It’s The Content, Stupid

“Buy my book.  It’s an ebook. It’s cheap, and you can download it.”

This is the typical sales pitch of the ebook author these days. I should buy his book because I own a Kindle, and he’s selling for 99 cents. OK, why should I give up Kindle space and a dollar of my hard-earned money?

“Because it’s a cheap ebook.”

Right. But why? I willingly spend more on paperbacks, hardcovers, and even other ebooks. Why yours?

“It’s cheap, and it’s an…”

OK.  I get that part. What makes it different from all the other cheap ebooks out there.

Here’s my problem. Everyone entering the digital stampede is pitching their book on it being this shiny new thing called an ebook. This includes one very vocal (and successful) Kindle apologist who shall remain nameless.

Actually, I’m reading his book now. But then I’ve read his stuff before. See? I already knew why I wanted to spend $2.99 on his ebook. It was available, cheap, and I had a Kindle. Here’s the kicker. Something I already wanted to read was available for cheap on Kindle.

Yet this author, and far too many others, are still talking about ebooks the way nerds used to talk about the text-based World Wide Web back in the early nineties. Like those early nerds, who clung to Fidonet bulletins boards long after most of us abandoned Fidonet’s more robust offshoot, Usenet, for blogs, Yahoo Groups, and this thing some guy at Harvard wrote to get himself laid called Facebook, too many ebook authors act as though the rest of us have not seen the Amazon ads for Kindle or heard the endless Mac head hype over the iPad or even used a phone for something other than making phone calls, texting, or just generally annoying everyone else sharing the road.

Most people now have smartphones.  Quite a few have pads. Quite a few more have ereaders. Here’s a hint: It’s no longer a novelty. Hasn’t been for over a year.

So why do I want to read your book?

I know why I’ll likely download one of Dave Zeltserman’s books in the near future. Dave talks about his books. Occasionally, he mentions some of them are on ebook.  Why?  ‘Cuz someone might want to, yanno, buy it? When I had a book out, I always considered it good form to pimp the local indie in interviews because that’s where the books went. Good for me.  Good for the store. And Dave’s selling stuff via those newfangled ebook reader thangies. So he mentions it occasionally.  Good for him. Good for Amazon. But he mentions what he’s written about a helluva lot more than the format it come in. Makes it easy for me to pick what I want to download from him. Or buy in hard copy. If it doesn’t grab me, I don’t buy it, same as with hard copy.  (Ooh! Guess this isn’t as revolutionary as we thought!) As I’ve said before, it’s not the technology, it’s the content, stupid.

So sure, you got an ebook. Now make like Dave Z and tell me what’s in  the book. My Kindle has only so much storage, and that dollar could always go to a starving Starbucks barrista.

7 thoughts on “It’s The Content, Stupid

  1. Price is no argument; you got that right. What sells a book is insight: most often expertise. That compounds the other selling points. It’s spaceless, it’s searchable; What am I searching? Your expertise.

  2. And that attitude is what is causing lots of readers to equate e-books with vanity self publishing. I am hearing from many readers and seeing lots of comments about how they will now only buy books from “name” authors. A year from now it will be interesting to see if e-book sales are still trending upwards or have flatlined due to the incredible amount of dreck out there.

    • I agree to some extent, but the risk factor for the reader – mainly expense and time invested – is much lower than it was with the bad ol’ days of iUniverse and the small POD publisher. Indeed, several bands have eschewed record labels since they can go straight to iTunes and Rhapsody or direct to their fans (Marillion, whom most of you probably thought broke up in 1988 regularly pulls down good money as an “unknown” band).

      There is a lot of crap out there. And the crap shall fall.

      But the only reason record labels still exist is because they grudgingly had to adapt.

      That said, if you want to become a “name,” tell me why I should read your book?

  3. I am not sure crap does fall by the wayside. or at least, what I think of as crap. lol

    If anything, from what I read elsewhere, most folks report that it takes them far longer to read an e-book than a print book. An issue routinely noted on several lists and very prominent on the Dorothyl one. So, that is an obvious negative.

    The e-books do win on convenience and price. I beat that by doing the library thing for free.

    But, my main point point was that more and more readers are not willing to risk anything. That risk aversion might give rise to reviewing really mattering to the masses again.

  4. I hope you’ll buy my book! But it’s not self-published and will cost you real coin as it’s from Portfolio…in hardback and e-versions.

    It’s not cheap. In it you’ll find, I hope, material of value: my memoir of working retail at 50 for the first time, interviews with men and women all across the nation working retail and a business analysis of the nation’s 3rd largest industry — and largest source of (poorly paid) new jobs. Some critics are comparing it to Nickeled and Dimed; Entertainment Weekly recently called it “an excellent memoir.”

    • Caitlin, I worked for CompUSA about 12 years ago. So the combination of technical skills with retail is a special kind of hell all its own.

      Looking forward to the book.

  5. Great covers sell books too, and “A Walk in the Rain” does not have one….it looks slapped together, the title is off-center, you can’t read the author’s name when it’s in thumbnail…get a professional to take a crack at it…just my $.02.

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