View Full Version : The future of publishing: Why ebooks failed in 2000, and what that means for 2010


luag
03-20-2010, 07:56 AM
A lengthy article from Michael Mace.

It's a great time for ebooks. There are at least six ebook reader devices on the market or in preparation. A major business magazine predicts that up to seven million of these devices will be sold next year. A major consulting firm says ebook sales will account for ten percent of the publishing market in five years. And an executive at the leading computing firm predicts that 90 percent of all publishing will switch to electronic form in just 20 years.

But the year isn't 2010 -- it's 2000, and the ebook market is about to go into hibernation for a decade. What went wrong, and what can the failure tell us about the prospects for ebooks in 2010?

I had a front row seat for the last generation of ebooks: In 1999 I was at Softbook (one of the early ebook reader companies), and later I interacted with the folks at Peanut Press (an ebook publisher) after they were bought by Palm. My short summary of the lessons I learned: Although some of the barriers that stopped ebooks in 2000 have been reduced, most of them are still in place. So I think the market isn't likely to grow as quickly as many optimists are predicting. However, the economics of traditional publishing are very vulnerable to a paradigm change. That change is likely to happen later than most people expect, but once it happens it'll probably move very quickly indeed. So stay out of the avalanche zone.

Here are the details on why, and how to avoid the avalanche when it does happen.

Full article: http://mobileopportunity.blogspot.com/2010/03/future-of-publishing-why-ebooks-failed.html

Ben Thornton
03-20-2010, 08:33 AM
Interesting article. One point that he doesn't mention is the fact that ebooks are often available somewhere to some people, but are not available everywhere on all devices. So, DRM and Geo restrictions are also a blocker to adoption - perhaps as a further cause of the availability issue mentioned.

Someone suggested to me that they felt that the avalanche would come when a device broke the £100/$100 barrier, which the PRS300, for example, is close to doing. At this price point, it becomes a popular gift, and usage would take off.

queentess
03-20-2010, 11:57 AM
Interesting article. One point that he doesn't mention is the fact that ebooks are often available somewhere to some people, but are not available everywhere on all devices. So, DRM and Geo restrictions are also a blocker to adoption - perhaps as a further cause of the availability issue mentioned.

Format is still an issue too. I doubt ebooks will really take off until the industry settles on a standard format (ePub, most likely).



Someone suggested to me that they felt that the avalanche would come when a device broke the £100/$100 barrier, which the PRS300, for example, is close to doing. At this price point, it becomes a popular gift, and usage would take off.

I won't gift an ereader, regardless of price, until I can also gift ebooks. There are very few places I've found that allow ebook gifting, so that's an issue.


from the article:
In my opinion, the right way to create a technology product is to identify a group of customers who have a major problem, and to solve that problem decisively. It's not clear that ebooks, especially as they are constituted today, do that. Paper books simply aren't broken, from the perspective of most users.

I disagree with this. Well, maybe "most" users don't see a benefit, but the avid readers, the ones who are/were early adopters of ereader technology, certainly see benefits: better availability of some books (I've found several ebooks that I can't find in print), free public domain books, ease of carrying many books with me, storing my library on a small device. I can fit my ereader in my purse and take it with me! Try doing that with the latest 1,000-pager King novel! No more cramming 8 books into my luggage when I travel!

Even my parents, avid readers but somewhat technophobes, have ereaders because of the ease of use.

GhostHawk
03-20-2010, 01:29 PM
I wouldn't say it went into hibernation, although it might have been sleeping at times.

As far as price point for readers go, newegg has sale on for today for Jetbook lite readers at 112.99 with free shipping.

Thats getting pretty reasonable.

pwalker8
03-20-2010, 07:09 PM
Interesting article. Of course, the biggest issue is content. Most here are ebook readers and I suspect that most here get frustrated by favored books not being available. I suspect that the ebook market will eventual standardize on one or two formats that most devices will be able to display as well as a disappearance of DRM, much like the music industry. There will, of course, have to be changes in the business models, both for the publishing industry as well as the authors.

