noticed how fiction seems more ‘disposable’ than non-fiction. I guess people get non-fiction for a reason beyond simple entertainment reading, so they want to keep it around.

  4. I suppose if you think of paperbacks as the antecedents of ebooks, then in the UK at any rate, the charity shops and 2nd hand stores are full of disposed of paperbacks and by far the majority are fiction.As a non-fiction writer at the mo. it’s really given me to think.

  5. Really valuable post. It is so useful to read an eloquent first hand experience of ebook publishing. I have to say it makes sense about literary and non fiction being more popular as a hard book. Those are the books I tend to dip into time and again, and prefer to have them on my real bookshelf for that very reason.

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