Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Digital Pandemic Hits Dorcester Books

There's a new buzz in the writing world. Dorcester Publishing is going digital and POD--Print on Demand. Dorcester has been having financial difficulties for some time, so to try to recoup their losses,they are moving from mass market books to electronic and a few trade size volumes that they will print up as ordered, thus saving waste. (Note: The difference between mass market and trade is size and price. MM are the 6.99 softback books you find on the shelves, whereas the trade books are larger soft covers that normally sell for several dollars more.) Note the picture for a visual. Mass Market is on the left.

I read more news at Dear Author stating that Dorcester had also let go two of its editors, leaving only Chris Keeslar. This sounds just bizarre. Is Keeslar the last remaining romance editor, or the last remaining editor period? The two editors let go are Leah Hultenschmidt, who edited romance and Don D'Auria, who edited the Leisure's horror line.

As a writer, this whole turnaround makes me more than a little uncomfortable to submit anything to Dorcester any time soon. Dorcester didn't grandfather in this new change, so authors anticipating print releases, who spent money on advertising, got shafted. Though that was no doubt not Dorcester's intent, it happened. This on top of rumors about late royalty payments is a red flag.

As a reader, I'm left feeling a little clueless. I happen to like ebooks, so I wouldn't mind purchasing Dorcester titles the way I do the current books I buy. But trade? I'm not into trade size unless I love the author already. $14 or more is a lot to drop on a book, and way too much to chance on a new author. I'm having a contest on just this topic, what readers prefer to read, and a lot of the entries I've received say readers want print books they can hold. Mass Market size to be exact--in other words, more affordable books.

I really wish Dorcester and its authors the best. I can only imagine newer authors' frustrations at finally getting published, only to find the dream of holding a book in their hands in a brick and mortar book store has vanished.

But you see, that's one of the big pluses of the electronic world. My books never go out of "print." My titles are always available on the electronic shelves of my publishers, and with the prices of ereaders going down everyday, the accessibility of reading something in your hands goes up.

It'll take a while, but eventually we'll see ebooks and print books in the same light. Heck, I already do, but the vast majority of people still not comfortable with technology are holding out. Yes, there is something to be said for the texture and smell of an actual print book, the thin layers of paper, the black ink and the light whisper or subtle crinkle when you turn a page... But if you're like me and need space to house those hundreds and thousands of books, you really can't go wrong with an ereader. One small memory card can hold what four bookshelves in my reading room do!

Just some food for thought on this fine Thursday.

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