Many established authors are use to getting a steady income for re-releasing older works, much like the movie industry cycled older movies on TV for years. I've read one author call his back catalog his 401-K. They fear that ebooks will cut into that income stream and that as soon as a book is released as an ebook, they will sale 1 copy and then that copy will be pirated by everyone else. My answer is that with scanner technology as it is, if their books aren't already out there on the dark net, it just means no one wants to read them, so they really have nothing to lose at this point. As Eric Flint has said, the thing that most authors should fear is obscurity, not piracy.

Publishers see their business models crumble and most don't have a clue about how to react, much like the music and movie industry.

In the ebook industry, I see a number of opportunities out there for people willing to seize the chance. I suspect that rather than huge publishing firms, we will see a lot more of the smaller publisher, such as Baen who put out perhaps 3 or 4 books a month. The big thing that Baen provides for the authors in the ebook market is editorial services and an established market. For readers, it provides a certain known product. If you, the reader, like the type of books that Baen publishes, then it's a one stop shop where you don't have to wade through a bunch of drek to find books you want to read. I suspect that we will see a lot more niche publishers like Baen in the future.

I also think that we will see a lot more web pages, rss feeds and the like for readers to use to find books they want. Right now, I have to scroll through page after page after page of self published books and PD books just to find a couple of new ebooks that I might be interested in on Amazon. Personally, I find it a miserable experience and that is the big reason my ebook buying has slowed down. My current solution is to go buy my local Barnes and Noble, scan through the just published shelves and write down the name of books and authors that look interesting. Then I look them up on Amazon. I'm actually more likely to buy from Sony than Amazon, simply because it's easier for me to browse and find books that I'm interested in.

Last, I can see ebook stores having lots of room to improve the shopping experience for customers. Let me set up a list of authors that I like and send me an email whenever a new book buy one of those authors is available. Give me recommendations based on what I buy, but let me fine tune those recommendations. Amazon does this, but it needs more fine tuning.

ChrisC333
03-20-2010, 10:28 PM
But the year isn't 2010 -- it's 2000, and the ebook market is about to go into hibernation for a decade. What went wrong, and what can the failure tell us about the prospects for ebooks in 2010?

SHORT VERSION:

I think that the “failure”, if there is one, comes from commentators not fully understanding what is actually happening - which is a major re-definition of what the role of a “book” now is.

The real change is that the Internet now functions much like one large 'E-book' that can provide a substantial part of our reading needs, both for reference and for enjoyment. That's where most of the E-reading action of the last decade has really taken place (and it's how you're reading this right now...)

ChrisC333
03-20-2010, 10:29 PM
LONGER VERSION:


When I was young, printed material such as books and newspapers were major sources of information (including education, news, reference and so on) and entertainment (fiction, gossip, comics or whatever). Those needs still remain, but what has changed dramatically since then is that a physical book or newspaper is no longer either the dominant delivery method, and - for many consumers - no longer even necessary. Not because of “E-books” in the narrow sense, but because of the massive increase in electronically delivered material right across the board.


For some people the TV has long been their main source of allegedly ‘factual’ information as well as fiction style entertainment. But the other big change in the role of books has been the Internet - which now functions much like one vast ever-changing book. I am a keen reader - with 2000+ printed books in my house and around 60 years of reading experience, but I have shifted inexorably over the past decade towards getting both information and entertainment via the computer. I’d suggest that, as you are reading this right now, then you probably have too. :cool:

In computer terms, 2000 - 2010 has been described as the “Google Decade”, because of the massive take up of the internet both for reference and for pleasure. What this appears to be saying is that the relevance of a traditional “book” is shifting rapidly and that the real change isn’t a battle between printed pages and E-pages but between the whole structure, length and format of how we read. There’s no longer any need to package things in familiar chunks of so many pages, or in traditional shapes, sizes or price points. Via the internet we can read not just a restricted monologue on a specific topic, but a continuing dialogue that we can even be part of ourselves. And we can consume our written material in anything from tiny bites to massive lengths with an almost endless array of choices in between.


