Queuing Up Books: Loving the Backlist Resurgence

20 Apr

In my wanderings around Amazon, a few months ago I discovered the writer Sherwood Smith. I read the book A Posse of Princesses and enjoyed it very much and wanted to know more. Before the ebook revolution I would have been lucky if I could find her current two or three novels. She’s not a big-name bestseller so her backlist wouldn’t be available except as used books.

As a reader I would have suffered because I would have had the opportunity to read a whole lot of other books that would entertain me. And Smith would have suffered as a writer because out of print books meant no passive income for past books.

But now we live in the digital age and Smith has all (or most) of her backlist available in ebook format, many of them at much lower than traditional publisher prices. And because of that both reader and writer benefit. The reader has access to all of Smith’s books and Smith has passive income supporting her into the future.

The sample feature of my Kindle makes it even easier for me to choose which book to read next. I went online and looked up Smith in the Amazon store and downloaded samples of everything available. In my Kindle, I created a new collection called Sherwood Smith and dropped all the samples into it. Now whenever I want to read one of her books, I only need to go to that collection, skim the samples to find one that appeals to me in that moment and buy it.

It’s likely that over the next year I’m going to spend around $100 on her backlist, something I couldn’t have done before. I get great value for my money and Smith gets a long-term customer and fan.

Life couldn’t be better for readers and writers!

How has the ebook revolution changed your reading habits? Are they as positive as my experiences? Tell me about them.


2 responses to “Queuing Up Books: Loving the Backlist Resurgence

  1. Anastacia

    April 20, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    Thanks for starting this conversation, Alex 🙂

    I love books. I love the look, the feel, the smell… everything about them. When I was younger, it was nothing for me to read two novels in one sitting!

    For the past six years, though, I’ve read far fewer books than I really wanted to, and it wasn’t until I got the Kindle app on my Blackberry that I realized that schlepping books around with me no longer really fit my lifestyle.

    Since getting the app (just a few months), I’ve read more books than I’d read in the past six years combined. My BB is always with me, and it’s easy to read anywhere, and anytime I have even a few moments. I love that I can buy every book I’ve looked for to date with a single click and it’s available to me in just a few seconds. And, like you, the sample feature makes it really simple to say yes to a book I might not have otherwise.

    So I’m another person grateful for ebooks.

    My only hope is that they don’t cause an end to bound books–I do think that would be a travesty.

    • Alex

      April 29, 2011 at 8:59 am

      @Anastacia: I don’t think there will ever been an end to bound books. It’s not like the vinyl/CD/mp3 shift. As much as we love technology, the only reliable way to permanently store information is in paper. I know that as I build up my indie-publishing, I will be creating print versions of all my works as archive copies. However, you’re right about the lifestyle and reading choices. My Kindle fits my current lifestyle. Paper books don’t.


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