Thisssss Week in Publishing
The big chatter this week in the Publishingosphere (well, besides #LesserBooks) is J.A. Konrath’s announcement that he is doing a direct deal with Amazon for his new novel SHAKEN, which will be priced at $2.99, and which is the latest in a series that had been published by Hyperion. I’d accordingly like to devote a few more paragraphs to this than I normally do in a This Week in Publishing Roundup.
Among the reactions around the blogosphere: Mike Shatzkin called it a “benchmark event,” and notes that this marks a “significant jolt” to publishing economics: “Sales of Konrath’s $2.99 ebook will deliver him about $2.10 a copy (Konrath says $2.04; not sure where the other six cents is going…), as much or more as he would make on a $14.95 paperback from a trade publisher, and significantly more than he’d make on a $9.99 ebook distributed under “Agency” terms and current major publisher royalty conventions.”
Author Jason Pinter wonders if Konrath’s very public experience is going to drive some authors to self-publish before they’re really ready, Sarah Weinman doesn’t think it’s a game-changer but notes that Amazon-as-publisher is a significant development, and Bloomsbury publisher Peter Ginna notes that there’s not going to be any one game-changer but any number of game-changing challenges as the industry evolves its way into the e-book era.
My own feeling is that I’m a little surprised that everyone is so surprised. I also think it’s important to remember that there isn’t going to be any one way people publish books for the foreseeable future, there will be no single fatal blow to publishers and a mad rush for the exits, nor will traditional publishers necessarily be able to count on authors needing them to reach readers (especially when they’re paying paltry e-book royalties). Instead there will be a spectrum of options, from the traditional to the unconventional, and what works for one author, even wildly well, is not necessarily going to work for another.
Whether Konrath’s model of publishing becomes far more common also depends a great deal on what the future of e-bookselling looks like. Right now, because Amazon got out in front with the Kindle and built a large early market share lead, Konrath is able to reach the majority of e-book customers simply by dealing directly with Amazon. But the more successful e-booksellers there are and the more market share they represent (iBooks, B&N, Kobo, Sony, etc. with Google on the horizon and surely more to come), the more unwieldy it becomes for an author to try to reach all the possible markets on their own, especially if these vendors aren’t willing to deal with individual authors because of issues of scale (it’s way easier to deal with one publisher with 1,000 books than 1,000 individual authors).
And in that case, guess what: authors may need e-distributors to reach the most readers possible, just like they needed distributors in the olden days of paper. And all of a sudden intermediaries (including publishers) will have a new life and purpose, and authors dealing directly won’t be as feasible.
So yes, let’s note this development as another signpost as the industry evolves, but let’s not write publishers’ obituaries either. This could be the way of the future, or it could be an aberration due to a temporary landscape where one e-bookseller has built a big lead. Either way, my hat’s off to Konrath. We need more experimentation.
Meanwhile! There was more news in publishing this week, and here it be:
Still more e-book news as the Wall Street Journal has an in-depth article on the looming challenges the digital era is posing on Barnes & Noble as it confronts the possibility of going the way of record stores (via Dick Hannah).
My wonderful colleague Ginger Clark’s wonderful client Steph Bowe wrote a great post about whether age matters in publishing and her experiences getting a book deal. DID I MENTION SHE’S 16? Hilarity: “I’m 16. I got a book deal when I was 15. There are authors that were published at 13 and 14 and I always find myself thinking, God, must I fail at everything I do?” Ha. Already a grizzled veteran!
Dystel & Goderich agent Michael Bourret notes that as consumers grow increasingly empowered to try and boycott books for not being available at their preferred price and format, it’s really authors who suffer most of all.
And George Washington’s descendants can breathe a little easier that they’re not on the hook for a massive library fine: a book he borrowed 221 years ago was finally returned (via Stephen Parrish)
This week in the Forums, the importance of buying a domain for your name/pen name and how to do it, you have another think coming, book title inspirations, and I think people are nearly ready to riot about Lost.