Regardless of what we might personally think of Apple or Microsoft I believe that anybody who dismisses iPad style gear as pointless gimmicks is being massively short sighted. What that whole new generation of pad/slate type devices are seeking to provide is a way of bringing the complete modern reading experience to one conveniently portable device. That doesn’t just mean novels it includes forums, blogs, social networking, news, reference material, and anything else that can be communicated by print, pictures, sound in any combination you can think of.

E-books - in the form of electronic shadows of print books - are just one small part of an expanding picture. Things are not just getting ready to change - the main event already has moved on. It’s a done deal.

In my E-pinion.... ;)

vaughnmr
03-20-2010, 10:44 PM
I agree, and another point about the printed material - my local newspaper, for the last few years, has tilted to the viewpoint of the right-wingers, and I wasn't hearing the viewpoint of the other side. Not only was the news not timely, but major items would be omitted or changed to fit their viewpoint. I HAD to resort to the internet to get timely and unbiased viewpoints. People can control the printed material to fit their own agenda, and make it appear to be the news, but it's hard to do that with the open internet (the government of China, and WSJ are points in mind).

BillSmithBooks
03-21-2010, 08:16 AM
Apologies in advance for the selective excerpts:



Many established authors are use to getting a steady income for re-releasing older works, much like the movie industry cycled older movies on TV for years. I've read one author call his back catalog his 401-K. They fear that ebooks will cut into that income stream and that as soon as a book is released as an ebook, they will sale 1 copy and then that copy will be pirated by everyone else. My answer is that with scanner technology as it is, if their books aren't already out there on the dark net, it just means no one wants to read them, so they really have nothing to lose at this point. As Eric Flint has said, the thing that most authors should fear is obscurity, not piracy.

In the ebook industry, I see a number of opportunities out there for people willing to seize the chance. I suspect that rather than huge publishing firms, we will see a lot more of the smaller publisher, such as Baen who put out perhaps 3 or 4 books a month. The big thing that Baen provides for the authors in the ebook market is editorial services and an established market. For readers, it provides a certain known product. If you, the reader, like the type of books that Baen publishes, then it's a one stop shop where you don't have to wade through a bunch of drek to find books you want to read. I suspect that we will see a lot more niche publishers like Baen in the future.

I also think that we will see a lot more web pages, rss feeds and the like for readers to use to find books they want. Right now, I have to scroll through page after page after page of self published books and PD books just to find a couple of new ebooks that I might be interested in on Amazon. Personally, I find it a miserable experience and that is the big reason my ebook buying has slowed down.

Last, I can see ebook stores having lots of room to improve the shopping experience for customers. Let me set up a list of authors that I like and send me an email whenever a new book buy one of those authors is available. Give me recommendations based on what I buy, but let me fine tune those recommendations. Amazon does this, but it needs more fine tuning.

Complete agreement on the above points:

1) Authors will make more on their backlist. Right now, so many authors lose money because their backlist goes out of print and honestly, I go buy used because it makes more sense.

Cheap, DRM-free, open format ebooks at $1-5 would be my preferred choice if they were available...the author gets a lot more money (since they get none from used sales) and as a reader I have the convenience of instant access to the entire backlist of an author or publisher.

I was thinking about this yesterday: as a kid, I used to buy 20-30 comic books a month (back when they were 75 cents each). Now, comics are $3 an issue and I buy NONE (I go to Borders, grab an overpriced coffee drink and skim the latest issues) ... but if I could buy comics at $1 an issue (ZIP/HTML or PDF with no DRM), I would immediately go back to buying 40-50 titles a month.

I know I'm not alone...circulation for the X-Men has gone from about 250,000 copies an issue (in the early 80s) to less than 50,000 an issue, as per the audit reports printed in the books.

