I’ve been neglecting my e-books – am I becoming a book snob?

I’ve been trying desperately to reduce my TBR – and I have been succeeding. With a self-imposed book buying ban, and trying to #BeatTheBacklist, I’ve felt productive and able to appreciate the novels on my shelves, finding that little spark that drew me to purchase them in the first place. I’ve been keeping count of the number of unread books on my shelves, determined to see that figure drop each month. But what I never took into account is any of the e-books I have on my tablet. I actually shudder when I think of all the books I have there hidden away from sight and easily forgotten.

I think I’m going to have a month where I only read e-books. #30DaysOfDigitalReading  Just to start making a dent on the collection I’ve amassed. I announce this challenge with trepidation because I generally attempt to reduce my screen time, and this will push it to the max.

Usually if I really like a book, or happen upon one of my auto-buy authors, I purchase a hardback. If I’m unsure about a novel, I’ll usually grab a e-book: it’s a lower dollar investment, and if I really like the story I’ll get a physical copy later. So now I’m anxious. All these e-books are wildcards. Novels that I was unsure of, or ones that I got free as a part of a subscription service. It could be a fun ride and discover some great new stories… or it will be a complete disaster and I’ll feel like I’ve wasted my time.

When I really started getting into reading with fevor, I was recovering from cancer (the first diagnosis) and had lots of time in bed to while away. An e-reader was perfect. Light, compact, and I could have hundreds of titles at my fingertips. Once I was at full health and returned to work, I preferred physical books. Travelling on the tram to and from work, if you are reading a book you are much less likely to have your device stolen, or have undesirables try to strike up a conversation (*cough* hit on you *cough*) so a book was like my armour… and the best way to make the dreary ride of public transport zoom by.

There is also the stigma that self-published novels that populate the e-book market are typically vetted less, the cost of production is kept low, so quality can be an issue. And sad to say, this has proven true in my many, many years of experience in comparing the two mediums. Though there are always exceptions to the rule. I also find that e-books are great if you are delving into a title that would embarrass you in public, like say if the subject matter, or cover art, could have on-lookers questioning your sanity or taste levels.

But the experience of reading a physical book is so much more satisfying for me. Like the added sensation of touch and smell add to the retention and immersion into the story.

Do you have a preference?

What are your pro’s and con’s of physicals books vs. e-books?

Has anyone read only e-books for a month as a challenge?

Do you think preferring hardbacks is a form or elitism – because they can be the most expensive form of a book, and therefore are a way of flouting your financial status… and don’t get me started on decorating your shelves in tonnes of unread classics as an aesthetic, and to hint to your guests that you are indeed, an intelligent reader.

© Casey Carlisle 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Publishing : Australia vs Overseas… and the pandemic

Will I be able to afford to buy my favorite new release post-pandemic?

Does the U.S. economy have a monopoly on publishing economy? What do forecasters say for writers in America and Australian the face of the pandemic? Are our futures safe?

With today’s reach via the internet, authors can reach international markets with e-book sales easily; and shipping costs may impact sales for hardback or paperback copies, but that too can be circumvented by stocking large online resellers, or subscribing to print-on-demand services. If you are self-published, you have complete control of these revenue streams, but for traditionally published there is a quagmire of International law around sales and distribution that your publisher handles. Measured with a sharp eye on cost/benefit analysis whether your book will perform well in certain regions. It’s all a very intricate web of research, finance, legal rights, and marketing. So does it make sense for Australian writers to court American publishers for their debut with a traditional publisher considering USA has a double the market share compared to their home country?

It’s an interesting topic that gives me a headache if I think too much about it – because of all the moving parts. I know some published authors here in Australia mention that it’s hard to break into the U.S. market because they’re viewed as sub-par (depending who you talk to) and compared to Australian authors who have signed in the States and performed really well in all markets. Much of the information I’ve garnered is anecdotal, but it is from working writers, published authors, so there has to be a grain of truth to the snub Australian authors face when trying to break into overseas traditionally published markets. Or it may simply be that you are a big fish from a small pond entering the ocean… you are lost in a fierce amount of competition in turbulent currents with little or no experience on how to navigate those riptides. You not only have to have skill in writing, but a great team with connections on your side to catch the tide in your favor.

Okay enough with the sea analogies.

Given that the U.S. market share is the largest in the globe, (followed closely by China) there is potential to earn the most income from breaking into that market. So comparing authors (of any nationality) published in America to those of their Australian counterparts is like pulling up to a Mercedes Benz at the traffic lights and find your sitting on a scooter. Same amount of work went into the finished product, but you just didn’t have access to the market (and subsequently, the funds.) The average Australian author earns an average salary of A$13,000 (US$10,007) compared to an average author from the USA – US$51,170 (AU$66,473). That’s a huge difference in ratio of income to market share! What has me alarmed is that an updated figure for Australian Authors earnings after the impact of the pandemic reported by Helen Garner, Christos Tsiolkas and Charlotte Wood (when discussing the Federal Arts Package) recently have estimated the average income at as low as $AU 3,000 ($US2,319). No matter which way you look at it, the average Aussie writer is living WELL below the poverty line if they rely on this medium for their sole income. Despite the larger challenges, it’s looking like breaking into the American market is highly lucrative and worth the risk.

