The Future of the Book.

Guest Blogger: Holly McClure

Lexium Entertainment & Talent Agency

Sullivan Maxx Literary Agency
2835 Wall Street,Suite 100

Conyers, Georgia 30013

 

Barnes & Noble shares fell Tuesday after the struggling bookseller announced that retail revenue and sales of its Nook e-reader took sharp dives in the second quarter. Investors are likely also reacting to news that founder and board chairman Leonard Riggio dropped his bid to buy the company.

With this headline, another nail pounds into the coffin of the brick and mortar book store business. Readers still buy books, authors still write, and publishing houses still publish books, but the way we buy books and read them is changing. Even the biggest supporter of the local indie book store, surrenders to the ease with which we can order on line. I confess, I do it too. The last book I read for fun was on my smart phone. I don’t even bother with my Kindle anymore. I’ve purchased one hardback book this year, and I’m a total bibliophile.

A few years ago, we were sure the big chain stores would continue to thrive and the small independent book stores would disappear, unable to compete. Now it seems the indies are hanging on, and the big chains are losing ground.  I would like to hear from readers who shop at book stores. Where do you buy your books, and why? What does your favorite store do to earn your loyalty?

What’s the future of the book?

 

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5 Responses to The Future of the Book.

  1. Monet Jones says:

    Very true, Holly. I have purchased approximately 150 ebooks this year and only two paperbacks, one by mistake. Buying a paperback, much less a hardback, makes as much sense as buying a newspaper to read day-old news, nonsense. The sooner we as authors, embrace the new paradigm the better.

  2. JB Bonds says:

    Holly, I buy most of my books through Amazon.com. I still enjoy the feel of a real book in my hands, turning down the corners and carry it from room to room. I do also read some books on Kindle. Since my book “Rainbow’s End” is on Kindle, I thought I should at least give it a try. When I travel, I go to small local bookstores and look for children’s books by local authors to bring home to our granddaughter instead of a t-shirt. I enjoyed your blog! JB Bonds

  3. Richard N. Côté says:

    Dear HollY:

    As both a South Carolina author and publisher for thirty years, the paper-vs.-digital book conversion has tortured me. Prior to the skyrocketing sales of eBooks vs. paper books, I reveled in the intricate options of creating a paper book. The typeface choice, line-hight spacing, border widths, placement and captioning of images, choice of the size, color, weight, and tactile “feel” and the paper in our books, their binding and the hot-die stamping of the spines was just plain magic to work with. Ditto for magnificent, creative typesetters such as Betty Burnett, Ph.D., (now retired) and graphic art designer, Rob Johnson (still active), who created 27 stunning covers for us. Book design and production was a great part of the joy of crafting a book for the market, and all of us who took part of the birthing of a Corinthian Book worked like slaves but reveled in it. All the writers, editors, proofreaders, and graphics design people were part of a magnificent river which flowed into a book. We all relished the process of it. 90% of the joy of publishing — working with supremely talented people you could discuss things with on the phone — has since disappeared in the digital age.

    But let’s now talk about the cost of creating a 5,000 copy book printing run for a 400-page B&W illustrated hardcover book. It consists of:
    * Book cover design (5 panels): $500-$1,250
    * Formatting 12 photos @ $20 = $240
    * Book manufacturing cost and freight to you: $18,000
    Total up-front investment: $18,900 +/-, or $3.78 each.
    PLUS:
    * Warehouse space: $95 a month
    * Shipping books to individual customers, at retail price: about $2.25 each
    * Shipping books in case lots to wholesalers (about 20-32/box): about $14.00 per box
    * Wholesale discount to independent bookstores and gift shops: 40% of list price, so you get $15 for a $25 book. And you have to pay the freight.
    * Wholesale discount to major book distributors (Amazon.com, Baker & Taylor, Ingram Book Co.): 55%, so you get $11.25 per book, less shipping costs, or about $10.50 per book net. And wait a minimum of 90 days to get paid.

    The production of eBooks has reduced most of the elegant bookmaking options by 90%. It is now a process to feed digital files to a digital conversion house (90% of which is done in India, not the U.S.) to produce a digital final product. About the only control of the book’s appearance is the front and back covers, which are created by the publisher’s graphic artist.

    But then there’s the money thing. Paper books vastly cost more to make and net the publisher LESS money than the same book in digital format. So how can the $29.95 hardcover book produce the publisher a LOWER profit level than a $9.95 eBook? It’s simple: production and shipping costs.

    The same book described above also requires the graphic art design work for the covers and interior images (if any). Cover design can cost anywhere from $250 to $1,250, depending on the complexity of the covers and the elegance of the design. The “typesetting” is done by computer-generated offshore (read: India) conversion houses, which convert your text and images into a digital file that is the eBook. Most of this work is controlled by US-based firms who deal with the author and also send the finished eBook specifications and book files to Amazon.com and a dozen other eBook sellers worldwide. Amazon (or other e-bookstore) takes a 30% discount on the sale of each book and a small “digital delivery fee” for their work. They fulfill the orders and send the eBook to the customer. For your $9.95 eBook, you net about $6.65 for the sale, which is deposited directly into your bank account by Amazon (or other eBook seller) every month. If your book doesn’t sell well, you’re out perhaps $1,500-200. If your paper book doesn’t sell well, you have $18,900 at risk.

    And if your book becomes a good seller as an eBook (let’s say, 50,000 copies more than the 5,000 copies you hoped to sell, your manufacturing and shipping costs for the 50,000 extra eBooks is $0.00.

    As for Corinthian Books, we will continue to create paper books for those titles where paper is preferred over eBooks, but expect that about 50-75% of our books will only be issued as eBooks. Such is the state of book publishing from our perspective.

    With warmest wishes –
    Richard N. Côté
    Editor-in-Chief, Corinthian Books
    http://www.corinthianbooks.com
    editor@corinthianbooks.com
    (843) 345-7761

  4. Shelby Adams Lloyd says:

    Holly, I have been reading some hard back books but I have lately been reading new writers on my kindle. I’ve just had open heart surgery to replace the aortic valve and since I am getting up some I’ve really enjoyed my writer friends who have books on my Kindle. I said I would never buy a Kindle and I haven’t, it was a Christmas gift from my husband. So, now I can’t say that anymore since I can delete the book and not have my book shelf full of books I’ve already read.

  5. Great comments.Thanks to Richard N. Côté for the detailed report on the cost of printed books vs ebooks. Looking forward to seening all of you at the symposium.

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