What the Golden Ticket Really Costs

I am in the process of querying the first novel in my fantasy romance series. I decided to directly query publishers, without an agent, because most of the publishers I wanted were epubs who took unagented submissions. I feel good about that decision, most days anyway, but I still have very mixed feelings about traditional publishing in general.

Disclaimer: I love books. I love reading books. Print books. Ebooks. As long as it has words in it and is a genre I like, I will read it so I am not snobby about format. I also buy my books and ebooks from a variety of sources: Amazon, used book sales, brick and mortar book stores, direct from publishers, and places like Smashwords, so I am not snobby about where the book comes from either.

The trouble comes when I start looking at numbers comparing traditional publishing to self publishing. Courtney Milan wrote an honest discussion with Ask A Mermaid recently where she discussed how to do a Profit and Loss (P&L) analysis for a book. Milan is a very successful romance author with an established author platform. She started doing P&L comparisons for books when she received an offer from Harlequin for a book she was also considering for self-publishing.

So if I only looked at the first year of my P&L, I would have said to go with Harlequin’s offer. But year two was where I thought I would get ahead: I projected about half the sales from year 1 in year 2, making the worst case scenario $12,568, the best guess scenario $39,000, and the best case scenario $77,775.

Doing the P&L this way forced me to accept that I was taking a risk—that there was a real chance that I would lose money by turning down Harlequin’s offer—but that the upside potential for the book was much, much larger by choosing to self-publish.

Milan’s established platform has allowed her to be successful publishing both traditional and self-published books. The catch here is that she had a very well established author platform.

Recently, Mike Corker, founder of Smashwords, shared a long post which analyzed the indie book market using data from Smashwords. Smashwords enables authors to publish their work and easily distribute it to all major eretailers while allowing them to retain their rights and keep 85% of the net profit. The standard net for authors from traditional publishers is 25-40% for ebooks and range from 10-20% for print.

The analysis of the data from Smashwords is fascinating in terms of title length, price points, and word count. Where it really drives home, though, is author profit:

Allow me to break it down this way.  An indie ebook author earns about $2.00 from the sale of a $2.99 book.  That book, on average, will sell four times as many units as a book priced over $10.00.  In order for a traditionally published author to earn $2.00 on an ebook sale, the book must be priced at  $11.42 (if the publisher has agency terms, as Smashwords does) or $16.00 (if it’s a wholesale publisher).  Remember, traditionally published authors earn only 25% of the net, whereas Smashwords authors earn 85% net.  If your book is traditionally published, and your publisher sells under the wholesale pricing model, you earn only about $1.25 for a book priced at $9.99, whereas an indie ebook author would earn $6.00-$8.00 at that price.

If a reader has the choice to purchase one of two books of equal quality, and one is priced at $2.99 and the other is priced at $12.99, which will they choose?

The numbers are staggering, but Corker’s last question is an important one and too often overlooked. There are buckets full of arguments for or against self-publishing. Some of those arguments have merit and some are just people being ugly to the wild child threatening the marble halls of the publishing industry.

As a reader, I choose, almost always, to buy the cheaper, equal quality book because I can only buy so many and I would rather have more for my money. If I am going to spend over $10 on an ebook, I spend a long time thinking about it. Sometimes, I spend so long considering the purchase, I forget to buy it, even for authors I love. It is the main reason why there are some very popular series on my TBR list where I am more than one book behind. I love them, but I do not $10 love them.

Not only are books and ebooks from traditional publishers often more expensive, less of that price goes back to the author. Now, I know all about overhead costs with traditional publishing. I know why publishers price their books the way they do, but there will come a day, and that day might be now, when the way we do publishing changes and those price points will change too.

I did not decide to start writing for the money. No person with any bit of sanity and self-preservation does this for the money, but that does not mean I do not compare the number 85% and 40% and see the difference between them. I may not be great at Math but I can do addition and subtraction well enough.

There are costs to self-publishing, if you do it well. Editors, book covers, and marketing take both money and time. A P&L, as Milan pointed out, is essential to understanding the business behind your book. Even with these costs, if an author intends to build a platform over the course of a lifetime, self-publishing seems to be a better deal.