Comment! of! the! Week! goes to Nancy, who has a great spin on a quote from Agatha Christie about being a writer:
My screen saver is a marquee that quotes Agatha Christie: “I assumed the burden of the profession, which is to write even when you don’t want to, don’t much like what you are writing, and aren’t writing particularly well,” to which I would add, “and even when it feels like no one else likes what you write either…”
And finally, with the Lost finale on Sunday it’s quite the end of an era as one of the great (if often frustrating) shows of the aughts comes to a close. And let’s be honest, perhaps no show in history made us do this quite as much:
I’ll miss you, Lost!
Have a great weekend!
Yes, the conclusion of LOST definitely marks the end of an era. It's a good thing The Bachelorette premiere airs the following night. The storyline's not nearly as complicated, but the editing is certainly creative.
Ted Cross says
I'm making it my goal to make it into Nathan's Week in Publishing someday!
I'm so excited about the Lost finale. How many shows get to be this complex, creative and strange AND actually finish their storyline.
I'd rather it end then fizzle out. So Hurrah for Lost!
Daniel W. Powell says
Where is Lebron going? I'd love to do a sign-and-trade deal and ship LMA and Oden to Cleveland and get the king to Portland to play with Brandon Roy…
Check this video:
I know J. A. Konrath's tales of his flirtation with self-publishing has my ears pricking up.
I am still trying to be patient with traditional publishing, however. Seeing my book on the shelves of my local store is a benchmark I really want to reach.
Emily White says
Sorry, couldn't resist. 🙂
I love that you highlight the evolution of publishing in light of new e-book developments. The book world has always seemed to me (from afar) one of the most vibrant, purring with possibilities — why not explore them to the maximum? Not that there aren't consequences either way, of course…
Thanks for this great round-up!
Bryan Russell (Ink) says
Ha! That was priceless. Almost makes me want to go to Dallas.
Maan, I wish libraries were as nice to me as they are to George Washington. 😉
Also, lynch me, but I never went past the second season of Lost? I'll have to loan them this summer!
Nathan Bransford says
Haha… that was pretty impressive.
Interesting play about publishing and finding something in the slushpile on the BBC…
I have to agree with Sarah Weinmann… the J.A. Konrath publishing directly with Amazon is not that big of a deal.
It was the 7th in a series that was dropped by conventional publishing houses, most certainly because they weren't making money off of them.
For $2.99, I'm sure I'll get exactly what I pay for. A cheap book. This latest book by him will be published without the benefit of the editing that his old publishing house provided.
The price of the book is less important than the value of my time it takes to read one. I'd happily pay $20, or more, to read a good book, but wouldn't pay anything to read a bad one.
Cheap books won't replace good ones any time soon.
Great for Konrath, but he's doing this with a fan base. Whenever I read about something like this – self-publishing (or, self-releasing) – I think about it as the Prince phenom. Who released his own music, but well after millions of Warner Brother Records dollars and marketing / pr muscle had been invested in his career. Ditto, Anne Rice, or Stephen King's forays into new platforms. Common sense would seem to dictate that, until there are equivalent economies of scale, Konrath's strategy is destined to be the exception not the rule … esp. since, no matter how much e-books are growing, paper books are still 90% of the business.
Chuck H. says
So, let me get this straight. G. W. couldn't tell a lie but he could be a book thief?
I'm not surprised about the self-publishing with Amazon, either–this is capitalism at work. If an author can make more money by publishing directly with Amazon, then why wouldn't they do it? As always, I'm very interested to see what the upshot will be five years out. Guess I'll just have to be patient…
I hope you're right, though, and the diversity of the market will keep publishers in business.
I don't care about keeping publishing in business as much as keeping art and literature in the hands of the public. Whatever needs to happen, I'm fine with.
I will probably consider e-publishing, but not until 2-3 years from now when I understand the market better… and things settle. Until then, I'm looking for an agent like the best of them.
