eReading: Only For The Masses?

Reading & Writing

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Lately I’ve noticed something blindingly obvious about the Kindle and its kin; the majority of recent ebooks seem to be largely aimed at mass market readers. At first I thought there were simply rights issues around books I was trying to buy on Kindle, but then I realised that they might be doing a WH Smith, only picking books with mass appeal.

Perhaps it’s not the famously secretive Amazon who’s responsible. It could be that the books I choose to read have not sold well in print and therefore don’t get a second life online, but I would have thought that with a reduced cover price they might stand a better chance of benefitting from the ebook format.

Clearly many others have yet to clear their rights, and back catalogues are always the last to be made available. I don’t think you can buy anything older of mine than the relatively recent Bryant & May series (no ‘Spanky’ or ‘Psychoville’, no ‘Roofworld’). But while I was in an upscale bookshop at the weekend, I made a list of ten books I wanted and failed to find any of them in eformat.

There is an Amazon button to hit whereby you can suggest the book you’re looking for, but has anyone had quantifiable success doing this, or is it just to give us the illusion of interactivity? I’ll be interested to hear in your experiences.

9 comments on “eReading: Only For The Masses?”

  1. Wayne says:

    I have hit the button more than once to say I want to have an Kindle edition…. Never have much feedback from Amazon though so have no idea if it makes a difference. I did it for every one of your books that were available easy to slip the kindle into the holiday bag than ten or so books….

  2. Colin Pierce says:

    I think the request button sends an email to whoever at the publisher is the contact for the account. Presumablt it’s then up to the publisher to decide whether or not to make an ebook version.

  3. Dan Terrell says:

    Right, Colin.

  4. Cat Eldridge says:

    It’s not all lowest common denominator material as Macfarland & Company that does serious academic works has their catalog in ebook format including their excellent set of essays on Robert Holdstock, the late British fantasy writer. And many the books routinely co e in ebook fashion these days as well as a lot of travel books as well.

  5. Lee Carson says:

    Aren’t they still trying to promote Kindles tc the mass market hence why it’s mainly mass market/ popular books which are available

  6. Steve Winer says:

    And there are also some interesting quirks in the e-book world. Gollancz has made a huge selection of out of print science fiction authors’ works available. There are several e-publishers specializing in classic crime fiction, especially noir. I think the future of e-books really does depend on making the widest selection of material available and I hope that your books will join the selection soon (although I have them all in those old-fashioned paper thingies).

  7. Amy says:

    I’m not sure about this, but can’t you self-publish an e-book on Amazon? I think you would need to find someone who can convert the book to the proper format. I don’t know how expensive it is, or if that would violate a publishing contract a writer already had:

  8. Mantichore says:

    Not sure how many copies February House sold, excellent though it is. The publisher probably owns the eRights, and has decided there were better selling books that needed to be available on line first. And judged there was not enough money to be made to hire more people to work on converting books to eBooks.

  9. Adam says:

    Amy- you are correct; self publishing is quick, simple and straightforward on amazon. Royalty percentages are great, so with the right publicity you can sell quite a few copies. I think it’s been discussed elsewhere on this site, but I’m a big fan. I think it’s analogous to the self producing music boom over the last few years. However, my heart goes out to anyone brave enough to try this as a career- I just can’t see how the majority can make a living out of it…

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