Search the most comprehensive database of interviews and book signings from Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson and the rest of Team Jordan.
2012-04-30: I had the great pleasure of speaking with Harriet McDougal Rigney about her life. She's an amazing talent and person and it will take you less than an hour to agree.
2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."
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Of course, the comic industry isn't quite the same as the publishing industry, as Marvel and DC both have their own apps on the iPad/Android. No middle-man. But I can't believe that the publishing industry hasn't considered a solution like this to keep paper books relevant. In fact, I feel like Barnes and Noble would jump all over something like this: Buy a book in their store, and get a free (or even a $1) digital copy on the Nook.
It's an issue that I've busted my mind trying to figure out. There are several ways to do this, all somewhat problematic.
1) Work directly with someone like B&N. This requires them to sell the digital copy alongside the print edition, probably at the register. Kind of a "Oh, you bought the hardcover. Would you like the digital add-on for a buck?" Then they give you a slip of paper with your digital code on it. There are huge logistical issues here. Not insurmountable, but still tough. How many books do you do this with? All new books? How do you keep all of those slips separate? Do you have a machine that prints one with a code? Who pays for the infrastructure? What happens to all of those slips once a book rotates out of being new? We already have trouble with advance copies being snatched by booksellers (or other) and offering them up for sale on ebay when they were intended to be review copies. (Printed at a high cost and given for booksellers to read.) I could see this, without careful management, going the same way.
Also, what about all of your independent booksellers who are already up in arms about B&N and Amazon getting all of the preferential treatment? What do you do about them? Let them give away an ebook too? It would have to be multi-format, and that means printing and shipping them all the slips on your end.
2) Print a code in the book itself. Easiest answer, I think, but it offers a huge problem. Books are not usually a sealed product. People like to flip through them on the shelves. So how do you hide the code? Make it inactive until it is scanned at the register, like some gift cards? I don't know how much work is required for this. It seems like less than the one above, but still requires and infrastructure change.
This is much, MUCH easier to do with a sealed product like DVDs or CDs.
If anyone has suggestions on how to make this all work, I'd love to hear them. I've proposed giving away digital copies of my books with the hardcovers before, and Tor as scratched its head trying to figure out how to make it all work.
Edits: Logical flow, typo fixes.
EDIT TWO: It has been mentioned on twitter that maybe, a code could be printed on the receipt. Much easier than a method I mentioned above—but the problem remains that it's not something that I can do alone. I MIGHT be able to get a code in my books, if we can secure them somehow. I alone can't get retailers to change so they print something out and give it to a customer. I'm mostly curious about something I can take to Tor, as a suggestion, that we could maybe get to work for the last Wheel of Time book or my future hardcover releases.
What about the system Baen uses? They include a CD with the book in multiple formats already.
Granted, that increases the overhead for the publisher. And the ISO is able to be spread online.
I'm intending to try this again. When I asked last time, they were hesitant because of the cost. (About a buck.) However, that was for one of my books before I hit the level of popularity I have now. The Wheel of Time is something else entirely. Something that might be prohibitive for another book because of small print runs could be much more cost effective here.
However, perhaps a code/CD plus shrink wrapping for certain books might be a good way to go. If we released most copies like normal, but did a certain percentage of them packaged like this with a code for a digital download, maybe it would work.
On this note does anyone know if the ebook release of A Memory of Light will be at the same time as the paper copy? I would prefer to buy it on my kindle over purchasing the physical copy.
She might not delay the launch this time. If she wants to, I might have a better chance of getting her to agree on a special edition with ebook included in the hardcover than I will persuading her to push the ebook launch up. It's one of the reasons I'm exploring this concept now.
Okay Mr. Sanderson, here are my two ideas, but I don't know if they are actually feasible.
Disclaimer: if it turns out I'm fantastic with these ideas, please forward me a copy of A Memory of Light in the next week.
