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Cookie Mama

I’m one of those people who thinks they read a lot, but really I just have the intention to read a lot, buy a lot of books, and have teetering TBR piles that threaten pets and small children. So possibly the awesomest thing about ebooks for me is that I can fit a TBR pile of a couple hundred books in. my. purse. Oh yeah.

Besides that, who doesn’t love the instant gratification of getting something into your hot little hands moments after you decide that you want it? Whether it was just a yen to have something new or picking up that book someone just said was the best thing they’d read in years, it can take mere minutes to find your read, buy it, and get it onto your computer, and often at a price that makes you feel like you’re getting a deal.

It’s also about having more choices, and for me…well, sometimes I feel a little political about it. I’ll just go ahead and say that because you’ll figure it out soon enough. There are things about the whole arena of traditional publishing/distribution, that bum me out or outright piss me off.  Including, but not limited to…

  • Brick and mortar bookstores reeking of coffee, carrying a dozen copies of everything that’s got a celebrity’s picture on the cover but not having the first volume in whatever series I’m interesting in starting. (Ok, and yeah, when the local Borders shunted their very nice manga section to a corner so they could fill its previous space with Twilight T-shirts, totebags, and other movie crap, I took that kind of personally.)
  • Just basically feeling that the brick and mortar stores are mostly good for what’s most mainstream and current when I’m often neither of those things.
  • Dicking with me via DRM. Hey, I get the need for protection on electronic stuff. But there’s got to be a way to make it easier, to avoid treating customers like criminals, and to protect the buyers from format changes going forward. How many times have we rebuilt our music libraries now? When files are protected by DRM that’s impossible and/or illegal to remove, it becomes impossible to convert their formats when the latest and greatest device you want to own for enjoying them doesn’t work with the format of the 200 books you already own.
  • Dicking with format availability and pricing. Amazon only sells e for Kindle. Barnes and Noble only sells for their Nook and some of the little portables. If you’ve got a Sony Reader, you are often limited to Sony’s store and the library. (Before Nook, which is much more recent on the scene, Sony was the device to get if you wanted to borrow from most libraries, but before EPUB format became more widely available–with a ways to go yet, shopping in Sony’s LRF format was limited and expensive.) When you’re choosing a reading device, you’re choosing your primary shopping venues going forward as well as the device itself based on the formats it can read. And why is the book I want to read not available at my retailer/in the format my device can read? Who makes those decisions? Are there backdoor deals going on between the publishers and device makers who set themselves up as distributors? Seems like. Don’t tell people where to shop. We don’t like it.
  • And Pricing! Don’t get me started on pricing. I don’t think there’s an e-format reader out there who understands why she should pay the same price for an ebook as a paperback. When you don’t have to print it, warehouse it, ship it, have the unsold stuff shipped back to you–none of that overhead you have with paper. So you’re going to give me, what, a 10% discount for all the money you’re saving by MY choice to buy the e-version? I’m sorry, but pretty much everyone I talk to thinks that’s some bullshit right there. Reduce the price of the books by the approximate difference in overhead and then adjust the royalty rate for the authors so that everyone is getting about the same amount of money for each sale. Everyone could be happy and we wouldn’t feel like you’re trying to rob us blind.
  • Also, I guess it bugs me that traditionally published authors giving advice to aspiring authors will often state that publishing is fickle and your manuscript may have been excellent but just not what anyone was looking for at the time. And then the same traditionally published author will snub someone who takes that manuscript to an epublisher to start making money off the work within the niche of readers out there who are waiting for that something different as “not really a published author.” Get over it. You’re all in this to earn money by doing what you love. If you’re doing that, it’s a measure of success for a job done well no matter who’s selling it. Good writers are already make the conscious choice to own their own work and make their own decisions for it, and while it may have been true that most epubbed books were lousy and wouldn’t make the NY cut, it may not be true going forward. Plus, the middle school popular girl snub thing is not attractive.

These are some of the reasons I want the indies to succeed. Beyond that, if you’ll allow me wax for a bit, it’s about the indie spirit. It’s amazing to me how the internet has helped creative people reach those who long for what they do. Take Etsy as an example, with its millions of listings of hand-crafted items in all kind of different genres, if you will, made by people at all different levels in their crafts. Where people used to pour time and money into their crafts and spend all Saturday at a local flea market or by the side of the road hoping someone would look their way, now they actually have a shot at reaching the very customers who have always wanted to find the kind of stuff they love to make. Isn’t that swell?

With publishing it’s more like…sharecropping. Land’s too expensive for you to own it yourself. But they’ll let you work a piece of it, reap what you sow, and give you back just enough to live on. And there aren’t enough of those little pieces of land to go around. But the world of epublishing is like the Homestead Act. You’ve got to get yourself there through a lot of self-marketing, but it can be done.

I find the changes right now really exciting. IRL when it seems like corporations run everything and we’re fettered by this chain-store homogenization, the virtual world seems to be giving us back something that feels like the American Dream.

Apologies if that was too hokey for you, but this is why I want to support the epubs and self-pubbing writers out there. I’m glad you’re interested in finding good indie reads too and I hope we can help you.

~Cookie

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