Two years ago,when my wife wanted to get me a Kindle electronic reader for my birthday , I talked her out of it . For one thing , the library system in the U.S is so great that I find little need to buy books. The only books that I buy , and that very occasionally , are cookbooks and textbooks . Those are the only books that I ever buy except for books I pick up at book sales. I don’t see the point of buying a book at a cost of $ 25 or more merely in order to read it once . Kindle is an improvement in that you can get e-books at about half the price but even that I feel is too much. Besides, I much prefer reading and handling real books to reading them on the screen. Perhaps that makes me hopelessly behind the times but that’s the way I am.
Recently , however I’ve rethought my views about Kindle … sort of .
What changed my mind is that Kindle ( and other electronic readers ) seem to have brought about a revolution in book publishing. According to a recent article in Newsweek, authors are able to bypass agents and publishers and self publish their books by uploading directly to Amazon’s Kindle store. Even though e-books sell for much lower prices , the authors can pocket 70 to 80 % of the profits . In contrast , when books are published traditionally, the author gets to keep only 8 to 9 % of the royalties. As one author of an e-book found , by cutting out the middleman he was able to make as much on a single $2.99 e-book as he would on a $ 25 hardcover. What appeals to me is the fact that not only are authors getting most of the royalties but that they are able to bypass agents and publishers.
Getting a book published has always been a crap shoot. New authors trying to get a book published face the hurdle of first finding a reliable agent ( or any agent, for that matter) and then hoping that some publisher will take a chance on their book. Publishers , whose eyes naturally are on the bottom line , are loath to take a chance on an unknown writer and much prefer new books from writers with a track record. They also are happy to publish books by people who are celebrities rather than writers, or by people who are relatives of best-selling authors. With e-books , an author can publish his book and have it succeed or fail on its own merits.
Much to my surprise, the price of e-books seems to be lower than I’d imagined ; as low as $ 3, in some cases . As one author puts it ” Three dollars is a cup of coffee. Wouldn’t you rather have eight hours of entertainment from a book ?” Put that way , what can the answer be but a resounding “Yes ! ” ? Many people must feel the same because , Amazon sells more e-books through the Kindle store than it does hardcover books. This is a trend that will only accelerate as people figure out the other advantages of e-books ; they are portable and eco friendly . Another plus is that many more books are available on Kindle than can be stored on the shelves of even the largest bookstore.
All this does not mean I’ll be asking my wife to buy me a Kindle any time soon and then using it to buy e-books. For now , I’ll continue to get my reading material from the library and from book sales. I will say though that I am much more likely , at some point in the future, to get a Kindle and buy an e-book rather than shell out $25 or more for a hardcover.