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Tuesday, 31 August 2010


Lorraine had commented on Book Blogs: "Hi Daniel, would you maybe interested
in doing an article about publishing e-books on my site? Take a look and let
me know if you would be."

If still interested, my article on publishing e-books (a little
unconventional) is below (edit as you please):

When I began Plain Label Books on Google Book Library in 2005 as a hobby, my
original motive was to explore the nature of 'the book' in the e-format.
While we all know that the definition of a book in the good old corporeal
world was something with some kind of 'cover' that we could hold in our
hand, differentiated from a magazine or journal only by the size of the
page, the stiffness of the cover material, the lack of advertising or the
'singularity' of the issue (the book content had one ISBN and was fairly
fixed with an author and title and did not change content monthly or weekly
like a magazine), the book in the e-age was an entity much harder to define.

Is *Moby Dick* still a book when published as an e-book? If I remove the
digital cover, title and author name from the e-text, is it still the same
book or a book at all? If I change the title of *Romeo and Juliet* to *Joe
and Julie *is this dramatic rose still a rose? I was intrigued by the idea
of a generic book, a brown bag book, a 'plain label' book. While Google
scanned books and published facsimiles of physical objects, I published pure
text versions of public domain works with little physical ostentation; all
of my book covers were the same 'Plain Label Book.' While not all
bibliophiles were pleased with this 'plain' approach (tough I think Mr.
Twain would have been amused), Marilyn Deegan and Kathryn Sutherland in
their book *Transferred Illusions*, comment "Plain Label Books are anomalous
as books, and they are anomalous as electronic texts, but they may prove
highly popular."

And they did prove popular (as all my e-books were free read--I made a
little revenue on ad clicks) and it was this popularity that led me on to my
next focus with e-books; publishing new aspiring authors on Google and
Amazon Kindle, but leveraging public domain books on the behalf of the new
author. Because it is such a challenge for new writers to get exposure (thus
a website such as Authors On Show), I decided to bundle new writers with
public domain works of similar category (say a new horror novel with *
Dracula*), so the reader gets the new writer as a bonus, or looked at the
other way, the reader gets the public domain book as a bonus. And the public
domain work is much more likely to appear in search results than an unknown

The ease and malleability of e-content (for fun, I transposed all the words
in *Finnegan's Wake* and re-published the book as a parody, *Finnegan's Hash
*) also allowed me to leverage popular public domain books to market a new
author's book. Like magazines and many paperbacks of yesteryear, I began
inserting full page color promos in popular public domain books on Google
and Kindle, promoting the new author's book. A reader browsing Willa
Cather's *My Antonia* on Google will see a color promo of Tricia
Currans-Sheehan's masterful new novel *The River Road*. This is basically
free promotion and helps new writers get exposure.

For some new authors or small publishers (especially those with books of
local interest), embedded advertising in the new book itself may allow the
e-book to be sold at a lower retail price than otherwise. I have found that
readers will give an unknown author a chance if the price is low enough. A
low 'introductory price' combined with local ad sponsorship may allow the
fledging writer to get off the ground.

I personally do not greatly enjoy reading digital e-books and still love the
look, feel and smell of hard or perfect bound books (maybe if the Kindle or
Nook or iPad had a little paper and glue scent button, I would convert).
When I am approached by an author for digital publishing, if I feel they are
print worthy, I attempt to help locate print representation for them (some
authors should be ensconced in leather). My current print project is *Babylon
Dreams *by Marjorie Kaye:

In a few years we will have a better perspective on e-books and print books
and the whole writing process in these times, but in the meantime, it is
indeed fun to be involved with authors and groups such as Authors On Show as
we all learn as we go.

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