Wow, interesting links this week, Nathan. Thank you! I feel very informed every Friday.
In terms of what's happening with Konrath – yes. I think Amazon is courting authors, while Apple is courting publishers…for now.
I think e-book devices will go the same way as cell phones. There will be one or two that will win the market, with a few minor stragglers.
There will probably be sharing of applications – just like now, where you can download Kindle to I-pad….or, there will be author wars. It will be a commodity market, with authors as the commodity. And thus the need for agents.
You may be right, Nathan, in that an intermediary will still be needed, but honestly, I doubt it. Maybe at first, but down the road. Why would there be a need for that? The e-book folks won't want it – why cut someone else into the deal?
E-book folks will find their own ways to screen for authors, most likely by employing the folks who are in publishing now. I sometimes think that current publishing won't die – it will be absorbed.
I could be completely wrong about any or all of this, because, honestly, what do I know? But that's what I think from my tiny viewpoint – the field will flatten to author/seller.
Okay, that's alot, and you have many other wonderful links, so I'll be back to comment on them.
Thanks for the chance to pontificate. 🙂
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!
Joe Konrath says
It was the 7th in a series that was dropped by conventional publishing houses, most certainly because they weren't making money off of them.
I've made about $30k in royalties–above an beyond my six figure advance–on my Hyperion books. They're all still in print and making money. My publisher dropped the entire mystery line, me included.
For $2.99, I'm sure I'll get exactly what I pay for. A cheap book.
For $1.99, I've sold 46,000 of these cheap books, and based on both sales and reviews, people seem to like them.
Come July, when Amazon's royalty rate goes to 70%, I'll be earning $450 per day–that's "daily"–on cheap books. Which is more than 99% of writers publishing at major houses earn–over $170,000 per year.
without the benefit of the editing that his old publishing house provided.
Of course it will be edited.
Joe Konrath says
Great for Konrath, but he's doing this with a fan base.
I'm wondering if this argument will ever die.
Here are a bunch of authors selling as well as I am on Kindle. As far as I know, none of them have agents or print deals or fan bases. They are relative unknowns.
Karen McQuestion, Marshall Thornton, Debbi Mac, Charles Shea, Rex Kusler, Joe Humphrey, MH Sargent, Jonny Tangerine, TC Beacham, RE Conary, Maria E Schneider, Connie Shelton, Norbert Davis, David L Erickson, Joseph Rhea, Eric Christopherson, Christian Cantrell, John Dillard, Michael E Marks, Stacey Cochran, Christopher Cihlar, Lewis E Aleman, Lee Doty, James Sperl, Robert Williams, David Derrico, Matthew Bryan Laube, Gregory Holden, Andrew Chapman, Linda Welch, CS Marks, Sandy Nathan, Keith Knapp, Andrew W Mitchell, and Gary Hansen.
That list took ten minutes to compile, just surfing Kindle genre lists.
To sell well on Kindle, you don't need a previous platform. Folks are doing it with a good books priced cheap.
D.J. Morel says
I've been following Konrath for some time on his blog, surprised at how little attention he's had until now. The growth trajectory on his self-published books is staggering.
I'm surprised that you didn't mention that his agent was involved in the deal with AmazonEncore. He specifically mentions his "terrific agents" in his post.
Shawn Kamesch says
Nathan, I've been reading for a while, but this is my first time commenting… I found your analysis of the e-publishing trend refreshingly rational and well-thought-out. There are so many voices out there on the "internets" and reason often gets lost in the fray.
Thanks for offering a shade of gray to this issue–one that I can get behind!
Concerning self-publishing and e-books, I have a little experiment going. I've self-published a very small Christmas story through amazon's Kindle. I turned down a real publishing contract offered for this piece a few months ago (long story). After reading Konrath's articles on Galley Cat, I decided to experiment with the e-book platform and self-publishing.
I've only done limited promotion (I'm not great at self-promotion). It's been up for sale for maybe three weeks or so. I've sold 8 copies. It's priced to sell at $0.99.