Recently, an author behaved badly and ranted about how good books do not earn money but popular trash, in this case erotic romance, sells well. (The original post was deleted by the author, but Heidi Cullinan’s response is brilliant.) Writers hear advice all the time about not writing to the market and writing the story they want to tell. That is good advice, but I am realistic. I know romantic epic fantasy is not a high selling genre. I have seen editors share frankly on Twitter that people say they want fantasy and sci-fi romance, but the sales numbers do not support it.

Sadly, if you go on almost any sci-fi/fantasy blog or website which reviews or lists books, there are very few by women and even fewer with romantic elements. Without some romance, the stories always feel flat to me. I want romance in the books I read and I want to write those books. I have done enough reading on the industry now, though, to know my audience is probably going to be small. I am fine with that, but a publisher may not be fine with the smaller earning potential.

Controlling my copyright is also important to me. It is hard to imagine signing over a significant portion of copyright for a small share of the profits. It breaks my librarian heart. I have done it for non-fiction in the past and it was hard to sign that line. I did it because I knew I had to sign to get what I wanted: a pretty print book in my hands. That is not to say I did not love my non-fiction publishers and editors, I did. They were wonderful to me.

When I started talking to Mr. Rochester seriously about writing fiction, he suggested I self-publish. I shook my head. I wanted a contract with a publisher, the golden ticket of affirmation in my hand. When I told my friend Jason Griffey I was writing fiction two years ago, he immediately laid out all of the reasons I should self-publish, most of which I have discussed in this post. I told him I would think about it, but what I was really thinking was that was not for me.

I have learned in two years things I did not know then, about writing and about the industry. My opinion is still evolving, but indie publishing has grown from a squalling infant to a college graduate, eager to please and show what it can do. I think the potential for indie/self-publishing is enormous  I think the way traditional publishing stands at this moment there is no growth potential. Traditional publishing is having growth and change pains. They will figure it out eventually, but it is going to be a messy, rocky road.

I have been querying publishers for almost a year now. I am waiting on four more responses. If they all come back negative, I am going to make a detailed P&L for self-publishing, draft a plan for editing and marketing, and then move forward. If I receive an offer from one of the publishers, I am still going to do a P&L and I am going to think very long and hard about saying yes.

I want a better share of the profits. I want more control over my copyright. I also want that golden ticket of affirmation from the industry, but I want to build a platform over the course of my career more than I need a publisher’s approval.

–Jane, happy to be writing

This Is Not Your Parents’ Bookmobile – An Interview

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a post for the ITI Books blog and received a comment that sent me on a search for more information. I know, I know, many a librarian adventure starts the same way. This comment led me to learn about a fabulous project in my own hometown.

The comment was from two Houston librarians who are running an indiegogo program for a bookmobile. I have been around, as a patron and an employee of, public libraries for my entire life and I have watched bookmobile use decline. I was curious what in the world these two librarians thought they could do to change the trend.

Go read the Billy Pilgrim Traveling Library web page. There you will find a history of bookmobiles in Texas and why Kelly and Chris are so passionate about starting one in Houston. Caveat Lector: Their passion is contagious.

Before reading the BPTL story, I would have told you that bookmobiles were a dinosaur of the library world, but now, my view is different. I believe Kelly and Chris have found a way, not only to reguvenate a flaundering service, but to impact all public libraries in the Houston area and change the way we view book lending.

I wanted to know more about the BPTL so I emailed Kelly and Chris, who were kind enough to answer some questions. Read their answers and then go donate to their indiegogo campaign.

(1) I read the history of bookmobiles on your site, but why do you want to start a bookmobile? What makes this version of a library appealing to you?

I think ultimately it comes down to independence and mobility. We’ve both worked in different library systems and information organizations, and we’ve both had situations where policies and budgets have caused issues or restrictions. In creating our own library, we have the freedom to make judgment calls as to how, when, and where we serve individuals. If we recognize an opportunity for service or a new system we want to try out, we can make the decision to go for it without too great a fear of consequences.

