Thursday, June 21, 2012

Where Are We Going in the Book Biz? by Jerry Peterson

Jerry Peterson writes crime novels set in Kansas, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. Early’s Fall, his current novel, features Kansas Sheriff James Early – the Early in the title – and takes place in 1949. Early’s Winter, the second book in the series, will be out next month. 

Peterson will follow that with Thou Shalt Not Murder, a new crime novel series set in Tennessee. Book 1, The Watch, will be out in September and Book 2, Rage, later in the year. 

Before becoming a writer, Peterson taught speech, English and theater in Wisconsin high schools, then worked in communications for farm organizations for a decade in Wisconsin, Michigan, Kansas and Colorado. He followed that with a decade as a reporter, photographer, and editor for newspapers in Colorado, West Virginia, Virginia, and Tennessee.

Jerry, thanks for joining us today. 


Where Are We Going in the Book Biz? by Jerry Peterson

It’s always interesting to go online and see what’s happening with your book.

Jim Strauss, who wrote for the Fox television show “House” – Jim lives in Lake Geneva, not far from where I live in southern Wisconsin – tells everyone you can’t afford to buy his novel, “The Boy”. It’s out-of-print. But a seller named Book At That will sell you an autographed, inscribed, and dated copy of “The Boy” for $199.98.

You can buy my book, Early’s Fall, on Amazon for a little as a penny, used copies that dealers have acquired from libraries.

Breaktime Books advertises its copy as “a good book at a great price.” That price, a penny.

Bayside Books says its copy is gently used.

Don’t you like that? “This book has been gently used.”

Bayside’s price, too, is a penny.

Of course, you can buy Early’s Fall new at full retail from Amazon for $25.95.

Or you can buy the sole copy that the Atlanta Book Company has in inventory for $111.12 plus $3.99 shipping. The description says it’s an ex-library book that will contain library markings. “Light wear to edges and pages. Cover and spine show no easily noticeable damage.”

Know what I’m thinking?

I’m thinking ABC’s owner is betting I’m going to die, and his copy of my book will become a hot collector’s item.

All right, what’s going on in the book biz?

 It’s no secret, the book business is going electronics.

Money is driving it, friends. For a publisher, you no longer have to have a warehouse. You don’t have to maintain an inventory. There’s nothing you have to ship around the country. Your costs for producing an ebook are just a whole lot less than that for producing a print book.

For you and me as book buyers, as readers, we can save a lot of money on the books we buy. Example, you can save $21.96 by buying Early’s Fall as an e-book rather than as a print book.

With that savings, you can buy five, six, seven, or eight more ebooks . . . and many of us do.

We can put a library of books on an e-reader. And take them anywhere we wish, and read them when we get there or on the way . . . as long as we keep our e-reader’s battery charged.

With a Nook – that’s what I have – I can write notes in the margins of the book I’m reading. Even better, I can search my book by key words to find passages I want to reread.

With a Nook, I own the book I’ve downloaded from the Nook store. I can “give” it to someone else. If I own a Kindle, I kind of lease the book; I can’t give it to someone else, at least not easily.

Income from ebook sales topped that of hardcover sales in the first quarter of this year – the first time this has ever happened – according to data released by the American Association of Publishers last week.

Year-to-date sales show ebooks are up 28 percent from this time last year, while adult hardcover books sales crept up only a modest 2.7 percent – in England, they’re down 6 percent – and, look at this, trade paperback sales dropped 10 percent and mass-market paperback sales dropped 20 percent.

Why? The millions of e-readers that friends and family gave as Christmas gifts last year. People gave more than 4 million Kindles as gifts and something like 2 million Nooks, the Kindle numbers courtesy of Internet

Today, about a third of us own either a tablet or an e-reader . . . and 9 percent of us have both.

But the surprise for me is that, while an equal number of men and women own tablet computers, more women than men own e-readers – 21 percent versus 16 percent, numbers derived from a Pew Research survey.

Perhaps we men aren’t as eager to give up real books as women appear to be.

But the real truth is more women read books, particularly fiction, than do we men.


Jerry, I'm just getting my second traditionally-published-but-out-of-print mystery ready for Kindle and Nook, and it feels good to know I no longer have to rely on someone else to keep me in print. I have both a basic Kindle e-reader and a Nook tablet. The two together weigh lots less than the books and laptop I used to lug around on trips. Thanks for sharing this additional information with us today.

To learn more about Jerry and Early's Fall, visit his website and his blog. Jerry also can be found on Facebook with his regular page , a page for Jerry Peterson, wordslinger, the Early's Winter page and his Jerry Peterson Mysteries page.


Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Jerry,

Since I also write for Five Star/Gale, I'm aware of the great reviews Early's Fall received from the major publications. So congrats on having a new novel coming out soon.

I agree with you and Pat that publishing is going digital. But I still read books in print myself being I guess a tad old-fashioned.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I love books, no matter what form they're in. There are three bookcases full of TBRs at my house, my Kindle is loaded for trips, and I'm thrilled with both options. I think the important thing is for us as authors to pay attention to the rapidly changing world of publishing and adapt without jumping on crazy bandwagons. Keeps the brain synapses firing, that's for sure.

Unknown said...

Hi, Jerry. Great article and interesting statistics. Since I have neither a Kindle nor a Nook, I know I'll need to buy one soon, I didn't know the difference between them. So thanks.

Susan Oleksiw said...

The book world is changing for sure, and your statistics tell us something interesting about it. Are women really leading the way? That's very interesting.

Thanks for a stimulating article.

Jerry Peterson said...

Unknown, Kindle and Nook both have a double handful of e-reader models, so you have a lot of homework to do to find the unit that's the best buy for you.

Susan, not only are women buying more e-readers than men, they are buying more books than men.

On May 14, 2009, Charlotte Abbott posted on the website Follow The Reader a stack of data from a PubTrack survey of 36,000 book buyers, PubTrack's sample selected according to age, gender, income, household size and location. This item reported under the category who was buying books in 2008:
-- 57 percent of book buyers are female and they buy 65 percent of the books (e.g. women buy books and they buy them in volume).


Jerry Peterson said...

Jacqueline . . .

There's something special about holding and reading from a real book. We who grew up with them just like them.

No batteries needed. They're portable. And they'll last for centuries if they've been printed on acid-free paper.

Plus, real books make the walls of our offices and writing rooms look good. They tell everyone who walks in that we have wide-ranging interests and we've read up on them.


Anonymous said...

It was great reading about Jerry, his work, and this info on ebooks.

I buy more ebooks than print books these days (I can't entirely let print go). I love the portability of my Kindle and iPad. I never have to worry about what books to pack with me. There are also so many deals out there. Amazon has a daily deal and every month they showcase marked off ebooks. I definitely get to buy more books and save money.

Talli Roland said...

Hi Jerry! Thanks for such an interesting post.

I definitely buy more ebooks these days. In fact, it feel strange and cumbersome holding a print book in my hand.

Elizabeth said...

Really nice your posts.


Found you in a comment list and decided to make a glad I did.


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