Saturday, May 07, 2011

VCR as Metaphor

That thing I am coming to think of as The Manuscript has been coddled and soothed, slipped into its PJ’s and put to bed to rest up for the final round of polishing. God willing and the creek don’t rise, it should be e-published over the weekend.

I have, therefore, been thinking a lot about this Indie Adventure I am embarking on. They say one definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, so I must be crazy, right? The only real change in the self-publishing arena since my last adventure has been the explosion of e-books, and I am counting on that, alone, to make the difference. So I really must be crazy.

I do wonder (and I’m shortly to find out) just how much of a difference being able to buy something that doesn’t really exist as opposed to an actual hold-in-you-hand-and-flip-the-pages book is going to make, but if our experience with the VCR is any indication, it is bound to have at least some impact.

A VCR. What a marvel of technology. We could set it to record shows while we were out and then watch them later. What could be more convenient? Well, like a lot of people, what we ended up doing is recording shows, forgetting what tape they were on, having to hunt for shows on tapes containing multiple programs, taping shows over other shows we had taped but not watched yet and, in the end, just gave up and used the VCR as a clock.

You can think of this as a POD book. It’s cheap, dead easy and ever so convenient for the writer and the customer, who merely has to click on the BUY button, enter their card details, confirm the sale and wait a week for the book to show up.

What could be simpler? And if it is so simple, how come so few people bother with it? Could it possibly be made any easier?

Well, after our VCR collected dust for a year or so, we went out and bought a digital recorder. It is brilliant. Without having to get up off of the sofa, we can scan the on-screen program guide and simply press a button to schedule recordings of a single show or an entire series. We can also scroll through lists of what we have already recorded or what we have scheduled to record. We use it constantly.

Think of this as an e-book. You click on the image and...there it is. The book automatically downloads and, if you have an account set up, the money is automatically deducted from your bank account. A single click and you can start reading.

Add to that the fact that, as an Indie author, I have control over the price (you can make it as convenient as you want but few people are going to pay £13.50 for an e-book) and there is a chance, just a chance, that people will be more willing to buy it.

People want convenience and a fair price and, for the first time in publishing history, e-books can offer this. We will soon see if that is enough.

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