That research further shows that “among 33 OECD countries, Australia ranked 26th in the level of investment in arts and culture from all three tiers of government. The OECD average was 1.11% of GDP compared with Australia’s 0.77%.” So not only are Australians earning near the lowest income from writing in developed countries, it is also investing even less in supporting and developing this sector. I see incentives from writing groups here in Australia, and read great content getting published, but it honestly does not get enough hype and marketing overseas… we have such incredible talent, but when I look at market studies and government support for the industry, it makes me want to pack a suitcase and relocate to the States.

Many of the papers and studies I’ve been reading pre- and post-Covi-19 pandemic paint a fluctuating economy. Bookstores closing, yet book sales rising… it’s all very confusing. I feel it’s more like luck guiding our careers. Take a punt and cross your fingers to hope for the best. But above all be consistent and don’t give up… stay in the fight until you get your break.

So, putting aside all the technical jargon, let’s ask readers these questions:

  • Do you care about the nationality of an author when you buy their book?
  • Do you intentionally seek out foreign published works when looking to pick up a new book or rely on advertising materials or suggestions from the likes of Goodreads and Amazon?
  • Do bloggers or friends help you decide on your next purchase?
  • How much does cost come into play when you buy a book?

Because, honestly, the global market would not be sustainable if consumer behavior changed. If American readers branched out of regional sales in the publishing industry – and they can afford to because the cost price would be negligible – it would open doors for a truly global market. But does that mean the average U.S. reader holds the future of the global market in their reading choices? What do you think?

Personally, every time I buy a new hardback or paperback in Australia, I’m looking at needing to spend on average $AU25.00 ($US19.50) no matter what the country of origin. If I purchase online or instore… that puts buying physical books into the category of a luxury item when comparing it to the unemployment benefits we receive in this country. Just to put it in perspective. Obviously there are cheaper options, like waiting for a sale, buying second hand, borrowing from the library, or purchasing an e-book copy. But it means as a reader, my access to the market is limited. As an avid reader (and writer) that depresses me.

© Casey Carlisle 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Reading and purchasing that bargain

Reading and Purchasing that bargain Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

No review copies here – just an honest bibliophile!

I post a lot of reviews, but all of the books I read, I’ve purchased myself with hard earned cash. I get no kick-backs from my reviews. So I value my dollar, buy books only that I am genuinely interested in reading. And hunt around for great prices.

There are some authors that are an automatic buy, and titles that I am excited about and will pre-order online. Most of the time there will be a better price after their release, but with my over-enthusiasm, I generally don’t care so much about the increased price point because I want it as soon as possible.

I find cheap books from local book stores having sales – I can get lost for hours perusing their sale racks in search of a book on my wishlist… and I never come away empty handed. Plus, I get the books cheaper than I would have been able to source online… great things mobile phones these days, check to see if there is a cheaper price elsewhere before you head to the register.. You can even go to the sales staff and show them the cheaper price, and most of the time they will match it.

Reading and Purchasing that bargain Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

The majority of the time, I have my wishlist – a number of books that I want to purchase, and I’ll jump on my computer and pull up some of the major websites to do a price comparison. Amazon, Book Depository, Fishpond, Booktopia, and the major book retailers like Dymocks etc. It’s important to convert the prices to your native currency – as in Australia book buying is expensive! Check the shipping costs too. 8 out of 10 times I find the Book Depository the best value for money. Occasionally Amazon gives it a run for its money. Sometimes a book will only be available on a certain site, and not on the others. Australian authors are generally cheaper from Booktopia (an Australian-based site) but still check. I’ve gotten a bargain from other distributors occasionally.

Then sites will run a special – free shipping, half-price, or discounted books. So be vigilant, look around and you can always pick up a bargain.

Books online

I say this because I like to have fresh, new copies of novels that I like adorning my shelves. My sister likes to collect second-hand copies and rarely spends more than a dollar for a book. She is also a massive e-book reader. Admittedly I only read e-books if I can’t find it in a physical format, if I am travelling, or if the book is more than 500 pages. Only because my reader likes to reorient the screen on me when I move, or runs out of battery at the worst possible time… for me, nothing beats good old paper!

For authors and books that I’m not sure about, I’ll often buy in e-book first, generally because the titles are less than half the price of their printed counterparts. So mix it up, check what’s available in your area.

I’d join a library and borrow books from there, except I live in a rural area and the closest decent library is over an hour and a half drive away, so I’d waste a day just for a visit.

Another way I get to read great books on the cheap is book-swapping with my friends and family. I’m lucky enough to have a large group of readers, and we like to pass around our favourites. It has let me discover new genres and titles that I would have overlooked before.

Buying and reading literature has never been more accessible, and I’m just a kid in a candy store with eyes bigger than her belly!

Reading and Purchasing that bargain Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

uppercase-lowercase-banner-by-casey-carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.