Sunday, June 14, 2015
The Ebook Dilemma
My warmest memories of Tom are not merely from his work at Murder Ink, the world's first mystery bookstore, but as a member of the planning group at my apartment a few years ago, when the MWA-NY Mentor Committee devised mysterious ways to encourage new MWA writers in their work!
Welcome again to CWC, Tom, and congratulations on your new achievements in this mysterious, challenging world of crime fiction!
We have the same intitials - TJS, but I wish I could be as famous as Tom!
Hello again. Two years ago, my first post in the Crime Writers’ Chronicle was about venturing back into the world of publishing after a long absence. Now I’m posting a sort of progress report based on my experiences in the last two years. It’s mostly positive, but not all. I’ve noticed a problem in our industry that you may have noticed as well, and I think we should address it.
Because they refuse to read ebooks.
Yes, it’s true. I know, because people have gone out of their way to tell me that. Electronic publishing has been heralded as the publishing wave of the future, the new format for reading. Ebooks are the convenient, space-saving, paper-conserving, eco-friendly, relatively inexpensive alternative to hardcovers and paperbacks. Unfortunately, many readers simply will not purchase them. And that’s only half the problem.
While there is a resistance in the marketplace, there is also a problem in the industry itself. The major (and minor) publishers have not yet developed a way to market ebooks effectively. They run ads here and there, but what else can they do? You can’t hold ebook signings in brick-and-mortar bookstores where the product itself is not available for sale. You can’t send the authors around on tour to promote the work. Where would they go? Where would they appear when they got there? How would they sell the ebooks? Similarly, literary magazines and journals don’t review ebooks, only “real” books, so there’s no chance of good reviews that might spur sales. And most literary awards do not recognize electronic publishing. There may soon be a Pulitzer or Edgar or Hammett category for ebooks, but they don’t have them yet.
In other words, anyone who publishes electronic-only ebooks—like, for instance, me—has very few opportunities to promote their work or even have it recognized by the literary community. I’d like to be able to report that this state of affairs will soon change, but I see no early signs of it happening anytime soon. Ebooks—the “wave of the future”—are being greeted with decidedly mixed feelings, and we writers who have no choice in the matter are the ultimate victims of this Catch-22 situation. I have no idea how this is all going to end. If anyone out there has ideas or suggestions, I and many other writers would love to hear them.
I’d like to thank Thelma Straw and the Crime Writers’ Chronicle for inviting me here again and allowing me to present this to you. Later, folks!
© 2015 Tom Savage
TOM SAVAGE is the author of eight novels and numerous short stories. Many of his short works (plus a brand new novella!) are available in his collection, Jumbie Tea and Other Things: 8 Tales of Mystery and Suspense. His next novel, Mrs John Doe, will be published by Penguin Random House in October 2015. His bestselling novel, Valentine, was made into a Warner Bros. film. He lives in NYC, where he worked for many years at Murder Ink®, the world’s first mystery bookstore. Visit him at www.tomsavagebooks.com.