Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Comments on Borders Closing, plus Links

I was convinced that by now everyone would have heard the bad news about Borders closing, but I discovered the other day that Mr. Sportsfan, aka the DH, had NOT heard about this, so I thought I’d share my thoughts about what’s happening with the now defunct bookseller. I very much fear that many readers who depended upon Borders for access to print books will now find themselves in a situation similar to my own, limited to buying books at the local Walmart, traveling to the next town to visit a bookstore, or purchasing books through an ereader.
As recently as this morning I’ve seen bloggers blame the success of ereaders for Borders’ demise, but that strikes me as greatly overstating the case and underestimating the ineptness of the Borders CEOs. I’ve had such limited access to bookstores for so long that this probably won’t affect HOW I purchase books much, although it will no doubt affect the prices of books I buy and to whom publishers offer book contracts, since there will now be less shelf space for published books. I also should point out that all the store closings will have a negative effect on authors whose books will now be returned to publishers unsold. Less access to print books and decreased competition among booksellers means that Barnes and Noble will have even more power than it does now, but the sad truth is that because of where I live Amazon holds far more sway over my book purchases than anything else. Many have decried the death of the independent bookseller and with good reason, but I haven’t had access to a nearby brick and mortar bookstore for years. Since I live in a small town, my book buying options are limited to Walmart and Amazon. Hence my love affair with my Kindle.  
Blaming the Kindle, Nook, or Kobo for the death of any brick and mortar bookstore strikes me as extremely shortsighted. I have to drive 30 minutes to get to my nearest Barnes and Noble, yet every time I’m in town, I end up dropping by and purchasing a few books. Now that I have my Kindle, I still visit the B&N as frequently as before, because it’s located in the same town as the nearest restaurants. So I’m still buying as many, if not more, print books, plus all the ebooks I purchase for my Kindle. In fact, I buy waaaaaaaaaay more books on my Kindle than I ever did before I had my ereader. Hundreds more, although I’m too embarrassed to tell you how MANY hundreds more. I'm also more willing to try new authors on the Kindle than I ever was before. So for authors and publishers my Kindle has been a godsend without causing the “local” bookseller (or Walmart, for that matter) any revenue loss. Unfortunately, I suspect that this will not be the case for most of the readers who used to purchase their books at Borders. While any medium that increases access to consumers is a plus, the majority of readers still purchase their books in physical bookstores, which means that Borders’ closing will leave thousands with less access to books, and that is never a good development.
Links with Interviews, Self-Publishing Info, and Other Various and Sundry Goodies
I saw on Twitter today that there’s a New York Times article on how e-books are causing publishers to release the paperback version of Hardcover releases much more quickly than in the past. This doesn’t surprise me, although it does make me even less inclined to purchase a hardback than before (if such a thing is possible). I never buy hardbacks unless it’s one of my favorite authors, and even then I get the book on my Kindle. I did notice that last year’s Elizabeth Peters hardcover was released in paperback this April (a year after the hardcover release, the traditional wait), but the paperback was priced at $9.99 instead of mass market pricing. I wonder if the publishers will now be moving to a trade paperback format instead of mass market release.
Romance author Courtney Milan has an intriguing blog post about her thoughts concerning changes in the publishing industry. You may remember that she was very successful with her self-published e-novella, Unlocked. I loved the e-novella, and it encouraged me to check out many of her other books, which in turn resulted in profit for her publisher (one of her points). I would like to point out to authors considering self-publishing their work that her self-publishing success comes from her presenting such a polished piece. In general I think that authors who start out with a publisher then move to self-publishing are far more successful than the few who have gone the opposite route.
She also has an open letter to agents about what she perceives their role with self-publishing should be. It’s a two part post/rant, and she makes some excellent points, namely that agents should be focusing on creating a business plan that allows them to make more money for their clients than if said clients published on their own.

Maya Banks' upcoming book,
release date 8/30

My final link is an absolutely FASCINATING interview that Jane from conducted with author Maya Banks. What stunned me about this interview is the daily wordcount she sets for herself. She writes 5,000 words a day. 5,000!!!!!! She is a writing machine! I’ve read nearly all of her books, and they are outstanding, plus she writes successfully in numerous genres. Who does that?!!? This interview is chock full of information about how she receives sales numbers, advances and royalties, and self-promotion. And while I didn’t realize it at the time I read the interview, she also has kids. Yes, she writes 5,000 words a day and raises children. Superwoman, thy name is Maya Banks.

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