Being mobile is another source of independence. It allows us to go beyond traditional library services and bring new resources to new people in new places. This is especially exciting because it allows for instances of serendipity and discovery – our bookmobile is a way for people to break out of their normal routines and allows for new avenues of personal and cultural connections in our community. People who may not make the conscious decision to visit a library may make that spur of the moment decision to visit the bookmobile next to their neighborhood coffee shop.

It’s this mixture of creativity, independence, mobility, and community that really appeals to us.

(2) Bookmobiles were originally for people who were underserved by other resource areas, often in rural communities. What role does a book mobile have in a metropolitan area like Houston?

True, bookmobiles were originally used to provide library services in underserved, and often rural, areas. And although being in a metropolitan area does not necessarily imply that a community is well-served, our purposes are not so cut and dry as to provide resources for folks that don’t have resources readily available to them.

Our bookmobile intends to serve two purposes: one, as a traveling library that works on a rent-barter-donate system and provides a variety of traditional and emerging library services; and two, as a bookmobile-for-hire which lends its space out to all mutually interested parties for mutually agreeable means. These two components will fill different roles in metropolitan Houston.

As a traveling library, we will undertake the role of a standalone cultural institution – one which intends to bridge the gap between consumer culture and culture by promoting a more frugal consumption of culture. One can consume a good book, or a good movie, or a good album without buying or otherwise owning it.

The traveling library will also serve a complementary role to libraries in a couple of key ways. Like many libraries, our collection will depend heavily upon in-kind donations. Those items which are not selected to be added to our collection will either be (1) re-donated to local libraries and charity organizations such as Salvation Army and Goodwill or (2) placed in our free bin, free for the taking.

We will also have applications on hand for membership at surrounding local libraries. City- and county-run libraries obviously have larger collections and generally better access to resources than we could independently offer, so in cases where our services cannot meet a patron’s need, we can direct them to a larger system that will be able to meet that need (including interlibrary loan).

You may be wondering, why don’t these patrons just go to their local library in the first place? It’s a fair question, and one that we find ourselves asking as well.

First, our business model is a little bit different than that of city- and county-run libraries, and one that might have more of an appeal to certain people. We’re less restrictive. For example, there are no due dates or late charges. There is only a (very reasonable) item-based annual membership which ensures that we don’t lose money if a patron never comes back with the item or items they borrowed. We also believe that you should be able to read a book the way you want to read a book. If you like reading a book with a highlighter or a pen in your hand, we encourage you to do so. We like a book with character. So long as the next person can read it as perfectly as you were able to read it, you can write and draw all over it.

We also want to appeal to the individuals who are not using their local libraries. As you mentioned in the question, traditional bookmobiles were used to serve the underserved – most commonly, children, the elderly and homebound, and rural communities. There’s a preconceived notion of who a bookmobile should serve based on mobility and location limitations. But now it seems many people who do not fall into these traditionally served populations are not seeing the appeal of libraries. We want to be an ambassador for all libraries and help revitalize how they are seen by the general public. People who are using libraries already love libraries and know what libraries can do for them. We want to raise awareness about what libraries have to offer for everyone and make sure people know that libraries are more relevant now than ever before.

One particular avenue to serving this role is through the food truck community – offering literary and music and movie and library culture to complement food and foodie culture.

The bookmobile-for-hire could very possibly be hired by libraries that serve rural communities and utilized to perform a similar function that bookmobiles have traditionally performed. But more likely, a library would rent the bookmobile to undertake this same role: of raising awareness, particularly among Houston’s mobile community (and who in Houston isn’t a part of that?), of the importance of libraries, and more particularly of the importance of their library.

(3) Besides borrowing, you mention organizations being able to rent out the book mobile. What do you mean by that? Can you give me an example?

With the bookmobile-for-hire component of our endeavor, we will empty our shelves and make our space, our time, and our professionalism available to all mutually interested parties for whatever (mutually agreeable) purposes they see fit. One organization that could naturally benefit from a bookmobile-for-hire is the public library.

As mentioned in our blog, the entirety of Texas had only 12 bookmobiles in 2005 (as reported by the State Department of Education) and the number of reported bookmobiles dropped to 8 in the 2009 Public Libraries in the United States Survey. Considering that Texas is third among the states in number of public libraries (with 559) and is second in land area, there is a very real gap in library resources and library services.

