Kindle and Overdrive = Hooray for Libraries

20 04 2011

I’ve said a number of times on this blog what a huge fan and how supportive I am of libraries and today, I’m just really feeling impressed with Amazon coming around and offering up their format to Overdrive. I know there are some, like the article I link to, who’ll say that it’s just Amazon bowing to the inevitable. To that point, I’ll say only two things, really.

First, are you sure that it was all that inevitable? In the vast scheme of things, Amazon is a big player now. Libraries still are, too, but there’s the impression that they’re waning, especially when cities and states balance their budgets during the recession. You just never know, but Amazon on the whole might have more clout and staying power than they’re given credit for. On the other hand, it helps to sell Kindles, which is their money making baby.

Second, Guy Gonzales said it better than I could:

Funny how pundits always give Apple benefit of the doubt, rarely to Amazon, though the latter is arguably more innovative and experimental.

I’m all for shaking my fist at big capital when it comes to publishing, as has been well documented. I don’t like it when a single retailer controls so much of the market and even less when they begin to dominate the almost the entire chain of book production; writers gotta write still, but after that, I can imagine a dystopia in which Amazon becomes the one and only source for the written word. I think the reasons for that dislike are probably pretty clear.

But credit where it’s due. This is a *good* thing Amazon’s doing, even if self-interest is involved. It’s hard to see how this isn’t a win for everyone and, especially, for books and libraries.

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Martha Woodruff on Self-Publishing Her Novel

11 08 2010

NPR has put up an interesting profile written by Martha Woodruff, who last June published her book Small Blessings on the Kindle.

This is one of the things I think the Kindle does really well. It really has made self-publishing a cinch and that itself has this whole democratic air to it that I find really interesting. I somewhat doubt the ability of even good writing to rise to the top on its own merits, but at least she’s got her work out there instead of sitting in some file on her computer, never to see the light of day in any format. I think I might buy a copy out of solidarity, even though I probably won’t ever read it as it’s not my style. I also hope the NPR story which is making its way through the book blogs gives her a little publicity. I also think she’d have been better served by linking directly to the book on Amazon somewhere in the article, but maybe she felt that was a bit too self-promotional (in this case, I say, one should be bold).

I just wish, again, that Amazon wasn’t the only game in town. I have many bones to pick with ebooks and most of it has to do with everything existing under Amazon’s control and Amazon’s alone. There’s a lot that just doesn’t sit well with me on that. We need a lot fewer proprietary formats and more markets in which to buy books, but really, that’s a whole different topic anyway.

As a final note, I’m very, very glad that she didn’t put her work up there for $0.00. $2.99 seems a great price point for a self-published work. It’s cheap enough that people might just buy it on a whim and take a risk, which is understandable given that self-published works can be something of a crap shoot when it comes to quality. It’s also not free, which means the work has some value, both to her and to her reader. I understand the argument that there’s merit in writing for exposure, but I think most of that is baloney. If you value yourself and your time and expect others to value it as well, nothing you do should be done for free (volunteering for causes aside, which isn’t what this is). So, good on her.