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Writing Conference Cataclysm: Ebooks versus the Amish

The room was packed with authors who were traditionally published. When the bookseller was talking, they were clapping. She told them what they wanted to hear. She insulted lovers of ebooks, told them to unplug, told them they needed to “get a life.” Her world is divided between ebooks and “real” books, nostalgia for what was and contempt for what is and will be.

Her emotional appeal worked well on that crowd. No one was paying near as much attention to the other guy on the panel. Formerly of Booknet and now with Kobo, Mark Tamblyn knew the numbers. The reality he knew and could quantify didn’t get any applause there so here are some highlights from his trip on the Reality Train:

1. Ebook lovers do love books, they just love them on ereaders. They do not fetishize the package. They read for love, enjoyment, entertainment and ideas, just like traditional readers claim to do…except:

2. Ebook lovers buy more books. Twice as much as people who love so-called “real” books.

3. Ebook readers are not 20 and 30-somethings. They are typically 45-55.

4. Ebook readers are not easily distracted. They do engage in deep reading and are not flighty cyber-ADD sufferers, after all.

One author asked how many people in the room owned an ereader. Only a handful of us raised our hands and he looked quite pleased with himself for a moment. Then someone pointed out the demographic in the room: the crowd skewed old and were, after all, a bunch of traditionally published authors. (And by the way, a couple of those older authors expressed excitement at fleeing to publish their own books so they can get off the mid-list and get paid 70% instead of 25% from a legacy publisher. I’m sure there will be many more to follow.)

So here’s another break from the illusions of The Matrix: Last year Kobo had a party to celebrate their one-millionth customer. A week later they held a party for their two-millionth customer. The month was December and that, my friends, is one major and measurable difference made by Jesus’s birthday. Clearly Jesus wants you all to buy ereaders.

It’s gauche, but since I predicted the ever-increasing appetite for ereaders last year and since I’m in a foul mood I will point out: I informed you thusly! I so informed you thusly! (Inside joke for Sheldon Cooper fans.)

And by the way, since I’m so damnably cranky: Last week I noticed someone saying the indie revolution was a good thing for creators but wasn’t any good for readers. Hey! I’m indie but I was a reader first and will always be a reader. I read ten books at a time. I’m more voracious for reading material than I am fudge. I’ve got a stack of pbooks by my bed, a huge library we call a house and a whack of ebooks loaded in my ereader. I relish more choice, even the stuff that isn’t particularly close to grammatically pure. So knock off that BS, thanks very much.

And have a day. Make it real.

Filed under: e-reader, ebooks, Rant, self-publishing, Writers, Writing Conferences, , , , , , , , ,

Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

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