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Old 05-17-2011, 11:29 AM   #1
DMB
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Publishers and ebooks

I do wonder why publishers who are sitting on a huge number of out-of-print dtbs decide to issue only a few from a particular author as ebooks rather than his whole opus.

I recently bought a novel by someone who wrote a whole series. I still have the original paperbacks, but the last one came out in 1989. Now I can buy just three of them in ePub or Amazon formats. Why not the rest? They were published by the same firm.
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Old 05-17-2011, 11:43 AM   #2
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i dont know either and its frustrating. i can get most of harry turtledove or terry brooks books on amazon but on kobo or B&N they only have a few and they are usualy scattered throughout a series not even in order. its frustrating.
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Old 05-17-2011, 11:49 AM   #3
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Older publishing contracts did not cover ebook publication rights. To release ebook versions, publishers have to negotiate new contracts, or amend existing contracts, to include digital versions.
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Old 05-17-2011, 12:02 PM   #4
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Well pooh is correct but there are also other reasons:

1) There is a large number of older (catalog) dead wood books with some of the larger publishing houses. If the publishing company is going to create electronic books it takes time to work through the entire catalog to produce the electronic versions. They will typically start with the bigger name authors such as Grisham and Clancey and work down to the lesser known authors such as Andy Mc Dermott, so it takes time.

2) readers such as myself expect to pay less for an execltronic book then a dead wood book so there is no incentive to go through the older books and create the electronic versions. Some publishing companies that I have heard of refuse to create electronic versions of older novels and instead have said that all novels published on or after this date will include electronic versions.
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Old 05-17-2011, 02:06 PM   #5
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I recently got a note from Random House, asking if I wanted to agree to have a 1988 novel of mine republished by them as an e-book. I was a little shocked that they're getting down to this level, since the book was hardly a mega-monster best seller. I think it sold about 1500 copies. Seems to suggest that a lot of out-of-print books may be reappearing as e-books. I wonder if publishers are going to find it tough to compete with used book sellers in this arena. The current used price for my old novel seems to be 35 cents.
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Old 05-17-2011, 02:13 PM   #6
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This frustrates me too. You can get, say, books 80-100 (or whatever we're up to) in the Deathlands series in eBook format, but not books 1-79. They're not all out of print though - or, at least, Amazon still sells PB runs of them, for what that's worth - so it seems like renegotiating would be possible.

I've terribly concerned about abandoned works.

Here's another thing I've noticed that is a real kick in the teeth: regional restrictions. You can get a lot of Margaret Atwood books in eBook format, but not - apparently - "Alias Grace"... unless you're in the UK. And I know that a lot of non-US MR users suffer from regional restrictions as well. It's all very frustrating and seems unnecessary.
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Old 05-17-2011, 02:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anamardoll View Post
This frustrates me too. You can get, say, books 80-100 (or whatever we're up to) in the Deathlands series in eBook format, but not books 1-79. They're not all out of print though - or, at least, Amazon still sells PB runs of them, for what that's worth - so it seems like renegotiating would be possible.

.
Deathlands would be further complicated by Laurence James being dead now, unless it's owned by the publisher and they were all written work-for-hire.
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Old 05-17-2011, 02:37 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by poohbear_nc View Post
Older publishing contracts did not cover ebook publication rights. To release ebook versions, publishers have to negotiate new contracts, or amend existing contracts, to include digital versions.
That and for a lot of the older titles the rights have reverted to the author so it would take a publisher actively seeking out a new contract or would require the author to self publish those older titles or work through someplace like eReads.

As an example I've enjoyed Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak series. The early titles are just starting to become available as the rights had reverted and so it was up to the author so get them out (IIRC she's going through a third party to do them). Same with some earlier Margaret Maron stuff.
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Old 05-18-2011, 05:23 AM   #9
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They seem to be released in batches. Yesterday about a dozen of Johanna Lindsey's backlist was released. They must have been sitting on them for months while they finished the batch. I've noticed this with other authors. I really don't know why they don't release one at a time as they finish the conversion.
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Old 05-18-2011, 06:43 AM   #10
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I'd prefer they finish the whole batch & release them. If you have ever read fan fiction you would know what a pain in the butt it is to start reading a story only to never have it be finished.

It also gives fans a chance to buy the whole batch at once, rather than 1 at a time. When I find an author that I like & discover thier backlist I will buy all the books at once & then have a ball going through all of them.
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Old 05-18-2011, 08:16 AM   #11
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Batch conversions work well for publishers since they make the dollar investements once but they have a draw back - they take time. If you really wanted a batch release of electronic books perhaps as a customer you should ask the publisher for the release. My problem is that one of the publishers I deal with all of the time is owned by Harlaquin and is treated as an illigitmiate child and gets the butt end of the resources and publicitiy. Fat chance I have at getting electronic versions of anything they have published. Publisher is Golden Eagle.
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Old 05-18-2011, 08:04 PM   #12
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But 12 books at $8 each is painful to contemplate. One at a time over a few months you don't notice the pain so much. Until you see your credit card statement.
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Old 05-19-2011, 11:21 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by apbschmitz View Post
I recently got a note from Random House, asking if I wanted to agree to have a 1988 novel of mine republished by them as an e-book. I was a little shocked that they're getting down to this level, since the book was hardly a mega-monster best seller. I think it sold about 1500 copies. Seems to suggest that a lot of out-of-print books may be reappearing as e-books. I wonder if publishers are going to find it tough to compete with used book sellers in this arena. The current used price for my old novel seems to be 35 cents.
What did you tell them? Are you going to offer it yourself at 70% or through them at 15% (or whatever)? Is there a guarantee that they'll reissue the book or are they just tying up the rights? Are they offering an advance?
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Old 05-19-2011, 12:23 PM   #14
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What did you tell them? Are you going to offer it yourself at 70% or through them at 15% (or whatever)? Is there a guarantee that they'll reissue the book or are they just tying up the rights? Are they offering an advance?
+1, I'm curious too.
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Old 05-19-2011, 01:52 PM   #15
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Batch releases make sense for publishers becuase since the real cost of an electronic book is in the labor and since there is currently no technology out there that will allow computers to do the conversion automatically the publisher will need to task one of their employees to the task of converting the novel. Since labor is the real cost they can give the employee one hundred books to scan and keep him/her working for a while rather than making the employee start and stop. So releaseing books as a batch in electronic format is a bit more efficent for publishers unless there is a big demand for a certain book in electronic format when the company might add it to the current batch or do a special run, however the special run might cost a bit more since there are additional labor costs involved.
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