We both have substantial experience working in public libraries and understand that there is a need, particularly among smaller library systems, to widen their patron base and to let folks know about the range of services they provide. By bringing the library to the community instead of waiting for the community to come to the library, our bookmobile will help them accomplish just that.

I imagine our collaboration with public libraries would most commonly take the form of a library card drive, where we would work side-by-side with representatives from a given public library to sign folks up for library cards, and then direct their new members inside the bookmobile, where they can choose from a selection of materials the library hand-picked to represent itself. In these scenarios, I imagine that the library’s ILS is on a laptop they’ve brought along, so registration is basically the same process, just mobilized. But it’s pretty easy just to keep a spreadsheet of what’s been checked out and by who and to manually enter it into an ILS afterwards.

While our space is likely most amenable to public libraries, we would be crazy not to make it available to other interested parties (school & academic libraries, museums, artists & art galleries, bookstores, etc.) for pop-up shops & galleries, exhibits, and the like. Part of the appeal of this bookmobile-for-hire model is the potential for the bookmobile to be a sort of incubator space, where individuals and organizations can try out new ideas and new services.

(4) What is your goal for the project? Short-term? Long-term?

The sort of loftier, more theoretical goal is to see if this sort of model works and how this could be applied to the larger library world – can we pool library services and be more involved in resource sharing? With the current challenges libraries are facing, it would be great to find another way to pool resources for the larger good of a community or area. Short-term, we are really just focused on getting this operation on the ground and moving. We’re trying to spread the world both locally and globally (online) to get people excited about this venture so when we get up and running, we’ll have the social foundation to really engage with our communities.

Ultimately, the goal is to establish the BPTL as a legitimate long-term business. But we’re not kidding ourselves. We both currently have full-time, decent-to-well-paying jobs inside of libraries with great benefits, and we’re not prepared to let that all go on the chance that our project really takes off. So for now, we are cautiously approaching it as a hobby, but a long-term hobby, and we’ll see where we go from here.

(5) Can you tell me your names and something fun about each of you? I know you both went to UT for your library degrees and that is about it.

We are Kelly Allen and Chris Grawl.

Something telling about us is the fact that we met in UT’s iSchool while librarians-in-training. We were in the same Social Media for Information Specialists class, both needed a group partner for an upcoming presentation, and the rest is history. We also had our first date on Hourly Comic Day, so the beginning of our relationship (and every anniversary since then) is well documented with poorly drawn comics. I don’t think anyone is especially surprised that we’ve come up with this idea, especially given our combined personal libraries… when we moved into our current apartment back in February, I think we made multiple trips for books alone.

Random fun facts about Kelly: My first “professional” position was as a cruise ship librarian for four months. I love zombies and I developed a descriptive schema of zombie films for one of my class assignments. I took Latin classes in middle school and high school, upgraded to “easy Latin” or Italian in college when I studied abroad in Pisa and Rome, and am now sadly out of practice with both. I’ve accidentally had dinner at a diner with Ben Folds (of Ben Folds Five fame). While I like cooking and trying new recipes, I like eating at food trucks even more. My background is in the social sciences so I have a huge interest in language, learning, and brain development. My first job at 16 was at the public library in my hometown (Tulsa, OK). I’m three days older than Chris.

Random fun facts about Chris: I was born and raised in the Greater Houston Area. I wasn’t really raised inside of libraries. Instead, my fondness for libraries started at the age of 20, when I got a job at my school’s (Southwestern University) library the Summer after my sophomore year. I haven’t really stopped working in libraries since. I received a capital-L Liberal Arts degree from Southwestern with a double major in American Studies and Mathematics. I like making lists and mixtapes. I enjoy basketball, table tennis, foosball, and bowling. I’m a diehard Rockets and Texans fan. I actively seek out the best in music, books, and movies. My favorite album is In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. I’m not certain what my favorite book is but my favorite author is Kurt Vonnegut. My favorite movie is The Graduate. I’m three days younger than Kelly. We live in Montrose with our two cats, Clancy and Nora, and my bowling ball, Bertha.

