This is intended as an opening article in an irregular series, courtesy haiku.
The premise is that it’s possible for businesses to make a bit of money on the side via Kindle and the like. Significant to me in the PC Pro article was:
There’s nothing new about selling information online, and it’s still regarded by many naive newcomers as the best way to make money. However, the traditional methods rarely work nowadays because internet users expect a default price of zero. Even if you sidestep this prejudice by providing information that clearly isn’t available elsewhere in the public domain, you’ll still need to build proper marketing and payment platforms to profit from it.
But now the advent of ebook readers – the Kindle, in particular, has made such devices mainstream – has muddied the water to the potential benefit of sellers of information. For many people a Kindle publication is just as much a “book” as a paperback, and they expect books, even ebooks, to come at a price (in fact, price is regarded – especially for non-fiction – as a measure of quality just as it is in many other markets).
The essential difference between Amazon’s ebook market and Apple’s App Store is that in the latter, prices were driven to rock-bottom almost immediately, perhaps because there was no pre-existing model for comparison. The ebook, on the other hand, has a clear real-world equivalent that can be used to derive a sensible relative price. Given that the physical cost of storing and delivering an ebook is practically zero, customers expect Kindle version prices to be comparable to, but a bit cheaper than, their paperback equivalents.
Obviously the idea is attractive. I’ve thought of doing my old job online but that will involve considerable investment. We had ideas of making Albion Alliance into a thinktank, headhunting talented writers but the issue was that everyone else was doing that too and as the writer above wrote, the default value of text online is expected to be zero. I for one will not subscribe for money to a newpaper or online magazine. As more and more do it, I refer to a lesser and lesser range.
Regarding works of fiction in a heavily oversubscribed market, I have no illusions. I can certainly write and let’s not be modest about how well I can string words together. The issue is that my themes, mindset and sometimes bleating style doesn’t go down well – eliminating the ponderous and making he awkward more mainstream is also an issue with me.
In short, I don’t think I’d ever sell as a popular author, though readers who do wade through the novels etc. will at least get surprises. Truth is that no one really wants to read from someone familiar – there has to be something substandard about it, one thinks. And yet, if you read a couple of the books advertised in my sidebar, you might be hugely surprised again at the quality.
I don’t know how to approach the thing.
Filed under: Literature & performing arts