I think traditional books would be in the same boat...massive opportunity for volume sales at a lower price point, much more profit since you save the cost of printing, shipping, returns...and no, having worked in publishing, I KNOW that printing, shipping and returns is a LARGE percentage of costs (or so management always insisted when the issue of salaries and budget for editorial content came up :) )

2) Absolutely, I see the spread of niche publishers cutting into the pie of dominant publishers being inevitable. The barrier for entry is so much lower now. Major publishers will need more imprints (like Del Rey, Tor, etc.) to distinguish their genres to stand out.

In the past, to be a publisher, warehouse space mattered. Lots of cash needed for printing, warehousing (money invested in inventory that might take a year or more to recoup), shipping, absorbing returns...sales reps to get you into bookstores and cut deals with distributors...waiting months for money from retailers and distributors while salaries still need to be paid and printers need to be paid for new product...all of those were very real expenses.

Now, your expenses are editorial: author, artist, editor, a little for formating. Sell either through your own dedicated ecommerce site or through Amazon, Smashwords, etc. Printing can easily be POD to your out of pocket costs low...the ebook serves the function of the cheap paperback, the POD is the premium version for the "super fan."

Yeah, the fragmenting of the industry appears, to me at least, to be all but inevitable.

3) The biggest problem: How to connect readers to authors.

I think the missing component is a few "hub" websites that serve this fuction -- I see the key ingredient being a site that combines editorial/reviews and news, voting by members, social networking...a Slashdot/Digg/Reddit for books...probably several sites by genre.

Once that one dedicated site or network is in place, I think the ebook industry could explode. (I still maintain that DRM-free, open formats like HTML, PDF, etc. are the way to go...I think if the industry went in that direction, the migration to a mature ebook industry will be much faster...and I'm sure a lot of the scruffy little upstart publishers will realize this and move to that model more quickly since they have less to lose and a lot more to gain.)

fugazied
03-21-2010, 07:30 PM
The short version imo is the measures (Geo-restrictions and DRM) and pricing which publishers demand are holding back mainstream adoption of reading devices.

They have a chance to 're-popularize' reading with the young mainstream and gain millions of new consumers, but instead, in their fervor to stick with the old ways they are making the transition to electronic slow and painful for consumers.

the number of people reading has been in steady decline in recent years, left for science fiction geeks, nerds, oldies, middle ages women and intellectuals to do while most young people were satisfied with facebook, blogs and itunes. Now with these new exciting devices (nook, kindle, iPad + more) there is a real chance to vastly increase reader numbers but first the more knowledgeable hardware/software makers and e-book sellers (Apple, Google, B&N, Sony, Amazon) have to do battle with the publishing industry.

New devices like the iPad let the primary usage of the device be video/internet/games and the user can easily expand into e-books and start reading again, many potentially new and returning customers for publishers. That's not even considering the new possibilities for new media including interactive kids books, interactive encyclopedias, magazines and so on. A massive opportunity and publishers are still busy squandering it by restricting e-book uptake with DRM/Poor Pricing/Geo-restrictions.

pwalker8
03-21-2010, 07:53 PM
Apologies in advance for the selective excerpts:

...
Once that one dedicated site or network is in place, I think the ebook industry could explode. (I still maintain that DRM-free, open formats like HTML, PDF, etc. are the way to go...I think if the industry went in that direction, the migration to a mature ebook industry will be much faster...and I'm sure a lot of the scruffy little upstart publishers will realize this and move to that model more quickly since they have less to lose and a lot more to gain.)

Oh, I agree. I like several different genre's, I can imagine a SF site that has things like newly available books, web boards, facebook pages, reviews, interview with authors. Baen already has quite a bit of that sort of thing, and has built up a very faithful following because of it over the last 15 years or so. Jim Butcher has his own web site that is very active and I'm sure other authors have the same. It's just a case of putting it all together for the convenience of the customers.

Ben Thornton
03-21-2010, 08:03 PM
the number of people reading has been in steady decline in recent years, left for science fiction geeks, nerds, oldies, middle ages women and intellectuals to do while most young people were satisfied with facebook, blogs and itunes.Is this true? This report (http://www.booksellers.org.uk/industry/display_report.asp?id=5033), for example, shows book sales slowly but steadily increasing in the UK. From what I could tell from a quick look at the national statistics site, literacy is looking pretty solid.

