Thursday 17 May 2012

Going Digital

As some of you will already know, I’ve just signed a contract for a three-book deal. This is wonderful news, of course, and it’ll give me chance to explore the Seattle music scene from the late 80s up to around 2000. The first book, Emerald City, will hopefully appear later this year. What’s particularly interesting is that the novels that will comprise the series – and yes, they’re all mysteries – will all appear as ebooks. I’ve worked with this publisher before; they put out the digital version of The Broken Token and also my John Martyn biography. But I was in the unbelievable and enviable position of having an offer from another publisher, a small press who would have issued the book in both paper and digital formats. So why choose digital only? In part, because it’s the future. More and more people have ebook readers, and that number is only going to grow. It’s handy, portable, and you can carry a staggering library on one. It’s cheaper for the reader and often more attractive. That’s not to say books will fall by the wayside, by any means. I still read more books than ebooks and it’s likely to continue that way for a while. But I also work as a music journalist and I’ve seen the changes wrought by the mp3. So many labels distribute their music to reviewers in that format. Buying music on mp3 is easy, and for most people any difference in sound quality is hardly noticeable. You can burn a disc of it, play it on your computer, transfer it to your mp3 player – it’s amazingly versatile. Ebooks are still a few years behind the mp3 in acceptance, but the statistics are telling. More ebooks are sold than hardbacks, for example. Giving people the chance to look in the book on a site like Amazon allows people to get a taste of what they might be buying. Granted, most magazines and newspapers don’t review ebooks, but libraries carry them now, and mainstream reviews are only a matter of time (with the exception of self-published). It’s growing, and I’m happy to be a part of it. With production costs spiralling, I think a time when we generally see only paper and ebooks of new titles published is just around the corner. And, no small matter, a writer can earn more from ebook sales than from other methods. That’s important to those of us who are scraping by.

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