1. Can you know just have two copies released at most stores? One copy would be the non-shrink-wrapped regular book. The other copy would be the 1-3$ more expensive shrink-wrapped copy with the digital code. Or keep the hardback copy+digital behind the counter.
2. Include a scratch-off-code in all the books, but sell the copy at the normal price. The code will require a 3$ activation fee when you activate it online. I realize that the possibility for theft is still there, but I would assume if someone is going to illegally scratch the code and pay 3$, torrenting the book would be the first choice.
Release A Memory of Light early. I know it will help.
1 is a fantastic idea. I've got Avenging Spider-man in my pull (which comes with the digital copy), and this is pretty much how they run it. Comic is in a sealed baggie. They don't offer a version without a digital copy (that I know of anyway) however.
I think your idea is the most feasible on here.
I think this is one of the main options I'm going to try.
Hello people of the internet. I`d like to introduce you to.... email.
Most retailers have them anyways. You buy a book, give your email.
Receive email with direct download link or (heaven forbid) a torrent to relieve stresses on sites selling fast selling books. Harry Potter comes to mind.
Done and done.
Edit: Most B&N stores, among others already use a web based sales format. They just need a small code entry to create a drop box. Containing the Distributor code, and book name.
I think Tor is more likely to want to use Tor.com as a method for this, as getting people to sign up for that (which is free, but includes an optional newsletter) could be valuable for them. When they gave out Mistborn for free, this was how the approached it. Sign up for our website, and we'll send you a book via email.
Scrap number 1. Independent booksellers are awesome. I bought your last book through one.
Print a code in the book itself. Good solution. Proper solution.
Your problem is that it's supposedly easy to "steal the code". This makes a massive assumption, and ignores existing evidence.
First, you aren't the first one to think of this. People already include codes for ebooks in their books. I know this is done fairly often in the tech industry (programming books often allow you to get access to an ebook. Granted, the market is much smaller than what you are probably used to by now, but the target market is also more tech savvy. They know how to pirate the book, even without the code.
And that brings us to the second point: pirating. People who would copy the code can easily obtain your manuscript online already. In fact, getting the code would be far more trouble then it's worth. They have to go to a store, find a copy, write the code down, go all the way back home... or they could simply go one of a few places and have a copy in minutes.
So, this brings us to the third point: who would go to a book store with the expressed desire of picking up your book? Your fans! People who already buy and pay for your books. People who want you to write more. People who want to see you finish your multiple series. And I'd be hard pressed to believe that your fans would open up a copy of the book, copy the code, and use that at home. They know what that costs them.
And even if they did, would they have really purchased your book? Really? What your suggesting is that someone who loves your work, who has followed it, goes to the bookstore with the expressed intention of copying the code and leaving. That's pretty far fetched. Even the MPAA and RIAA can't come up with numbers that support these sentiments (industries that, despite all the doomsayers, continue to grow and earn massive profits).
Yes, a few people might steal the code. And frankly, any system that accepts these codes will need to be lenient in the codes usage. But the reality is this:
1.People will violate your copyright, code or no code.
2.Having a code won't make it any easier.
3.Having a code will only provide additional value to your paying readers.
In the end, the only people who would abuse this are people that weren't going to buy the book at first anyways. You should try this out. You might be surprised.
I don't disagree with anything you've said here. However, you've got to understand that I need to deal with the realities of a large business with investors and corporate overseers.
Tor is not afraid of piracy, as I've said elsewhere. They give away DRM-free books, and have done so with mine. They let me give away on my website one of my books DRM-free in its entirety two years before it was released in stores. However, accepting that people will pirate and hosting the method they will use to pirate are different things entirely.
The Wheel of Time is not something that the publisher wants to experiment with. It is a known quantity, the biggest bestseller for the company by a mile. Things we could get away with for a new author that the company views as being 'built' are not going to work for the Wheel of Time simply because this will have a 'why rock the boat?' kind of attitude.
