Friday, July 17, 2009

Extra--Extra, Get Your Free Ebooks. . . Part Two

This post continues to elaborate on Scott Jensen's theory about a possible way in which e-books might change the way our reading materials come to us in the future. This was written, also, in part, as an answer to Mr. Atkin's comment in Part One. Please understand that this only one theory as to how publishing, as we know it today, could change. Part of Mr. Atkin's question involved what will happen to literary agents if what Scott suggests were to come to fruition. Here's Scott's answer:

What advertisements would be in the literature you read would be up to the writer, agent, and the advertisers, publishing as we know it having died. The control (thus power) will be with the writers and possibly their agents, which means mainly with the writer. Some writers will care about what ads appear in their novels. Some won't. Some agents will point out how one advertiser will pay more than another advertiser and some writers will listen. Some won't. And I'm sure there will be plenty of agents pulling their hair out because the writer won't agree to big-spending Advertiser X running an ad in their novel. And I could see some agents doing likewise with writers that "just must have" Advertiser Y in their novel but when the agent approached them, they weren't interested and whereupon the writer throws a temper tantrum because they "must" have that advertiser for their novel to be all that it is meant to be.

As for myself and as I'm writing my current novel, I making notes of what kind of an advertiser should be between chapters and even what I want shown in their ad. The job (my or my agent's job) will be to find these advertisers and convince them to create their ads in the way that would enrich my novel and pay me something for this advertising.

Then there is Amazon that is taking possibly a step between the above two extremes. The ads inserted into their e-books are very likely like ads you see by Google. They are related to the subject currently being discussed but not selected by the writer. And I think this is about the only thing that Amazon can do to survive. They must be able to offer the writers (and their agents) more than the agents are able to independently get. If Amazon can, agents will recommend to their writers to go with Amazon. However, any agent worth their salt (their cut) will laugh at the money offered by Amazon since they will be able to get their writers FAR more due to their own direct relationships with ad agencies and major advertisers. Given this, I think the only way for Amazon to survive would be to try to cut out the agent! In other words, writers directly submit to Amazon (probably by way of an automated submission and acceptance system) and then Amazon inserts their ads and pays the writer a percentage of the ad revenue generated. [In fact, what surprises me is that Google hasn't already been doing this since they already have all the technology and advertiser base.] But this agent-less Amazon route will VERY likely be the option of beginning writers only. Once you're an established writer, agents should easily be able to get you more money than Amazon will be able to offer. Then again, this might just be the route that starting-out writers will have to take. Agents might not consider a writer until they have proven themselves with Amazon.

And anyone that is opposed to advertisements in books ignores magazines. Some of the greatest short stories in history were first published in magazines. In fact, some of the greatest novels were serialized in magazines. Sir Arthur Canon Doyle's Sherlock Holmes adventures (both short stories and full novels) first saw print in the Strand Magazine.

As for bookstores, I'm sorry but they'll go the way of horse stables. E-books don't need physical bookstores. And once e-books take hold, many writers (and their agents) won't bother with coming out with a printed version of their work. No, bookstores are dead men walking right now.

To Be Contiued:

Monday, July 13, 2009

Extra--Extra, Get Your Free Ebooks. . .

The following was submitted by Scott Jensen as a comment, but we decided, with his permissions of course, to post his words of wisdom here instead:

Part One:

Here's my take on the future for the professional writers and their agents.

1) All books will be e-books.

2) Advertising will be inserted in between chapters ... possibly chapter segments ... possibly on one half of the screen while the novel runs on the other half in a sort of fat column.

3) E-books will be given away free. No more book sales. Borders, Barnes & Noble, and even Amazon will die. And why books are given away free is because a) copies cost nothing to make and b) #2 above. Advertisers will pay more if the book is more popular. The best way to get a book to be more popular is to freely give away the book. This will result in bigger download numbers and thus bigger payments from advertisers.

And I'm exploring the above ideas with the novel I'm currently writing (presently at over 72,000 words) by telling what kind of advertiser should be between the chapters as I write it. What I'm finding is that the ads are a great boon to the novel itself. They can help set the scene, mood, or single something out for special attention that the following chapter talks about. And speaking as a marketer, I know advertisers will MUCH prefer this since readers will then not ignore such advertising but really look at it since it is essentially part of the story. This combines product placement with print advertisements for a lot of things. But not all things. Especially when you, the writer, just want to set a mood for a chapter that won't have any product placement mentioned in it. Or at least that's I'm finding out as I write my novel.

And being an e-book, the ads can be in full-color and inserted anywhere without any trouble. No bunching all the color photographs in the center of the novel. Not that e-book readers can presently handle color. In fact, there is only one (Fujitsu’s Flepia) that presently can handle color and it costs a whopping $1,000. But I think it is only a matter of time before all e-book readers do color. After all, if any e-book reader maker wants to actually get parents of toddlers to use them to read books to their kids, they HAVE to have color. No young tot will tolerate black-n-white picture books.

And that's saying e-book readers are the main medium for novels and non-fiction books. They very well might not be. People can read e-books on their computer screen and now cellphones. Cellphones are themselves going through a HUGE revolution in their design. Until just recently, their design goal was "smaller is better", but with the advent of text messaging and digital cameras in cellphones, that is no longer the case. Cellphones are now becoming bigger so people can have a bigger monitor to look at text messages, photographs, and even video sent them to by other cellphone users. That and the most desired way to text message is the thumb keyboard. Slide the monitor up and the thumb keyboard is revealed and ready for service. What this means for novels is that cellphone screens are getting larger and larger and thus more enjoyable to use for reading. I can easily see people reading books on their cellphones as they take the bus to work, sunbath on the beach, drink an espresso at a cafe, cool their heels in clinic waiting rooms, etc. No lugging around a paper novel or even an e-book reader. Just take out their cellphones, call up their current novel, it will load itself where they last left off, and away the reader goes.

To be Continued. . .