It’s the Reader, Stupid

I’ve got a 3,000 word essay sitting here that I’ve been fiddling with for a week. It starts off with a history of the 1992 presidential election and the formation of a meme by James Carville (The economy, stupid) and how it can be useful to condense a complicated situation down to its bare essence and insult the listener at the same time to make sure they pay attention.

It’s a great essay, but then I saw this speech by Kevin Spacey this morning and realized it would be redundant.

The essay is a call to arms for everyone in publishing to focus on the reader. Because right now, you have this mess:

Publishers treat bookstores as their customers, not the reader. That means high e-book prices to protect print; releasing hardbacks and withholding paperbacks; needlessly high audiobook prices; and not working with libraries on e-book prices and lending practices. They also treat bestseller lists and review outlets as their customers, which means holding finished books back from the reader in order to have blockbuster launches.

Large bookstore chains treat publishers as customers by charging for merchandising rather than stocking and shelving what the reader wants. I watched my publisher here in the US get entangled in this mess. A large chain was leveraging the publisher for money rather than make it by, you know, selling books.

Traditional authors treat publishers as their customers, because that’s who pays them for manuscripts, rather than focusing on the reader, who wants to pay for the book. That means agreeing to higher prices for their products, signing egregious contracts that limit output, agreeing to write works of set length, in limited genres and styles, and also keeping the finished work unavailable for months. Authors also treat agents as their customers.

For so many people in the publishing biz, the reader is the last link in a long chain. The exceptions are independent bookstores, which do much to cater to readers. The two places they fall short is in not carrying more self-published works that are in high demand or of high quality, fostering the discoverability of new talent, and in refusing to carry Amazon Publishing works that readers want. But still, the indie shops are seeing growth because they largely concentrate on the reader.

Indie authors are maniacally focused on the reader, almost to the exclusion of anything else. Low prices, fun and interesting genres and styles, a direct relationship, frequent output, you name it. Indie authors are doing well because they know it’s all about the reader.

And Amazon. Amazon continues to blow me away with how many areas they are revolutionizing all at once. Just this year, they figured out how to monetize fan fiction, which allows readers to become writers (paid writers, at that!). And today, they announce a program that I’ve been screaming for as a bookseller, a reader, and a writer. It’s called Matchbook, and it allows authors and publishers to agree to give e-books away at a huge discount to anyone who bought the physical book. As soon as the program goes live, my e-books will be either 99 cents or free to anyone who bought the paperback through Amazon. You could buy the physical book for a gift and get the e-book for a buck!

It shouldn’t surprise me that Amazon is pulling this off. Anything that makes sense for the reader, they’re working on it. Yes, these programs hurt bookstores and they sometimes hurt publishers, and they can leave agents in the lurch. But it’s the reader, stupid. How many people on my flight yesterday used a travel agent to book their tickets? My guess is zero. Does that suck for travel agents? I suppose it does. Just as we can feel bad about one-hour film processors and music store employees being out of jobs. But none of these professions engender the outrage and sympathy that we feel for those who work in bookstores, because we have a romantic attachment to books and bookshops. Well, don’t worry. The kind of bookshops worth loving are doing okay. The kind that sell more board games and coffee than actual books … they aren’t going to be around forever.

My attitude, even as a bookseller, was that we should celebrate what’s good for the authors and the readers. Self-published authors seem to get this. Indie bookshops are right there, with room for improvement. And no one understands this quite like Amazon. Good on them for revolutionizing the way we buy books. For what, the seventh or eighth time?

63 responses to “It’s the Reader, Stupid”

  1. The days of the face to face handshake are quickly making a comeback. Business has suffered mightily by the shrunken globe that technology has given us. Informality has replaced respect and frustration has replaced patience. I was just having a conversation about this the other day with a buddy of mine. The conclusion we came to was that the first business that effectively brings back the 50’s style of business (face to face in person meetings where physical handshakes and looking your partner in the eyes actually count for something) will corner the market in the service industry. I call it the Bleating Edge: Where Technological Velocity meets Social Viscosity. One will win out. I’m hoping for the latter.

    Thanks, Hugh.

