By Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Chief Executive Optimist, Digital Book World
While Cory Doctorow’s publishing experiment has hit numerous snags along the way, ego and reality arguably being the two most significant, J. A. Konrath’s Kindle experiment has resulted in what he’s referring to as an “historic” deal with Amazon.com, who will release the next book in his Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels series, SHAKEN, under their rapidly evolving publishing imprint, AmazonEncore.
Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) today announced that AmazonEncore, Amazon’s publishing imprint, will release the newest book in bestselling author J.A. Konrath’s Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels series, “Shaken.” The AmazonEncore Kindle edition of “Shaken” will be available in the Kindle Store www.amazon.com/kindlestorein October, and the print version of the book will be available in February 2011.
J.A. Konrath is the author of the Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels series that includes “Whiskey Sour,” “Bloody Mary,” “Rusty Nail,” “Dirty Martini,” “Fuzzy Navel” and “Cherry Bomb.” All six titles are available to purchase in both print and Kindle format on Amazon.com. Konrath has also written under the names Jack Kilborn and Joe Kimball. He has published over a dozen books using Amazon’s Digital Text Platform (DTP), and has been featured in numerous articles and blog posts as an author who is making a living off of Kindle.
Last October, in a rare case of transparency, Konrath posted Kindle sales figures for both his traditionally published eBooks via Hyperion, and the eBooks he’d self-published via Amazon’s DTP, and while the comparison favored his self-published eBooks, he wasn’t ready to declare the revolution had begun.
Ebook rights began as gravy. I can picture a day when the print rights are the gravy, and authors make their living with ebooks.
Yes, it’s still far off. And yes, print publishing is in no danger of going away anytime soon.
Fast-forward a mere seven months, though, and Konrath has seemingly changed his mind.
“There will be a clear-cut winner in this revolution,” he declared. “The winner will be the group that deserves it the most: The Readers. Together, Amazon and I are giving readers what they want–inexpensive, professional ebooks. I’ve been saying for over a year that readers don’t want to pay a lot for ebooks, and I’ve been posting lots of data and numbers to back-up that statement. I now have a publisher who agrees with me.”
Konrath makes several interesting points in explaining his decision that every publisher should take note of:
1) “I signed a print deal with a company that can email every single person who has every bought one of my books through their website, plus millions of potential new customers.” Publishers with direct connections to their readers are better equipped to compete in a digital book world than those who only sell through intermediaries.
2) “Amazon is smart, savvy, and pays attention to my suggestions. The Kindle version of Shaken is going to be released for $2.99.” Not $9.99 or $14.99, but closer to the $1.99 he had so much success with on his own.
3) “It’s easier to release an ebook than a print book.” Amazon is releasing SHAKEN in eBook format four months before the print edition.
4) “I have no idea if the book will actually be stocked in any of the chains or indies. And, frankly, I’m not concerned.” The ability to market directly to millions of customers who have either purchased Konrath’s previous books or books similar to his is more appealing than traditional distribution.
5) “My terrific agents have been involved from the very beginning of negotiations, and have been essential in getting me a very favorable contract. I couldn’t be happier.” There’s still a place for agents in the digital book world.
6) “I thought it would make a bigger splash to write a book specifically for Amazon. I like making splashes.” Authors have egos; feed them well.
Will SHAKEN be remembered as the shot heard ’round the industry, or is it an exception to the rule, an isolated deal pulled off by an unusually savvy author?
What do you think?