–Jane, BPTL, sharing a love of the written word with Houston and the world

Curating A New Learning Experience

My local NPR station recently started playing talk radio all day (hallelujah!) and I have been wallowing in all the wonderful shows I used to listen to regularly when I lived in Dallas. Last month, I had Talk of the Nation on and Don Tapscott was talking about higher education. My ears perked up immediately and, though I had to stop listening to feed my toddler (pesky kids), I went back and found the transcript. It was a great interview with some fabulous comments from listeners. If you are at all involved in higher ed or education at all, you should read this interview.

Tapscott, author of, among other things, Wikinomics, Macrowikinomics, and Grown Up Digital said that our current education system is not only not meeting the needs of our students, but its failure to adapt since its creation will be its demise.

Tapscott said, “All these kids that have grown up collaborating and thinking differently walk into a university and they’re asked to sit there and passively listen to someone talking.” He goes on to talk about the new research that is beginning to show that not only do students learn different and multitask, but the very fact that they are multitasking and learning different is changing the way their brains function and grow. The students in our classrooms now learn different because of the world they live in and yet we are still teaching them the same way we taught people when the classroom was invented. We ask students to sit and learn, to be containers for information instead of creators.

It is not just that we are asking them to be passive, but we are also cramping a process that could be broad and more enriching than a lecture. Tapscott gave an example:

I was talking to a youngster at Harvard, and he said: Why would I sit there and listen to a TA talking to 300 of us, a teaching assistant. I can’t even ask a question – the topic is Peter Drucker- when I can go online and interact with a real-time Peter Drucker.

Social media allows us not only to study a topic but to interact with it. The student from Harvard correctly points out one of the major flaws in our education system. We often ignore a resource rich world and force students to learn in a resource desert: the traditional classroom. Tapscott goes on to talk about how the way we do everything has changed and evolved as our understanding of the world has changed and evolved, except the classroom. This is something I also discuss in the second half of Mob Rule Learning. We have a teaching pedagogy that has not changed in hundreds of years.

One of the callers, Mandolin, talked about her experience in college with professors that did or did not understand their students learning styles, but she goes on to talk about her subsequent experience in the work force. The problems with higher education do not stop when our students graduate. Unfortunately, one of the things that students are learning in our colleges and universities is that multitasking is not an acceptable form of hard work, even though the newest generation in our organizations works better as multitaskers.

Multitasking has had some negative connotations lately and arguments abound regarding if increased multitasking is causing the ruination of society or making us better, stronger human beings. For the sake of this argument, I want to define multitasking as a form of multi-learning. What I mean is a learner that pulls in information from many different sources and media at once, reflects on the information, and then creates new content based on that information that is then shared with other learners in an interactive way that often allows those learners to also learn and create. This is the way that true multitasking in learning works. It means using everything at your disposal to create something new in the discipline. This is what students do now and this is what our traditional classrooms are hampering. As Tapscott points out, a student can listen to a lecture on something or they can go interact with that something. They will choose the latter almost every time and so would I.

What kind of student would you rather have in your classroom? A student who comes and listens quietly to your lecture as a passive learner or a student who comes, uses their laptop to look up additional information on the subject, later corrects an error on that subject page in wikipedia, and develops understanding for the topic on their own?

Another caller talked about an interactive textbook that he helped create and Tapscott’s response was this:

…what we just heard was a teacher acting as a curator rather than a content creator. And imagine if we had this global network for higher learning, there was a platform where all university faculty and educators could cooperate together where we could reach out into the public Internet to curate a lot of this content, like some of it obviously won’t be good, but some of it is spectacular, as the caller just alluded to And you know, we can do this. It just requires some leadership.

As teachers, we should be guides and curators. This is also where librarians are essential to the process. Librarians are curators of information already. We pride ourselves on curating information so that is accessible to as many people as possible. In the learning process, librarians should be making themselves indispensable in the curation process. We can help both with the discovery of information and with the curation of the new content being created by students.

Librarians, who have experience in curating (like cataloging), can help colleges, universities, and educators to move into these new roles, roles librarians have been filling in other capacities for some time. If we are going to change the way higher education works, we will all, teachers, librarians, and students, have to work together, in true mob fashion, to make the changes needed to make the education system reflect our new understanding of the world around us.

