Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Landscape Shifts

Recently, Dorchester Publishing announced that it is going ebooks only for the next six to eight months, and then they will be printing trade paperbacks (tpb) instead of mass market paperbacks (mmpb). There seems to be some confusion on their part as to how they are going to execute this shift, as evidenced by this article. Whatever they plan to do, this is a major gamble on Dorchester's part, in my opinion. For one thing, they risk losing current customers by suspending their mmpb line immediately. I haven't seen a clear explanation as to the suddenness of this move and why there is no transition period, so I'm not sure what the logic is behind it. My gut tells me business must have been pretty bad to require such an abrupt shift. But there are relatively few people who own ereaders at this time, so it seems a tremendous gamble to go ebook only for the next few months.

From a personal standpoint, I'm not thrilled by this decision. I am a horror book club member, and one of the things I looked forward to each month was getting my book club books in the mail. I enjoy reading stuff by authors I have never read before, and I've been pleased by the variety of authors in Dorchester's stable. Now I feel bad for many of those authors. The horror genre is not huge, and a number of talented writers seem to be caught in the middle of this mess. One of my favorites, Gord Rollo, just had the carpet pulled from under his feet by discovering his new book, coming out in September, will be one of the first books affected by this change. I'm not lying when I say this is probably the book I most anticipated from Dorchester this year. I anticipated it even more than Brian Keene's A Gathering of Crows (which was excellent, by the way). But now I feel really bad for Gord; who really knows how this will affect his sales? And what can he really do right now? And what options do the other mid-list horror writers have? It's not like there are a lot of publishers jumping up and down for horror books, even if they are written by some very talented people.

I hope this works out for Dorchester. I really do. They have put out some great works, and there are a number of upcoming books that should be really good. I just hope they are better organized and have more a plan than what they have portrayed so far.

On a side note, my personal landscape has shifted. I purchased my first ereader this past week, a Sony Reader Touch. So I am now officially part of the digital age. Despite my previous questions and concerns, I'm enjoying the experience of reading my first ebook on it, Scott Nicholson's Speed Dating with the Dead (and the book itself is pretty darn good). I think I can get used to this ebook stuff. Yes, I still love my paper books and will be reading them for a long time to come. But now I can get my hands on a number of books by a wide variety of authors that I normally probably wouldn't have in the past. So I'm very excited so far; I'll keep you posted on my thoughts on the whole ebook experience.


byonge said...


I'm living in the shade of Mt. Whitney. The nearest bookstores with inventory are 135 mi. south and 220 mi. north. I've been getting books from Amazon, which seems to beat B&N with my free shipping membership. I also buy a lot through, but that's a drag for authors because there's no author's share on a used book. In February I bought a Kindle 2. I love the ebook thing. I do object to paying almost as much for an ebook as the paper with free shipping. Some ebooks are actually more. I've got to read, but I need to save. I'm kind of getting used to the independents. There's a lot of great stuff out there. If I just wait awhile the newer stuff usually drops down. A lot of ebooks cost much more than buying a used paper book. Starting to ramble. Anyway, I think you're right about bookstores. The publishers have to be wary of overpricing, however. American greed can sometimes ruin a good thing.

Neal Hock said...

I agree with you, Byonge. I'm in the same boat when it comes to what I'm willing to pay for an ebook. There's no way I'm going to pay MORE for an ebook. Heck, I probably won't buy the ebook if it is the same price as the paper version. It would have to be some extraordinary circumstances for me to consider it. I wonder how long it will take publishers to figure out the pricing model that so many independent authors have already figured out.