I have a new book out, except it's a "book" only in the digital sense--my first (and last?) original e-book novel, called Carnival Summer

Recently I’ve found myself, in a variety of places both online and in “real” life, arguing in favor of the continuation of the printed book as a means of entertainment and the dispensation of information, against those who claim that actual books are dinosaurs, sooner or later to be replaced by electronic books. I don’t think e-books are going away, but I don’t believe that, at the moment, they are as important as their supporters believe. I think they’re still at the fad stage. They will no doubt become more popular still, but for the most part they offer few, if any, functional advantages over regular books. Yes, you can enlarge the text, but you can also do that with reading glasses or a magnifying glass (or simply by buying large-print books, when they’re available). You can often highlight bits of text in an e-book, but that’s still copying a feature of print books, in which
you can highlight text by using a highlighter pen, or just underlining with pencil. You can dog-ear the pages too, if you’re so inclined. They argue that young people are used to do everything on screen and surely would rather read e-books than printed books; I argue back that young people have had no problem taking the weighty tomes of J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer to their hearts as printed books.

Still. E-books have their supporters, and from a financial point of view, e-books sales, while small now, are likely only to grow over the next few years. I’ve had publishers release some of my books as e-books, and I wrote a Star Trek novella that was published electronically originally, then collected in a print edition with other novellas. But I haven’t had real hands-on experience with e-publishing before.

That’s changed now, with the e-publication of my short novel Carnival Summer.

Besides the experimental e-book aspect of Carnival Summer, the book came about partly due to my frustration with the current status of my teen horror series Witch Season. In its original mass market paperback format as four separate books, Witch Season is out of print and unavailable. For a couple of years there were Barnes and Noble exclusive editions that combined them into two separate books, Witch Season and Witch Season 2. Then B&N dropped those and Borders picked them up. Borders, however, hasn’t released Witch Season 2, so I’m constantly hearing from readers who have read Summer and Fall and would like to find out what happens, but can’t.

There’s nothing I can do about that (except plead with the publisher to at least put out Winter and Spring in e-book editions, and ask my readers to bombard Borders with requests for Witch Season 2, both of which I’ve done).

But I can, and did, write a separate book, and that’s Carnival Summer.

It’s not a Witch Season book, but it’s meant for the audience that loved Witch Season. It’s a supernatural thriller meant for teens, but that I believe adults might enjoy as well. It’s about Melissa Avery’s sixteenth summer, in which her twin sister Gwen is murdered and in which Melissa discovers love and the carnival and the monsters who travel America’s heartland. Real monsters, not the
metaphorical kind. It’s scary and suspenseful and romantic, and it takes readers deep into a world most have probably never been, that of the traveling carnival. Read this, and the next time a carnival comes to your town, you’ll be able to understand carny talk and maybe even throw a little back at the carnies.

Currently, Carnival Summer is available for the Kindle and as a downloadable PDF at Scribd.com. I expect that to change as I make it available across more e-book platforms, but one step at a
time. I’ll announce any new platforms as they become available. Also, you don’t have to have a Kindle device to read Kindle books. You can do it on a Mac or a PC, an iPhone or a Blackberry. I might even make it available in a print edition, if there's enough demand for it. And if this works--if it makes enough money to justify the time I spent writing it--then I might do the Witch Season sequel I have in mind in the same way.
It’s cheap, intentionally, so fans of my work, or people who’ve never read me before, can try it out without risking a lot of cash. Carnival Summer is yours for a mere $2.99.

And it’s all me, start to finish. I wrote it and edited it. I designed the cover and the interior. I “published” it. To me, real publishing involves having an editor and a sales staff and all that
stuff, but I wanted this to be a personal interaction between me and you. I’m not going to get rich off this inexpensive experiment, but maybe I’ll make some gas money and you’ll get a story you’ll enjoy. All I’ll ask of you in return is that if you like it, you’ll tell others about it and post a review online, at the site you bought it from and maybe elsewhere, if you have a blog or

Facebook or something like that.

Of course, publishing an e-book means that this will soon be pirated. I seem to have made myself a special target of book pirates because I’ve called them out and pointed out the holes in their ridiculous “logic.” That “logic” makes claims that are obviously false if you know anything about the publishing process—they think that by giving away the work of writers without permission, they aren’t hurting the writer, because they’ve already been paid for that work. They seem to think we’re all enjoying million-dollar advances and don’t need royalties to put food on the table.

With this book, there has been no advance. The only money I’ll make on it is through individual sales.
Any copy that’s stolen and given away for free is money out of my family’s checkbook. I trust that my readers are honest and decent people who won’t steal, but I fully expect the book pirates to pounce on this one. Maybe they’ll grow a conscience and prove me wrong.

So there it is. If you're interested in teen fiction, murder mysteries, paranormal suspense and the like, try Carnival Summer at the links above (at Scribd there's also a 53-page preview of the book, also in PDF, for free), or let me know what your preferred e-book reader is and I’ll try to get it available in that format. Tell a friend or five, post reviews, and let me know what you think. More than any other book I’ve published, this is between me and you.

I hope you enjoy it.

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Comment by Burl Barer on March 27, 2010 at 2:40pm
Please keep us posted on how this E-xperiment goes. I also have some ebooks up on Kindle...and some partial works in progress just to see the response...not always pleasant responses

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