I'm sure if I were better at self-promotion (and if it were closer to Christmas), it might sell a bit better.
But I'm letting the experiment run. We'll see what happens.
Konrath is really on the cutting edge of making proverbial lemonade out of lemons.
Where other authors would say a book went out of print, Konrath sees his rights reverting to him to use as he wishes.
He's developed the model for turning out-of-print books and rejected manuscripts into revenue streams, and he should be admired for that. But, however he spins it, he'd rather the books stay in print, and he'd rather the publisher pick up his manuscript.
And, as long as that's true, what's happening here is not a significant development for publishing at large.
If Shatzkin's vision of an e-book world comes true, then an author may one day be handicapping himself to be priced at $9.99 by his publisher, to make a $2 royalty, instead of self e-publishing for $2.99 and making the same $2.
But I think e-books are going to plateau. Books aren't improved in any way by being transmitted in digital formats, and holding price equal, consumers are indifferent at best, and most will prefer the paper.
Agency pricing is pushing the cost of most popular ebooks higher, and that's going to slow the growth of e-book sales. I'd prefer an e-book at $10 to a hardcover at $17, but if the e-book is $15, I'll probably take the hardcover.
Mr. Konrath, your comment has given me something to think about.
My question for you is this:
Why aren't you charging more for your book?
If it's good, you're turning away a lot of people with the cheap price. There are plenty of people like me who'll say "$1.99? Discount book. It must suck."
I understand you're making a good living at the rate you're charging, but I don't think people are just buying your book because it's cheap.
You have a decent following and a track record. A fan base. You don't need to be the low cost leader. Don't you think you could charge more?
Doug Pardee says
There's already one way to get one's self-published e-book onto the listed non-Amazon booksellers (iBooks, B&N, Kobo, and Sony) in one fell swoop: Smashwords publishes through all of those. Okay, they're just now getting Sony on-line as a retailer, but they're getting there.
Probably more significant, though, is that Google Editions has said that they're going to function as a distributor as well as a retailer.
Nathan Bransford says
Right, and I think there are going to be a variety of different e-distribution options in addition to publishers. But already you're seeing the intermediaries spring up. Right now it's a bit of a wild landscape, but I wonder if the future is going to look like the present, except maybe with more options.
Kristin Laughtin says
I'm really interested in Konrath's experience with publishing through Amazon, but I wonder how much it will really tell us about the future of self vs. traditional publishing since he's already an established figure in the field and doesn't have to build an audience.
LOST FINALE I AM SO EXCITED YOU HAVE NO IDEA. I'm sitting here wondering why it isn't Sunday yet. Sure, the show has had its ups and downs, but since the smoke monster pulled the pilot out of the tree and those polar bears came crashing out of the jungle, I knew I'd follow that show to the end.
George Washington has no direct descendents. So no one was on the hook, anyway.
Nathan Bransford says
That was a joke.
Marilyn Peake says
It’s interesting to see famous authors experimenting with different e-publishing companies: Stephen King in 2000, Douglas Clegg with selected titles at Scribd.com.
LOL, that Lost video! I’m so far behind in watching that series, even though I seriously love it. I’m close to finishing Season 2, and, yes, I’ve said "What?!?" many, many times already. That show is made of awesome.
Woa…Mr. Konrath in the (virtual) flesh, and handing out smackdowns to boot.
Going to be a great weekend.
Marilyn Peake says
Whoa. This is awesome! Joe Konrath popping up here to take part in the discussion about his books. Kudos to you! And congratulations on the number of books you’re selling!
I’m trying to go in the opposite direction: trying to go from small indie press to being represented by an agent and published by a big publishing house. Right now, my indie books are available on all the new eBook devices: iPad, Kindle, Nook. In many ways, it’s a great time to be a writer!
Mary McDonald says
I keep toying with the idea of self epublishing. Some days, I really want to do that, but other days, I tell myself to keep querying, but it's very frustrating.