    – Naddy

  2. The only thing that annoys me about traditional publishers is when the ignore whole countries… There are so many Audio books that I know exist but I still can’t buy them… Kinda makes me wanna go pirate them just because… On that note however… Was browsing through the interwebs and guess who’s Audio books I happened to find Pirated online!

    1. Side note: I want to point out the “Kinda makes me wanna” part… not saying I do… just that… it annoys me enough that I consider it from time to time.

    2. I have the same frustrations when it comes to ebooks. There has been many times where an ebook is available in the US but not in Canada. It’s not like it needs a different translation.

      1. Actually as far as translation goes it does need translation. I am all for protecting Canadian English and even in Canada a lot of what you get in e form is US English. The Francophones protect their language in Canada, so should Anglophones. There should be a law. Also Francophones in Canada are instructed to go to the amazon site in France. What about Canadian content, and it is just not amazon Kobo provides very little in the way of French Canadian content.

        However in the name of compronise if an ebook it is not going to be published in your country of residence why can’t you buy the ebook from an anazon site in the Uk, Germany, etc.

      2. That would actually be worse… although… you really don’t need to worry about the spelling of Mum or Mom in an Audio Book…

        1. Mum and Mom are two different words for the same thing. I am more worried about color and not colour, or center not centre. It is not just the spelling, there is a reason that there was an American edition of Harry Potter and a Commonwealth edition, certain words and/or phrases you just would not understand in different cultures. In fact the same word or phrase can be taken out of context and be considered rude. It is not only within English, the same thing is done in different languages, books are edited for the locals be they German or Spanish.

          It is about time more ebooks are in Canadian/UK English. Now the Kindel is in the UK perhaps we will see more. Although how much Australian content the amazon UK site has I don’t no, but I do believe Australians are instructed to go there.

          Glad to see that amazon Canada is improving their site for Francophones.

          1. There are oodles of self published and indie ebooks available written by Canadian, UK, Australian and New Zealand authors. I have read many that have been released in the US on Amazon and keep the UK spelling. As an American I love having that glimpse into other cultures.

  3. A couple of years ago I wrote to the head of marketing suggesting they start a program like this and I cited the textbook industry as an example of an area that was starting to give codes for ebooks and supplements with their textbooks. I was informed it was not possible in the trade industry. This baffled me since I’m pretty well versed in the textbook industry and couldn’t see the major difference. But I guess they are the marketing gods right? No?

  4. I stepped foot in a B&N the other day for the first time in a couple of years. I used to LIVE in B&N. I searched the shelves for all the indie authors I’d come to know and love through Amazon, and not just the little names, big, best-selling, everybody’s-talking-about-them authors. I could not find one book by one author. Not one. I left the bookstore sad and disappointed, and more convinced than ever that at least for some of my work, self-publishing is the way to go. I want my readers to have access to the stories they want to read, when they want to read them. It’s sad that it seems that the big box bookstores no longer seem to want that too. Next stop, indie bookseller and Amazon.

    1. The same thing happens to me. You walk into the big chain, look around at all they have to offer, then realize they have nothing you are looking to offer you. Then a salesclerk will say to me “we can order it for you”, to which I reply “if I wanted to order it, I would not have come to the bookstore in the first place.” Plus I’ll have to drive back to the bookstore to pick up the book when it comes in! I can usually get the book on Amazon for at least half price of what the bookstore is charging. I used to (and still do) love wandering through bookstores but it it is no fun anymore at certain ones. And don’t even get me started on screaming kids running all over the place and people loudly talking on their cell phones.

  5. Hi Hugh.

    Indie bookstores do well in large markets like the US and UK, but here in Portugal quite few have closed doors, due to economic some independent (indie) bookstores due to the current economic crises and the lack of trying to modernize their stores and the stocks of books. Have closed doors, some nearly and over a century old closed doors. However we haven’t much to complain, since we have several editors open, some are considered big editors, but there is what i like to call mid-size editors that do rather well.

    For example in Lisbon there is massive book fare that happen once a Year, since 1930 and it last for 3 to 4 weeks between the month April and May. It is open during that period all the days, from 2pm till midnight in one of the cities parks. In week days it has an acceptable influence of people, but on weekends has thousands of people buying books and authors going there to give booksignigs and interact with the readers. The books they seel are from the last few releases (i mean I bought your Wool book in this fair on representative of bookstore was selling english written books), from trying to dispatch some books they have plenty in stock, even business people that deal in books to trying to sell second hand books, they have got.

