Trash BooksThe ebook revolution is dying under the deluge of rubbish that is being passed off as books.

It may sound like a whole lot of moaning and groaning, but ebooks have in general not really helped author’s or small publishers’ income. Forget the outliers like Amanda Hocking, as these are rare instances of success.  Ebooks have in fact moved most of the profit in book sales to a few electronic distributors such as Amazon, B&N and Apple and killed street front bookstores with a sad loss of jobs.

As I begin to write my next book, I really wonder why I am bothering at all. Quite honestly, I can make more money from Adsense advertising on my blog or writing blog reviews for useless gadgets. At least these avenues will pay for the hosting fees of my website.

I see so many terrific new and enthusiastic authors (and a lot of really terrible writers as well) appearing with their fabulous new books everyday. Hopeful of fame and fortune from the self publishing bonanza. But it’s a bit like a gold rush. By the time you get there, all the gold is gone. Kindle ebooks in particular are now so numerous, and of which so much is rubbish, it has swamped the market to the point where it is difficult to find the decent books that are there to read.

Even worse is the new wave of ‘spamming authors’ who are proliferating at an astonishing rate on social media and in the process are devaluing the work of genuine authors, as well as polluting the enjoyment of social networking.

Yes, you could say I’m being pessimistic, and you’d be right. To be quite honest, I don’t see a bright future for writers. Unless that is, you’re happy to give your hard work away for next to nothing and watch monopolies profit from your labour and then envelope your work in an ever increasing pile of ebook garbage.

But then again, I’ll probably wake up tomorrow morning in a far better mood and get back to being a writer, come what may.



Who’s Killing The Ebook Revolution?

47 thoughts on “Who’s Killing The Ebook Revolution?

  • 23/10/2011 at 3:53 pm

    I agree, Derek — many have jumped on the eBook bandwagon and have done nothing but add slush to the pile.

    I have 3 questions for you:
    1. Do you think that the deluge of bad, self-pubbed material will empower traditional publishers, i.e., reinforce their (perceived) role as gatekeepers and arbiters of taste?

    2. Is it possible that paperbacks will, for a time, guarantee better literary/aesthetic standards, given how easy it is to self-publish on the web but not on paperback?

    3. Maybe it’s time for writers to partner up with other creatives, namely in visual media, in order to come up with products of greater value, relevance and quality?

    • 23/10/2011 at 4:40 pm

      Interesting points Bell. My thoughts?

      1. Traditional publishers are not that affected by the ebook gold rush, but are under serious threat from Amazon now that they have entered traditional publishing with vigour.

      2. Paperbacks are still very simple to self publish and distribute. Before the advent of ebooks I was very happy with sales of my self published titles. Ebooks and Kindle have affected this market though.

      3. I firmly believe that the way to improve quality is for small Indie publishers to develop in the market and create their lists of writers and take some control over the quality of output. Not with the heavy hand of traditional publishing, but assuring that an ebook is readable and formatted correctly for a reader to enjoy.

  • 23/10/2011 at 3:55 pm

    My prof smiled when he came to know I scribble a bit. ‘You’re young so you are supposed to be this optimistic’, he said, ‘The problem with the literary world is that odds are always stacked against you.Even before you’ve entered it. Unless you have good contacts with big publishing houses, everyone will try and manipulate you. But never ever sell your creativity or your integrity for that matter. That is more important.” I think he was right huh?

  • 23/10/2011 at 4:24 pm

    You could always try the Creative Commons route. It might not be your first choice but it does offer a interesting incentive for people to buy dead tree versions to support your work.

  • 23/10/2011 at 4:26 pm

    I agree that there are a great many ebooks that… let me be generous and say “were published before they were ready.” You need some way of figuring out which are worth reading. With print, it makes sense for the publisher to provide that filter, because they have to invest a lot of money in a book to stand a chance of making a profit on it. With an ebook, there are no upfront costs (or there don’t need to be), so the likes of Smashwords and Kindle Direct Publishing don’t see the need to be choosy. They make a profit on every copy they sell, so they can allow authors to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks.

