I… I just can’t agree with his vision of the future. It seems that any writer I come in contact with who has some "great idea" of how to sell more ebooks is basically ALREADY a sucess in the paper publishing industry, so selling ebooks isn’t their primary income. Instead they sell their ebooks to the customers who already know OF them and are basically buying ebooks to fill up the gaps in their paper collection. They’re not necessarily taking a risk by buying an old friend.
So I think his numbers are rather… well, unrealistic. At least for all the new authors out there who will see this as a sign that ebooks arethe way to go, rush to put their books out with Createspace up on Amazon and then wait for the money to roll in… which it most likely, won’t.
I don’t think ebooks will EVER be free. Not good ones, anyway. Yes, some ebooks are free out there, but usually it’s for promotional purposes and the like, which has worked with me. I got the first books in the Miller’s Kill series and Old Man’s War from Tor, IIRC, and of course the freebies from Harlequin for their anniversary… but those have encouraged me to pay for the newest ones, in paper form along with the back issues, again, in paper form. I didn’t get "Little Brother" because I’m not interested in left-wing silliness and I’m not impressed with Doctorow’s belief that if he releases all of his books for free online, people will pay for them in paperback form. Why? Because he’s ALREADY SUCCESSFUL and the sales are going to happen, one way or the other. I’d be more impressed if a publisher took a relative unknown and tried this experiment, not some author who already has a fan base and thus the sales are already going to be there.
I don’t want ebooks to be free, frankly. Free doesn’t mean good, as anyone who’s spent a second reading fanfiction can tell you – and while it’s hard to get people to pay anything for fiction I don’t think that means chucking in the towel and giving it all away. I just can’t resolve myself to that way of thinking. To me, it’s giving into the pirates who are already stealing money from the hard-working authors.
Meanwhile, Konrath gets money from authors who want to advertise in the backs of his ebooks. Other established authors give away some works for free and screech about that’s the way society is running while they sign off on contracts for paper editions that will sell way more than the ebooks, and spread their names further. And more self-pub authors race to put work up on Amazon that’s not ready for primetime or worse, that could be really good reading in the hands of a good editor and publisher – but it’s the race for the fast cash that’ll be their undoing.
Man, I’m grumpy today.