    It is a fare that has lot of people from editors, from writers to readers coming together for the love of small stack pile of paper with words on it. perhaps you have something like there in states, but here is big event, like our own little book comiccon. :P

    If you want I can send you a few pictures i took from this year book fair. :)

    1. That sounds amazing. We have BEA and numerous small book fairs here. They are like the London Book Fair and the Frankfurt Fair, more for publishing peeps than readers (though that’s changing a little). I think Germany has the Leipzig Fair, which is geared toward readers. I love these events.

    2. We have a number of book festival events in South Africa but I thought the concept of a book event in a park like you describe is really different and exciting. Please can you give me the name of the event so I can google it and find out more.
      By the way Hugh, I came across Wool by pure chance on Amazon. I had to write a sci-fi short story and as I was not very clued up on the genre, I decided to browse. I started with Book 1 of Wool and then bought the whole lot in the series online. It was really gratifying to see that I had discovered this wonderful book (a kind of ownership thing, I suppose) and that now its gone big time for you. I love the Matchbook concept.

  6. Well said. I am always on the lookout for books that I want to read. Not what I’m told I should be reading. The ebook format has introduced me to new authors with fun stores. (yours included) I much prefer ebooks, as well as audio books, because of limited space. I like the feel of a bookstore that is less commercial and more personal. They are getting harder to find though. I agree that the time of the big chain stores is slowly coming to an end. They are better suited for groups getting together than actually buying books.


  7. Hi Hugh,

    This. Definitely. I jumped on Amazon’s MatchBook program immediately, and made the Kindle ebook FREE for folks who have bought the trade paperback version of NEW YEAR ISLAND. Ridiculous, in the Internet age, to inconvenience readers by requiring them to buy the same content twice in different formats.

    To your other point, I’m frankly stunned at how many book blogs, review sites, and other venues which should cater to readers have Review Policies which proudly announce “We don’t accept self-published books for review.” Instead, how about, “we don’t accept books without a critical mass of reviews by independent readers?”

    I love what you are doing to raise awareness here. It boggles my mind how little the entire industry and supply chain understands who they need to listen to, serve, and satisfy: their actual customers, the readers.

    I salute you for not resting on your success, but instead, helping to educate and break down walls in an industry that we know and love. Makes me wonder how many great books I’ve missed a chance to read, because of those artificial walls.

    Hats off to you, man!


  8. I think it’s a shame that, as far as I can tell, there’s no way to do things in the reverse order – buy an ebook and then get a discount on the paperback. For instance, I bought Wool, loved it, and it would be great if I could get a discount on the paperback to give to a kindle-less friend as a gift.

  9. Hi Hugh, thanks for this post, I found it really interesting. I work in publishing, and from an editorial perspective, I always think about the customer as the end user, though I can accept that other publishing companies might have a different focus. Have you always published with Broad Reach? It would be really interesting to get a perspective (versus style) from an author who has worked with the traditional publishers and the newer publishing models.

    1. Broad Reach is just me. I created an S Corp for tax reasons. I have worked with a small press in the past, though. I think I’ve done a little of everything.

  10. End user as in reader, btw, sorry that wasn’t very clear!

  11. Actually I haven’t set foot in a physical bookstore in 2013 yet, but I read more than a dozen books in this year on my kindle.

    So, yes, Amazon’s great, and it’s working for me. For example, without it I wouldn’t be reading your books. And since now you’re my all time favourite, leaving Tolkien and Jack London behind, this would be a huge loss for me. Nor would I have read many other books (Ender’s Game, Blood Song, Chop-chop, Until Tuesday and more…) on my kindle either for free or for reasonable price. Audible is even better, right now I’m afraid, I’m a little bit addicted.

    Personally, this Matchbook thing doesn’t affect me for now, but I still think it’s great, and it should be default for every book.