I've been following and riding this eBook wave for a little while. I'm both traditionally published (over 40 titles) and also started my own publishing company for both my backlist, new works, and other authors and we now have 19 titles up on various platforms, including Kindle.
I think there are some things that aren't being noted. First, any contract the requires a non-disclosure agreement raises red flags and goes against the openness with which things had apparently been going before. What's there to hide?
Also, one wonders how many authors, in search of full disclosure, buy their own books in bulk to 'juke the stats' as they would say on The Wire. How many do this to bump themselves up on Kindle to get linked to other books and jumpstart sales?
The vagaries of publishers are strange. I had a nine book series that sold over a million copies canceled by Random House so I understand sometimes it has nothing to do with the quality of the book.
Few authors are going to succeed by self-publishing fiction. I'm not being mean, I'm being realistic. In 2004 there were 1.2 million titles available and 950,000 of them sold less than 99 copies. Just because those self-published books are now in eBook format doesn't change that much. Yes, you're listed on Kindle. But as noted, there as so many platforms out there, we have one person working full time trying to keep up with getting our titles formatted and up on them.
I find the glee with which many writers anticipate the fall of traditional publishing a bit off-putting as I noted in my blog. Certainly it is hard dealing with the 'big six" (BTW, where is HQ in all this given that romance sells 56% of fiction?). But agents, editors and publishers are not the enemy. We all want to publish good books. It's just hard being in the entertainment business which is an oxymoron: entertainment= emotion; business= logic.
I wish all writers the best with their books, but also recommend looking at things very carefully.
In my humble opinion, epublishing will never be the utopia that many wannabe writers would like it to be. For a very SLIM few, maybe. But the dilutional effect of all those MS floating in cyberspace will kill any possibilities for the vast majority.
And Bob, thanks for the shout out for the romance genre!
"Also, one wonders how many authors, in search of full disclosure, buy their own books in bulk to 'juke the stats' as they would say on The Wire. How many do this to bump themselves up on Kindle to get linked to other books and jumpstart sales?"
It's impossible to prime the pump — I'd love to do that, but Amazon will only let me buy one copy of any digital book (they keep track of what I've purchased on my account). I'd have to strong arm 1,000 friends to buy my book to "juke the stats".
Susan Gourley/Kelley says
I'm thrilled things are working out well for Joe Konrath. It can only help the rest of us.
I gave up on Lost two seasons ago but I might catch up on video.
I found this post about self-publishing, the Kindle and Mr Konrath's experiences very interesting and timely. Thanks for this info and links, Nathan.
Denise of Ingleside says
Gosh, i needed that laugh about Lost 😀 i dread Sunday!
J. T. Shea says
Why take any notice of Agatha Christie? After all, she's only sold two billion books…
Lee Goldberg suggests Joe Konrath basically just changed publisher from Hyperion to Amazon. Is this really Amazon vs the Big Six or is Amazon becoming the Big Seventh? Of course, 'traditional' publishers' disinterest in Konrath's latest book (in the form of an outline and two sample chapters) could not possibly have anything to do with the way he's been bad-mouthing them so loudly and for so long!
I still preach the fundamental absurdity of tying certain books to certain gadgets. What TV producer in his right mind would make a program that could only be watched on (say) Samsung TVs? And what viewer would change his TV or buy several different TVs to watch different programs? Future ages will marvel, and laugh.
Transferable applications help but do not eliminate the inconvenience. And convenience is all. Convenience is otherwise Amazon's main strength. People buy from Amazon to avoid the inconvenience of browsing and registering elsewhere.
Mike Shatzkin (& Treeoflife) draw attention to the influence of time versus money on book buying, important in an age where it takes much less time to earn the cost of a new book (even a hardcover) than to read it.
As for Lesser Books, I'd definitely read STARSHIP PLUMBERS. In fact, I'm thinking of writing a sad tale called DEATHSTAR CONSTRUCTION WORKERS aka EVEN DROIDS HAVE SOULS.
