Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Sandie's Elevator Chat- E-Books & Short Stories

I really appreciate Sandie's chats while I'm on vacation. Following Bouchercon, I'm at my mother's for the next week and a half, but I'm doing two workshops in Pittsburgh while I'm here.

I'm not a big fan of e-books. Everyone has different opinions, and I know that Sandie's life is made much easier for her by this format. So, here's the viewpoint from the other side of the issue. Thanks, Sandie.

Readers Embrace the E-Book and Authors Respond

There is a great debate going on, and has been going on, for some time now.  The question has shifted from what book shall I read today, to what format shall it be?  Going beyond hardcover and paperback, the e-reader had been invented.  Worries abounded about whether the e-book would abolish the paper book and is the source of many a debate.  Once the price of e-readers began to drop into a range consumers found acceptable, as with the two early readers Barnes & Noble’s Nook and the Kindle by Amazon.com, they began to sell like hotcakes.  Since they appeared, it seems every electronics company has come out with their own version.  Apple elaborated on the e-reader and developed a tablet worthy of reading and using the hundreds of thousands of applications and programs available. 

I have found that the applications both Nook and Kindle use are freely shared.  Anyone can use them on their home computer, laptop, or smart phone.  I couldn’t begin to quote you all the types of files that can be read on the variety of machines by now.  My hubby surprised me with an iPad one Christmas, and I enjoy both Nook and Kindle apps on it.  Apple sells books via the iBookstore in the iTunes store, but before opening the iBookstore, Apple made sure to enact rules to stop others from using iTunes to sell their products directly to Apple consumers.  I’m not overly fond of this tactic, so I’m even more pleased to have the Nook and Kindle apps to use as alternates.  Depending on whose books I’ve bought, I try to read it on their device.  It does make it a bit confusing to have to check each set of files to find a book. 

Competition was born with the variety of e-readers, so authors began to run days or weeks when a specific book, usually written in the past, go on sale for $0.99 or for free to get you hooked on their series.  Publishers large and small also got in on the act.  Newsletters run on virtual media that showcase the free books for the day.

What I’ve discovered lately is that in the last year or so, authors have begun coming out with short stories based on their series, for the most part.  Not short story collections but single short stories of 25-50 pages are being published exclusively as e-books usually for a dollar or two.  Not all consumers are savvy about this yet.  The first one I consciously noted was JOHN DOE  by Tess Gerritsen.  Her latest book – LAST TO DIE - was due out soon, so I used one of the online stores as my database to find out pub date.  I saw JOHN DOE and wondered what that was, so I read a few reviews.  Several people complained loudly that this e-book was only 40 pages long.  Once I had read it and enjoyed it immensely, I wrote my own review, remembering to point out that this was a single short story.

When I planned to write this elongated article while I’ve been stuck in the up elevator as mystery fans and authors go down following Bouchercon, I thought I would give you a list of the authors who have written these “shorts” or “snaps”.  I began writing down names and titles and was overwhelmed by the sheer volume.  For instance, one author who has really utilized these new strategies is Nancy Martin.  She’s begun writing the Blackbird Sisters series again with NO WAY TO KILL A LADY, published in August, 2012 and #8 in series, also available in hardcover. 

While the new novel was due out in August, Ms. Martin published a short story in July.  As it turns out, this novella referred to as a “classic Blackbird Sisters novella” entitled SLAY BELLES, originally appeared in DROP DEAD BLONDE  (anthology with Nancy Martin, Elaine Viets, Denise Swanson, and Victoria Laurie), and is available digitally for the first time (originally published in 2005).  It also includes a preview of NO WAY TO KILL A LADY

To up the ante on anticipation for entry #8 in the series, a prequel titled MICK ABRUZZO’S STORY, is now available.  Even to readers of the entire series up until now, this novella explains how Mick first met Nora and gives insight into their meeting and some background information on the sisters.  And while the product details say this was published in January, 2006, the first review of this version was written in March, 2012, and I cannot find any other reference to this story of 45 pages.

I’m certain the e-book is here to stay in various formats to be read on various devices and computers.  I’m also certain that authors will adjust and come up with new strategies to deal with the changes.

Thank heavens, the elevator is moving again! 

Sandie, an impromptu chat in the elevator!


Pat said...

Sandie, Yes, I have noticed that many authors are doing short ebook novellas. To name a few, Debbie Macromber, Rhys Bowen, Deanna Raybourn. Some just seem to repeat past information while others are new "mini" stories, but I have also notice the prices creeping up from $.99 to 2.99 and 3.99 which I think is getting a bit much for around 50 something pages. I am not sure yet if I like this trend as there is no alternate way of reading - such as used, or from the library, etc. As you say, a lot of things are changing in the ways that we can read. :-)

Anonymous said...

I have noticed the rise in price, especially noted with the example I cite from Nancy Martin. At least the novella she published had already been published in a paperback original with novellas from three more authors. It was the new prequel that was $3.99. All the reviews I read about it praised it as providing new information and rounding out the series, making reading new books a new experience. It would be nice if that were included in the front of her new book perhaps or in separate paperback form. I agree that it is unfair when material is only available by e-book and/or computer. I know it's 2012, but not everyone has a computer, access to the www, and even if they do, they make not like it!

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