    Actually I would be a huge kindle fan and would recommend it to everyone… but I’m not, I’m just a medium-happy kindle owner, because they don’t seem to be friends with epub format, and have a shitty display of pdfs, and it really is an obstacle in my daily readings.

    E-book formats aren’t nearly as commonly understood that anyone who publishes something labeled as “e-book” would care much about it. If it’s in pdf and they’re already proud, never realizing the pain in the ass that can cause on normal e-reader screens, because it’s for printing. I saw only one e-book reader which could handle it. Sadly, it wasn’t e-ink…

    But it’s a shame on Amazon, not to embrace every possible format, especially the one that should be the standard according to many: epub (as far as I know).

    I wanted to mention it, because it’s so obvious, that it’s not for the reader, but for their sales.

    Also, as an almost-economist, I’m pretty sure the reasoning behind it is flawed on so many levels… e.g. protecting their ebooks. The truth is, that buying an e-book from amazon is only fun if the person has a kindle, and buying a kindle is best only if you buy 90% of your books on Amazon. There is a huge market on both sides, they never see! If they would be in monopol situation that might be fine for us, maybe we wouldn’t even notice, but they are rather in oligopol one. And this epub thing very well might be the only reason! And if they could achieve a rather monopol position, then the price could go up even with the sales remaining or going higher, so that’s why it’s a silly thing as I see it. I would gladly pay $30 more with epub and normal pdf viewing in the picture.

    All in all, Amazon isn’t perfect, but at least it’s getting better from time to time. Like this Matchbook and Kindle World, and other things, and the little things, like that they updated the software on my kindle to a Paperwhite-like look without me ever having to ask for it, and it’s awesome. Keep it happening, and when there will be nothing else to invent, they may consider an actual upgrade on the kindle, which didn’t get better that much as they say since Kindle (4) Touch, which I own, until the day I die or until it dies AND until they keep polishing the outside, and not the inside.

    1. Agreed on the format issue. I asked someone at Amazon about this, and I totally agreed with the response. If they went with epub, they would have a hard time innovating. Let’s say they come up with the X-Ray feature or WhisperSync. They can’t change the format to allow for their new feature without going through a board. What do you think the board is going to do if Amazon wants to make a change to help sell more of their products? They are going to bog it down, adopt the same feature, refuse to ratify the changes, etc.

      The only way they can make the best reading experience they can is with control of software and hardware. Their hope, I think, is that their file format, AZ8 or AZ9, whatever they’re up to, will be the de facto standard. And if they keep rolling out new features like they have and B&N keeps having the issues they’re having, I think it’s a possibility.

      1. As a 20+ year IT guy (before tossing that for writing fullish time and wearing a cabbie ‘hat’ to continue eating), I gotta say…I don’t buy it. That is practically the same argument that microsoft gave/gives when they shy away from the world wide open doc standards….when in fact software has this neat little ability to encapuslate a file/format with plugins/wrappers. If Amazon were serious about being more “open” with their products, then for their devices/software they could write a wrapper that does cool things WITH ‘standard’ formatted files, and still be readable by other methods.

        As it is, if I buy a book from Amazon, I can ONLY read it…on their stuff. This I do NOT like, as what I bought…is mine. Or it should be. -shrugs.

      2. That’ a much better reasoning than the one I read hastily on forums about this topic, thanks for sharing. It makes it more bearable and it’s a fairly reasonable point of view… but:

        Is it possible for someone who doesn’t want to or can sell on Amazon, still use the azw formats? I really don’t know :) but my guess would be not really. But then how could their format become standard?


        Couldn’t they still continue to innovate their own format, but leaving an option to download the book in other formats, obviously without these cool things like X-ray and Wispersync? And couldn’t the kindle handle azw, as well as other formats? Same with audiobooks too…

        We have a saying in Hungarian: That way the goat is full but the cabbage remains, too. I don’t know how you guys say this :) Maybe: that way you can have the cake and it eat it too? :)

        1. For example, just like the kindle reads mobi/prc too!

  12. I totally agree with this, Amazon is always looking for new ways to improve the kindle experience and I am thrilled by this latest offering.
    I don’t sell many paperback copies of Shattered, which is a shame, but I’m still fairly new, however, I leaped on the opportunity the moment I got the email earlier and people who get the PB will be able to get a free ebook copy of my book.
    I think this is a brilliant idea since it allows for those who prefer to give PBs as gifts to get the book themselves at the same time, and those who would rather keep the PB for their use to gift the kindle version to a friend or relative.
    I can’t wait to see what Amazon comes up with next. B&N should take note, as should Apple, they need to step up their game.

