“This is like the Gutenberg Press,” my fellow author and Braveship Books publisher Jeff Edwards told me regarding eBooks in 2013. We were discussing my manuscript titled Raven One that had been rejected by New York agents and if it had a future. Jeff, who has had tremendous success as an independent novelist in the techno-thriller (USS Towers series) and science-fiction (Blues series) is a fellow veteran and someone I could trust. He convinced me that this eBook thing was real.
The Amazon Kindle E-reader turns 10 today, and like Jeff said, it revolutionized the way we read and approach reading. And publishing – big time.
Paperbacks came about in the 1930’s but in 1971 Michael Hart digitized the Declaration of Independence. 1971 was also the year the first email was sent – between two main frame computers.
With the advent of the CD, Jurassic Park was released in 1985 on CD-ROM, and in 1993 Digital Book released 50 digital books on floppy disk. In 1998 the first dedicated eBook readers appeared, and the first ISBN for an eBook was issued.
In 2004 Random House and Harper Collins started to sell digital versions of their books. That was the same year Jeff Bezos of Amazon challenged his engineers to build the best eReader before their competitors could. They came up with what we know as the Kindle, so named by Michael Cronan and Karin Hibma, “to light a fire.”
In 2007 the Kindle sold out in 5.5 hours and was out of stock for five months. Barnes and Noble countered with the Nook in 2009, and today there is iBook, Google Books, Kobo and others, but they never caught on like Amazon Kindle. In 2011 eBooks outpaced paperback, and last year 6.9 million eBook titles are available. Last year, Amazon sold 485 million units of them.
They have revolutionized publishing, and for independents like me are a viable way to publish and get exposure to thousands of readers. Actually tens and hundreds of thousands of readers. Amazon dominates the market, and all an author like me must do is enter a MOBI zip drive on Kindle Direct Publishing…at no cost. Jeff was instrumental in formatting and guided me every step, but I, the author, set the price, and for a price point of less than five dollars a reader can download a novel onto their Kindle, or Kindle app on their phone. Amazon pays the authors 70% of the price – that the authors set! The authors keep their rights, and after sales decline after the initial splash can market them as they wish. The reader can keep an entire library on a thin tablet – or smart phone – and read them anywhere. Win-win.
After we finished discussing eBooks, Jeff said Print-on-Demand is next. I said I wanted to concentrate on eBooks for now. I could sense Jeff shaking his head on the other end of the line. Print-on-Demand is independent of eBooks and done through CreateSpace – another Amazon company. With a PDF format, same thing. Hit “enter” on CreateSpace at no cost and your 9×6″ trade paperback is out there. If only one person wants to read an actual book, they order it at the CreateSpace store or on Amazon and Amazon prints one book and ships it to their door. For me though, 97% of my novel sales are Kindle…ninety-seven percent! With hundreds – no thousands – of downloads, this is serious income, and titles can stay in the top 100 of their genres forever – no need to pull old tiltles from shelves because their are no shelves. Here’s an image of Raven One on Kindle and the trade paperback with the new cover. To each his own!
EBooks continue to grow, but there is a newcomer – Audiobooks. Audiobooks are about to eclipse eBooks in sales – $3.5 billion last year – and here Amazon rules the roost too, with Audible. The most popular device to experience and audiobook? Your smart phone with the Audible app – right next to your Kindle app. The big publishing houses are all over this now, and both R1 and DH are on Audible, as well as Kindle and trade paperback. To each his (or her) own indeed.
I’ve received reviews and notes from readers in Europe, Australia, India, and even Russia. To be able to speak to people through my stories, to give them insight into my former world and a view of our society they would not otherwise experience is gratifying to say the least, and before the eBook they probably would never have been exposed to my works. “New York” would not publish me, although some NY agents were kind and encouraged me to keep trying. No regrets. They would not let me write the books I wanted to write anyway, and Jeff says we Braveship authors write “smart books for smart people.” If you want to publish, there’s never been a better time, and the only barrier is your own ability to write, cut, sand, and polish…then format. Don’t give up.
My sons got me the Kindle in these photos for Christmas a few years before Raven One was published in 2014. Last year Declared Hostile joined it. New York hasn’t called and I don’t wait by the phone for them – but Connecticut called! Tantor Media, based in Old Saybrook, CT, saw my works on Kindle and offered an audiobook contract, where you can find them today.
What will they think of next? Happy Birthday Kindle…wishing you many more.