Horror is a new genre for him, so he's using the pen name, Jack Kilborn. He's posted a few chapters of Afraid, and it sucks you into the story within the first few paragraphs.
Like every good horror novelist, he plants the seeds in your mind of the terror that's about to happen. And you know it'll happen, but you can stop yourself from reading on. Yes, it'll be gory, and filled with tension and suspense. And I suspect it'll make you not want to read it after dark. Ooh, I can't wait!
So, when Joe asked what I'd like him to talk about on this blog tour, I asked if he'd blog about what's happening in the publishing world right now.
Here's what he had to say.
Even if we take our waning economy out of the picture, publishing has been in trouble for a long time.
As a business model, publishing is flawed. I've heard that only one out of five books makes a profit, and that a fifty percent sell through is considered acceptable.
Think about if General Motors or Coca-Cola used those figures to determine success. For every five bottles of Coke sold, only one makes a profit? For every two cars built, one is scrapped?
The problem goes back to the archaic practice of returns. At any point, a bookseller can return a book back to the publisher for a full refund. In the case of a paperback, the whole book doesn't even have to be returned—the cover is stripped off the book and mailed back, giving the bookseller credit towards their next purchase.
What's the incentive to move a particular title? None. It either sells on its own, or they ship it back and replace it with something else.
While a sweet deal for the bookseller, this causes all sorts of problems for the publisher and author. Publishers spend a great deal of money promoting blockbusters, and apply heavy discounts to entice chains to carry multiple copies. Smaller bookstores don't get these same discounts, and lose sales as a result. Midlist authors who don't get the star treatment find their books have a shelf life of only a few weeks before being returned, which means they don't have the distribution or exposure to grow an audience that might someday make them bestsellers.
This high cost of promotion, the megabucks paid to to bestsellers, and the cost of returns is why a hardcover costs $25.95 when you can buy the third season of LOST for only $15.
Again, keeping the economy out of it, publishing now has to deal with new technology. Most of publishing still uses offset presses, which were invented hundreds of years ago, so the industry can't be considered an early adopter.
Technology fosters format change. VHS became DVD. Vinyl became CD which became mp3.
With digital ebooks and audiobooks, distribution is no longer an issue. Shipping to stores, stocking copies, printing, advanced orders—they're all soon to be things of the past. With ebook readers like Kindle 2, suddenly there is a cheap, fast, effective way to distribute books.
It isn't perfect yet. But it will be.
The ebook reader of the future will have the following features:
• Waterproof and scratchproof
• Under $100
• Long battery life
• Big storage capacity
• Backlit, with adjustable size font
• Internet accessible
• Large, no glare screen
DVDs didn't replace VHS because they had better resolution. That's why BluRay is having trouble replacing DVD. It isn't about picture quality.
It's about extras. Alternate endings. Commentary. Deleted footage. Trailers.
Videophiles love extras, so they went to DVD. BluRay offer the same extras as DVD, but it is more expensive, so it isn't catching on in a big way.
Consumers switched to CDs only because CDs had extra songs, and could be copied. Prior to copy capability, CDs were just another overpriced format for technogeeks.
Mp3s replaced CDs because of ease of use and a free distribution method. Downloading the songs you want and putting them on your iPod is easier than lugging around 50 CDs. IPods can now store cover art, lyrics, liner notes, as well as play videogames, store addresses, and even play movies.
For ebooks to catch on, publishers and writers will have to offer more than just text.
Which brings us to the the next problem. File sharing.
Digital media wants to be free. People don't consider copying a bunch of ones and zeros to be stealing. Why are folks going to pay $15 for a Kindle download when they can get the hardcover on sale for $15?
Ebooks will replace print books. But along with a reader that has the features I've mentioned, ebooks have to also:
• Be 99 cents or less
• Offer extra content, such as author interviews, cut scenes, bonus short stories
• Be easily downloadable from a variety of sources
• Offer the audio version as well, (and not a monotone robot reading the text)
• Be DRM free, without copy restriction
When that happens, ebooks will take over. It may not happen right away, but it will happen…