Last month, Tor re-released The Soprano Sorceress in a trade paperback edition, but the Amazon Soprano Sorceress webpage that linked to me and my other books never showed the trade paperback edition. I brought this up to Tor, because what’s the use of publishing a new print edition if no one knows it’s out there, and, even if they do, they can’t order it? It took Amazon over a week to get back to Tor, and when the Amazon people did, they said it would take a week to fix the glitch. They informed Tor that there is a page that shows the trade paperback edition, but I can’t find a way to get to it, except through the link that Amazon provided. So far, almost two weeks later, the glitch has only been partly fixed. That is, is you search for The Soprano Sorceress, you can find the trade paperback, but if you search for me first, the only webpage for the book that comes up doesn’t have access to the trade paperback [at least as of this posting].
They can find and ship a book in minutes or hours, but it takes a week to find a glitch that’s already been brought to their attention… and another week to fix it?
And this is the high-tech master/monster of bookselling? Except, I forgot. It’s only concerned about obtaining books and ebooks as cheaply as possible and getting as many as possible to consumers as fast as possible. Fixing a problem with a reissued backlist title? That can wait.
And then, there’s still the elephant in the room, or the bookstore… Amazon’s treatment of ebooks and their authors. There’s one factor that’s so obvious to authors and publishers that it’s really been overlooked in the discussions, or those I’ve seen. Under standard contracts, royalties paid to authors for physically printed books are calculated and paid based on the list price of the book. It doesn’t matter to the author financially whether that $27.99 hardcover is sold for $27.99 at the small local independent bookstore, or at $20.99 at Barnes & Noble, or at $17.45 at Amazon; the royalty is the same. On standard ebook contracts, the royalty paid is effectively a percentage of the actual price paid, and it matters a great deal to the author whether that ebook is sold at $14.99, $12.95, or discounted to $9.99… or less.
Series mania seems to be continuing. Fewer and fewer authors are writing and publishing stand-alone novels. Practically every new author that appears debuts with the first book of a series. Now I realize that I have lots of books in series, and a fair number of series, but, given the way I write series, I’d submit that bulk of my series books can be read as stand-alones. If we’re talking pure stand-alone novels, twenty percent of my published work consists of stand-alone novels [all SF, I will admit], and I’ve continued to write them over the years, despite the sad fact that stand-alone books seldom sell nearly as well as series books. The bottom line here, literally, is that if you as readers want more stand-alone novels, you need to buy them, lots of them, because most writers, especially mid-list writers, can’t afford not to write series, and even if they’re not supporting themselves entirely on their writing, their publishers can’t afford to publish many stand-alone books by newer writers.