I found my way to an Atlantic blog post by Peter Osnos, the person who founded Public Affairs Books, which is now part of Perseus, with his take on why Borders has declined so. It overlaps with but is somewhat different from my own. You can read his here.
According to Jim Milliot in this week's Publishers Weekly, Borders accounted for 8.5% of dollars spent on books in the third quarter, which was just under half the dollar share for B&N, and still for most people their third largest account. So you can understand the dilemma, that everyone wants Borders to keep going but at the same time it's hard to know what the good path forward is.
A quick update on the JABberwocky e-book efforts.
We love Amazon more and more with each passing day because they made it so easy for us to go up with titles for Kindle.
We will soon be up at Kobo, waiting to get a countersigned contract back. They were very nice, because we were actually able to negotiate a couple of points in the contract with them, instead of having everyone else's take it or leave it public boilerplate. And yes, there was an actual responsive person to talk to for doing this.
We have uploaded books to B&N, but they are taking several days now to process and have live on the site. With Amazon, we had some issues with documenting that we did in fact have rights to publish Simon Green books that had previous publishers, which we surmounted quickly with the help of the Kindle team people. Maybe B&N is looking at this, too? Maybe they're just slow. The fact that we were asked to prove our bona fides with Amazon was the pleasing kind of pain because at least it's differentiating them from the file share sights that happily allow you to share copyrighted work until someone complains. Gordon van Gelder put us in touch with an entire area on the Google Sites that's just endless links to pirated books, and Google's attitude is that they have no responsibility at all unless each individual person complains about each individual link.
We're not sure we'll sign up with the Google e-books store. Two issues. Most of the sites set default previews at 10% of the book (bringing this down was something Kobo alone was willing to do) while Google insists on 20% and you can only go higher. We're all in favor of previews, don't ask people to buy an e-book pig in an electon poke and all, but when you insist on at least 20% it goes from being the person who reads a few pages in the store to the person who takes a book, reads it all in the cafe, then plops it down with a broken spine and dog-eared cover that nobody will buy and you're left hoping the store will return it so it will be replaced with a fresh copy. And while their e-book store doesn't put ads on title detail pages, you can't participate without signing up for some old Partner Program that's all about how you get paid for letting Google put ads on to your book page. Add to that the usual miserable state of affairs on the Google help screens, where you can never find a phone # or person to speak to anywhere, and where you get sent around to forums where nobody posts questions and certainly nobody posts answers.
B&N is settling in somewhere in-between Amazon and Google, there are people you can e-mail if you look and ask hard enough but you never want to actually have to do it.
The iBook store is reasonable enough in line with Amazon DTP and B&N Pubit platforms. The problem here is that we weren't able to finish our sign-up process but got far enough along that the computer insists that the business has an account and cannot be allowed to sign up for another, but not far enough along that we can log in and do anything with our unconsummated account. We are waiting to hear from an "iTunes senior advisor" who is looking into this for us.
All six Simon Green titles are up and I'd say selling in line with expectations.
We're ready to go up with some horror anthologies, but need to fine-tune the ePub files adding in updated front matter and things like that, and then getting new cover copy written.
Mayer Alan Brenner's Dance of Gods series will probably arrive via JABberwocky by mid-February.
The next author we have plans to do in bulk will be Rick Shelley.
It is very exciting to have opportunities in 2011 to do something with these books that were unavailable eight or ten years ago other than to the most perspicacious souls, and as recently as two years ago to the extent they are today. It's a little bit scary as well.
- The Brillig Blogger
- A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.