I've bought a few iffy books on my ereader and it's turned me off to books that aren't published by traditional houses (except some nonfiction). Maybe some people don't care about quality and will read anything. But even if the books are edited by outside editors, it's not the same as books edited by in house editors where the reputations of the editor and the publishing house are on the line…yes, an author's reputation would be on the line, too, with a self-published ebook but ego gets in the way for most authors. They usually can't see their work objectively.
Joe Konrath says
however he spins it, he'd rather the books stay in print, and he'd rather the publisher pick up his manuscript.
Not at all. I'm putting two original novels on Kindle this month. I had offers from mainstream publishers, but turned them down. I'll make more money self-pubbing.
Why aren't you charging more for your book?
Digital media wants to be free. Low price is the next best thing.
I've compared my $1.99 ebooks to the $5 and $10 ebooks of mine my publishers sell, and I make a great deal more money on the less expensive ones. I've done side by side comparisons on my blog several times. Bottom line: because my print publishers have my ebooks and are pricing them to high, I'm losing about $100k per year. I'd be selling a ton more if the prices were dropped.
Of course, 'traditional' publishers' disinterest in Konrath's latest book (in the form of an outline and two sample chapters) could not possibly have anything to do with the way he's been bad-mouthing them so loudly and for so long!
Please point out where I've bad mouthed a publisher. Never have. I have tried, for over a year, to get them to understand the significance of what is currently happening in the industry, and I have called them out for mistakes they have made, but I don't tend to bad mouth anyone.
Also, Shaken was rejected prior to me getting into ebooks.
I love publishers. They've been wonderful to me, and I've worked with some terrific people. But, man, are they missing the boat.
Joe Konrath says
But I think e-books are going to plateau.
They will, eventually. But right now they're supposedly 6% of the market.
Let's say there's an installed used base of 40 million people with ereaders. This is conservative. There are 70 million iphones and ipod touches, and this summer they'll all get the iBookstore app. So we may see 80 million ereading devices y the end of this year.
But let's stick with 40 million. If I sell 1000 ebooks a day, for 100 years, I still won't fully saturate that market. And 1000 ebooks a day–which I foresee happening–is close to a million bucks a year to the author. I'm already selling 220 per day, on Kindle alone, with ebooks in their infancy.
Plateau? Not for a while.
Books aren't improved in any way by being transmitted in digital formats, and holding price equal, consumers are indifferent at best, and most will prefer the paper.
There won't be equal prices. Ebooks will be less. All tech and media come down in prices.
And you really don't think ebooks are an improvement? You can store thousands of books on a device. Adjust font size. Have the Kindle read the book aloud to you. See a book you like and download it instantly, without going to the bookstore.
If we grew up reading ebooks, there wouldn't be a single reason to invent a paper version. We like paper because of nostalgia. The story isn't on the page, it's in the reader's head. The delivery system doesn't matter…
Simon Hay Soul Healer says
I’m not agented or published, but I’ve been following writers and agent’s blogs for three years now, and if the big 6 didn’t see this e-book situation coming then they need to sack some CEO’s and executive management.
What they should have done is set up their own company similar to Amazon, teamed up with a digital company and produced their own kindle e-book reader thingy. Partner with a phone company, media company, something big company, so every e-book has 30 seconds of advertising, $10 phone credit, 1 gigabyte of internet, a $2 music download, and a big mac coupon.
Don’t mess around; improve the security to prevent piracy. Plug the reader into the internet and upgrade security for free. The device won’t let you view new content unless the security is upgraded.
The advertising alone would be worth millions. Think superbowl! Give authors 40 – 50% royalties. Everyone makes money and everyone has a job.
Kudos to Konrath for showing some initiative, and stop with the assumptions about the quality of Konrath’s editing or information. His blog is overflowing with free information. The man loves the industry of writing and publishing and he’s taking risks for all of us. He’s the pioneer that the big 6 should have been.
