Different Versions Of Your Book – A Riposte

Fay Weldon recently asserted that a writer should produce two versions of their book. One for those capable of concentrating enough to understand a literary paper book,and another lightweight Kindle text to entertain those with limited attention spans.

Although she was being provocative,garnering press attention in the process,she has raised some thought-provoking issues. There’s been research that shows how those who use e-reading devices are less able to recall details about what they’ve read,compared to those who have just taken in the same story on a hard copy.

Author D.J. Taylor launched a riposte in today’s Independent newspaper.


He makes some valid points,but has chosen to ignore the one saving grace about the whole situation – people are reading. As a wise aphorism goes ‘ A non reader holds no advantage over someone who cannot read at all.’

When I worked as a librarian,I sometimes wondered at the choices that people made when borrowing books – but at least they were reading. If they started with something that wasn’t very challenging,then they might move onto a novel that made them think.

Mind you,some readers take their devotion to an author to extremes. I once knew a man who only read Stephen King stories,and he collected them in all of their different editions,books covers and foreign language versions. He had a room devoted to them,with thousands of books lining the walls. It was like being in a sinister temple.

It reminded me of a joke : A man goes into a pub,and orders a stiff drink from the barman. He looks depressed,so the barman asks him what the problem is. The man replies : ” My wife left me,and all because I like cheese sandwiches. ” The barman is puzzled,replying ” But there’s nothing wrong with cheese sandwiches. I quite like them myself – cheese and onion,cheese and tomato,cheese and pickle – lovely.” The drinker’s face lights up : ” Wonderful – you understand – would you like to come back to my place,and see my collection ? I’ve got hundreds ! “

Kindle Sales Have Disappeared

This story appeared in the Daily Telegraph recently. The news doesn’t entirely surprise me,and trying to stay optimistic makes it more likely that I’ll secure a literary agent and a traditional publishing deal. I’m not surprised,because I don’t know anyone who owns a Kindle or a similar e-reading device. I haven’t even seen one ! I say this,after writing and publishing ebooks for the last eighteen months.
I briefly corresponded with a self-employed owner of a Cornish cosmetics company,who did a lot of international travelling trying to get new markets for her products. She owned a Kindle,and loved it for its ability to store dozens of titles,saving her weight and space in packing her bag.
Everyone else I know reads books. The main advantage of downloading an ebook is price. I thought about buying a highly-praised book ‘The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook Guide To Getting Published’,which is written by a helpful chap called Harry Bingham. He set up a useful web site called Writers’ Services,after finally achieving success and getting published. The cheapest I’ve been able to find the book in paperback form is £12.23,but it’s only £9 as a download.
But then,one needs an e-reader,the cheapest being about £50 – unless one is prepared to squint at the screen of a tablet or iPhone to read a downloaded book.
Traditional books have a lot of advantages. I’m increasingly thinking that people who look for free ebooks expect all artistic content on the Web to be without charge. After all,we can all look at wonderful paintings,photographs,funny videos,music videos etc without any charge beyond what we’re paying to be connected.
As a promotional ploy for the launch of my new novel,I decided to make all of my already published books free for a couple of months. I did so after reading of the success of other authors who’d made their books free on Smashwords,which forced Amazon to price-match and also offer them for free. This entices readers to try your work,meaning you enter their chart of popular downloaded authors. From that point of having raised one’s profile as a writer,one can publicise and charge for future books.
2,100 readers have downloaded my books in the last 32 days,since I started giving them away without charge. Of course,I have no way of knowing if they’ve actually read them,and I’m sure that some just grab whatever they see is free at the time,storing them away like a squirrel with nuts. Had they paid for them,at an average price of say £3/$5,then I would be a very happy chappy ! 
The problem of how to sell myself,and my work,becomes more complex the more that I learn.