That's why I'm looking for something for this book that won't rock the boat quite so much. We can rock the boat on my own books, which are still growing, rather than the company's baby.
Your website says at the Atlanta signing priority "may be" given to those who purchased the book from hosting store.
Seems silly to deny loyal fans a chance for lack of buying the book at one specific store.
I used to be pretty annoyed by these kinds of restrictions (which are placed by the store, not by me or the publisher.)
Then I attended a signing with well over a hundred people, for which the store had to hire extra staff, stay open late...
And rearrange their store to accommodate. They sold six copies and lost money since everyone brought their Amazon books.
I can see how stores get annoyed by such things. It didn't used to happen, but e-sales have changed the game.
First of all, thank you for coming to one of my signings in the early days where I had to try to convince people to come over and let me tell them about my books! I really appreciate people like you who stopped by. As for your question, it's honestly hard to separate which sales come from my Wheel of Time involvement and which sales come from my other books.
However, I did get two huge boosts in sales. When the announcement was made that I would be finishing The Wheel of Time, all of my books jumped up to having 'first week' sales again. Most entertainment mediums follow the same slope. Huge first week sales, then a tapering off on a steady curve. (Sleeper hits and new books by first time authors don't follow this.)
When The Gathering Storm came out, I got another big boost, which was again a kind of 'First week' sales thing—though in that case, the bigger boost came around Christmas. It seemed that people bought Gathering Storm, read it, thought about it, then asked for one of my books for Christmas.
In the long run, it's going to be very hard—as I said—to separate how many readers tried me out because of the Wheel of Time. As books take on lives of their own (as Mistborn did) they gain a readership through word of mouth. However, how much of that 'taking on a life of its own' happened because of the initial WoT boosts?
I get this question on occasion, and always feel the best thing for me to do is emphasize that I prefer you to buy the format that makes you the most happy. That way, you are encouraged to keep reading, and that is really what is best for me.
Most authors makes something around the following:
Hardcover, 15% of cover. (Regardless of store, unless it's a bargain book.)
Paperback, 8% of cover. (Regardless of venue.)
Ebook, 17.5% of the list price. (Unless they are self-published, and then it's usually 65-70% of list price.)
So, the best way to get money to an author is to buy the hardcover, preferably during launch week. (That influences how high the book gets on bestseller lists and how much in-store support it gets.)
However, I don't think that is something a reader needs to worry too much about. To be honest, rather than thinking about this, I think most authors would say that the best thing you can do for us is just read the books. Second best is to loan your copies to a friend so they can enjoy the books too.
With these percentages, were you then sharing/splitting it with the Robert Jordan estate for the Wheel of Time books?
Can I just send you money?
I suppose you couldóbut I'd rather you buy a copy of one of my books and give it to someone. If I have you send me money, then we work around all of the people who deserve their share for helping me out. (Like my agent and editor.)
Risky question time! How do you feel about those of us that buy your hardcover, then go and pirate the ebook?
* This comment is not an admission of guilt.
Risky answer time. I've got no problem with it. I wish I could actively give away the ebook to everyone who bought the hardcover. I can actually do this on books like Legion and The Emperor's Soul, where I retain rights to the ebook. (So I do.)
I'm not encouraging this, mind you. But I'm also not going to complain or make anyone feel guilty. If you've paid for the content once, I feel you should have access to it into the future, whenever you want, in any format you want. (With the exception being audiobook, where the voice actors deserve to be paid for their work above and beyond me getting paid for the writing.)
What about with audiobooks? I subscribe to Audible and I can't help notice the price I pay for my subscription makes the books I get a steal compared to buying them without subscription or buying actual discs. How does that work out for the authors?
Audible has done wonderful things for the audiobook market, helping the format gain a lot of popularity. But their prices ARE rock bottom. I don't know off-hand how much we make. I don't mind, however, because audiobooks in the past were so horribly expensive.