I'm not convinced that young people are not reading. There are lots of things competing for their time, but I think that the lack of physical exercise is more worrying than the lack of mental exercise.

mrkarl
03-21-2010, 11:33 PM
This economic turmoil is making drastic changes in the printing industry......in a few years when alls settled the printing industry will be quite different

ChrisC333
03-22-2010, 01:31 AM
From what I could tell from a quick look at the national statistics site, literacy is looking pretty solid.

I'm not convinced that young people are not reading. There are lots of things competing for their time, but I think that the lack of physical exercise is more worrying than the lack of mental exercise.


I'm not sure that book sales figures on their own tell the full story. If a recent visit to a local bookshop is any guide, few of the books they stock now would be likely to attract a big audience among many young people. The biggest categories seemed to be Cookbooks, Gardening, Self Help, Romances, Sword and Sorcery, Murder Mysteries, Thrillers, Personal Tell-Alls etc. In many sections, some kind of celebrity tie-in seemed almost a required feature, to the extent that parts were starting to look surprisingly like a somewhat up-market version of the supermarket magazine racks.

A recent TV show suggested that the biggest market for e-book was middle aged women, and that would seem to line up with what I've seen locally. All the local bookshops in my area are owned and/or staffed by middle aged women. The members of the local social book discussion groups are overwhelmingly middle aged women. Among my friends who read it's mostly the women who plough through books by the kilo rather than spend weeks pondering single volumes. Then they swap them amongst themselves, by the bag-full.

Of course, there is another category that is still flourishing and that is illustrated children's books. There was a very impressive selection at the bookshop (many written and illustrated by extremely talented women.... of a certain age...). And guess who was buying them for their children and grandchildren..... :D

There's always Harry Potter of course, and lots of teens apparently read that - as soon Mum's finished reading the copy that she bought.... ;)

A big thank you to all the women on the forum - you seem to be keeping the book trade alive.

Cheers,

Chris

Elfwreck
03-22-2010, 01:48 AM
I won't gift an ereader, regardless of price, until I can also gift ebooks. There are very few places I've found that allow ebook gifting, so that's an issue.

This, I think, is crucial. Right now, you can give your spouse/parent/teenage nephew an ebook reader, but you can't send them a small cluster of ebooks every month to keep them interested in it. (Except for public domain freebies. Which they'll have to figure out how to install on it, because many of the ebook readers make downloading from their store easy, and installing from the computer annoying and troublesome for non-techie users.)

Until gift ebooks are easy, the steep learning curve is going to keep the ebook market isolated to devoted techno-geeks and fanatic readers--neither of whom is the backbone of the print book market.

riemann42
03-22-2010, 02:19 AM
All the eBook market needs to take off would be a few best sellers released as eBooks first. Capitalize on the demand for the latest peace of Laurel Hamilton trash and the demand for kindles / ipads / readtastic 5000s or whatever will increase overnight. Make this the normal thing, and many will try it. They can even charge $20 for the special prerelease version.

And as we all know, eBooks are like Meth. Try it once and your hooked for life.

bevdeforges
03-22-2010, 04:42 AM
The short version imo is the measures (Geo-restrictions and DRM) and pricing which publishers demand are holding back mainstream adoption of reading devices.


Agree with you big time that it's the geo-restrictions and DRM that seem to be preventing the wider adoption of e-books.

The music industry blew it, but perhaps they actually got blind-sided by the move away from physical CD's. The DVD industry tried to institutionalize their regional rights by locking in the zone codes. Little matter they forgot about was that zone-free players were readily available (usually far cheaper than the DVD players with zone code locked in). So it's now possible for me to buy tv series and films in the US that haven't finished their runs in Europe yet. Neither Amazon nor any shop selling DVDs bothers to ask me to show where I live or where I'm going to play the DVD.

Publishers are going to have to change their business model to recognize the globalization of the industry. I've always been able to buy books (in person or by mail order) from just about anywhere in the world I like - the UK, US, Australia, Canada - as long as I'm willing to pay for the shipping charges and willing to wait for the physical books to arrive, or willing to schlep a suitcase full of books back home with me.

