September 27, 2010

To B Or Not To B

Filed under: The Writing Life — jenny @ 8:19 pm

“B” stands for book, of course.

I’m just going to continue the debate started in my last post by posting this great quote from author Margaret Coel, which appeared on Shelf Awareness today:

“I noticed during takeoff and landing that I didn’t have to turn off my book.”
–Author Margaret Coel, speaking at Saturday night’s Author Banquet for Literacy during MPIBA’s fall trade show in Denver. She shared a story about a Kindle-loving fellow airline passenger who told her that the book she was reading would soon be obsolete.

Then I’ll link to Joe Konrath’s latest pithy skewering of the major publishing houses.

I want to always promote a balanced atmosphere of non-volatile discussion on Suspense Your Disbelief. Well, some volatility can be fun, I guess. Go on, take out your blow torches–either side.

But I’ll just say that last Friday I co-moderated another in our series, Writing Matters, held at what I call the little bookstore that could, Watchung booksellers. This one was about children’s book publishing, and the audience was packed. With kids and adults. The kids asked as many questions as the grown ups, possibly more.

And while one four year old passed the hours (yes, hours) playing games on an IPad (I think it was), the rest stood in line to get their books signed by the authors.

To B Or Not To B?

For me there is no question.


  1. Oh, that Konrath article is HYSTERICAL!

    I think there is a POINT to the gatekeeping function of the publishing industry. I think people are too eager to self-publish and don’t BOTHER with all that editing nonsense, and much of what gets self-published is trash, making it VERY hard for good books to break through the noise.

    But I see a possibility of some ALTERNATIVE gatekeeper forming (I’ve been suggesting to my small cadre of minions that what we REALLY need is a guild of sorts–pay a membership–members are obliged to do some (blind) reviewing on certain parameters and give an endorsement or no, and a certain number of endorsements earns a ‘guild sticker for quality’ that the self-published can use to break through the clutter. Needs a famous author to pick it up though… (the membership would pay for the person/people organizing who reviews what and such–it’s a database/organizational nightmare)

    But I digress… I think publishing DOES need to wake up and realize authors won’t put up with all this for long. My book has a 30% rate to me on eBooks, and price is middlish (maybe half that of the paperback) So 30% of $3.99 vs. 8% of $7.99 earns ME more for eBook, but the publisher a fair bit more, too.

    Comment by Hart — September 28, 2010 @ 8:29 am

  2. I couldn’t agree more with Hart, particularly about gatekeeping keeping out the self-pubbers who just don’t want to put up with the “nonsense” of polishing the craft, waiting time, editing, etc.

    Me, I don’t think the printed book will EVER go out. I see these Kindle ads now with a girl relaxing outdoors by a stream with her VIRUTAL book to read…?!?! Come on! Anyone who wants to go relax by a stream doesn’t care if she looks “cool” with her device. She will read a friggin’ BOOK.

    Comment by Savvy — September 28, 2010 @ 8:34 am

  3. That is a really interesting idea, Hart. Really interesting. You’re right–an organizer’s nightmare…or triumph? But now hold all the presses. What do you mean when you saw my book? WHAT did I miss??

    Savvy, I hope and pray you’re right. I certainly don’t want to be wading in a babbling brook with an electronic device. Sounds like something our mothers warned us about.

    Comment by jenny — September 28, 2010 @ 8:39 am

  4. I like Hart’s idea, but I think writers WILL put up with the slow speed, exploitative pay, and inept business model of publishing . . . maybe forever. Millions of eager wanna-be writers would be happy to take one penny for an advance and zip for royalties to have a publishing company with a name print their novels.

    I’m sure I’ll get an e-reader someday. My eyes are wearing out and already reading p-backs is a strain. To have a way to make print larger (without re-buying my entire library) will be well worth it. Also, when I’m camping, I’d prefer to take a light-weight Kindle with me–with any book I want to read–than lug around a handful of p-backs hoping one will suit my mood. But getting an e-reader doesn’t mean I’ll suddenly start buying self-pubbed writers. If anything, it will encourage me to go back to the classics.

    Comment by Sara — September 28, 2010 @ 7:05 pm

  5. I only bring one paperback when camping. :)

    Good point about large print, tho!!

    Comment by Savvy — September 29, 2010 @ 9:07 am

  6. I am such, such a book person. I love the smell, the feel.. .and I don’t want to use a Kindle but I’m starting to see some value in them, especially for a long overseas trip I’m taking in a few months — I can’t lug books for the ten hour flight each way so a Kindle it will probably be.

    Comment by Judy — September 30, 2010 @ 5:23 pm

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