Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Step Forward, a Step Back: On Stephen King's New Non-eBook

The publishing industry continues to change.  The ebb and flow of that change is nicely showcased in a few headlines lifted from today's Digital Book World's daily newsletter.

A step forward: Big-Sixer Simon and Schuster hired an ex-AOL-er to fill the newly created position of head of eBook business development and strategy.  Hard to criticize that move; it's an acknowledgement of the landscape change and an effort to get in step--or even ahead of--the paradigm shifts that digital publishing technology has triggered.  This is the same company that gave self-published dystopian science fiction writer Hugh Howey of Wool fame a print rights contract while allowing him to keep his eBook rights, a hybrid trend that's continuing to grow, but an admirable and forward-thinking step for one of the industry stalwarts.  I'll take one small potshot here: the digital publishing wave broke . . . when?

A step back: Stephen King announced in the Wall Street Journal that his new book, Joyland, will *not* be available as an eBook. This is presented as "an attempt to drive traffic to brick-and-mortar bookstores."  I watched  the WSJ newscast on the topic, and buried in the dialog is what appears to be a more valid reason: the book is published by a small crime and mystery press, and by Steve signing with them for this release, he can give a little guy a welcome shot in the arm.

Come on, Steve.  Nixing the digital version of the book in an effort to help bookstores is like buying tapes instead of DVDs or digital downloads in an effort to keep VCRs alive.  King is a big gorilla, but he's not going to save B & N or Mom and Pa's Books with this gesture.  The changing business model will force a marched evolution on those businesses; those that adapt will survive, if any survive at all.

This is coals to Newcastle, buddy.

And on the small-press-only gesture?  Admirable . . . but hey, don't you think they would reap enormous benefits if they went through the not-very-complicated effort of publishing a digital version of the book?  Help me out, Peeps; I'm scratching my head here.

On the home front: as I alluded to in my last post, I've settled on an editor for The Winds of Heaven and Earth.  This morning I ended my search and signed a contract with Rebecca T. Dickson, aka "the Beckster."  The feedback I received from the client list she supplied me with sealed the deal: not just high praise for her technical competence and vision, but how she brutally, honestly, relentlessly kicked their asses and forced them to dig deep and not just produce a better book, but to become a better writer while preserving each author's unique voice.  As I told the Beckster when I signed, I'm looking forward to our association like one looks forward to a visit to the dentist for a root canal: I know I'll be much better off afterwards . . .

I'm about halfway through the second draft now; I expect to ship it off for the first editorial pass in about three weeks.  Stay tuned.

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