Mr. Konrath, I think a lot of what you said about epublishing and ebooks is accurate.
What I'm concerned about is quality. I'm one of the 10% of readers that buy 90% of the books, so I take my reading seriously.
With exception of writers like yourself who have a track record to back up your quality, isn't it safe to say 99% of the people self-publishing online have no major credentials?
For most of these $1.99 books, how do I know I'm not buying a bad book? At least with a traditional publisher, I know the book was one that got accepted out of the hundreds that were rejected, and that it was edited by some pretty decent people. Sure, it's not a guarantee of quality, but it increases the odds.
I've already mentioned that I value my reading time. Why would I take a chance with my time on a cheap book that didn't cut it with the traditional publishers?
I second the kudos to Konrath!
I also keep coming back to this as a management issue.
Bob, I've been in management for many years. I've had many staff turn down work for higher pay because they like working for me – in the environment I've created.
If I had staff who were ready to jump ship at the smallest provocation, or who would actively applaud if they could work for someone else, or I got fired, I would assume I was doing something terribly, terribly wrong.
If some writers are gleeful at idea of the fall of publishing, that's a management issue. Publishing has not built the loyalty and morale that it could have.
And Simon – I agree. I've also thought that traditional publishers should jump on the e-book bandwagon if they want to survive.
More importantly, though, they need to start developing better relationships with writers – not guilt trips or various tactics – but genuine collegial relationships – with a significantly better royalty rate -or they risk the possiblity that writers will leave en masse as soon as they are able to do so.
These things need to happen fast, imho. They need to move quickly to build writer loyalty, to enter the e-book market. If they wait, the ship will pass.
Bryan Russell (Ink) says
I think there's a flaw in that argument. The writers who want the publishing system to fail aren't the ones on the inside, just as it's not your employees who want things to fail. It's the ones on the outside who want this.
In other words, it's the people who applied to work for you and didn't get a job. And didn't get a job with any of the other similar companies/facilities. They're the ones who want to take you down.
Still a management issue? 🙂 I mean, you found great people, you're doing great work, everyone who works for you is happy… but people on the outside aren't. Time to make managerial changes?
"For most of these $1.99 books, how do I know I'm not buying a bad book? "
Easy. I've picked up dozens of indie reads from Kindle store, all very good. They key is to look at the ranking — anything ranked under 2500 or so is a great read. Typically these are books that have been missed — rejected for reasons other than quality by the traditional industry. The ranking shows they've been vetted by the Kindle community (nobody gets to that rank if the book sucks — the community rates and vets the books).
Pretty much that's it. Simple, elegant, and there are some fantastic reads that were completely missed by the industry for whatever reason — maybe the slush piles are just too big for them to give enough attention to every submission.
It's fun and satisfying to find these books on Kindle.
My impression isn't that it's only people from the outside. I've read many accounts of folks who had bad experiences inside and aren't happy with publishing.
But that's just an impression – I think it's impossible to know whether it's folks outside or inside without getting hard numbers through a survey or something…
So let's assume for the moment that you're right, and it's just a case of 'sour grapes' or something.
Let's take the example of Google. Google gets upwards of 2,000 resumes a day. Here's a link to the first place that came up when I googled (ha!):
With those kinds of number, can you imagine how many people Google turns down? Yet, I don't see folks anticipating Google demise with 'glee'.
A very important point: If I run an organization, and the people within in it are happy, I won't stop getting resumes to join my organization the moment another work alternative comes up.
But listen – whenever I post this kind of thing, I get flack for being critical of publishing. No one seems to understand that I'm trying to HELP. How can you solve a problem if you won't look it in the eye?
" there are some fantastic reads that were completely missed by the industry for whatever reason"
I need to clarify here. Many indie books on Kindle store were submitted to agents/traditional publishing, but some works are written for ebook market only. A good example would be Zoe Winter's novellas.