  13. I thought that was pretty cool when I read the series of articles about it this morning, but…

    I looked back through my order history and realized I have essentially only bought ebooks since I got my Paperwhite! I do still buy a few select few hardcovers, but these are Brittish authors and come from when I’m too impatient to wait for them to arrive across the pond!

  14. I have a wall of purchased books…mostly hardcover, mostly at full price, and I am technically an outlaw because I’m pirating all of those books electronically. I admit this because I am not insane with my money, and buying the same words OVER AND OVER to me is…insane…but I have no choice currently. This matchbook idea is a step in the right direction for those of us who hoard our favorites like treasured works of art, but are moving away from the “killing of trees” era.

    In the last year I have self published my own book after researching the byzantine and frankly insane “traditional publishing” venues. My work went through every bit of polish and prep that it would have going the “traditional” route. Unfortunately a metaphorical TON of indie work doesn’t get that polish or care, and a reader stumbling into the “indie” world can get a horrible taste in their mouth from some of the dreck that is put out there.

    I appreciate Amazon…but I didn’t publish exclusively with them, as they are STILL (mostly) a walled garden with their reading hardware/software/drm schemes. (Just try to save or read that encrypted (drm) file on any other device or e-reader without going through ridculous steps of computer wizardry and legerdemain!)

    I published first with Smashwords and then non exclusively with Amazon to reach a wider audience as well as to avoid the walled garden. The READER should have the choice of which platform/software/reader/format, and until Amazon frees that up, they are only incrementally better than the rest. IMHO.

    MoonReader+ and Calibre FTW. ;-)

    1. Amazon doesn’t put DRM on their books unless the publisher requests it.

  15. Hugh, great post. Agree totally. I’m going to put all of my printed titles into this program immediately. I’m with the other poster who also wants a reverse deal. Let my readers who buy my books in e-book format also get a discount on the print version. I would say a great majority of my readers (those who do eventually buy a paperback version) buy on Kindle first, and then order a paperback to have it in their library.

    Michael Bunker

    1. Yeah, if it could go back the other way, I think a lot of readers would want a physical copy of ebooks they really enjoyed. For me, physical sales are a joke and rarely get out of single digits in any one month, but I think something like what Michael’s suggesting would help, especially if it was on the last page of the ebook (Enjoy this novel? Buy a physical copy for 20% off, etc).

      I do wonder if in redefining the industry, Amazon has also caused books to become undervalued. If I price Monsters at $2.99 I sell barely a hundred copies a month. At 99c it rolls out almost a thousand copies. I don’t know what prices are like in the US, but here in Australia you can’t buy a cup of coffee for $2.99 (at least, nothing decent), with most speciality coffees coming in at $4-$5 bucks. Even a quarter pounder with cheese is $3.30, and McDonalds won’t give you a refund half way through! To me, it seems disproportionate. The irony, of course, is that readers spend far more time than money on books, and their time is more precious.

      In my experience, unless an author has an established name (King, Howey, Baxter, Renolds, Scalzi, etc) there’s very little tolerance for price. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this…

  16. Thanks for sharing this Hugh. Great stuff. You make so many great points and agree with all of them! I didn’t know about this Matchbook thing. Awesome!

  17. I wish I could give 10 stars for this. I think the last time I was in a bookstore, Nothing interested me because it reminded me what it was like when I was in high school in the late 70s. The only new music being published were by established acts: Foreigner, Styx, Boston, ELP, etc. NOTHING WRONG with those acts, but the music industry had closed ranks because they were afraid to lose money, so they hammered the same music, the same artists ad nauseum. They no longer cared what the kids wanted to hear. It was a stagnant logjam. And creativity nearly evaporated.
    Luckily, kids wanted what they wanted, and Punk, New Wave and New artists came up through the underground, on independent labels, on almost outlaw backdoors.
    New music eventually TROUNCED the established labels. and then the marginal acts became the main acts: Blondie, The Clash, The Cars, Iggy Pop, the B-52s, Devo….