I live in a non-English speaking country, but I still can download software purchased online with no great difficulty - and it usually comes complete with the appropriate VAT rate charged. They do check the address I give them against the billing address on the credit card I use to buy the software. There's no reason the publishers can't do something similar. But it means a re-think of how they do business and a re-arrangement of how and where they make their money on publishing - as well as recognition of the fact that their customers have been buying books from around the world for years now.
Cheers,
Bev

HansTWN
03-22-2010, 05:00 AM
All the eBook market needs to take off would be a few best sellers released as eBooks first. Capitalize on the demand for the latest peace of Laurel Hamilton trash and the demand for kindles / ipads / readtastic 5000s or whatever will increase overnight. Make this the normal thing, and many will try it. They can even charge $20 for the special prerelease version.

And as we all know, eBooks are like Meth. Try it once and your hooked for life.

You are right. But, as we know all too well, the publishers are not interested in pushing ebooks over pbooks. They don't make any money on the hardware and are just grudgingly starting to accept that ebooks are here to stay. It is up to the hardware sellers; like Apple, Amazon, Sony to make such deals. Amazon tried to do it, Apple is bending over backwards to please the content owners since they are the new kid on the block. So don't expect the situation to change quickly.

charleski
03-22-2010, 02:53 PM
And yet when it's our turn to create something new, we create electronic magazines that look just like printed magazines.The real problem here is his notion of 'electronic magazines'. These have already been transformed, it's called the web, and the online versions bear little resemblance to a printed periodical.

The concept of magazines on ebook readers might have been relevant in 2000, but it isn't now - all you need is a browser. The repackaging initiatives that Time et al. have been throwing around are just a way to try to get people to pay for the stuff. For magazines that include a lot of visual material print still offers significantly higher quality, and that's not going to change any time soon.

Steven Lyle Jordan
03-22-2010, 10:41 PM
The article makes one point that I think is key: The developing e-book industry is showing a distinct lack of imagination in developing their brand. (And I like the car illustration.) Maybe that's why so many are looking to Apple's iPad to "transform" the e-book world: Apple is known as a company with imagination, good at thinking outside of the box; if anyone can bring fresh and compelling ideas to e-books, it might be Apple.

Elfwreck
03-23-2010, 12:50 PM
Maybe that's why so many are looking to Apple's iPad to "transform" the e-book world: Apple is known as a company with imagination, good at thinking outside of the box; if anyone can bring fresh and compelling ideas to e-books, it might be Apple.

Apple's not going to change ebooks any more than they changed mp3s; Apple didn't create podcasts or mashups and doesn't promote them.

Publishers will need to figure out the ways ebooks are different from pbooks, just like they figured out how magazines are different from bound books, and then decide what features would make ebooks sell better. (And they need to get over the idea that that means "better than pbooks." Different media; different markets.)

Among other details, they need to figure out how to market short stories individually, the way iTunes sells individual songs. Record companies at least understood the marketability of single songs; publishers have never been able to do so because the per-unit costs of individual story printing was too high. With ebooks, it's economically feasible to sell 10,000 words instead of 70,000 or 250,000, if they can figure out how to market chapter-length works.

queentess
03-26-2010, 11:24 AM
Right now, I have to scroll through page after page after page of self published books and PD books just to find a couple of new ebooks that I might be interested in on Amazon.

Oh my gods YES, I hate this too. I wish there was an easy way to filter out all the self-published stuff. I'm sure there's some good stuff out there, but I've had too many bad experiences with self-published work that's available on Amazon.

millicent
03-26-2010, 11:56 AM
Elfwreck makes an interesting point about selling short works. Actually in the UK there is a new company called Etherbooks who are starting to do precisely that. They intend to sell short stories or pieces of journalism by well known authors for 99p a download. Their site should go live in about two weeks I am told.

