Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Change of plan - Dennis Hamley

Last month I was full of The Long Journey of Joslin de Lay. And I still am. I've found a cover designer and she is doing STUNNING new covers. I have perfect texts to be uploaded. And now I wait, because putting a six book sequence on as ebooks in very quick succession in the hope that they may catch the Christmas market may be a longer process than I would like. Technology, dear boy.

So I've got to do something quickly or nobody will take me seriously. Who'd have thought it? A blogger on Authorselectric who hasn't actually got an ebook out! I couldn't stand the shame. So Colonel Mustard in the Library with the Candlestick; Four Slightly Weird Stories was born - or rather finagled - into existence. Well, I hope you think they're weird. Two have been published before: the title story in Point Crime: 13 Murder Mysteries and Hospital Trust, in Point Horror, 13 Again, both published by Scholastic. And two new ones; The Other Task, Tolkein with a big difference, and The Devil In Him, Whatever can I say about The Devil in Him? It's about football (I can hear the groans already) but - well, remember the Faust legend. If you don't know it now, you will when you've read The Devil in Him.

When the cover is ready in a few days and I'm satisfied with it (we've had a few goes and I'm still not really content) I'll re-edit this blog and put it on. Though the cover is OK, I suspect it's quite run of the mill and NOTHING like what is planned for Joslin, which will blow your socks off. It did mine when I first saw what my cover designer is planning for the first book in the sequence, Of Dooms and Death.

Anyway, what else? I'm a member of Writers in Oxford and we often have what we call Topical Suppers, where we meet in a nice pub, do what it says on the tin and order our supper. But it's not just food and wine: we invite either members or people from outside the society with something worthwhile to say to speak to us. Three months ago we had a publisher. Tonight (I've just come home from it) we had an agent. No names. no packdrill. And they both said some interesting things about ebooks. Forgive me if you've heard this all before. They both agreed that ebooks were here to stay and that it was no bad thing. They agreed that the day of the mass-market paperback was over and that ebooks would soon become the staple reading experience. But, before you think that they are both on the point of making themselves unemployed, they both independently came to the same conclusion. The publisher's evidence was that they had actually done it and it works. The agent's evidence was because they had observed it and their clients had experienced it.

The evidence they presented it is that while ebooks are destroying the mass market paperback, they are encouraging what the publisher called THE BOOK BEAUTIFUL. Hardback sales, on the back of cheap ebooks, burgeon in a way they haven't done for a long time. So what has that got to do with us who are ploughing our independent furrows? Well, as I said, I know that most of you have heard this already. But for us, there may be some intriguing implications. You can throw away a paperback and think nothing of it. You can leave it on a park bench for someone else to pick up. You can delete an ebook. But in the end, don't we believe that a really well-produced conventional book is one of the most beautiful things in the world? And don't we covet beautiful things first when we have an idea of what they actually are?

Think about it.

6 comments:

Susan Price said...

Fascinating, Dennis! You have your ear to the ground, and this is very cheering.
But - you can't delete a book from your kindle. Or rather, you can, but you haven't lost it. Amazon keep it stored in your 'cloud bookcase', and when you want it, you just download it again.

Susan Price said...

Fascinating, Dennis! You have your ear to the ground, and this is very cheering.
But - you can't delete a book from your kindle. Or rather, you can, but you haven't lost it. Amazon keep it stored in your 'cloud bookcase', and when you want it, you just download it again.

Dennis Hamley said...

Sorry Sue, of course you're right. I rather like the 'cloud bookcase'. Quite nice to be in, I should think. It sounds like a pleasant euphemism for an afterlife - and with the possibility of reincarnation as well.

Pauline Fisk said...

The Book Beautiful on the Cloud Bookcase - there's a nice image to contemplate. Except that the Books Beautiful that you're talking about, Dennis, reside on very earth-bound bookcases - and long may they continue to do so. Thanks for your observations. I'm with you on the beauty of books. Lately I acquired two first editions, one Charlotte Burne's 1856 Shropshire Folklore and the other its companion, The Shropshire Wordbook and I can't stop stroking them!

My own favourite Book Beautiful, though, is Hans Christian Anderson's Fairy Tales - hardback [and it needed to be from all the reading and rereading it had in my childhood] dog-eared, worn and loved beyond words for the fantasy and joy it brought into my dull suburban child's life.

Katherine Roberts said...

I hope you're right about those Books Beautiful, Dennis, since my publisher Templar is bringing out some very beautiful hardcovers of my new children's series next year!

But I actually think all these different formats (hardcover, paperback, e-book, enchanced e-book) can be made to work together powerfully for both publishers and authors, and the real challenge will be discovering the best way to do this.

Linda Gillard said...

I e-published two of my novels because I couldn't get anyone to print-publish them and to begin with I felt sad that they weren't "proper" books. I also felt I was somehow contributing to the demise of print in my small way. So as soon as my first e-book started selling in quantity, I did something I've always wanted to do - join the Folio Society!

I'm thrilled with my "books beautiful". I'm also reconciled now to my e-books being "proper books". With no packaging, no hype, just the words, e-books take us right back to the art of spell-binding readers with nothing but a story. And I think that's magical.