This is a little different from my usual lighthearted romps of casual events. This one is serious, sort of.
You may have noticed that I’ve converted all my books to paperback so they are now available in both e-book and paper. Yippee. It took a large amount of effort to convert them, which I will explain shortly. But I have so far sold a total of: TaDa, zero paperbacks.
The reason is simple: they cost too much. An e-book is essentially worthless and free, it consists of bits of electrical energy arranged in a form than computers can read. Paper books, on the other hand require Stuff. Paper, ink, printers or presses, cover makers, binders. And labor.
So a simple piece of short swill, no matter how clever, like Monkeyshines, Otters, and Drunks, that can sell for $0.99 in e-book must sell at $6.50 in paperback even if the author is willing to make no money from it. That’s right, the entire cost of the book is in paper and printing and such.
Self-publishing has opened the door for all authors but unless you are famous (Stephen King) or fortunate (the lady that did Fifty Shades of Grey) you are not going to sell paper books.
I learned a lot in the conversion process. I never thought about it, even though I have handled and read thousands, maybe a million hard and soft books. Things like the gutter, the inside edge of the pages, must have a wider margin than the outside edge of the page because part of the page is sunk below the waterline where the binding is. And the proper way to head and begin a new chapter. And the most readable fonts. And the difference between fonts and typefaces. And copyright format. and ISBN’s and front matter and the difference between a prologue and a foreword.
Anyway, is is enough to say that the conversion process was not painless and certainly took a lot of time. But the end result was a book that I could not afford to get a profit on: after printing costs and the fee to the service, the damn books cost so much no one will buy them at even the lowest possible price.
Note that this price is fixed: it is the same regardless of content, so a Monkeyshines, Otters, and Drunks costs the same to print as a Catch 22. Not long ago my wife and I had occasion to go into a real book store, one of the few that are left. I priced various paperbacks and hards. The prices were unbelievable, maybe $14 for a thin paperback by an unknown author. How can anyone afford to read these? That is why I am afraid the end is near for real books. They are becoming like caviar, something only the rich can indulge in.
Anyway, that’s all I have to say about that. I get books to read from the library myself.