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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Cheap Ebooks could be harming the industry says author

Mark Billingham, author of the Tom Thorne detective series, criticised the growing self-publishing industry that allows writers to sell their work electronically for pence.
Mr Billingham, 51, was responding to fellow author Stephen Leather after he said e-books provided a better deal for readers and writers, who can undercut those using traditional publishers and agents.
Mr Leather described the industry as “shifting units” to “punters” at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate.
But Mr Billingham received applause from the audience when he responded by saying books were devalued if they were sold for “less than half the price of a cup of tea”.
Author Mark Billingham attacked the industry of self-publishing.
Last year, there was a 60 per cent rise in the number of self-published titles as electronic readers such as Amazon’s Kindle grew in popularity.
Some 211,000 works were self-published in either print or digital form while Penguin books owner Pearson bought out self-publishing firm Author Solutions for $116 million (£75 million).
Earlier this year, crime writer Kerry Wilkinson became one of the most popular authors on the Kindle chart after selling more than 250,000 e-books in six months. His self-published debut novel, Locked In, was sold for just 98p.
Mr Billingham, whose detective novels were turned into the Sky 1 crime drama Thorne, released his latest novel, Rush of Blood, on Thursday.


  1. I, personally, think this is a jaded jab at self-publishing and low price publishing from someone who started his trek into publishing when you HAD to go to a publisher, get denial letters and pray your book sells on the shelf. The fact that e-books sell for pence is irrelevant. He is mad that people are selling so many copies online now that books selling for pence actually turn a profit when his print books probably took awhile to start turning a real profit. E-publishing is a very low cost mode of publishing, especially if you do it yourself.

  2. I don't think they are harming the industry. I love my e-readers and all the books I get for them. I guess time will tell.

  3. I don't know about the UK but in the US there has always been a strong agreement that you get what you pay for. So I do feel indie writers didn't stop to think about the ramifications of what giving hundreds of thousands of books away on free promo, might do to the future market of indie authors in the realm of price and respect. Now there is a sense of indie being suspect as to quality. Along with everything else, that's a nasty hole to climb out of.

  4. I should imagine that the conventional print publishing industry completely agrees with the low prices harming the industry.

    There are thousands of $0.99 books available and many more at the $2.99 -$9.99 price range (mostly at $2.99), that being the lowest price at which an author can get a 70% royalty. The $0.99 books earn the author just $0.35 per ebook.

    If an average 'successful' book sells just 150 copies then that is hardly producing an income for the author. The question for many is 'Will I still sell 150 if my price is $9.99?'

    Many authors, even the famous $0.99 John Locke, eventually end up raising their prices to $3.99 - $5.99. Even so that's a LOT less than the conventional print houses seem to want to charge for their ebook versions.

  5. What that man said actually makes me kind of mad. I know quite a few indie authors who are my friends, and Mark's words actually sound like an insult to indie authors. I completely disagree with him, and I do not think (cheap)ebooks are harming the industry.


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