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Lusty Lady

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

E-books and other musings

As it turns out, there is internet access at my grandmother's in Danbury, which obviously means I am catching up on so much blog and newspaper reading, including the New York Times piece about e-books, which reads in part:

So far, publishers like HarperCollins, Random House and Simon & Schuster say that sales of e-books for any device — including simple laptop downloads — constitute less than 1 percent of total book sales. But there are signs of momentum. The publishers say sales of e-books have tripled or quadrupled in the last year.

Amazon’s Kindle version of “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle” by David Wroblewski, a best seller recommended by Ms. Winfrey’s book club, now represents 20 percent of total Amazon sales of the book, according to Brian Murray, chief executive of HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide.

The Kindle version of the book, which can be downloaded by the device itself through its wireless modem, costs $9.99 in the Amazon Kindle store. The Reader version costs $11.99 from Sony’s e-book library, accessible from an Internet-connected computer.

Even authors who were once wary of selling their work in bits and bytes are coming around. After some initial hesitation, authors like Danielle Steel and John Grisham are soon expected to add their titles to the e-book catalog, their agents say.

“E-books will become the go-to-first format for an ever-expanding group of readers who are newly discovering how much they enjoy reading books on a screen,” said Markus Dohle, chief executive of Random House, the world’s largest publisher of consumer books.

Nobody knows how much consumer habits will shift. Some of the most committed bibliophiles maintain an almost fetishistic devotion to the physical book. But the technology may have more appeal for particular kinds of people, like those who are the heaviest readers.

Recently, I bought some of my first e-books, one of Violet Blue's, as well as 2 by Megan Hart (if you buy Layover by December 29th, you can win a copy of her latest novel Stranger) and one by Jenesi Ash (these were from Harlequin's Spice Briefs program, yet another goal along with Black Lace on my writerly dream list). There was one point where I had some extra cash (ha!) and was going to buy a Kindle and was told to wait, so I did. I am also inundated with physical books, most of which I get for free, to review or consider or from friends, or I get from the library and some I do in fact buy cause I just cannot wait to read them. Finding time to read all the books I want to read is my main issue when it comes to reading.

But I'm glad that more and more of my Cleis titles are being released on Kindle, such as Best Sex Writing 2009. For erotica especially, I think e-books are a great format, though it's hard for me to truly talk about the format without having used it myself.

I have absolutely no clue how the 2 e-books I edited for Ravenous Romance will do, so like with all the others, am just waiting and seeing (The Lust Chronicles is available now, Sex and Music should be out next month, both with authors who aren't the usual erotica suspects, many are Twitter users and bloggers). I will always probably favor print, because I love bookstores. I love wandering their aisles, seeing what catches my eye, sitting down with a few books and seeing which one I must own that minute. In Austin, I spent over an hour wandering around BookPeople, admiring the vast and quirky selection, the fact that you could get a massage, the card selection, and simply the human input there. I hear about most of the books I read from online sources, but there's nothing quite like browsing to discover that book by the woman who came to your reading, or that memoir you've been wanting to read, or whatever. I don't think I will ever become a dedicated e-book over paper book reader, but that doesn't mean I don't think my books should be available in both formats.

Mostly I'm just trying to figure out where to go next, if there is a place for me to go next, in publishing. I'm honored that I haven't worn out my welcome at Cleis this year, that they still want to work with me, and I hope to continue to find ways to promote my books that don't cost tons of money, like blogging about hotel sex and the mile high club. I obviously don't make a living from books, and doubt I ever will, and am not even sure I'd ever want to. But I do want to maximize what I can do within erotica even as I explore other things I want to write about. I hope to have news about 2 non-fiction books in 2009, one of which it feels like I've been pitching forever and a day, the other I know could work, I just need to dedicate myself to. But mostly I'm just taking things as they come and trying to learn from authors I admire, like Megan Hart, who writes these killer novels for Harlequin Spice (I am not just saying that cause she advertises here) and memoirists like Rachel Resnick and Gail Konop Baker and Mary Pols, all of whom wowed me with their books this year. That is the real kind of writing I want to do, that I hope I have it in me to do, in both my weekly column and elsewhere.

Now we're off to see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, thankfully dragging me away from the Internets for a little while (I'll be back though!).

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