I noticed today on Galley Cat a notice that the web business Overdrive reports a 76% increase in downloads by library patrons. Overdrive makes available 50,000 books and 10,000 e-books to owners of iPods, Zune, or other electronic devices.

My question is: why would anyone spend money on an electronic book (or a print book) if they can download it for free without the customary waiting period that affects people who want to check out the latest releases in the library?

Leaving aside the authors for a moment, what do publishers think of this? Is this possible for music also?

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In a weird way it's heartening to hear about people seeking out books with such determination.

It does make me wonder how many more books might be sold if they actually were cheaper and easier to acquire. I've read that once legal online selling of music became cheap and easy a lot of people switched from "free downloads." Who knows for sure.

But I'm pretty sure that when my book came out last summer (and received pretty good reviews) it would have sold a lot more copies if it hadn't been twenty-five bucks.
I've been the hardcover route. Without promotion, that spells failure for a new author. In my case, I didn't even get the mass market paperback the following year.
Meanwhile, I'm now building sales slowly via trade paperbacks. The downside is that these rarely get reviewed. And I'm reaching the point where I have readers who would pay the twenty-five books for the new one. Of course, new readers may be more cautious, but I suspect they get their samples in the library anyway.
Libraries can be a great market to expose readers to your work. I know I can go to a library to find authors, but it's easier for me to buy online or browse a bookstore (which I love to do). I think many readers are like this too. They don't want to wait for the book to come to the library or wait in line for other readers to finish reading it in weeks. And those who ARE content to wait usually do so because they are on a budget and wouldn't shell out $25--so I see libraries as a market that might entice a new reader once they get exposed to your work.

It's a shame you didn't get a shot at MMPB.

Other authors shared their opinion with me that a large print run in MMPB had the potential of killing a new author's career too. And I was intimidated by the pressure when I first heard how many my publisher wanted to print, but I quickly changed my mind and consider myself very lucky.

I haven't seen a downside and it was good fortune to get the foreign, audio, and book club rights to offset the book expenses. Sales have been great too--and very sustained. But if I didn't have those other rights sold, I might have seen a different result. This is such a subjective business and the downturn in the economy had really affected it.

But I think your house is lucky to have someone who is willing to work as hard as you do. Anything you learn from this experience will benefit you in the future when you get that next deal.
Thanks. Not sure I work that hard at anything but the books themselves. My congratulations on your success. That's outstanding! And, by the way, if the publisher can sell subsidiary rights, that helps, too. My agent retained almost all subsidiary rights. Of course, that means I'm doing quite well with foreign sales, but it doesn't endear me to the publisher.
Make that "twenty-five bucks." :)
Thanks, Jordan. It's an evil world, and the author is always the victim.
You bring up an interesting point, John about the price point for the book. Who knew this economy would tank as bad as it has. And there is such a lead time for books to come out.

But I'm very happy to be in mass market, especially as a new author. I had the good fortune to sell foreign rights, audio rights, & into several book clubs. So by the time my 3 books were released back to back, I was nearly in the black with the advance they paid me. The large print run also got my name out there in a big way and all the subrights sold in advance helped defray the costs. It turned out to be a win win and very good timing considering the economy.

I've seen where some big names have their paperbacks coming out sooner than they normally would. And I think it's for this reason too. They want the ability to get reviews AND capitalize on the more affordable price of a MMPB, the best of both worlds. I think each house is trying to figure this out, but it seems too little too late. We're all reacting to this economic crisis--rather than being proactive--and will continue to do that for quite a while I fear.


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