–Jane, wrote this with a lap full of 5 month old

Writing in a Canyon

It seems like often when I am talking to my friend, Jason Griffey, we end up talking about the print format and how it is going to die. Notice I did not say if. I think we always circle back to this because usually one or both of us are in the middle of some kind of writing project or other and we are frustrated with the process or the medium. Both, usually.

I am in the middle, the literal middle, of writing a book and the process has been interesting. Most days I hate it, though I do love to write in general, but writing a book has been not exactly what I thought it would be. It took a conversation with Jason for me to put my frustrations into words. I should clarify that by book, I mean a print book, made of paper and sitting on your shelf. I do think print books will be with us for a long time to come but I believe their purpose will be collection and vanity printing, not for reading and certainly not for most research. Here are some reasons from a writer’s perspective that cropped up in our chat:

Writing a print book is like writing in a vacuum. I am used to immediate feedback. I have mostly written for online venues where people are not shy about telling you to your virtual (or real) face that what you are writing is amazing or absolute trash. Sometimes they tell you both in the same sentence. This helps ideas become refined and evolve in amazing ways. I am used to the wisdom of the crowd being a sounding board. Writing a print non-fiction book means you write to yourself. Your sounding board is you. It is boring! I do not like it. I do not like it with green eggs and ham!

Some days I feel like I am typing into a canyon and the only thing coming back to me is the clicking of my keyboard after it has distorted itself by time and distance. It sounds different but it is the same stuff I just sent forth. It is not a satisfying process nor do I think it is a conducive one to brilliant new ideas. As my conversation with Jason proves, I have the best ideas when spurned on by my peers.

You might argue that I am just accustomed to social media, I have ADD instead of writer’s block, or that I need instant gratification. Perhaps you are right, but I am not the only crazy person who feels this way and it is one of the reasons why print books are going to go away. And it will happen sooner than we think.

The other main reason that this process has grated on my mind is a very practical one. Most books it is out of date as soon as the first sentence is typed, let alone edited, typeset, printed, delivered, and actually read by a consumer. Add to that equation a book that involves a discussion of technology and you are in serious trouble. I am writing a book that discusses technology and I find myself being a bit more general than I would like. I am saving individual tool highlights for the appendix and in the chapters I try to be general, wikis instead of MediaWiki for example, because I do not want the reader to be distracted from the concept by the outdated tool mentioned. In an extreme case, the use of an outdated tool in a discussion could actually damage the argument if I then loose credibility for its use. For some books, this may not be an issue if the tools are the discussion (or maybe even more so?), but I am talking about the ideas and beliefs behind the tools or the uses applied to the technology, not the technology itself.

As a consumer, I believe the print industry is just not a sustainable model in its current iteration. The problems with the industry and the format for consumers are many, but this post is not about those reasons. As a writer, I just hate that I feel like I am yelling to myself about something that will be outdated by the time it is in print. On the upside, that is why the book will have an accompanying web site with new links and information. Technology to the rescue of print media!

I feel, I should, after all this blathering, disclose what I am writing because I know you all want to know so you can buy it when it is out. Vanity printing, I said, remember? *smirk* It is a book for Information Today, Inc. on how the wisdom of crowds and technology has changed conferences, continuing education, and training. It is, I believe, very exciting because the very nature of the way we learn and share is evolving. The wisdom of crowds is changing the individual.

I am shocked most days that I am writing a book at all. In my mind I think, “Holy crap! I am writing an actual book! And people might actually read the thing!” My manuscript is due in May.

–Jane, is living with her laptop until May

Visiting With the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

I am trying to get back into the swing of reading some of my feeds every some most days. It is a lurch and go process, but we shall see. I have trouble getting in the mood to write when I feel so disconnected from everything and I need to get motivated about writing, like yesterday.

I think I may have failed at my job of influencing Mr. Rochester for the good when this morning he informed me that he did not know who Cory Doctorow or Lawrence Lessig were, though he admitted that Lessig sounded familiar. *sigh* I read part of Doctorow’s speech given recently, “How to Destroy the Book.” His description of Book People made my insides melt in that way they do when you realize that these words are about you in the most visceral way possible.

