Wednesday, 17 April 2013
To e or not to e! - the dilemma of self publishing ebooks - Saviour Pirotta
'You can download some of my picture books from the google play store,' I answered. Which was a daft thing to say. A Year 6 kid isn't going to want a picture book.
'What about your horror stories?' he asked. He was referring to four books I'd written for a series called Tremors, first published by Macdonald in the late 1990s. Macdonald and its sister company, Wayland, were bought out by Hodder, in 2000 if I remember right. They discontinued Tremors but relaunched some of the titles with new covers under the Wayland imprint, aiming them at the school market. Two of my books came back into print but two didn't.
And here's my dilemma! If I wanted to, I could relaunch the two titles as ebooks. I use one of them in schools a lot and I know that kids purchase remaindered copies online. But how would my ebooks affect the sales of the paper editions still in print? Both of them still do quite well and I don't want the sales to plummet simply because children or teachers can get hold of the digital titles quicker.
I'm also not sure if it's ethical to produce something that competes directly with something else my publisher is trying to sell. I know we all have gripes about our publishers but I really like mine and get on well with them. I'm aware that when they go with one of my projects they are investing a considerable amount of money in me and the editors are putting their reputation on the line. Is it fair for me to come up with direct competition? Or am I just being a luvvy?
I suspect the solution is to relaunch titles that would not hamper sales of paper books. I don't have any adventure stories in print at the moment, so I could self-publish a pirate novel I wrote for Pan/Macmillan long before Jack Sparrow made buccaneers cool again. I'd be dipping my toe in the digital market and still be able to turn off the lights at night with a clean conscience. What do you all think?