11 Apr

99 cents only works if you actually sell more copies

Again, on the 99 cent eBook debate, the core issue is that it only works if you sell more copies, and that is not guaranteed.

Charles Tan has a great closing comment at the most recent SF Signal podcast at the 27 minute mark that covers these issues (or you can listen to the whole podcast, which I recommend).

At Kevin Kelley’s blog, there was a big debate, and one commenter, (Unseween), I think, nailed my concerns about the shift to digital creating even more of a bestseller first class/second class dichotomy:

Crucially that trick only works when you already have a critical mass of exposure. In terms of statistical distribution, that means the head content gets to rake in even more money, whereas the long tail gets longer and flatter.

Brutally put, you can only think this is good for authors if you flatter yourself into thinking that you’ll be one of the privileged few. Maybe you are, good for you. For the economy of budding authors as a whole, no, it’s not.

That’s the flip side of the digital coin that worries me. That’s why I carry on about increased need for discoverability and tools so that readers can gravitate towards more than just the usual names in eBook success that keep getting repeated (because one reason they’re getting those sales is because they’re the names that keep getting repeated).

Again, I’ve been accused recently of being a tool of ‘traditional’ publishing and being negative about eBooks. Which, aimed at someone who’s been reading partially off a mobile device since 2001, and almost exclusively off a screen since 2006 (which is to say: me), is a bit short of the mark. I’ve been experimenting with e-sales, giveaways, and creative commons releases since 2001, at first through Fictionwise.