Writer, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Business Coach

Jean Wilson Murray

A recent article in FastCompany discusses a new model for buying books and offers some comments on the way we read books and how writers may present their material differently in the future.

The new buying model: The FastCompany article describes the genesis of this new model:

Smashwords, the largest distributor of self-published e-books, announced a new deal with Scribd, the document-sharing platform that has reinvented itself as an e-reading service, including an $8.99 all-you-can-read plan

Readers will be able to choose from over 200,000 titles*. The publishers get paid  based on how much of the book is actually read. The first 10% of the book is available as a free sample; if 30% is read, the publisher gets credit as if the entire book has been read. If the reader reads less than 30% of the book, the publisher gets a “browse” credit (somewhat less than full credit). The typical credit, by the way, is 60% of sales price.

*I have reviewed the titles available, both on Smashwords and Scribd, and been disappointed. The kinds of books I’m looking for – history, biography, science – are just not available through these services. Nor are most of the bestsellers I would like to read. But as this concept grows, there may be more.

The comment was made that authors might be tempted to write shorter works or break up their novels into “collections,” to get more credit. Interesting comment.

I do think fiction books are getting shorter. People have less tolerance for longer, more difficult-to-read novels. Case in point: The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates. I reviewed this book in 2013 and thought it was brilliant. I was surprised at the many negative comments about the length (688 pages) and the style (old-fashioned).

Would I cut a book into sections to get more money? No, but I might consider serializing. Serializing was a common practice for many years. Dickens did it, and many TV shows (Downton Abbey) do it. And blogs are, in some cases, serializations. (Case in point: ReadyNutrition’s 50 Weeks to Preparedness)

How about subscriptions? Scribd is a subscription service; you pay a monthly fee and receive as many books as you want; it’s similar to the Netflix concept.

The FastCompany article discusses serialization by subscription. Like a health club, readers might be interested in subscribing to a book’s serialization. Entrepreneur says subscriptions are the hot ecommerce trend for 2014, everything from food to Adobe Photoshop (now called Adobe Creative Cloud).

One of the novels I’m working on, Bridget Larkin’s Journey, follows a woman on her adventure on the Oregon Trail.  It would be easy to serialize this book. And my business book The Thriving Writer, will be a subscription service soon.

Do these ideas get you thinking differently?

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