    Readers still want and need a way to find good books, but there’s no longer a compelling reason why the publisher has to be the one to provide the filter. Other people can fill that role – and will, if they think there’s something in it for them.

    • 23/10/2011 at 4:32 pm

      Strangely Steven, before the advent of the ebook, self publishing was alive and well in paperback form. For some reason, there were less problems then with quality. (There was of course some duds.) But when people bought a book, it had to have some substance. eg: Thick!

      Now anyone can belt out 10,000 words and call it a (ebook) book. I’ve written about this before. Amazon do not tell you how many words are in an ebook. So how does a reader know what they are getting? At least a few authors are honest enough to call them novellas, but a lot do not.

      • 23/10/2011 at 5:08 pm

        Before ebooks and print-on-demand, the author needed to pay upfront to self-publish, which kept the numbers down. And it was next to impossible to persuade bookshops to stock self-published books, so most readers would never come across one. The Kindle has made us all into slush-pile readers.

        I think your point about length is a separate issue. I used to like long books, but as I get older, I find I’ve become more impatient for the writer to get on with the story. I’ve read quite a few traditionally-published doorstops that would’ve been greatly improved by the removal of a third to a half of the words. But I take your point about wanting to know how much you’re getting for your money. I’ll update my book’s entry on Amazon with the word count and approximate equivalent page count.

  • 23/10/2011 at 4:28 pm

    Isn’t it a bit early to be killing off a “revolution” that’s still in its early stages? I’m aware of a fair number of writers who will probably never be best sellers, who are unknown to the general reading public and yet are selling their books at a satisfying rate. And none of them list their books at fire sale prices. But they’ve been at it a long time. Some of them have been through the traditional publishing mill and come out the other side. But they’ve all worked to establish a readership in a particular niche, both by staying in touch with readers and by producing a growing backlist. Oh, they also write well.

    • 23/10/2011 at 9:46 pm

      What you say is very true. Many of my writer friends fit this category. Others are still traditionally published. Writers who have been through the mill and are now working for themselves are the ones I am interested in forging relationships with. Are you on Twitter? ;-j

      • 24/10/2011 at 2:55 pm

        Jane George, sorry not to reply sooner. I missed your comment and was gone most of yesterday. I barely use Twitter, just to follow a few writers and publishers. I don’t use Facebook or Google+, so I’m very much swimming against the tide. My primary “social networking” is my blogs, with Goodreads as a secondary, and experimental trials that I move in and out of. But I don’t plan to earn a full-time living with my writing. I’m lucky enough not to need it, which means I can devote most of my time to the writing rather than promotion.

  • 23/10/2011 at 4:48 pm

    I’m with you on this one, Derek. There’s so much not-ready-for-primetime work passed off on ebooks I’ve pretty much given up buying any that aren’t from a traditional publisher – and even those are suspect.

    • 23/10/2011 at 5:05 pm

      Cyndi, considering how many really excellent self-published novels I’ve read, I have to say that rather than protecting yourself from inferior stuff, you’re shutting the door on an expanding reading resource.

      • 23/10/2011 at 5:23 pm

        Perhaps, but there are only so many hours in the day, and many more worthwhile books to pursue that don’t require nearly as much search-and-find. I prefer to spend my few precious minutes reading, not foraging.

        • 23/10/2011 at 5:27 pm

          I assume you have ways of finding the books you read. Recommendations? Reviews? Look Inside the Book, on Amazon? Exactly the same methods are available for self-published books. Do you simply forage through titles at random? If not, why would you think you have to do that with self-published titles?

          • 23/10/2011 at 6:03 pm

            Reviews and recommendations, blogs I trust, etc. – and no, not the self-promotional flood that passes for social networking, unless it’s from someone I’ve learned to trust.

