Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Electronic This and That

I receive quite a few eNewsletters and alerts. One of the more recent ones is from PW Daily and the tag line that caught my attention is: More iPhone e-Books.


I find this intriguing for a number of reasons. The first is that it wasn't that long ago that many of the "big" publishers were dismissing eBooks as a fad that would never find a commercial audience. Of course, back then we didn't have the proliferation of electronic devices that we now have. Second, in some ways we've come a long way and in others we haven't. The article in the above link talks about how pricey the eBooks for the iPhone are right now. Often price is a deterrent for the acceptance of new ways of doing things so I'm always suspicious of why some manufacturers seem to price themselves out of success. Last, timing is important along with knowing the audience that is using the iPhones and therefore would be the logical audience for purchasing content for this device.

The price points mentioned in the PW Daily article suggests an older audience with more money. I could be wrong but I'm not sure the younger crowd, especially the college group, is going to pay the same price for an eBook on the iPhone as the hardcover price. The perception that electronic versions should be more affordable than paper ones has hung on for quite a long time and I doubt it will go away anytime soon. It will be interesting to see how well the iPhone does with eBooks but one thing is sure - despite the predictions that eBooks would never find an audience there are certainly lots and lots of manufacturers trying to get in on the action. Even though ebooks are a smaller portion of the types of books sold, publishers can no longer afford to ignore having an eBook format.

Ironically, one area where publishers are actually pushing the eBook or electronic format is in their own catalogs typically produced to librarians and booksellers. The main reason is the amount of money saved in print and shipping costs. In this case, the switch to e-format is being pushed from the top down, in other words, the publishers are forcing this on the consumer for their catalog - the librarians and the booksellers. Now, they won't force it on their reading public but it does make one wonder why they seem to be actively getting in the way of it being adopted by their consumers by making the e-format as expensive as the phyical paper format. Obviously, I'm missing something. I hoped to be enlightened one of these days.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Books as Gifts

Books are great gifts. Books stay with us and let us explore worlds that we may not be able to access any other way. I remember in elementary school reading Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson and being transported to a place different than any other I had ever known. As a class we read along with a record the teacher played where a narrator led us along an amazing adventure, but we read along. No visual stimulation other than the words. Our imgination was free to go where it wanted with the guidance of the words written and narrated.

Television was still in its infancy back then and my family only had a black and white one. At that time only rich people had color television sets when they first came out and nobody I knew had more than one black and white television set. Fast forward to today and I have a color television in almost every room. But I'm still a little behind the times because I don't have any LCD's or Plasma ones. Given the price drops in everything retail due to the current economic crisis I just might buy one for myself next year.

Anyway, one thing that television - regardless of the technological advances - can't provide is the freedom to escape via one's imagination with a good book. So, give a book to someone you care about - including yourself.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Crime Pays!

Wait, wait, wait - I know the economy is tough but I'm not suggesting that anyone commit a crime. Rather, I'm echoing the cover of TV Guide magazine, Dec 8-14, 2008 issue. The gist is that crime shows, especially procedural ones, are hotter than ever. Well this grabbed my attention since I write romantic suspense. But hold the presses! What does this really mean for writers, especially since we're talking about the medium of television - and to an extent - movies.

Well, just because people watch television, doesn't mean that they read, but it doesn't mean that they don't. Television provides a more passive way of being entertained than reading but the fact that the crime shows are so hot means that viewers are looking for that adrenaline rush of what the crime shows provide. The twists and turns of trying to solve the crime along with the protagonists is intoxicating for many of us and mystery/suspense/thriller writers (and really all writers) need to take note.

The reality is that television has impacted on what readers expect. And let's not forget the impact of the internet and all other technology that is an increasing part of all of our lives. Simply put - readers, and potential readers are more interested in fast-paced, quicker reads. To a certain extent think James Patterson. He has short chapters that encourage the reader to want more and turn the page, something that lends itself well to electronic readers.

But I think a main element of the success of the crime shows is the problem or puzzle solving. Ironically, certain genres do better in poor economic times than other generes. If we harken back to other times of uncertainty such as right after the civil war and the Great Depression we can find that relatively inexpensive reads become a popular form of entertainment. The "Dime Novel" is just one example. See wikipedia for more information at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dime_novel.

So, writers and readers sit up and take note. I believe that reading is still an affordable form of entertainment and it's during times of financial uncertainty that we sometimes see increases with certain publishers, especially category romance, mystery and more and more, online publishers. Whether it's because people want to escape from reality or immerse themselves in a problem-solving adventure I believe that the romantic suspense genre is attractive to many readers and I'm so glad that it is.

My second romantic suspense novel is progressing nicely and it is a joy ride for me to create it. I look forward to being able to share it and my first novel with readers in the near future. I'm being optimistic here but I really have high hopes that a publisher will want to share my voice with readers. Stay tuned!