See: http://www.etherbooks.co.uk

pdurrant
03-26-2010, 12:01 PM
Among other details, they need to figure out how to market short stories individually, the way iTunes sells individual songs.

I like songs being available individually, because one knows whether one likes a song very quickly, and one might well want to have the ability to listen to it again and again.

But short stories are a different matter. I HATE buying individual short stories. I MUCH prefer to buy them bundled into a magazine or anthology. It take far too much time to identify interesting fiction to spend it selecting twelve short stories rather than one book of short stories.

Fictionwise has been selling individual short stories for ages. I hate them.

Ben Thornton
03-26-2010, 12:05 PM
What I find annoying is when they don't make it clear that something is a short story, so you think that you've got a bargain on a novel, when in fact you've overpaid for half a dozen pages.

Steven Lyle Jordan
03-26-2010, 01:19 PM
I think it's clear that the "tools" that consumers make such a big deal about on Amazon and other sites are really more about marketing tools, not so much consumer tools. It's hard to find what you want because the tools are just comparing your purchases to other purchases... not content to content. We need better tools to define and sort the content itself, and aspects relevant to that content.

P2P tools help, but they could also use more work--for whatever reason, I get very little good use or advice from them. I still feel like I'm alone, searching blindly for content I will enjoy.

This is a reason why I think books need portals that are operated independently of sales channels (like Amazon), to create a more well-balanced atmosphere of information and guidance when searching for books. Amazon is an extension of the book publisher who extols the virtue of their other books on back jackets, written by authors who are contractually obligated to write x number of book comments per year. Money dictates what Amazon pushes at the visitor first, not P2P recommendations. We need to divorce money from that equation, because it only leaves it unbalanced.

Elfwreck
03-26-2010, 01:25 PM
I like songs being available individually, because one knows whether one likes a song very quickly, and one might well want to have the ability to listen to it again and again.

But short stories are a different matter. I HATE buying individual short stories. I MUCH prefer to buy them bundled into a magazine or anthology. It take far too much time to identify interesting fiction to spend it selecting twelve short stories rather than one book of short stories.

Fictionwise has been selling individual short stories for ages. I hate them.

I love them; I've bought dozens. As money allows, I've been filling in my collection of Darkover stories and pondering whether whoever owns MZB's copyrights would be willing to release the novels as multiformats if they had good digital copies of them.

I do think they should be *clearly marked* as stories, not novels. And a good bookstore would get together with some skilled editor-people and make collections of short stories. They could create digital anthologies that can hit a much broader market than physical ones: buy them bundled to get a discount or selectively at full price. Potentially even, buy them bundled into a single ebook, to avoid the problem of cluttering one's ebook reader listings with a dozen "ebooks" that are 15kb each.

angelad
03-26-2010, 03:00 PM
Elfwreck, that makes sense.

pdurrant
03-26-2010, 05:50 PM
As money allows, I've been filling in my collection of Darkover stories and pondering whether whoever owns MZB's copyrights would be willing to release Potentially even, buy them bundled into a single ebook, to avoid the problem of cluttering one's ebook reader listings with a dozen "ebooks" that are 15kb each.

If all the darkover shorts were collected together in a sensibly arranged ebook, I'd buy them. But I can't face buying and organising the 60 odd Darkover shorts on Fictionwise at the moment.

I did buy and sort into publication order the 80 odd Agatha Christie novels. But that was a comparatively simple task compared to sorting all the Darkover shorts into some kind of logical order or groupings based on story-line chronology. (And, incidentally, cost me about the same as buying all the Darkover shorts would have done, thanks to some rather splendid discounts available at the time.)

Elfwreck
03-26-2010, 07:30 PM
If all the darkover shorts were collected together in a sensibly arranged ebook, I'd buy them. But I can't face buying and organising the 60 odd Darkover shorts on Fictionwise at the moment.

Don't blame you; I got several of them as they first started to appear, so it wasn't an overwhelming list. But I'm already having trouble remembering which are which, and it'd be useful to have them in groups.

I could put them together in timeline/theme sets, but I don't know that it's worth the effort.