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Stephen King now reads half digitally

Nov 11, 2010   [permalink]

I thought this was an interesting interview in the WSJ with Stephen King about e-books, digital reading, bookstores and such:

Lucky guy, he's already earned $80k from an ebook that he wrote in three days and "didn't do for money."

He's also up to about half his own reading being digital.

Just curious, how many folks still think ebooks won't overtake paper (eventually; I'm still thinking no later than 2025)?

A SFWAn thought it would take $20 ebook readers and $3 books before we hit the fast lane; and that this will disrupt the current publishing model and reader/author/publisher relationships.

I'm sure $20 readers and $3 books would do it -- but it might happen before.

For example, I've done a survey at http://www.critters.org/surv , asking people what they think is a fair price for ebooks (and I'm told reported costs are usually lower than what the reporting person will actually pay).

For new novels, $7.81 is the average reported "fair price." The mean minus one standard deviation -- i.e. the "fair" price for ~93% of respsnses -- is $4.50. One the other hand, 93% think $11.18 is too high. So $5-10 seems to be a price people will happily pay. They may grudingly pay more.

For backlist books, $2.67 - $4.61 are the happy range, with $6.52 too high.

The site has many more results, e.g. for short fiction, and for a satisfaction-based pricing system (interesting note there is that people say they're willing to pay more for things that were average or great).

As for hobbyists vs. those earning a living wage, the pyramid of writing success has always been more shaped like a thumb tack. Ebooks, and thus the long tail, only magnify what already was.

As I noted in http://critique.org/futurepub.ht , there will also always be those who alert others about quality works. That may cease being as much the function of salaried editors at publishers (as their importance declines) and may be more the role of reviewers, social media, etc., but there will always be pointers to the good stuff.

As another example of the diversity of that kind of thing, a Critters workshop fellow decided to start an award based on what he perceived as the best SF manuscripts that he's seen. Mainly out of love of the genre, though he's now talking about prize money. The interesting thing here is that he's rewarding only UNpublished manuscripts, in the hopes that they'll get picked up. He's not publishing them, simply listing the winning authors and titles. (He's a guy teaching English living in China, by the name of Carl Slaughter. He's trying to make do on a chinese wage, so I let him use a page on the Critters site to list his winners, though I have nothing to do with the thing itself.)

Point being, I think there will always be harbingers of quality. (I've said for a long time that SFWA could be another possible locus of such, if they could get their act together. Topic for another day.)

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