We are the people of the book. We love our books. We fill our houses with books. We treasure books we inherit from our parents, and we cherish the idea of passing those books on to our children. Indeed, how many of us started reading with a beloved book that belonged to one of our parents? We force worthy books on our friends, and we insist that they read them. We even feel a weird kinship for the people we see on buses or airplanes reading our books, the books that we claim. If anyone tries to take away our books—some oppressive government, some censor gone off the rails—we would defend them with everything that we have. We know our tribespeople when we visit their homes because every wall is lined with books. There are teetering piles of books beside the bed and on the floor; there are masses of swollen paperbacks in the bathroom. Our books are us. They are our outboard memory banks and they contain the moral, intellectual, and imaginative influences that make us the people we are today.

The whole speech is amazing and should be a rallying cry, especially given all the news lately surrounding monoliths and their inability to see the writing on their tombstones, in the way that Scrooge saw his tombstone and then had the opportunity to change.

The truth is the music industry, the publishing houses, companies who make proprietary software (or anything), and traditional phone companies are now looking at their graves and they face the same choice that Ebenezer faced: to continue to be miserly, unloved, and bitter or they can choose to open up, be generous, and realize that they have to give and let go to grow, live, and thrive.

–Jane, God bless us, every one!

Your Current Plan is Not a Good One

I am poking my head up because I came across some posts discussing the news that Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, and the Hachette Book Group (of Meyer and Patterson fame) will be delaying the release of ebook formats of new releases because the hardbacks are not selling as well.


This is a great plan guys. Really. I assure you that the people that switched over to ebooks are not going to plunk down $30 for a huge book when a couple months (or some Internet searching) will get them the same book as an ebook for $10 (or free). I also assure you that a large number of the people who used to buy hardbacks now have ereaders.

I am sorry that your publishing structure is threatened by technology. Please learn to move on and adjust your company strategy or you will go drown in your own bad decisions. Pulled under by that 10 pound tome no one really wants to buy anymore.

The Smart Bitches, as always, have the best response.

For the record, I still buy some hardbacks, but not to read and only for authors I really love. I collect them for my shelf and there are very few I am willing to do that for anymore.

–Jane, no longer shackled to paper

Why the Kindle makes a difference

The wonderful and handsome Mr. Rochester presented me with a Kindle for my birthday at the beginning of the month. I was surprised and delighted. I did not think I would own an ebook device anytime soon. In a few short weeks, I have fallen in love with this gadget (I can not even begin to tell you how awesome it really is) and it has made me consider again the future of the book.

I think that, regardless of what every bibliophile wants, that physical books will be regulated to vanity and specialty presses in the future. Maybe far into the future, but I would guess definitely in my lifetime. I adore books. I own quite a lot of them and I will continue to buy printed books for authors and series I like and collect.

Collect is the key word. Books have always been things I collect and now it is more like a collection than the fact that I simply have a lot of books. I will be more choosy about what I buy in paper. I have already made the decision that books for work and fluff books will be completely digital.

The Kindle’s capabilities for note taking, highlighting, and searching make it natural to move work related books to a digital format. I wish I would have had this as an undergrad and grad student! The fluff books will move to a digital format for me because it is cheaper to buy them in that format and I am more likely to want them to be mobile.

These recent musing have left me again thinking about what the future of the librarian profession will be in a digital world. Karen’s recent post about being positive in adversity has reminded me that we should always think of solutions when we criticize. David Lee King pointed to the idea that there will be a larger need for librarians (Content Curators) in light of the sheer amount of digital information.

Though I think the book will go, I do not think libraries and librarians will, but I do think that our jobs will look very different. I think our buildings, if we have them, will look different as well.

For me, I find this very exciting. I am glad to be a librarian at this time in history, despite the budget woes, the space problems, and the changes. I just think how fabulous it is to know that we could literally take our profession in any direction we choose because the future seems very flexible and that should make us all smile.

What kind of librarian do you want to be when you grow up?

–Jane, wants to read books