Penguin is to become the first mainstream publisher to launch a digital-only list of titles by big-name authors. According to a Sunday Times report, this new range will not even be published in hard copy – the short stories and essays will only be available in digital form.
They include a novella by Anita Brookner, the Booker Prize winner, a short story by Helen Dunmore, an Orange Prize winner, a guide by Toby Young to setting up a free school, an essay about immigration by Turkish writer Elif Shafak, and a cook book with 15 Christmas recipes by Felicity Cloake.
Ebook scheme out in time for Christmas
With the £89 Kindle – a gadget that allows you to store thousands of books, magazines and newspapers downloaded from Amazon, being heavily advertised on television as the perfect Christmas gift – Penguin has been savvy by launching their new scheme on December 1st.
Unlike most ebooks, these are short pieces. They are all fewer than 25,000 words each (an average book is 80,000 words and a double page in the Daily Mail is around 2000 words) and will cost between 99p and £1.99 each to download.
But Penguin hopes the shorter, cheaper versions will catch on. A spokesman quoted in the newspaper article points out that although short stories are often harder to sell, they believe people might want to just read one story at a time and not necessarily a whole collection.
The low prices apparently means this is not going to be a huge money-spinner. And in fact, none of the writers has so far been paid.
But e-books, which currently account for 10% of all books sold, are believed to be the way for the future. And they are revolutionising the industry.
I’ve sold a million ebooks
Author John Locke recently told how he began writing at the age of 58. Initially he believed self-publishing his novel would be a good idea to try to get an agent and a mainstream publisher interested. But just getting bookstores to stock his novels was virtually impossible. Then he heard about ebooks and decided to make his novels available online – and has since earned over £375,000. His book, Saving Rachel was the first self-published book in history to hit number on on the Amazon/Kindle best selling chart.
Many business websites now include an Ebook with more information for people to buy and download instantly online. And they are making it easier for unknown authors to break into the marketplace because the cost of making an ebook is of course much lower than publishing a physical book.