A big box of books arrived yesterday. In fact, three boxes of books did. Amazon deliverith early and so advance copies of A Decent Bomber as well as copies of the new format Olives and Beirut dropped all together onto my desk while I wasn't looking.
And I am glad.
For all the arguments I have about Kindles, there's something reassuring about a physical book. It's so very, well, booky. And I'm finding quite a few readers remain deeply - indeed emotionally - attached to these papery wodges.
I've talked before about the economics of book production. Both Olives - A Violent Romance and Beirut - An Explosive Thriller were conventionally printed and put on sale in bookstores in the UAE, Bahrain, Lebanon and, oddly, Mumbai. Both sold out their print runs a year or so back, but I have yet to see a final reconciliation from the distributor. Conventional book distribution is like a Massey Ferguson to Amazon's Concorde.
It's amazing how slow, conventional and passive the book industry is. In both cases, I shelled out a load of money up front, watched bookshops and the disty taking 50% of the cover price and wasted a great deal of time trying to gee up sloppy and lazy sales channels. It was time-consuming and, to be honest, ultimately wearying. And it gained very little except possibly making my books marginally more accessible to a relatively small audience.
The alternative is POD - print on demand. Amazon's Createspace is the platform I use for all my books. Basically, when you buy one of my books from Amazon, they print it out especially for you. There are an increasing number of 'inventory free' book print and production solutions out there now, which make enormous sense in our 'long tail' world. The cost per copy is sky-high compared to conventional print, but it's a highly efficient way to produce books for a global audience - and means a much wider choice can be effectively offered to the reader.
The quality of a POD book is, incidentally, just fab. In fact I've found readers consistently preferred the POD book when I've asked them which Olives they prefer. POD also means I can update books, for instance I found a couple of nagging errors in the MS of Beirut and they're gone now. And, of course, my restoration of Shemlan will, when I finish it, automatically turn into an updated book. Which is all rather nice.
As I've said before, if you are a writer of books and would like a kick-ass Createspace template for a 5"x8" novel format, hit me up right here.
For now, though, it's a quick bask in the glow of all my lovely new books. I'll be shelling out copies to reviewers - Talking of Books is getting a load tomorrow at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature launch event at the Intercon in Festival City. The rest I am saving for a very special date indeed...