    We’re seeing the same thing now, Hugh is absolutely right. Publishers have forgotten the reader.

  18. Great post, good thoughts. Let me chime in a bit here on the lack of indie authors in the bookshops and libraries, if I may.

    The issue is, pure and simple, one of quantity of material vs. time. And a little bit of distribution channels. You see, when a smallish group of large publishers call on booksellers with their frontlist catalog, and the cream of that crop is reviewed in longstanding review journals of merit (PW, Library Journal, Kirkus), then libraries and bookstores can look at a *reasonable* number of choices and make selections for what to stock/add to their collection.

    Self-publishing is going nuts right now. Bowker says that “148,424 print books were self-published in 2011, and 87,201 ebooks were self-published. Publishers Lunch notes a few important caveats: Bowker only counts titles with ISBNs, so ‘KDP exclusives and other sources that still don’t use ISBN numbers’ (sic) aren’t included.” That means the number of self-published ebooks is likely much higher than 87,201.” And those are the 2011 figures…it’s only gone up since then!

    So as a librarian (or bookstore buyer) with extremely limited staff and resources, how do we choose? We don’t yet have any real volume of ebooks being reviewed by known review sources. In my library, we do try to grab books once they clearly rise to the top of the heap — like WOOL– but that leaves an awful lot of perfectly respectable books flying under our radar.

    Add to that the issue of distribution. Again, from the perspective of a public library who needs to make our dollars stretch, AND adhere to rules of municipal government accountability, we typically rely on large wholesalers like Ingram and Baker & Taylor, where we can execute a PO and receive a wholesale price. With Amazon, these things don’t work quite the same way. And for booksellers, who need to turn a profit, they can’t buy from Amazon at the same price you would pay if you bought direct, and put it on their shelf and still turn a profit. Not without artificially jacking up the price. There is a cost to having all of those books available in a physical space for browsing, and most customers don’t want to pay it.

    I, for one, WANT to represent independent authors in my collection. I want to bring new voices to readers. I want to provide access via print, ebook, audiobook, cuneiform manuscript, or any other format anyone wants. But it’s hard to make it happen in the current model. Truth be told, I believe the time is ripe for Amazon to take on the library market, making books, music, video, and ebooks available through them. Because of their Kindle Publishing program, they are uniquely suited to bring indie authors (in print and ebook) to the library market.

    And everyone wins. Except maybe traditional publishers.

  19. Great post and spot on. One of the many reasons for the success of the indie movement is that it allows writers to remember who’s really paying for our work.

  20. I hate all the stabs in the back by the publishing industry regarding new technology. Why, are they hoping to stop it, they won’t! I think it is so ridiculous when two ebooks in “The Call The Midwife” trilogy are at the library but they will not sell the first book in the series to libraries, you can, however, buy it. Really why can’t you sell all three ebooks to the public library, as you do with the hardcopy? Carneige is rolling in his grave.

    Also enough is not said about an old technology that is coming new again, theatrical radio. Deliberatly killed of in the US when television came along. Not so in other countries. Audio books as we know them could be on their way out, ereaders can provide a narration of the story and companies, such as Colonial Theatre On The Air are turning to theatrical productions. I believe the aforementioned company is owned by Blackstone Audio. Hedging their bets? I wish libraries would distinguish between narration and performance in the catalouging.

    Every change has it’s teathing problems, when crystal sets came about there were cautions, same as the Internet to make sure, and rightfully so, that you kids were not lured away. However they also saw the good, radios in police cars, even almost computer like radios, were doctors could take your vitals, all broadcast by radio, there was also the posibility the doctor would recieve …. a printout.

    Will we look back on this time period, of old redundant technology, and say really they thought that and they did this, probably!

  21. I don’t know about all this. I’m still grieving the loss of books hand-painted onto calfskin vellum by cloistered monks.

    First Johannes Gutenberg, now Bezos. When will it end??!

