Wednesday, October 1, 2008


The current issue of Writer's Digest has a series of articles on the future of books. The most interesting piece of this is the statistics on e-books, and specifically on Amazon's e-reader, the Kindle. This nifty little device, which I would love to own, is a big improvement over previous e-readers: It's not back-lit, uses cell-phone technology for direct purchases and downloads of material, has access to most current best-sellers, and can receive periodicals like The New York Times automatically every morning. Since it launched in late 2007, books for the Kindle have mounted to where they constitute more than 6% of Amazon's sales.

Overall, according to the Association of American Publishers, e-books have shown a 56% growth rate since 2002. In 2007, they netted $67.2 million.

Nobody thinks books will become obsolete (well, almost nobody). But Amazon and the Kindle are there first, and most. Paul Aiken, executive director of the Author's Guild, points out that "such dominant systems can be hard to dislodge" (just look at MicroSoft). There are over 180,000 titles available for the Kindle. Fourteen of them are mine, including thirteen stories and one book, the Nebula anthology which I edited (which is also short stories). Why none of my novels? I don't know, but today I'm going to ask my agent.


Miki said...

It would be interesting to know why your novels aren't on there.

For me, the main reason I haven't bought a kindle isn't the cost, it's that they don't have a good selection of the novels I read over and over again like comfort food. I'd think that making backlist titles available would be in everyone's interest, but maybe someone is balking at the set-up costs or somesuch? Or authors and/or publishers are wanting to reserve their rights until they know for sure what the dominant eBook setup is?

bluesman miike Lindner said...

My friend put one in me hand.

It's not the same as a friendy =book=.

Not the same at all.

A.M. Lau said...

Hi Nancy!

I would love to have a Kindle, but one of the features that makes it so wonderful (the ability to download books any time, anywhere) is functional only in the U.S.

No, ebooks will never be the same as paper books, but sometimes function is to be valued over form. I'm currently living in Japan now, in a rural area where English fiction is limited. With the rise in shipping prices overseas, I find that most of my book-buying is in the form of ebooks. And if I happen to come across a book I particularly enjoy, then I often find myself buying a paper copy as well (to be shipped to my permanent address in the states), resulting in two sales for the author.

Anonymous said...

I started with ebooks about two years ago. David Weber's latest Honor Harrington hardcover included a CD with all his previous Baen-published works and that was impossible to resist.

Now, I skip novels that don't have an ebook version. I'm converted. The only exception I make is for nonfiction/reference material. Such as your writing books, Nancy.

It took a while but once I got a decent reader (not the Kindle but same screen size and technology) I found that I didn't miss the feel and smell of paper. And I love being able to carry an entire library in something the size weight of one paperback. I won't go back.

Jan said...

Hi Nancy,
I just checked and found that many of your books ARE available in Kindle editions. See the list at

I write a blog about reading on the Kindle and have discovered that many Kindle owners are avid SF readers - myself included!

The Kindle Reader

g d townshende said...

It's a bit too expensive for me, at the moment, although I admit it would be nice for a book-whore like myself to be able to save some shelf space in my space-limited home.

I'll admit to rather liking the feel and smell of books in my hands, however, so I'm probably harboring some bias against it.

Nancy Kress said...

Jan-- Thanks for checking for me, but all of the titles listed at the site you cited are short stories except BEGGARS IN SPAIN and the Nebula volume. In fact, BEGGARS may be the novella version, too. It was published as a chapbook, as was "Dancing on Air" and "The Price of Oranges," also stories rather than novels. My agent says Tor controls the electronic rights to some of my novels. I'm looking into this.

Jan said...

Sorry, I should have realized they were short stories from looking at the price and the length of the files. Tor is making a lot of books available in e-book format now so I'll keep my fingers crossed.