            But I think you’re missing the point. If I have to go searching for more titles, only to wade through proportionally greater numbers of less-than-professional efforts, it’s simply not worth my time and energy.

          • 23/10/2011 at 6:43 pm

            I don’t think I’m missing your point at all. I go through traditionally published titles with exactly the same kind of frustration. And I don’t depend on self-promotion, which i didn’t even mention.

            The point *I’m* trying to make is that if you know how to look for good reading, any distinction between traditionally published and self-published is false and arbitrary.

          • 23/10/2011 at 7:06 pm

            I find it very difficult to find a “good read” by just browsing and looking at star ratings or reviews on bookseller’s sites. I’ve even been burned by Amazon’s Book of the Month.

            I have to agree with Cyndi–it is very tiresome wading through the dross. Used to be you could, for the most part, count on a good read from a bestseller list – not anymore. I, too, want to spend my time reading, not endlessly searching.

            I have found a few blogs, by people in the publishing industry, that consistently recommend worthy reads. I’m glad for that.

          • 23/10/2011 at 7:26 pm

            Great point Janet.

            Ebooks are (for good or bad) so connected to the Internet and Social Media, that the best way I have found to find good reading for my Kindle is to find authors, connect with them, find out what they are about and then make my decision about buying their book or books.

            So far, this has worked well. I have just finished two fantastic books by an indie author. And I mean ‘bloody good’! And this is certainly not my first discovery.

            I take no notice at all of reviews and ratings on Amazon as I know how easy it is to garner reviews. (I don’t do it. But that’s up to others to believe me.) If I wanted 100 reviews on Amazon I would have already paid for them!

            As an Indie author myself, I naturally want to read and support fellow Indies. But not pedlars of crap of which there are unfortunately far too many.

          • 23/10/2011 at 11:36 pm

            Finding garbage in the literary world can happen no matter if it’s indie authors or trad published authors. A certain very popular thriller author sells millions of books worldwide, and God only knows why, because I’ve read indie authors who are better plotters, develop characters that have more depth, and write much better narrative. Just because it’s traditionally published by the Big Six doesn’t mean it’s not mediocre or even crap.

  • 23/10/2011 at 5:29 pm

    “…it’s all a bit like a gold rush. By the time you get there, all the gold is gone.”

    This is exactly how I feel. I’ve been contemplating e-publishing my latest novel, but I cannot see how I will get noticed with all the other books out there. For those who missed the first wave, I think it will be difficult.

    And, yes, eventually indie publishers will have to exert more quality control. If readers are consistently disappointed in indie/self-pub ad books, and once they become savvy at spotting the traditional versus self-pub ad books, they will start to shun them. Unless , of course, they are willing to take a risk for 99 cents, which seems the case at the moment.

  • 23/10/2011 at 5:37 pm

    I’m the victim of auto-correct…it should be self-pub’d, not self pub ad … argh!

  • 23/10/2011 at 6:07 pm

    You are right. For most writers, no matter which route they decide to take, it’s an uphill battle to get noticed. Will I keep writing, even if my books don’t sell well? Absolutely. I’ve been at it since I was fifteen. Whether anyone else reads them or not, it’s so much a part of me that I don’t really have a choice.

    • 23/10/2011 at 7:28 pm

      Some things don’t change Kristy. Being an author has always been a battle to be noticed. The only change now is that the ‘pond’ has become and ocean, so it’s even more difficult now for small fish to attract attention.

  • 23/10/2011 at 7:40 pm

    Unless, or until companies like Amazon and B&N come up with a ‘filter’ to sort the wheat from the chaff regarding e-books, I’m afraid we are all in the same boat.

    Once the product of all our hard work joins the millions of other books, good or bad, we have little or no control over them.

    There are no sure fire answers, no guarantee’s. Even those higher up the food chain from us have no control.

    Publishing is a lottery, stacked in favour of the publishers, not we writers.

    Will all of this stop me?



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