    1. Way to go. Bookbinders everywhere applaud you.

  22. I had two seperate comments up here, but they seem to have dissappeared. Is there a reason?

    1. It takes me coming through and hitting “approve” on all comments. Otherwise, the spambots take over!

      Comments shouldn’t disappear unless you delete them.

  23. Now they have shown up.

  24. […] A comment from Jill the Librarian on yesterday’s It’s the Reader, Stupid post: […]

  25. Hi, Hugh …

    I can’t say I can agree with you about Amazon. We’ve been running into problems at trench level here–I dunno where you are. *grin* And fanfiction, where a user signs away his copyright for an eternity? Are we on the same page here? Not sure about that.

    But I agree with you whole-hog. Readers need more respect.

    Time to breed new wreaders, I feel. Leave the old guard behind, in the dust where they long to belong.

    I’m on Wattpad, er yew?

    Thanks for the post.


  26. […] Hugh C Howey: It’s The Reader, Stupid […]

  27. Hugh, when will we see POD presses in indie bookstores so I can walk in off the street, buy your latest and drink my espresso while it’s being printed and bound?



  28. […] It’s the Reader, Stupid, a synopsis of a longer essay, Howey pressed home one of his key messages for today’s […]

  29. […] » It’s the Reader, Stupid […]

  30. One thing about self published books is that for every really good book, there are 100 that are simply a waste of time. I treasure the gatekeeping of publishers and bookshops. Sure, they miss a good books now and again, but I sincerely doubt they have really missed any literary genius. The only almost miss I can think of is John Kennedy Toole.

    And they sure do keep a torrent of crap away from my reading table, gor’ bless’em

    1. We can only name the misses that were subsequently found. The fact that Toole’s book was very nearly never published means there must be Pulitzer-worthy books that aren’t.

      More proof of this was the query letter that went out with sample pages from a prize-winning classic that all editors rejected.

  31. […] was reading an interesting piece by Hugh Howey, a bestselling author, about the business structure of today’s publishing industry. He focuses on […]

  32. […] is successful self-pubber Hugh Howey talking about the importance of the reader in the industry: It’s the Reader, Stupid | Hugh Howey Pauline M Ross: a reviewer on speculative fiction blog Fantasy Review Barn Reply […]

  33. […] It’s the Reader, Stupid, der Zusammenfassung eines längeren Aufsatzes, unterstreicht Howey eine seiner zentralen […]

  34. I’m sad to say that a local bookstore in Colorado Springs closed down this month. They were awesome, they supported NaNoWriMo with several all-night write ins, they had a chalk wall where everyone could update their word counts as the month went, and it was just fun.

    Sadly, they didn’t sell many books and had to shut down after several years of business. It makes me sad… :(

  35. […] focus on the reader. Make your book available at the stores your readers buy books in the formats they buy them. Make […]

  36. […] of the one non-negotiable in this contract between author and those who purchase his stories – it’s the reader stupid! If I forget that, then shame on me not the […]

  37. […] and reader, or even reader and reader. Readers are the new marketing team, the new grapevine, and some may even say, the new […]

  38. […] As Hugh Howey says, “Indie authors are maniacally focused on the reader … Indie authors are doing well because they know it’s all about the reader…. It’s the reader, stupid.” […]

  39. […] Hugh Howey says, “Indie authors are maniacally focused on the reader … Indie authors are doing well because […]

  40. […] year ago, I wrote a short blog post called It’s the Reader, Stupid, inspired by James Carville’s advice during the 1992 Presidential campaign, when he coined […]

  41. Kudos to Amazon to finally figuring this out. Baen Publishing figured out that giving stuff away was a great way to get more readers in 2000. They now host books from 15 different publishers at their Baen Ebooks online store. Well worth checking out as either an author or a reader. Authors rave about they way that they’re treated, and readers rave about the DRM free ebooks, great selection of authors, and great prices. :-)

    BTW, when Baen finally got their contract issues settled with Amazon some time last year, their e-book prices had to go UP to keep Amazon happy. They still keep them pretty reasonable, though. Typical books go for $5. Monthly collections of books go for about $30. Advanced Reader Copies (pre-publication releases) tend to go for $15.

  42. […] and reader, or even reader and reader. Readers are the new marketing team, the new grapevine, and some may even say, the new […]

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